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Publication numberUS3613947 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 19, 1971
Filing dateNov 19, 1969
Priority dateNov 19, 1969
Publication numberUS 3613947 A, US 3613947A, US-A-3613947, US3613947 A, US3613947A
InventorsVerbeke Henry
Original AssigneeUniversal Vendors Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Pouch vending machine
US 3613947 A
Abstract  available in
Images(10)
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [72] Inventor Henry Verheke Chester, NJ.

[21] Appl. No. 878,117

[22] Filed Nov. 19, 1969 [45] Patented Oct. 19, 1971 [73] Assignee Universal Vendors, Inc.

Philadelphia, Pa.

[54] POUCH VENDING MACHINE 14 Claims, 16 Drawing Figs.

[52] U.S.Cl. 221/125,

221/89 [51] Int. Cl 365g 59/00 [50] FieldofSearch 221/125,

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,010,556 11/1961 Wawrzonek et a1. 221/125 X 3,140,798 7/1964 Dasher 221/89 3,349,961 10/1967 Nathan et a1.

ABSTRACT: A vending machine adapted to vend commodities that are packed in bags or pouches. The pouches are loaded in a spaced vertical alignment on a plate of a column of the machine. The bags are supported by retainers at their tops. A pivotally mounted pawl is provided for each spring clip, and all of the pawls are supported on a pawl bar, with one pawl bar for each plate. The pulling of a plunger permits the lowermost pawl to engage a retainer on a column, and disengage the retainer from its associated pouch. Each time the plunger is pulled, the next lowermost retainer will be disengaged from its associated pouch. When all of the bags in the column have been vended, the column will automatically be locked out against further vending. The vending machine contains a plurality of columns, with a separate plunger for each column.

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POUCH VENDING MACHINE This invention relates to a vending machine, and more particularly, to a vending machine which is adapted to vend commodities packed in bags or pouches.

In recent years, vending machines have been developed for dispensing commodities that have been packed in transparent bags or pouches. Accordingly, such items as potato chips, corn chips and pretzels have been packed in small transparent cellophane bags, which bags are dispensed from coin operated vending machines. Various methods are in use for securing the pouches or bags in the vending machines prior to their purchase. All of these securing means have been found difficult to use, and they each possess certain disadvantages. Among the devices being used are toothed, spring-loaded clips for holding the pouches. These clips are difficult to open, and the loading of the pouches is quite time consuming. Electrically operated pouch vending machines have been developed wherein the pouches are supported on horizontally mounted rods within the vending machine. In order to insert the pouches, holes are placed in the tops of the pouches, and the pouches are in turn slid over the rods by inserting the rods into the holes. Here again, this is a time-consuming operation. The vending of the pouches from the rods is accomplished through motor operated pusher bars which act on the last pouch supported on any given rod. Thus, the pouches are pushed off the front of the rod each time the necessary amount of money has been deposited in the vending machine.

The vending machine of this invention provides a simple and efficient method for securing the pouches in place. All of the pouches are mounted on upstanding columns within the vending machine. A spring-loaded retainer is provided for each pouch, and the pouch is held in place merely by pivoting the retainer against the action of a coiled tension spring. The pivoting of the clip brings the spring through its center point, and the spring will in turn have an over-the-center action in holding the clip against a supporting plate. The top of the pouch is mounted between the plate and the clip. The pouches are easily inserted, and there is no alignment problem as would be necessary when using the rod and hole support arrangement. Likewise, it is not necessary to open the jaws of toothed clips, as it is using the prior art methods of securing the pouches in place.

Another problem overcome by the vending machine of this invention is that of dispensing the pouches once they have been loaded in the machine. The method most commonly used is cam riding in a spring track. Thus, after the man filling the vending machine has placed all of the pouches in clips, he must then lower the spring-loaded cam in its track. Each time a plunger is pulled, the cam will rise a predetermined amount in its track, thereby opening the lowermost clip having a pouch secured therein. One of the problems with this dispensing mechanism is that the operator must always lower the cam in its track after the pouches have been inserted in the clips. Therefore, if a full column of pouches has been placed in the machine, but the operator has neglected to lower the cam, the machine will not be able to dispense the pouches therefrom, despite the fact that the necessary amount of money has been inserted.

The vending machine of this invention is foolproof in operation, insofar as the dispensing of the commodities that have been loaded into the machine is concerned. Thus, the machine of this invention will automatically be ready to dispense the loaded pouches afterthe pouches have been inserted in their associated spring clips. Once the pouches are inserted, the machine is automatically set for operation without any further work required from the operator. The problem of preloading a cam is nonexistent, since no movable cam is needed for the dispensing operation in the machine of this invention.

Another problem of the prior art pouch vending machine resides in the loading of the columns, where two sets of columns are provided, with one set being behind the other. Where such acts of columns are provided, the practice of the prior art has been to have both sets of columns pivot outwardly in order to facilitate the loading of the rear columns. This has resulted in a number of problems, since all of the columns pivot as a unit, and it is most difficult to reach the center columns when standing on the side of the machine. An alternative method of obtaining access to the rear columns has been for all of the columns to slide outwardly from the side of the machine. However, where the machine is up against a wall, it has been difficult for the operator to get behind the rear columns to load them, even where they have been slidable outward from the machine.

In the machine of this invention, the columns are arranged in sets of plates, with a front plate and a rear plate in each column. The two plates face in opposite directions, and each set of plates is pivotable outwardly independently of the other sets. Thus, the operator can easily fill the backplate of each set by standing next to the column after it has been pivoted outwardly.

