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Publication numberUS3342374 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 19, 1967
Filing dateJul 21, 1965
Priority dateAug 10, 1961
Publication numberUS 3342374 A, US 3342374A, US-A-3342374, US3342374 A, US3342374A
InventorsKienel Joseph E
Original AssigneeCallaway Mills Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Towel dispensing machine
US 3342374 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

p 19, 1967 I J. E KIENEL 3,342,374

TOWEL DISPENSING MACHINE Original Filed Aug. 10, 1961 5 Sheets-Sheet 1 J; FIGI 2 5 4 2 6 4 INVENTOR.

JOSEPH E. IENE L @L T 3|2 BY ATTORNEY p 19, 1967 J. E. KIENEL 3,342,374

TOWEL DISPENSING MACHINE Original Filed Aug. 10, 1961 5 Shets-Sheet 2 2 INVENTOR.


JOSEPH E. K IE N EL ATTORNEY Sept. 19, 1967 J. E. KIENEL TOWEL DISPENSING MACHINE 5 Sheets-Sheet 4 Original Filed Aug. 10, 1961 AT TOR NEY JOSEP H E. K IENEL Sept. 19, 1967 J. E. KIENEL 3,342,374

TOWEL DISPENSING MACHINE Original Filed Aug. 10,. 1961 5 Sheets-Sheet 5 INVENTOR.

249 JOSEPH E. KIENEL BY m, w 1

United States Patent 3,342,374 TOWEL DISPENSING MACHINE Joseph E. Kienel, Acworth, Ga, assignor to Callaway Mills Company, La Grange, Ga, a corporation of Georgia Original application Aug. 10, 1961, Ser. No. 130,635, now Patent No. 3,251,448, dated May 17, 1966. Divided and this application July 21, 1965, Ser. No. 484,500

2 Claims. (Cl. 221-215) This is a division of my copending application, Ser. No. 130,635, filed Aug. 10, 1961, now Patent No. 3,251,448.

This invention relates to a towel dispensing machine and particularly to a machine of that sort for dispensing clean shop towels and the like in exchange for soiled towels manually deposited therein. Application Ser. No. 130,635 is a continuation-in-part of my copending application, Ser. No. 22,336, filed Apr. 14, 1960, now Patent No. 3,095,998.

Fabric towels and the like are used daily in large numbers by various institutions, factories, shops and other places as wiping cloths for machinery and for other purposes. The cost of such towels and the quantities used is a significant amount in the operation of a business and other places where these towels are used. While some of these towels are destroyed from contact with machinery parts and the like, a larger number of towels are lost through disappearance probably because the personnel have taken them from the premises. There are machines in the prior art which were designed for the purpose of supplying a clean towel in exchange for dirty towels deposited in the machine. Some of these machines were constructed in such a manner that they inherently failed to make a proper examination of the nature of the article being deposited before they released a clean towel. In other words, it was possible easily to cheat these machines by inserting pieces of towels, pieces of paper and other items suflicient to fool the input mechanism of the machines. Since the presence of a machine such as this oifers a challenge to certain people who are determined to see if they can cheat the machines, it is important that the input or towel examining portion of the machine operates satisfactorily to examine whatever is inserted in the machine. In these machines and other machines, sometimes the mechanism would jam or otherwise fail to operate, thereby rendering the machine useless for a period of time. Another disadvantage of some of the prior art machines is that they have a tendency to tear or injure the towels. Also, the delivery mechanism of any of the prior art machines is undependable in that sometimes it delivers no towels at all, and at other times it delivery more than one towel when it should deliver only. one.

The primary object of the present invention is to provide an improved machine for dispensing clean towels in exchange for soiled towels manually deposited in the machine.

A particular advantage of the present machine resides in the measuring and inspection apparatus of the receiving section thereof, whereby a towel manually deposited therein must pass certain minimum requirements with respect to length and bulk or otherwise the machine, while capable of accepting this reject, will not operate to provide a clean towel.

