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Publication numberUS3818628 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 25, 1974
Filing dateNov 1, 1972
Priority dateNov 1, 1972
Also published asCA983715A1
Publication numberUS 3818628 A, US 3818628A, US-A-3818628, US3818628 A, US3818628A
InventorsEnsmann B, Hinz H
Original AssigneeIdeal Toy Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Object-lifting device including means for metering objects from storage station to pickup station
US 3818628 A
Abstract
A toy for separately and automatically raising individual toy balls from a first level to a higher level in order to produce kinetic energy in the, which includes a ball storage station and a ball pickup station, with means provided adjacent the pickup station for lifting the ball from the pickup station to a higher position in the device wherein it is discharged along an inclined ramp to produce kinetic energy therein. One or more individual balls are supplied to the storage station and a metering device is provided between the storage station and the pickup station for selectively permitting passage of individual balls from the storage station in response to the presence of a ball at the storage station and to the presence of the lifting means at the pickup station. Drums may be placed near the storage station and ramp exit so that balls may be fed to the former and from the latter by rebounding off the drums. A game may be played by players attempting to cause a ball to complete an entire path of travel. The lifting means may be an arm rotating in a vertical plane and driven by a suspended weight.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [191 Ensmann et al.

[45] June 25, 1974 [75] Inventors: Burt Ensmann, Flushing; Henry Hinz, Huntington, L. I., both of N.Y.

[73] Assignee: Ideal Toy Corporation, Hollis, N.Y.

[22] Filed: Nov. 1, 1972 [21] Appl. No.: 302,718

[52] U.S. C1 46/42, 46/43, 273/95 R, t 273/101 [5l] Int. CI A63h 29/08 [58] Field of Search 46/43, 42, 40; 273/120 R, 273/109, 144 A, 95 R, 101; l0/106.25

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,195,927 8/1916 McCloy l0/106.25 1,295,504 2/1919 Howard et al 273/120 R 1,296,129 3/l9l9 Siegel 273/120 R 1,452,835 4/1923 Goldman l 46/42 1,478,350 12/1923 Okel 46/42 1,687,315 10/1928 Roche 46/43 1,870,586 8/1932 Platakls 46/42 2,391,529 l2/l945 Walker 46/43 2,400,013 5/1946 Lowell et a1 46/43 2,402,396 6/1946 Hagner 273/101 X 2,434,571 1/1948 Long 46/43 2,886,909 5/1959 Hesse et al l0/l06.25 2,998,673 9/1961 Rhodes 46/43 3,782,729 1/1974 Ernst 273/101 X FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 21,257 1909 Great Britain 273/120 Primary Examiner-F. Barry Shay Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Richard M. Rabin, Esq.

[57] ABSTRACT A toy for separately and automatically raising individual toy balls from a first level to a higher level in order to produce kinetic energy in the, which includes a ball storage station and a ball pickup station, with means provided adjacent the pickup station for lifting the ball from the pickup station to a higher position in the device wherein it is discharged along an inclined ramp to produce kinetic energy therein. One or more individual balls are supplied to the storage station and a metering device is provided between the storage station and the pickup station for selectively permitting passage of individual balls from the storage station in response to the presence of a ball at the storage station and to the presence of the lifting means at the pickup station. Drums may be placed near the storage station and ramp exit so that balls may be fed to the former and from the latter by rebounding off the drums. A game may be played by players attempting to cause a ball to complete an entire path of travel. The lifting means may be an arm rotating in a vertical plane and driven by a suspended weight.

27 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures PATENTED JUHZ 51074 SHED 5 0F 7 OBJECT-LIFIING DEVICE INCLUDING MEANS FOR METERING OBJECTS FROM STORAGE STATION TO PICKUP STATION The present invention relates to a device for automatically lifting toy balls and in particular to a lifting device which is adapted to automatically raise individual toy balls from a lower level to a higher level and to produce kinetic energy therein for use in playing a game.

The lifting apparatus of the present invention is adapted to be utilized in toys or toy games in which it is necessary to produce kinetic energy in a toy ball for use in playing the game. ln previously proposed toy games in which kinetic energy of a ball is required to play the game, the ball or balls are normally initially raised manually to an elevated position and thence discharged vertically downwardly, or along an inclined ramp, to produce the kinetic energy in the ball. Thus, the kinetic energy in the ball is only equal to that which is provided at the initiation of the game, when the ball was placed in its highest position, and it was not possible to increase the kinetic energy in the ball, or to provide additional kinetic energy, during the course of the play action without the interference of a human intermediary lifting the ball to a higher position.

One suggested solution to this problem, which may be applicable, is the provision of a separately powered motive means to drive a lifting device in an intermediate portion of the game, thereby to raise the balls to a higher position in order to produce additional kinetic energy. However, such motive means normally are in continuous operation and therefore would run even in the absence of the presence of a ball to be lifted. This, of course, is undesirable since it is a waste of power during the intervals between movements of individual balls to the lifting device.

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to lift individual toy balls from a iirst level to a higher level in response to the presence of a ball at the lifting device. v

Yet another object of the present invention is to meter individual balls at a lifting device thereby to present only a single ball to a lifting member when the lifting member is in position to perform its lifting function.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a device which is adapted to automatically raise individual toy balls and which converts the potential energy of a weighted object to potential energy in the toy balls, which are lifted from a first position to a higher position under the influence of the weighted object.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a lifting device for toy balls which is relatively inexpensive to manufacture and produce.

Yet another object of the present invention is to produce a device for lifting toy balls and producing kinetic energy therein, which device is relatively simple in operation and durable in use.

ln accordance with one aspect of the present invention a device is provided for separately and automatically raising individual balls from a first level to a higher level therein, in order to produce kinetic energy in the balls, while expending energy in the motive means used to lift the balls only during the lifting operation. ln one embodiment, the device includes a base on which a ball storage station and a ball pickup station are located. The ball pickup station is at a first or lower level in the device, adjacent the base, and adjacent a vertical support member mounted on the base and extending therefrom to a second higher level. A ball discharge ramp extends downwardly from that higher level towards the base to convert the potential energy of a ball lifted to the higher level into kinetic energy as the ball rolls down the ramp.

