US 3498313 A
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2.Sheets-Sheet 1 l NV E N TQ 2 DAN/ez E. @Ez KH ATTQENBYS D. E. BELICH BEER KEG TAP March 3, 1970 Filed May 25, 1967 March 3, 1970 D. E. BELICH 3,498,313
BEER KEG TAP Filed May 23, 1967 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 NvENToK il DAN/Ez. E. 5E /cH ATTORNES United States Patent O 3,498,313 BEER KEG TAP Daniel E. Belich, 8126 W. National Ave., West Allis, Wis. 53214 Filed May 23, 1967, Ser. No. 640,630 Int. Cl. F16k 43/00; F161 55/10; B65d 83/14 U.S. Cl. 137-322 11 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE This application discloses a tap in which the portion of the tap from the head to the bottom of the keg may remain in place during merchandising. The user needs only a small coaxial outlet unit attached to tap beer and gas pressure lines. The outlet unit is small and easily cleaned, and represents only a modest investment for the tavern keeper. The portion of the device which is retained in the barrel contains valving arrangements which prevent the escape of beer or gas pressure from a partially used keg when the outlet is withdrawn, and provide improved Valve arrangements which rely on elastic valve members for admission of air under pressure.
Background of the invention Prior art devices of this kind have had large, expensive, and clumsy units for installation at the point of use which are difficult to keep clean and are expensive to manufacture, and which for the most part do not remain in the keg to seal the keg against contamination and to retain pressure when the outlet unit is withdrawn.
Summary of the invention My invention comprises a ber keg tap having a newly designed coaxial outlet unit, and a fixed unit which is permanently retained in a beer keg. The fixed unit includes a tube extending to the bottom of the keg for withdrawal of the contents, and is provided with valves to retain pressure in the keg when the outlet unit is removed and to prevent contamination of the contents of a partially used keg. These valves include a beer check valve which is opened by insertion of the outlet unit and closed by withdrawal of the outlet unit without any special manipulation by the user, and having a valve activating spring which also functions as a strainer. The fixed unit is provided with highly effective seals which function to seal the outlet unit to the fixed unit and to the keg in an easily releasable manner, the outlet unit seals being combined with positioning and holding means for the outlet unit. The air pressure passage in the fixed unit is provided with an elastic valve for admission of air pressure to the keg, the valve is located specifically in the neck of the keg thereby 4being protected by the neck of the keg from injury when the inside of the keg is spray coated at the brewery. The entire unit is easily cleaned and assembled.
The outlet unit is a simple, attractive, and inexpensive coaxial tube unit which is very much more readily cleaned than previous tap units, and consequently should be more acceptable to health and sanitation authorities, and is provided with means which cooperate with the sealing means to lock the unit in place and means to operate the valve which normally seals the beer line. It is more safely and easily used by inexperienced persons, as compared with prior art units. My invention further comprises a simple cap cover for sealing the outlet stem insertion opening, and which is readily applied at the brewery and readily removed by the user, in order to maintain the sanitary condition of the contents.
In the drawings:
FIGURE 1 is a view of a keg with portions cut away to show my unit installed therein and with my outlet unit shown in position for insertion.
FIGURE 2 is a cross-sectional view on line 2-2 of FIG. 1 showing the outlet unit inserted in the fixed unit.
FIGURE 3 is a view similar to FIGURE 2 but showing the fixed unit with the outlet unit removed therefrom.
FIGURE 4 is a cross-sectional view on line 4-4 of FIGURE 2.
FIGURE 5 is a view of the fixed unit of my invention removed from the keg with portions broken away to show the structure of the air valve.
FIGURE 6 is a view on line 66 of FIGURE 5 showng the means by which the fixed unit is attached to the FIGURE 7 is a fragmentary view similar to FIGURE 2 showing a modification of the upper sealing means between the outlet unit and fixed unit of my invention.
FIGURE `8 is a cross-sectional View on line 8 8 of FIGURE 7.
FIGURE 9 is a top view of the fixed unit of my invention showing a modification in the means for physically securing the outlet unit to the fixed unit.
FIGURE 10 is a view on line 10-10 of FIGURE 9.
FIGURE 1l is an enlarged fragmentary cross-sectional view similar to FIGURE 7 showing a modified gas ad- :mission valve structure, the outlet unit being shown in full lines.
