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Publication numberUS20060090744 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/978,831
Publication dateMay 4, 2006
Filing dateNov 1, 2004
Priority dateNov 1, 2004
Publication number10978831, 978831, US 2006/0090744 A1, US 2006/090744 A1, US 20060090744 A1, US 20060090744A1, US 2006090744 A1, US 2006090744A1, US-A1-20060090744, US-A1-2006090744, US2006/0090744A1, US2006/090744A1, US20060090744 A1, US20060090744A1, US2006090744 A1, US2006090744A1
InventorsJohn Wojcik, David Wasserman, William Lindeman, Cory Boudreau, Ronnie Matteucci, Richard Nelipovich, Brian Siehr, Alan Schommer
Original AssigneeThe Vollrath Company, L.L.C.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Chafer rack
US 20060090744 A1
Abstract
A rack for use with a chafing system includes a frame, a first support, and a fuel holder. According to one embodiment of the invention, the fuel holder is integrally formed as a part of a single unitary body with the support. According to another embodiment, an end of the support is at least partially extend about a portion of the frame. According to another embodiment, the frame has a tubular constructions. According to yet another embodiment, the frame includes side members and a first handle, wherein the side members and the first handle form an enclosed area configured to extend about a container
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Claims(27)
1. A rack comprising:
a frame configured to extend about a container;
a first support coupled to the frame; and
a fuel holder integrally formed as a part of a single unitary body with the first support.
2. The rack of claim 1, wherein the frame includes a first handle configured to extend opposite the container such that nothing extends between the first handle and the container.
3. (canceled)
4. The rack of claim 2, wherein the frame includes side members formed from a first material, and the first handle is formed from a different second material.
5-12. (canceled)
13. The rack of claim 1, wherein the first support includes a first leg, a second leg, the first leg and the second leg extending below the frame, and a member extending between the legs.
14. The rack of claim 13, wherein the first leg is arcuate.
15. The rack of claim 13, wherein the fuel holder is disposed within the member.
16. The rack of claim 13, wherein, the member arches towards the frame
17. The rack of claim 13, wherein the legs extend from opposing portions of the frame and wherein the legs arc away from each other.
18. The rack of claim 13, wherein the support includes a metal band.
19. The rack of claim 18, wherein the fuel holder comprises a cavity formed in the metal band.
20. The rack of claim 1, wherein the fuel holder includes a cylindrical recess for receiving a cylindrical fuel source.
21-24. (canceled)
25. A rack comprising:
a frame having a first side member, a second side member, a first handle, and a second handle, wherein the the first side member, the second side member, the first handle, and the second handle form an enclosed area configured to extend about a container, the first side member and the second side member have a tubular construction with a cross sectional dimension significantly greater than that of a wire; and
a support coupled to the frame.
wherein the first handle extends from a first end of the first side member to a first end of the second side member and wherein the second handle extends from a second end of the first side member to a second end of the second side member, whereby the first side member, the second side member, the first handle, and the second handle are interconnected.
26-32. (canceled)
33. A rack comprising:
a frame configured to extend about a container, the frame including side members, wherein at least one of the side members has a tubular cross sectional dimension significantly greater than that of a wire; and
a support coupled to the frame.
34. The rack of claim 33, wherein at least a portion of the frame has a diameter of at least 0.625 inches.
35. The rack of claim 33, wherein the at least one of side embers has a cross section selected from the group of cross sections consisting of round, oval, rectangular, and polygonal.
36. The rack of claim 33, wherein at least one of the side members is hollow.
37. The rack of claim 33, wherein the frame includes a first handle, and wherein the side members and the first handle form an enclosed area configured to extend about a container.
38. The rack of claim 37, wherein the first handle is configured to extend opposite a container such that nothing extends between the first handle and the container.
39. The rack of claim 33, wherein the first support has an end wrapped at least partially about a portion of the frame.
40. The rack of claim 33, further comprising a fuel holder integrally formed as a part of a single unitary body with the support.
41. A rack comprising:
a frame configured to extend about a container;
a support coupled to the frame, wherein the support has an end wrapped at least partially about a portion of the frame.
42. The rack of claim 41, wherein the end of the support is fastened to the frame.
43-62. (canceled)
Description
BACKGROUND

Chafer systems generally include a removable water pan that holds water and receives a food pan. These systems may include racks for holding the pans and positioning a heat source below the water pan. The heat source heats the water in the water pan which in turn serves to uniformly distribute heat about the bottom surface of the food pan. These chafers may require welding or other complex and costly manufacturing techniques. Also, these chafers may require multiple parts for supporting the chafer and providing a heat source below the pans.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective, cut away view of a chafer system according to one exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the rack of the chafer system of FIG. 1 according to one exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the chafer system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a partial, sectional view of a frame of the rack of FIG. 2 taken along line 4-4 according to one exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 5 is a partial, sectional view of the frame of FIG. 4 taken along line 5-5 according to one exemplary embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EXAMPLE EMBODIMENT