Individual balls are lifted from the pickup station to the higher level of the device by a transfer arm which Y is rotatably mounted intermediate its ends for rotation in a vertical plane on the vertical support member. The transfer arm has ball carriage members located at opposite ends thereof and positioned to pass through the pickup lstation of the device and adjacent the ramp at the higher level during rotation.

A metering device is located between the storage station and the pickup station for selectively permitting passage of individual balls from the storage station to the pickup station in response to the presence of a ball at the storage station, in conjunction with the presence of one of the transfer arm carriage members at the pickup station, wherein it is in position to receive a ball passed from the storage station by the metering device.

The transfer arm is rotated to lift a ball in one of its carriage members from the pickup station to the higher level in the device by a gravity operated drive means. The drive means normally biases the transfer arm in rotation, however, means is provided at the pickup station for preventing rotation of the transfer arm until a ball has passed the metering device and entered the carriage member. Thus, by this construction, when a ball is present at the storage station adjacent the metering device, and a carriage member simultaneously is located at the pickup station and held against rotation by the rotation preventing means, the ball at the storage station will pass through the metering device to the pickup station and enter the carriage member. Thereupon, the transfer arm is released by the rotation preventing means and rotated under the influence of the gravity drive member to lift the ball from the pickup station to the higher level, wherein it is discharged onto the discharge ramp of the device. The ball then rolls down the ramp, converting its potential energy into kinetic energy for use in playing the game in which the device is utilized.

The above, and other objects, features and advantages of this invention will be apparent in the following detailed description of an illustrative embodiment thereof which is to be read in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. l is a perspective view of a lifting device constructed in accordance with the present invention, showing the use of the device in one type of ball game;

tering device immediately after the carriage member has reached the pickup station;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the metering device illustrating the configuration of the components thereof immediately prior to the arrival of a carriage member at the pickup station;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view similar to FIG. 5 showing the configuration of the elements of the metering device immediately after a carriage member arrives at the pickup station;

FIG. 7 is a plan view taken along line 7-7 of FIG. 3; and

FIG. 8 is a plan view taken along line 8-8 of FIG. 2.

Referring now to the drawing in detail, and initially to FIG. 1 thereof, it will be seen that a' toy lifting device l0, constructed in accordance with the present invention, is utilized in a game in which a series of balls l2 are to be moved along a predetermined path of travel into a receptacle 14. In the illustrated game, balls 12 are initially started along their path of travel from a ramp (not shown) or by tossing, onto a drum 16 having a resilient top 18 on which balls l2 will bounce. These balls may be formed of plastic, rubber, or any convenient material; however, in the preferred embodiment of the game, balls l2 are formed of nickel plated steel.

Preferably, a series of drums 16 can be arranged along a predetermined path of travel so that balls l2 will bounce from one drum to another along the path. Ultimately, the kinetic energy of the balls decreases because of energy losses due to bouncing and the like; therefore, to extend the play of the game, the kinetic energy of balls l2 must be restored or increased. Accordingly, device l0 is provided to intercept the balls l2 along their path of travel and to raise them to an elevated position thereby to increase their potential energy and to convert that energy into kinetic energy for use in continuing the game.

As illustrated in FIG. l of the drawing, balls'l2 are received in a funnel or container 20 to begin their movement through lifting device l0. From funnel 20, balls l2 pass through a storage station 22, and a metering device 24 which discharges individual balls to a ramp or treadle 26 at a pickup station 28. Lifting device l0 also includes a vertically extending support column or member 30 on which a transfer arm 32 is rotatably mounted intermediate its ends. Transfer arm 32 has ball carriage members 34 formed integrally therewith at the opposite free ends of the arm. These carriage members, as more fully described hereinafter, are adapted to receive a ball l2 at pickup station 28 and to carry the ball to a higher elevation or platform 36 at the top of column 30.

As more fully described hereinafter, individual balls l2 are discharged from storage station 22 by metering device 24 only in response to the presence of a ball at the storage station and the simultaneous presence of a carriage member 34 at pickup station 28.

Transfer arm 32 can be rotated in any convenient manner, but preferably is rotated by a gravity actuated drive mechanism 38 which normally biases arm 32 in rotation in a clockwise direction. However, rotation of arm 32 is prevented at pickup station 28 by the cooperation of treadle 26 and carriage member 34, in the absence of the presence of a ball at the pickup station. In this manner, the expenditure of energy from drive mechanism 38 is avoided during those times in which no ball is present at the pickup station.

Once a ball is lifted from pickup station 28 to platform 36, it is discharged from the carriage member, due to the slightly inclined configuration thereof, onto platform 36. That platform communicates with, or forms part of, a ramp 39 along which balls l2 roll from the platform. (Preferably ramp 39 is formed integrally with support 30 as a one-piece molded plastic structure.) As a result, the potential energy of a ball 12 is increased by lifting ofthe ball by arm 32 from pickup station 28 to platform 36 and this potential energy is converted to kinetic energy as the ball rolls down ramp 39. This kinetic energy of the ball can thence be utilized to continue the game without the interference of any human intermediary stopping the ball and lifting it to increase its potential energy.

ln the illustrative embodiment of the invention the ball l2 is discharged from ramp 39 to a drum 16 from which the ball bounces to an additional drum 'or drums (not shown) along a predeterminedpath of travel, and ultimately into receptacle 14. As will be apparent, the object of the illustrated game in which lifting device l0 is utilized is to place drums 16 and lifting device l0 along a predetermined path of travel and to have one or more balls l2 traverse the course or path defined by the drums and lifting device from a starting point to bucket 14. When the ball, or predetermined number of balls, complete an entire path of travel and are contained in receptacle 14 the game is won.

