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Publication numberUS3069794 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 25, 1962
Filing dateAug 31, 1959
Priority dateAug 31, 1959
Publication numberUS 3069794 A, US 3069794A, US-A-3069794, US3069794 A, US3069794A
InventorsHoward J Stalcup
Original AssigneeStalcup Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Steam emitting sign apparatus
US 3069794 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)


Unite This invention relates to sign equipment and particularly to outdoor advertising displays which attract the attention of persons passing by the sign because of intermittent discharge of steam from preselected portions of the advertising material on the sign to thereby simulate smoke being emitted from the display.

It is a primary object of the present invention to provide steam emitting sign apparatus designed to intermittently discharge smoke simulating jets of steam from predetermined areas of the advertising material for extended periods of time without operator attention of any kind being required and regardless of the ambient weather conditions.

A further important object of the invention is to provide automatic steam emitting sign apparatus which intermittently causes jets of smoke simulating steam to be discharged from predetermined openings in the sign during a preselected, variable period from early morning to late evening, but which shuts itself off each night for an extended time during which it is desirable that the steam discharging equipment be rendered inactive for reasons of economy.

Also an important object of the invention is to provide apparatus as described wherein the conduits for conveying steam from the steam generating means to respective discharge openings in the sign, are all disposed in an inclined position to cause water to drain therefrom back into the steam generating means to prevent freezing of liquid in the lines during periods of deactivation of the steam generating and emitting mechanism when the ambient temperature is below the freezing point of water.

Also an important aim of the invention is to provide steam emitting apparatus wherein the steam generating and conveying mechanism is operated by electrical control mechanism having a minimum of movable parts, which is extremely simple in design and operation to thereby preclude frequent breakdown of the apparatus and thus maintaining emergency repair operations at a minimum.

Other important objects and details of the present invention will become obvious or be explained in greater detail when considering the accompanying drawing, as well as the following specification.

In the drawing:

FIGURE 1 is a front elevational view of a steam emitting sign embodying the preferred apparatus of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a rear elevational view of the sign shown in FIG. 1 and indicating the normal position of the steam generating and conveying mechanism; and

FIG. 3 is a schematic representation of the steam generating and conveying mechanism as well as the electrical control circuitry forming a part thereof.

The sign equipment broadly numerated It) is generally of the outdoor type positioned adjacent principal trafiic arteries and including as basic components, main vertical panel means 12 supported by base framework 14 mounted on the ground, one or more cutouts such as 16 and 18 mounted on the normally front face 20 of panel means 12, and combination steam generating and conveying mechanism 22 positioned behind the rearmost face 24 of panel means 12, as best shown in FIG. 2.

rates Patent Although panel means 12 need not be provided with cutouts such as 16 and 18 mounted on forwardmost face 20 of panel means 12 in spaced relationship thereto, it has been determined that utilization of cutouts such as the cowboy 16 holding branding iron 13, imparts a three-dimensional appearance to sign equipment 10 and introduces a spectacular factor into the advertising medium, particularly when employed in conjunction with steam generating and emitting mechanism 22. In this respect and utilizing the illustrated sign as a. guide only, it is to be preferred that panel means 12 as Well as cutouts 16 and 18 be provided with a number of openings therein disposed in predetermined relationship to receive the terminal ends of the pipes for discharging steam on the outer face 26 of panel means 12. Thus, for example, it is desirable that steam be emitted from an opening 26 at the cowboys mouth, through another opening 28 adjacent the cigarette in the cowboys mouth, and through a number of openings 30 in spaced relationship at the marginal parts of brand 18 which is shown in 8 form for illustrative purposes only.

Mechanism 22 on the rear face 24 of panel means 12 includes steam generating means 32 which preferably includes a lower boiler unit 34 adapted to receive a quantity of water 36 as well as a chamber 33 overlying boiler unit 34 and communicating therewith in a manner to receive steam produced from water 36. It is to be understood that the representation of steam generating unit 32 in FIG. 3 is schematic in character, and that the same does not necessarily represent the exact configuration and construction of the equipment.

Water line 40 coupled to boiler unit 34 below the normal level 42 of water 36 has a normally closed valve 44 therein for controlling flow of water into steam generating means 32.

Means for conveying steam from chamber 38 to the respective openings 26, 28 and 30 includes a conduit 46 communicating with the interior of chamber 32 adjacent the top thereof and having an upwardly inclined section 48 provided with a number of laterally extending pipes 50 which extend to and terminate adjacent corresponding openings 26, 28 and 39 in panel means 12 or cutouts 16 and 13, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. It is to be noted that pipes 50, coupled to section 48 in parallel relationship as well as conduit 46 and section 48, are disposed at an angle so that water condensing in such steam transfer means drains back into steam generating means 32 whenever the latter is rendered inactive.