Another object of this invention resides in the particular arrangement of the delivery mechanism of the machine whereby positive contact with the top towel in the stack is maintained at all times and positive delivery of only one towel is substantially assured upon each operation.

A further object of this invention is to provide a towel dispensing apparatus of the sort presented which will operate only upon the depositing of soiled towels of certain minimum dimensions and will refuse to dispense a clean towel when such a reject is deposited in the machine.

3,342,374 Patented Sept. '19, 1967 A further object of this invention is to provide a towel dispensing machine which is easily and readily loaded with clean towels.

Still another object of this invention resides in the receiving portion thereof wherein there are three inspections made simultaneously to inspect both length and bulk of the towel, and whereby no clean towel will be furnished unless the soiled towel deposited therein passes this inspection.

Another advantage of the present invention resides in the towel delivery mechanism wherein a delivery device rests on top of a stack of clean towels and wherein the stack of clean towels is counterweighted to compensate for the depletion thereof until the last towels are removed.

Another object of this invention resides in the towel receiving mechanism in the machine wherein once a soiled towel is manually deposited in the receiving mechanism, it must continue on through the machine beyond the control of the person depositing the towel in the machine, or otherwise no clean towel will be supplied. This prevents a common type of cheating whereby a string is attached to a towel and the towel is allowed to pass a certain point in the machine to release a clean towel and then the string is pulled to jerk the towel back to be used again.

Still another object of this invention resides in the operation of the machine whereby it ceases operation automatically upon becoming empty and indicates its empty condition by a visible light so that the machine can be re-loaded.

An additional object of this invention resides in the particular mechanism employed in the receiving and inspection portions wherein three sensing devices are connected with individual members having matchable portions thereon which must come into alignment before the towel passes the inspection as to length and bulk by simultaneous sensmg.

A further object of this invention resides in the construction of the input or receiving mechanism and inspection device wherein the towel is positively placed to be received in the machine and wherein there is a positive mechanical action to release and strip the towel from the receiver.

Another object of the present invention resides in the delivery portion of the machine wherein a positive mechanical action is employed to engage a clean towel to deliver same from the machine and whereby a positive stripping action is employed to remove the towel from the pick-up device and combine with a positive actuation and release of the towel.

Other and further objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following specification and description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective View of a machine constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the machine shown in FIG. 1 with the front door removed and with portions of the cabinet broken away exposing the internal details.

FIG. 3 is a front elevation view of the machine shown in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is an exploded view of the inspection mechanism of the receiver of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a side elevation view of the inside of the inspection mechanism shown in FIG. 4 with the outer lefthand plate removed.

FIG. 6 is a side elevation view of the left-hand side of the inspection mechanism shown in FIG. 5 with the parts assembled and showing the outside plate which was removed in FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the positive towel input and release mechanism taken substantially along lines 7-7 in FIG. 3.

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view taken substantially along lines 88 in FIG. 3 and showing part of the cheat proof mechanism.

FIG. 9 is a partial perspective view of the shifting lever system of the inspection mechanism shown in FIG. 4.

FIG. 10 is an exploded view of the towel input mechanism of the receiving section.

FIG. 11 is an exploded view of the towel pick-up and delivery mechanism of the delivery section.

FIG. 12 is a schematic circuit diagram of the electrical circuit employed in the operation of the machine shown in FIG. 1.

Referring initially to the machine shown in FIG. 1 and then to the other figures of the drawings for a more detailed description of the various components and parts, the machine 10 is housed in a normally closed cabinet member 12 which has a hinged front door 14 thereon providing complete access to the interior of the machine. When the front door 12 is opened, the machine is exposed internally much in the manner shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, and especially in FIG. 3. On the front door 14 there is a towel receiving and manual input station covered by a plate 16 having a slot 18 therein covered by a closure or cup or cap member 20. The towel is manually inserted on a sharp pointed hook member 22 which normally protrudes through the slot 18 of the front plate 16. A manual start button 24 is mounted for operation adjacent the hook member 22. The clean towel is dropped from the machine and delivered through a bottom opening in an elongated slot member 26 in a manner to be described hereinafter.

