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Publication numberUS3415416 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 10, 1968
Filing dateOct 31, 1966
Priority dateOct 31, 1966
Publication numberUS 3415416 A, US 3415416A, US-A-3415416, US3415416 A, US3415416A
InventorsBoomgaard Peter F, Broersma Robert J, Droppers Paul E, Wilson Donald M
Original AssigneeB & B Engineering Company
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Pot dispenser with multiple, simultaneously acting and circumposed discharge assistants
US 3415416 A
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Dec. 10, 1968 R. J. BROERSMA ETAL 3,415,416

POT DISPENSER WITH MULTIPLE, SIMULTANEOUSLY ACTING AND CIRCUMPOSED DISCHARGE ASSISTANTS Filed Oct. 31, 1966 4 Sheets-Sheet 1 Aviva/[VJ Dec. 10, 1968 R.J. BROERSMA ETAL 3,415,415

POT DISPENSER WITH MULTIPLE, SIMULTANEOUSLY ACTING AND CIRCUMPOSED DISCHARGE ASSISTANTS 4 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed Oct. 31, 1966 Dec. 10, 1968 R.J. BROERSMA ETAL 3,415,416

POT DISPENSER WITH MULTIPLE, SIMULTANEOUSLY ACTING AND CIRCUMPOSED DISCHARGE ASSISTANTS Filed OCT.- 31, 1966 4 Sheets-Sheet 3 MWZNMES e05 e/m 5905. 51 zia zz z? 00 Am //I W/wm/ wry/145% 1963 R.J. BROERSMA ETAL 3,415,415 NG AND POT DISPENSER WITH MULTIPLE, SIMULTANEOUSLY ACTI CIRCUMPOSED DISCHARGE ASSISTANTS 4 Sheets-Sheet 4 Filed Oct. 31, 1966 Mme/mew %M/ United States Patent 3,415,416 POT DISPENSER WITH MULTIPLE, SIMUL- TANEOUSLY ACTING AND CIRCUMIOSED DISCHARGE ASSISTANTS Robert J. Broersma, Spring Lake Township, Ottawa County, Peter F. Boomgaard, Grand Haven, Paul E. Droppers, Muskegan, and Donald M. Wilson, Spring Lake Township, Ottawa County, Mich., assignors to B & B Engineering Company, North Grand Haven, Mich., a partnership of Michigan Filed Oct. 31, 1966, Ser. No. 590,804 15 Claims. (Cl. 221221) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE This invention relates to a machine for feeding pots to a pot filling machine and particularly to a type thereof adapted for the separation of pots which are stacked together, said machine being especially applicable to those pots which are made from such relatively delicate materials, as paper or compressed peat moss, that they may suffer damage as a result of manual separation thereof.

It has for several years been common practice to sell nursery products in containers made of relatively delicate, disintegrable materials such as compressed peat moss or paper. This has the obvious and well-understood advantage that such nursery products may then be placed directly into the ground without removal from such pot and same will disintegrate and thereby not inhibit the growth of the plant. However, these pots are easily broken. Thus, when they are furnished to a filling table in stacks of sevenal thereof telescoped within each other, they are some times separable only with difficulty and may be damaged or completely broken in the separating process. This is particularly aggravated where said pots are being filled on a high-speed basis such as by a number of people sitting on either side of an appropriate filling table and the person assigned to separate the pots has difficulty keeping up with the persons utilizing same.

Accordingly, the objects of the invention include:

1) To provide a machine capable of separating stacked pots, particularly where same are formed of easily damaged material such as peat moss.

(2) To provide a machine, as aforesaid, which can receive a reasonable number, such as two or three dozen, of such stacked pots and will separate same rapidly and elficiently for successive discharge thereof to a point of use.

(3) To provide a machine, as aforesaid, which, while separating said pots rapidly and effectively, will nevertheless do so without appreciable, if any, damage to same.

(4) To provide a machine, as aforesaid, of efiicient and simple construction as to be capable of economical manufacture as well as to be capable of long and effective use with a minimum of maintenance.

(5) To provide a machine, as aforesaid, which will be reliable and uniform in operation.

(6) To provide a machine, as aforesaid, which will be readily adjustable for handling pots of varying sizes, varying diameters and varying axial lengths.

Other objects and purposes of the invention will be apparent to persons acquainted with apparatus of this general type upon reading the following specification and inspection of the accompanying drawings.

In the drawings:

FIGURE 1 is a side-elevational view, partially broken away and partially in central section, of the pot dispenser according to the present invention.

FIGURE 2 is a sectional view taken along the line IIII of FIGURE 1 showing the actuator mechanism in the retracted position whereby the pot clamps and the stripper fingers are closed.

FIGURE 2A is a sectional view taken on the line IIAIIA of FIGURE 1 with the parts in the same position as is FIGURE 2.

