US 2967321 A
Abstract available in
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Jan. 10, 1961 J. P. WHELAN CONTAINER CLEANING MACHINE Filed May 17, 1956 6 Sheets-Sheet l iii.
INVEN TOR. James F 14 /7/o'n 147'7OFWYEY Jan. 10, 1961 p, wHELAN 2,967,321
CONTAINER CLEANING MACHINE Filed May 17, 1956 6 Sheets-Sheet 2y I N V EN TOR. dame-.5 ll be/av BY ehmw.
HTT'OR/YEY Jan. 10, 1961 J. P. WHELAN CONTAINER CLEANING MACHINE 6 Sheets-Sheet 3 Filed May 17, 1956 Jan. 10, 1961 J. P. WHELAN 2,967,321
CONTAINER CLEANING MACHINE Filed May 17, 1956 6 Sheets-Sheet 4 I I. .950 246 I 256 25d 1 TI INVENTOR. 260 I James P M/be/a'n Jan. 10, 1961 J. P. WHELAN CONTAINER CLEANING MACHINE 6 Sheets-Sheet 5 Filed May 17, 1956 INVENTOR. James .P/Vehn Jan. 10, 1961 p. wHELAN 2,967,321
CONTAINER CLEANING MACHINE Filed May 17, 1956 6 Sheets-Sheet 6 EQLEQS NTAINER CLEANING MACHINE Filed May 17, 1956, Ser. No. 585,479
9 Claims. (Cl. 15304) This invention relates to a container cleaning machine.
The invention has for one of its objects the provision of a novel and efficient container cleaning machine capable of operation at relatively high speeds with minimum liability of breakage or damage to the containers passing through the machine.
Another object of the invention is to provide a novel cleaning machine of the character above set forth wherein the cleaning operation is performed by air streams directed into the containers while they are passing through the machine in an inverted position.
With these general objects in view and such others as may hereinafter appear, the invention consists in the container cleaning machine and in the various structures, arrangements and combinations of parts hereinafter described and particularly defined in the claims at the end of this specification.
In the drawings illustrating the preferred embodiment of the invention:
Fig. 1 is a side elevation of the present container cleaning machine;
Fig. 2 is an end view partly in cross section of the container cleaning machine as viewed from the line 2-2 of Fig. 1;
Fig. 3 is a plan view of the cleaning mechanism embodying a plurality of individual container cleaning air nozzles movable with the containers;
Fig. 4 is a plan view detail of a portion of the conveying mechanism showing the container receiving and discharging stations;
Fig. 5 is a cross sectional detail view of a portion of the driving mechanism;
Fig. 6 is a detail view in side elevation and partly in cross section of mechanism for elevating individual air nozzles into their respective containers during the continuous movement thereof;
Fig. 7 is a plan view of the same as seen from the line 7-7 of Fig. 6;
Fig. 8 is a plan view of mechanism for engaging and registering the neck of a container with its individual cleaning nozzle;
Fig. 9 is a cross sectional detail of a nozzle supporting member and the air supply thereto;
Fig. 10 is a plan view detail partly in cross section of a rotary valve for controlling the supply of air to the cleaning nozzles;
Fig. 11 is a plan view of a portion of the registering mechanism showing the cam for opening and closing the. aws;
Fig. 12 is a plan view of the chain and sprocket connections for effecting vertical adjustment of the cleaning mechanism; and
Fig. 13 is a cross sectional detail of the air supply conduit to the rotary valve.
In general the invention contemplates a container cleaning machine wherein the containers are conveyed through the machine in a novel manner and by novel conveying means which per se forms the subject matter of a cor 2,967,321 Patented Jan. 10, 196.1
pending application. Provision is made for directing a stream of cleaning fluid, preferably air, into the containers through the mouths thereof and preferably while the containers are being conveyed in an inverted position. The present cleaning machine may be operated at relatively high speeds with minimum damage to fragile containers, such as bottles, and the machine is further characterized by its ability to handle various types and sizes of bottles or other open mouthed containers with minimum adjustment.