It is accordingly an object of this invention to provide a novel pouch vending machine.

It is another object of this invention to provide a pouch vending machine having a novel column for supporting and dispensing the pouches.

It is a further object of this invention to provide a novel pouch vending machine having a novel mechanism for secur ing and dispensing commodity pouches.

These and other objects of this invention are accomplished by providing a pouch vending machine comprising at least one plate adapted to support a plurality of pouches containing a commodity, means for securing said pouches on said plate, a manually operable member adapted to release one of said pouches from said plate after a predetermined amount of money has been inserted in the vending machine, said means for securing said pouches on said plate comprising a plurality of resiliently mounted retainers, with one retainer being provided for each pouch loaded on said plate, said retainers holding said pouches on said plate when in a first position, and said retainers releasing said pouches from said plate when in a second position, means controlled by said manually operable member for moving the lowermost retainer on said column from a first position to a second position, when said lowermost retainer has a commodity associated therewith, and means for preventing the movement of all other retainers that are associated with commodities when said lowermost retainer is moved from said first position to said second position.

Other objects and many of the attendant advantages of this invention will be readily appreciated as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:

FIG. I is a perspective view of the pouch vending machine of this invention;

FIG. 2 is a partial front sectional view of the pouch vending machine of this invention;

FIG. 3 is a sectional view taken along the line 3-3 of FIG.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged sectional view taken along the line 4- 4 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is a reduced sectional view taken along the line 55 of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a partial exploded perspective view showing a plunger and the associated linkage with a column for commodities and pouches;

FIG. 7 is a partial perspective view of the price adjustment mechanism for the vending machine of this invention;

FIG. 8 is a front elevational view of one column of the vending machine of this invention;

FIG. 9 is a side elevational view of the column of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is an enlarged sectional view taken along'the line 10 10 of FIG. 8, and further showing a plurality of commodities in pouches as supported by the column;

FIG. 11 is a sectional view similar to FIG. I0, but showing the position of the pawls during the dispensing operation;

FIG. 12 is an enlarged sectional view taken along the line 12-12 of FIG. 8;

FIG. 13 is an enlarged sectional view taken along the line 13-13 ofFlG. 12;

FIG. 14 is an enlarged sectional view taken along the line 14-14 of FIG.

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of one of the pawls of a column of this invention, and showing the associated pawl bar; and

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of the wire retainer used in securing a pouch on a column.

Referring now in greater detail to the various figures of the drawings wherein like reference characters refer to like parts, a vending machine embodying the present invention is generally shown at 20 in FIG. 1. Vending machine 20 includes a housing 22 having a door 24 which is hingedly mounted thereon. Door 24 includes a coin slot 26 and a lock 28. Door 24 further includes a transparent face 30 behind which pouches 32 of the commodities to be vended are mounted. As seen in FIG. 1, there is an identifying number immediately below each pouch. This number corresponds to a number printed on one of the plungers 34 mounted in the vending machine 20 (see FIG. 3). Thus, when any given commodity is sought to be purchased, the numbered plunger having a number corresponding to the number under the commodity is pulled. The price for the commodity is shown under the number of the plunger.

A delivery chute 36 is positioned below plungers 34. A coin return plunger 38 is positioned to the right of the commodity plungers 34. Returned coins are delivered through delivery chute 36.

THE PRICE MECHANISM Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, it is seen that the vending machine of this invention includes upstanding end walls 40 and 42. A vertical supporting wall 44 is spaced inwardly from wall 40 and a second vertical wall 46 is spaced inwardly from wall 42. A shaft 48 is mounted on walls 44 and 46, and projects horizontally between them. A plurality of columns 50 with merchandise to be vended is pivotally mounted on shaft 48 by a pair of C-shaped brackets 52 secured to each column 50 (see also FIG. 4). As will be explained hereinafter, each column includes a front series of pouches and a back series of pouches. The dispensing of the front series of pouches is completely independent of the dispensing of the rear series of pouches. A pair of plungers 34 is associated with each column, with one plunger controlling the front series of pouches and the other plunger controlling the rear series of pouches.

As seen in FIGS. 3 and 4, each plunger 34 includes a knob 54 and an associated rod 56. As further seen in FIG. 3, the plunger knobs 54 include the number marking corresponding to the numbered pouch shown in FIG. 1. As seen in FIG. 7, each rod 56 is secured to the front face 58 of a U-shaped member 60. A control bar 62 is pivotally mounted on a tab 64 projecting from U-shaped member 60. Control bar 62 serves as a link connecting the plunger with the column in order to effectuate the dispensing of a pouch after a predetermined amount of money has been placed in the vending machine. The mechanical linkage will be explained in further detail hereinafter. U-shaped member 60 also includes a rear leg 66 having an outwardly projecting tab 68.

An L-shaped bar 70 (FIGS. 2 and 4) extends across the entire width of machine 20, and has dependent tabs 72 (FIG. 4) and 74 (FIG. 7) at its ends. Bar 70 is slidably mounted in opening 76 supporting wall 44 and opening 78 in supporting wall 46 (FIG. 2). As seen in FIG. 7, bar 70 includes a horizon tal upper surface 80 and a dependent vertical surface 82. Vertical surface 82 is provided with a plurality of spaced threaded holes in which is received a plurality of setscrews 84 (FIG. 2). A plate 86 is secured against the surface 82 by each setscrew 84. Each plate includes a horizontal slot having a plurality of notches or detents 88. As seen in FIG. 7, each plate 86 includes a lip 90 that rests on top surface 80 of bar 70, and an outwardly projecting flange 92.

