US 3533536 A
Abstract available in
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Oct, 13, 1970 J. w. BAXENDALE 3,533,536
SERPENTINE COLUMN DISPENSING MACHINE HAVING ASSOCIATED PRE-COOL RACK Filed May 13, 1968 INVENT OR Ja/m V1! Baxenaa/e ,jnw
United States Patent US. Cl. 221281 6 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A dispensing machine for articles such as cold beverages and having a refrigerated cabinet housing one or more article receiving columns along with mechanism controlling successive release of the articles from respective columns and wherein is provided a rack structure in association with each column permitting at least partial reloading thereof with articles stored in the rack structure and thus in a pre-cooled condition. The rack structure is open at the top, has a hand clearing slot in the front thereof and is provided with an article deflector swingably mounted adjacent the opening in the top of the same. A movable latch on the rack structure is shiftable from a position clearing the article deflector to a location limiting swinging movement thereof to a position for diverting articles from the rack structure into a respective column when the lowermost article in the rack structure is grasped through said slot and moved upwardly along with all of the articles thereabove.
This invention relates to a dispensing machine for packaged cold beverages having novel mechanism in the refrigerated cabinet thereof for making partial reloading of the article receiving columns of the machine with precooled products sufliciently easy and rapid that there is little tendency for the Serviceman to ignore this initial operation in restocking the machine.
Vending machines for dispensing cold beverages have found Wide favor, particularly as design and manufacturing improvements have provided reliable multiple selection machines which may be purchased at a reasonable price. Packaged cold beverage dispensing machines of this type have a refrigerated cabinet which usually houses a series of upright article receiving columns for supporting the articles in stacked relationship. Selectively operable mechanism at the lower end of each column serves to control successive release of articles from respective columns. The columns are loaded through an opening at the top of the same and they are frequently of serpentine configuration to increase the capacity of each column and thus minimize the necessity of restocking the columns at frequent intervals.
Since the service trucks which are used to transport fresh stock to each machine location are unrefrigerated, operators of the machines depend on the refrigeration equipment within the dispensing machine cabinets to lower the temperature of the beverage to a palatable level before dispensing of the product. If the machine is reloaded when the article columns are still partially full, restocking of the columns with warm cans or bottles presents no particular problem since adequate time will usually elapse for the temperature of the product to be lowered to a desirable level by the cold air circulating in the cabinet of the ma chine before the beverage is available for vending.
Frequently though, an entire stack of articles in one or more columns of the machine will become depleted before the unit is serviced. This is particularly true of the more popular beverages. Refilling of completely empty columns with unrefrigerated products could mean that a customer would receive an unpalatable beverage if he actuates a se- Patented Oct. 13, 1970 lection which has been freshly restocked before the beverage has had an opportunity to be cooled to a satisfactory temperature.
Many operators attempt to solve this problem by storing quantities of at least the more popular beverages in the space usually available at the bottom of the machine cabinet. If a column is depleted of product or very low at the time of servicing of the machine and pre-cooled cans or bottles of that brand are stored in the lower part of the cabinet, the Serviceman is under instructions to at least partially fill the depleted or low level columns with the precooled beverage before placing warm stock in the columns. The space in the lower part of the cabinet is then restocked with warm product for pre-cooling thereof.
Although in theory this procedure is satisfactory, in actual practice it has been found that at least some servicemen fail to carry out their instructions, thus causing dissatisfied customers. The problem is particularly acute in high demand locations, and since the routemen are for the most part completely unsupervised in their work it is extremely difficult to make certain that the machines are restocked in a prescribed manner.
It is surmised that one of the principal difliculties that must be traversed is the tendency for some servicemen to bypass the laborious and time consuming operation of removing pre-cooled cans or bottles individually from the bottom of the machine cabinet and inserting them one by one in the opening at the top of respective article columns.