In greater detail, lifting device 10 includes a base 40 having a raised platform section 42 formed integral therewith or secured thereto, which defines storage station 22. Receptacle or funnel 20 is mounted on platfonn 42 inany convenient manner so that a ball 12 projected into the funnel will pass through the neck 44 thereof onto upper surface 46 of the platform. This surface includes a recessed track 48 adapted to receive and guide balls 12 from neck 44 to metering device 24. For this purpose the lower surface of track 48 may be slightly inclined from neck 44 of funnel l2 to metering device 24, so that the balls will roll towards the metering device under the influence of gravity.

As mentioned, metering device 24 is adapted to meter or transfer individual balls from storage station 22 to pickup station 28 in response to the presence of a ball at the storage station adjacent the metering device. This is accomplished by the use of a pivoted metering arm or gate 50, illustrated more clearly in FIGS. 2-4. Gate 50 is pivotally mounted on a baffle or cover plate 52 by a pivot pin S4 or the like located intermediate the ends of the gate. Baffie plate 52 is mounted in any convenient manner on base 40, as for example by means of a pair of projections 56 (see FIG. 3) received in recesses formed in the base. Gate arm 50 and baffle plate 52 are located in predetermined position with respect to each other and to support platform 42, as will appear more fully hereinafter.

Gate 50 has an aperture 58 formed in one end thereof, see FIGS. 3-6, and is constructed so that its center of gravity is located to the right of pivot 54 whereby the gate is normally biased by gravity to rotate in a generally clockwise direction. Rotation in this direction is limited by engagement of the upper portion of tne top edge 60 of the arm with the return flange 62 of baffle 52. In this position (FIGS. 4 and 6) aperture 58 is located in alignment with the track 48 of platform 42 so that a ball in track 48 will pass through aperture 58. In the illustrative embodiment of the invention, ap-

erture 58 is defined by a relatively wide peripheral wall 64, so that a ball rolling from track 48 into aperture 58 will roll onto the base of wall 64. The additional weight of the metal ball in aperture 58 will cause gate 50 to pivot from the upper position illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 6 (and in dotted lines in FIG. 2) to a relatively horizontal position illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 5 (and in phantom lines in FIG. 2). In this position aperture S8 is located in alignment with an aperture 66 formed in baffle plate 52 by a cylindrical neck 68 formedtherein. As a result, a ball 12 at storage station 22 is moved from track 48 into aperture 66 and passes therefrom to the pickup station as described hereinafter.

It is noted that gate 50 includes an upper rear wall portion 70, which, as seen in FIGS. 3 and 5, will prevent passage of a ball l2 out of track 48 when the gate 50 is in its horizontal position. Thus the gate is constructed to permit only one ball at a time to be passed from storage station 22 to pickup station 28.

Gate 50 is normally held in its horizontal position (FIGS. 3 and 5) by a latching mechanism 72. This mechanism also cooperates with carriage members 34, on transfer arm 32, to momentarily release gate 50 and permit it to return to its inclined position (FIGS. 4 and 6), wherein a ball l2 may pass through the aperture 58. Latch mechanism 72 includes a vertically extending arm 74 which is pivotally mounted at 76 on base 40 for rotation in a plane which extends generally perpendicular to gate 50. Arm 74 includes a generally horizontally extending cam portion or arrowhead 78, seen most clearly in FIGS. 5 and 6, which extends above the right end 80 of gate 50. Preferably, ann 74 is constructed so that its center of gravity is forward of pivot 76, so that the arm is normally biased for rotation in the direction of arrowhead 78 under the influence of gravity. Arm 74 also includes a support platform 82 formed thereon and providing a support surface 82' which is adapted to engage the lower surface 84 of gate S0 when the gate is in its horizontal position.

At the beginning of the game latch arm 74 is initially manually rotated away from gate 50, i.e., it is rotated into the drawings, as seen in FIGS. 3 and 4, so as to disengage support surface 82' from the lower surface 84 of gate 50, thus permitting the gate to rotate to its inclined position illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 6. This rotation of latch arm 74 away from gate 50 will also occurr automatically upon winding of arm 32, as more fully described hereinafter. In addition, transfer arm 32 is set in the position illustrated in solid lines in FIG. 4'so as to receive a ball at the pickup station after it passes through the metering device. In this condition, when a ball l2 enters funnel 20, it passes through neck 44 into the track 48 of platform 42 and thence into aperture 58 of gate 50. As mentioned, because of the weight of the ball in aperture 58, gate 50 rotates in a generally counterclockwise direction so as to permit ball l2 to pass through opening 66 in baffle plate 52 and from there to pickup station 28. As lever arm 50 thus moves to its horizontal position, latch arm 74 rotates forwardly, under the influence of gravity and due to the location of its center of gravity, to position support surface 82' beneath surface 84 of the gate arm. Thus, when ball l2 in aperture 58 passes therefrom into the aperture 66 of baffle 52, gate 50 begins to rotate in a clockwise direction, due to the location of its center of gravity. As this occurs, surface 84 engages surface 82' and further rotation of the gate 50 is prevented. As a result, gate 50 6 is maintained in its horizontal position preventing further discharge of balls l2 from storage station 22 be cause the wall of the gate blocks the end of track 48.

From aperture 66 in baffle 52, the ball 12 passes onto the end 86 of the pivoted treadle or ramp 26. This treadle is pivotally mounted between a pair of posts 90, formed integrally with platform 40, along a pivot axis 92 extending generally perpendicular to gate 50 and located so that the treadle is adapted to pivot in substantially the same plane as the plane of rotation of transfer arm 32. The configuration of treadle 26 is such that its center of gravity is located to the left of pivot 92, as illustrated in FIGS. l and 2, so that the treadle is normally biased for rotation in a counterclockwise direction. This rotation is limited by a leg 94 formed at the end 86 of the treadle which leg thus maintains the treadle in a relatively stable configuration with the upper surface 96 thereof located at an incline between aperture 66 and pickup station 28.

