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Publication numberUS3838676 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 1, 1974
Filing dateSep 28, 1972
Priority dateSep 28, 1972
Publication numberUS 3838676 A, US 3838676A, US-A-3838676, US3838676 A, US3838676A
InventorsKahelin E
Original AssigneeKahelin E
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Ball throwing machine with barrel extension
US 3838676 A
An improved compressed fluid ball projecting apparatus having an improved ball feeding device and ball control ejection barrel extensions. The barrel extensions come in several forms to provide for high and low velocity baseball ejection, and for the throwing, of tennis balls. Included in each of several given forms of the barrel extension structures is a slot extending through the wall of the extension structure. A strip of friction material extends inwardly through this slot. This strip of material is resiliently mounted so as to be outwardly depressable through the slot in response to engagement by a ball passing through the barrel and barrel extension of the ball projecting apparatus. Adjusting screws provide for adjustment of the position of the friction strip relative to the wall of the extension for desired penetration of the strip into the interior thereof. Diametrically opposite the strip is a slippery surface so that a ball passing through the barrel extension is subjected to the friction strip on one side and the slippery surface on the other and is caused to spin thereby.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Kahelin Oct. 1, 1974 BALL THROWING MACHINE WITH BARREL EXTENSION Edward W. Kahelin, 812 Fifth St., Manhattan Beach, Calif. 90266 Filed: Sept. 28, 1972 Appl. No.: 293,020


References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Primary Examiner-Richard C. Pinkham Assistant Examiner-R. T. Stouffer [57] ABSTRACT An improved compressed fluid ball projecting apparatus having an improved ball feeding device and ball control ejection barrel extensions. The barrel extensions come in several forms to provide for high and low velocity baseball ejection, and for the throwing, of tennis balls. Included in each of several given forms of the barrel extension structures is a slot extending through the wall of the extension structure. A strip of friction material extends inwardly through this slot. This strip of material is resiliently mounted so as to be outwardly depressable through the slot in response to engagement by a ball passing through the barrel and barrel extension of the ball projecting apparatus. Adjusting screws provide for adjustment of the position of the friction strip relative to the wall of the extension for desired penetration of the strip into the interior thereof. Diametrically opposite the strip is a slippery surface so that a ball passing through the barrel extension is subjected to the friction strip on one side and the slippery surface on the other and is caused to spin thereby.

5 Claims, 10 Drawing Figures PATENTEU T 3.838.676

SHEET 10F 2 BALL THROWING MACHINE WITH BARREL EXTENSION RELATED INVENTIONS The present invention is an improvement over the apparatus shown and described as a Baseball Pitching and Fielding Practice Device in US. Pat. no. 3,018,769. which issued Jan. 30, 1962 to F. L. Parsoneault. The details of that patent are hereby incorporated herein as if fully set forth and reference is made to that patent for an understanding of the present invention and its advantages over the prior art. Both the Parsoneault patent and the present invention are presently owned by K-Lin Specialties, Inc., 812 Fifth Street, Manhattan Beach, Calif. 90266 and apparatus currently marketed by them will incorporate the improvements set forth in the present application.

BACKGROUND OF THE PRESENT INVENTION Baseball, tennis and other popular games requiring swinging at the ball with an instrument requires practice in hitting, catching, retrieving and other specific maneuvers necessary in achieving proficiency in the game. Hence, throwing the ball repeatedly and with accuracy into a strike zone, into the air or with a bounce off the ground is very desirable in the practice and training of a participant. A machine for this purpose is preferable to the manual propulsion of a ball by a person.

An excellent machine for the throwing of balls at a constant velocity and with consistent accuracy is known as the Fireball, a trademark of K-Lin Specialties. It reflects the teachings of the previously mentioned Parsoneault patent and is used in practice by teams in professional leagues, schools, Little League, and by park and playground teams. It is light, mobile, easy to erect for use and to disassemble for transportation and storage.

In the Fireball machine, balls are automatically fed into a propulsion chamber behind which is a chamber for supplying the compressed air which propels the balls, one at a time and at predetermined intervals, out of the barrel. A sleeve automatically covers the ball entrance opening into the barrel before the ball is ejected, to prevent the compressed air from escaping from the opening. The machine also has a ball curve attachment on the end for giving the ball a spin as it leaves the barrel.

