US 3777394 A
A lap counter assembly for use in a toy racing set wherein several toy vehicles race along the same wide track and can pass one another, for indicating the number of laps traversed by each of the several vehicles. The counter assembly includes a track region which narrows from a multi-lane width to a single lane width, and several counters which have trip members which can be struck by vehicles to advance the counts, wherein the trip members are located at different lateral positions across the width of the single lane track region. An attachment is provided for each vehicle, which includes an upwardly projecting member for moving one of the trip members to register a count as the vehicle passes by it, the projections on the different vehicles located at different lateral positions thereon so that each projection engages a different trip member.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Dec. 11, 1973 TOY VEHICLE WITH ADJUSTABLE LAP COUNTER ACTIVATOR REMOVABLY MOUNTED THEREON Neubauer et a].
Primary Examiner-Anton O. Oechsle Attorney-Seymour A. Scholnick [75 Inventors: William A. Staats, Torrance; Denis V. Bosley, Palos Verdes Peninsula; John S. Cook, Sunnyvale; Toshio Yamasaki, Gardena, all of Calif.
 ABSTRACT A lap counter assembly for use in a toy racing set  Assignee: Mattel Hawthorne Califwherein several toy vehicles race along the same wide July 31, 1972 [22 Fil track and can pass one another, for indicating the number of laps traversed by each of the several vehi-  cles. The counter assembly includes a track region Appl. No.: 276,482
which narrows from a multi-lane width to a single lane Related US. Application Data  Division of Ser. No. 96,808, Dec. 10, 1970, Pat. No.
width, and several counters which have trip members 3,712,615. which can be struck by vehicles to advance the counts, wherein the trip members are located at differ-  US. Cl. 46/202 em lateral positions across the width of the Single lane 51 int. A63h 17/00 track regionattachment is Provided for each vehi-  Field ofSearch 273/86 R, 86 B; which includes upwardly Projecting member 46/202; 104/60; 116/120, 133, 134; 198/38; for moving one of the trip members to register a count 235/98 B as the vehicle passes by it, the projections on the different vehicles located at different lateral positions thereon so that each projection engages a different trip member.
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1/1966 May 273/86 R X 3 Claims,18 Drawing Figures PMENTEDBEB 1 1 I975 SHEET 30F 5 PATENTED DEC 1 1 I975 3.777.394 SHEET k UF 5 TOY VEHICLE WITH ADJUSTABLE LAP COUNTER ACTIVATOR REMOVABLY MOUNTED THEREON This is a division of application Ser. No. 96,808 filed Dec. 10, 1970, and now U.S. Pat. No. 3,712,615.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates to apparatus for use with toy vehicles to sense their passage.
2. Description of the Prior Art Toy vehicle races are often run along small track layouts, so that a long race is conducted by extending it over many laps of the layout. Where each vehicle runs along a different track, the number of laps traversed can be counted by a lap counter that has a trip member at that track. However, in races where several vehicles run along the same wide track and may pass one another, difficulties are experienced in counting the passes of each vehicle independently of the others.
OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, a lap counting apparatus is provided which can be used in a track layout wherein several vehicles race along the same wide track, to indicate the laps traversed by each of the vehicles. The apparatus includes a track section which narrows from a wide region which can carry at least two vehicles side-by-side to a narrow region which is only slightly wider than a vehicle, to fix the position at which vehicles pass. Several lap counters are provided which have trip members, each of which can be hit by a vehicle to register a counter in one of the lap counters. The trip members are laterally spaced from each other and are located above the narrow track region. The vehicles are provided with projections that can engage a trip member at a particular position to register a count, the projecting member on each vehicle located at a different position than the projecting members on the other vehicles.
In order to prevent jamming-of vehicles if two of them reach the narrowing, or funneling track region at the same time, the funneling track region has one side rail which can resiliently deflect away from .the other. A stop is provided in front of the resiliently mounted side rail to stop a vehicle which has pushed aside the resilient rail, so the other one can pass ahead of it. After the other vehicle has passed, the resilient rail pushes the stopped vehicle away from the stop so it can continue through the funneling region to the single lane track region.