FIGURE 3 is a sectional view similar to FIGURE 2 but showing the actuating mechanism in an extended position whereby the pot clamps and the stripper fingers are in an open position.

FIGURE 4 is a sectional view taken along the line IV-IV of FIGURE 1 showing the pot clamping mechanism in a closed position.

FIGURE 5 is a sectional view taken along the line VV of FIGURE 1 showing the stripper fingers in a closed position.

FIGURE '6 is a sectional view taken along the line VIVI of FIGURE 1 showing the swing arm.

FIGURE 7 is a sectional view taken along the line VII-VII of FIGURE 1 showing the pot catcher on a reduced scale. 7

FIGURE 8 is a top-sectional view taken along the line VIII-VIII of FIGURE 2.

FIGURE 9 is an exploded view showing the assembly of the cam member for actuating the pot clamping mechanism, the pot stripper mechanism, and the swing arm.

General description The pot dispenser according to the present invention comprises a frame having a cylindrical guide tube thereon for receiving and holding a plurality of stacked pots and for individually dispensing the same. Also mounted on the frame is a scissor-like pot clamping mechanism having opposed jaws which grip the exterior of the stack of pots for holding the same. Located directly below the clamping mechanism is a stripper mechanism having fingers which engage the upper edge of the lowermost pot for pushing or stripping the same away from the stack of pots. Located directly below the stripper mechanism is a swingable stop member upon which the stack of pots rests upon release of the pot clamping mechanism. The pot dispensing apparatus is automatically operated by means of a slideable cam member which simultaneously coacts with the pot clamping mechanism, the stripper mechanism, and the swingable stop means in the proper sequence for individually separating and dispensing the pots. When the cam member is moved downwardly, the pot clamping mechanism is closed whereby the jaws grip and hold the complete stack of pots except for the lowermost one, while the stripper fingers are also caused to close and lie over the upper edge of the lowermost pot. Further downward movement of the cam member causes the swingable stop to be removed from underneath the stack of pots and causes the stripper fingers to be pulled downwardly, thus separating the lowermost pot from the stack whereby it can then be manually removed by an operator. When the cam member is then moved upwardly, the swingable stop is again cammed into position underneath the stack of pots so as to permit the pots to rest thereon, the stripper fingers and the pot clamping jaws are both opened permitting the stack of pots to fall down onto the stop member whereby they are in a position for repetition of the previously described cycle. In this manner by continuous up and down movement of the movable cam member, individual pots are continuously separated from the stack of pots contained in the machine and dispensed to a position whereby the operator of the machine can then manually remove the pot for further use.

Detailed Description In the following description, certain terminology will be'used for convenience and reference which will be recognized for convenience only and as not limiting. For example, the terms rightward and leftward will refer to directions to the right or left as appearing in the drawings in connection with which said terminology is used. The term upward and downward will refer to directions with respect to the apparatus in its normal position and use. The terms inward and outward will refer to directions toward and away from the geometric center of the apparatus. Such terminology will also include derivatives of said words above mentioned as well as words of similar import.

Referring to FIGURES 1 to 3, there is shown a frame or base 21 consisting of side plates 22 and 23 which are joined together by a top plate 24 and a bottom plate 27, the plates being coupled together by any suitable means, such as by bolts or welding. The side plates has attached to the lower ends thereof angle supports 23 and 29 where by the apparatus can be suitably mounted either on the floor or on any other type of table or support. The frame also has suitably connected thereto a tubular guide member 31 for receiving and guiding a stack of pots. The upper and lower ends 32 and 33 of the tubular guide member are open, the upper end being utilized for loading the apparatus while the lower end is utilized for dispensing pots one at a time. A portion of the lower end of the tube 31 is cut away at 34 to permit the pot clamping mechanism and the stripper finger mechanism to have access to the pots for operation of the apparatus as will be further explained hereinafter.

Mounted on the lower portion of the machine is a swing arm 37 which is connected to the frame of the machine by means of a screw 38 connected to a plate 39, the plate 39 being fastened to the side plates 22 and 23 and thus forming an integral part of the frame. The swing arm 37 is pivotable about the axis of the screw 38. Connected to the other end of the swing arm 37 is an adjustment block 41, the block 41 being connected to the upperside of the swing arm by means of bolts or screws so as to permit ready removal thereof. As shown in FIG- URES 1 and 6, the swing arm 37 with the block 41 on the end thereof functions as a stop means for the stack of pots when in one position of operation, the swing arm being pivotable outwardly away from the pots to permit the pots to pass thereby.