The sleeve and the barrel over which it slides, in the Fireball machine, must have a precision fit to prevent escape of compressed air therebetween and yet permit effortless sliding of the sleeve over the barrel each time a ball is ejected. Dirt or foreign particles between the two cause jamming and malfunction. Looseness of fit or play from wear cannot be tolerated.

The ball curve attachment ahead of the end of the barrel for spinning the ball does not provide the high degree of control that is desired, particularly when the balls are ejected at the slower Little League velocities.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION The present invention incorporates the principle features of the Parsoneault patent. A portable tripod mounted, angularly adjustable, ball ejecting barrel is provided with an automatic feed dropping a ball into the barrel after the previous one was fired. A two step mechanism is now provided to prevent ball jamming, to accommodate different sized balls and balls that tend to stick together. The sleeve which moves over the opening in the barrel also has been changed in the present invention to eliminate the close fit previously required. This is done by providing for an inner self sealing sleeve that bears against the inside of the barrel when it is subjected to the compressed air yet slides loosely inside the barrel when the compressed air has been spent. A compressed air chamber is fed with a portable air compressor and a timing device actuates an air pressure release. permitting the compressed air to be released to the rear of the ball in the barrel and firing it therefrom at a velocity depending upon the chamber air pressure at the time of release. This velocity, of course, may be regulated as desired for park recreational or professional play. Instead of the ball spinning device forward of the barrel, a plurality of barrel extensions are available for high and low velocity baseball ejection, and for the throwing of tennis balls. all with greater accuracy and consistency.

The foregoing improvements make the basic machine more reliable, efficient and accurate in use without an increase in cost or complexity. Its greater variety of uses, in addition to its dependability, make it a more desirable machine.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the ball throwing machine constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an enlarged fragmentary side elevational view, partly in vertical cross section, of the main components of the machine.

FIG. 3 is a sectional view of the barrel and sleeve FIG. 9 is a similar view of a fourth embodiment, and

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a preferred type of baseball'for use with the machine in batting practice.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION Referring now to FIG. 1 there is shown a ball throwing machine 10 built in accordance with the present invention. Included is a tripod having legs 12, 14 and 16 connected to a U-shaped frame 18 having rearwardly extending legs 20, 22. Pivotally mounted on legs 20, 22 is a compression tank 24 having a barrel 26 extending forwardly therefrom. A barrel extension 28 for a selected ball control function is adapted for attachent to the outer end of the barrel 26. The barrel 30 of a ball feeding device is attached to barrel 26 by mounting bracket 32 and is adapted to drop balls, one at a time, into opening 34 at the rear of barrel 26 preparatory to their ejection. A sleeve 36 slides over barrel 26 to close the opening 34 to prevent loss of compressed air which is used in ejecting the ball from the barrel 26. This ejection is at sufficient velocity to simulate a pitched ball, pop fly, grounder or other desired simulation. As sleeve 36 moves forwardly, a laterally extending lug 38 on the sleeve pushes the lower end of pivot arm 40 on barrel forwardly to ready a ball for dropping into opening 34 when it is again uncovered by the rearward movement of sleeve 36.

A compressor 42 is the source of compressed air which is stored in compression tank 24 through conduit 44. Pressure control regulator 46 controls the pressure within the tank 24 at the time of its release to fire the ball. Pressure within the 10 to l5 psi (pounds per square inch) range is appropriate for ejecting a ball at Little League speeds of to 70 feet per second velocity whereas a safety valve 25, shown in FIG. 2, set at approximately 30 psi limits the velocity of ball ejection for professional use.

Conduit 48 leads to a cycle valve 50 which is operated by a timing motor 52 to connect it with conduit 54. This actuates release of compressed air from tank 24 for firing the ball.

A batter can tell when a ball is about to be ejected by watching the semi-circular member 56 rotate in front of disc 58 as the cycle valve 50 rotates to connect conduit 54 to air from conpressor 42 to fire the ball.

In the embodiment in FIG. 1 the compressor 42 connects with conduits 44 and 48 through a T-fitting 60 attached to leg 16 which is hollow. A conduit 62 connects the compressor 42 to the leg 16. However. other connections between the compressor 42 and the cycle valve 50 and compression tank 24 are within the teachings of the present invention.