The towel vending machine 19 for purposes of discussion may be considered to have two sections therein which are separated essentially within the machines by means of a bulk head or metal plate wall 28. These two sections are the receiving or manual towel input and conveyor mechanism designated generally by the reference numeral 50 and the delivery or clean towel conveyor and output mechanism designated generally by the reference numeral 206. According to the system of numbering in this patent disclosure, the numbers between 59 and 198 apply to the receiving or towel input or conveyor mechanism and related or associated parts and mechanisms while the reference numerals 200 refer mostly to the mechanism associated with the clean towel delivery apparatus. There are instances, of course, where reference numerals will fall in between these basic categories. As will hereinafter develop more fully, the machine operates on the general arrangement that a person wishing to obtain a clean towel approaches the machine cabinet of FIG. 1 with a dirty towel and manually hangs same by piercing the fabric of the towel on hook 22. This person then manually pushes switch 24 to start the machine in operation. Once this has been accomplished, the towel is for all practical purposes completely beyond the control of the person inserting the dirty towel in the machine and now becomes a captive of the input conveyor and inspection mechanism 50. The mechanism 59 takes a towel into the machine and senses the length of the towel preferably across the diagonal measurement thereof, which it has been found is a more accurate measurement, and simultaneously at one point therewith senses the bulk of the towel while inspecting the length thereof. If the towel passes the inspection test, then the machine automatically indicates this by electrical operation to the output mechanism designated generally at 200, at which time this mechanism operates to remove a clean towel from the stack of towels contained in the machine and to deliver and drop same from the front opening 26. Various schemes and devices have been invented throughout the years for cheating towel vending machines, and it is believed that the present machine anticipates all of those presently known and makes provision for these devices for cheating by suitable mechanism within the machine.

For example, in the input and receiving mechanism 50, the towel must pass completely through the machine before a clean towel is delivered. This prevents one type of cheating whereby a string or other item is attached to the towel and, once the towel has passed a certain point, the towel is pulled back out and again re-inserted to receive another clean towel for no dirty towels. Furthermore, the inspection mechanism is so nearly fool proof with respect to a linear dimension as well as a bulk factor that the towel must essentially be actually a fabric towel of a certain thickness when stretched or otherwise the present machine will not consider what has passed through as an adequate justification for release of a clean towel. These various features and modes of operation will become more apparent upon reading the following specific information beginning first with a detailed description of the receiving and inspection conveyor mechanism 50 and then a detailed description of the delivery mechanism 200 followed by a completion of all of the electrical circuitry and remaining portions of the machines summarized both as to content and operation.

Receiving and inspection conveyor mechanism 50 The receiving and inspection conveyor mechanism 50 comprises essentially two cooperating mechanisms-the towel input and conveyor mechanism designated generally at 52 (which has the sharp pointed member 22 as a part thereof) and the towel inspection device designated generally by the reference numeral 54 and through which the towel is caused to pass upon the operation of the delivery conveyor mechanism 52. Conveyor mechanism 52 comprises a swinging and rotational arc member 56 constructed from a bent metal bar or the like and rigidly mounted on an elongated cylindrical housing 58 which is rotatably supported on an elongated shaft 60 attached to a metal framework 62 rigidly bolted or otherwise fastened inside of the 1eft-hand towel input compartment of cabinet 12. Mounted on the bulk head 28 next to and in association with the frame 62 is a power drive arrangement 64 comprising a combined electric motor and transmission unit 66 driving a drive sprocket member 68 which in turn through a drive chain 70 drives a lower drive sprocket 72 mounted on and pinned with shaft 60 to drive and rotate segment 56 one complete revolution each time the transmission power arrangemtnt 64 is oper ated. Sprocket member 72 has a switch contact lobe 74 mounted thereon to contact the switch member 76 which is actuated by the start button 24 through a push rod 78 to start motor transmission unit 64. Lobe 74 contacts switch 76 to interrupt the motor drive 64 after one revolution is completed. Switch 76 is a latch type push-pull switch.