The projection for each vehicle is a wire that has a lower end pivotally mounted on the vehicle, a center portion held between a pair of posts to fix the position of the projection, and an upper portion extending above the vehicle for hitting one of the trip members of a counter. A child can move the projection so it lies BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a lap counting apparatus constructed in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a view similar to FIG. 1 showing the apparatus when several cars approach it at about the same time;
FIG. 3 is an end view of the counter apparatus taken on line 33 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a sectional view'showing a pair of lap counters of the counter assembly of FIG. 1, this figure being taken on the line 4-4 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 is a sectional top view of one of the counters of FIG. 4, taken on the line 55 of FIG. 4;
FIG. 6 is a view taken on the line 66 of FIG. 5;
FIG. 7 is a plan view of one of the activating attachments of the vehicle shown in FIG. 2;
FIG. 8 is a partial side elevation view of the activating attachment of FIG. 7 on a vehicle;
FIG. 8A is a sectional front view of a projection guiding device which can be used with the counter apparatus of FIG. 1;
FIG. 9 is a partial plan view of a counter apparatus constructed in accordance with another embodiment of the invention, for indicating the completion of a race;
FIG. 10 is a partial perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 9;
FIG. 11 is a plan view of a lap counting apparatus constructed in accordance with still another embodiment of the invention; a
FIG. 12 is a sectional view taken on the line 12-12 of FIG. 11
FIG. 13 is a sectional view taken on the line l3-l3 of FIG. 12;
FIG. 14 is a partial perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 11;
FIG. 15 is a side elevation view of one lap counting mechanism of the type shown in FIG. 13;
FIG. 16 is a view taken on the line 16-16 of FIG. 15; and
FIG. 17 is a view of the mechanism of FIG. 16 shown during the counting of a lap.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS FIG. 1 illustrates lap counting apparatus 10 which counts the number of passes made by each of four toy vehicles which run in a race along a wide track 12, the track 12 being constructed to allow vehicles to assume a wide range of lane positions so that they can pass one another. The lap counting apparatus 10 includes four lap counters 14, 16, I8 and 20 which are held in a frame 22 and which display counts through each of four windows labeled 1 through 4. Each of the counters has a main or number wheel 24 which can be turned until a 0 count is displayed through the corresponding window. To begin a race, the toy vehicles can be started simultaneously on the track layout. Either selfpropelled toy vehicles of the type which have a selfcontained battery and motor can be used, or unpowered vehicles can be used together with an accelerating device placed in series with the layout. Once the vehicles have started along the layout, they are allowed to run around it many times, each vehicle advancing the count in one of the four counterseach time it passes the lap counting apparatus. The first vehicle whose lap counter reaches a predetermined count such as twenty, indicating that that vehicle has traversed twenty laps around the layout, is considered to be the winner of the race.
In order to allow the four counters to discriminate so that each counts only the passes made by one of the four vehicles, the apparatus is provided with a single vehicle guide means in the form of a funneling track region 26 which has side rails 28 and 30 that direct all vehicles moving in the direction of arrow 32 to a single predetermined lane position at track region 32. As shown in FIG. 3, each of the four counters 14, 16, 18 and 20 have a trip member 34, 36, 38 and 40 laterally spaced from one another above the narrow track region 32. As shown in FIG. 2, each vehicle 42, 44, 46 and 48 has a projection 50 extending upwardly therefrom which can engage one of the trip members to register a count in one of the four counters. The projection 50 on each vehicle extends at a different lateral position with respect to the vehicle than the projections on the other vehicles, so that each projection engages only a preselected one of the four trip levers. Thus, as each vehicle passes through the lap counting apparatus only the corresponding counter registers a lap count.
FIGS. 4, 5 and 6 illustrate the type of lap counters which can be utilized in the counting apparatus. These counters are of the type more fully described in the patent application entitled COMPACT TOY LAP COUNTER by Edwards et al, Ser. No. 3,356, filed Jan. 16, 1970, and assigned to the same assignee as the present application. The four lap counters 13, 16, 18 and are substantially identical, with the counters on opposite sides of the track being substantially mirror images on each other, so a description of one mechanism 14 will largely apply to the others. The number wheel 24, which is best shown in FIG. 5, carries the numbers 0 through 20 on it which are displayed through the window 52. Prior to a race, the wheel may be turned in the direction of arrow 54 until the number 0 is displayed through the window. Rotation of the wheel 24 winds a spring 56 which will later advance the wheel in a direction opposite to arrow 54 each time the trip member 34 is pivoted by a passing vehicle. The trip member 34 operates an escapement 58 that allows the spring to advance the number wheel by 1/2lst turn every time the lever is pivoted.