In order to facilitate the cleaning operation, particularly for narrow mouthed containers, provision is made in accordance with the present invention for introducing cleaning nozzles into the containers and for moving the nozzles along with the containers so that the cleaning operation may be performed without interruption in the continuous movement of the containers through the machine.
Referring now to the drawings illustrating the preferred embodiment of the invention, the container cleaning machine illustrated in Figs. 1 and 2 include a central or intermediate conveyor 10 which may comprise a flat belt arranged to run over pulleys 22, 24 at each end of the conveyor. The central conveyor 10 comprises a supporting belt for containers 12 deposited thereon and is arranged to advance the containers into a converging portion 25 of a conveyor comprising a pair of endless inflated tubes 26, 28 of rubber or like resilient material which are also arranged to run over pulleys 22, 24 in side by side relation and which are adapted to grip between them the containers advanced therebetween by the supporting belt 10. As illustrated in Figs. 1 and 2, the pulleys may be driven through drive mechanism comprising an electric motor 30 which may be connected by a chain and sprocket drive 32 to the pulley shaft 38 on which the pulley 22 is mounted. 'A chain and sprocket drive connection 37 may be provided between the pulley shafts 38, 39 as shown.
Provision is made for transferring containers from a supply thereof onto the central conveyor 10, and as herein shown, a supply of containers may be fed into the machine on a supply conveyor 40 which may be continuously driven in any usual or preferred manner, not shown. The containers 12 being advanced in contiguous engagement on the conveyor 40 are engaged by a worm feed screw 41 arranged to space the containers to be received by a rotary intake spider or star wheel 42 having a plurality of spaced container engaging pockets 43. The intake spider 42 in cooperation with a guide plate 44 is arranged to transfer the containers onto the central conveyor 10 in predetermined spaced relation as illustrated. The worm feed screw 41 and the intake spider 42 are arranged to be driven in timed relation through driving connections including an electric motor 46 operatively connected to a shaft 50 connected by spur gears 51 to an intermediate shaft 53 which in turn is connected by a chain and sprocket drive 55 to an upper shaft 57, each shaft 53, 57 being supported in brackets attached to an upstanding drive housing 59. As shown in Figs. 2 and 4, the worm feed screw 41 is fast on a shaft-61 rotatably supported in spaced arms 63 which are pivotally mounted on a shaft 65 journ-aled in brackets 67 attached to a side rail forming a part of the machine frame. The worm feed shaft 61 is connected by a chain and sprocket drive 71 to the upper shaft 57. The worm feed screw 41 may be adjusted relative to the containers on the intake conveyor 40 by rocking the supporting arms 63 to the desired position of adjustment, the arms being locked in their adjusted position by a slot and bolt connection 73 between the brackets 67 and the arms. The intake spider 42 may also be driven from the shaft 50 through bevel gears 52 to a vertical shaft 54. The vertical shaft 54 may be connected to the transfer spider shaft 56 by a chain and sprocket drive 58 as best shown in Fig. 4.
The containers 12 are fed into the illustrated machine in an upright position and are advanced on the supporting belt along a laterally spaced portion of the inflated tube conveyor, and as they enter the converging portion 25 of the opposed tubes 26, 28 they are firmly and resiliently gripped therebetween and carried from the upper run of the conveyor around the pulley 22 and into the lower run of the conveyor to assume an inverted position along the lower run. In practice any relatively heavy particles or other foreign matter which may be within the con tainers 12 may at this time fall out of the mouths of the containers by gravity during their transition from an upright to an inverted position in passing around the pulley 22.