As seen in FIGS. 3 and 4, a horizontal plate 96 extends across the width of vending machine 20 between walls 44 and 46. Plate 94 includes a slot 96 that extends across its entire width. A plurality of lockout bars 98 is supported by plate 94. Lockout bars 98 include T-shaped extensions 100 projecting from their bottom surfaces (FIG. 4). The T-shaped extensions permit the lockout bars to slide laterally along slot 96, in the direction of arrows 102 in FIG. 3, but prevent any rotational movement of the lockout bars.

Lockout bars 98 are kept in an abutting relation through the use of springs 104 and 106 (FIG. 3). The springs are connected to the outermost lockout bars 98 and verticaL front frame member 108. As seen in FIGS. 4 and 7, a second U- shaped member 110 is mounted below U-shaped member 60. Member 110 includes a lower rectangular leg 112 and an upper leg 114. Leg 114 has a wedge-shaped front 116. A plate 118 connects leg 114 with upper U-shaped member 60. Plate 118 also has a wedge-shaped front edge 120, being of the same size and shape as wedge 116. As seen in FIG. 4, leg 114 and plate 118 are positioned above plate 94, with the wedgeshaped portions 116 and 120 being adjacent the abutment line of a pair of contiguous lockout bars 98 (FIG. 3).

When a commodity is to be vended by pulling plunger 34, wedge-shaped sections 116 and 120 will pass between a pair of lockout bars 98, thereby forcing the lockout bars to opposite sides of the wedge-shaped sections. This in turn will place a flat edge of a lockout bar 98 in front of the wedge-shaped members associated with all of the other plungers, thereby preventing any other plunger from being pulled, since the pulling of the plunger will result in the abutment of the other wedge-shaped sections against the flat edge of a lockout bar. This is a common expedient in the vending machine art for locking out all other plungers in a given row when a single plunger in that row is pulled for vending the commodity associated with the plunger.

As seen in FIG. 4, the plungers and their associated mechanisms are supported by frame sections 108, 124, 126, 128, 130, 132, 44 and 46 (FIG. 3). As seen in FIGS. 3 and 4, control bars 62 pass through openings 134 and 136 in frame sections and 132, respectively. A bar 138 (FIGS. 2 and 3) extends across the entire width of vending machine 20 between supporting plates 44 and 46. As seen in FIG. 7, in its central portion, bar 138 has a square cross section. It is rounded at its ends, with one end being joumaled in bushing 140 in wall 44 and the other end being joumaled in bushing 142 in wall 46 (FIG. 3). A torsion spring 144 (FIG. 3) rotates bar 138 in a counterclockwise direction, as the bar is viewed in FIGS. 4 and 7.

A plurality of levers 146 (FIGS. 4 and 7) is mounted on bar 138, with one lever being provided for each plunger 34. Each lever includes a yoke 148 formed from a leading leg 150, a trailing leg 152 and a slot 154. Leading leg abuts tab 68 of U- shaped member 60 (FIG. 7) under the urging of spring 144 (FIG. 3).

A carn 156 (FIGS. 2 and 3) is secured on bar 138 by hub 150. The cam surface 160 tapers outwardly from wall 44 toward wall 40 in proceeding from the front to the rear of the vending machine. As seen in FIG. 2, a cam follower 162 is mounted on bar 70 by bracket 164, and projects through hole 166 in wall 44. The cam follower comprises a roller rotatably mounted around a vertical axis between a pair of horizontal legs of bracket 164. The bar 70 is urged against cam 148, through cam follower 152 by spring 168. Spring 168 has one end secured to wall 144 and the other end secured to plate 170 which is in turn mounted on the upper face 80 of bar 70.

Mounted on wall 46, and between walls 46 and 42, are a coin separator and slug rejector 172 (FIG. 2) and a totalizer or accumulator 174. The coin separator and slug rejector separates coins of value according to their denominations, and rejects coins of improper denominations, such as pennies, and spurious coins. Such rejected coins are eventually removed from the device and are returned to the purchaser. Devices of this type are well known in the art, and therefore specific details form no part of this invention. However, coin separators and slug rejectors which can be used in carrying out this invention are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,292,678 and 2,975,880.

The totalizer or accumulator 174 has selected paths for coins which, in passing therethrough, function to release a trip mechanism that imparts stepped rotation to a rotatable element. The rotatable element is advanced a predetermined rotational amount in proportion to the value of the coin deposited. Thus, by way of example, the rotatable element will advance 9 for each nickel deposited, 18 for each dime deposited, and 45 for each quarter deposited. Here again, the specific details of the totalizer form no part of this invention, as any totalizer known to the art can be used in carrying out the invention. By way of specific example, totalizers which can be used in carrying out this invention are those disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,993,581, 3,155,213 and 3,186,532.

Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 7, it is seen that a rotatable shaft 176 (FIG. 2) projects outwardly from totalizer 174. A disc 178 is mounted on rotatable shaft 176, and includes a central hub that projects outwardly therefrom toward wall 42. Price discs 180, 182 and 184 are rotatably mounted on the hub projecting from disc 178. Notches 186, 188 and 190 are formed in price discs 180, 182 and 184, respectively. A thumbscrew 192 includes a shank that is threadedly received in shaft 176, thereby securing the thumbscrew to the shaft. A compression spring 194 is positioned between thumbscrew 192 and outermost price disc 184 (FIG. 2).