Mounted above the swing arm is a scissor-like pot clamping mechanism 42 (FIGURES l and 4) which functions to hold the stack of pots while the lowermost pot is being separated therefrom and dispensed. The pot clamping mechanism contains a pair of clamping levers 43 and 44 one lever being the mirror image of the other. The clamping levers 43 and 44 are connected to the frame with the aid of a cover plate 46 mounted thereabove, the cover plate 46 and the levers 43 and 44 being mounted to the frame by means of screws 47 and 48. The screws 47 and 48 pass through the cover plate 46 and the levers 43 and 44 into a block 49 which in turn is solidly connected to the side plates 22 and 23, as by welding. The screws 47 each function as a pivot, thus permitting the clamping levers to pivot about the axis thereof in a horizontal plane relative to the frame of the machine. The clamping ends of the levers 43 and 44 are each adapted to have mounted thereon pot clamping jaws 51 and 52 (FIGURE 4), the jaws being connected to the levers by means of screws or bolts 53. The jaws each have an arcuate gripping surface 54 on the inner side thereof, the surface 54 having a diameter which conforms substantially to the diameter of the pot being dispensed. If it is desired to modify the machine for dispensing pots of other sizes, it is only necessary that the jaws 51 and 52 be removed from the levers and a new set of jaws bolted thereto having a clamping surface 54 of a diameter which suitably conforms to the size of the pot to be dispensed. The other ends of the clamping levers 42 and 43 have tapered camming surfaces 56 formed on the inner upper edges thereof (FIGURE 3). Likewise, the lower outer edges of the clamping levers have similar camming surfaces 57 formed thereon, the purposes of the camming surfaces 56 and 57 being more fully explained hereinafter.

Located intermediate the pot clamping mechanism and the swing arm device is a scissor-like pot stripping mechanism 59, which mechanism functions to separate the lowermost pot from the remainder of the stack. As shown in FIGURES 1 and 5, the stripper mechanism comprises a pair of stripper fingers 61 and 62, one finger being the mirror image of the other. Mounted on the outermost end of the fingers 61 and 62 are stripper jaws 63 and 64, the jaws being bolted to their respective fingers. The inner edges of the stripper jaws 63 and 64 each have an arcuate surface 65 thereon having a configuration which substantially conforms to the shape and size of the pot being dispensed. If it is desired to adapt the apparatus for dispensing pots of other sizes, the stripper jaws 63 and 64 can easily be replaced by removing the screws holding the jaws to the fingers and replacing the jaws with a new set having a configuration which substantially conforms to that of the pot to be dispensed.

The stripper fingers 61 and 62 are mounted between a floating plate 67 and a cover plate 68 by means of bolts 69 passing through the plates 67 and 68. Similarly, a pair of pivot pins 71 and 72 (FIGURE 5) pass through the central portion of the stripper fingers 61 and 62 with the ends of the pivot pins being mounted or terminating in the plates 67 and 68, thus permitting the stripper fingers to be pivotable relative to the plates. The upper inner edges of the stripper fingers 61 and 6-2 have formed thereon camming surfaces 73 on the ends of the fingers opposite the stripper jaws. Similar camming surfaces 74 are located on the lower outer edges of the stripping fingers spaced longitudinally thereon from the camming surfaces 73, the function and purpose of these camming surfaces being explained hereinafter.

The floating plate 67 is connected to the frame by means of a screw '77 which passes through an aperture n the plate and is threadedly received in plate 39 which is rigidly connected to the frame 21. A small amount of clearance 78 is permitted to exist between the plate 67 and the head of the screw 77 so as to permit the plate 67 to have a limited amount of. pivotal movement in the vertlcal direction, the stripper jaws thus being permitted to have a limited amount of pivotal movement in a vertical direction with the screw 77 acting as the pivot therefor. Mounted beneath the other end of the floating plate 67 is a compression spring 79 which spring is contained within a cavity 82 formed within a plate 83 connected to the side plate members 22 and 23. One end of the spring 79 bears against the underside of the plate 67 while the other end of the spring bears against the plate 83. The spring 79 thus tends to bias the plate 67 and its associated stripper fingers 61 and 62 in an upward direction about the pivot 77. The plate 67 is also provided with an opening 31 to permit the hereinafter described camming plug 103 to pass therethrough.

Located near the bottom of the apparatus is a pot catcher 84 consisting of a catch plate 86 which is connected by means of a bolt 87 to a plate 88 which is a part of the frame 21. The outward end of the catch plate 84 contains an arcuate opening 89 therein, which openmg is adapted to receive the falling pot after it has been separated from the remainder of the stack by the stripper mechanism. After the pot has been caught by the catch plate 86 it can be manually removed therefrom by the operator and is thus ready for use. If the apparatus is to be used for widely varying pot sizes, the catch plate 86 can be readily removed from the machine by removing the holding bolts 87 and replacing the catch plate with a new plate having an opening 89 therein of a size suitably adapted for the size of the pot to be dispensed.