During their travel along the lower run in an inverted position the individual containers are subjected to air cleaning by air nozzles 66 arranged to register with and to be moved along in alignment wtih their respective containers. The air nozzles 6d are arranged to be inserted within and withdrawn from the inverted containers one or more times during their continuous travel along the lower run whereby the air directed into the containers effects suspension of the particles of dust or other foreign particles in the containers to be blown out of the mouths of the containers during the cleaning operation, as will be hereinafter more fully described.
As shown in Fig. 2, the inflated tubes 26, 28 are arranged to be supported along the lower run of the conveyor in firm gripping engagement with the containers 12, and as herein shown, the inflated tubes may be supported by spool shaped idler guide rollers 68 having a concave surface to fit around portions of the convex surfaces of the cylindrical tubes. In order to prevent undue friction between the different diameters of the concave portions of the spool, the guide rollers 68 may be formed in separate sections so that each section may rotate independently and thus prevent friction which might otherwise occur due to the variation in surface speeds at the different points of contact with the tubes 26, 28. T he guide rollers 68, as shown in Fig. 2, are preferably supported at an angle of about 45 with respect to the tubes in a manner such as to urge the tubes upwardly and inwardly in gripping engagement with the containers carried therebetween. The rollers 68 may be supported in brackets 76 mounted on the machine frame. In order to further control the path of travel of the tubes 26, 28 along the lower run to cause them to be maintained in firm engagement with the inverted containers 12 and to prevent upward displacement thereof, a series of idler rolls '78 may be supported for engagement with the upper portions of the tubes as shown in Figs. 1 and 2. The rollers 78 may be supported in brackets 80 depending from side rails forming a part of the machine frame.
After passing through the lower run of the conveyor in an inverted position the cleaned containers 12 are again carried into the upper run around the end pulley 24 and are released from gripping engagement with the tubes 26, 28 at a diverging portion of the conveyor, as indicated at 92, and the cleaned containers may then be transferred from the central belt 1t} onto a discharge conveyor 94 by a rotary transfer disk 96 disposed between the conveyors, as shown, and by engagement with the guide plate 44 in a manner similar to the transfer of the containers from the supply conveyor 40 onto the central belt 10. The rotary transfer disk 96 may be driven in a manner similar to the supply transfer disk 42 through connections from the shaft 50, bevel gears 98 and chain and sprocket drive use as shown in detail in Fig. 4.
As shown in Figsl and 4, provision is made for divetting the tubes 26, 28 laterally outwardly along the upper run to provide the converging and diverging portions 25 and 92 so that the containers received on the central conveyor 10 are free of contact with the tubes 26,
28, and provision is also made for diverting the tubes vertically downwardly out of the plane of transfer of the containers to and from the central belt 10 whereby to permit lateral transfer of the containers to and from the central belt 10 without interference from the tubes. As illustrated in Figs. 1 and 4, idler rollers 102, 104 are supported in spaced relation for engaging the outer surfaces of opposed tubes adjacent the discharge end of the conveyor along the upper run, and idler rolls 106, 108 are supported in spaced relation for engagement with the inner surfaces of the tubes to provide the diverging portion 92 at one end of the conveyor. As further shown in Figs. 1 and 4, idler rolls 110, 1712 are also provided for engaging the underside of the tubes along the upper run adjacent the discharge end of the conveyor which cooperate with another set of idler rolls 114, 116 spaced therefrom and disposed at a lower plane for engaging the upper surfaces of the tubes-to divert the tubes downwardly as described. One or more intermediate idler pulleys 118 may also be provided for maintaining the tubes in their lower diverted position. Idler rolls 12%, 122 engageable with the upper and lower surfaces respectively cooperate to guide the tubes upwardly into the normal plane of the upper run as illustrated in Fig. l. Idler rolls 124 engageable with the inner surfaces of the tubes are arranged to cooperate with idler rolls 126 engageable with the outer surfaces of the tubes to provide the converging portion 25 at the other end comprising the receiving end of the conveyor, as illustrated in Fig. 4. Vertically disposed auxiliary rollers 123 may also be provided for engagement with the outer sides of the tubes to prevent lateral displacement outwardly thereof during their passage through the diverted portion of the upper run as shown. As shown in Fig. l, the pulley shafts 3h, 3 may be journaled in upright brackets 13% supported from the base of the machine, the brackets 1313 being provided with connecting side rails 132, 134 to which the various roller supporting brackets may be attached. t will be observed that the central supporting belt It) is preferably guided upwardly over the rollers 78 along the lower run of the conveyor out of engagement with the bottoms of the inverted containers as shown.