It is therefore the primary object of this invention to provide a cold beverage dispensing machine of the type having one or more article receiving columns and wherein is provided novel rack structure associated with each column in disposition permitting a Serviceman to at least partially restock a respective column with pre-cooled product by the simple expedient of grasping the lowermost article contained in the rack structure and by moving such article upwardly along with all of those thereabove. The cans or bottles from the rack structure are directed straight into the associated column through the open top thereof and thus completely eliminating the article-by-article refilling of the columns with pre-cooled products which has heretofore been necessary.
Another important object of the invention is to provide novel pre-cooled product rack structure for cold beverage dispensing machines as described wherein the rack structure comprises an upright assembly adapted to be mounted on the article columns with the top of the rack assembly adjacent the open top of a respective column and with deflector means being provided on the rack assembly which is operable to swing upwardly as the Serviceman pushes the cans or bottles in the rack assembly upwardly but only to an extent whereby the deflector means diverts the precooled products directly into the associated column through the open top of the same thus making it possible for personnel servicing the machine to reload the columns with pre-cooled beverage with one hand and in a very short interval of time.
A still further important object of the invention is to provide rack structure for pre-cooled beverages wherein the deflector means for diverting cans or bottles from the rack assembly into the respective column includes a deflector panel swingably mounted on the rack assembly across the open top thereof and provided with a shoulder thereon which is disposed to be engaged by a shiftable latch on the rack structure for limiting swinging of the deflector panel to the position of the same for diverting pre-cooled products into an adjacent column. In this manner, the panel may be swung to a location for easy reloading of the rack structure with warm products when the latch is in a panel clearing location, but when the Serviceman shifts the latch into the other position thereof interfering with movement of the deflector panel, swinging thereof is limited to an arc whereby the deflector panel automatically serves to divert pre-cooled cans or bottles into the open top of the column aligned therewith.
In the drawing:
FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of a preferred precooled product rack structure embodying the preferred concepts of the present invention and illustrating the same associated with one article dispensing column forming a part of a machine for dispensing cold beverages in bottles or cans;
FIG. 2 is a vertical cross-sectional view taken substantially on the line 22 of FIG. 1 and looking in the direction of the arrows;
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary, enlarged, front elevational view of the upper left-hand part of the rack structure illustrated in FIG. 1, better showing the relationship of the can or bottle deflector panel and the latch operably associated therewith; and
FIG. 4 is a vertical cross-sectional view taken substantially on the line 44 of FIG. 3.
The rack assembly is adapted to be used in a cold beverage dispensing machine of the type for vending packaged products in cans or bottles and thereby usually having a series of article receiving columns 12 which are upright and have release mechanism 14 at the lower end thereof for controlling successive release of cylindrical articles 16 from the lower end of corresponding columns. For purposes of illustration, the columns 12 have been shown as being of the serpentine type since this construction permits a larger number of cans or bottles to be stored in each column before replenishment thereof is necessary, although it is to be understood that vertical columns may also be used in machines of this type if the columns are oriented so that the longitudinal axes of the cans or bottles extend transversely across the access opening to the vending machine cabinet and in general parallelism with the closure over such opening. For simplicity, only one article receiving column 12 has been shown in the drawing, but it is to be appreciated that most dispensing machines will have a number of such columns and usually adapted for selective dispensing of beverages of different flavors from the various columns.
In any event, each of the columns 12 has opposed wall structures 18 and 19 which terminate at the uppermost ends thereof in spaced relationship presenting a vertical opening 20 configured to permit introduction of articles 16 thereinto for gravitation along the length of column 12 until stopped by release mechanism 14 or the article 16 there next below.
Rack assembly 10 is adapted to be mounted on each of the columns 12 and includes article receiving rack structure 22 and deflector means 24 as the primary components thereof.
