US 3837644 A
A walk-on type horizontal rail with cross-ties and a platform at one end of the rail having a footswitch-controlled timing mechanism for giving audible and visual signals to contestants, who start at the platform and attempt to progress as far as possible along the rail im minimum time; the platform has stabilizing pads and all the bottom surfaces have non-skid provisions; special paint patterns both aid and hinder contestants in various embodiments; novel folding arrangements and safely rounded corners are also disclosed.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Stinchcomb 1 Sept. 24, 1974 TIME AND DISTANCE INDICATING BALANCING TOY William C. Stinchcomb, 634 Charraway Rd., Baltimore, Md. 21229 Filed: Mar. 28, 1973 Appl. No.1 345,683
US. Cl. 273/1 R, 272/60 R, 272/DIG. 5 Int. Cl A631) 1/02 Field of Search 272/60, DIG. 5; 273/1 R,
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 8/1942 Terrill 58/145 R 12/1970 Thomas 273/1 R Primary ExaminerAnton O. Oechsle Assistant Examiner-Joseph R. Taylor Attorney, Agent, or Firm.lohn F. McClellan, Sr.
[5 7 ABSTRACT A walk-on type horizontal rail with cross-ties and a platform at one end of the rail having a footswitchcontrolled timing mechanism for giving audible and visual signals to contestants, who start at the platform and attempt to progress as far as possible along the rail im minimum time; the platform has stabilizing pads and all the bottom surfaces have non-skid provisions; special paint patterns both aid and hinder contestants in various embodiments; novel folding arrangements and safely rounded corners are also disclosed.
9 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures 1 TIME AND DISTANCE INDICATING BALANCING TOY This invention relates generally to toys and specifically to balancing rails for walking-on at near gound level or floor level.
In the prior art various devices of the type have been disclosed in which the rail is supported against lateral tipping, and/or is segmented or is foldable to facilitate storage.
However, the prior art devices are little more than pieces of 2 x 4 lumber laid on edge, in net effect, and as such have failed to capture the imagination of youngsters (or of oldster party-goers) and no old art device has established itself as a standard toy or piece of sporting gear universally recognized and in demand.
A principal object of the present invention is to add a new dimension to walk-on balancing rails to increase the excitement and enjoyment in using such devices, the new dimension being a timing device which gives audible signals against which contestants can measure progress in walking along the rail.
Another object is to provide in an optional embodiment a visible timing device for measuring contestants progress along the rail.
Further objects are to provide a balancing rail assembly in which the rail has an integral platform at one end for contestants to begin the balancing walk from, in which the timing device is contained, and which has a foot-operated control for the timing device.
Yet further objects are to provide an assembly as described which can be stored as a compact bundle, which when extended for use has all corners and edges rounded for safety, which has a non-slip provision on the bottom areas, and which is economical to construct, attractive in appearance, and safe, entertaining and instructive in use.
In brief summary, a structurally preferred embodiment includes a circular platform having a laterally braced rail extending therefrom and an integral device arranged to indicate lapsed time beginning with the moment a contestant starts a balancing walk along the rail.
- The above and other objects and advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the following description, including the drawings, in which like numerals indicating like parts:
FIG. I is an isometric view of an embodiment of the invention;
FIG. is a side elevation of the FIG. 1 embodiment;
FIG. 3 is an end elevation of the FIG. 2 embodiment;
FIG. 4 is a bottom plan detail of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is an elevation detail of a modified embodiment;
FIG. 6 is a top plan view of a further embodiment; and
FIG. 7 is an elevation section of the FIG. embodiment.
FIGS. 1, 2, 3 and 4 show the simplest embodiment 10 of the invention in the form of a circular platform 12 having an integral rail 14 protruding from the platform. The platform top and bottom l6 18 respectively (FIG. 2),,are parallel spaced surfaces and the rail is supported against twisting by integral cross ties extending parallel to either side, on whichtit rests. The rail section is that of a railroad rail preferably (FIG. 3). The bottom of the platform has three pads 24 and 2 6,, (FIG. 4) which prevent the platform from tipping by causing the platform to straddle slight irregularities beneath the center of the platform. The rear pad extends rearwardly beyond the top rear edge for stability, and preferably connects with it by a smoothly sloping back wall 30 on the pedestal. The bottom plane of the pads and crossties is the same, and rubber non-skid mats 3g, 34 are preferably cemented to each, as shown. The top surface of the platform is preferably flush with the top of the rail to prevent tripping.
The length of the rail is graduated into successively numbered zones 36 counting away from the pedestal.
A plunger 38 protrudes from the top surface of the pedestal, providing means for foot-controlling a sounding timer mechanism 40 within the pedestal.