As shown in FIG. 4, the number wheel 24 is fixed to a shaft 60 whose upper and lower ends are pivotally mounted on the frame 22 of the apparatus. The wheel has 21 ratchet members 62 spaced along a region nears its circumference, which interact with pawl members on a lever 64 to advance the wheel in steps. The lever 64 is pivotally mounted on trunions 66, 68 engaged with the frame 22, and the trip member 34 is fixed to the lever 64. Each time a vehicle moves the trip member 34 forward and releases it, the lever 64 pivots and allows pawl members to advance the wheel 24 by one count. The spring 56 which drives the wheel has one end 70 fixed to the wheel and another end 72 biased against the lever 64 to urge the lever to remain in a position wherein the trip member 34 thereon extends straight down.
FIG. 6 illustrates the two pawl members 74, 76 which release the wheel 24 in steps. The lever 64 is normally held in a position wherein the pawl member 76 is upward and engaged with one of the ratchets 62, while the other pawl member 74 is normally downward and disengaged from ratchets on the number wheel. When the trip member 34 is moved in the direction of arrow 78 by a passing vehicle, pawl 76 moves downard to release the number wheel to advance towards a new count, while pawl 74 moves upward to prevent the wheel from rotating more than about one-half of the distance required to record a count. As soon as the vehicle has passed by and released the trip member 34, the lever pivots back to its original position and the wheel 24 r0- tates another half of the distance required to register the new count.
FIGS 7 and 8 illustrate an activating attachment which can be attached to a vehicle 42 to enable it to register a count on one of the four lap counters. The attachement 90 includes a plate 92 with brackets 94 at the forward end that engage side walls of the vehicle 42 to hold the attachment in place. The plate 92 has a center pin 96 and four sets of posts 98, 100, 102 and 104. The projection, or activating member 50 which is provided is in the form of a stiff wire with an inner end 108 encircling the pin 96 in a manner to allow it to pivot about the pin. A center portion 110 of the activating member is held between one of the pairs of posts such as pair 98, to fix the position of the activating member 50 about the pin. An upper end portion 112 of the activating member extends to a height above the height of the vehicle. It is this end 112 which brushes by one of the trip members of a counter to register a count. When the activating member 50 is between the posts 98, it engages the trip member 34 of lap counter 14. A child can bend up the activating member 50 so it lies above posts 98 and place it between another one of the four pairs of posts so that the vehicle passes are registered on a different one of the four counters. Generally, when four vehicles are to be raced, the activating member of each vehicle is assigned to a different position to activate a different one of the four lap counters. The position of the upper end portion 112 can be more definitely fixed, if there is a possibility of it hitting the wrong trip member, by a guide assembly 111 of the type shown in FIG. 8A.
If each of the toy vehicles were to reach the funnel track section 26 at a different time, then each could smoothly enter the single lane track section 32 where counts are registered. However, it sometimes occurs that two vehicles reach the funnel region 26 in a sideby-side relationship. This could lead to the two vehicles jamming the funnel region and stopping the race. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, such a jam-up is prevented by providing one of the side rails 30 along the funnel region with a rail portion or strip mounted for resilient deflection away from the other side rail 28. The rail portion 120 is constructed of a strip of resilient material with one end 122 fixed to the track and the rest of it free to bend with respect to the track. Another strip 124 located outside of the usual position of the resilient strip 120 limits the amount of outward movement of the strip 120. A stop 126 is positioned downpath from the resilient strip 120 and to one side of it, so that a vehicle can hit the stop 126 only if it has deflected the strip 120 a substantial distance.