Referring now to FIG. 2 there is shown the cylindrical compression tank 24 having a front end plate 64 and a rear end plate 66. Rear end plate 66 has a central bore 68 through which a smaller cylinder plunger 70 is slidingly mounted. The front end of plunger 70 has a resilient sealing pad 72 adapted to plug opening 74 in the front end plate 64. This opening 74 communicates with the rear end of barrel 26 for supplying compressed air behind a ball in the barrel when the sealing pad 72 is moved rearwardly to expose the opening 74. A guide rod 76 extends forwardly of pad 72 and isslidingly supported by bracket 78 on end plate 64. The rear end of cylinder plunger 70 is sealed with a plug 80 which has an air fitting 82 adapted for connection with conduit 54 in FIG. 1. Plug 80 also has a central opening 84 in which is slidingly mounted a shaft 86 connected to a piston head 88 within cylinder 70. The outer end of shaft 86 is held by a bracket 89 fastened to the outer surface of rear plate 66. A handle 90 is also attached to bracket 89 and may be used to change the angle of barrel 26 between ball ejections as desired. A compres sion spring 92 between bracket 89 and plug 80 keeps the cylinder plunger 70 in its forward position, as shown, with the sealing pad 72 over the opening 74 until compressed air enters fitting 82 and into the chamber between plug 80 and piston head 88. Since the piston head 88 cannot move forward, to the right in FIG. 2, the plug 80, and thus plunger 70 with its sealing pad 72, must move rearwardly, to the left in FIG. 2. This releases the compressed air in chamber 24 behind the ball in barrel 26 and the ball is ejected. As the cycle valve 50 in FIG. 1 continues to rotate, the fitting 82 becomes exposed to the atmosphere and the triggering compressed air between plug 80 and piston 88 is lost. Compression spring 92 then pushes the cylinder plunger 70 forwardly again (as shown in FIG. 2) and air pressure again builds up in chamber 24 for the next ball ejection. Ring 94 attached to fitting 82 on plunger 70 may also be pulled rearwardly by hand to cause firing at any time should the automatic timed firing through motor 52 and cycle valve 50 not be desired.

The buildup of air pressure in compression chamber 24 is also used to close the opening 34 in barrel 26 prior to the firing of the ball. This is necessary to prevent loss of air behind the ball until it leaves the barrel. This is accomplished by another pressure responsive actuator within chamber 24. This actuator consists of a cylinder 96 attached to the inner surface of front plate 64. A rod 98 is slidingly mounted on plate 64 and is attached at its inner end to a piston head 100 within the cylinder 96. Its outer end is attached to cylinder sleeve 36 on barrel 26. Compression spring 102 between plate 64 and piston head 100 holds sleeve 36 rearwardly. as shown. until air pressure against piston 100 builds up. depresses the spring, and moves sleeve 36 forwardly to close opening 34. This position is shown in phantom lines 36A. An air bleed 104 through plate 64 prevents back pressure to piston head 100.

Sleeve 36 has an upwardly and rearwardly extending tab 106 which passes through a slot (not shown) in the back cover 108 of barrel 30 to its phantom line position 106A to receive ball 110 when the lower end of pivot arm 40 has been moved forwardly by the laterally extending lug 38 on sleeve 36. Arm 40 has an upper pivot mounting 111 on the top of barrel 26 with a lever arm 112 extending upwardly. Tension spring 114 is connected to this lever arm to return pivot arm 40 to the position shown when sleeve 36 is returned to its rear position. Attached to pivot arm 40 is a ball stop arm 116 which moves upwardly with the forward movement of pivot arm 40 and out of the path of ball 110 to permit it to roll down into contact with tab 106A. When sleeve 36 and tab 106A move rearwardly, opening 34 is exposed and the ball drops down into the barrel 26. As lever arm 40 moves rearwardly the ball stop arm 116 moves downwardly to stop the next ball in the ball feed barrel 30. A spring pressed detent 118 on barrel 26 prevents the ball from moving forwardly until ejected by the compressed air when plunger 70 is actuated.