As illustrated in Fig. 2, each pulley 22, 24 is provided with an intermediate or central portion having a flat cylindrical surface for accommodating the intermediate or central belt 10 on which the containers are supported and advanced into and out of engagement with the tubes 26, 28. Each pulley is further provided with cylindrical concave portions on each side of and slightly above the flat surface, the concave portions being adapted to conform to the shape of the cylindrical tubes 26, 28. It will be observed that the concave portions are formed to correspond substantially to the outer surfaces defined by the outer lower quadrant of each cylindrical tube in the upper run, the concave portions preferably being extended slightly beyond each end of the lines defining the quadrant, so that the lower portion of each quadrant provides a base for frictional driving engagement with the inner run of its tube, and the outer portions of each quadrant tend to urge the tubes inwardly into firm engagement with the containers carried therebetween.
In order to prevent twisting of the tubes 26, 23 relative to the pulleys 22, 24 during their passage through the machine, the interior surface of each rubber tube may be provided with a relatively narrow endless band 146 of fabric or like material secured to the inner surface along the inner run of the tube in alignment with the base portions of the concave portions of the pulleys so that in passing around the pulleys the band portions will follow the base portions of the quadrants and thus prevent lateral or rotary movement or the tubes relative to the pulleys. It will be understood that the bands 146 may comprise a flexible but relatively non-stretchable fabric or like material so that the inner runs of the tubes will tend to follow the base portions of the pulleys, as described, to maintain the tubes in a straight run relative to the pulleys. In effect the bands 146 act as narrow belts disposed within the tubes.
It will be observed that the spacing of the concave portions of the pulleys is such as to dispose the tubes in a normal slightly spaced relation, as illustrated in Fig. 2, for eflicient gripping engagement with average. size containers. In operation the tubes may be inflated at a relatively low pressure, approximately one and one-half pounds pressure for example, providing ample resiliency for gripping engagement with the sides of the containers. While the normal pressure of one and one-half pounds is capable of accommodating a wide range of sizes, in practice the tubes may be inflated to a slightly greater pressure to accommodate very small containers, or the tubes may be deflated to a slightly lower pressure to accommodate relatively large size containers.
In operation it will be seen that the containers on the belt in the upper run of the conveyor are supported relative to the tubes 26, 28 so that the tubes will firmly engage the sides of the containers fed therebetween and will carry the same downwardly around the pulley 22 with the bottoms of the containers in engagement with the belt 10, and when the containers reach the lower run in an inverted position the belt 10 is guided out of engagement with the bottoms of the containers so that the containers are engaged solely by the tubes during their travel through the lower run. The inverted containers are moved into operative position with respect to the cleaning mechanism as will be described. After the cleaning operation the containers being carried from the lower run around the pulley 24 again engage the central supporting belt 10, and when they reach the upper run the containers are released by the tubes at the diverging portion 92 of the inflated conveyor to be again supported by the central conveyor.
From the description thus far it will be observed that the present structure of cleaning apparatus provides a simple and economical manner of conveying containers or other articles from an upright position toan inverted position into operative relation to the cleaning mechanism. It will also be observed that containers of various sizes and shapes are firmly and resiliently gripped between the tubes, the resiliency of the tube conforming to the shape and size of the containers or other articles gripped thercbetween.