The purpose of the price discs 180, 182 and 184 is to vary the prices for each of the columns of merchandise to be vended. Thus, the vending machine of this invention is adapted to vend commodities at varying prices with a single coin slot usable for all of the columns. As seen in FIG. 1, some of the pouches will be vended at $0.05, others at $0.10, and still others at $0.15. Utilizing the coin mechanism disclosed herein, through the use of the price discs, the price at each of the columns can be varied to the amount shown for the commodity in each of the columns. The specific pricing mechanism used, and that disclosed herein is described in detail in my copending U.S. application Ser. No. 789,738, filed Jan. 8, 1969. Although this invention is described with respect to the variable price mechanism of my copending application, it is to be understood that various other price mechanisms known to the art can also be used while carrying out the concepts of this invention. For instance, the price mechanisms disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,993,581 and 3,360,091 can also be used. A summary of the function of price discs 180, 182 and 184 will be made hereinafter, although, it is to be understood, that a more complete description of the function appears in my aforementioned copending U.S. application Ser. No. 789,738.

As seen in FIG. 7, a lever 196 is mounted on bar 138 adjacent totalizer 174. One end of lever 196 is rigidly fixed on bar 138 with its other end being pivotally linked to bar 198 by pin 200. Bar 198 includes a notch 202 formed in its upper surface. The rear end of bar 198 is rigidly secured to bar 204, as by rivets 206. Bar 204 includes a pin 208 projecting horizontally outward from one face thereof.

An arm 210 is positioned adjacent plate 204 and is pivotally mounted on end tab 74 of bar 70 by pin 212. Arm 210 has an upstanding finger 214 at one end thereof which is adjacent discs 178, 180, 182 and 184. Arm 210 includes an arcuate recess 216 in its top surface. Pin 208 rests on arm 210 at one end of recess 216. A spring 218, which is secured at one end to arm 210 and at the other end to plate 94, urges arm 210 upwardly and into contact with pin 208. With the plate 204 in the position shown in FIG. 7, pm 208 holds arm 248 out of contact with the price discs.

Ann 210 is secured to U-shaped bracket 220 by any suitable means, such as welding. A thin rod 222 is pivotally linked to bracket 220 at one end and to plate 224 at the other end. Plate 224 is in turn pivotally connected to frame section 226 by pin 228. A suitable bushing 230 spaces plate 224 from frame section 226. The forward portion 232 of plate 224 normally rests on the lower edge of slot 202 in bar 198.

The vending operation, insofar as the coin mechanism is concerned, will now be described. The vending operation, insofar as the holding and dispensing of the pouches is concerned, will be described hereinafter. In order to vary the prices for each of the plungers 34, price discs 180, 182 and 184 are used. Vending can only take place when finger 214 enters the notch of a price disc. This, in turn, can only take place when the notch is lowermost on the price disc, as shown by notch 190 on price disc 184 in FIG. 7. As pointed out above, the device of this invention can be used by having $0.05 increments on the totalizer 174 rotate the totalizer shaft 9 in a counterclockwise direction, as viewed in FIG. 7. As seen in FIG. 7, price disc 184 includes a series of circularly arranged holes 234. Similar holes are also formed in price discs and 182. All of these holes on the price discs are spaced on 9 centers, and pins are provided on the surface of each price disc for engagement with the holes on the adjacent price disc to hold the price discs in a set position. Thus, each of the price discs is freely rotatable around the hub projecting from disc 178, but it may be placed in a set position by engagement of the pins on one price disc in the holes of the adjacent price disc. Once the price disc has been placed in a set position, it is held in this position by the urging of spring 194 (FIG. 2).

In normal operation, each of the price discs will be set to dispense commodities of different prices. By way of example, price disc 184 can be set to dispense commodities at $0.05, price disc 182 can be set to dispense commodities at $0.10, and price disc 180 can be set to dispense commodities at $0.15, in accordance with the value of the commodities as shown in FIG. 1. Each disc is set in place when the totalizer 174 is in its normal retracted position, with no money recorded thereon. The disc is set by pulling it outward against the urging of spring 194 and rotating the disc to the required position. For instance, if disc 180 is to be set to dispense a commodity at $0.15, the disc will first be placed with the notch 186 lowermost and then rotated in a clockwise direction until notch 186 is 27 from the lowermost position of the disc. This is easily determined since all of the holes of the disc are on 9 centers. Therefore, disc 180 will have to be rotated in a clockwise direction through three holes in order to enable it to dispense commodities at $0.15. Once the correct position for disc 180 has been set, the disc is held in place against disc 178 by inserting the pins on disc 178 in the adjacent holes of disc 180.

After the disc 180 has been set at its desired price, disc 182 is set. If for instance, disc 182 is to be used for dispensing commodities at $0.10, notch 188 would have to be positioned 18 clockwise away from the lowermost position of disc 182. This is equivalent to two holes on the surface of the disc. Thus, it will take two 9 increments of $0.05 each in order to have notch 188 at the lowermost position, and therefore place it in a position to permit the dispensing of commodities which are valued at $0.10. After the proper position for disc 182 has been set, the disc is held in place by the insertion of the pins on the surface of disc 180 in the adjacent holes on the surface of disc 182.