FIG. 2 illustrates the situation where two vehicles 44 and 46 start moving down the funneling region side-byside. One of the vehicles 46 will deflect the resilient strip 120, which provides an additional track width so that one vehicle 44 can pass the other. In addition, the vehicle 46 which presses against the strip 120 may be shoved sidewardly far enough to hit the stop 126 and be prevented from traveling any further towards the counting apparatus until the other vehicle 44 has passed by it. When the vehicle 44 has passed the other vehicle 46, the strip 120 deflects the vehicle 46 back towards the center of the track so that it is no longer stopped by the stop 126. To further prevent jam-ups, a layer 128 of material with a high coefficient of friction against the vehicle is disposed against the inner face of the strip 120. The material at 128 which may be felt or the like, tends to retard forward movement of the vehicle which presses against it, to allow the other vehicle to pass. In many cases, the layer 128 slows the vehicle which it contacts sufficiently to sweep it back into the center of the track without striking the stop In some cases, it is desirable to provide an easily observable indicator that shows when one of the four counters has reached a predetermined count, such as twenty, indicating that the race is over. FIGS. 9 and illustrate a lap counter assembly constructed in accordance with another embodiment of the invention, which includes four flags 140, 142, 144 and 146 which can he suddenly raised to indicate the end of a race. Each flag is mounted at the end of a spring wire 148 that tends to raise it to an upright position. However, each flag is normally held below one of the number wheels 150. When a number wheel has reached a position wherein a predetermined number such as shows through the viewing window, a recess 152 of that wheel is in a position above one of the flags. The, flag is then released to pop up. The sudden raising of a checkered flag to indicate the winner of a race provides a display similar to'the waving of a checkered flag at the end of many actual races, to enhance the entertainment provided by the race. 7
FIGS. 11 through 17 illustrate a lap'counter constructed in accordance with another embodiment of the invention, which utilizes four tapes 160, 162, 164 and 166 each having the numbers 0 through 99 printed thereon. Each tape'extends from a supply wheel 168 to a take-up wheel 170, in a path that brings it beneath a window 172. Thenumber showing through-eachwindow 172 indicates'the number of laps traversed by oneof the vehicles. Each take-up wheel 170 is urged to turn by a spring 174, to wind the tape on itself. A stop 176 prevents advancement of the tape except when a vehicle hits a trip member 178, and the mechanism than allows the tape to advance only far enough to display the next number through the window 172.
As shown in FIG. 14, each tape, such as tape 160, has elongated slots or perforations 180 spaced therealong, to facilitate its engagement with the stop 176. The trip member 178 is pivotally mounted on the lap counter frame 184 by trunions 186 formed at one end of the trip member. When a vehicle hits the trip member 178, the trip member pivots so that an operating portion 188 thereon passes upwardly through a slot 190 in the vframe. The operating portion 188 lifts the tape 160 over the stop 176 so that the tape is then free to 'advance in the direction of arrow 192 towards the take-up wheel. 1
As the tape advances, the next slot 180 moves under a holding member 194. The fact that the tape is held in a raised position by the trip member means that the slot 180 is received in the holding member 194. The holding member 194 then prevents any further advancement of the tape.
After the vehicle has passed by the trip member 178, the trip member falls back to its original position, and it allows the tape 160 to also fall down towards its original position. The slot 180 that disengages from the holding member 194 and can move towards the stop 176. As soon as the slot 180 reaches the stop 176, it falls over the stop 176 and is thereafter prevented from further advancement. The perforations 180 are spaced However, a fourth window 1720 has a checkered portion showing therethrough. The checkered portion is printed on the tape at a position after the number 99. A checkered portion is utilized instead of the number to more closely simulate the showing of a checkered flag, which is traditionally used at the end of a race. If desired, a disabling mechanism can be employed to prevent further counting by any of the four counting mechanisms once one of them has counted to the checkered flag position. This can be accomplished by a variety of means, such as an additional slot at one edge of the tape that tn'ps a disabling mechanism that prevents further advancement of any of the tapes.
Thus, the invention provides apparatus for indicating the laps traversed by .each of several vehicles which travel along the same wide track. The apparatus utilizes several simple counters with trip members for operating the counters, the trip members being laterally spaced along a narrow or single lane track region. A funnel track region is provided for directing all vehicles from a wide track area to the single lane region. The vehicles are provided with projections which extend at different lateral positions with respect to the vehicle, so that the projections activate the differenttrip members to register a count in different lap counters. The funneling apparatus is constructed with converging side rails wherein one of the rails has a portion that can deflect outwardly away from the other rail to prevent jam-ups. The activating apparatus on the vehicles, which contact the trip members of the lap counters, are constructed to enable manual adjustment of the lateral position, so that a child can choose which of the lap counters will be activated by a vehicle. The lap counter can utilize wheels with numbers on them or tapes that carry numbers.-
Although particular embodiments of the invention have been described and illustrated herein, it is recognized that modifications and variations may readily occur to those skilled in the art and, consequently, it is intended that the claims be interpreted to cover such modifications and equivalents.
, What is claimed is: I
1. Apparatus for use with toy vehicles to count their passes by an assembly of lap counters which are responsive to activations at different positions comprismg:
activating means removably mounted on a toy vehicle, said activating means including a mounting plate, a plurality of positioning means located at one end of said mounting plate, and an activating adapted to be retained within any one of said positioning means, and a second end positioned at a right angle to said first end so as to engage one of said lap counters.
3. The apparatus as recited in claim 2 wherein said second end of said activating member projects up and above said mounting plate so as to engage one of said lap counters.