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Publication numberUS3392543 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJul 16, 1968
Filing dateJul 17, 1967
Priority dateJul 17, 1967
Also published asDE1761701A1
Publication numberUS 3392543 A, US 3392543A, US-A-3392543, US3392543 A, US3392543A
InventorsGeorge A Miller
Original AssigneeClark Equipment Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Separable-section refrigerated case
US 3392543 A
Abstract  available in
Images(3)
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

July 16, 1968 G. A. MILLER 3,392,543

SEPARABLE-SECTION REFRIGERATED CASE Filed July 17, 1967 5 Sheeis-Sheet 1 [IZZ/iZZW 6.669 76 A. Mfg?? G. A. MILLER July 16, 1968 SEPARABLE-SECTION REFRIGERATED CASE 3 Sheets-Sheet 5 Filed July 17, 1967 I I a i l H 3 J 5 0 10 H m m m e W W; J f Q n o o w my j 5/ i i 3 T ,zx 3 L 6 {WW1 All .6 M Mm fi/ m/ 3 m WW m It 0 5 my United States Patent 3,392,543 SEPARABLE-SECTION REFRIGERATED CASE George A. Miller, Niles, Mich., assignor to Clark Equipment Company, a corporation of Michigan Filed July 17, 1967, Ser. No. 653,718 11 Claims. (Cl. 62237) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE The invention provides a plural-part refrigerated display case which includes a stationary case shell having duct means for intake and discharge of air with means for moving and means for cooling the air, and at least one mobile carrier for the product to be refrigerated, movable to and from a position cooperative with the stationary shell placing the product in the path of air discharged from the duct means and defining a duct path for return of the air to the intake.

Background The invention relates to refrigerated display cases formed with an opening affording access to the interior for removal of products displayed therein. A curtain of refrigerating air flows over or across this access opening to shield the interior of the case against ingress of ambient air, and at least to assist in cooling the case interior and contents.

Such refrigerated cases, utilized mainly in retail food stores, perform their function well, but products must be brought to them on or in hand trucks or carts, containers, or other means, and transferred therefrom to the interior of the case. This transferring operation requires time and labor which the invention eliminates. In the case of certain products, such as produce, the transferring operation also involves items which are adversely affected by repeated handling, and are therefore presented in better and more attractive condition and suffer less spoilage, by use of the invention. Furthermore, when the transferring operation is required during business hours to restock a depleted case, the blocking of at least a portion of the case and adjacent aisle while the stock is being replinished interferes with sales, as well as with the flow of customers. This is particularly undesirable when restocking is necessary during a busy period, during which, of course, restocking is most likely to be necessary.

By the present invention, the transferring of products from trucks or other containers to the interior of refrigerated cases is eliminated, and the replenishment or change of stock in the cases is greatly simplified and speeded, with at least one handling of the products eliminatedrThe invention involves the concept of forming the cases in at least two parts or sections, one stationary and the other or others mobile, the mobile component or section being stocked with the desired product at a location removed from the stationary portion, and moved to and disposed in cooperative relation with the stationary section or component. In such cooperative relation, the stationary and mobile portions or sections form a complete case and operate as a unit, in a manner similar to that of refrigerated cases previously known. A depleted mobile section may be replaced by a stocked section, removed and restocked, and in turn used to replace a depleted section. The mobile sections with the product or stock carried thereby may, furthermore, constitute unit loads which may economically be transported from a remote point to a shell section. No similar construction or arrangement is known in the prior art, as far as applicant is aware.