FIG. 1 illustrates a chafer system 10 configured to hold and heat food products. Chafer system 10 includes a rack 12, heat source 14, water pan 16, food pan 18 and cover 20. Rack 12 supports and elevates water pan 16, food pan 18, and cover 20 above one or more heat sources 14. Rack 12 generally includes supports 22 and frame 24. Supports 22 are coupled to frame 24 and are configured to rest upon a support surface, such as a table, while elevating frame 24 above the table. In the particular embodiment shown, supports 22 further position and support heat source 14 relative to water pan 16.

For purposes of this disclosure, the term “coupled” means the joining of two members directly or indirectly to one another. Such joining may be stationary in nature or movable in nature. Such joining may be achieved with the two members or the two members and any additional intermediate members being integrally formed as a single unitary body with one another or with the two members or the two members and any additional intermediate member being attached to one another. Such joining may be permanent in nature or alternatively may be removable or releasable in nature.

Frame 24 comprises one or more structures elevated by supports 22 and configured to be coupled to water pan 16. In the particular example shown, frame 24 is configured to comprise at least one surface upon which water pan 16 may rest. In the embodiment shown, frame 24 extends below portions of water pan 16 enabling water pan 16 to be lifted from frame 24 for cleaning, repair, replacement, or filling with water. In other embodiments, frame 24 may be configured to be secured to water pan 16 in other fashions. Although frame 24 is illustrated as being rectangular in shape, frame 24 may have other shapes depending on the shape of water pan 16.

Heat source 14 comprises a container holding a combustible fuel such as a Sterno Brand™ heat source including a flammable mixture of 3.3% methyl alcohol, available from Candle Corp. of America of Des Plaines, Ill. Alternatively, other heat sources, such as electric heating elements or containers containing other combustible fuels may be used. According the example shown, heat source 14 is cylindrically shaped. Alternatively, other geometries may be used. When heat source 14 is used to produce heat, water in water pan 16 distributes that heat about the bottom surface of food pan 18 to raise or maintain the temperature of the contents of food pan 18.

Water pan 16 includes a bottom 26, elongated sidewalls 28 and shorter sidewalls 30 extending from bottom 26, and a rim 32 extending from elongated sidewalls 28 and shorter sidewalls 30. Rim 32 is substantially parallel to bottom 26 and includes corners 34. Frame 24 supports and extends about water pan 16 and is subjacent to rim 32. According to one embodiment, water pan 16 is rectangular; however, other geometries may be used. Water pan 16 receives food pan 18. Food pan 18 receives cover 20 that may be removed and replaced to cover the contents of food pan 18. According to the example shown, food pan 18 is shown as a rectangular pan that nests within water pan 16. However, other geometries may be used depending on the geometry of water pan 16. According to an alternative embodiment, a food pan may be used without a water pan.

FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate supports 22 and frame 24 of rack 12 in greater detail. As shown in FIG. 3, supports 22 extend from one side of frame 24 to an opposite side of frame 24. Each of supports 22 includes fuel holder 36, base member 38, legs 40 and ends 42. Fuel holder 36 is configured to receive heat source 14 and is formed in base member 38 as a single unitary body with support 22. According to an exemplary embodiment, fuel holder 36 may include a cylindrical recess in base member 38, and is configured to engage opposing sides of heat source 14. Alternatively, fuel holder 36 may include extensions protruding away from base member 38, or other configurations capable of being formed as a single unitary body with support 22.

Base member 38 extends between legs 40. Legs 40 extend from a support surface towards frame 24. According to the example shown, legs 40 are arcuate. and base member 38 arches towards frame 24. According to alternative embodiments, other leg and member geometries including, but not limited to, straight legs and members, or a variety of ornamental geometries may be used. According to another embodiment, the supports may include more than two legs, such as in a tripod type configuration, or any other similar configuration.

Ends 42 of supports 22 couple supports 22 to frame 24. According to the example shown, ends 42 partially encircle portions of frame 24. Coupling supports 22 to frame 24 in this way eliminates the need for using welding or other more costly techniques to couple supports 22 to frame 24.

According to the example shown, each of supports 22 may be formed from a metal band, such as stainless steel, that is stamped, bent, or molded to form an appropriate shape. Alternatively, supports 22 may be made of thermal resistant plastic or other suitable material. Because fuel holder 36 is formed as a single unitary body with support 22, no connections need to be made between the fuel holder and the support by welding, fastening or any other more costly manufacturing process.

