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Publication numberUS2877885 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMar 17, 1959
Filing dateAug 12, 1957
Priority dateAug 12, 1957
Publication numberUS 2877885 A, US 2877885A, US-A-2877885, US2877885 A, US2877885A
InventorsWheeler Jr Walter H
Original AssigneePitney Bowes Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Letter feeding device
US 2877885 A
Images(4)
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

March 17, 1959 Filed Aug. 12, 1957 W. H. WHEELER, JR

LETTER FEEDING DEVICE 4 Sheets- Sheet 1 INVENTOR.

ATTORNEY March 17, 1959 Filed Aug. 12, 1957 JJ'IF w. H. WHEELER, JR 7 2,877,885

LETTER FEEDING DEVICE 4 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR.

ZWE/KLEN March 17, 1959 w. H. WHEELER, JR 2,

' LETTER FEEDING DEVICE Filed Aug. 12, 1957 4 Shets-Sheet 5 fil y 5 /O a NVENTOR.

ATT R Y Mam}! 1959 w. H. WHEELER, JR 2,877,885

LETTER FEEDING DEVICE 4 Sheets-Sheet 4 Filed Aug. 12, 1957 T AHH ATTORNEY LETTER FEEDING DEVICE Walter H. Wheeler, In, Stamford, Conn., assignor to I Pitney-Bowes, Inc., Stamford, Conn., a corporation of Delaware Application August 12, 1957, Serial No. 677,729

9 Claims. (Cl. 198-37) This invention relates to a new and improved method for handling mail and more particularly to an improved apparatus for conveying letter mail in bunches from a mail receiving or sorting table to the letter feed position of a stamp cancelling machine.

In the past the practice has been to empty bags of mail upon large sorting tables after which considerable manual handling was necessary to face letters and arrange them in proper position for stamp cancelling. Long letters were also separated from short letters.

By means of the present invention a novel conveyor system is combined with a mail sorting table from which letters are manually gathered in bunches without regard to length or stamp location and are dropped on their lower long edges into conveyor pockets to be conveyed in such bunched order to a letter feed and separating position of a stamp cancelling machine.

The mail sorting table has a channel along the front edge thereof and a continuously running conveyor belt at the channel bottom. An intermittently operated conveyor cooperates with the continuously running conveyor and has means extending above the continuous conveyor belt which provides pockets for the reception of the bunches of letters. The letters are supported in a vertical position along their lower edges on the continuously running belt but are delivered to the cancelling machine under control of the intermittent conveyor. With this arrangement, mail clerks pick up letters in bunches from the mail table and drop them in the pockets of the intermittent conveyor. Thereafter, letter feeding, separating and cancelling operations are automatically accomplished.

It is the principal object of the invention therefore to provide means for simplifying the operations of mail handling by mail clerks when preparing letters for processing by stamp cancelling machines. 7

It is another object to provide means whereby letters may be picked up in bunches by mail clerks from a mail sorting table and dropped into a conveying device which will deliver said bunches to a feeding and separating position of a stamp cancelling machine as required.

Accordingly, it will be seen that this invention provides automatic operating means for. presenting bunches of letters to a cancelling machine for ready individual processing thereby.

Other features and objects of this invention will be found in the following description and accompanying drawings where a preferred form thereof is shown and in which:

Fig. 1 is a top plan view of one embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 2 is a front elevation of the apparatus shown in Fig. 1;

Fig. 3 is an enlarged fragmentary plan view of the exit end of the conveying device similar to Fig. 1;

Fig. 4 is a fragmentary front elevation of the exit end of the conveying device taken on line 4-4 of Fig. 3;

Fig. 5 is a section taken on the line 5-5- of Fig. 2,

hit tates Patent 1 2 showing details of the structure associated with the conveying apparatus;

Fig. 6 shows details of demand feed electrical switch ing mechanism; 7

Fig. 7 is a front view of the switching mechanism of Fig. 6; and

Fig. 8 is a section taken on the line 88 of Fig. 5 and also showing a portion of the intermittently operated driving means.

Referring now to the drawings where an exemplary embodiment of the invention is shown in detail, a mail sorting table, generally shown at 10, has the contents of bags of mail dumped thereon. After bundles of metered mail, air mail letters, packages and the like are culled out, the remaining letters are ready for the attention of the mail clerks. Several clerks stand along the conveyor side of the table, each clerk having access to letters piled within reaching distance in frontof him.