Referring now to Figs. 1, 2 and 3, the pneumatic cleaning mechanism includes a plurality of spaced cleaning units, indicated generally at 150, each cleaning unit having a hollow air nozzle 60 mounted to register with successive spaced containers as they enter the lower run of the conveyor and to move along in alignment therewith, provision being also made for vertically reciprocating the horizontally moving nozzles into and out of the mouths of the inverted containers during the cleaning operation. As herein shown, each nozzle 60 is supported for reciprocation in a tubular member 200, see Fig. 9, forming a part of the air supply, the lower end of the hollow nozzle being provided with a head portion 202 having a sliding fit with the interior of the tubular member. The tubular member 200 is supported by upper and lower brackets 204, 206 attached to a vertical supporting plate 208, the upper bracket 204 having a cylindrical portion 210 fitted into the upper end of the tubular member 200 to form an airtight seal. The lower end of the tubular member is provided with a threaded closure cap 212 providing an air chamber 215 below the head portion 202. The chamber 215 is provided with an air inlet having a nipple 216 connected by a flexible tube 218 to a source of air. The upper end of the nozzle 60 is guided in a bracket 21 7 also carried by the vertical supporting plate 208.
The vertical supporting plate 208 is connected by a horizontal bracket 220 to an endless chain 222 and may be supported and maintained in its vertical position by upper and lower arms 224, 226 provided with rollers 228 riding in upper and lower U-shaped tracks 239, 232 as shown in Fig. 2. The roller tracks 230, 232 are attached to the horizontally extended arms 234 of a stationary bracket 236 which is connected by brackets 238 mounted for vertical adjustment in an upright and longitudinally extended central frame member 240.
As illustrated in Figs. 2 and 3, the chain 222 is engaged in driving relation with a drive sprocket 242 which is mounted for rotation on a bearing sleeve 244, the latter being more clearly shown in Fig. 5. The sleeve is threaded for vertical adjustment in a bracket 246 secured to the central frame member 240. As shown in detail in Fig. 5, the sleeve 244 forms a bearing for a vertical drive shaft 248 having a sprocket 250 keyed to its upper end. The lower end of the shaft 248 is connected to the sprocket 242 through extensible fittings permitting vertical adjustment of the drive sprocket relative to the shaft. As herein shown, the lower end of the shaft 248 is provided with laterally extended studs 252 which cooperate with vertical slots formed in a drive tube 254 connected at its upper end by screws 256 to the hub of the sprocket 242. A ball bearing 258 is interposed between the hub of the sprocket 242 and a flanged end portion 269 of the bearing sleeve 244. The upper end of the shaft 248 may be journaled in a bearing bracket 262 mounted on the upper surface of the central frame member 240.
The sprocket 250 keyed to the upper end of the shaft 248 may be connected by a chain 264 to a sprocket 266 fast on a vertical shaft 268 which is connected by bevel gears 270 to an intermediate shaft 272. The intermediate shaft 272 may be connected to the motor 46 by a belt and pulley drive 274, as shown in Figs. 2 and 3.