Disc 184 is put in its proper position for dispensing commodities in the same manner as the other discs. Thus, by way of example, if disc 184 is to be used to control the dispensing of commodities valued at $0.05, notch 190 must be positioned 9 in a clockwise direction away from the lowermost position of the disc. This positioning is arrived at in view of the face that each 9 increment is valued at $0.05, and since the commodities which will be price-controlled by this disc will be $0.05 in value, the disc is to be rotated only one 9 increment.

In the foregoing discussion, the method of arriving at the proper positioning for each of the notches has been analyzed. However, in actual practice, indicia can be placed around the circumference of disc 178 in order to indicate the proper position for the notch in each price disc in order to permit vending at a given price for each of the discs. Additionally, the 9 incremental advance of the totalizer 174 can also be varied to suit the needs of the user. Thus, for larger denominational vending, where increments of $0.l or $0.25 are used, the totalizer 174 can be advanced a proportionately greater amount for each increment, or vending can take place at proportionately greater amounts using the 9 incremental rotational of the totalizer.

Plates 86 are used for mechanically linking each plunger 34 with its appropriate price disc. Thus, as pointed out above, there is a plate 86 for each of the plungers 34. There are three notches 88 for each plate 86. When the price to be associated with a plunger 34 is that which is set on disc 184, screw 84 is placed in the right notch 88. If the price to be associated with the plunger 34 is that which is preset on disc 180, screw 84 is placed in the middle notch 88, and if the price is to be that which is preset on disc 180, screw 84 is placed in the left notch 88.

By way of specific example, assuming that disc 184 has been set to permit the vending of a pouch at $0.05, and it is desired to purchase a $0.05 commodity from column number (see FIGS. 1 and 3), the plunger 236 (FIG. 3) associated with that column will be pulled after $0.05 has been deposited in the machine. Thus, as pointed out above, the totalizer will have an incremental or stepped rotation of 9 for every $0.05 of value deposited in the vending machine. After the nickel has been deposited, the notch 190 of disc 184 (FIG. 7) will be advanced to the lowermost position of the disc, as shown in FIG. 7. Thus, notch 190 will be positioned directly above finger 214.

After the nickel has been deposited, plunger 236 is pulled outwardly from the machine in the direction of arrow 238 (FIG. 7). The pulling of the plunger moves U-shaped member 60 forward, and tab 68 of rear face 66 of the U-shaped member will enter slot 154 in yoke 148, and bear against the leading leg 150 of the yoke. As the plunger 236 is pulled forwardly in the direction of arrow 238, wedge-shaped sections 116 and 120 will pass between a pair of adjacent lockout bars 98 (see FIG. 3), thereby spreading the bars to both sides of the wedge-shaped sections. At the same time, the pressure of tab 68 against the leading leg 150 of yoke 148 will rotate bar 138 in a clockwise direction, as viewed in FIG. 7. The rotation of bar 138 will in turn cause cam 148 (FIG. 3) to rotate in the same direction. As seen in FIG. 2, as the cam 148 is rotated in a clockwise direction, cam follower 162 would normally be free to move laterally in the direction of arrow 240, in view of the fact that the cam follower is supported on L-shaped bar 70. As pointed out above, L-shaped bar 70 is freely slidable in walls 44 and 46, and is normally urged through opening 76 in wall 44 by spring 168. However, when utilizing the price disc 184, plate 88 is secured to bar 70 by the engagement of screw 84 in the right notch 88 (FIG. 7). When in this position, as seen in FIGS. 2 and 7, the edge of leg 112 of U-shaped member 110 will abut the edge of flange 92 of plate 86. Accordingly, even though bar 70 would normally be pulled to the left, in the direction of arrow 240, by spring 168 when the plunger 236 is pulled, lateral movement of the bar is prevented by abutment of flange 92 against the edge of leg 112. With the plate in this position, arm 210 and its associated finger 214 will be aligned with price disc 184.

Referring again to FIG. 7, it is seen that simultaneously with the rotation of cam 148 by the bar 138, link 196 will also be rotated by the bar 138 in a clockwise direction. Since link 196 is pivotally connected to bar 198, bar 198 will be moved substantially rectilinearly in the direction of arrow 242 by the rotation of bar 138. The movement of bar 198 in the direction of arrow 242 will in turn cause the abutment of the leading edge 244 of plate 204 against the forward portion 232 of plate 224. Thus, the plate 224 within notch 202 serves as a lock for the vending machine. In order for plunger 236 to be rendered operational for vending an associated commodity, plate 224 must be removed from the path of leading edge 244 as the bar 138 is rotated. The means for opening the lock comprises the arm 210 and its associated finger 214. Thus, as seen in FIG. 7, the plunger 236 has a limited free movement when it is pulled whereby the edge 244 can be pulled to the extent wherein it will abut the forward portion 232 of plate 224. When the abutment takes place, pin 208 will be positioned over the center of arcuate notch 216 of arm 210. With the pin 208 moved out of contact with arm 210, the arm will be pivoted upwardly around pin 212 by the urging of spring 218. When the arm 210 is pivoted upwardly, finger 214 will come in contact with the outer rim of disc 184, unless notch 190 is lowermost on the disc and above the finger 214. If the notch is lowermost on the disc, finger 214 will rise upwardly until it abuts the inner wall of the notch 190.

When the finger is received in the notch, arm 210 will be pivoted upwardly. As the arm rises, it will carry bracket 220, which is welded to the arm, up with the arm. As the bracket 220 rises, it will raise rod 222, which in turn will pivot plate 224 in a counterclockwise direction, as viewed in FIG. 7. When the plate 224 is raised by the rod, the plate will be moved out of the path of leading edge 244 of plate 204, whereby the bar 198 is free to pass under the plate 224. In this way, the lock formed by the plate 224 and the recess 202 is opened.