Treadle 26 also includes an upstanding front baffle wall 98 which prevents inadvertent discharge of a ball from aperture 66 off of the treadle. Thus, wall 98 forms a capturing chamber or the like for balls l2 passing through aperture 66 to insure that the balls are maintained on the upper surface 96 of the treadle. In addition, treadle 26 is provided with a recessed track 100 (FIGS. l and 7) which guides the balls in a straight line from the end 86 and wall 98 of the treadle to the end of pickup station 28, i.e., adjacent the end 102 of the treadle.

Treadle 26, in addition to providing a portion of a path of travel for balls l2 between the metering mechanism 24 and pickup station 28, cooperates with ball carriage members 34, on the ends of transfer arm 32, to prevent rotation of the transfer arm until such time as a ball has passed through the metering device and has passed to the end 102 of the treadle. To accomplish this, carriage members 34 are provided with elongated fingers 104 which are adapted to be received in the slot of treadle 26 when arm 32 is in a vertical configuration, as illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 4. In addition, fingers 104 include an abutment surface 106 on the lower side thereof which is adapted to engage the forward edge or abutment surface 108 of treadle 26 when the treadle is in its normal position, illustrated in solid lines in FIGS. 3 and 4. By this construction, rotation of arm 32 in its nonnal clockwise direction under the influence of the drive mechanism 38 is prevented by the engagement of abutment surfaces 106 and 108. However, when a ball l2 is discharged from aperture 66 onto treadle 26, and rolls along track 100 towards the end 102 of the treadle, the weight of the ball overcomes the weight of the treadle and thus, as the ball approaches end 102, it causes treadle 26 to rotate in a clockwise direction (into the configuration illustrated in phantom lines in FIG. 4), thereby moving abutment surface 108 downwardly with respect to abutment surface 102. This causes ball I2 to become engaged with finger 104 and permits drive mechanism 38 to rotate the arm 32 in a clockwise direction.

As finger 104 lifts ball l2 upon rotation of arm 32, and moves away from treadle 26, the treadle returns to its solid line position, illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4, under the influence of gravity, and thus returns abutment surface 108 to its normal position in the path of travel of the fingers 104 of the transfer arm. Thus, as the next finger 104 on arm 32 approaches pickup station 28, its abutment surface 106 will engage surface 108 to prevent continued rotation of the arm. Simultaneously, because the carriage members 34 are located at diametrically opposed ends of the arm 32, the carriage member 34 with the previously picked up ball l2 will deliver ball 12 at the upper end of support member 30 and discharge it onto platform 36.

The configuration of carriage members 34 is such that the carriage members include an exterior curved wall 110 (FIG. 8) which will guide the ball 12 into platform 36. It is noted that the ball 12 will move of its own accord when arm member 32 reaches the top of support 30 because the ball will retain some momentum even though the arm 32 is stopped. Thus, that momentum will project the ball forwardly against wall 110 so that it will be guided into platform 36 and from there to ramp 39. Accordingly, it is seen that the drive means used to rotate arm 32 is only active during the time period in which a ball is transported from the pickup station to the platform 36.

Referring again to FIGS. 3 and 4 of the drawing, it is noted that after the engagement of surfaces 106 and 108 is released, so that arm 32 rotates in a clockwise direction, gate 50 and treadle 26 are in their solid line positions illustrated in FIG. 3. Thus, no ball at the storage station 22 can pass through the metering device to the treadle. ln order to release gate 50 to permit the next ball to pass to the pickup station, carriage members 34 are provided with cam members 112 on the surfaces 114 thereof which cooperate with arrowhead 78 of latch arm 74. As seen in FIGS. 5-7, cam members 112 are generally T-shaped members whose stern portions 116 are directed towards metering mechanism 24 and thus towards latch arm 74. Arrowhead 78 of latch arm 74 is constructed so as to project (FIG. 7) into the path of travel of cam stem 116 as carriage member 34 passes through pickup station 28. Thus, the free edge 118 of T-shaped cam member 112 engages the forward inclined surface 120 of arrowhead 78 and causes latch arm 74 to pivot rearwardly to the dotted line position thereof` shown in FIG. 7. lt is noted that stem 116 is located on surface, 114 in a predetermined position so that this movement of arm 74 occurs just prior to engagement of abutment surfaces 106 and 108. In this position, support surface 82' is disengaged from the lower surface 84 of gate 50 so that the gate moves to its inclined position illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 6. Thus, the device is in position to permit another ball 12 to pass through the metering mechanism and be raised by transfer arm 32.

lt is noted that the rearward rotation of arm 74 is limited by the provision of an upstanding post 122 on base 40- and a rearwardly extending arm 124 cooperating therewith and extending from arm 74. Post 122 and arm 124 are located so that the center of gravity of arm 74, even in its tilted position, is forwardly of pivot points 76. Thus, as soon as stem 116 of cam member 112 passes point 126 of arrowhead 78, arm 74 will tend to rotate forwardly to position its support surface 82 beneath the lower surface 84 of gate 50. However, if no ball is present at storage station 22, gate 50 will remain in its inclined position, illustrated in FIG. 3 of the drawing, and forward rotation of arm 74 will be prevented by an abutment member 127 formed on gate 50, which engages the protr`usion 82 on arm 74 that defines support surface 82'. This prevents protrusion 82 from moving over the top of gate 50 wherein it would prevent movement of the gate to its horizontal position.

Accordingly, it is seen that with gate 50 in this position, when a ball 12 arrives at storage station 22 it can enter aperture 58 of gate 50. This causes the gate to pivot to its relatively horizontal position. At that position, arm 74 is free to rotate forwardly, under the influence of gravity, so as to position its support surface 82 beneath surface 84 of gate 50, thereby to support the gate in its horizontal position. In that position the gate 50 will block movement of any other ball at the storage station through the metering mechanism until the next carriage member moves into pickup station 28. It is noted that this forward rotation of arm 74 is limited by a vertically extending post 129 which engages an extension 129' on arm 74 when the arm is in the proper position to support gate 50, as seen in FIG. 5.