Mechanism for heating water 36 to convert the same into steam may comprise a gas burner 51 positioned below boiler unit 34 and having a gas supply line 52 coupled thereto which is in turn provided with a normally open valve 54 to control passage of gas to burner 51. Pilot line 56 is coupled to line 52 in bypassing relationship to valve 54 to provide a continuously burning flame 58 adjacent burner 51 to re-light the same after closing of valve 54, followed by opening of the same.

Blower 69, having an elongated inlet conduit 62 in proximity to burner 51 and thereby pilot line 56, is mounted on the upper part of steam generating means 32 in a position with the outlet 64 discharging'air substantially in a horizontal direction as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. Blower 69 serves the purpose of maintaining a constant draft of air over pilot line 56 to maintain flame 58 burning at all times, regardless of the OE or on condition of the steam emitting mechanism.

Pipe 66, communicating with the interior of chamber 38 at the top thereof, has a substantially U-shaped conduit 68 connected thereto, with one branch of the latter having a pressure relief valve 70 therein while the opposed branch is provided with a normally closed valve 72.

Float 74, pivotally mounted within boiler unit 34, has an arm 76 disposed to engage the arm of a normally open switch 78 mounted on the inner surface of boiler unit 34 in a manner to maintain the level 42 of water 36 at a predetermined depth, as will be hereinafter described.

The electrical control circuit 80 forming a part of mechanism 22 includes a pair of power terminals 82 and 84, with the latter being grounded by a line 86. Line 88 interconnecting terminal 82 and the coil of solenoid 91) is also joined to normally open switch 78. Lead 92 serves to ground the coil of solenoid 90 with the armature of the latter being operably coupled to valve 72 for opening the latter in response to energization of solenoid 90, which occurs during closing of switch 78 as the arm 76 contacts the switch arm of switch 78.

Lead 94, joined to line 88, is also coupled to the movable switch arm 96 of a timer switch 98 forming a part of clock mechanism 100. It is to be understood that during predetermined periods, switch arm 96 is maintained out of engagement with contact 1192, whereas, during other periods, arm 96 is permitted to engage contact 102. Lead 194 joins contact 14142 of switch 98 to a relatively small motor 106 which is grounded by line 198. Motor 106 includes suitable gear mechanism forming a part thereof, with cam 11% mounted on the shaft of motor 106 in a position to open and close switch arm 112 in switch 114 which is interposed in line 116 interconnecting lead 104 and the coil of solenoid 118 which is in turn grounded by line 120. The armature of solenoid 118 is operably coupled with valve 122 in conduit 46 which thereby controls passage of steam from steam generating means 32 for discharge through the outer ends of pipes 50. Valve 122 is opened upon energization of the coil of solenoid 118 which is controlled by closing of switch 114 under the action of cam 110.

Another solenoid 124 is electrically connected to line 88 by a lead 126 with a ground line 128 also being coupled with the coil of solenoid 124. The armature of solenoid 124 is operably coupled with valve 44 which is normally closed and is opened in response to energization of solenoid 124.

Solenoid 130 connected to normally open valve 54 in gas line 52 is connected to a thermostatic switch 132 within boiler unit 34 by line 134, and solenoid 134) in turn being grounded by line 136.

Since power line 13% connects blower 60 to lead 94 while line 140 serves to ground the blower, it can be perceived that blower 69 operates continuously in absence of. opening of the main control switch of control circuit 80.

In operation, it can be seen that with boiler unit 34 in an empty condition, arm 76 of float 74 engages the switch arm of switch '78 to close the latter and thereby permit energization of the coil of solenoid 124 which opens valve 44 to permit water to flow into boiler unit 34 through water supply line 40. When such water reaches the level indicated by the numeral 42, arm 76 is moved out of engagement with switch '78 to thereby permit the same to move into an open condition and thereby deactivating solenoid 124 and discontinuing fiow of water into boiler unit 34 as valve 44 closes.

Burner 51 is also actuated during this period by virture of the fact that valve 54 is in a normally open condition with the fuel being ignited by the flame S8 of pilot line 56. Steam produced from water 36 collects in chamber 38 until a predetermined pressure is released, determined by valve 70 and which preferably is approximately 50 psi.

Clock 101i is set so that switch arm 96 is moved into engagement with contact 102 at a predetermined time which, for example, may be 6:00 am. in the summer months or 7:30 am. during the winter months, whereby motor 106 is energized through a circuit traced through terminal 82, lead 94, switch arm 96. contact 1%, lead 104, the windings of motor 1% and ground line 108. During operation of motor 1%, which continues so long as switch 98 is closed, cam 114 permits arm 112 to move into a closed position, thereby effecting energization of solenoid 118 through line 116 and ground line 1213. Activation of solenoid 118 causes valve 122 to open, wherebythe steam stored in chamber 38 is permitted to pass through conduit 4-6 and section 48 for discharge through the outer ends of respective pipes 50 which are positioned within corresponding openings 26, 23 and 30. As cam continues to rotate, switch 114 is again opened thereby deenergizing solenoid 118 and closing valve 122. It has been found that for most effective simulation of smoke emanating from the display sign, the valve 122 should be opened for a very brief period every four or five seconds.

