US 3572546 A
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United States Patent 72 Inventor Stanley 0. Schlai 2,196,849 4/1940 Beeg..... 279/24x Rte. 1, Box 233, Winfield, Mo. 63389 2,324,852 7/1943 Kopczynski (279/79) [21 Appl. No. 787,877 2,412,330 12/1946 Glanz etal 279/79X  Filed Dec. 30, 1968 3,036,839 5/1962 Williamson Jr... 279/24  Patented Mar. 30, 1971 3,355,064 11/1967 Schlaf 22l/75X Primary Examiner-Samuel F. Coleman Att0rney-Grave1y, Lieder & Woodruff  CELLULAR MAGAZINE-TYPE ARTICLE DISPENSING MACHINE ABSTRACT: A dispensing machine having article carrying Clams l0 Drawmg Flgs' spindles provided with thin mounting shanks which fit into  US. Cl 221/75, ockets in drive shafts forming part of drive units, Each pin- 229/24 dle shank has a tang which is engaged by a transversely exll'll. Cl tending in the drive haft to which the pindle connects  Field Of Search 279/1 (56), The pins extend through the sockets and are adapted'to Shift 221/75 laterally therein under spring bias so that the spindles can be detached for loading. An adapter for converting existing  References C'ted dispensing machines for use with thin shank spindles of the UNITED STA E PATENTS aforementioned variety. The adapter fits rigidly in the en- 1,245,939 1 H1917 Mallatt (279/79) larged sockets of a drive shaft on such existing machines and 1,814,274 7/1931 Williamson 279/79 has a socket adapted to receive the shank of the spindle as well 1,887,655 1 l/ l 932 Marple (279/79) as a laterally shiftable pin to hold the spindle therein.
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2.4 F u 3-? 78 (a L 0 4 A 35 I I Patented March 30, 1971 3,572,546
2 Sheets-Sheet 1 EIEIUUUE 38 4:? (7 .0 a K F|G.3 WM i I 75 -wwwwwwwm! 5 76 Z4188 INVENTOR STANLEY O. SCHLAF ATTORNEYS Patented March 30, 1971 3,572,546
2 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR STANLEY O. SCHLAF I BYJMWW ATTORNEYS (ClElLlUULAlR MAGAZlNE-TYPE'AR'I'HCLE DISPENSING MACHINE This invention relates in general to dispensing machines and, more particularly, to improved means for detachably holding spindles in the drive units of such machines.
Spindle-type vending machines such as those disclosed in my U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,294,281 and 3,355,064 are currently utilized to dispense a wide variety of bagged products such as snack foods, candies and other confections, and bakery goods. These machines are provided with helical spindles which extend horizontally, while the bags are provided with apertured tabs through which the helical portions of the spindles extend. When the spindles rotate, the bags are run off their forward ends and dispensed individually. Normally the dispensing devices are coin operated, and the insertion of predetermined amounts of coins closes a creditf circuit to enable a selector to actuate a drive unit which will rotate the selected spindle an amount sufficient to run one bag off the end of that spindle. In order to dispense the bags in the order in which they are placed on the spindle, that is, on a first in-first out basis, so that the food product contained therein will not remain in the dispensing machine over extended periods of time and become stale, the spindles are detachable from the drive mechanism which rotates them, thereby enabling one to load each spindle from its rear end. 4
The spindles of dispensing devices of current manufacture are detachable at enlarged hubs or other enlarged connecting devices on the spindles, and these hubs or devices fit within axial sockets in the ends of the drive shafts forming part of the drive mechanisms. Since the hubs are larger than the wire forming the helices of the spindles, they present an obstruction to loading and consequently the spindles are often quite difficult to load. Moreover, the apertured tabs of the packages on occasion may tear when forced over the large hubs, causing loss or inconvenience to the operator.
The present invention is embodied in a dispensing machine having a rotatable drive shaft provided with a socket into which the shank end of a dispensing spindle fits. The drive shaft carries a laterally shiftable crosspin which is spring biased for engagement with and retention of the shank on the spindle. The invention is further embodied in an adapter for insertion into the enlarged sockets in the drive shafts of existing dispensing machines. The adapter has a socket which accepts the thin shanks of the aforementioned spindles and a crosspin for retaining the shanks in the adapter.