The sharp pointed member 22 is part of a retractable rod member 80 retractably mounted in segment 56 to be actuated by a bent rod member 82 mounted on a tab 84 on segment 56 and riding in contact with a cam member 86 mounted on shaft 60 to rotate with segment 56. Rod 80 is normally extended in segment 56 to receive a dirty towel thereon and retains the towel in extended position until the cam operating rod member 82 reaches the notched or cut'out portion 88 in cam 86, at which time the rod member 82 drops and retracts the rod 80 which is spring biased in a normally retracted position by means of a coil spring 90 attached between the rod 80 and a fixed point. The retraction of rod 80 in segment 56 is a positive operation which assures that the sharp pointed member 22 will be pulled positively from the dirty towel as it is fed to its point of drop into the dirty towel compartment. In FIG. 3 there is shown a stack of dirty towels 92 piled in the dirty towel compartment beneath the input segment and conveyor member 56.

Located immediately above and adapted to cooperate with and to operate as a part of the inspection conveyor mechanism 52 is the inspection device shown in the several FIGURES 4, S and 9 in particular, comprising a pair of spaced plates 94, 96 mounted above the shaft 60 and forming together an input passageway or channel or track through which the towel passes as it is conveyed into the machine by the segment 56. The relationship and distance and size of the plates 94, 96 with respect to the conveyor input member 52 is such that a conventional shop towel will pass in a pre-determined pattern as it is fed into the machine. Mounted inside of the two plate members 94 and adapted to be contacted by the passage of the towel are three separate sensing members or feelers 98, 100, 102 mounted along the arcuate path of the travel of the towel and of such length and arrangement as to be contacted by a normal, conventional shop towel as it travels in its arcuate path. The two members 98, 102 are spaced along the path of the length of travel of the towel and are length sensing members while the sensing member 96 is located a distance above the two members 98, 102, and is a bulk sensing member which is adapted to sense and to be activated simultaneously with one point of the measurement of the length between the two members 98, 102. Mounted on the exterior of plate 94 is the shifting inspection apparatus which forms a part of the sensing arrangement 98, 100, 102, and comprises individual and independent shifting links 104, 106, 108, respectively, connected with a shaft operating member 110, 112, 114 of a respective sensing member 98, 100, 102. Each of the link members 104, 106, 108, has a notch formed therein and the links are mounted for co-acting relationship to shift on respective support links 116, 118, 120 mounted on plate 94, so as to bring the notches into matching relationship at one simultaneous position of links 104, 106, 108 when the sensing devices 98, 100, 102 have been actuated to move the respective links 104, 106, 108 in response to contact by a towel moving through the plates 94, 96 during its conveyance by the segment 56.

A switch member 120 mounted on plate 94, immediately above the shifting links 104, 106, 108, has a switch contact 122 which is normally held in an upward position by means of a pivoted link 124 resting on top of the shifting members 104, 106, 108, and being adapted in one position when all of the notches match to have a V-shape portion thereof drop into the notches thereby permitting the switch contact member 122 to move. This occurs only when there is simultaneous reading of a correct towel when it correctly assumes the proper length between sensing members 98 and 102, and at the same time presents suflicient bulk along its intermediate portions to simultaneously contact and move the sensing member 112.

Each of the respective link members 116, 118, 119, is spring biased by a respective coil spring 126, 128, to remain in initial position with the sensing devices 98, 102, 100, in normal condition prior to being actuated by a towel.