As shown in FIG. 3, the sleeve 36 actually consists of an outer sleeve 120, an inner seal 122, tab 106, lug 38 and a ball positioning bolt 124 connecting the outer sleeve 120 and and inner seal 122 through a slot 126 in barrel 26. The outer sleeve 120 may have a loose fit over barrel 26 to avoid binding problems and to insure dependability without precision manufacturing. The problem of air leakage is resolved with the inner seal 122 which preferably does not form a complete cylindrical wall. With a longitudinal strip removed from its cylindrical wall, its longitudinal edges 128 and 130 are spaced and permit radial flexibility. This seal preferably is made from sheet metal which snugs against the inner surface of barrel 26 when subjected to the blast of compressed air from chamber 24 used in ejecting the ball from barrel 26. In the absence of such pressure it retracts enough to slide along the inner surface of barrel 26 without binding.

The barrel extension 28 has a collar 132 adapted to fit over the outer end of barrel 26. A thumb screw 134 fastens it securely in place. Along the upper inner surface of the barrel 28 is a longitudinal strip 136 of friction material such as rubber which may be recessed into the barrel by an amount regulated by adjustment screws 138 and 140. Along the lower surface is a longitudinal Teflon strip 140 or other strip of non-friction material that may be adhesively applied or baked on as a plurality of coatings. As a ball passes through extension 28 the upper friction material tends to retard the upper portion of the ball and the non-friction material 141 lets the lower portion of the ball continue. This results in a spinning motion of the ball as it leaves the extension 28. Other forms of extensions are set forth in subsequent views.

In FIG. 4 there is shown the ball spin device used in the old Fireball machine which preceded the extensions of the present invention. Here a sleeve extension member 142 is provided with an attaching collar 144 engageable on the end of the ejection barrel. Locking screw 146 rigidly secures the sleeve member 142 on the barrel in a desired position of angular adjustment around the axis of the barrel. An arm 148 is pivoted on lug 150 on the extension 142 and extends through a U- shaped bracket 152 near the end of the extension 142. A compression spring 154 bears down on the arm 148. An adjusting screw 156 passes through arm 148 and bears on the outer surface of sleeve extension 142 to limit the downward movement of arm 148 in response to the compression on spring 154. By adjusting the screw 156, the inclination of arm 148 may be adjusted.

The under surface of arm 148 has a strip of friction material such as rubber attached thereto which extends into the path of travel of a ball ejected through the sleeve extension 142. The adjustment of screw 156 regulates the amount of spin imparted to the ball and thus the degree of curving action applied to the ball.

While this prior art development has merit, it also had problems which madeit lack dependable accuracy. For example, the differences in balls fired such as slight variations in size, roughness, and moisture content would change the angle of ricochet of the ball from the friction material. Thus, improvements were necessary such as those in FIGS. 5 to 10, inclusive.

The structure in FIG. 5 is similar to the prior art structure in FIG. 4 and like parts are identified by like numerals. I-lowever, extension 142A in FIG. 5 is longer. It was found that with the same amount of compressed air, the ricochet of the ball from the friction pad 158 reduced its velocity. By lengthening the extension. the initial velocity could be restored without an increase in compressed air. This, however, did not correct the accuracy problems in the prior art device.

By placing the friction material within the length of the extension and providing a relatively non-friction surface on the other side of the barrel inner surface, the ball can be made to spin without ricochet and any curve developed will result from the spinning effect of the ball, not its bounce from an object forwardly of the barrel extension. In FIG. 6, there is shown a barrel extension 160 with an area 162 pivoted at bracket 164 on the extension. A slot is provided in the wall of the extension to permit the friction material 166 fastened under the arm 162 to pass into the extension to contact a ball passing through the extension. A bracket 168 on the outer end of the extension has a bolt 170 passing through the bracket to engage the outer surface of the extension. The bolt is threadedly connected to the end of arm 162 so that rotation of bolt 170 regulates its penetration into the extension. A spring 172 between bracket 168 and arm 162 provides outward resiliency when the ball passes through and pushes the friction strip 166 outwardly.

On the opposite side of the extension from the friction strip 166 are two rows of rollers 174 mounted on the extension by bracket 176. These rollers pass through the extension 160 to engage a ball passing through. These rollers provide the slippery or nonfriction surface on the side of the barrel extension opposite to that of the friction surface. Bolt regulates the degree of spin on the ball thus generated and the orientation of the extension 160 on the end of the ball exit barrel determines the angular direction of the spin. The end view in FIG. 7 is for additional clarity in understanding its operation. As ball 178 is forced between the rollers 174 and the friction strip 166, it lifts the strip up against the spring 172. This also acts as a speed killer and can be made to reduce the ball velocity if desired.