One of the principal objects of the present invention is to provide a dispensing machine with dispensing spindles which can be easily detached for loading purposes so that items carried by the spindles are dispensed in the order in which they are installed on the spindles. Another object is to provide dispensing spindles which are easily and quickly loaded with articles and which do not damage the articles as they are loaded. A further object is to provide existing dispensing machines with adapters so that they can accept dispensing spindles of the type stated. An additional object is to provide for securement purposes an adequate spring detent means, the ilexure of which is limited to within the elastic limit of the spring material. Still another object is to provide rotational positioning of the discharge end of a helical dispensing spindle. These and other objects and advantages will become apparent hereinafter.
The invention also consists in the parts and in the arrangements and combinations of parts hereinafter described and claimed. in the accompanying drawings which form part of the specification and wherein like numerals and letters refer to like parts wherever they occur:
FIG. 1 is an elevational view of a dispensing machine having dispensing spindles and drive units constructed in accordance with and embodying the present invention;
FIG. 2 is an elevational view, partially broken away and in section, of a dispensing spindle and drive unit of the present invention;
FIG. 3 is a plan view of the spindle and drive unit of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is an enlarged sectional view of the hub on the drive unit showing a drive shaft in full journaled therein;
HO. 5 is an enlarged sectional view similar to FIG. 4, but showing the drive shaft in section, thereby exposing the shank of the spindle;
FIGS. 6 and 7 are sectional views taken along lines 66 and 7-7, respectively, of F IG. 5;
FIG. 8 is a fragmentary sectional view of an existing drive unit showing an adapter constructedin accordance with the present invention inserted into it;
FIG. 9 is an exploded fragmentary view showing the spindle. adapter, and drive unit of FIG. 8; and
FIG. 10 is a sectional view taken along line l0l0 of FIG. 9.
Referring now to the drawings, 2 designates a vending machine having a front wall 4 provided with a transparent panel 6 through which a plurality of dispensing units 8 (FIGS. 2 and 3) can be observed. Each dispensing unit 6 projects through a support panel 9 in the machine 2 and carries a quantity of depending bags 10 arranged in an orderly rcarwardly extending row. The front wall 4 is further provided with a selector panel 12 having a coin slot 14 as well as a plurality of selector buttons R6 for activating the various dispensing units 8. Beneath the transparent panel 6 a discharge chute 18 opens outwardly through the front wall 4 for delivery of the selected bag 10 to the customer after he inserts a coin in the slot 14 and depresses the selector button 16 corresponding to the bag 10 he desires to purchase.
Turning now to FIGS. 2 and 3, each dispensing unit 8 includes a drive mechanism 20 mounted on a U-shaped frame 22 having a threaded stud or hub 24 projecting outwardly from one of its sides and extending through the support panel 9. Beyond the front face of the panel9', that is beyond the face exposed through the transparent panel 6, the stud 24 projects through a support bracket 26, and beyond the bracket 26 a nut 26 threads over the stud 24, securing both the bracket 26 and the frame 22 to the support panel 9 of the machine 2. The drive mechanism 20 includes a motor 30 and a gear casing 32, the former being mounted on and driving a gear train contained within the latter. The gear casing 32, in turn, is bolted to the frame 22 and its gear train terminates at a drive shaft 34 which projects into and is journaled within the stud 24. The opposite end of the drive shaft 34 extends through the wall of the gear casing 32 where it forms a semicircular cam 35 which actuates a spring-loaded follower 36 pivoted on the casing 32. The follower 36, in turn, operates certain contacts of a switching device 38, other contacts of the switching device 38 being operated by a plunger 40 which extends through a guide sleeve 42 fitted into the frame 22. The sleeve 42 also projects through the support panel 9 and positions the frame 22 on the panel 9. The end of the plunger 40 projects axiallybeyond the end of the sleeve 42 and when the plunger 40 is depressed, it sets the switching device 38 such that the motor 30 cannot be energized. The drive mechanism 20, excepting its drive shaft 34, and the switching device 38 are more completely described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,355,064.