FIGURE l2 is a fragmentary view similar to FIGURE l1 showing the same structure in a different condition of operation, and taken in a vertical plane in right angles to the plane in FIGURE l1, the outlet unit being omitted.
FIGURE 13 is a view similar to FIGURE 11 showing the same structure in a different condition of operation, the fixed unit being shown in full lines.
FIGURE 14 is a view similar to FIGURE ll, showing a further modied form of my gas admission valve.
Description As shown in FIG. 1, my tap is installed in a beer keg 20 of conventional form. It includes a fixed unit 21 and an outlet unit 25. The fixed unit 21 is permanently secured to the center opening of the beer keg by the simple means shown in FIG. 3 and remains in place through subsequent use of the beer keg, except for repairs. Fixed unit 21 includes a tube 22 which extends to the bottom of the beer keg, a body 23, and an external head 24, which is on top of the beer keg. Outlet unit 25 is retired by the tavern operator and has a beer outlet 26 and an inlet 27 for carbon dioxide or air under pressure on a stem 28 which is inserted into the opening in the head 24 of fixed unit 21.
FIG. 2 is a vertical cross-sectional view of the unit shown in FIG. 1, greatly enlarged. The outlet unit, which is designated generally by the numeral 25, includes an exterior tube 28 which forms the body of the unit, and an interior tube 29 having a smaller diameter than the external tube. The inner tube 29 is flared at its upper end 30 and at its lower end 31 to the inner diameter of outer tube 28 and is secured within tube 28 by brazing with a metal which does not contaminate food, thereby forming a beer passage 32 within the inner tube 29 and gas passage 33 between body tube 28 and inner tube 29. The beer outlet 26 may desirably comprise an elbow which is brazed to the upper end of tube 28 and which is provided with conventional means for retaining a hose (not shown) which leads to a beer dispensing valve in a tavern or the like. The gas inlet (which may carry air or carbon dioxide or any suitable gas under pressure) desirably comprises a T 27 which is a close fit on the exterior of body tube 28 and which is provided with conventional means for retaining a gas supply hose. The ends of the cross bar of the T are `brazed in place and a hole 34 is provided in outer tube 28 to admit the gas to passage 33 between the outer tube 28 and inner tube 29. A cross member 35 is secured in the lower end of tube 29 to prevent the ball of a check valve (which will later be described) from sealing the beer passage at flare 31. A flange 36 encircles body tube 28 of fixed unit 25 to positively locate the tube vertically with respect to fixed unit 21. It rests in a bevel 47 around the central opening of fixed unit 21. A small rib 38 on tube 28, below the locating flange 36, dsplaces the material of a resilient cylindrical seal member 39 within fixed unit 21 to seal the central opening 40 of fixed unit 21 to the outer wall of body 28 of outlet unit 25. Desirably a groove 41 is provided in fixed unit 21 directly adjacent the resilient seal 39 in the plane in which rib 38 will rest when fiange 36 engages bevel 47. The groove 41 accommodates the displacement of seal 39 and thus provides a detent for locking in place and securely holding the tube 28 in the central opening 40 of the fixed unit 21. Resilient cylinder 39 is sufficiently thick so that rib 38 may be inserted through it, despite the lack of relief behind the seal 39 except at groove 41.
The head portion 24 of the fixed unit is provided with capscrews 42 extending from the top surface of the head to a point well below the bottom surface thereof, and which are threaded into clamping lugs 43 which are provided with a generally L-shaped extension 44 (FIG. 5 to engage the underside of the lip 45 of the keg neck 46. This structure may be seen in top view at FIGURE 6, where the interrupted lips 45 are shown surrounding the neck opening 46, with the extensions 44 of lugs 43 secured beneath the lips. The radially outward and inward surfaces of lugs 43 are curved to conform closely to the annular space in which they rest, to facilitate tightening locking capscrews 42. Although lips `45 conventionally are sllghtly inclined, to lock a beer tap beneath them when it is turned, in my structure capscrews 42 are primarily relied upon to permanently lock and secure my fixed unit 21 in the keg 20. The upper body 24 of fixed unit 21 is preferably provided with a peripheral groove 48 to retain cover 49 as best shown in FIG. 3.