Once the lock has been opened, plunger 236 is free to continue a full-stroke operation, which will result in the vending of the commodity associated with the plunger. The mechanism for delivering the commodity after full-stroke operation of the plunger has taken place will be described in detail hereinafter. However, at the present time, it should be noted that vending is accomplished by the movement of control bar 62 (FIG. 4) through a full-stroke operation in the direction of arrow 246 (FIG. 4).

As seen in FIG. 2, levers 146, which are secured to bar 138, are positioned beside U-shaped members 60. The only elements of the U-shaped members which are adapted to contact the levers are the extending tabs 68. Thus, when a plunger is pulled, the tab 68 on the associated U-shaped member 60 will abut the leading leg 150 of lever 146. This in turn will cause bar 138 to rotate. The rotation of bar 138 will in turn cause the rotation of all of the levers 146. However, the other levers 146 will bypass the tab 68 of the other U-shaped members 60 in view of the fact that the rear leg 152 of each yoke is sufficiently short to prevent contact with the tab 68 of the other U- shaped members (see FIG. 4).

Referring to FIGS. 4 and 7, it is seen that the tab 68 is associated with the pulled plunger will be received in slot 154 of the associated yoke 148. The tab will remain in the slot during the entire operation of the pulled plunger during vending. On the return stroke of the plunger, tab 68 will abut rear leg 152. This will insure the return of lever 146 to the position shown in FIGS. 4 and 7. When the lever 146 is returned, it will in turn rotate bar 138, thereby reseating plate 224 in notch 202. This in turn relocks the vending machine and prevents further vending until additional money has been deposited in the machine.

If the lever 146 were not present, the bar 138 would be returned to the position shown in FIGS. 4 and 7 solely by the urging of spring 144 (FIG. 3). This could present an unsatisfactory arrangement in that a user of the vending machine could possibly pull the plunger and return it to its at-rest position so rapidly that it could be pulled a second time, thereby vending a second commodity, without the insertion of additional money into the machine. This could be accomplished in the view of the fact that the urging of the spring 144 may not return the bar 138 to its at-rest position sufficiently rapidly to prevent the double vending operation. Thus, if the bar 138 were still in its forward position, thereby leaving the lock formed by plate 224 and notch 202 in its unlocked position, the customer could continually pull and push the plunger to have continuous operation of the vending machine on a single insertion of money. However, providing the lever 146 mechanically insures that the lock will be closed when the plunger is returned to its at-rest position while it is vending the commodity associated with it.

The foregoing discussion relates to the operation of the vending machine when the price disc 184 has been set for vending $0.05 commodities, and a nickel has been deposited in the vending machine. Referring again to plunger 236, as sume that of $010 has been deposited in the coin slot 26. In this case, the totalizer 174 will go through a stepped rotation of 18 from its at-rest position. Accordingly, notch 190 will not be in the lowermost position shown in FIG. 7, but instead will be rotated to a position that is 9 in a counterclockwise direction away from the lowermost position.

When $0.l has been deposited in the coin slot, the pulling of plungers 236 will again move pin 208 to a position over arcuate notch 216. At the same time, edge 244 of plate 204 will abut the forward portion 232 of plate 224. With the pin 208 in its forward position, spring 218 will cause arm 210 to rotate in a counterclockwise direction around pin 212 (FIG. 7). This will in turn cause finger 214 to abut the outer circumference of disc 184. Since the finger 214 cannot enter notch 190, since the notch is spaced 9 away from its lowermost point, which would permit entry of the finger 214, arm 210 cannot be pivoted upwardly under the urging of spring 218. Thus, bracket 220 will not be raised, and the associAted link 222 and plate 224 will not be raised. Accordingly, the lock will remain closed, and plunger 236 will not be permitted to go through a full stroke operation in order to accomplish the vending of a commodity associated with the plunger.

By the same analysis, if no money has been deposited in the machine, the notch 190 on price disc 184 will remain 9 in a clockwise direction away from its lowermost position. Here again, if plunger 236 is pulled, finger 214 will not be able to enter the notch 190, and therefore vending will not be able to take place.

It is thus seen that the coin mechanism of the vending machine of this invention will permit the vending of a commodity only when the exact amount of money has been deposited in the machine. Thus, the machine will not operate if too little money or too much money has been deposited. The fact that the machine will not operate when too much money has been deposited is a distinct advantage in that there will not be any dissatisfied customers who inadvertently placed too much money in the machine, and therefore obtained a commodity for more than the right amount of money. If this were to happen, not only would there be a dissatisfied customer, but there is also the distinct probability that the customer will vent his anger by kicking the machine or in some other way being abusive of the machine.

Although the vending operation has been described with reference to plunger 236, the same vending operation will apply to every plunger wherein the screw 84 is received in the right notch 88 of its associated plate 86. Accordingly, the plunger associated with the plate designated 248 in FIG. 2 will also be used in connection with the price disc 184. In other words, when any of these plungers is pulled, the plate will abut leg 112, and retain the bar 70 in the position shown in FIG. 2. Accordingly, arm 210 will always be associated with price disc 184 whenever one of the aforementioned plungers is pulled.