Frame 24 includes handles 44 and side members 46. According to the example shown, handles 44 extend from one of the side members 46 to the other of the side members 46 so that the side members 46 and the handles 44 form an enclosed area 49 for receiving water pan 16.

Handles 44 are configured so that a user may lift and move the entire chafer system 10 while only contacting handles 44. According to the example shown, handles 44 include extensions 48, spacing portions 50, and gripping portions 52. Extensions 48 extend above handles 44 and engage corners 34 of rim 32 to support water pan 16 above frame 24. Supporting water pan 16 in this way limits the contact area between water pan 16 and handles 44 thus reducing the heat transfer from water pan 16 to handles 44. This aids in keeping handles 44 cool relative to water pan 16 as well as indexing and positioning water pan 16 relative to frame 24. Alternatively, extensions 48 may be omitted so that the portions of rim 32 extending from elongated sidewalls 28 of water pan 16 may rest directly on side members 46, and the portions of rim 32 extending from shorter sidewalls 30 may rest directly on portions of handles 44.

As shown in FIG. 2, spacing portions 50 are configured such that handles 44 extend away from water pan 16 to space gripping portions 52 from water pan 16 (shown in FIG. 1). Spacing portions 50 are configured such that nothing extends between gripping portions 52 and water pan 16 to aid in keeping handles 44 cool relative to water pan 16. Each of spacing portions 50 are also configured to extend about a corner of water pan 16 and support water pan 16 above fuel source 14 without the need for additional material or parts to extend along shorter sidewall 30. This configuration reduces the total material required to manufacture rack 12. Rather than being arcuate, spacing portions 50 may alternatively comprise linear segments. Gripping portions 52 comprise a linear body configured to engage a users hands for lifting and moving chafer system 10. Linear Gripping portion 52 is substantially parallel to the shorter sidewall 30 of water pan 16. Alternatively, gripping portions 52 may be curved or have other suitable geometries.

According to the example shown, handles 44 may have a tubular construction that has a significantly greater diameter than conventional wire frames. In one embodiment, handles 44 have a diameter greater than 0.625 inches and less than about 1.10 inches. The tubular construction of handles 44 provides greater strength and simpler assembly than other handles constructed of wire or metal bands. According to an exemplary embodiment, handles 44 may include hollow portions to reduce material costs, and lower the weight of chafer system 10. Alternatively, handles 44 may be solid to provide greater strength. Also, while handles 44 are shown as round tubes, other geometries including, but not limited to, oval, rectangular, and polygonal geometries may be used. Handles 44 may be made of metal, thermal resistant plastic, or other suitable material. According an exemplary embodiment, handles 44 are made of Nylon 6,6 (with a thermal conductivity of less than 9.4 Btu/ft*h*° F. at 212° F.) to allow a user to grip handles 44 without being burned. Further, the use of a polymeric material such as Nylon 6,6 allows for easy manufacture of ergonomic handle shapes with high friction surfaces.

Each of side members 46 comprises an elongated tubular body 54 and an axial recess 56. Side members 46 are configured to function as a part of frame 24 by supporting the weight of water pan 16, food pan, 18, and cover 20, as well as transferring that weight to supports 22. According to an exemplary embodiment, side members 46 are linear. Linear side members can be formed using relatively simple manufacturing processes such as extrusion, or the linear side members may be cut to an appropriate length from a preformed tube. Alternatively, side members 46 may be arcuate or some other shape to accommodate a particular type of pan. Side members 46 may be made of metal, such as stainless steel, thermal resistant plastic, or other suitable material. According to an exemplary embodiment, side members 46 are made of a different material than handles 44. In one embodiment, side members 46 are made of metal, such as stainless steel, and handles 44 are made of a polymeric material, such as Nylon 6,6.

Side members 46 have a generally tubular construction like that of handles 44 which provides greater strength and simpler assembly than other frames constructed of wire or metal bands. According to one embodiment, the side members of the frame have a diameter greater than 0.625 inches and less than about 1.10 inches. Side members 46 may include hollow portions to reduce material costs, and lower the weight of chafer system 10. Alternatively, side members 46 may be solid to provide greater strength. Also, while side members 46 are shown as round tubes, other geometries including, but not limited to, oval, rectangular, and polygonal geometries may be used.

Chafer system 10 can be easily assembled from relatively few parts, and without the use of welding or other complicated manufacturing techniques. Handles 44 are coupled to side members 46 to form a frame 24 that is configured to extend about water pan 16. Handles 44 include protrusions 58 that extend into axial recesses 56 in side members 46. Fasteners 60 secure ends 42 of supports 22 to frame 24, and protrusions 58 of handles 44 to side members 46.