The body of unit 21, generally designated as 23, includes a tube 50 which is threaded at 51 into a termination unit 52 which .(as best shown in FIG. 5) is generally circular |but is provided with wrench-flats '53 for use in assembly and disassembly of the unit and has a cylindrical end 54 which is a tight fit within tube 22. The end of cylinder 54 is beveled inside at 55 to make a smooth connection with the inner diameter of tube 22, thereby creating smoother liquid ow lines to obtain maximum sanitation conditions, and leaving no pocket. Likewise, the upper end of termination unit 22 is beveled at 56 to meet the inner diameter of spacer 57 and thereby presents a smooth liquid flow path without pockets. A seal 58 lies immediately above spacer S7 and is likewise beveled at 59 to meet the inner diameter of spacer 57. Conical bevel 59 also serves as a seat for valve ball 60 which is urged by spring 61 toward bevel I59. As shown in FIG. 3 when outlet unit 25 is removed, valve ball 60 seats against bevel 59. This closes the opening in seal 58 and also forces bevel 59 against the wall of 50 thereby preventing the escape of beer and the loss of pressure within keg 20. As shown in FIG. 2, valve ball 60 is unable to seat on bevel 59 when outlet unit 25 is inserted because bar 35 prevents ball 60 from seating either on flare 31 or on bevel 59, thus holding the beer passage 32 open for the withdrawal of beer. A conventional beer hose is attached to 26 and extends to a dispensing valve so that beer atcually flows out of keg 20 only when the valve is opened.
The length of tube 28 relative to flange 36 is such that the coils of spring 61, when compressed, are spaced about .032 inch from each other with outlet unit in place, and since beer must pass through the spring, foreign matter is strained out without adding a separate strainer for the purpose.
Seal 58 is a tight lit on the outside of outer tube 28 of outlet unit 25, and is resilient. It is als-o a tight lit within the lower tube 50 of the fixed unit 21 and thus aids in locating the outlet unit 25 correctly as well as assisting in securing it in place and preventing the leakage of beer around the exterior of tube 28.
Seal 58 separates the beer line from the passages which carry gas under pressure to the top of the keg, to furnish the force necessary to expel beer from the keg. The gas enters inlet fixture 27 and passes through opening 34 in tube 28 to the space 33 between tube 28 and tube 29. It then passes downwardly to opening 37 in the tube 28 to the space between seal 39 and seal 58. As may be seen in FIG, 2, there is a space between the inside of outer tube 50 of the fixed unit and tube 28 of the outlet unit at the point creating an air passage. A series of radial bores 70 permit the gas to escape outwardly from this air passage and the resilient ru'bber sleeve 71 serves as a one-way valve to permit the air or other gas to enter the keg but not to escape it. Bores 70 are of smaller diameter, and (as best shown in FIG. 3) there are a number of them to accommodate the needed gas flow. When the outlet unit 25 is removed, sleeve 71 will be exposed to full gas pressure on one side and to atmospheric pressure on the other side, which might cause a blowout in the sleeve due to the gas pressure within the keg if any large area of the resilient sleeve is unsupported. By keeping the holes 70 small, this danger is avoided.
It will be observed in FIG. 3 that the shape of the tube 50 is such that seals 58 and 59 are positively located within the tube, and valve sleeve 71 is positively located outside the tube, by radial walls -65 and 66. It will also be observed that the unit may be disassembled readily for cleaning because the tube 50 has a screw-threaded connection with head 24 of the fixed unit 21 and with the end unit 52. The head unit 24 serves to maintain seal 39 in its proper place at the upper end when the unit is assembled, while the end 52 and the spacer 57 perform the same office for seal 58 at the lower end.
An O-ring `62 seals the head 24 and shaft 50` of the fixed unit 21 against the neck 46 of the keg 20. The outer surface of tube 50 is provided with wrench flats 72, which serve not only to facilitate assembly and disassembly of the unit without marring in order to clean the parts, but which also assure sufficient clearance between stem 50 and the opening 46 of the keg to permit air, carbon dioxide or other pressurized gas to enter the main body of the keg from valve sleeve 71. However, the location of the gas valve 71 within the beer keg opening 46 gives it a protected location.