According to the foregoing arrangement, when a towel properly passes the inspection as to length and bulk, it simultaneously actuates the shifting links 104, 106, 108 to place the notches in alignment whereby the member 124 drops to permit switch 120 to be actuated. On the other hand, if the towel fails for some reason, such as insuflicient length or inadequate bulk, to activate simultaneously the sensing members 98, 100, 102, the towel will be conveyed on through the machine by the segment member 56 but has failed to cause the proper operation to actuate the switch 120 which fails to further operate the machine and prevents the dispensing of a clean towel from the dispensing mechanism. Thus, if someone has deliberately inserted a short towel or a segment of a towel or some other substance, such as heavy paper, the inspection will incomplete and the clean towel will not be released.

The channel or open passageway formed by plates 94, 96 is such in conjunction with the fast travel of the towel by the conveyor segment 56 and the contact with sensing members 98, 100, 102, that the towel is pulled into alignment and is stretched through the channel so as to give a good inspection to it as it passes.

Levers 104, 106, 108 are adapted to co-act in reciprocation in a very sudden action as the towel passes fairly rapidly under and against the sensing devices 98, and 102. A bracket member encases the three links 104, 106, 108, and holds them in alignment for reciprocation. Respective st-op pins 132, 134 and 136 mounted with each of the respective sensing devices 98, 100, 192 engage stop lugs or tabs 138 formed on plate 94 at strategic locations to stop the travel of the links 104, 106, 108, thereby assuring a faster and more positive alignment of the notches at the proper moment.

As is seen in the side elevation view in FIG. 5, the path of the towel is confined along the channel or trough formed by plates 94, 96 and the length and shape of the conveyor member 56 brings the proper towel into contact with sensing member 98 initially then across in a path along the path of the conveyor 56 at the same time elongating or pulling the towel to stretch it to some extent which causes the towel to assume a bulk along the intermediate portion thereof which contacts the upper sensing device 100. Sensing device 100 therefore may be considered a bulk sensing device which determines whether or not the item inserted in the machine has sufficient bulk and body to correspond with what is found in the normal elongated towel.

As a further part of the cheat proof mechanism of this machine in the receiving portion, there is provided in front of the entrance to the channels 94, 96, a towel clearance sensing member 142 constructed from bent bar stock or the like and being pivotally mounted at 144 on the permanent machine frame and presenting a curved portion which is gradually contacted by the towel as it is fed or conveyed into the confined area between plates 94, 96. Mounted beneath member 142 is a switch member 146 having a switch contact thereon which is normally weighted or contacted in position by the arm 142 in nor mal or non-towel receiving condition but which switch is immediately de-activated and is thereby actuated upon contact with the towel as the towel is delivered into the machine by conveyor 56. As will appear more fully hereinafter, switch 146 is in the towel output or delivery circuit and prevents operation of the towel delivery mechanism until the towel has cleared the inspection apparatus. This provision prevents a well known form of cheating wherein the towel is not released but is held by the tip in the hand until it has cleared the sensing mechanism or else has a tail or wire or similar device tied thereto so that the towel can be pulled back once it has tripped the sensing device. In the first place, the confined path and pattern of the towel between plates 94, 96 beneath sensing devices 98, 192 and 100 makes it extremely difficult to pull the towel in a backward direction once it is started into the machine; and, in the second place, the towel must clear beyond the lever or arm 142 before the delivery circuit is capable of operation. Accordingly, users of the machine will learn immediately that the foregoing type of cheating is not apt to succeed.

After the towel has cleared, the machine and the delivery mechanism 52 has operated a complete revolution and the conveyor member 56 is on its way to return to initial position, the lobe or contact member 74 on sprocket 72 hits the latch operator of switch 76 thereby de-energizing or stopping the input and inspection mechanism. If the towel has satisfactorily passed inspection and the levers 104, 106, 108 have rapidly operated to permit the switch contact 122 to operate switch 120, then the circuit is cleared for operation of the delivery mechanism now to be discussed.