The conveyor is generally indicated at 11, Fig. l, and runs parallel to and along the front edge of the mail table. Said conveyor comprises a continuously moving belt 15 mounted on conventional pulleys 17, 18, the pulley 17 being driven continuously by appropriate electric motor power means 19 (shown in outline only) through belt 20 and pulley 21, as best shown in Fig. 8. Walls 13 and 14, above the surface of the belt 15, provide a channel, as generally indicated at 12, Fig. 5.

A second or auxiliary belt 22, mounted on pulleys 23 and 24 coaxially with, but larger in diameter than, pulleys 17 and 18, is located to the rear of belt 15, as clearly shown in Fig. 5. Said belt 22 is provided with spacing bars 25 which extend beyond the edge of belt 15 and divide the space above belt 15 into sequentially arranged pockets for receiving the individual bunches of letters as picked up by the mail clerks. The bars 25 extend through a slotted portion 14a in the wall 14 and the ends thereof extend into a groove 13a in the wall 13.

The belt 22 is driven intermittently on demand through toothed belt 26 and toothed pulley 27 by power means 28 and is controlled by a solenoid actuated one revolution clutch drive generally indicated at 29, Fig. 8. Actuation of the solenoid is effected whenever the supply of letters in a supply hopper 31 at the feeding and separating position of the cancelling machine 16 has been reduced to a determined number. In Fig. 3 this condition is clearly illustrated by the position of a follower arm element 32 which is urged against the last few of a group of letters, at which time a lever 34, pivoted at 33, is rocked to a position to close an electrical microswitch 39. Suitable electrical connections are provided between contacts 30a of said switch 30 (Fig. 6) to a source of current and to contacts 29b of the solenoid 29a shown in Fig. 8.

The solenoid 29a is thus energized to release a clutch stop 29c and thus effect the drive of the belt 22 a distance equivalent to the length of one pocket.

After a bunch of letters A is dropped into the space between any two bars 25, the lower long edges of the lettersupon engaging the moving belt 15 will be moved by said belt until the leading edges of the letters engage the leading of the two bars 25, as best seen in Fig. 8. When the belt 22 moves, the bunch of letters in the leading pocket will be advanced beyond the end of the belt 15, where it passes over pulley 17. After leaving the latter position, the said bunch of letters is advanced by a moving conveyor belt 36 to the cancelling machine feed and separating position to occupy the dot and dash line position indicated in Fig. 3 at B.

The bunch of letters is thus moved againstthe follower arm: 32,'and rocks lever 34 away from the'switchzclosing position to open the circuit of microswitch 30 and deenergize the solenoid 29a.

The follower arm 32, biased by spring 39, also serves to hold the letters upright on their edges with a light pressure until the letters are extracted one by one by the feed and separator elements generally indicated at 35. When the bunch of letters is reduced to the number where the microswitch 30 and solenoid 29a are again energized, a new bunch of letters will be fed to the feed and separating elements 35.

After the foremost letter clears the feed and separator elements 35 the next foremost letter is urged by a frictional surfaced feed wheel 40 to a starting position. The leading edge of the foremost letter will normally wedge between a fixed fence portion 35c and a yieldable separator roller 35b where it will remain until the feed segment 35a moves into contact with the letter to advance same. By means of this arrangement, the letters stored in the supply hopper 31 are rapidly and automatically fed one at a time into the feed wheels 41 of the cancelling machine generally indicated at 16.

The cancelling machine 16 may be of any suitable kind. However, as shown in the drawings, the cancelling machine is preferably of the type disclosed in copending application Serial No. 636,032. Referring to Fig. 1, said cancelling machine is adapted to separate letters which have stamps at the lower leading edge into one stacker unit 43, those with stamps at the lower trailing edge into another stacker unit 44, and those not having the stamp positioned at the lower edge of the letter are separated into still another stacker unit 45.

In its broadest aspects, this invention provides for a conveyor system which is adapted to receive letters manually removed in bunches from a sorting table and dropped on a continuously moving belt. Bars attached to an intermittently moving second belt extend over and separate the surface above said continuously moving belt into pockets. The device feeds the said bunches of letters to a stamp cancelling machine on demand, the latter feature comprising sensing means whereby, when the number of letters awaiting separation and cancellation is reduced to a predetermined minimum, automatic means is actuated to cause the intermittently moving belt to advance and allow a new bunch of letters to emerge from the conveyor and be fed into the cancelling machine. The leading edges of each bunch of letters are aligned as a result of the movement of one belt of the conveyor which moves the edges of the letters against the lead bar of each pocket, and the presentation of said bunches of letters follows a pattern normally used in manually presenting letters to a stamp cancelling machine.

