US 3545475 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent XXX XXXNX w m m 1 9 99 H4/fi44BWB 7 5 5 5 Hm HHm 5 55 2 22 ytsmd e. m m m m m m n w.m 0 s epw fl yp w nmmwmu OPWLDBHSP 60827 542 300 345 999999999 HHHHHHHHH 272394 9 5 4225869 990 54960 2390 05800 357240959 .13 .3 2 1111 2 a c r m m m L w .m n n m a mn n mno w mowm 7 W 8 LI 2 nr r0 9 oom uf o zs cl k s .nkr n w mm m m ARMGM JRa s r. 0 de m m m e Wwem m p ms 1 AFPA U H 2 s sn 7 2247 1 1111 TAP ASSEMBLY Primary Examiner-Alan Cohan Attorney-Wolfe, Hubbard, Leydig, Voit and Osann 3 Claims, 9 Drawing Figs.
 U.S. Cl..
ABSTRACT: A tap for tapping an initially sealed keg of draft 222/400.7 beer and including a draw tube, a gas tube, a tap body, and a 865d 83/00; coupling constructed as a unitary assembly, the draw tube remaining in the same position relative to the tap body before,
during and after tapping of the keg. A yieldable sealing mem-  Field ofSearch............................................ 137/212,
320; 222/4007, 400,8; 285/376, 375, 130, 361; brane in a plug in the tap hole of the keg is punctured as the draw tube is inserted into the keg, and then seals around the gas tube to establish an automatic seal between the tap and the plug. A taper at the lower end of the tap body wedges into the plug to hold the tap body and the tubes on the keg after the  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 604,596 5/1898 Berger.......................,..
PATENIEU nan 8|97B 8545475 SHEET 1 BF 2 TAP ASSEMBLY BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a tap assembly for withdrawing a charged beverage from a container through a tap hole in the container and, more particularly, to a tap assembly having an elongated draw tube adapted, as an incident to being inserted into the container through the tap hole, to break a seal which initially closes the tap hole. Usually, the tap assembly includes a tap body for holding the assembly attached to the container and for admitting pressurized gas into the container to force the beverage to flow through the draw tube.
SUMMARY or THE INVENTION The general object of the present invention is to provide a tap assembly of the above character which is of unitary construction, which is simpler and less expensive than prior arrangements of the same general type and which, at the same time, may be used to tap the container in a more convenient and trouble-free manner.
A related object of the invention is to construct the draw tube and the tap body as a unitary assembly with a coupling and to do away with the need of making the usual sealing connection between the tube and the body after the container has been tapped and after the initial seal has been broken.
Another object is to provide a tap assembly in which the danger of the draw tube being forced out of the tap body and the danger of the beverage spewing out along the draw tube during tapping of the container are completely eliminated.
Still another object is to provide a unitary tap assembly in which both the tap body and the draw tube are fastened to the container at the same time, with a single coupling, and after the container has been tapped.
A further object is to insure that the draw tube will withdraw all of the beverage from containers of different depths in spite of the unitary construction of the tap assembly.
A related object is to provide a novel coupling for fastening the assembly universally to containers of various depths while maintaining the draw tube in engagement with the bottom of each container regardless of its depth.
The invention also resides in the novel construction of a coupling taper on the tap body enabling quick and yet secure attachment of the tap assembly to the container while establishing a secondary seal between the assembly and the container.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a longitudinal cross section of a tap assembly embodying the features of the present invention as installed in an exemplary container.
FIG. 2 is a cross section taken substantially along the line 2-2 of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a cross section taken substantially along the line 3 3-3 of H6. 1.
, FIG. 4 is a fragmentary view of the tap assembly illustrated in FIG. 1 and showing the parts in moved positions.
FIG. 5 is a plan view of the lower end ofthe draw tube.
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary view of the container illustrated in FIG. I and showing the condition of the seal in the tap hole after the tap assembly has been removed from the container.
FIG. 7 is an elevational view of a modified tap assembly, parts being broken away and shown in section.
FIG. 8 is an enlarged fragmentary cross section of the tap assembly shown in FIG. 7 and illustrated as installed in a container.