The actuating mechanism for opening and closing the clamping jaws and the stripper fingers and for pivoting the swing arm comprises a slideable cam means 91 having first, second, and third cam members 92, 93 and 94 (FIGURE 2) respectively. The first, second and third cam members are rigidly connected by means of screws 97 which pass through the lower ends of the first and second cam members 92 and 93, which screws also pass through the upper end of the third cam member 94. The upper ends of the cam members 92 and 93 are innerconnected by means of a joining plate 98, which plate is connected to the first and second cam members by means of bolts 99. The joining plate 98 has a centrally located vertical hole 101 therein which receives a cylindrical extension or stud 102 of a camming plug 103, the camming plug 103 being rigidly innerconnected with the joining plate 98 by means of a screw 104 threadedly received in the stud 102, the head of the screw 104 bearing on the upper surface of the joining plate 98.

Mounted on the inner or confronting surfaces of the side plates 22 and 23 are vertical guideways 107 and 108 (FIGURE 8) having a generally U-shaped configuration so as to form a vertical slot 109 therein. The straight vertical edges of the cam members 92 and 93 are received within the slot 109 for guided reciprocable movement therein. Mounted beneath the slideable cam means 91 is a power cylinder 111 having a piston rod 112 extending therefrom, the end of the piston rod having a clevis 113 thereon whereby the piston rod is connected to the lower end of the third cam member 94 by means of a pin 114 passing through aligned openings in the clevis and cam member. Energization of the power cylinder 111 thus causes the movable cam means 91, consisting of first cam member 92, second cam member 93, third cam member 94 and camming plug 103, to be vertically reciprocated. The power cylinder 111 as shown is preferably a double-acting pneumatic cylinder. However, a hydraulic cylinder or any other conventional mechanical means could be utilized for reciprocating the movable cam means 91 if desired. Furthermore, switches (not shown) may be mounted on the frame of the machine so as to coact with either the piston rod or the movable cam means so as to control the extremities of the stroke movement.

Considering the camming plug 103 (FIGURES 1 through 3), the plug is composed of a plurality of stepped, preferably cylindrical, portions 116, 117, 118 and 119 respectively, the stepped portions 116 and 117 being joined by a tapered, preferably conical, camming portion 122 and the portions 118 and 119 being joined by a tapered, preferably conical, camming portion 123. When the movable cam means 91 and the camming plug 103 are in their extended or uppermost positions as shown in FIGURE 3, the leftward (FIGURE 1) ends of the clamping levers 43 and 44 and the stripper fingers 61 and 62 are urged by the cams 57 and 74 inwardly so that their rightward, operating, ends are in their outward open position. When the camming plug 103 is moved downwardly, the tapered conical camming portion 123 coacts with the tapered camming surfaces 56 causing the clamping jaws to be pivoted inwardly to clamp the stack of pots contained in the apparatus. Simultaneously with the above action, the tapered conical camming portion 122 coacts wtih the tapered camming surfaces 73 causing the stripper jaws to be pivoted inwardly into engagement with the stack of pots so that the stripper jaws overlie the upper edge of the lowermost pot P in the stack. The camming plug is thus effective to move the clamping jaws and the stripper jaws from the open to the closed positions as the plug is moved in a downward direction.

The first and second cam members 92 and 93 are effective to move the stripper and the clamping jaws from the closed to the open position when the movable cam means 91 is moved in upward direction.

The cam members 92 and 93 possess cam ribs 126 and 127, respectively thereon, the cam ribs having upper straight guide portions 128 thereon which terminate at their lower ends in shoulders 129, the straight guide portions 128 and shoulders 129 being joined by inclined cam surfaces 131. Each of the cam ribs likewise has a lower straight guide portion 132 having a shoulder 133 at its upper end and a camming surface 134 at its lower end.

The movement of the cam means 91 also functions to control the pivotal movement of the swing arm device 37. As shown in FIGURES 2 and 3, the first cam member 92 and the third cam member 94 are designed so as to form a swing lever slot 139, which slot coacts with the edges of the lever 37 for controlling pivotal movement of the lever from a first position under the pots to a second position outwardly from said pots as shown in dotted lines in FIGURE 6. The cam members 92 and 94 are respectively formed with straight camming surfaces 141 and 142 respectively, which surfaces are joined by tapered camming surfaces 143 and 144 respectively. Downward movement of thecam means 91 from the position show in FIGURE 3 to the position shown in FIG- URE 2 causes the lever 37 to be swung outwardly from underneath the pots allowing the single pot to be dispensed and dropped into the catch plate 86.