The rack structure 22 has an upright, generally rectangular rear wall 26 adapted to be suitably secured to the forwardmost portion of an associated column 12 as shown in FIG. 2, utilizing suitable fastening means which for example may extend through the proximal segments of Wall structure 19. A pair of parallel, upright, horizontally spaced end walls 28 and 30 joined to the upright side margins of rear wall 26 and projecting forwardly therefrom, are spaced apart a distance only slightly greater than the longitudinal dimension of the articles 16 to be directed into a corresponding column 12 aligned with rack assembly 10. Bottom wall 32 projecting forwardly from the lower extremity of rear wall 26 but terminating short of the outer upright margins of end walls 28 and 30, serves to support cylindrical articles 16a which are stored in rack assembly 10 prior to being directed into the associated column 12. A pair of front walls 34 and 36 joined to the forwardmost upright margins of end walls 28 and 30 respectively, and projecting toward one another, are in sufliciently spaced relationship to define a vertical thand clearing slot 38 extending the full length of rack assembly 10.
Opposed side walls 40 and 42 of article receiving column 12 serve to support a generally horizontal shaft 44 which in turn rotatably mounts an article deflector broadly designated 46. The main planar panel 48 of deflector 46 has a pair of bearing sleeves 50 and 52 at the normally forwardmost edge thereof which are rotatably mounted on shaft 44. As is indicated in FIG. 4, the panel 48 normally extends across the top of rack assembly 10 in closing relationship to the opening 54 therein defined by the walls making up rack structure 22. It is also to be noted at this juncture that the uppermost margins of rear wall 26 and the end walls 28 and 30 are located substantially at the level of the uppermost edge of column wall 19 so that opening 54 is generally aligned with the bottom of opening 20.
The bearing sleeves 50 and 52 are generally cylindrical in configuration and as best shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the sleeve 50 has an arcuate notch 56 in the normally lowermost section thereof facing toward the opposite bearing sleeve 52 which presents a pair of arcuately spaced, normally downwardly directed shoulders 58 and 60 respectively.
A generally U-shaped latch 62 on the front wall 34 of rack structure 22 immediately below bearing sleeve 50 serves to limit swinging movement of panel 48 when latch 62 is in the uppermost position thereof illustrated by the dotted lines in FIGS. 3 and 4.
The main upright section 64 of latch 62 has a pair of aligned, elongated slots 66 and 68 therein which receive headed fasteners 70 secured to and projecting outwardly from the face of front wall 34. The lower outwardly projecting leg 72 of latch 62 is provided to facilitate manual shifting of the latch whereas the upper, outwardly projecting leg 74 on section 64 is disposed to move into notch 56 as illustrated in FIG. 4 when latch 62 is in its upper position to thereby provide interference to swinging movement of deflector 46 as the outer edge of leg 74 engages shoulder 58 of bearing sleeve 50. Sufficient frictional interengagement is provided between fasteners 70 and section 64 of latch 62 to cause the same to be retained in the upper position when manually moved upwardly.
In operation, the latch 62 is normally in the position shown by full lines in FIGS. 3 and 4 so that the deflector 46 may be swung freely from the normal position of the same illustrated in FIG. 4 through an arc of about 260 so that the panel 48 is laying against the forward face of rack structure 22. In this manner, cylindrical articles 1611 which are initially in a warm condition may be directed into the rack structure 22 through the opening 54 thereof. Generally speaking, rack structure 22 should be filled with articles 16a until the level thereof approaches the top of rack assembly 10. The deflector 46 is then returned to the initial position of the same in closing relationship to opening 54.
When the serviceman next services the machine, the articles 16a in rack assembly 10 are in a cold condition because the articles have been subjected to the cold air circulating in the refrigerated cabinet for the vending machine containing columns 12 and rack assembly 10. The associated column 12 may be at least partially reloaded with pro-cooled products from rack structure 22 in the following manner. The serviceman first shifts latch 62 upwardly into the dotted line position of the same and then reaches into the rack structure 22 through slot 38 and grasps the lowermost can or 'bottle 16a. He moves the lowermost article upwardly to thereby shift all of the articles thereabove upwardly through the opening 54 whereby the panel 48 is caused to swing about the axis of shaft 44 until shoulder 58 moves into engagement with the outer edge of leg 74 on latch 62. The position of panel 48 at this time is shown by the dotted lines in FIG. 4. As a consequence, the articles 16;: are diverted directly into the opening 20 of column 12 for gravitation toward release mechanism 14. An upward sweep of the servicemans hand is sufficient to shift all of the precooled products from rack assembly into column 12. This operation can be performed in a very short interval of time and with one hand, thereby eliminating the necessity of the Serviceman stooping over as has heretofore been required to replenish the columns from a supply of packaged beverages stored in the bottom of the refrigerated cabinet.