FIG. 9 is a bottom view of the tap assembly shown in FIG. 8.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION As shown in the drawings for purposes of illustration, the in vention is embodied in a tap assembly 10 for tapping an initially sealed container 11 of charged beverage, such as a keg of draft beer, and for drawing the beer from the keg in response to the opening of a dispensing valve (not shown) connected to the assembly. Herein, the keg is generally cylindrical in shape and includes a bottom wall 13 and a head 14. Projecting upwardly from a depressed well 15 in the head is a cylindrical neck 16 defining a tap hole 17 and formed with an annular flange or lip 19 to which the tap assembly is adapted to be fastened.
The tap assembly 10 includes an elongated draw tube 20 which is inserted into the keg 111 through the tap hole 17 to withdraw the beer and which, as an incident to such insertion, destroys a sealing element 21 in the tap hole, the sealing element serving to close the keg during the interval between filling and tapping of the keg. To force the beer upwardly through the draw tube, pressurized air or carbon dioxide is admitted into the keg through a gas tube 23. Both the draw tube 11 and the gas tube are associated with a tap body 24 which is adapted to be coupled to the lip 19 of the keg to fasten the assembly onto the keg.
In accordance with the primary aspect of the present invention, the draw tube 20, the gas tube 23, and the tap body 24 are constructed as a simplified unitary assembly adapted to coact in a novel manner with each other and with the sealing element 21 in the tap hole 17 to establish a seal between the tap assembly and the keg automatically as an incident to tapping of the keg. Moreover, the body and the two tubes are adapted to be fastened to the keg as a unit after the keg has been tapped simply by connecting a single coupling 25 to the keg.
To achieve these ends, the draw tube 20, the gas tube 23 and the tap body 24 are manufactured and assembled in such a manner that the draw tube is sealed within and remains in the same position relative to the tap body before, during and after tapping of the keg 11. In tapping the keg, the assembly is moved in unison toward the keg, and the draw tube punctures the sealing element 21 as an incident to being inserted into the tap hole 17. The punctured sealing element thereafter seals around the tubes automatically to prevent the beer from spewing out of the keg along the tubes. After the tubes have been inserted into the keg, the coupling 25 is simply connected to the lip 19 to fasten the assembly to the keg and to complete the tapping operation. With this arrangement, the tap assembly is of extremely simple and inexpensive construction and yet taps the keg in a more convenient and trouble-free manner than has been possible with prior arrangements of the same general type.
In the present instance, the sealing element 21 is of the type disclosed in Johnson et al. US. Pat. No. 3,410,456 and includes a substantially cylindrical plug 26 made of resiliently yieldable rubber and telescoped snugly the tap hole 17 to seal the latter. As shown most clearly in FIG. 6, the plug is formed with a longitudinal bore 27 which is about the same diameter as the gas tube 23 and which initially is closed at its lower end by a thin, unbroken rubber member membrane 29 molded integrally with the plug and extending across the lower end of the bore. The membrane thus establishes a seal between the bore and the inside of the keg 11 to seal the beer within the keg from the time the keg is filled until the time the keg is tapped.
When the keg 11 is tapped. the draw tube 20 is telescoped downwardly into the bore 27 and punctures the membrane 29 indicated at 30 in FIG. 6. At the same time, a flapper 31 molded integrally with the plug 26 is swung downwardly about a hinge 33 (See FIG. 1) formed by a short segment of rubber connecting the'fiapper to the lower end of the plug. With continued downward telescoping of the draw tube, the torn edges of the membrane fold downwardly around the draw tube and form a sealing lip 34 (FIG. 1) resiliently gripping the tube and automatically establishing a seal between the tube and the plug to prevent the charged beer from spewing out through the bore. As the draw tube approaches the bottom 13 of the keg, the gas tube 23 moves downwardly through the bore and is embraced by the sealing lip 34 so that the seal between the keg and the tap assembly is maintained. As a result of such antomatic sealing, there is no need to make an additional sealing connection between the draw tube and the tap body as is the case with prior tap assemblies that have found commercial acceptance.
After the keg 11 has been emptied and after the draw tube has been pulled out of the plug 26, the flapper 31 is forced upwardly about the hinge 33 and into face-to-face engagement with the lower end of the plug (See FIG. 6) by the pressure remaining in the keg. The flapper thus closes off the puncture in the membrane 29 and maintains the keg in a sealed condition during its return to the brewery. At the brewery, the plug is knocked out of the tap hole 17 and is replaced by a new plug with an unbroken membrane 29 before the keg is refilled.