Carriage members 34, illustrated most clearly in FIGS. l, 7 and 8, are, in the preferred 4embodiment of the invention, formed integrally with transfer arm 32. These carriage members include a base 130 which is partially surrounded by a peripheral wall 110. Thus, as arm 32 rotates upwardly, after receiving a ball 12 at pickup station 28, the ball rests against the back 132 (FIG. 4) of finger 104 and against the free end 134 of arm 32. As arm 32 continues in rotation, so that the ball 12 is lifted more than halfway towards platform 36, the ball 12 rolls down slightly along the rear portion 132 of finger 104 and engages platform 130 upon which the ball rests until the arm 32 comes to a stop in its vertical position, with carriage member 34 adjacent platform 36.

As mentioned, transfer arm 32 is normally biased for rotation by a gravity actuated drive mechanism 38. This drive mechanism includes a weighted object, such as a ball 136, which is connected to one end of a flexible cable, string or the like 138. The ball 136 is formed with sufficient weight to effect rotation of arm 32 as described hereinafter. The opposite end of cable 134 is secured to an arbor which is formed integrally with transfer arm 32, along the axis of rotation of the arm. The interior of the arbor is pivotally mounted on vertical support 30, in any convenient manner, so that both arm 32 and the arbor are rotatably mounted on the support member. ln addition, a pulley 142 is freely rotatably mounted at the upper end of vertical support 30, with cable 138 being guided thereover between arbor 140 and ball 136.

By this construction arm 32 may be manually rotated in a counterclockwise direction so as to wind cable 138 on arbor 140 and thereby lift ball 136 to a position adjacent pulley 142. Thereafter, during operation of the device, weighted ball 136, through cable 138, biases arbor 140, and thus transfer arm 32, in rotation in a clockwise direction, as illustrated in FIG. 1. Accordingly, when a carriage member 34 is released at pickup station 28, due to the presence there of a I ball 12, weighted ball 136 will move downwardly under the inluence of gravity, thereby reducing its potential energy and utilizing the same to rotate arm 32. When a ball 12 picked up at station 28 reaches platform 36, ann 32 is stopped, as described above, and downward movement of ball 136 is also stopped. Thereafter, ball 13 is discharged through platform 36 to ramp 39 to convert the increased potential energy of ball 12 into kinetic energy. Accordingly, it is seen that by this drive mechanism the potential energy of the ball 136 is converted into potential energy of the ball 12 which in turn is immediately converted into kinetic energy. Moreover, the potential energy of ball 136 is only expended during the time period taken to lift a ball 12 from pickup station 28 to a position adjacent platform 36.

As seen most clearly in FIGS. 1 and 8, platform 36 includes an inclined ramp 144 having a peripheral side wall 148 formed integrally therewith. Platform 144 extends from a position above ramp 39 and is located to be adjacent base 130 of a carriage member 34, when the carriage member is at the top of support 30. In this manner a ball 12 in carriage member 34 will be guided from the carriage member by wall 110 onto ramp 144 and along the curved ramp 146 by wall 148 to a discharge end 150. This discharge end is located adjacent a horizontal ramp section 152 which is formed as a continuation portion of inclined ramp 39. This horizontal section 152 of ramp 39 is located a sufficient distance below the central portion of ramp 144 so that a ball l2 may pass freely from the horizontal section 152 to the inclined section of ramp 39. In addition, platform 36 includes a central protrusion 154 above ramp 39 and adjacent ramp 144, which protrusion cooperates with ramp 144 and wall 148 to define an enclosed track for guiding balls l2.

In the sequence of operation and play of the game arm 32 is initially rotated manually in a counterclockwise direction to wind cable 138 on arbor 140, thereby raising ball 136 to its highest position. ln addition, ann 74 may be rotated manually backwardly to permit gate 50 to move into its inclined position, and arm 32 is adjusted so that one of the carriage members 34 is located at pickup station 28 with its abutment surface 106 in engagement with the abutment surface 108 on the front end of treadle 26. However, it is noted that if arm 74 is not manually rotated bac kwardly in this manner prior to winding of arm 32 in the counterclockwise direction, the winding movement of arm 32 will automatically set arm 74. This occurs because as arm 32 is wound, one of the carriage members passes through pickup station 28 so that the free edge 118 of its cam member 112 engages the forward inclined surface 120 of arrowhead 78 and thus pivots latch arm 74 backwardly. This, of course, permits gate 50 to move to its inclined position under the influence of its center of gravity. In any case, after arm 32 is wound and gate 50 is set, when a ball 12 enters funnel 20, it descends through neck 44 of the funnel onto track 48 of platform 42 and into the aperture 58 of metering gate 50. The presence of the ball in aperture 58 causes the gate 50 to pivot counterclockwise into its horizontal position, wherein the ball passes from aperture 58 through aperture 66 in baffle 52. Simultaneously arm 74 pivots forwardly so as to move its support surface 82 into engagement with surface 84 of the gate. At this point ball 12 rolls along inclined treadle 26 to the end 102 thereof wherein it rolls against the rear portion 132 of finger 104. As this occurs, the weight of the ball on the end 102 of treadle 26 causes the treadle to pivot in a clockwise direction so as to move surface 108 of the treadle away from the abutment surface 106 of finger 104. Accordingly, arm 32 is released so that ball 136 can move downwardly under the influence of gravity, thereby causing arm 32 to rotate and lift ball 12 to platform 36. Meanwhile, treadle 26 moves back to its solid line position shown in FIG. 3, due to the location of its center of gravity and gate 50 is held in its horizontal position by latch arm 74 to prevent discharge of any balls 12 at storage station 22. Thus, abutment surface 108 of the treadle is placed back in the path of travel of abutment surface 106 of carriage member 34, so that when the empty carriage member at the opposite end of arm 32 enters pickup station 28, its abutment surface 106 contacts surface 108 to prevent further rotation of arm 32. Simultaneously, as the carriage member enters the pickup station, stem 116 of cam member 112 engages the forward portion 120 of arrowhead 78 and pivots arm 74 rearwardly with respect to gate 50. As a result, protrusion 82 is moved rearwardly so that its surface 82' is disengaged from supporting engagement with the surface 84 of gate 50. As a result, the gate pivots in a clockwisedirection to its inclined position, illustrated in solid lines in FIGS. 4 and 6, wherein the aperture 58 thereof is located adjacent the end of track 48 so that a ball at storage station 22 can pass therethrough to initiate the se quence of operation of the device. This sequence of operation will continue until ball 136 reaches base 40, or as long as individual balls l2 are present at the storage station.