FIGURE 5 also illustrates a modification of the basic stripper jaw structure which has been illustrated and explained above. In some situations, the above-described mechanism may be insufiicient to efliciently separate the lowermost pot from the stack. Furthermore, if such separation does occur, the stripper jaws may cause some damage to occur to the upper edges of the dispensed pot if the pots are very tightly stacked together. To assist in loosening the lowermost pot on the stack, suitable reciprocably movable nozzle carriers, here the modified stripper jaws 63 and 64 shown in FIGURE 5, carry nozzles, or jet openings, 147 and 148 respectively, which openings may be suitably connected to a source of compressed air. The nozzles 147 and 148 are located adjacent the cylindrical surface 65 and are directed downwardly so as to direct a stream of compressed air onto the upper edge of the lowermost pot and into the inner face region between the lowermost pot P and the next pot P contained therein. In this manner, the air jet applies a force tending to drive the lowermost pot P downwardly while at the same time tends to inject air between the bottom two pots, thus tending to loosen the pots and permitting the lowermost pot to be readily separated. The air jets can be used to supplement the action of the stripper jaws if desired.

OPERATION When it is desired to operate the above-described apparatus, assuming that the power cylinder 111 and the movable cams means 91 are in their lowermost or retracted position, the operator will first energize the power cylinder 111 causing the movable cam means to be moved upward to its uppermost position. When the cam means 91 is moved upwardly, the camming surfaces 131 and 134 will coact with the camming surfaces 57 on the clamping levers and the camming surfaces 74 on the stripper fingers respectively, causing the clamping jaws and the stripper jaws to be moved outwardly into their open positions. Said upward movement of the movable cam means 91 will also cause the camming surface 143 to coact with the swing arm 37 so as to cause the swing arm to move inwardly into a position whereby the block 41 will be positioned directly under the tubular pot guide 31. When the movable cam 91 reaches its uppermost position, the upper surface 137 of the third cam member 94 will bear against the lower surface of the floating plate 67 tending to pivot the stripper mechanism upwardly whereby the stripper jaws will be at an elevation slightly above the upper edge of the lowermost pot P The operator will then place a stack of pots into the apparatus by inserting the stack into the machine through the upper opening 32 of the guide tube 31, the stack being allowed to drop through the tube until the lowermost pot P bears against the block 41. At this time, the machine will be in condition for the separation and individual dispensing of the pots contained therein.

To commence a dispensing operation of the apparatus, the operator will energize the power cylinder 111 in the downward direction causing the movable cam means 91 to be moved downwardly. Downward movement will cause the tapered conical camming surface 123 on the plug 103 to coact with the camming surfaces 56 on the clamping levers, thus causing the clamping levers to move from an open to the closed position as shown in FIGURE 4. The clamping jaws 51 and 52 will thus be brought into engagement with the external surfaces of several pots contained in the stack. Due to the over-all width of the clamping jaws, the jaws will make contact with several pots, thus distributing the load over a considerable area and thus not applying any harmful force to the pots. The clamping jaw is positioned such that it will clamp onto the second lowermost pot P and will also clamp onto several pots located thereabove. The lowermost pot P will not be contacted by the clamping jaws. While the above-clamping action is taking place, the downward movement will also cause the tapered conical camming surface 122 to be brought into contact with the tapered camming surfaces 73 on the stripper arms 61 and 62, thus causing the stripper jaws 63 and 64 to be swung inwardly into the closed position shown in FIGURE 5. The stripper jaws will be swung inwardly into a relationship whereby they will be adjacent the periphery of the second lowermost pot P with the lower surface of the jaws overlying the upper edge of the lowermost pot P Continued downward movement of the cam means 91 will cause the camming surface 144 to contact the edge of the swing arm 37 causing the swing arm to pivot outwardly from beneath the tubular pot guide 31, the stack of pots being now held solely by the clamp jaws 51 and 52. Further downward movement of the cam means 91 will cause the shoulders 133 to come into contact with the upper edge of the stripper fingers 61 and 62, thus causing the entire stripper mechanism to be pivoted downwardly about the pivot 77. The downward pivotal movement of the stripper mechanism will cause the lower surfaces of the stripper jaws 63 and 64 to come into contact with the upper edge of the lowermost pot P thus applying a force on the pot in a downward direction and causing the pot to separate from the stack. Upon separation, the pot P will freely fall into the opening 89 of the catch plate 86 whereby it can be manually removed by the operator and is thus ready for utilization. The movable cam means will have then reached its lowermost or retracted position and the cycle will be complete.

To begin a new cycle, the power cylinder 111 will again be energized in the upward direction causing the movable cam means to move upwardly whereby the stripper jaws and the clamping jaws will be cammed outwardly into an open position by the cams 134 and 131 respectively. However, before the above jaws are cammed into the open position, the swing arm 131 will be cammed inwardly by the cam surface 143 so that the block member 41 is' positioned beneath the bottom surface of the lowermost pot. Thus, when the clamping jaws are released and swung into their open position, the pots will drop onto the block member 41. Continued upward movement of the movable cam means 91 will cause the surface 137 to bear against the plate 67 of the stripper mechanism causing it to pivot upwardly by an amount sufficient to cause the stripper jaws to be at an elevation above the edge of the lowermost pot and thus being in a position to grip the pot and cause separation thereof from the stack when the movable cam means is again moved downwardly.