Among the objects of the invention is the provision "Ice of a refrigerated case construction employing a plurality of cooperable components or sections including movable stock-carrying sections interchangeable for cooperation with a stationary section; the provision of a refrigerated case construction by which handling of stock therefor and introduction of stock to the interior thereof is greatly simplified and speeded; the provision of such a construction by which at least one handling of stock therefor is made unnecessary; and the provision of a refrigerated case structure including a movable stock section interchangeable with similar sections enabling stocking of such cases from a central or other remote point. The above advantages and features of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of a refrigerated case in accordance with the invention, one section thereof being omitted for greater clarity;

FIGURE 2 is a vertical cross-sectional view of the construction of FIG. 1;

FIGURE 3 is a vertical cross-sectional view through another construction incorporating a modification of the invention;

FIGURE 4 is a vertical cross-sectional view through another modified embodiment of the invention;

FIGURE 5 is a vertical cross-sectional view through still another embodiment; and

FIGURE 6 is a View illustrating another form which the invention may take.

Referring first to FIGS. 1 and 2, there is shown diagrammatically a refrigerated case construction according to the invention, comprising a stationary shell section, portion, or component generally designated 10, comprising a rear wall 11 and end walls 12A and 12B, defining three sides of the shell, and a top wall 13, all preferably of heat-insulating construction. The front side of the shell is open, allowing unimpeded access and entry to the interior. Shell 10 is supported on a floor F or similar substantially level surface, more or less defining a portion thereof between the end walls and below the top wall. Obviously, the shell floor portion may be a surface distinguished from floor F by elevation or otherwise. The shell includes duct means for the intake and discharge of air utilized for refrigerating the contents of the case. The duct means comprise a supply duct 14 extending over the major portion of the inner face of the rear wall 11 and provided with an intake opening 15 adjacent the bottom of the wall. At its upper portion, the supply duct 14 is widened to accommodate air moving means 16, which may be any desired number of fans or other suitable blowers, conveniently mounted by suitable brackets on the rear wall 11. A duct portion 17 connects the supply duct 14 through one or more refrigerant evaporator coils 18, or other suitable cooling means, by which the air is cooled, to a discharge duct 19. The discharge duct has a portion thereof extending under the cooling means and merging With a vertical portion overlying the supply duct 14, and closed at its lower end. At its upper end, downstream of the evaporator 18, the duct 19 is provided with a discharge nozzle 20 extending longitudinally of the shell and directed downwardly, through which a portion of the air flowing from the evaporator 18 flows downwardly to serve as an air curtain between the air outside of the shell 10 and that within the shell. The supply duct is provided with a number of discharge openings additional to the nozzle 20, through which air cooled by the evaporator means 18 may be discharged into the space forwardly of the duct. The additional discharge openings are indicated at 21, in the form of horizontal bands or belts of slots or similar perforations formed in the outer or forward wall of the duct 19 extending longitudinally of the shell. The nozzle 2t is located adjacent the forward portion of the top wall 13, as best seen in FIG. 2, while the other discharge apertures 21 are provided at desired locations along the duct:

The duct means may be formed of any suitable material, such as sheet metal, the intake duct 15' utilizing the inner face of the wall 11 as one of its walls, if desired. The portions of the ducts 14 and 13 below the evaporator 18 are separated by a preferably heat-insulating partition 22. A drain pan 23 is mounted below the evaporator 18, and may serve as a portion of the inner wall of the duct 19. A drain pipe 24 leads from the drain pan to conduct defrost water from the evaporator out of the case at any desired location.

Adjacent the lower portion of the rear wall, a pair of suitable gaskets 25, as of cellular material, extend horizontally in vertically spaced relation, supported slightly forwardly of the forward or outer wall of the duct 19 by suitable projections 26 carried by the duct means and/or the rear wall 11.

Suitably supported at the forward edge of the top wall 13 may be fluorescent or other lighting means 27 provided with a reflector 28, for appropriately illuminating the interior of the refrigerated case.

The case, in addition to the stationary shell 10, comprises one or more movable sections or components, or mobile carriers, generally designated as 30. In the present instance, two carriers 30, each substantially half the length of the shell 10, are disposed side by side or end to end within the shell, although in FIG. 1 only one of the carriers is illustrated so as better to illustrate the shell interior. It is intended that additional carriers 30 interchangeable with that shown be employed, so that a carrier disposed in cooperative position with a shell may be removed when the stock carried thereby becomes depleted, and replaced by a carrier which has previously been stocked at a location removed from the shell.