Accordingly, it is seen that a relatively simple and inexpensive apparatus is provided for automatically lifting toy balls in a game, with individual balls being lifted from a first lower level to a higher level in response to the combined presence of a ball at the storage station and a carriage member, used to lift the ball, at a pickup station. Moreover, the energy used to lift the ball is expended only during the actual lifting operation and is conserved during those time periods between the presence of the two required conditions.

Although an illustrative embodiment of the present invention has been described herein with reference to the accompanying drawings, it is to be understood that various changes and modifications may be effected therein by one skilled in the art without departing from the scope or spirit of this invention.

What is claimed is:

1. A device for raising an object from a first level to a second higher level comprising, a base, a vertically extending support member operatively connected to said base, an arm, means rotatably mounting said arm on said base for rotational movement in a vertical plane through at least one complete 360 arc, and means on said arm for engaging an object at said first level and retaining the object therein during rotational movement of said retaining means with said arm from said first level adjacent the base to said second higher level substantially diametrically opposite said first level, and means responsive to the presence of an object adjacent said first level for selectively rotating said arm through at least a portion of said 360 arc between said first and second levels, whereby said object is raised from said first to said second level.

2. The device as defined in claim 1 wherein said rotating means responsive to the presence of an object comprises a latch member operatively associated with said arm at said first level for normally preventing rotation of said arm and being responsive to the presence of an object at said first level to release said arm and said latch member and gravity actuated drive means operatively connected to said arm for rotating the latter upon release of said latch member.

3. The device as defined in claim 2 wherein said latch member comprises a ramp pivotally mounted on said base for pivotal movement in substantially the same plane as said arm, said ramp and said arm having opposed cooperating abutment surfaces located to normally contact each other when said retaining means is at said lower level to prevent rotation of said arm, said ramp pivoting away from said retaining means when an object thereon is adjacent said retaining means, thereby to release engagement of said abutment surfaces to permit rotation of said arrn under the influence of said gravity actuated drive means.

4. A device for raising an object from a first level to a second higher level comprising, a base, a vertically extending support operatively connected to said base, an arm, means for rotatably mounting said arm on said base for rotary movement in a vertical plane, means on said arm for engaging an object at said first level and for retaining the object on said arm during movement of said engaging and retaining means with said arm from said first level adjacent said base, to a second higher level substantially diametrically opposite to said first level, means normally biasing said arm in rotation, and latch means adjacent said base adapted to cooperate with said arm when said engaging and retaining means is at said first level to prevent rotation of said arm under the influence of said biasing means, said latch means being responsive to the presence of an object at said first level for releasing said arm whereby said engaging and retaining means engages said object and retains it as said arm is rotated, thereby lifting said object to said second level.

5. The device as defined in claim 4 including means at said second level for discharging an object moved thereto by said arm means from said device.

6. The device as defined in claim 5 wherein said dischargek means comprises a ramp extending downwardly from said second level.

7. A device for converting the potential energy of a first object into kinetic energy in a second object comprising, a base, a vertically extending support mounted on said base, an arm member, means for rotatably mounting said arm member on said support for rotational movement through at least one 360 arc, said arm member including carriage means for supporting a second object during rotation of said arm member thereby to transport said second object from a position adjacent said base to a higher position along said vertically extending support, and means for rotating said arm member through a 360 arc including a first weighted object and means operatively connecting said first object to said arm member for rotating the latter through said at least one 360 arc as said first object moves downwardly under the influence of gravity, and a ramp extending downwardly from said higher position towards said base whereby as said arm member is rotated by said first object, said second object is raised from its position adjacent said base to said higher position wherein it is discharged from said device along said ramp and potential energy of said first object is converted to kinetic energy in said second object.

8. The device as defined in claim 7 including latching means for holding said arm in a fixed position against the bias of said rotating means when said carriage means is adjacent said base, said latching means being responsive to the presence of said second object thereon adjacent said carriage means to release said arm and permit rotation thereof to lift said second object to said higher level.

9. The device as defined in claim 8 including metering means for supplying second objects to said latching means, and means for actuating said metering means in response to the approach of said carriage means adjacent said base and said latching means.

10. The device as defined in claim 9 wherein said rotating means comprises an arbor rigidly connected to said arm member at the axis of rotation thereof, a flexible connector secured at one end to said arbor and at its opposite end to said first object, and a pulley freely rotatably mounted on said support member above the axis of rotation of said arm member, said connector being guided over said pulley intermediate its ends and being adapted to be wound on and unwound from said arbor whereby upon rotation of said arm member in a first direction said connector is wound on said arbor and, upon release of said latching means, said first object moves downwardly under the influence of gravity to unwind said connector from said arbor and thereby rotate said ann member in a direction opposite to said first direction.

ll. The device as defined in claim 9 wherein said arm member is rotatably mounted intermediate its ends and has one said carriage means mounted at each end thereof for respective cooperation with said latching means adjacent said base.

l2. The device as defined in claim ll wherein said latching means includes a second ramp having first and second end portions and being pivotally mounted on said base intermediate said end portions for pivotal movement in substantially the same plane as said arm member, with said first end portion thereof being located adjacent said metering means and said second end portion thereof being located in position adjacent the path of travel of said carriage means, said second ramp and said carriage means having opposed cooperating abutment surfaces located to normally contact each other when said carriage means are adjacent to the second end portion of said second ramp, and means normally maintaining said second ramp at an incline between the first and second end portions thereof, whereby when a second object is supplied to said second ramp it moves down said second ramp towards said second end portion, causing said second end portion to pivot downwardly with respect to said arm member, thereby releasing the engagement of said abutment surfaces on said second ramp and carriage member to permit rotation of said arm member under the influence of said rotating means.

