US 3536906 A
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'Filed 001:; 28, 1968 I v INVENTOR. I I W/LL/AM BLOOM f-BY" 1 United States Patent U.S. Cl. 240- 5 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE Illumination and inflation of an elastic balloon is provided for by extending the balloon neck over, and into sealing contact with one end portion of an open-ended, tubular member of a flexible plastic, such as transparent polyvinyl chloride, disposing within the tubular member a light socket which cooperates with the tubular member to define a clearance therebetween extending along the socket, and projecting a light bulb from the socket so as to dispose the bulb within the balloon. The tubular member and socket are axially movable relative to each other between a first position, where the clearance therebetween opens into the interior of the balloon to permit inflation of the latter with air or other gas blown through the clearance, and a second position, where the end portion of the tubular member is in sealing engagement with the surface of the light bulb to retain the inflating gas within the balloon.
This invention relates generally to an illuminated balloon device in which an inflated elastic balloon is internally illuminated by a lamp or light bulb disposed therein and functions as a decorative shade for the bulb.
Various arrangements have been proposed for inflating a balloon and for retaining the balloon in inflated condition with a light bulb disposed therein. For example, as disclosed in U.S. Pats. No. 2,077,973, and No. 2,225,183, it has been proposed to inflate a conventional balloon having a single neck by orally or otherwise blowing air into the balloon through such neck and thereafter extending the latter over the light bulb and into sealing contact either with the light socket or with a body provided on the latter. The foregoing has the disadvantage that much of the air escapes from the inflated balloon during the extension of its neck over the light bulb and into sealing contact with the socket so that it is diflicult to obtain a fully inflated balloon with the light bulb disposed therein.
It has further been proposed to provide balloons of a special configuration having twonecks one of which is engaged with the light bulb socket prior to inflation of the balloon through the other neck, or having a single neck through which the balloon is inflated after the balloon has been engaged With the light bulb or socket by Way of an additional seating arrangement provided on the balloon, for example, as in U.S. Pats. No. 1,488,265, No. 2,078,707 and No. 2,542,361. However, such balloons of special configuration are relatively expensive and diflicult to produce.
Still other proposals have involved the provision of the light bulb socket with a valved inlet for the inflating air, or the installation of the light bulb and its socket within a tube having a check valve therein so that, after engagement of the balloon neck with either the socket or the tube to contain the socket, the balloon can be inflated through the valved inlet or check valve without subsequent loss of the inflating gas. However, sockets with valved inlets or tubes with check valve structures incorporated therein, for example, as in U.S. Pats. No. 1,832,408 and No. 1,229,794, respectively, are relatively expensive to produce in that they do not permit the utiliza- Patented Oct. 27, 1970 ice tion of readily available conventional Christmas tree lights and sockets for the illumination of the inflated balloons. Similar disadvantages are inherent in those earlier proposals which, as in U.S. Pat. No. 1,858,991, involve the use of a tube which is open at one end and has the balloon neck extended over the tube into normal sealing contact with the outer surface of the latter at an orifice provided in the Wall of the tube. With the foregoing arrangement, the balloon may be inflated by blowing through the open end of the tube to distend the balloon neck away from the orifice until inflation has been completed, whereupon the balloon neck is again relied upon for sealing the orifice, with the light bulb and its socket being extended thereafter into the tube through the open end of the latter. However, the described sealing action of the balloon neck against the tube at the orifice in the wall of the latter is not effective to maintain the inflation of the balloon for long periods of time.
Accordingly, it is an object of this invention to provide an illuminated balloon device which avoids all of the above mentioned disadvantages of the previous proposals.
Another object is to provide an illuminated balloon device which permits the use of conventional balloons and readily and inexpensively available conventional Christmas tree lights and the sockets therefor to eifect the illumination of the balloons, while facilitating inflation of the balloons and the sealing of the inflating gas therein.
In accordance with an aspect of this invention, the neck of a conventional elastic balloon is extended over one end portion of a tubular member of flexible plastic material, such as, transparent polyvinyl chloride, so as to effect sealing contact with the outer surface of the tubular member, a light socket, for example, of the type conventionally employed for Christmas tree lights, is disposed within the tubular member and cooperates with the latter to define a clearance therebetween extending along the socket, for example, by providing the tubular member with an internal diameter greater than the external diameter of the socket, and a Christmas tree light bulb or the like projects axially from the socket so as to be disposed within the balloon, the tubular member and light socket being axially movable relative to each other between a first position, where the clearance therebetween opens into the interior of the balloon to permit inflation of the latter with gas blown through such clearance, and a second position, where the end portion of the tubular member over which the balloon neck is extended is in sealing engagement with the surface of the light bulb to retain the inflating gas within the balloon.