Each carrier 30 comprises a base 31 of hollow construction provided with means by which it may readily be moved, such as wheels 32. An air film apparatus may easily and advantageously be employed as such means instead of the wheels, providing a film or cushion of air below the base to support it above a horizontal surface, so that it may easily be moved over such surface. The carrier according to the invention can therefore readily be moved into and out of the case shell onto and from the floor portion defined by the shell, being lowered onto and raised from such fioor portion, or any suitable supporting means for the carrier disposed on the floor portion, as desired. The base 31 supports uprights 33 each carrying a plurality of vertically spaced brackets 34 for shelves 35. In the present instance, three shelves are provided, in addition to the upper surface of the base 31, on which articles or products to be refrigerated may be disposed. A stabilizing gusset plate 36 is provided between the base 31 and each of the uprights 33, two of which are here employed at what may be termed the rear side of the carrier, one at each end thereof. The space between uprights is open except for the shelves. The shelves may be made vertically adjustable on the uprights, in which case provision may be made for varying the locations of the discharge aperture 21. At the front side, the base 31 is formed with a hollow wall or upward projection 37, formed with perforations 38 or other aperture-defining means providing communication between the interior and exterior of the base. The vertical rear face of the base is formed with an outlet aperture 39 openin the interior of the base to the outside, and with the perforations 38 permitting passage of air through the base, which thus may serve as a duct or duct portion. A decorative or trim panel 40 of any suitable material and configuration may be provided on the front side of the base 31 of each carrier, and may be of any desired vertical extent, but with its lower edge spaced appreciably above the floor. Hinged to the panel 40 or other portion of the carrier base as at 41, or otherwise movably depending therefrom, is a flap 42 preferably spaced somewhat above the floor. The flap 42 substantially closes off the space below the carrier and conceals the wheels when the carrier is in cooperative relation with the shell 10 as explained herebelow, while avoiding possible interference with movement of the carrier due to engagement with obstacles or uneven portions of a floor. The flap may be of flexible material, if desired, and in that case need not be hinged to the panel 49.

The refrigerated case in the present instance is illustrated as of the remote type, that is, with a refrigerant circulated through the evaporator 18 from a source exterior of the case, but it will be understood that it might, if desired, be of the self-contained type, including a compressor-condenser unit or the like delivering liquid refrigerant under pressure to the evaporator to be vaporized by absorption of heat and recycled.

Each carrier is movable to and from the floor portion defined by the shell into position cooperative with the shell to provide a complete refrigerated case therewith. In this position, the carrier is disposed with its rear side adjacent the front face of the vertical portion of the supply duct 19, the carrier base sealingly engaging the gaskets 25 with the outlet opening therebetween, so that the hollow base 32 serves as a return duct in communication with the intake opening 15 of the supply duct 14. This duct extends forwardly or outwardly from adjacent the intake opening, and opens at its front and rear sides through the perforations 38 and outlet opening 39. The depth of the carrier 30 is such that the outer or front side thereof is located more or less beneath the discharge nozzle 20 when the inner or rear side engages the gaskets 25, as best shown in FIG. 2. In this cooperative position, also, the mobile carrier 30 has the shelves 35 and the upper surface of the base 31, or in other words, the productsupporting surfaces thereof, disposed in the path of air discharged from the discharge duct 19. The uppermost band of perforations 21 is preferably located above the topmost shelf, and the other bands are arranged so that air discharged therethrough will flow over the lower product-supporting surfaces to keep products thereon refrigerated. In addition, air discharged through the nozzle 20 flows downwardly as an air curtain which largely prevents entry of ambient relatively warm and moist air into the case, and also assists in cooling the case. A dividing or diverting lip or similar means may be provided in the duct 19 to assure desired air How to the nozzle and the other discharge apertures. Air is forced by the blower or other air moving means 16 over the cooling means discharged through the nozzle 20 and the remainder through the several bands of perforations 21 to flow over the shelf 35 and base 31, and then being drawn through the perforations 38 to flow through the base and out of opening 39 into the air intake 15 0f the supply duct 14 for recycling through the evaporator by the blower means.