While in order to comply with the statute the invention is described in language which is rather specific as to structural features and arrangements, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to the specific details shown, but that the means and method herein disclosed comprises the preferred of several modes of putting the invention into effect, and the invention is therefore claimed in any of its forms or modifications within the scope of the language employed in the appended claims.

What is claimed is:

1. The combination with a letter mail sorting table and a stamp cancelling machine having a continuously operative letter feeding position, of a device for advancing letters in bunches to the letter feeding position comprising a conveyor having sequentially arranged pockets located in close relation to the mail sorting table whereby a mail clerk may pick up letters from the mail table in bunches and drop them on edge into said pockets, means for advancing said conveyor intermittently to thereby advance one bunch of letters at a time to the letter feeding position, and control means for said advancing means operable to advance the conveyor a determineddistance when the number of letters at the letter.

4 feeding position has been reduced to a predetermined number.

2. The combination with a letter mail sorting table and a stamp cancelling machine having a continuously operative letter feeding position, of a device for advancing letters in bunches to the letter feeding position comprising a conveyor having sequentially arranged pockets located in close relation to the mail sorting table whereby a mail clerk may pick up letters from the mail table in bunches and drop them on edge into said pockets, intermittently controlled means for advancing said conveyor to thereby advance one bunch of letters at a time to the letter feeding position including electrically operated switching means associated with the letters at the feeding position, and a solenoid actuated clutch drive for said conveyor connected with the switching means and operable to effect a drive when the letters at the feeding position have been reduced to a predetermined number.

3. The combination with a letter mail sorting table and a stamp cancelling machine having a continuously operative letter feeding position, of a device for advancing letters in bunches to the letter feeding position comprising a conveyor supported along one edge of the mail sorting table and having sequentially arranged pockets whereby mail clerks may stand along said conveyor and pick up letters from the mail table in bunches and drop them on edge into said pockets, and means including a demand control device operable when the letters remaining at the letter feeding position have been reduced to a predetermined number for advancing said conveyor a determined distance to thereby advance one bunch of letters at a time to the letter feeding position as required.

4. The combination with a letter mail sorting table and a stamp cancelling machine having a continuously operative letter feeding position; of a device for feeding letters in bunches to the letter feeding position comprising a conveyor supported along one edge of the mail sorting table and including a continuously running belt, one surface of which provides a base for the support of the bunches of letters; and an intermittently movable belt having bars extending outwardly therefrom in spaced relation and movable with the belt along a plane above the letter supporting surface of the first named belt, whereby pockets are provided into which letters may be dropped on their longer edges in bunches without orienting; and means for advancing the intermittently movable belt a determined distance as required to maintain a continuous supply of letters at the letter feed position of the stamp cancelling machine.

5. The combination with a letter mail sorting table and a stamp cancelling machine having a continuously operative letter feeding position; of a device for feeding letters in bunches to the letter feeding position comprising a conveyor supported along one edge of the mail sorting table; said conveyor comprising a continuously running belt, one surface of which provides a base for the support of the bunches of letters; and an intermittently movable belt having bars spaced thereon and extending outwardly therefrom along a plane above the letter supporting surface of the first named belt, whereby pockets are provided into which letters may be dropped on their longer edges in bunches without orienting; a drive for said intermittently movable belt including a one revolution clutch, a clutch stop, and clutch stop tripping means associated with the letter feed means operable periodically to maintain a continuous supply of letters at the letter feed position.

6. The combination with a letter mail sorting table and a stamp cancelling machine having continuously operative letter feed means; of a hopper to maintain a supply of letters in a feeding position relative to the feed means of the cancelling machine; a follower arm urged to apply a yieldable pressure against the last letter of the supply; means for maintaining a continuous supply of letters in said hopper comprising a conveyor supported along one edge of the mail sorting table; said conveyor comprising a continuously running belt, one surface of which provides a base for the support of the bunches of letters; and an intermittently movable belt having bars spaced thereon and extending outwardly therefrom along a plane above the letter supporting surface of the first named belt, whereby pockets are provided into which letters may be dropped on their longer edges in bunches without orienting; and means controlled by the follower arm when a minimum supply of letters remains in the hopper to effect the drive of the intermittently movable belt the distance necessary to discharge the bunch of letters contained in the lead pocket of the conveyor to a position behind the follower arm.