13. The device as defined in claim l2 wherein said second ramp has a recessed track therein adjacent said second end portion and said carriage means each have a finger portion received in said track when the abutment surfaces on the second ramp and said carriage means are in contact with each other whereby, upon pivoting of said second ramp, the second object thereon is engaged by said finger and lifted thereby for movement with said carriage means upon rotation of said arm member.

14. The device as defined in claim 13 wherein said metering means includes means for storing a plurality of said second objects and having a second object discharge end through which only a single second object may pass, a metering gate pivotally mounted on said base for movement between a first position adjacent said discharge end and a second position adjacent said second ramp, said metering gate having an aperture therein through which a second object passes from said discharge end when said gate is in said first position and a wall portion preventing passage of a second object from said discharge end when said gate is in said second position, and second latching means for normally maintaining said gate in said second position and for releasing said gate in response to the approach of said carriage means adjacent said base and said first latching means whereby said gate pivots from said second position to said second position to permit passage of a first object therethrough to said first mentioned latching means.

l5. The device as defined in claim 14 wherein said second latching means comprises a-,pivotally mounted latch arm having a support platform formed thereon for supporting said gate in said second position and having its center of gravity located to bias said latch arm towards said gate for supporting engagement of said support platform with said gate, said latch arm and said carriage means having cam surfaces formed thereon for cooperating as said carriage means approaches said base and said first mentioned latching means to momentarily pivot said latch arm away from said gate, against the bias of its center of gravity, whereby said gate moves from its second to its first position to pennit a second object to pass through said aperture to said first mentioned latching means.

16. The device as defined in claim l wherein said aperture and latch arm are located in predetermined relative positions, whereby as a second object passes through said aperture the weight thereof causes said gate to pivot from its first to its second position, wherein said latch arm pivots towards said gate under the bias of its center of gravity to support and maintain said gate in said second position.

l7. The device as defined in claim 9 wherein said second objects comprise balls.

18. A device for separately and automatically raising individual toy balls from a first level to a higher level, said device comprising, a ball storage station, a ball pickup station, means adjacent said pickup station for lifting a ball from said pickup station to a higher position in said device above said pickup station, metering means between said storage station and said pickup station for selectively permitting passage of a ball from said storage station to said pickup station, and means for actuating said metering means in response to the presence of a ball at said storage station; and means at said pickup station for preventing operation of said lifting means in the absence of a ball at said pickup station.

19. The device as defined in claim 18 including an inclined ramp extending downwardly from said higher position for converting the potential energy of a ball at said higher position to kinetic energy.

20. The device as defined in claim 18 wherein said metering means includes a metering gate pivotally mounted in said device for movement between first and second positions and having its center of gravity located to bias said gate into its first position, said gate having an aperture therein through which an individual ball from said storage station passes when said gate is in said first position and a wall portion which prevents passage of balls from said storage station when said gate is in said second position, latch means for normally engaging and maintaining said gate in said second position, and means for selectively and momentarily releasing said latch means to pennit said gate to pivot from said second to said first position whereby a ball at said storage station enters said gate at said first position and causes said gate to pivot back to its second position wherein said gate is again engaged by said latch means and discharges said ball to said pick-up station.

21. The device as defined in claim 20 wherein said latch means comprises a pivotally mounted latch arm having a support platform formed thereon for supporting said gate in said second position and having its center of gravity located to bias said latch arm towards said gate for supporting engagement of said support platform with said gate, said releasing means being adapted to momentarily pivot said latch arm away from said gate to permit said gate to return to its first position, said support arm thereafter automatically returning to its original position for support of said gate under the bias of its center of gravity.

22. A device for separately and automatically raising individual toy balls from a first level to a higher second level therein to produce kinetic energy in said balls, said device comprising, a base, a ball storage station, a ball pickup station at said first level, a vertical support member mounted on said base and extending therefrom to said second higher level, a ball discharge ramp extending downwardly from said higher level for converting the potential energy of a ball at said higher level into kinetic energy, a transfer arm, means for rotatably mounting said transfer arm on said vertical support member intermediate its ends for rotation in a vertical plane, said transfer arm having a pair of ball carriage members respectively located at opposite ends thereof and positioned to pass through said pickup station and adjacent said ramp at said higher level during rotation of said arm, metering means located between said storage station and said pickup station for selectively permitting passage of a ball from said storage station to said pickup station, and means for actuating said metering means in response to the presence of a ball at said storage station and'to the presence of a carriage member at said pickup station, means for rotating said transfer arm, and means at said pickup station for engaging a carriage member adjacent thereto and preventing rotation of said transfer arm in the absence of a ball at said pickup station whereby, when a ball is present at said storage station and a carriage member is engaged with said means for preventing rotation of said transfer arm, a ball at said storage station will pass through said metering means to said pickup station, enter said carriage member, and be lifted thereby upon rotation of said transfer arm to said higher position wherein continued rotation of said transfer arm is prevented by engagement of the other of said carriage members with said rotation preventing means, said metering means preventing passage of another ball to said pickup station until the arrival of said other carriage member at said pickup station.