It should also be pointed out that whenever the level 42 of water 36 within boiler unit 34 falls'to a point permitting arm 76 to close switch 78, additional water is introduced into boiler unit 34 upon opening of valve 44. During introduction of water into steam generating means 32, solenoid 9i} is energized by line 82% (switch 78 being closed during this period) whereby normally closed valve '72 is opened and thereby venting the steam generating means 32 to permit passage of water thereinto, notwithstanding the fact that the city water pressure is generally below the steam pressure within the generating unit.

The clock Mill moves arm as out of engagement with contact 102 at a predetermined period such as 12:00 midnight, and the components thereby remain inactive until turned on again the next morning. However, blower 6t continuously operates to provide a draft over pilot flame 58 and prevent the same from going out, regardless of the condition of operation of the other parts of the equipment.

It is also desirable that water line 413 leading to steam generating means 32 be wrapped with resistance wire which is in turn covered with insulating material, and with the resistance wire electrically coupled to the circuit in connection with a thermostat which is preset to turn on the electricity to the resistance wire when the temperature of the water and reflected by the thermostat, reaches 35 and to turn off the current to the resistance wire when the water rises to approximately 38. In this way, the temperature of the water entering steam generating means 32 is maintained above the freezing point and precluding freezing thereof during night periods when the equipment is turned off.

Having thus described the invention what is claimed as new and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is:

In sign equipment, upright panel means adapted for displaying advertising material on the outer face thereof and provided with a series of openings therein arranged in predetermined relationship with respect to the advertising material on said panel means; steam generating means positioned behind said panel means; means for conveying steam from said generating means to each of said openings for discharge therethrough; timer means on said steam generating means; and valve means between said steam generating means and said conveying means responsive to said timer means for periodically permitting a sufiicient quantity of steam to be conveyed from said generating means to said openings for discharge therethrough to produce a smoke effect from said advertising material, said means for conveying steam to said openings including a number of conduits communicating with said steam generating means and terminating adjacent respective openings, said generating means being positioned below said openings and all of said conduits being disposed in angular positions relative to the horizontal and draining directly into said steam generating means to prevent freezing of water within the conduits during periods the steam generating means is inoperative.

(References on foiEov/ing page) Reiarences 351%? in the file of th'l patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,129,358 Ballew Sept. 6, 1938 2,180,951 Dale Nov. 21, 1939 2,674,820 Bansen Apr. 13, 1954 6 Webster Inns 8, 1954- FOREIGN PATENTS Denmark Sept. 7, 1910 Germany Oct. 10, 1913 Great Britain May 14, 1243

Patent Citations
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US334275 *Apr 9, 1885Jan 12, 1886 Machine for quilting bed-com portables
US2129368 *Jun 1, 1936Sep 6, 1938Ballew Elmer LAdvertising device
US2180951 *Dec 17, 1938Nov 21, 1939Mechanical Man IncAutomaton merchandising device
US2674820 *Dec 23, 1949Apr 13, 1954Hansen Rolf KrohnProduction of smoke signs in the air
US2680316 *Dec 18, 1950Jun 8, 1954W L McknightAdvertising sign
DK30916A * Title not available
GB553281A * Title not available
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3949505 *Jan 4, 1974Apr 13, 1976Bunichi KatoQuickly interchangeable slide mounts
US5989128 *Jan 8, 1998Nov 23, 1999Universal Studios, Inc.Flame simulation
US6799730 *Nov 15, 2002Oct 5, 2004Palantic TradingUltrasonic fog maker and methods of drug delivery and air freshening
US20030094508 *Nov 15, 2002May 22, 2003Palantic TradingUltrasonic fog maker and methods of drug delivery and air freshening
US20050045734 *Sep 28, 2004Mar 3, 2005Palantic TradingUltrasonic fog maker and methods of drug delivery and air freshening
US20050184168 *Dec 3, 2004Aug 25, 2005Pengs Group, Inc.Automatically refilling ultrasonic fog maker, recycling ultrasonic fog maker, and method of treating a medical condition using negative ions
USRE39671 *May 6, 2005Jun 5, 2007Palantic TradingUltrasonic fog maker and methods of drug delivery and air freshening
U.S. Classification40/407
International ClassificationG09F19/12
Cooperative ClassificationG09F19/12
European ClassificationG09F19/12