As will be seen by reference to FlG. 4 and 5, that portion of the drive shaft 34 which is journaled within the stud 24 is provided with an axially extending cylindrical bore or socket 44 as well as a diametrally reduced cross hole or bore 46 which intersects the socket 44 in slightly offset relation to the axis a of the shaft 34. At its ends the cross bore 46 opens into an out wardly opening annular groove 48 cut into the drive shaft 34. The cross bore 46 and groove 48 accept and confine a spring detent clip 50 including a straight cross portion or pin 52 which projects through the cross bore 46 and across the socket 44 as well as an arcuate retaining portion 54 attached to one end of the cross portion 52 and extending through a segment of the annular groove 48. The diameter of the wire from which the spring clip 50 is formed is less than the diameter of the cross bore 46 so that the cross portion 52 fits loosely within the cross bore 46 and is free to move laterally therein. irrespective of the position of cross portion 52 in the cross bore 46, the cross portion 52 extends through the socket 44 as a chord thereof and in so doing fonns a chordal space in the socket 44. Moreover, the arcuate portion 54 is biased toward the cross portion 52 so that the latter is continually urged toward one side of the bore 46 or, in other words, is normally disposed ecccntrically within the cross bore 46. The diameter of the cross portion 52, the diameter of the cross bore 46, and the disposition of the arcuate portion 54 in the groove 48 are all such that when the cross portion 52 is biased to its normal eccentric position within the cross bore 46, its axial centerline will intersect the axial centerline a of the drive shaft 34. Thus, the cross portion 52 can shift in only one transverse direction away from its normally presented diametrally extending position. Since the wall of the stud 34 completely encircles the annular groove 48. removal of the spring clip 50 is precluded without disassembly of the drive mechanism 20.
The drive shaft 34 of the drive assembly 20 rotates a dispensing spindle 60 wound from a single length of round stock into a helical portion 62 and an axial mounting shank 64 projecting from one end of the helical portion 62 into the socket 44 of the drive shaft 34. At its end the shank 64 is provided with an axially extending 66 having a land 68 which rearwardly terminates at a chamfered camming edge 70. The tang 66 is slightly greater in thickness than the radius of the socket 44 so that when it is oriented properly and inserted rearwardly through the socket 44, its camming edge 70 will engage the cross portion 52 of the spring clip 50 and urge that portion away from its eccentric position within the cross bore 42. Nevertheless, the tang 66 is still thin enough to pass under the cross portion 52 when that portion is shifted away from its normally presented eccentric position-The opposite end of the tang 66 is traversed by a recess 72 of arcuate cross-sectional shape and the ends of the recess 72 marginally register with the cross bore 46 when the shank 64 is fully inserted within the socket 44. Thus, as the shank 64 is advanced rearwardly into the socket 44, the cross portion 52 of the clip 50 will slide across the land 68 until the recess 72 is encountered, at which time it will snap into the recess 72 by reason of the natural bias imparted by the arcuate portion 54. in this position the cross portion 52 fits within the recess 72 and retards withdrawal of the shank 64 from the socket 44. Of course, if the spindle 60 is pulled away from the drive shaft 34 with suffrcient force, the arcuate faces of the recess 72 will cam the cross portion 52 outwardly against the bias of the clip 50, until it rides up over the land 68, at which time the spindle 60 can be withdrawn with very little effort.
The bags 10 are loaded onto the spindle 60 by inserting the shank 64 through the apertures in the tabs 11 thereon. When the spindle 60 is fully loaded, each convolution of its helical portion 62 will carry a bag l and those bags will, of course, gravitate to the lowest portion of the convolution (HO. 2). The tabs ll extend laterally and upwardly from the helical portion 52 where they support a sensing rod 74 having a pair of arms 76 which are joumaledin the bracket 26. At their opposite ends the arms 76 are connected through a downwardly turned bight portion 78 located beyond the end of the spindle 60. At the bracket 26 one of the arms 76 continues downwardly beyond the point where it is joumaled in the provision of an actuating arm 80 which terminates in alignment with the exposed end of the plunger 40. When all of the bags 10 have been run off the spindle 60, the sensing rod 74 will drop downwardly and swing the actuating arm 80 toward the support panel 9 and into engagement with the plunger 40, depressing it and breaking the electrical circuit to the motor 30 at the switching device 38.