In FIG. 8 is another version wherein a long strip of friction material is used to dampen the ball velocity to Little League speeds. The bumpiness at slow speeds as in the case of the rollers is not present. A forced spin is developed without ricochet for a more reliable ball ejection. Here a longer strip of friction material 180 is attached to the underside of arm .182 which is resiliently mounted at both ends to barrel extension 184. Brackets 186,- 188 are attached to the extension 184 and springs 190, 192 urge the strip 180 inwardly. Bolts 194, 196 are threadedly engaged through arm 182 and bear against the extension 184 for adjustment purposes both fore and aft. On the inner surface opposite strip 180 is a Teflon or similar slippery surface 197 which may be applied. A liquid Teflon sprayed and baked in successive layers has been very effective. Also a Teflon strip bonded or glued to the inner surface works satisfactorily.

In FIG. 9 there is shown an attachment for throwing tennis balls. Since the diameter of a tennis ball is 2.75

inches compared with a baseball of 2.95 inches in diameter, a sleeve insert 198 is used which extends down into the ejection barrel of the machine. Lip 200 fits between edges 128, 130 of inner sleeve 122 shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. Attaching collar 202 is used, as before, in securing the extension 204 with the proper orientation. Arm 206 is pivotally mounted by bracket 208 to extension 204 with bracket 210, bolt 212 and spring 214 resiliently adjusting the arm 206 for penetration.

Attached to arm 206 are stiff bristles 216 which frictionally retard the upper surface of the tennis ball while Teflon surface 218 applies the slippery surface contact with the ball from the other side.

In FIG. 10 is shown the configuration of a baseball preferably used with the extensions in FIGS. 5, 6, 7 and 8. This ball is of conventional size but has a' second set of stitches symmetricaly applied with a reverse pattern. Thus, stitching 220, 222, 224 shows the conventional configuration with stitching 226, 228, 230 constituting the reverse pattern. If the ball has a molded rubber outer surface the simulated stitching is textured for a distinct rise along the stitching. The importance of this second set of reverse stitching is that no matter how the ball is handled or happens to drop into the sleeve for firing, the batter sees the spinning of strings at the girth of the ball. The blur of strings at top and bottom of the ball as it spins is not detrimental to the batter.

Having described illustrative embodiments of the present invention, other modifications thereof will occur to those skilled in the art and it is to be understood that these variations are to be considered as part of the present invention as set forth in the claims.

What I claim is: l. A ball throwing machine comprising: a stand; a ball ejection barrel supported by said stand; means for ejecting a ball out of said barrel; a barrel extension adapted for mounting on the end of said barrel; said extension having a slot extending through the wall thereof; said extension further having a strip of friction material extending inwardly through said slot; means for resiliently mounting said strip in said slot so that said strip is outwardly depressable through said slot in response to engagement by a ball passing through said barrel and said barrel extension; means for adjusting the position of said strip relative to said wall for desired penetration of said strip into the interior of said extension;

said barrel extension having a slippery inner surface diametrically opposite said strip whereby a ball passing through said extension is subjected to said outwardly depressable strip and said slippery inner surface and be caused to spin thereby.

2. A ball throwing machine as in claim 1 wherein said slippery inner surface is a Teflon material affixed to the inner surface of the barrel of said extension.

3. A ball throwing machine as in claim 1 wherein said slippery inner surface is a plurality of rollers having edges thereof protruding into said extension.

4. A ball throwing machine as in claim 1 wherein said strip of friction material comprises inwardly directed bristles against which a ball will brush as the ball passes therethrough.

5. A ball throwing machine as in claim 4 wherein said barrel extension has an inner sleeve insertable into said ball ejection barrel for the ejection of balls smaller in diameter than the diameter of said barrel.

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U.S. Classification124/75, 124/81, 473/598
International ClassificationA63B47/00, A63B69/40
Cooperative ClassificationA63B2069/402, A63B69/409, A63B2047/004
European ClassificationA63B69/40P