In the preferred embodiment of this invention, the light bulb has a maximum cross-sectional area substantially greater than that of the socket and also greater than the internal cross-sectional area of the tubular member at the end portion of the latter intended for sealing engagement with the light bulb, with such end portion of the tubular member being axially wtihdrawn from the maximum cross-sectional area of the bulb in the direction toward the socket when the socket and tubular member are relatively positioned for inflation of the balloon, and with such end portion of the tubular member projecting axially beyond the socket toward the maximum crosssectional area of the bulb to tightly engage around the latter when the tubular member and socket are positioned for sealing the inflating gas within the balloon.
It is a further feature of this invention to provide the tubular member with an axially open slit in the end portion thereof projecting out of the balloon neck so that, when the balloon is to be inflated, the electrical cord extending from the socket at the end remote from the light bulb, as is conventional, can be drawn to one side and held in such slit so as to avoid interference of such cord with the oral blowing of the inflating air or other gas into the end of the tubular member projecting from the balloon neck.
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 drawing, wherein:
FIG. 1 is an elevational view of an illuminated balloon device in accordance with this invention and which is shown with its balloon in inflated condition;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged, fragmentary sectional view taken along the line 2-2 on FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a view similar to that of FIG. 2, but showing the parts of the device relatively positioned to permit inflation or deflation of the balloon; and
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary sectional view taken along the line 44 on FIG. 2.
Referring to the drawing in detail, it will be seen that an illuminated balloon device according to this invention generally comprises a rubber or other elastic balloon 11 of conventional configuration having a single neck 12 with a thickened rim or reinforcement 13 at the mouth thereof, an open ended tubular member 14 of a flexible, preferably transparent plastic material, such as, for example, polyvinyl chloride, a conventional light bulb socket 15, such as are usually provided for Christmas tree light bulbs having an electric cord 16 extending from one end, and a conventional light bulb 17 (FIGS. 2-3) having its base screwed or otherwise engaged in socket 15 so as to project from the end of the latter remote from electric cord 16 and be illuminated by electric current supplied to the socket through such cord.
As shown, particularly on FIGS. 2 and 3, neck 12 of balloon 11 extends over one end portion 14a of tubular member 14 so as to have its thickened rim 13 constricted around, and in sealing contact with the outer surface of tubular member 14. Light socket 15 is disposed within tubular member 14 so that bulb 17 engaged in the light socket will extend in the same direction as end portion 14a of the tubular member over which the balloon neck is extended. Thus, light bulb 17 is disposed within balloon 11 when the neck of the balloon is engaged with tubular member 14, as described above.
Tubular member 14 and socket 15 are relatively dimensioned so as to be axially movable relative to each other and further to define a clearance 18 therebetween which extends along socket 15. For example, tubular member 14 may be formed with an inner diameter that is slightly larger than the maximum outer diameter of socket 15 so that the clearance 18 therebetween is annular (FIG. 4) and opens axially at its opposite ends.
As shown in the illustrated embodiment, and as is usually the case, the Christmas tree light bulb 17 is generally conical and has a maximum cross-sectional area, as at D (FIGS. 2 and 3), which is larger than the maximum cross-sectional area at the outer surface of socket 15 and also larger than the internal cross-sectional area of tubular member 14 particularly at the end portion 14a of the latter.