23. The device as defined in claim 22 wherein said means for preventing rotation of said transfer arm includes a second ramp having first and second end portions, and being pivotally mounted on said base intermediate said end portions for pivotal movement in substantially the same plane as said transfer arm, with the first end portion thereof being located adjacent said metering means and the second end portion thereof being located in position adjacent the path of travel of said carriage members, said second ramp and said carriage members having opposed cooperating abutment surfaces located to contact each other when said carriage members respectively enter said pickup station adjacent the second end portion of said second ramp, and means normally maintaining said second ramp in a downwardly inclined configuration between the first and second end portions thereof with the abutment surface of said second ramp in the path of travel of the abutment surfaces of said carriage member while permitting rotation of said second ramp in a direction to release engagement between said abutment surfaces, whereby when a ball is discharged from said storage station through said metering means, it engages the first end portion of said second ramp and rolls down said second ramp towards the second end portion thereof causing said second ramp to pivot and move said second end portion downwardly with respect to said transfer arm, thereby releasing the engagement of said abutment surfaces to permit rotation of said transfer arm.

24. The device as defined in claim 23 wherein said metering means includes a metering gate pivotally mounted on said base for movement between a first position adjacent said storage station and a second position adjacent the first end portion of said second ramp and having its center of gravity located to bias said gate into its first position, said metering gate having an aperture therein through which a ball passes from said storage station when said gate is in said first position and a wall portion preventing passage of a ball from said storage station when said gate is in said second position, and latch means, normally maintaining said gate in said second position, for releasing said gate in response to the approach of one of said carriage members adjacent the second end portion of said second ramp whereby said gate pivots from said second position to said first position to pennit passage of a ball therethrough onto said second ramp.

25. The device as defined in claim 24 wherein said latch means comprises a pivotally mounted latch arm having a support platform formed thereon for supporting said gate in said second position and having its center of gravity located to bias said latch arm towards said gate in position for supporting engagement of said support platform with said gate, said latch arm and said carriage members having cooperating cam surfaces formed thereon, said cam surfaces being positioned to engage each other as a carriage member approaches said second end portion of said ramp to momentarily pivot said latch arm away from said gate, against the normal' bias of the center of gravity of the latch arm, whereby said gate moves from its second position to its first position to permit a ball at said storage station to enter said gate and pivot the same to its second position wherein the ball is discharged onto said second ramp.

26. The device as defined in claim 25 wherein said second ramp has a recessed track formed therein adjacent saidvsecond end portion and said carriage members each have a finger portion received in said track when the abutment surfaces on the second ramp and carriage member are in engagement, whereby, upon rotationvof said ramp as a ball moves from the first end portion to the second end portion thereof, the ball engages said finger and enters said carriage member to be lifted thereby to said higher level upon release and rotation of said transfer ann.

27. The device as defined in claim 26 wherein said means for rotating said transfer arm includes an arbor rigidly connected to said transfer arm at the axis of rotation thereof, a flexible connector secured at one end to said arbor, a weighted object secured to the opposite end of the connector, land a pulley freely rotatably mounted on said vertical support member, above the axis of rotation of said arm member, said flexible connector being guided over said pulley intermediate its ends and being adapted to be wound on and unwound from said arbor whereby, upon rotation of said transfer arm in a first direction, said connector is wound on said arbor to raise said weighted object and, upon release of said means for preventing rotation, said weight moves downwardly under the influence of gravity to unwind said connector from said arbor and rotate said transfer arm in a direction opposite to said first direction, thereby converting the potential energy of said weighted object to kinetic energy in said balls.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification446/173, 446/168, 273/342
International ClassificationA63H33/30, A63F7/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63H33/3044, A63F7/00
European ClassificationA63F7/00, A63H33/30K
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Mar 2, 1995ASAssignment
Owner name: TYCO INDUSTRIES, INC., NEW JERSEY
Free format text: RELEASE OF SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:NATIONSBANK, N.A. (CAROLINAS), FORMERLY KNOWN AS NATIONSBANK OF NORTH CAROLINA, N.A., AS AGENT;REEL/FRAME:007363/0210
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Oct 14, 1993ASAssignment
Owner name: TYCO INDUSTRIES II, INC., NEW JERSEY
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:VIEW-MASTER IDEAL GROUP, INC.;REEL/FRAME:006732/0321
Owner name: TYCO INDUSTRIES, INC., NEW JERSEY
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Effective date: 19920602
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Owner name: NATIONSBANK OF NORTH CAROLINA, N.A.
Free format text: SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:TYCO INDUSTRIES, INC.;REEL/FRAME:006225/0964
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Sep 12, 1991ASAssignment
Owner name: BANK OF NOVA SCOTIA, THE
Owner name: BANK OF TOKYO TRUST COMPANY, THE
Owner name: FIDELITY BANK, N.A.
Owner name: MARINE MIDLAND BANK, N.A.
Owner name: MERIDIAN BANK
Owner name: MIDLANTIC NATIONAL BANK
Owner name: NCNB NATIONAL BANK OF NORTH CAROLINA
Owner name: PHILADELPHIA NATIONAL BANK
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Owner name: UNITED JERSEY BANK
Free format text: SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:VIEW MASTER-IDEAL GROUP, INC.;REEL/FRAME:005853/0041
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Nov 21, 1986AS02Assignment of assignor's interest
Owner name: CBS INC., A CORP OF NY
Effective date: 19861107
Owner name: VIEW-MASTER IDEAL GROUP, INC., 200 FIFTH AVENUE, N
Nov 21, 1986ASAssignment
Owner name: VIEW-MASTER IDEAL GROUP, INC., 200 FIFTH AVENUE, N
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST. AS OF JANUARY 21, 1986.;ASSIGNOR:CBS INC., A CORP OF NY;REEL/FRAME:004648/0575
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Owner name: VIEW-MASTER IDEAL GROUP, INC., A CORP OF DE,NEW YO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:CBS INC., A CORP OF NY;REEL/FRAME:004648/0575
Nov 16, 1983ASAssignment
Owner name: CBS INC., 51 WEST 52ND STREET, NEW YORK, NY 1001
Free format text: NUNC PRO TUNC ASSIGNMENT;ASSIGNOR:IDEAL TOY CORPORATION, A CORP OF DE;REEL/FRAME:004210/0055
Effective date: 19831108