Clean towel delivery mechanism 200 Clean towel delivery mechanism 200 is contained within the compartment of the machine to the right-hand side of bulk head or wall 28 as seen in FIG. 2 and other fig ures of the drawing. When the machine is loaded with clean towels to capacity, a stack of clean towels 202 is placed upon a platform member 204 attached to movable cylindrical members 206 slideably mounted on support rods 208 vertically attached in the delivery compartment on the machine frame. Heavy coil springs 210 are attached to the cylinders 206 and to the upper part of the machine frame thereby being biased or sprung from the load of the stack 202 and tending to pull the towel stack 202 upwardly with the platform 204. The towel delivery mechanism is supported on a truss or frame 212 comprising vertical members 214 slideably mounted on machine frame 216 and having a transverse member 218 to which is attached a cable 220 rove through a pair of pulleys 222 with a counterweight 224 attached to cable 220. Weight 224 is selected to be slightly overcome by the weight of the delivery mechanism which tends to cover the entire delivery mechanism 200 downwardly and vertically of the mechanism and frame 212 because of the weight as opposed to the constant weight of the counterweight 224.

A clean towel delivery drum 228, constructed from stainless steel or the like, is mounted for rotation on a transverse shaft 230 which normaly is supported on the opposite sides of the frame members 214. A sprocket member 232 movably mounted on shaft 230 is attached to drum 228 and is driven by a chain 234 from a drive sprocket 236 powered from a power transmission unit 238 mounted on the inside wall 28 of cabinet 12. Shaft 230 is held from rotation and drum 228 rotates thereon.

The only force tending to lift the stack of clean towels 202 is that supplied by springs 210. The counterweight 224 is not connected to the stack of clean towels; it is attached to the towel delivery mechanism comprising the frame 212 and other parts to be described that rests upon the stack of clean towels 202. The counterweight 224 balances only a portion of the weight of the towel delivery mechanism, so that the towel delivery mechanism still has a tendency to move downwardly under the influence of gravity. The amount of force tending to move the towel delivery mechanism downwardly is constant or substantially constant at all times. Moreover, this force is opposed at all times by an upward and opposite force applied by the springs 210 through the stack of clean towels 202. The result of this arrangement is substantially to provide a constant pressure between the towel delivery mechanism on frame 212, and the uppermost towel in the stack at all times from a full stack to an empty stack, while at the same time limiting the range of vertical movements of the towel delivery mechanism on frame 216. With the present arrangement, the towel delivery mechanism on frame 216 is movably supported by counterweight 224 but remains substantially in the same position and most of all does not move vertically downwardly over a substantial distance corresponding to the height of the stack of clean towels 202 as the towels are completed from the stack. Thus, the relationship between the weight of the towel delivery mechanism on frame 216 resting on the uppermost towel in stack 202 remains substantially constant throughout the entire operation of the stack of towels from a full stack to an empty stack and .is not changed as the stack is depleted. One advantage of this which is obvious is the fact that the towel is picked up from a height near the top of the machine and is dropped towards the front of the machine, thereby giving the towel plenty of vertical drop as it is dispensed from the machine.

A retractable towel pick-up and release mechanism 240 mounted on drum 228 comprises a pick-up shoe 242 hingedly mounted on drum 228 and having a plurality of protruding needle members 244 protruding from the lower surface thereof with beveled or inclined points thereon adapted to engage the fabric of a towel. Shoe 242 is 'retractably mounted on a rod 244 having the inner-end thereof spring biased by a spring 246 for engagement with a cam member 248 having a circular cam surface thereon except for a flat portion which contacts rod 244 to retract the rod 244 at the proper instant thereby positively disengaging the needle members 244 from the fabric of the towel so as to assure a positive release thereof when it reaches the proper frontal position.

A pair of stripper rods or arms 249 with downwardly depending front portions are each mounted on shaft 230 on opposite sides of the drum member 228 and are supported for stationary position by means individual bracket members 250 attached to a small lug wheel 252 which is attached by a set-screw to the shaft 230 being supported thereon in such position to maintain arms 249 in a constant forwardly extending position with the frontal portions extending downwardly to strip the towel from the drum 228 as the towel reaches the front of the machine.