In operation, the device is used as follows. A contestant stands ,on the platform with one foot depressing the plunger. At any desired time the contestantsteps off the platform, releasing the timing control, and walks along the rail, blancing himself or herself, counting periodic sounds emitted by the timer 4!] to determine how fast he or she can walk the length of the rail. The length of the rail is preferably several feet, with a crosstie every 2 feet at least, 3 being shown in the drawings, but as many as needed for any desired rail length maybe provided. A FIG. 5 shows one means for attaching together lengths of rail to provide for easy knockdown storage and shipment. A recess may be provided in the end of one rail segment IQ and a matching protrusion 45} may be supplied in the end of the adjacent rail segment 14" for connection of the two together.
Preferably the structural members are of high impact polystyrene or other suitable moldable thermo plastic material molded in one piece or cemented together according to wellknown techniques in plastic fabrication.
FIG. ,6 shows a further embodiment 6 00 of the device in which a visual time indicator fide represented by pointer 648 and members 650 is disposed beneath a transparent plastic window (S52 in the top of the pedesta.
Operation of this device is the same as in F IG. 1 preferably, when the contestants foot is removed, the timer begins operation. in the FIG. 6 embodiment a sounder maybe employed as well as the visual indicator.
Other features of the invention apparent in FIG. $5 include special zigzag or camouflage paint patterns e54 on the rail top to confuse contestants, 'makingthe device harder to master, and a folding arrangement for theraiIQ The folding arrangement comprises two similar vertical-pin hinges 6 56 and 65g, on the sides of the rail at least one of which has a removable pin 66 1). The folded position for the rail is shown in reference lines.
In the folding operation, the location of the hinge point and the fact that the rail rests on crossties directly allows the folding rail segment 614' to pass over the adjacent crosstie 6Z0 and the folding crosstie 620 to pass under the adjacent rail 615i. Preferably the terminal crosstie e20 passes to the rear of the platform 6I2 shown. More than one hinged segmentcan be provided to facilitate folding longeras seniblies.
FIG. 7 shows schematically a representative conventional vertical escapement 640 which may be used for driving the timing mechanism. The timer is attached to the platform as by screwing or cementing. When the contestant steps on plunger 638 spring 662 is depressed between the lower end 664 of the plunger and retainer 666 in the timer box 668. When the contestant releases the plunger, rack 670 on the plunger drives gear 672 in a clockwise direction; causing an ordinary one-way sprague type clutch consisting of a ball 674 held in an incline 676 relative to axle 678 of the gear, to rotate the axle 678. Ratchet gear 680 mounted integral with axle 678, as it rotates drives escapement are 682 in oscillation about pivot 684.
Flat spring 686 resists the driving force by pressing against fixed pin 688 until the resisting force is overcome, and slips past the pin first to one side and then to the other, alternately striking bells 690 and 692, giving a periodic sounding easy to count.
If a pointer 648 is used in a visual indicator as in FIG. 6, it is driven by an axle 694 turned by the rachet gear 672 through miter gears 696 (one set not shown connecting the axle 678 and idler shaft 698).
The pointer may be conventionally provided with a recentering ratchet and spring (not shown) if desired.
From the foregoing it will be appreciated that the operating portions of the apparatus are well protected and, being integral with it, do not impose safety hazards such as connections, and cannot be misplaced.
It will be apparent that other platform shapes and time indicating arrangements integral with the apparatus described will fall within the scope of the invention.
Obviously many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. It is, therefore, to be understood that within the scope of the appended claims the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described.
What is claimed and desired to be secured by US. letters patent is:
l. A walk-on balancing apparatus comprising: a rail, a platform at one end of the rail with the rail protruding 4 from the platform substantially flush with the upper portion thereof, a time indicating mechanism integral with the apparatus, and a foot control for the time indicating mechanism on the platform.
2. A walk-on balancing apparatus as recited in claim 1, wherein the timing mechanism includes means for giving an audible signal.
3. A walk-on balancing apparatus as recited in claim 1, wherein the time indicating mechanism is within the platform.
4. A walk-on balancing apparatus as recited in claim 3, wherein the time indicating mechanism includes a visual indicator on the platform.
5. A walkon balancing apparatus as recited in claim 3, wherein the rail has numbered graduations along the length thereof.
6. A walk-on balancing apparatus comprising: a platform having spaced pads therebeneath with one of said pads extending rearwardly of the upper part of the platform, a time indicating mechanism attached to the platform, a rail extending from the platform, a plurality of crossties attached to the rail with the rail resting thereon, and at least one hinge laterally of the rail for folding the apparatus, said at least one hinge being spaced from the platform and the crossties a distance providing for a crosstie to pass under a portion of the rail and past the platform on folding.
7. A walk-on balancing apparatus as recited in claim 6, wherein non-skid mat material is affixed to the bottoms of all said crossties and pads.
8. A walk-on balancing apparatus as recited in claim 7, wherein the sectional shape of the rail is the same as the sectional shape of a railroad rail.
9. A walk-on balancing apparatus comprising: a platform having spaced pads therebeneath with one of said pads extending rearwardly of the upper part of the platform, a time indicating mechanism attached to the platform, a rail extending from the platform, a plurality of crossties attached to the rail with the rail resting thereon, the rail comprising a plurality of segments, and the segments having respective matching apertures and protrusions for assembly and disassembly.