As pointed out above, price disc 182 can be set to vend pouches which will sell for $0.10 each. In the embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 1, columns 3, 7 and 9 will have pouches selling for $0.10 each. The notch 188 in price disc 182 will be placed 18 in a clockwise direction from the lowermost point of the disc. This is arrived at from the fact that each stepped increment on the totalizer is 9, with each increment being equal to $0.05. Thus, two increments will be needed in order to have the disc set for $0.10.

After the price disc 182 has been set for its proper orientation to vend commodities at $0.10, plate 86 must be set in place with its associated plunger 34 for each of the plungers that is to be used on a $0.10 item. Accordingly, screw 84 must be received in the center notch 88 for each of the $010 plates. Referring to FIG. 2, it is seen that the plates indicated at 250 and-252 are set in place to be used with disc 182. Thus, as is apparent from FIG. 2, each of the plates 250 and 252 will be spaced slightly to the right of the associated leg 112 on U- shaped member 1 10 for each plunger 34.

When any of the plungers 34 associated with plates 250 or 252 is pulled, bar 138 will again be rotated in a clockwise direction (FIGS. 4 and 7) through the urging of tab 68 against the forward leg of yoke 148. Here again, tab 68 associated with the pulled plunger will enter slot 154, while the back leg 152 of all of the other yokes will pass over the tabs 68 of all of the other U-shaped members 60. As pointed out above, the rotation of bar 138 causes cam 148 to rotate forwardly, as viewed in FIGS. 2 and 3. This permits the cam follower 162 to move in the direction of arrow 240 along the cam surface 160. The follower will be urged along the cam surface in view of the fact that it is mounted on bar 70, which is in turn spring urged longitudinally in the direction of the cam by spring 168 (FIG. 2). Thus, when the plunger is pulled the bar 70 will immediately be moved to the left, as viewed in FIG. 2. The movement of the bar continues until the flange 92 of a plate 86 abuts leg 1 12 associated with the pulled plunger.

The movement of the bar 70 to the left will also cause the movement of arm 210, which is pivotally secured to the bar, to the left. The spacing of the notches 88 in plate 86 is such that the arm 210 will be moved a distance equal to the thickness of a price disc, such as price disc 184. Accordingly, by having screw 84 received in the center notch 88, arm 210 will no longer be aligned with price disc 184, but will now be aligned with price disc 182.

Simultaneously with the alignment of arm 210 with price disc 182, lever 146 will be pulled in a clockwise direction, as viewed in FIGS. 4 and 7. At the same time, plate 204 will be pulled in the direction of plate 224 until the leading edge 244 of the plate 204 abuts forward portion 232 (FIG. 7). At this time, the pin 208 will again be moved to a position over the center of notch 216 in arm 210. Arm 210 will again be urged in a counterclockwise direction through the urging of spring 218. However, when using the plates 250 and 252, the finger 214 will move into contact with disc 182, rather than disc 184.

The further operation of the plungers associated with plates 250 and 252 is identical to the operation described with respect to plunger 236, which was associated with disc 184. Thus, if the customer has deposited $0.10 in coin into the vending machine, the finger 214 will enter the notch 188 in disc 182, and vending can be completed. The $0.10 can be deposited by either depositing two nickels or depositing one dime. Thus, the totalizer 174 is responsive to nickels, dimes and quarters, and will go through a stepped rotation of 9 for each $0.05 of value deposited in the vending machine. It will rotate 9 for each nickel or will rotate 18 for each dime deposited. If more than or less than $0.10 has been deposited in the machine, and one of the plungers now mechanically coordinated with disc 182 is pulled, vending will be prevented in view of the fact that the lock formed by plate 224 and edge 244 has not been opened. Additionally, if $0.10 has been deposited in the vending machine, and one of the plungers associated with disc 184, which has been set at $0.05, is pulled, the arm 210 will remain aligned with disc 184, but there will be no vending, for the reasons set forth above. Thus, vending can only take place when one of the $0.10 plungers has been pulled, and $0.10 has been deposited in the machine.

Disc can be set to vend a $015 commodity. In this case, the notch 186 will be positioned 27 in a clockwise direction away from the lowermost point of disc 180. Here again, this positioning is arrived at from the fact that each stepped increment on the totalizer is 9, with each increment being equivalent to $0.05 in value for the coins deposited. Accordingly, three step increments are required in order to accomplish vending at $0.15.

When certain plungers are to be mechanically linked to disc 180, screw 84 is associated with the left notch 88 of the plates to be associated with these plungers. In the embodiment of the invention shown, the plates which are indicated at 254, 256 and 258 in FIG. 2 are set to have their associated plungers mechanically associated with disc 180 in order to permit vending. Accordingly, when one of these plungers is pulled, bar 138 will again be rotated in a clockwise direction, as described above, and cam 148 will again be rotated in order to permit bar 70 to shift to the left, as indicated by arrow 240 in FIG. 2. In this case, the bar 70 will shift a sufficient distance to permit arm 210 to be aligned with disc 180. (FIG. 2).

The vending operation will be identical to that described above with respect to discs 182 and 184. Thus, if $0.15 has been deposited in the vending machine, either by depositing three nickels or one nickel and one dime, and one of the plungers associated with plates 254, 256 or 258 is pulled, vending will take place. If more or less than $0.15 has been deposited in the machine, and one of these plungers is pulled, vending will not take place. Likewise, if $0.15 has been deposited in the machine and one of the plungers associated with disc 182 or 184 is pulled, vending will not take place.