It will be evident that the length of the carrier, or the combined length of a plurality of carriers, depending upon the number of carriers employed, corresponds to the interior length of the shell. The shell 10 may form part of a continuous line of refrigerated cases, and one or both of the ends walls 12A and 12B may be omitted if desired. In that event, provision must be made in any suitable manner to avoid drawing ambient air into the supply duct 14, as by appropriate gasket means. Sealing between the carriers and the end walls or the adjacent ends of other carriers is not normally necessary if the longitudinal dimensions of the carriers and shell correspond within reasonable limits.

When the stock of refrigerated products on one or more of the carriers 341 is depleted, the case may be restocked by moving to the shell another carrier previously stocked at a point removed from the shell, moving out the carrier with depleted stock, and replacing it with the fully stocked carrier. The removed carrier may then be restocked, when it in turn may be used to replace a carrier removed from a shell. Restocking of refrigerated cases is thus greatly simplified, and the time required greatly reduced. Even more important, perhaps, is the minimization of interference with customers in restocking, and reduction of loss of sales during restocking, which are effected by the case of the present invention.

Any suitable means may be employed to secure the carrier against unauthorized movement when in the cooperative position with the shell, as for example, a bolt or the like engageable in a socket in the floor portion or an appropriate portion of the shell. Suitable track means for the carrier wheels 32, shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 in the form of pairs of angle members 43 extending at right angles to the rear wall 11, may be provided on the floor portion defined by the shell. Such track means are not absolutely required, but are advantageous in serving to guide the carrier to and from position without bumping or scraping thereof against the shell or other carrier.

In FIG. 3, there is shown another embodiment of the invention comprising a shell generally indicated as 50, having a rear wall 51 and end walls 52, only one of which is shown, defining a portion of a floor or similar surface on which the shell is disposed. The shell in this instance has no top wall, being of the open-top type. Supply duct means 53 are provided on the inner face of the rear wall 51 extending vertically from an intake opening 54 adjacent the bottom of the shell to an outlet opening 55 adjacent the top of the wall 51. In the supply duct means are blower means 56 and cooling means such as an evaporator coil or coils 57, the air blower means drawing air through the intake opening 54 and moving it over the evaporator coil means 57 and out through the outlet opening 55. Above the outlet opening, and in this instance defining the upper edge or surface thereof, is a deflector 58 projecting forwardly from the rear wall 51. Communicating with the supply duct 53 through the opening 55 is a discharge duct 59 which has an upper discharge aperture 60 which, like the outlet opening 55, may have the upper edge thereof defined by the deflector 58. The duct 59 may also be provided with one or more blower discharge apertures 61, which make take any suitable form such as a line or band of perforations, in the forward wall of the duct. This wall of the duct 59 may have at its upper portion a rearwardly directed dividing lip 62 which serves to direct some of the air passing through the outlet opening 55 through the discharge aperture 60 and the remainder downwardly through the discharge aperture or apertures 61. The forward wall of the upper portion of the supply duct means 53 may be offset rearwardly as shown in the figure to serve as the rear wall of the duct 59, or a partition between the ducts 53 and 59. If the lower discharge aperture or apertures are not employed, the discharge duct as shown at 59 may be eliminated, the upper portion of the supply duct means 53 downstream of the air moving and cooling means serving as a discharge duct, of which the outlet opening 55 may be the discharge aperture. The deflector 58 is provided to direct cooled air flowing from the evaporator coil 57 or other cooling means forwardly across the shell, generally in a plane corresponding to the upper edges of the end walls 52. Vertically spaced gaskets 63 extend horizontally along the forward wall of the supply duct 53 adjacent the upper and lower portions thereof.