Thus my device contains a minimum of readily manufactured and assembled parts, which are without blind pockets to trap dirt and are readily cleaned. The brazed assembly of the outlet unit leaves a single smooth piece which can be cleaned with a minimum of trouble by a tavern operator, unlike a conventional tap. The ixed unit is slightly more complex but is still easy to clean by flushing with cleansing solution or by disassembly and separate cleaning.
FIGS. 7 and 8 show a modification of my device in which a snap ring 73 is located between the upper seal 39 and the wall of tube 50. Ring 73 is sufficiently small in diameter so that it exerts a compressive force on seal 39. The result is that when tube 28 is inserted, flange 38 passes the snap ring and then is positively held in position by the compression of snap ring 73 added to the engagement of ring 38 with seal 39. Ring 73 is preferably accommodated within a groove 74 in tube 50 to insure correct positioning,
FIGS. 9 and 10 show a further modification of the device shown in FIGS. 1 through 6 in which outlet unit 25 is provided with a pin 75 on the diameter of tube 28, the ends of pin 75 projecting outwardly from tube 28 tO form a pair of projections which are received in Ibayonet slots in head 24, the bayonet slots having a vertical portion 76 and a horizontal portion 77 so that the outlet unit 25 may be turned to bring pin 75 out of register with vertical slot 76, thereby locking the outlet unit 25 in position. This structure may be employed rather than the structure shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, if desired.
FIGS. 11 through 13 show an alternate air valve structure. Tube 50 is provided with a groove 80 below the outlets of the radial passages 70 in tube 50. Groove 80 replaces the channel 78 between radial wall y65 and 66 in the device of FIGS. 1 through 6, and is provided with a generally radial wall 81 and with an inclined, or conical wall 82 which meets the surface of tube 50` just below the air holes 70. An O-ring 83 serves as the valve member and is of such a size that the outer diameter is always compressed within the slightly smaller outer diameter of the neck 46 or keg 20, and the inner diameter is always in engagement with the sides of slot 80. Wrench fiats 72 occupy a chord of the cylindrical surface of tube 50, and the center of each wrench flat 72 is radially inward from the radially deepest portion of groove 80 (FIG. 1l).
This structure operates in the following manner. As best seen in FIG. 12, when outlet unit 25 is not in place the pressure within keg is greater than the atmospheric pressure, either because of the carbonization of the beer or because of pressure which has previously been supplied through the gas inlet 27 of outlet unit 25 and which is retained by the disclosed structure within keg 20. The pressure within keg 20 drives O-ring 83 upwardly until the converging walls of slot 80 and neck 46 retain it in position, When outlet unit 25 is in place but pressure is not currently being supplied through inlet 27, the pressure will usually be approximately equal on both sides of O-ring 83 and the ring will come to rest at a lower position in slot 80 (FIG. 11). When gas pressure is being supplied through the inlet 27 of outlet unit 25, it will enter the keg through the holes 70 and will drive O-ring 83 downwardly in groove 80 until it reaches the vertical wall 81, which prevents further downward movement. However the vertical wall 81 is interrupted by wrench fiat 72, and (FIG. 13) when gas pressure is supplied, O-ring 83 deflects toward wrench fiat 72 and permits the gas to escape into keg 20. The resilience of O-ring I83 restores it to its previous shape when -gas is no longer escaping along wrench fiat 72. When outlet unit is removed, the holes 70 are again at atmospheric pressure and the internal pressure in keg 20 drives the O-ring 83 up the conical surface 82 of slot 80y until the convergence between surface 82 and surface 46 brings it to a stop with the outlet from the keg tightly sealed. This structure provides a simple and extremely effective valve which is located within the neck of the keg and is thus protected by said neck.
FIG. 14 shows a structure which is still better protected. In this structure, a generally V-shaped groove 90 has its apex intersecting holes 70, and an O-ring 91 of smaller diameter than the apex occupies the groove. It functions in a. manner similar to the cylindrical valve member 71 shown in FIGS. 1 through 7 to admit gas under pressure to the keg but not to release it. O-ring 91 is less susceptible to blowouts, and is readily replaceable. In addition, the structure of FIG. 14 is high within neck 46 and accessible to the contents of the keg only through the small annular clearance between the body 23 and the neck 46. It is thus especially well protected fwhen inside of the keg is periodically spray coated at the brewery.