OPERATION To load the vending machine 2 with the bags 10, the spindles 60 are withdrawn from their respective drive mechanisms by pulling them away from the support panel 9. As each spindle 60 is pulled outwardly, the arcuate face of its recess 72 cams its mating cross portion 52 of the clip 50 laterally onto the surface of the land 68, thereby affording easy withdrawal of the spindle 60. When the shank 64 passes outwardly beyond the cross portion 52 of the spring clip 50, the cross portion 52 will again snap back into its normal position wherein it is presented ecccntrically within the cross bore 46.
The bags 10 are then fitted onto the spindle 60 by inserting the shank 64 through the apertures in the tabs 1] and then drawing the bags 10 across the convolutions of the helical portion 62 until each convolution retains a different bag 10. Since the shank 64 is the same diameter as the convolutions of the spindle 60, the bags 10 are easily installed without danger of tearing. Moreover, slit lines need not be provided in the tabs 11 at the apertures to accommodate oversized hubs as is the case with spindle-type vending machines of current manufacture. After the spindle 60 is filled with bags 10. it is twisted until the end of the last convolution is in the 3 o'clock position, at which time the shank 64 is inserted into the socket 44 and the entire spindle 60 is pushed rearwardly toward the support panel 9. As the shank 64 advances through the socket 44, the beveled camming surface 70 on the end of the tang 66 will engage the cross portion 52 of the clip 50 and cam it outwardly in the cross bore 46 against the bias imparted by the arcuate portion 54. Continued advancement of the shank will urge the cross portion 52 up over the land 68. When the recess 72 reaches the cross portion 52. the latter will snap into the former and preclude axial withdrawal'of the spindle 60 under normal operating forces. Since the thickness of the tang 66 is slightly greater than the radius of the socket 44 and since the cross portion 52 of the clip 50 can shift transversely in the socket 44 beyond its centered position in one direction but not the other, the shank 64 can be inserted in only one position with respect to the drive shaft 34, that is, with the end convolution of the helical portion 62presented at 3 o'clock when the drive mechanism 29 is at rest. Inasmuch as only a short span of the cross portion 52 is exposed to the shank 64 within the socket 44 and, furthermore, in view of the fact that both ends of the cross portion 52 are confined within the cross bore 46, the clip 50 will not bend easily when engaged by an inaccurately positioned spindle shank 64 or one applied with excessive force. Moreover, the diameter of the cross portion in relation to the diameter of the cross bore 46 is such that movement of the former to any position within the latter will not flex the spring clip 50 beyond its elastic limit.
To obtain a bag 10 from the vending machine 2. the customer places the proper amount of coin in the slot [4 and then depresses the selector button [6 corresponding to the spindle 60 which carries the bagged item 10 he desires. This completes a circuit through the switching device 38 to the motor 30, energizing the same and rotating the drive shaft 34. As the drive shaft 34 rotates, the cam 35 on its inner end moves the follower 36, and as the end of one revolution of the drive shaft 34 approaches, the follower 36 will retain to its initial position and set the switching device 38 such that it breaks the electrical circuit to the motor 30. The motor 30 rotates the drive shaft 34 in a direction which advances the bags 10 in unison toward the transparent panel 6. As the spindle 60 rotates through one revolution, the bag 10 on the end eonvolution of the helical portion 52 will pass off that convolution and drop downwardly into the chute 18 where it can be withdrawn from the machine 2 by the customer. Succeeding bags 10 are dispensed in a similar manner.
When the service man restocks a partially spend spindle 60. he merely withdraws that spindle 60 as previously noted and passes new bags 10 over the shank 64 and the unoccupied section of the helical portion 52 until all of the convolutions are again filled. Accordingly, the spindles 60 dispense the bags [0 on a first in, first out basis, and this prevents retention of any individual bags 10 within the machine 2 over extended periods of time. If the bags 10 contain food products, this feature will normally prevent them from becoming stale within the machine 2.
After the last bag 10 is dispensed from a spindle 60. the sensing rod 74 will drop downwardly swinging the actuating arm toward the plunger 40 and depressing the same. The
inwardly disposed plunger 40 sets the switching device 38 such that the motor 30 will no longer operate when its corresponding selector button 16 is depressed.