A mobile carrier 65 is provided which may be disposed on the floor portion defined by the shell 50 in a position cooperative therewith in a manner generally similar to that of the carrier 30 of FIGS. 1 and 2. The carrier in this instance comprises a base 66 mounted on wheels 67 and having extending upwardly therefrom a rear wall 68, end walls 69 (only one of which is shown) and a front wall 70. The front wall is hollow and is provided with an inlet opening at its upper edge which may be in the form of perforations 71, and with its lower end defining an opening 72 communicating with the space below the carrier base 66. A flexible sealing strip 73 depends from the outer or forward face of the front wall 70 into close engagement with the floor. The rear wall 68 of the carrier 65 may be provided with one or more openings 74 therein, through which cooled air flowing through the discharge aperture or apertures 61 of the supply duct may enter the interior of the carrier. If the lower discharge apertures 61 are not provided in the shell, the opening or openings 74 may also be omitted from the carrier. It will be apparent that products or articles to be refrigerated may be disposed in the carrier 65, stacked one upon another, substantially in the manner of products disclosed in conventional open-top refrigerated cases.

The carrier 65 may be moved to and from the position shown in FIG. 3, cooperative with the shell 50, in substantially the same manner as described in connection with the embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2. In this position, air is moved over the evaporator coils or other cooling means through the upper portion of the supply duct means 53 and out through the outlet opening 55. Part of this air is directed toward the upper portion of the front wall 76 through the discharge aperture 60 if such be provided, a portion of this air also flowing downwardly into the interior of the carrier 65. Another portion of the air flows past the divider lip 62 downwardly in the discharge duct 59, and through the lower discharge aperture or apertures 61 to enter the interior of the carrier through the opening 74. The rear wall 68 of the carrier engages against the gaskets 63, which thus prevent air flowing between the carrier and the duct 53 to the intake opening 54. The air flowing into and over the top of the carrier 65 is drawn through the perforations 71 or similar aperture means in the top of the front wall 70, and downwardly into the space between the base 66 of the carrier and the floor portion over which it extends, defined by the shell 50, and rearwardly to the intake opening 54, to repeat the cycle and thus maintain the products in the carrier 65 at the desired temperature. The space between the carrier base 66 and the floor portion, it will be evident, serves as a duct portion, in the cooperative position of the carrier, forming part of the air return duct means including the hollow front wall 70. The main difference between the refrigerated case of FIG. 3 and that of FIGS. 1 and 2, it will appear, is the use of the carrier base to define with the floor a duct portion for conducting air back to the inlet opening of the supply duct means, rather than providing a hollow base for this purpose. The operation of both cases is substantially the same.

Another case embodying the invention is illustrated in FIG. 4. A shell 80 is employed comprising a rear wall 81 and end walls 82A and 828 at what may be termed the lateral sides of the shell, the Wall 82B being the nearer one and 82A the farther one as viewed in the figure. The shell 80 also includes a front wall 83 extending parallel to the rear wall between the end walls, and of any suitable height allowing reaching into the interior of the shell. Extending on the inner or forward surface of the rear wall 81 is an air suppy duct 84 having an air intake opening 85 at the lower end thereof adjacent the bottom of the shell. Air moving means such as fans or blowers indicated at 86 are disposed in the duct 84, together with cooling means such as a refrigerant evaporator coil 87 over which the air is moved. Adjacent its upper end, the duct 84 communicates in any suitable manner with a discharge duct 88 which is provided with discharge apertures 89 opening into the interior of the shell. The end wall 82B is pivoted on the rear wall 81 by any suitable means such as a plurality of hinges 90, only one of which is shown, enabling the end wall to be swung outwardly to open the corresponding lateral side of the shell. Any suitable means may be employed to hold the hinged end wall 82B in shell-closing position, a simple means being shown in FIG. 4 as a hook and eye 91. Guide tracks 92, which like the tracks 43 may comprise each a pair of parallel angle members, are provided on the floor portion defined by the shell 80, these tracks extending longitudinally of the case, or parallel to the front and rear walls. A gasket 93 extends horizontally on the outer or forward face of the duct 34, adjacent the intake opening 85.