A delivery termination switch 254 is located on drum 228 to be contacted by a switch contact member 256 strategically located on the drum to contact the switch at the release of the towel from the front of the machine thereby stopping the towel dispensing mechanism and drum 228 at the proper initial position to contact the next towel in the stack to repeat the pick-up operation in response to another dirty towel being deposited in the machine.

In the operation of the delivery or dispensing portion of the machine after the towel has cleared the inspection apparatus and has properly tripped the sensing devices 98, 100, 102, causing the switch to be actuated and when the towel has properly cleared the input mechanism and the lever or arm 142 has returned to its normal position thereby returning the switch 146 to its proper condition, the circuit (which will be described next) for operating the dispensing drum 228 is energized to cause the transmission unit 238 to drive sprocket 232 thereby rotating drurn 228 one revolution. The needles on the shoe 244 are in engagement with the top towel in the stack 202 and dig into the fabric thereof sufiiciently to engage and remove the towel and only one towel from the top of stack 102, and to carry same in the direction of the arrow shown in FIG. 2 around the back of the machine and up and over the top whereupon the towel then comes into contact with the stripper arms 248, which strips the towel from the needles on shoe 244 and, at the same time, the cam member 233 actuate the rod 244 to withdraw the needles on shoe 244 from the fabric of the towel thereby assuring a positive release of the towel into the front of the machine and out of the opening 26.

Drum 228 continues for a distance sufiicient to return shoe 244 to the top of the towel stack 202, at which time switch 254 is actuated by the switch contact member 256 thereby terminating the power to drive unit 238 and resetting the machine for a new operation.

The machine continues to operate in succession in response to proper dirty towels inserted through the slot 18 on needle member 22 until the stack 202 becomes depleted, at which time a switch member 264 on the upper part of the machine is contacted by the stack bottom to operate the empty switch indicator 266 on the front of the machine and to open the circuit as will appear in the circuit diagram in FIG. 12 to prevent any further operation of the machine and to prevent the start button 24 from operating thereby preventing any possible loss of a towel when the machine is empty.

It is worthwhile to note that the counterweight arrangement of the delivery mechanism through the weight 234 places the drum and pick-up resting on top of the stack 202 while the spring support arrangement of the springs 210 and the rod-s 208 having collars 206 thereon pulls the stack upwardly against the bottom of the pick-up shoe 244 thereby assuring the positive contact at all times regardless of whether there is a full stack or an empty stack of towels.

Circuit arrangem em The manual operation of door switch 24 closes switch 76 and latches same into a latched position until the lobe 74 strikes it again at the termination of the towel input. This closes a circuit from the power line 300 through motor 64 which is through the line 302 and the junction bar 306 through closed switch 264, and through switch 76 back through line 304 and junction bar 308 to the other side of the line at input power 300. With the motor drive unit 64 operating, the dirty towel which has been hung on needle 22 is pulled into the machine and goes through the inspection process described in detail previously. Assuming that the towel properly passes inspection, the lever 124 drops into place thereby operating switch 120 which closes a control circuit through a control latching relay 310 through line 312 and clean towel power unit 238 through line 302, through junction bar 306 and through circuit line 314 through the relay 310. Upon entry of the towel into the machine, lever 142 is lifted to open switch 146 :and once the towel is irretrievably committed, the lever drops back into initial position prior to the time that the towel completes inspection at lever 124. The towel has then passed inspection which causes the power transmission unit 238 to operate the drum 228, thereby dispensing a clean towel in the manner described in detail before. After the drum 228 has operated one complete revolution and a clean towel has been dropped from opening 26, the cut-off switch 254 is contacted by the contact member 255 thereby energizing the coil to activate play arm 318 which unlatches relay 319 thereby breaking the circuit through motor transmission 238, terminating the power to drum '228 and stopping same in initial position. When relay 319 is initially actuated and latched in place, a contact member 318 closes a circuit through a counter 320 through a line 322 through bar 308, thereby making a cumulative count each time a clean towel is depensed from the machine. Counter 320 is a conventional electric impulse counter which cumulatively adds each impulse with a visible numerical indication on the face thereof and per se forms no part of this invention. It does enable the machine owners to keep an accurate account of the number of times the machine has dispensed a clean towel which can be checked against the number of towels actually dispensed from the stack according to inventory and which also may be checked against the number of dirty towels removed from the dirty towel compartment.