Herein, the tap body 24 is a generally T-shaped member made of aluminum and is formed with a cylindrical stem 35 depending from a cross head 36. The draw tube 20 projects downwardly from the lower end of the stern and is telescoped into a longitudinal bore 37 formed through the body. Preferably, the lower end 39 of the draw tube is cut on an angle to form a point (See FIG. 1) to facilitate puncturing of the membrane 29. Beer is admitted into the draw tube through an inlet hole 40 in the lower end of the tube.
At its upper end, the draw tube 20 is formed with a flare 41 which fits against a complementary tapered seat 43 formed by the lower end of an internally threaded bore 44 extending axially through a nipple 45 on the upper end of the cross head 36.
The draw tube is sealed within the tap body 24 by a bushing 46 threaded into the bore 44 and formed with a tapered lower end mating with the flare and forcing the latter downwardly against the seat 43. With this arrangement, the draw tube is sealed within the tap body and yet can be removed and replaced with a tube of different length simply by unthreading the plug and pulling the tube endwise out of the body. The tap assembly thus can be adapted for use with kegs of different capacity.
Advantage is taken of the fact that the draw tube 20 remains in a fixed position within the tap body 24 to use the body itself as the dispensing outlet for the tap assembly. For this purpose, the bushing 46 is formed with a longitudinal passage 47 communicating with the draw tube and adapted to communicate with a conduit 49 (FIG. 1) leading to a dispensing faucet (not shown). A fitting 50 on the end of the conduit may be threaded onto the nipple 45 to connect the conduit to the tap body. The outlet or dispensing conduit thus may be connected directly to the tap body instead of being connected to the draw tube as in prior arrangements of the same general character.
In this instance, the gas tube 23 is telescoped into the bore 37 and over the draw tube 20 and projects downwardly from the lower end of the stem 35 sufficiently far that the lower outlet end of the gas tube passes by the membrane 29 and into the keg 11 when the latter is tapped. The upper or inlet end 0 'the draw tube communicates with a radially extending nlet passage 51 (FIG. 1) formed in the cross head 36. Air under pressure is admitted through the bore 37 and into the gas tube from a pump or a pressurized tank (not shown) communicating with a pressure relief valve 53 connected to the passage 51 by a conduit 54 threaded into the passage.
Kegs of equal capacity made by different manufacturers may vary in depth as much as seven-eighths of an inch. That is, the distance between the bottom 13 and the head 14 is not the same for all kegs of the same capacity. It is, of course, desirable for the lower end 39 of the draw tube 20 to be in direct engagement with the bottom of each keg regardless of its depth in order that all of the beer may be withdrawn from the keg. In accordance with another of its aspects, the present invention contemplates a novel coupling 25 which permits the tap assembly to be fastened quickly and securely to kegs of various depths with the draw tube disposed at the very bottom of each keg in spite of the nonadjustable relationship of the draw tube and the tap body 24. V
As shown in FIGS. 1 and 4, the coupling 25 cup a clamp jn the form of an open end cup 55 which surrounds the stern 35 of the tap body 24 and which is mounted both for rotation and for up and down sliding on the stem. A closed end 56 of the cup is disposed adjacent the upper end of the stem and is formed with a hole which receives the stem. From the closed end, the cup extends downwardly beyond the lower end of the stem and is formed with a pair of diametrically opposed fingers 57 struck from the walls of the cup and projecting radially inwardly toward the center of the cup, the distance between the free edges of th the fingers being less than the diameter of the lip 19 on the keg 11.
When the cup 55 is turned about the axis of the stem 35, the fingers 57 may be alined with a pair of notches 59 (FIG. 3) formed in the lip 19 of the keg 11 so that the fingers will pass through the notches when the cup is slid downwardly on the stem. The tap assembly 10 then may be locked onto the keg by turning the cup about the stem to a position in which the fingers are misalined with the notches and hook around and engage the underside of the lip.
With this arrangement, the effective length of the draw tube 20, that is, the distance between the lower end of the draw tube and the lower end of the stem 35, may be made sufficiently great that the draw tube will engage the bottom of each keg of equal capacity before the lower end of the stem engages the lip 19 of the keg. Thus, the stern will never stop against the lip before the draw tube has reached the bottom of the keg even though the depths of different kegs may vary considerably. After the draw tube has engaged the bottom of the keg, the tap assembly may be fastened to the keg simply by sliding the adjustable cup 55 downwardly on the stem 35 and then by turning the cup to hook the fingers 57 beneath the lip 19.