From the foregoing it is apparent that the spring-biased cross portion 52 disposed eccentrically in the offcenter cross here as not only retentively and detaehably secures the spindie as in the drive shaft 34, but also positions the spindle 611 such that it will properly dispense the bags when rotated.
it is possible to easily adapt vending machines of current manufacture, such as the ones disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,355,064, for use with spindles 60 also. As will be seen by reference to lFiGS. 8-1tl, those vending machines have drive units 1% which are similar to the drive units 20. The gear train of each drive unit 101], however, terminates at a drive shaft 102 having a rearwardly opening bore 104 and a forwardly opening counterbore 106, the juncture of the two being at a stepped shoulder 1118. Near the forward end of the drive shaft 102 the wall defining the counterbore 106 is provided with an annular groove 110 (FIG. 9) of arcuate crosssectional shape. Heretofore, the counterbores 106 of such drive units 1110 have served as sockets for reception of hubs or other types of enlarged connecting devices on the ends of helical dispensing spindles. Since the-hubs or connecting devices on such spindles are larger thanthe wires of their corresponding convolutions, considerable difficulty has been encountered in loading such spindles from their rear ends.
in order for the drive shaft 102 to receive the small shank 64 of the spindle 60, an adapter 112 is snugly inserted into the counterbore 1% and that adapter 112 is provided at its rear end with an axially extending tongue 114 which conforms to the configuration of the stepped shoulder 108. Accordingly, the adapter 112 is precluded from rotating with respect to the drive shaft 102. At its opposite end the adapter 112 is pro vided with an outwardly opening annular groove 115 which axially aligns with the groove 110 in the drive shaft 102. The groove 115 accommodates a circular spring clip 116 which is contained completely therein as the adapter 112 is inserted through the counterbore 106, but springs outwardly into the groove 110 when the adapter 112 is fully inserted, thereby locking the adapter 112 within the drive shaft 102. The groove 11% has a rear face 118 which is chamfered at approximately 45 so that any outwardly directed axial force applied to the adapter 112 is transferred to the drive shaft 102 through the circular spring clip 116 along a line of action presented at approximately 45 to the axes of the adapter 112 and the drive shaft 102.
The adapter 112 is further provided with an axially extending bore or socket 120, a cross bore 122 which intersects the socket 121 in slightly offset relation to the axis of the latter, and an outwardly opening annular groove 124 into which the outer ends of the cross bore 122 open. The cross bore 122 and annular groove 124 are similar to the cross bore 46 and annular groove db on the drive shaft 3d and they receive and retain a spring detent clip 126 which is similar to the spring detent clip 5b.
The adapter 112 serves as a bushing for reducing the diameter of the counterbore 106 in the drive shaft 102, and its socket 120 snugly receives the shank 64 of the spindle 60, while the spring detent clip 126 retentively engages the tang on and secures the spindle 60 to the adapter 112, as well as to the drive shaft W2, all in the manner previously described.
This invention is intended to cover all changes and modifications of the example of the invention herein chosen for purposes of the disclosure which do not constitute departures from the spirit and scope of the invention.
1. A machine for dispensing articles; said machine comprising a drive unit including a rotatable element provided with an outwardly opening substantially cylindrical socket extending generally in the direction of the axis of rotation, the rotatable element further having a cross hole extending transversely of and intersecting the socket, the hole being disposed on both sides of the socket and having at least one of its ends opening outwardly from the rotatable element, a spring detent having a cross portion disposed in the cross hole and a retaining portion connected to the cross portion at. the outwardly opening end of the hole and extending along the outside of the rotatable element, the cross portion fitting loosely in the cross hole on both sides of the socket such that it can move generally toward and away from the axis of rotation and being urged by the retaining portion toward one'side of the cross hole, and a dispensing spindle including a shank provided with an external surface which conforms substantially to the cylindrical shape of the socket and tits snugly yet slidably in the socket so that the spindle is incapable of substantial lateral movement when so fitted, the shank at its end having an axially extending tang defined in part by a land which upon proper rotational positioning of the spindle in the socket will pass adjacent to and along the cross portion of the spring detent when the cross portion is moved in the cross hole away from the position in which it is normally maintained by the retaining portion, the tang further having a transversely extending groove set inwardly from the end of the shank and opening out of the land, the groove being alignable at its ends with the cross hole and sized to receive asegment of the cross portion which is located in the socket, whereby upon axial advancement of the spindle shank into the socket the land will pass across the cross por tion and hold it away from its normal position and when the groove aligns with the cross hole the cross portion will spring into the groove so as to retain the shankin the socket.