In view of the foregoing relationships between tubular member 14, socket 15 and bulb 17, it will be apparent that clearance 18 will open into the interior of balloon 11 when tubular member 14 is displaced downwardly relative to socket 15, as viewed on FIG 3, to a position where end portion 14a of the tubular member is spaced from the location of the maximum cross-sectional area D of bulb 17, which position is hereinafter referred to as the inflating position. With tubular member 14 and socket 15 relatively disposed in such inflating position, air or other gas to inflate balloon 11 may be blown into the lower end portion 14b of tubular member 14, that is, the end portion of the latter which extends out of balloon neck 12, and such gas passes through clearance 18 and enters the interior of balloon 11, as indicated by the arrows 19 on FIG. 3, for inflating the balloon. After such inflation of the balloon has been completed, the inflating gas is quickly sealed Within the balloon simply by axially displacing tubular member 14 and socket 15 relative to each other in the direction to project end portion 14a of the tubular member axially beyond socket 15 and into sealing engagement with the surface of bulb 17, for example, at the region of maximum cross-sectional area D thereof, as shown on FIG. 2. By reason of the flexible nature of the plastic material forming tubular member 14, end portion 14a of the latter closely conforms to any surface irregularities of bulb 17 and is elastically stretched for the tight sealing engagement with the bulb required for the secure sealing of the gas within balloon 11. With the tubular member 14 and socket 15 in the relative position shown on FIG. 2, which position is hereinafter referred to as the sealing position, it will be apparent that the tight sealing engagement of end portion 14a of the tubular member with the surface of light bulb 17 effectively closes the upper end of clearance 18 to prevent the escape of inflating gas from the balloon even though the engagement of the base of bulb 17 within socket 15 may not be air tight.
As shown, end portion 14b of tubular member 14 is desirably provided with an axially opening slit 20 so that, when tubular member 14 and socket 15 are in the inflating portion (FIG. 3) electric cord 16 can be drawn to one side and retained in slit 20' of end portion 14b which then projects axially beyond the end of socket 15 remote from bulb 17. With cord 16 thus gripped in slit 20, the mouth of a person can engage over end portion 14b of the tubular member, without interference from cord 16, to facilitate the oral blowing of the inflating air into tubular member 14. After inflation of the balloon has been thus effected, tubular member 14 may be grasped while cord 16 is pulled downwardly, as indicated by the arrow 21 on FIG. 2, whereby to withdraw cord 16 from slit 20 and then to displace socket 15 downwardly relative to tubular member 14 for disposing the socket and tubular member in the sealing position of FIG. 2.
It will be apparent from the foregoing that inflating of the balloon and sealing of the inflating gas within the balloon can be easily effected merely by the combination of the simple tubular member 14, as described, with a conventional balloon 11 and a conventional assembly of a socket 15 and light bulb 17. Thus, the illuminated balloon device according to this invention can be inexpensively produced and simply operated so as to encourage its widespread use.
Although an illustrative embodiment of the invention has been described in detail herein with reference to the accompanying drawing, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to that precise embodiment, and that various changes and modifications may be effected therein by one skilled in the art without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention, as defined in the appended claims.
What is claimed is:
1. The combination of an open-ended, tubular member of flexible plastic material, an elastic balloon having a neck extending over one end portion of said tubular member and in sealing contact with the outer surface of the latter, a light socket within said tubular member and cooperating with the latter to define a clearance therebetween extending along the socket, and a light bulb projecting axially from the one end of said socket which is closest to said one end portion of said tubular member so as to be disposed within said balloon, said tubular member and light socket being axially movable relative to each other between a first position, where said cleara nce opens into the interior of the balloon to permit inflation of the latter with gas blown through said clearance, and a second position, where said one end portion of the tubular member is in sealing engagement with the surface of said light bulb to retain the inflating gas within said balloon.
2. The combination according to claim 1, in which said bulb, at a maximum cross-sectional area thereof, extends substantially beyond said socket in directions that radiate from the axis of the latter, said maximum crosssectional area of the bulb is greater than the internal cross-sectional area of said tubular member at said one end portion of the latter, said tubular member in said first position has said one end portion axially withdrawn from said maximum cross-sectional area of the bulb in the direction toward said socket, and said one end portion of the tubular member in said second position projects axially beyond said socket toward said maximum crosssectional area of the bulb to tightly engage around the latter.
3. The combination according to claim 2, in which said socket has an electrical cord extending from its other end, and said tubular member has an axially opening slit in its other end portion in which said cord can be retained when said tubular member is in said first position relative to the socket so as to remove said cord from interference with the oral blowing of said gas into said other end of the tubular member,
4. The combination according to claim 1, in which said flexible plastic material of the tubular member is transparent to permit light from said bulb to pass through said tubular member in said second position.
5. The combination according to claim 4, in which 5 said flexible plastic material is polyvinyl chloride.
References Cited 10 UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,820,681 8/1931 Schmalbach. 1,832,408 11/1931 Modes. 2,077,973 4/1937 Wilson. 2,225,183 12/1940 Schnoor. 15 2,542,361 2/1951 Roxburgh.
NORTON ANSHER, Primary Examiner US. Cl. X.R. 20 4690
Citations de brevets