Preferably, the fingers 57 are urged upwardly into tight clamping engagement with the lower side of the lip 19 by a coiled spring 60 surrounding the stem 35 and telescoped into the cup 55. The spring is compressed between the closed end 56 of the cup and a washer 61 which is held on the stem by a snap ring 63 fastened to the stem. With the tap assembly 10 detached from the keg 11 (See FIG. 4), the spring urges the cup upwardly on the stem and presses the closed end of the cup into engagement with a shoulder 64 formed by the lower side of the cross head 36. The spring is compressed as the cup is slid downwardly along the stern, and thus urges the fingers upwardly against the underside of the lip after the cup has been turned and released. Once the fingers are hooked beneath the lip, the compressed spring also acts to hold the draw tube 20 downwardlyagainst the bottom 13 of the keg and to restrict upward movement of the stem and the draw tube relative to the clamped cup. Accordingly, the draw tube will not be forced upwardly by the pressure within the keg.
To insure a tight connection between the cup 55 and the lip 19, a sleeve or washer 65 is mounted to slide on the gas tube 23 and within the cup 55. When the tap assembly 10 is detached from the keg 11 (See FIG. 4), the washer 65 is urged downwardly against the fingers 57 by a second coiled spring 66 telescoped into the cup and over the spring 60 and compressed between the closed end 56 of the cup and a sleeve in the form of a collar 67. The latter is telescoped slidably into the cup and over the stem 35 and is disposed immediately above the washer 65.
As the cup 55 is slid downwardly along the stem 35, the spring 66, the collar 67 and the washer 65 move in unison with the cup until the fingers 57 pass into the notches 59 of the lip 19. At this time, the lower side of the washer 65 engages the upper side of the lip and is stopped and pressed downwardly against the lip as the spring 66 is compressed upon continued downward movement of the cup. Thus, with the fingers locked beneath the lip, the spring-urged washer 65 forms a clamping surface bearing tightly against the upper side of the lip and coacting with the fingers 57 and the spring 60 to prevent the tap assembly from tilting about an axis perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the draw tube 20. The washer 66 also forms a bearing around the gas tube 23 to guide the lower end of the cup as the cup is slidup and down on the stem.
From the foregoing, it will be apparent that the keg 11 may be tapped with the new and improved tap assembly of the present invention simply by moving the assembly in unison toward the keg to insert the end of the draw tube into the bore 27 in the sealing plug 26. With continued movement of the assembly, the draw tube punctures the membrane 29, and the latter seals around the draw tube to establish an immediate seal between the tap assembly and the keg. Thus, there is no danger that the beer will spew out of the keg along the draw tube and, with the draw tube held rigidly within the tap body 24, there is no danger that the pressure within the keg will cause the draw tube to fly upwardly out of the tap body. Thereafter, the entire assembly is fastened securely to the keg simply by sliding the coupling downwardly on the stem and locking the coupling to the lip 19. The tapping operation with the present assembly is so uncomplicated that even persons without previous experience in the tapping of kegs are able to use the assembly without detailed instructions as to the proper procedure to follow.
Illustrated in FIGS. 7 to 9 is a modified tap assembly which, while incorporating most of the advantageous features of the assembly of the first embodiment, is much simpler in construction and is less expensive to manufacture. In this instance, a gas tube 70 and a draw tube 71 are telescoped into a longitudinal bore 73 formed in a stem 74 of a tap body 75. A coupling for fastening the tap assembly to the keg 11 is advantageously formed by a downwardly diminishing taper 76 integral with and projecting downwardly from the lower end of the stern and encircling the gas tube 70. With this arrangement, the tap assembly may be fastened to the keg simply by telescoping the taper downwardly into the bore or passage 27 in the sealing plug 21 until the taper becomes tightly wedged within the plug as shown in FIG. 8. Preferably, the diameter of the lower end of the taper is slightly less than the diameter of the upper end of the bore 27 to facilitate insertion of the taper into the bore. The diameter of taper above the lower end is greater than the diameter of the bore and thus the rubber of the plug becomes compressed as an incident to downward insertion of the taper into the bore. The compressed rubber resiliently grips the taper and holds the tap assembly securely on the keg. In addition, a secondary seal is established between the taper and the plug as indicated at 77 in FIG. 8 to insure that no beer will escape from the keg even if the seal formed by the sealing lip 34 should be less than perfect.