Cooperable with the shell 80 is a mobile carrier generally indicated as 95, comprising a base 96 mounted on wheels 97 and having means for supporting products or articles in the path of air discharged from the duct 88. The base 96 is supported by the wheels 97 at a height corresponding to the location of the gasket 93, so that the rear side of the base may engage the gasket when the carrier is disposed in position cooperative with the shell, as illustrated in FIG. 4, from which it will be seen that the carrier may be moved to and from such position by movement thereof along the tracks 92, the end Wall 8213 being swung to open position to allow the carrier to pass into or out of the shell. The depth of the carrier base 96 is somewhat less than that of the shell 80, so that when the carrier is in the cooperative position, there is a gap or space between the forward side of the base and the front wall 83 of the shell. Air moved over the cooling means 87 by the air moving means 86 is impelled through the discharge duct 88 and out of the discharge openings 89 to flow over the stock carried on the carrier 95, ultimately moving through the space between the front wall 83 and the front side of the carrier base 96 to return to the air intake opening 85 through the space between the carrier base 96 and the floor portion defined by the shell 80. The base 96 in the cooperative carrier position thus defines an air return duct with the front wall 83 and the floor portion.

The embodiment illustrated in FIG. 4 provides for movement of the carrier into and out of the shell through an end or lateral side of the shell rather than through the front side. It has the advantage of minimizing the possibility of disturbance of the carrier or carriers by reason of the front wall of the shell. It further minimizes interference with customers, because it need not be moved into position in front of the shell in the aisle on which the shell is located, but may be moved into or out of the shell in a direction parallel to the aisle. It has the disadvantage, however, that open or unoccupied floor space must be provided at a lateral side of the shell to permit opening of the wall 82B and the movement of one or more carriers therethrough. The arrangement of FIG. 4 may be used without disadvantage and without unnecessary break or termination of a line of refrigerated cases by locating the shell with the end wall 82B adjacent a doorway of a storage area or the like, which of course requires an open fioor space. This floor space may be utilized for the movement of the carrier without reducing the area available for display.

FIG. illustrates an island type of refrigerated case embodying the invention, for disposition in an area providing open spaces on two sides thereof, as for example, two aisles on both of which the case faces. In this embodiment, the shell, generally indicated as 100, comprises a vertical central duct structure extending from the floor F to a horizontal insulated top wall 101 extending to both sides of the central duct structure. The central duct structure and the top wall extend longitudinally between a pair of end walls 102, one of which appears in FIG. 5. As shown, each end wall extends to both sides of the central duct structure. The central duct structure comprises a supply duct 103, the lower portion of which is wider than the upper portion and has air intake openings 104 in its longitudinal faces. The supply duct has suitably mounted therein blowers or other suitable air moving means 105, shown in this instance as disposed in the wider lower portion, and at its upper end communicates through a connecting duct portion 106 and refrigerant evaporator coils 107 or other suitable air cooling means with a pair of discharge ducts 108. The cooling means extend under the top wall 101 to both sides of the supply duct 103, and may be suitably mounted on the top wall,