In the operation of the apparatus thus far describedthe spaced nozzle units 69 are continuously moved along in alignment with the spaced containers being conveyed in an inverted position along the lower run of the conveyor. In practice the spacing of the containers is made to correspond to the spacing of the nozzle cleaning units, and the containers are arranged to be moved at the same rate of speed and in substantial alignment with successive cleaning units. As herein shown, provision is made for positively registering each nozzle in alignment with the relatively small mouth of its container as the containers enter the lower run. As shown in Fig. 3, the registering mechanism for each nozzle unit may comprise a pair of gripping jaws 276, 278 pivotally mounted at 280, 282 respectively in the upper bracket 224 attached to the vertical supporting plate 208. The gripping jaws 276, 278 are urged together in gripping relation around the neck of a bottle by a spring 284 extended thercbetween and are also connected by gear segments 285 as shown in Fig. 8. In order to open the jaws to receive the neck of a container being carried into the lower run, one of the jaws 276 is provided with an arm carrying a cam roller 286 arranged to cooperate with a cam piece 288 disposed adjacent the start of the lower run as shown in Fig. 11. The cam piece 238 may be supported on an extension from the upper arm 234 of the stationary bracket 236. In operation as the bottles are carried around into the lower run the necks of the bottles enter between the open jaws, and as the bottles are moved along the lower run the roller 286 rides off the stationary cam 288 to permit closure of the jaws around the neck of the bottle, thus assuring positive alignment of the nozzle 60 with the relatively small mouth opening of the bottles. A similar cam piece 290 may be provided adjacent the other end of the conveyor to effect opening of the jaws to release the containers after completion of the cleaning operation. In practice the spaced relationship and the rate of travel of the nozzle units and the containers is such as to effect substantial registration of the mouths of successive containers with, their respective nozzles. However, the registering jaws 276, 278 serve as a safety to assure positive alignment and to prevent engagement of the nozzle with the edge of the mouth during elevation of the nozzle into the container. It will be observed that the resiliency of the tubes 26, 28 between which the containers are gripped and conveyed permit slight realignment of the containers when the necks thereof are engaged by the registering jaws 276, 278 in the manner described.
Referring now to Figs. 2, 6 and 7, the nozzle reciprocating mechanism for inserting and withdrawing the nozzle into and out of the container during the cleaning operation includes a forked rocker arm 292 cooperating with a pin 294 extended laterally from the nozzle tube 60. The arm 292 is pivotally mounted at 296 in a bracket 298 attached to the vertical supporting plate 208. The arm 292 is provided with a gear segment 302 meshing with a gear segment 394 of an operating arm 306 pivotally mounted at 308. The operating arm 306 i provided with a roller 310 which cooperates with a stationary cam piece 312 supported on the lower arm 234 of the stationary bracket 236. A coil spring 314 is arranged to urge the roller 310 against its cam piece 312 and to effect rocking of the arm 3136 to elevate the nozzle when permitted to do so by the cam. As herein shown, the spring 314 is coiled about a reduced diameter portion of a link 316 pivotally mounted at 318. The free end of the link extends through an opening in a lateral extension 320 from the arm 306, the spring being interposed between the extension and a shouldered portion of the link as shown in Figs. 6 and 7. The cam piece 312 is preferably designed so that the nozzle member 60 will be inserted into its container immediately after the container has been gripped between the jaws 276, 278 to register the same. As illustrated in Fig. 1, the nozzle remains in its elevated position for a short time during which the dust and other foreign particles are blown out of the containers whereupon the nozzles are withdrawn at a point intermediate the ends of the conveyor to complete a first cleaning'operation. Thereafter the nozzles are again inserted into the containers to perform a second cleaning operation, the nozzles being again withdrawn as the containers approach the end of the lower run, thus performing two cleaning operations during the travel of the containers through the lower run of the conveyor.