While in most instances the rubber plug 21 will grip the taper 76 sufficiently tight to hold the tap assembly on the keg 11, it is desirable to provide an additional coupling between the assembly and the keg to insure that the assembly will remain locked in place when, forexample, a hand pump (not shown) is used to inject pressurized air into the keg. Herein, the additional coupling is quite simple and includes an annular flange 79 formed integrally with the lower end of the stem 74. Depending from the flange are a pair of lugs 80 diametrically spaced from each other and formed with inwardly projecting fingers 81. To attach the assembly to the keg, the tap body 75 is turned to a position in which the fingers are alined with the notches 59in the lip 19 on the neck 16 of the keg. The fingers thus will pass downwardly through the notches as the taper is wedged into the plug. After the taper has been seated, the tap body is turned to move the fingers out of alinement with the notches and into engagement with the underside of the lip 19. When thus positioned, the fingers will hold the tap assembly securely on the keg even though jerked upwardly rather abruptly during operation of the hand pump.
Advantage is taken of the unitary assembly of the gas tube and the draw tube 71 with the tap body 75 to provide a shutoff valve 84 within the body itself for controlling the flow of beer from the keg 11. In this instance, the valve is a downwardly tapered member mounted rotatably in a cross head 85 formed at the upper end of the stem 74. The valve is formed with a vertical passage 86 communicating with the bore .73 and the upper or outlet end of the draw tube 71. Ex-
tending horizontallgqthrough the valve and communicating with the passage 8 IS a passage 87 whlch, when the valve 18 open, is adapted to aline with and permit flow through an outlet passage 89 formed in the cross head 85. The latter preferably is threaded as indicated at 90 for connection to a dispensing conduit or faucet. An operating handle 91 is journaled in the cross head and is connected to the valve for turning the latter between open and closed positions. Pressurized air or carbon dioxide is conducted to the gas tube 70 through an inclined passage 93 extending upwardly from the bore 73 to an internally threaded hole 94 to which a hand pump or pressurized tank (not shown) may be connected.
With the valve 84 mounted in the tap body 75 itself, beer may be dispensed directly from the tap assembly through the outlet passage 89 without the necessity of fastening a valve dispensing conduit or faucet to the threaded fitting 90 on the cross head 85. This is particularly advantageous in those instances in which the tap assembly is used for home or picnic purposes since the total amount of equipment required for a complete operable assembly is considerably reduced. When the assembly is used in commercial enterprises, it is possible to tap the keg with the valve closed and without having first to connect to the cross head the conduits for dispensing the beer and supplying the pressurized gas. Moreover, the conduits may be disconnected with beer still in the keg and may be used in conjunction with a tap assembly on another keg.
1. The combination of, a walled container holding beverage and having a tap hole in a wall thereof, a tap assembly comprising a body member formed with a longitudinal bore, a gas tube projecting downwardly from the lower end of said body member and into said container through said tap hole to deliver pressurized gas to the inside of the container, an elongated draw tube fastened to said body member and telescoped into said gas tube with at least one of said tubes being telescoped into said bore, said draw tube projecting downwardly from the lower end of said body member and into said container to withdraw the beverage from the container, a plug made of resiliently yieldable material disposed within said tap hole and formed with a longitudinal passage receiving said tubes, said plug including a resiliently yieldable sealing lip near its lower end encircling said passage and yieldably embracing said gas tube to establish a fluidtight seal between the gas tube and the container, and means at the lower end of said body member wedged downwardly into the upper end of said passage of said plug and held releasably therein by virtue of the resiliency of the plug.
2. A tap assembly as defined in claim 1 in which said means includes a downwardly diminishing taper disposed at the lower end of said body member and encircling said gas tube, the major diameter of said taper being greater than the diameter of said passage when the material of said plug is in a relaxed condition.
3. A tap assembly as defined in claim 2 in which said taper is wedged sufiiciently tight in said passage to establish an additional fluidtight seal between said tap assembly and said container.