end walls, and ductstructure. The discharge ducts 108, similar to the discharge ducts 19 of FIG. 2, each extend below the adjacent cooling means 107 and downwardly as parts of the central duct portion, on opposite sides of the narrower portion of the supply duct 103. This upper portion of the supply duct is separated from the vertical portions of the discharge ducts 108 by insulating partitions 109. Each discharge duct 108 is provided with a downwardly directed discharge nozzle 110 at its upper portion remote from the supply duct 103, downstream of the adjacent evaporator 107. Vertically spaced discharge apertures, which may be in the form of horizontally extending bands of perforations 111 are provided in the outer wall of each of ducts 108. A portion of the air flowing through each cooling means 107 moves outwardly and downwardly through the adjacent discharge nozzle 110, and the remainder flows downwardly in the respective duct 108 and outwardly through the discharge openings 111. Each duct 108 is defined and separated from the adjacent evaporator coils 107 by a drain pan 112 disposed below the evaporator, and having a drain pipe 113 extending therefrom to conduct defrost water out of the case. Suitable gaskets 14 are provided in vertically spaced relation adjacent the upper and lower edges of the intake aperture 104 on each side of the central duct portion. Lights 115 may be suitably mounted along the outer edges of the top wall 101, provided with reflectors 116. The shell defines two floor portions, one on each side of the central duct portion and below the top wall 101, on which mobile carriers may be disposed in cooperative position with the shell. It will be evident that the shell 100 is generally similar to the shell 10 previously described, but constructed to provide two product display areas at opposite sides thereof, each accessible from one of two open areas or aisles between which the case is disposed. A refrigerated case of this type is commonly referred to as an island case.

A corresponding number of carriers are employed for each side of the shell, movable to and from cooperative positions with the shell on the corresponding floor portion in substantially the same manner as described in connection with the preceding embodiments. FIG. 5 shows one carrier on each side of the central duct portion of the shell 100, each in cooperative relation with the shell. In the present instance, the carriers are shown as substantially identical to the carrier 30 illustrated and described in connection with the embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2, and accordingly the carriers in FIG. 5 are designated as carriers 30. The construction of these carriers has been fully disclosed hereinabove and therefore is not repeated.

The operation of the case illustrated in FIG. 5 is substantially similar to that of the case shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The air moving means draw air through the intake openings 104 to move upwardly in the supply duct 103 and divide into two streams flowing away from each other, each over one of the cooling means 107 to the respective discharge duct 108. A portion of the cool air flows downwardly through the discharge nozzle as an air curtain shielding the interior of one side of the case against entry of ambient air and also to assist in cooling the case interior. The remainder of the air entering each return duct 108 flows downwardly therein to be impelled outwardly through the discharge openings 111 and flows over the shelves on the carrier 30 and the prodnot or stock supported thereon to maintain it at the desired refrigerated temperature. The air discharged from the duct 108 returns through the hollow base of the carrier 30 to the adjacent intake opening 104, between the gaskets 114, against which the carrier base is engaged in the cooperative position. The air is then recirculated through the duct means in continuation of the refrigerating operation.

A further modified embodiment of the invention is illustrated in FIG. 6, in which there is fragmentarily shown a shell generally designated 120, which may conveniently be considered as corresponding substantially to the shell of FIGS. 1 and 2. The lower portion of one end wall 121 of the shell is shown, together with the apertured forward wall of an air discharge duct 122 and vertically spaced horizontally extending gaskets 123 between which air may fiow to the air intake opening of a supply duct, not shown.

A carrier base generally designated as 125 is provided for cooperation with the shell 120, substantially identical to the base 31 of the carrier hereinabove illustrated and described, being of similar hollow construction and mounted on wheels 126. The base serves as a return duct, having an inlet at its front side as indicated at 127, and an outlet at its rear side, so that air may flow through the base 125 to the intake opening of the supply duct of the shell when the carrier is in cooperative relation therewith. Removably supported on the base 125 is a stock-supporting structure 128 shown as comprising a base shelf 129 with uprights 130 extending therefrom to support one or more shelves 131 spaced vertically thereabove. The shelves may be of mesh or screen material, if desired. The base shelf 129 is provided with suitable wheels 132 allowing the structure 128 to be moved onto and oh the upper surface of the base 125. Instead of employing wheels 132 on the product-supporting structure, it may be provided with a fiat lower surface to engage on rollers suitably mounted on the base 125, as will readily be understood, or otherwise be supported for movement. Any appropriate means may be employed to anchor the product structure 128 on the base 125.