My device may also be modified by omitting parts 27, 34 and 33 which form the gas or air passage in the outlet unit 25 and adding a separate gas passage to the head of the keg, of a type which is known in other environments. In this modification the device retains the advantages of easy manufacture and cleaning, an inexpensive outlet unit, and structure which prevents contamination and loss of pressure.
My device has an automatically activated safety feature incorporated in the design. The seal 39 has a dual function, as outlined previously, it seals and at the same time holds securely outlet unit 25 in place in fixed unit 21 when in use and as long as the gas or air pressure is maintained at 15 to 30 lbs. preset at the pressure gauge. Because of the simple and unique design of this holding means, the outlet -unit will automatically be forced out of the fixed unit if and when the pressure gauge lwould accidently malfunction and fail to maintain a safe preset pressure. This action will thereby prevent the keg or container from bursting.
1. In a beer keg 'having a downwardly extending cylindrical neck and a tap, the improvement comprising a fixed unit which remains attached to the keg within said neck, said fixed unit having an opening for an outlet unit, a seal adapted to position and retain said outlet unit, beer passage means extending to the bottom of said keg, a one-way beer valve adapted to retain beer and gas under pressure within said keg, and a oneeway air valve adapted to retain gas pressure in said keg when said beer valve is open, and an outlet unit consisting solely of a beer passage adapted for connection to an external beer conduit and to said beer passage means in said fixed unit, and an air passage adapted for connection to an external gas pressure passage and to said one-way air valve means, said outlet unit being adapted to actuate said beer valve to permit beer under pressure to flow in said beer passage.
2. The device of claim 1 in iwhich said beer valve in said fixed unit includes a ball check valve in said beer passage, said ball check valve being adapted to close when said outlet unit is removed and to be actuated to an open position by said actuating means on said outlet unit when said outlet -unit is inserted.
3. The device of claim 2 in which said ball check valve is closed by a helical compression spring, said spring being in said beer passage means and having turns of the spring spaced closely enough to strain foreign objects from beer in said beer passage means when said spring is cornpressed by said outlet unit actuating said valve to permit beer to flow in said passage.
4. The device of claim 2 in which said fixed unit has a second seal between said fixed unit and said outlet unit, said second seal being the seat of said ball check valve.
5. The device of claim 4 in which said one-way air valve is between said first and second seals of said fixed unit, said valve means Ibeing enclosed by the neck of said keg.
6. The device of claim 5 in which the gas supply passage of said outlet unit is provided with an opening between said first and second seals of said fixed unit, said fixed unit being provided with an opening for gas in communicating with said opening in said outlet unit, said valve means in said fixed unit including a member resiliently closing the passage for said gas between said outlet unit and the body of said keg, said passage including the neck of said keg.
7. The device of claim 6 in which the exterior 0f said fixed unit is provided with an annular channel within the neck of said keg and said resilient gas valve member occupies said channel.
8. The device of claim 7 in which said channel is rectilinear in cross-section, said gas passage of said fixed unit opening into said channel, and said resilient valve member is a cylindrical sleeve of resilient material occupying substantially the entire width of said channel and resiliently closing said gas passage, said resilient member being of such a size as to be in tension when installed in said groove.
9. The device of claim 7 in which said channel has a conical upper margin, the resilient valve member being an O-ring having a surface engaged with said conical channel portion and a surface engaged with the neck of said keg, said fixed unit having a relieved portion below said groove and intersecting said groove, said relieved portion being deeper than said groove, so that gas pressure from the opening in said fixed unit above said resilient valve member in excess of gas pressure in said keg displaces said resilient valve member into said re lieved portion, thereby permitting the passage of gas into said keg.
10. The device of claim 7 in which said groove has converging sides and said resilient member is an O-ring of such diameter as to be held in tension against said sides, said radial gas passages in said xed unit intersecting said groove at the apex thereof and being normally sealed by said O-ring in tension, said O-ring being of such a size as to provide clearance between said O-ring and the neck of said keg whereby excess pressure within the gas holes may deect said O-ring and escape into said keg.
11. The device of claim 1 in which all parts of said xed unit and all parts of said outlet unit are provided with smoothly merging surfaces, whereby said parts may readily be cleaned.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS WILLIAM F. ODEA, Primary Examiner DAVID R. MATTHEWS, Assistant Examiner ULS. Cl. X.R. 222-4007