In the illustrated embodiment of the invention the air supply to the various air nozzle units is arranged to enter the chamber 215 below the lower end or head portion 282 of the hollow nozzles 60 slidingly mounted in the chamber so that in operation the air may flow from the chamber through the hollow nozzles during reciprocation of the same therein. Air is supplied to the chambers 215 through flexible tubes 218 which are connected to the movable member 322 of a rotary valve unit indicated generally at 324 in Figs. 10 and 13. The stationary member 326 of the valve is provided wifh radial passageways 328 having circumferential extensions 330 for communication with the ports 332 of the movable memher 322 as they are rotated therepast, one of the passageways 328 permitting air to enter a flexible tube 218 and chamber 215 to perform the first cleaning operation, that is during extension of the nozzles into the containers at the beginning of their travel through the lower run, the second passageway permitting air to enter during the second extension of the nozzles into the containers, as described, to perform the second cleaning operation. In practice each flexible tube 218 may be connected to supply air to three cleaning units, the center cleaning unit being connected by the tube 218, and the two adjacent cleaning units being connected to the central unit by connecting flexible tubes 334 as indicated in Fig. 1. As illustrated in Fig. 3, the flexible tubes 218 are of considerable length so as to maintain communication with their respective cleaning units during movement of the units throughout their travel about the centrally disposed rotary valve unit,
the movable member 322 of the rotary valve unit 324 being rotated in timed relation to such nozzle movement. As herein shown, the movable member 322 of the rotary valve units forms the lower end of an elongated tubular member 336 supported and mounted for rotation in the central frame member 240. The upper end of the tubular member 336 may be connected to any usual or preferred source of compressed air through an adapter 338 and pipe 340, the compressed air following the central passageway through the tubular member 336 and communicating with the radial passageways 328 in the stationary member 326 of the rotary valve. Rotation of the tubular member 336 in timed relation to the movement of the cleaning nozzle units may be effected through a chain and sprocket drive 341 to a vertical shaft 342 which is connected by a second chain and sprocket drive 344 to the vertical shaft 268 as shown in Fig. 3.
Referring again to Fig. 5, provision is made for manually adjusting the threaded bearing sleeve 244 vertically in its bracket 246 in order to raise and lower the drive sprocket 242 to accommodate different positions of adjustment of the nozzle carrying units and for simultaneously adjusting the stationary brackets 236 carrying the roller tracks 230, 232 in order to vertically raise or lower the nozzle carrying units correspondingly for different sizes of containers. As seen in Fig. 5, a sprocket 346 keyed to the sleeve 244 is interposed between the top face of the bracket 246 and the underside of a retaining member 348 secured to the bracket 246 by screws 350. The sprocket 346 is connected by a chain 352 to a sprocket 354 fast on a vertical shaft 356 supported for rotation in the frame member 358. The upper end of the shaft 356 is provided with a hand wheel 364) for rotating the threaded sleeve 244 in its bracket 246 to effect vertical adjustment of the drive sprocket 242. As illustrated in Figs.'3 and 12, the chain 352 also runs around a sprocket 262 fast on a vertical shaft 364 forming one of twelve similar shafts, each of which is connected to rotate together by a chain and sprocket drive 366. The lower end of each shaft 364 is threaded for cooperation with threaded portions of the brackets 238 which form a part of each vertically adjustable stationary supporting unit carrying the upper and lower guide tracks 230, 232. Thus, in operation rotation of the hand wheel 360 will effect simultaneous adjustment of the drive sprocket 242 and each stationary track support unit to raise or lower the movable nozzle supporting units relative to the containers to be cleaned.
From the above description it will be seen that the present invention provides novel and efficient pneumatic cleaning apparatus for air cleaning containers, such as bottles, which are being continuously conveyed in an in verted position and which is particularly adapted for air cleaning the interior of bottles having relatively small mouth openings by the provision of means for inserting the nozzles within the continuc-usly moving containers during the cleaning operation whereby to cause any dust or other foreign particles in the containers to be suspended therein and to be blown out of the mouth thereof.
While the preferred embodiment of the invention has been herein illustrated and described, it will be understood that the invention may be embodied in other forms within the scope of the following claims.
Having thus described the invention, what is claimed 1s:
1. Container cleaning apparatus comprising, in combination, means for resiliently gripping and continuously conveying at a relatively high speed open mouthed containers in an inverted position and in spaced relation over a straight line portion of an endless path, air cleaning means including a supply of air under pressure and a plurality of spaced air nozzles connected therewith, means for moving the nozzles in alignment with the spaced con tainers along said straight line portion, means operating independently of said air supply for reciprocating the nozzles into and out of the containers during the continuous movement thereof to perform the cleaning operation, and means comprising opposed gripper members movable with the nozzles and engageable with the necks only of the containers for positively registering the mouths of the resiliently gripped containers with said reciproca-ble nozzlm, said opposed gripper members effecting movement of a slightly misaligned resiliently gripped container to an aligned position.