After filling of column 12 with cans or bottles from rack assembly 10, the serviceman may then complete the restocking job using warm products from his route truck. In this case, sufficient pre-cooled products are directed into the column 12 to cause a sufficient interval of time to elapse before such products are available for vending that they will be in a palatable condition before being subject to release successively by mechanism 14.
The Serviceman then returns the latch 62 to its original position and refills rack assembly 10 which can be readily accomplished because of the shoulder height level of opening 54.
Having thus described the invention What is claimed as new and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is:
1. In a dispensing machine having a refrigerated cabinet housing one or more article receiving columns that may each be loaded through an opening therein and also provided with mechanism associated with each column for successively releasing articles from the stack thereof in a respective column, the combination with each of said columns of:
upright article receiving rack structure having an article clearing opening therein, located in disposition with the rack structure opening substantially aligned with the opening in a respective column and adapted to receive a plurality of articles in stacked relationship therein, said rack structure being provided with a hand clearing slot therein permitting a lowermost article to be grasped and moved upwardly to thereby cause all of the articles thereabove to also be shifted upwardly through the rack structure opening; and
deflecting means on the rack structure and including a movable deflector panel normally located in at least partial blocking relationship to said opening in the rack structure in disposition to guide articles toward the opening in a respective column during loading of the latter with articles other than those stored in said rack structure, said deflector panel being movable to a position for deflecting articles from the rack structure into a respective column through the opening in the same as the articles stored in the rack structure are moved upwardly to thereby permit at least partial reloading of the corresponding column with precooled articles stored in said rack structure. 2. The invention of claim 1 wherein is provided means swingably mounting the deflector panel on the rack structure adjacent the opening therein, said panel being swingable upon engagement of articles thereagainst during upward movement of the stack thereof in the rack structure into a position for deflecting such articles toward and into the associated column through said opening therein.
3. The invention of claim 2 wherein said means mounting the deflector panel on the rack structure for swinging movement relative thereto includes bearing means on the deflector panel and shaft means on the rack structure rotatably receiving the bearing means for permitting swinging of the deflector panel from said normal location thereof over the rack structure opening to a location for reloading of the rack structure with articles, and shiftable stop means on the rack structure movable from a position clearing the article deflecting means to a location engaging the latter intermediate the ends of its path of swinging movement for preventing swinging of the deflector panel past said position thereof for deflecting articles from the rack structure into the column.
4. The invention of claim 1 wherein is provided means mounting the deflector panel on the rack structure for free swinging movement relative thereto, and stop means engageable with the article deflecting means for limiting swinging movement of the deflector panel from said normal location across the rack structure opening to the article deflecting position thereof.
5. The invention of claim 4 wherein said means for swingably mounting the deflector panel on the rack structure includes a boss rotatable therewith and provided with an arcuate, outwardly facing notch therein presenting a shoulder, said stop means including a latch movably mounted on the rack structure and shiftable to a position for engaging said shoulder to limit further swinging movement of the deflector panel away from the rack structure opening after the deflector panel has been swung to said article deflecting position thereof.
6. The invention of claim 1 wherein said rack structure includes a rear wall adjacent the corresponding column, a pair of opposed, parallel, upright, horizontally spaced end Walls projecting from the rear wall, a bottom wall across the space between the end walls adjacent the lower portions thereof, and spaced, upright front walls projecting toward each other from corresponding outer margins of respective end walls and presenting said hand clearing slot therebetween.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 715,735 12/1902 Albert et a1 221-176 X 792,650 6/1905 Cordes 221281 X 2,956,660 10/1960 Nordquist 221-281 X SAMUEL F. COLEMAN, Primary Examiner