If desired, limited switches can be utilized to control the stroke extremities of the movable cam means so as to cause automatic recycling of the power cylinder whereby the apparatus will automatically and continuously separate and dispense the pots after the machine has been initially put into operation.

It will be recognized that by this mechanism a single operator can separate a large number of pots in a relatively short time with the minimum amount of damage to the pot structure. Furthermore, the separation operation requires a minimum amount of operator supervision since the machine, after being put into operation, will continue to automatically and continuously dispense the pots without the aid of any operator control.

Further, the machine described is of low cost to build and to maintain. The machine contains only simple linkages which require little expensive machining and are of very simple operation and therefore dependability of operation is ensured. Furthermore, only a minimum number of power mechanisms is used, therefore requiring very little maintenance.

By making said camming plug of circular cross section, as above indicated to be preferred, same can be rotated to compensate for wear of its cam surfaces without change in the operation of the equipment. Wear on the cam surfaces 56 or 57 of the gripping levers 43 and 44 can be compensated by grinding down the surfaces 51a and 52a of the jaws 51 and 52 (or by grinding the opposed and contacting surfaces of the levers 43 and 44).

The machine described is furthermore well adapted for varying sizes of pots since the stripper jaws and the clamping jaws can be easily and readily interchanged so as to be adaptable to various pot sizes. This change can be made with a minimum amount of effort since only the jaws have to be replaced, the remainder of the machine being basically the same and operating in exactly the same manner. Furthermore, if desired, the machine could be made completely automatic by locating a conveyor underneath the tubular pot guide so that the pots, when separated and dispensed, will be deposited into the conveyor and automatically conveyed to a new work location, thus requiring no manual supervision or efiort on the part of a machine operator and thus permitting the machine to operate completely automatically.

Although a particular preferred embodiment has been described for illustrative purposes, it will be recognized that variations or modifications of such disclosure which lie within the scope of the appended claims are fully contemplated.

The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:

1. A pot dispensing apparatus for separating and dispensing individual pots, in particular delicate nursery pots, from a stack thereof, said apparatus comprising:

a frame, said frame being adaptable to receive a stack of pots therein;

dispensing means mounted on said frame and including clamping means for holding the stack of pots and separating means for removing the lowermost pot from the stack;

said clamping means having a pair of jaws which are engageable on substantially opposite sides of the periphery of pots contained in said stack, at least one of said jaws being movable from an open position out of engagement with said pots to a closed position in clamping engagement with at least One of said pots;

said separating means including a pair of fingers engageable with the upper edge of the lowermost pot, the separating means being mounted on said frame so as to permit pivotal movement of said fingers in a first plane substantially perpendicular to a longitudinal axis formed by said stack while also permitting pivotal movement of said fingers in a second plane substantially transverse to said first plane; and

actuating means for controlling the dispensing means so as to permit individual pots to be separated and dispensed from the apparatus.

2. A pot dispensing apparatus for separating and dispensing individual pots, in particular delicate nursery pots, from a stack thereof, said apparatus comprising:

a frame, said frame being adaptable to receive a stack of pots therein;

dispensing means mounted on said frame and including clamping means for holding the stack of pots and separating means for removing the lowermost pot from the stack;

actuating means for controlling the dispensing means so as to permit individual pots to be separated and dispensed from the apparatus; said clamping means including a pair of levers pivotably mounted on said frame, each of said levers having a jaw mounted at one end thereof for engagement with the outer peripheral surface of said pots, said levers being controlled by said actuating means for opposed synchronous movement from an open position to a closed position, said jaws in said open position being substantially spaced from said pots while in said closed position being in engagement therewith on substantially opposite peripheral sides thereof;

said separating means including a pair of levers each having a finger at one end thereof engageable with the upper edge of the lowermost pot for separating same from the stack, said levers being pivotably mounted relative to the frame and controlled by said actuating means for opposed synchronous movement between a first position wherein the fingers are spaced from the periphery of said pots and a second position wherein the fingers are positioned adjacent the periphery of said pots;

stop means for maintaining said stack of pots in position when the clamping means is released, said stop means being movable from a first position wherein the stop means is located beneath the bottom surface of the lowermost pot to a second position spaced from said pots so as to permit the lowermost pot to be dispensed from the apparatus; and

said actuating means including a reciprocable cam means, movement of said sam means in one direction causing said clamping jaws to be cammed to said closed position and said fingers and said stop means to be moved to their respective second positions, movement of the reciprocable cam means in the other direction causing the fingers and the stop means to be moved to the respective first positions and the clamping jaws to be moved to their open position.