2. Container cleaning apparatus having, in combination, an endless conveyor means for resiliently gripping and continuously conveying containers in spaced relation from an upright position in an upper run to an inverted position in a lower straight line run, container supply means including means for transferring containers from a supply in predetermined spaced relation to said endless conveyor, air cleaning means including a plurality of spaced cleaning units having air nozzles movable in alignment with the spaced and inverted containers along said lower run and to which compressed air is supplied, means operating independently of said compressed air for reciprocating the nozzles into and out of the containers during the continuous movement thereof, and means comprising opposed gripper jaws movable with the nozzles and engageable with the necks only of the containers for positively registering the mouths of the containers with said reciprocable nozzles, said opposed gripper jaws effecting movement of a slightly misaligned resiliently gripped container to an aligned position.
3. Container cleaning apparatus as defined in claim 2 wherein each spaced cleaning unit is connected to an endless chain, and means for driving the chain in timed relation to the movement of the containers.
4. Container cleaning apparatus as defined in claim 2 wherein each movable cleaning unit is mounted for vertical adjustment, and provision is made for adjusting all of said cleaning units simultaneously to accommodate difierent sizes of containers.
5. Container cleaning apparatus as defined in claim 2 wherein the compressed air connections to each movable cleaning unit includes an air chamber in which the lower end of a nozzle is mounted for reciprocation, a rotary valve, flexible connections between said rotary valve and said air chambers, and means for rotating said valve in timed relation to the movement of said cleaning units.
6. Container cleaning apparatus as defined in claim 5 wherein each cleaning unit is independently operated and wherein the reciprocating means is arranged to effect insertion and withdrawal of the nozzles at least twice during the travel of the containers along the lower run of the conveyor, and wherein the rotary valve is arranged to release air to the nozzles while they are inserted in the containers whereby to effect two cleaning operations during the travel of the containers through the lower run.
7. For use with container cleaning apparatus having a conveyer comprising a pair of opposed endless resilient elements disposed side by side and guided to provide an upper and a lower run, said resilient elements being arranged to grip and convey open mouth containers therebetween and to carry the containers from an upright position in the upper run to an inverted position in the lower nm, the improvement comprising air cleaning means including a supply of air under pressure and a plurality of spaced air nozzles connected therewith, means for moving the nozzles in alignment with the spaced containers along said lower run, means for reciprocating the nozzles into and out of the containers during the continuous movement thereof to perform the cleaning operation, and opposed registering members movable with the nozzles and engageable with the necks of the containers for efiecting movement of a slightly misaligned container gripped between the resilient elements to an aligned position whereby to positively register the mouths of the resiliently gripped containers with said reciprocable nozzles.
8. Container cleaning apparatus comprising, in combination, means for resiliently gripping and continuously conveying open mouthed containers in an inverted position and in spaced relation over a straight line portion of an endless path, air cleaning means including a supply of air under pressure and a plurality of spaced nozzles connected therewith, means for continuously moving the nozzles in alignment with the spaced containers throughout the length of said straight line portion, and means operating independently of said air supply for reciprocating the nozzles into and out of the containers during the continuous movement thereof to perform the cleaning operation.
9. Container cleaning apparatus as defined in claim 8 wherein the nozzles are also moved over a straight line portion of an endless path conforming to the straight line portion of said conveying means.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,568,594 Flint Jan. 5, 1926 2,298,475 Fechheimer Oct. 13, 1942 2,354,308 Everett July 25, 1944 2,385,050 Becker Sept. 18, 1945 2,628,382 Fechheimer Feb. 17, 1953 2,634,737 Rowe Apr. 14, 1953 2,665,697 Hohl et al. Jan. 12, 1954 2,725,641 Lindsay Dec. 6, 1955 FOREIGN PATENTS 32,072 Holland Feb. 15, 1934