7. The combination with a letter mail sorting table and a stamp cancelling machine having continuously operative letter feed means; of a hopper to maintain a supply of letters in a feeding position relative to the feed means of the cancelling machine; a follower arm urged to apply a yieldable pressure against the last letter of the supply; means for maintaining a continuous supply of letters in said hopper comprising a conveyor supported along one edge of the mail sorting table; said conveyor comprising a continuously running belt, one surface of which provides a base for the support of the bunches of letters; and a second belt movable at intervals and having bars spaced thereon and extending outwardly therefrom along a plane above the letter supporting surface of the first named belt, whereby pockets are provided into which letters may be dropped on their longer edges in bunches without orienting, electrically operated switching means movable to a circuit closing position by the follower arm when a minimum supply of letters remains in the hopper; and a solenoid operated clutch controlled by the switching means to effect the drive of the last named belt the distance necessary to discharge the bunch of letters contained in the lead pocket of the conveyor to a position behind the follower arm.

8. The combination with a letter mail sorting table and a stamp cancelling machine having a continuously operative letter feeding position; of a conveying device associated with the mail sorting table for advancing letters in bunches to the letter feeding position with their forward edges aligned; and comprising a continuously running belt, one surface of which provides a base for the support of the letters on edge; and an intermittently movable belt having pocket forming members spaced thereon and extending therefrom along a plane above the letter supporting surface of the first named belt and in the path of letters supported thereon, whereby the leading edges of a bunch of letters within any pocket area are aligned by their forced engagement with the lead member of any pair of pocket forming members as effected by the movement of the first named belt.

9. The combination with a letter mail sorting table and a stamp cancelling machine having a continuously operative letter feeding position; of a conveying device associated with the mail sorting table for advancing letters in bunches to the letter feeding position with their forward edges aligned; and comprising a continuously running belt, one surface of which provides a base for the support of the letters on edge; an intermittently movable belt having pocket forming members spaced thereon and extending therefrom along a plane above the letter supporting surface of the first named belt and in the path of letters supported thereon, whereby the leading edges of a bunch of letters within any pocket area are aligned by their forced engagement with the lead member of any pair of pocket forming members as effected by the movement of the first named belt; and means operable when a determined minimum number of letters at the letter feeding position has been reached to advance the intermittently movable belt and thereby move the leading bunch of letters to the letter feeding position.

References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,355,488 McKenney Oct. 12, 1920 2,138,306 Patrick Nov. 29, 1938 2,645,327 Hildmann July 14, 1953

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1355488 *Aug 5, 1918Oct 12, 1920 mckenney
US2138306 *Oct 15, 1937Nov 29, 1938Bliss E W CoAutomatic apparatus for feeding strips or sheets to presses or other machines
US2645327 *Jan 16, 1948Jul 14, 1953Brock & RankinJog feeder for books
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3006638 *Jan 6, 1959Oct 31, 1961Miller Printing Machinery CoPile support control mechanism
US3051480 *Sep 25, 1959Aug 28, 1962Vari Typer CorpBusiness machines
US4116328 *Apr 30, 1976Sep 26, 1978Egyesult Izzolampa Es Villamossagi Rt.Apparatus for replenishing containers for thin and flexible components
US4955596 *Jan 18, 1989Sep 11, 1990Bell & Howell Phillipsburg CompanyMethod and apparatus for feeding and stacking articles
US5347790 *Dec 1, 1992Sep 20, 1994Electrocom Gard, Ltd.Automatic traying and automatic sweeping device for letter mail
US6176483Mar 12, 1997Jan 23, 2001Bell & Howell Mail And Messaging Technologies CompanyHigh speed document separator and sequencing apparatus
US6241460 *Aug 27, 1999Jun 5, 2001Todd C. WernerOffset sorter for envelopes
Classifications
U.S. Classification271/3.12, 198/572, 414/798.9, 414/798.2, 198/718
International ClassificationB07C1/02, B07C1/00
Cooperative ClassificationB07C1/02
European ClassificationB07C1/02