3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein said separating means is mounted to said frame for pivotal movement in a second plane substantially transverse to a plane defined by the pivotal movement of said fingers from said first to said second positions, said separating means and said fingers being moved in said second plane so as to engage an upper edge of the lowermost pot and separate the same from the stack when the actuating means moves in said one direction.

4. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the reciprocable cam means has a first cam member for controlling the movement of the clamping means, the separating means and the stop means when the reciprocable cam means is moved in said one direction; and a second cam member for controlling the movement of said clamping means,

separating means and stop means as said reciprocable cam means is moved in said other direction.

5. A pot dispensing apparatus for separating and dispensing individual pots, in particular delicate nursery pots, from a stack thereof, said apparatus comprising:

a frame, said frame being adaptable to receive a stack of pots therein;

dispensing means mounted on said frame and including clamping means for holding the stack of pots and separating means for removing the lowermost pot from the stack;

said clamping means having a pair of jaws which are engageable on substantially opposite sides of the periphery of pots contained in said stack, at least one of said jaws being movable from an open position out of engagement with said pots to a. closed position in clamping engagement with at least one of said pots;

said separating means having a pair of'levers mounted on said frame for pivotal movement in a plane substantially perpendicular to a longitudinal axis formed by said stack of pots, each of said levers having a stripper finger mounted adjacent one end thereof with said stripper fingers being positionable above and engageable with the upper edge of the lowermost pot for permitting same to be separated from said stack; and

actuating means for controlling the dispensing means so as to permit individual pots to be separated and dispensed from the apparatus, said actuating means including a reciprocable cam means for controlling the operation of said separating means, said reciprocating cam means coacting with said stripper levers for positively camming said stripper fingers from a first inner position wherein said stripper fingers are spaced substantially adjacent the periphery of said pots and overlie the upper edge of the lowermost pot in the stack to a second outer position wherein the stripper fingers are spaced radially outwardly from the periphery of the upper edge of said pots.

6. A pot dispensing apparatus for separating and dispensing individual pots, in particular delicate nursery pots, from a stack thereof, said apparatus comprising:

a frame, said frame being adaptable to receive a stack of pots therein;

dispensing means mounted on said frame and including clamping means for holding the stack of pots and separating means for removing the lowermost pot from the stack;

said clamping means having a pair of jaws which are engageable on substantially opposite sides of the periphery of pots contained in said stack, at least one of said jaws being movable from an open position out of engagement with said pots to a closed position in clamping engagement with at least one of said pots;

said separating means having a pair of fingers engageable with the upper edge of the lowermost pot for separating same from said stack, said separating means being mounted on said frame so as to permit pivotable movement of said fingers in a first plane substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis formed by said stack while also permitting movement of said fingers in a second plane substantially transverse to said first plane; and

actuating means for controlling the dispensing means so as to permit individual pots to be separated and dispensed from the apparatus, said actuating means including a reciprocable cam member for controlling the clamping means and the separating means;

said reciprocable cam member having a shoulder means formed thereon adapted to engage said pair of fingers when said fingers are positioned substantially adjacent the periphery of said pots and overlying the upper edge of the lowermost pot, downward movement of said reciprocable cam member causing said shoulder means to contact said pair of fingers, which pair of fingers are then moved substantially vertically downwardly into engagement with the upper edge of the lowermost pot whereupon the lowermost pot is separated from the stack.

7. A pot dispensing apparatus for separating and dispensing individual pots, in particular delicate nursery pots, from a stack thereof, said apparatus comprising:

a frame, said frame being adaptable to receive a stack of pots therein;

dispensing means mounted on said frame and including clamping means for holding the stack of pots and separating means for removing the lowermost pot from the stack;

actuating means for controlling the dispensing means so as to permit individual pots to be separated and dispensed from the apparatus;

said clamping means including a pair of clamping levers pivotably mounted on said frame, each of said clamping levers having a clamping jaw mounted at one end thereof with said pair of jaws being engageable on substantially opposite sides of the periphery of pots contained in said stack, said levers being controlled by said actuating means for opposed synchronous movement from an open position out of engagement with said pots to a closed position wherein said jaws are in clamping engagement with at least one of said pots;

said separating means having fingers engageable with the upper edge of the lowermost pot for esparating same from said stack; and

said separating means further including a pair of opposed nozzle carriers mounted for approach-andretract movement relative to said frame and a pressure fluid nozzle on each of said carriers movable by said carriers from a first position wherein the nozzle carriers are spaced from the periphery of said pots to a second position wherein the nozzle carriers are spaced substantially adjacent the periphery of said pots and overlie the upper edge of the lowermost pot in the stack for assisting in removing the lowermost pot from the stack.