FIGS. 4 and 5 illustrate the connections between handle 44 and side member 46, and between support 22 and frame 24 in greater detail. FIGS. 4 and 5 show side member 46, handle 44, support 22, and fastener 60. As shown by FIGS. 4 and 5, side member 46 is provided with an axial recess 56 while handle 44 is provided with a protrusion 58. Axial recess 56 receives protrusion 58 of handle 44. Alternatively, handle 44 could be provided with a recess for receiving a portion of a side member. Further, while protrusion 58 is shown as hollow, the protrusion may be solid. Also, while axial recess 56 and protrusion 58 are shown as cylindrical, other geometries including, but not limited to, oval, rectangular, and polygonal could be used.

As further shown in FIG. 4, support 22 is coupled to frame 24 by partially encircling the circumferences of both handle 44 and side member 46 by approximately 315 degrees with end 42. This configuration makes it possible to securely connect supports 22 to frame 24 without the use of welding or other more costly methods of manufacture. Ends 42 of the support may be pre-shaped by wrapping the ends about a mandrel or similar device so that the end is configured to slide over a portion of the frame. Alternatively, ends 42 of supports 22 may be wrapped directly about frame 24. Further, end 42 may only encircle a portion of handle 44 or a portion of side member 46. Also, end 42 may encircle more or less of the circumference of frame 24 sufficient to couple support 22 to frame 24.

To further secure handle 44, side member 46 and support 22 to one another, rack 12 additionally includes fasteners 60. As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, each of fastener 60 extends through end 42, side member 46, and protrusion 58 to secure handle 44 to side member 46, and support 22 to frame 24. This configuration is advantageous in that only one fastener is required for joining all three parts: handle 44, side member 46, and support 22. Fastener 60 may be a screw, bolt, rivet or other suitable device. Coupling supports 22 to frame 24 in this way may eliminate the need for welding or other costly and complex manufacturing processes thus reducing assembly time and cost. Alternatively, separate fasteners may be used to couple handles 44 to side members 46 and support 22 to frame 24. According to an exemplary embodiment, fastener 60 is made of steel, however other suitable materials may be used. Also, other methods of securing handle 44 to side member 46, such as a compression fitting, may be used in place of fastener 60. Alternatively, frame 24 may be provided with grooves to receive ends 42 the supports 22 to obviate the need for fasteners. Further, side members 46 or handles 44 may be provided with at least one detent while the other of side members 46 or handles 44 is provided with at least one biased member such as a prong or ratchet configured to engage the detent and secure handles 44 to side members 46.

Overall, chafer system 10 eliminates the need to use welding and other costly manufacturing techniques. Fuel holder 36 is formed as a single unitary body with support 22 which eliminates the need for any fasteners, welds, or other connection methods to secure fuel holder 36 to support 22. This construction also eliminates the need for multipart supports. Each of side members 46 includes an axial recess 56 which receives protrusion 58 from each of handles 44 so that side members 46 and handles 44 form frame 24 which provides an enclosed area 49 for receiving water pan 16. Side member 46 is further secured to handle 44 by fastener 60, which eliminates the need for welding to join these components. Frame 24 has a generally tubular construction which provides greater strength and simpler assembly than other frames constructed of wire or metal bands. Ends 42 partially encircles portions of frame 24 and is further secured to frame 24 by fastener 60. Again, no welding is required to couple supports 22 to frame 24. Because no welding in required, Chafer system 10 may be sold or packaged as a kit that may be inexpensively shipped, and easily assembled.

Although the present invention has been described with reference to example embodiments, workers skilled in the art will recognize that changes may be made in form and detail without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, although different preferred embodiments may have been described as including one or more features providing one or more benefits, it is contemplated that the described features may be interchanged with one another or alternatively be combined with one another in the described preferred embodiments or in other alternative embodiments. Because the technology of the present invention is relatively complex, not all changes in the technology are foreseeable. The present invention described with reference to the preferred embodiments and set forth in the following claims is manifestly intended to be as broad as possible. For example, unless specifically otherwise noted, the claims reciting a single particular element also encompass a plurality of such particular elements.

Classifications
U.S. Classification126/261
International ClassificationA47G23/04
Cooperative ClassificationA47J36/34
European ClassificationA47J36/34
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jun 2, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: THE VOLLRATH COMPANY, L.L.C., WISCONSIN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:NELIPOVICH, RICHARD A.;REEL/FRAME:016090/0865
Effective date: 20050510
Apr 6, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: THE VOLLRATH COMPANY, L.L.C., WISCONSIN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:WOJCIK, JOHN A.;WASSERMAN, DAVID M.;LINDEMAN, WILLIAM C.;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:015869/0127;SIGNING DATES FROM 20050317 TO 20050321