2. A machine according to claim 1 wherein the retaining portion of the spring detent connects to at least one end of the cross portion at the end of the cross hole which opens outwardly from the rotatable element.
3. A machine according to claim 2 wherein the rotatable element is generally cylindrical and is provided with a circumferentially extending groove into which the cross hole opens, and wherein the retaining portion of the spring detent is generally arcuate in shape and is disposed in the circumferentially extending groove.
4. A machine according to claim 1 wherein the rotatable element is generally circular in cross section; and wherein the retaining portion of the spring detent is formed integral with and connects to one end of the cross portion at the end of the cross hole which opens outwardly from the rotatable element, the retaining portion being arcuate and extending along at least a quadrant of the rotatable element.
5. A machine according to claim l-wherein the shank at its end is provided with a chamfered camming surface which leads up to and merges into the land, whereby the camming surface will cam the cross portion of the spring detent away from the position to which it is nonnally biased as the spindle shank advances through the socket.
6. A machine according to claim 1 wherein the cross hole is a cylindrical bore, the axis of which is offset from the axis of the socket.
7. A machine according to claim 6 wherein the cross por tion of the spring detent is cylindrical and is substantially smaller in diameter than the cross bore so that cross portion can move therein; and wherein the axis of the cylindrical cross portion and the socket substantially intersect when the cross portion is in the position to which it is normally biased by the retaining portion.
8 A machine according to claim 1 wherein the land is offset from the axis of the spindle shank and the axis of the socket when the shank is fitted therein.
'9. A machine according to claim 1 wherein rotatable element is generally cylindrical; and wherein the drive unit further comprises a fixed member having a bore in which the rotatable element revolves.
10. A machine according to claim 1 wherein the drive unit further comprises a fixed member, and a hollow drive shaft journaled in the fixed member; and wherein the rotatable element is an adapter fitted into the drive shaft and engaged therewith so that the shaft and adapter rotate together.
11. A machine according to claim 10 wherein the drive shaft has a cylindrical bore and an internal stepped shoulder at the inner end of the bore; and wherein the adapter is cylindrical and fits snugly within the bore; the adapter further having an axially extending tongue which engages the shoulder and prevents the adapter from rotating relative to the shaft.
12. A machine according to claim 11 wherein the shaft is provided with an annular groove which opens into the shaft bore; wherein the adapter is provided with an outwardly opening annular groove which aligns with the annular groove in the shaft when the tongue engages the shoulder; and wherein a generally circular spring clip fits into the two annular grooves for preventing withdrawal of the adapter from the shaft bore, the clip being elastically deformable into the annular groove of the adapter so that the adapter can be inserted into the shaft.
13. A machine for dispensing articles; said machine comprising a drive unit including a rotatable element provided with an outwardly opening cylindrical socket, the axis of which is coincident with the axis of rotation for the rotatable element; a detent element carried by the rotatable element and having a generally straight margin extending across the socket and presented toward the cylindrical wall surface of the socket, the detent element being shiftable generally perpendicular to the socket axis between first and second positions. in both of which and in positions in between the straight detent margin forms a chordal space in the socket; means biasing the detent element to the first position; and adispensing spindle including a helical portion and a shank extending axially from one end of the helical portion. the material forming the spindle being circular in cross section throughout the shank and helical portion and being of substantially constant diameter, the shank being sized to fit snugly yet slidably into the cylindrical socket and at its end having a tang which will not tit through the chordal space in the socket when the detent element is in its first position, but upon proper rotational positioning of the shank will fit through the chordal space when the detent element is in its second position and positions adjacent thereto; whereby the end of the tang will pass beyond the detent element and when the tang is so disposed the detent element will bear against it and couple the shank to the drive element for rotation therewith.
14. A machine according to claim 13 wherein the tang is provided with a land which passes adjacent to the detent element as the shank is inserted into the socket and a transversely extending groove which opens out of the land and receives the detent element.