It is obvious from the foregoing discussion and description and the operation of the circuit diagram in FIG. 12 that if the towel fails to actuate the inspection switch 120, the relay 310 will not function and therefore the clean towel delivery unit 238 is not operated and it is impossible to dispense a clean towel. Furthermore, it is apparent that, if the switch contact member 142 has failed to return to its normal position, the switch 146 will remain open and, in this event, no actuation of relay 310 is accomplished and therefore clean towel delivery unit 238 is not operated. Further, when the stack is empty, the empty switch 264 opens thereby breaking the circuit to the dirty towel input drive unit 64 preventing any further operation of the machine. At the same time this occurs through circuit line 324, the empty light 266 is energized.

While I have shown and described a particular embodiment of my invention together with suggested advantages in operation thereof, this is by way of illustration only and constitutes only one workable form of my invention since there are various other alterations, changes, eliminations, deviations, substitutions and arrangements which may be made in the embodiment shown and described without departing from the scope of my invention as defined in the appended claims.

I claim:

1. In a towel vending machine for dispensing a clean towel in exchange for a dirty towel deposited therein, a cabinet frame having a clean towel dispensing compartment therein, .a clean towel support mounted in said frame and having an upwardly facing surface to support a vertical stack of towels, resilient means connected to said frame to bias said support upwardly, a towel transfer assembly connected to said frame for vertical movement above said support and adapted to be held by gravity in engagement with the stack of towels on said support, counterweight means connected to said assembly to reduce the force exerted by said assembly on the stack of towels, a towel transfer drum carried by said assembly and mounted for rotation about a horizontal axis, said drum having a cylindrical peripheral face overlying and movable across said support upon rotation of said drum, said drum having an opening in said peripheral face, a towel pick-up and release mechanism including a radial member mounted for reciprocating radial movement inside of said drum and having at its outer end a pick-up shoe extendable through said opening to engage the uppermost towel on said support and retractable from said opening to release such towel, cam means mounted at the axis of said drum and engageable with said radial member to control the extension and retraction of said pick-up shoe so that rotation of said drum causes said pick-up shoe to be extended to engage the uppermost towel and move it in a vertical are away from the stack and to retract and release such towel when the shoe is located at a prescribed position along said arc.

2. A towel vending machine as recited in claim 1 further comprising stripper arm means mounted outside of said drum to strip from said drum the towel engaged by said shoe when said shoe is at said prescribed position.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 538,251 4/1895 Funk 27139 653,207 7/1900 Boylan 271-39 2,682,328 6/1954 Birr 194-4 2,901,145 8/1959 Black 194-4 X 2,929,480 3/1960 Black 1944 ROBERT B. REEVES, Primary Examiner. STANL'EY H. TOLLBERG, Examiner.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US538251 *Jan 27, 1894Apr 30, 1895 Sheet-separating device
US653207 *Dec 10, 1898Jul 10, 1900Joseph BoylanSheet-feeding apparatus.
US2682328 *Nov 12, 1949Jun 29, 1954American Linen Supply CoDispensing machine
US2901145 *May 20, 1957Aug 25, 1959Black Isadore EAutomatic dispensing apparatus for dispensing towels, wiping cloths and like articles
US2929480 *Sep 12, 1955Mar 22, 1960Black Isadore EApparatus for dispensing cloth towels
U.S. Classification221/215, 194/205
International ClassificationA47K10/24, A47K10/26
Cooperative ClassificationA47K10/26
European ClassificationA47K10/26