8. A pot dispensing apparatus for separating and dispensing individual pots, in particular delicate nursery pots, from a stack thereof, said apparatus comprising:

a frame, said frame being adaptable to receive a stack of pots therein;

dispensing means mounted on said frame and including clamping means for holding the stack of pots and separating means for removing the lowermost pot from the stack;

actuating means for controlling the dispensing means so as to permit individual pots to be separated and dispensed from the apparatus;

said clamping means including a pair of clamping levers pivotably mounted on said frame, each of said levers having a clamping jaw mounted at one end thereof, said levers being controlled by said actuating means for opposed synchronous movement from an open position out of engagement with said pots to a closed position wherein said jaws are in clamping engagement with at least one of said pots on substantially opposite sides of the periphery thereof;

said separating means including a pair of stripper levers each having a stripper finger adjacent one end thereof, said pair of stripper levers being mounted on said frame so as to permit pivotable movement of said fingers in a first plane substantially perpendicular to a longitudinal axis formed by said stack while also permitting movement of said fingers in a second plane substantially transverse to said first plane, said Stripper fingers being controlled by said actuating means for opposed synchronous movement whereby said fingers are moved from a first position wherein the fingers are spaced from the periphery of said pots to a second position wherein the fingers are spaced substantially adjacent the periphery of said pots and overlie the upper edge of the lowermost pot in the stack for permitting same to be separated from said stack; and

said actuating means including a reciprocable cam means for controlling said clamping means and said separating means.

9. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein said reciprocable cam means includes a reciprocable cam member coacting with said clamping means and said separating means for positively camming said clamping jaws from said closed to said open position and for positively camming the stripper fingers from said second to said first position.

10. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein said reciprocable cam means coact with said clamping means and said separating means for positively camming said clamping jaws from said open to said closed position and for positively camming the stripper fingers from said first to said second position.

11. The apparatus of claim 8 further including stop means movable between first and second positions, said stop means in said first position holding said stack of pots in said apparatus when the clamp means is in said open position, said stop means in said second position permitting the separated pot to be dispensed from the apparatus; said reciprocable cam means coacting with said stop means whereby said stop means is positively cammed from said first position to said second position when said reciprocable cam means is moved in a first direction, said stop means being positively cammed from Said second position to said first position when said reciprocable cam means is moved in the opposite direction.

12. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein said reciprocable cam means includes a reciprocable cam member for controlling said clamping means and said separating means, said cam member having first and second similar portions positioned on opposite sides of both said pair of clamping levers and said pair of stripper levers, said cam member further having a third portion positioned between both said pair of clamping levers and said pair of stripper levers, said portions coacting with said clamping levers and said stripper levers for moving same when said reciprocable cam member is moved.

13. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein said actuating means further includes a fluid pressure cylinder interconnected to said reciprocable cam means for linearly reciprocating same.

14. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein said clamping jaws are detachably mounted on said clamping levers and wherein said stripper fingers are detachably mounted to said stripper levers, said clamping jaws and said stripper fingers thus be readily interchangeable.

15. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein said apparatus contains a stack of delicate and disintegrable nursery pots therein having no top rims thereon, said clamping jaws havi arcuate clamping surfaces thereon of a configuration substantially similar to the periphery of said pots, said clamping surfaces being elongated in the direction of the longitudinal axis of said stack of pots whereby said clamping jaws uniformly clamp a plurality of pots.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,849,148 3/1932 Mojonnier 22l236 X 1,963,621 6/l934 Geyer 22l22 2,385,267 9/1945 Franz 22 l236 X (Other references on following page) UNITED STATES PATENTS FOREIGN PATENTS Drese 221 -278X 262,332 12/1926 Great Britain.

Farber 221-221X 38,116 5/1936 Netherlands.

Prick 221-223 Cheeley 221 .223 X 5 SAMUEL F. COLEMAN, Primary Examiner. Carter 61', a1. 221251 X US CL X R Amie 221-251 X Gass et a1. 221 221 X 221436 Cease 221--13

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4241848 *Dec 27, 1978Dec 30, 1980Phillips Petroleum CompanyContainer processing apparatus
US4270669 *Jul 27, 1978Jun 2, 1981Luke Virgil EPot separator
US4439101 *Jul 26, 1982Mar 27, 1984Armour Food CompanyApparatus for separating nested cup-shaped containers
US4529101 *Jul 26, 1982Jul 16, 1985Armour Food CompanyApparatus for separating nested cup-shaped containers
US5024048 *Jun 15, 1990Jun 18, 1991The Lerio CorporationApparatus for dispensing containers
US8418880 *Nov 19, 2009Apr 16, 2013Mesure Technology Co., Ltd.Probe cover dispenser
US20100133291 *Nov 19, 2009Jun 3, 2010Chu-Yih YuProbe Cover Dispenser
Classifications
U.S. Classification221/221, 221/236
International ClassificationA01G9/08
Cooperative ClassificationA01G9/088
European ClassificationA01G9/08F