The modification of FIG. 6 allows the removable stocksupporting structure 128, carrying products requiring refrigeration, to be transported from a central processing or storage warehouse or the like to a retail food store in a refrigerated truck or similar conveyance, and moved from the truck either directly onto a base 125 or first to a suitable storage room and then onto the carrier base, and then moved thereby into the shell 120. With the base 125 engaged at its rear face with the gaskets 123, the refrigerating operation proceeds substantially as described in connection with the embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2.

The construction illustrated in FIG. 6, therefore, like the other embodiments of the invention, lends itself to the unit load handling of the product, with reduction of costs by saving in time and labor, as well as lessening deterioration of the product by elimination of unnecessary handling. In all embodiments of the invention, the carriers may be dimensioned in accordance with the product packages or containers, and the shell correspondingly sized, if desired, or the dimensions of the carriers may be determined to have a given number thereof fit in a truck or other transporting vehicle. If the shell is made in a standard length or lengths, regardless of conformity to the carrier length, various display structures or the like may be employed to occupy any resulting gaps or vacant spaces along the length of the shell.

It is to be understood that the embodiments of the invention disclosed herein are exemplary of the inventive concept, and that the invtntion is not limited to such embodiments, since modifications and variations thereof may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims.

I claim:

1. A refrigerated case of the type having an opening for unimpeded access to material refrigerated within said case comprising:

a movable section having means for supporting the material,

a stationary section constructed to receive the movable section in cooperative relationship and to define an air carrying structure having an air intake opening and an air discharge opening,

air cooling means associated with the air carrying structure,

means for moving air from the intake opening, through the air carrying structure, through the air cooling means, and out the discharge opening,

means in the movable section adapted to cooperatively engage the air carrying structure upon positioning of said movable section into cooperative relationship with the stationary section for carrying air from the air carrying structure to create at least part of an air flow path that substantially encompasses the material to thereby refrigerate said material.

2. A refrigerated case according to claim 1 in which the means for creating an air flow path comprises a duct structure extending through the movable section.

3. A refrigerated case according to claim 2 in which the duct structure includes an upwardly extending air duct portion at the outer end of the movable section.

4. A refrigerated case according to claim 2 in which the duct structure is defined by the base portion of the movable section.

5. A refrigerated case according to claim 2 in which the duct structure terminates in an opening that defines an air intake opening to form a curtain of air flowing to said duct structure intake opening from the discharge opening.

6. A refrigerated case according to claim 5 wherein the stationary section has several secondary discharge openings for distributing refrigerating air uniformly over the material on the movable section when said movable section is positioned into cooperative relationship with said stationary section.

7. A refrigerated case according to claim 2 wherein said duct structure includes an air discharge opening on the movable section.

8. A refrigerated case according to claim 1 in which the refrigerated case rests on a support floor and includes means for supporting the movable section above said floor to define a duct portion of the names for carrying air formed between part of said movable section and said floor.

9. A refrigerated case according to claim 8 wherein the stationary section also includes a movable front wall portion for closing the duct portion to define a selected air flow path in cooperation with a portion of the movable section.

10. A refrigerated case according to claim 8 wherein the stationary section includes a movable front wall portion which in a selected position relative to the movable section defines a selected air flow path in cooperation with a portion of said movable section around the front portion of said movable section.

11. A refrigerated case according to claim 2 in which the duct structure extends vertically at the front of the movable section to provide air openings at a position on said movable section to define a generally horizontal air curtain flowing between said duct structure air openings and at least one of the air openings on the stationary section.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,915,884 12/1959 Haushalter 62-256 3,166,916 l/1965 Burrows 62-237 WILLIAM J. WYE, Primary Examiner.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
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Classifications
U.S. Classification62/237, 62/256
International ClassificationA47F3/04
Cooperative ClassificationA47F2003/066, A47F3/0443
European ClassificationA47F3/04B1