It is thus seen that plates 86 in combination with legs 112 of Ushaped members 110 determine which price disc will be mechanically associated with which plunger. In this way, the price for any given plunger can be regulated through the use of an appropriate setting for a plate 86 and an appropriate setting for a price disc 180, 182 and 184. Whenever a pulled plunger is returned to its at-rest position, plate 86 will be returned to the position shown in FIG. 2 by the urging of cam 148 against cam follower 162. It should also be noted that legs 112 are spaced slightly inwardly from plates 86. Thus, the legs 112 will not interfere with the lateral movement of bar 76 when any given plunger is pulled. The only stop for the lateral movement of the bar is the specific leg 112 that will be pulled forward by its associated pulled plunger 34.

It is thus seen that through the use of the above-described coin mechanism, it is possible to vend commodities of three different prices in a vending machine having a single coin slot. The mechanism is completely flexible in use, and any given column can be adjusted to vend commodities at any one of the three set prices through the positioning of plates 86 and the setting of the associated price disc. Although the machine has been described as using three price discs, thereby having three separate prices, it is to be understood that a substantially larger number of different prices can be accommodated by utilizing the concepts of the coin mechanism of this invention. Thus, by using additional price discs, and a similar number of additional notches in plate 86, as many as eight separate prices can be used on the vending machine of this invention, while using only a single coin slot. If any error has been made in the amount of money deposited, or if for any other reason the customer desires the deposited money returned, coin return plunger 38 is pulled, and the deposited money is returned through delivery chute 36 (FIG. 1).

The coin mechanism has been described in detail herein because it is the preferred coin mechanism to be used with the pouch vending assembly of this invention. It is completely flexible in use, and will serve to dispense pouches of commodities at varying prices utilizing a single coin slot 26. Further details of the coin mechanism utilizable in the vending machine of this invention can be found in my aforementioned copending U.S. application Ser. No. 789,738. Of course, the pouch dispensing mechanism of this invention is utilizable with any coin mechanism known to the art, and the coin mechanism disclosed herein need not necessarily be used. Other coin mechanisms that are usable are those disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,993,581 and 3,360,091.

The specific novel feature of the vending machine of this invention resides in the vending mechanism, which will now be described.

THE VENDING MECHANISM As pointed out above, and as seen in FIG. 2, the pouches of commodities to be dispensed are mounted on column 50. Referring to FIGS. 8 and 9, it is seen that each column 50 includes a front bag supporting plate 260, a rear bag supporting plate 262, an upper pawl bar guide 264, a lower pawl bar guide 266, a pawl bar 268 associated with rear bag supporting plate 262 and a pawl bar 270 associated with front supporting plate 260 (see also FIGS. 10 and 12).

Referring to FIGS. 8, 9, 10 and 12, it is seen that each bag supporting plate 260 or 262 is basically U-shaped, and includes an elongated bridging section 272 with a pair of short legs 274 (FIG. 12). A flange 276 projects outwardly from each leg 274. A plurality of vertically aligned, spaced openings 278 is formed in the bridging section 272 of each bag supporting plate. An upstanding tab 280 is positioned in each opening 278. Each tab 280 is formed with a horizontally extending outstruck notch 282.

As best seen in FIGS. 5 and 12, a brace 284 is positioned at the bottom of front and rear plates 260 and 262, respectively, at the bottom thereof. As best seen in FIG. 5, brace 284 includes a front surface or wall 286, a pair of side surfaces or walls 288 and inwardly projecting flanges 290. The front bag supporting plate 260 is secured to the front surface 286 of brace 284 by bolts 292 (FIGS. 8, 9 and 12). The rear bag supporting plates 262 are secured to brace 284 by bolts 294 which are secured in flanges 290. As seen in FIGS. 4 and 8, the front surface 286 of brace 284 projects downwardly below the bottom edge of front bar supporting plate 260, A column stop bar 296 (FIGS. 4 and 5) is secured to front surface 286, as by welding, and projects downwardly below the lower edge of front surface 286.

The lower pawl bar guide 266 comprises a flat plate having dependent flanges 298 (FIG. 9). Flanges 298 are secured to the walls of brace 284, as by welding. A pair of substantially U-shaped slots 300 (FIG. 12) is formed in lower pawl bar guide 266 to accommodate the U-shaped pawl bars 268 and 270. Upper pawl bar guide 264 includes a horizontal plate 302 with upstanding legs 304 and 306 (FIG. 9). Plate 302 of upper pawl guide 264 also includes a pair of substantially U-shaped slots that are aligned with the U-shaped slots 300 in the lower pawl bar guide 266. The front and rear bag supporting plates 260 and 262 are secured to legs 304 and 306 by bolts 308. It is thus seen in FIG. 9 that the front and rear bag supporting plates are maintained in their spaced relationship by bolting them to upper pawl bar guide 264 and brace 284. For additional support, reinforcing straps 310 (FIGS. 9 and 12) can be welded to plates 260 and 262. As best seen in FIGS. 8, 9 and 10, a small bar 312 is welded to legs 304 of upper pawl bar guide 264, and projects as a lip above the top edge of leg 304.

A retainer wire 314 is associated with each opening 278 in bag supporting plates 260 and 262. Retainer wire 314 is shown in its entirety in FIG. 16. As seen in FIG. 16, the retainer wire includes a horizontally projecting arm 316 at one end. A leg 318 projects perpendicularly from arm 316 and terminates in a loop 320. Loop 320 has a notch 322 formed therein. A leg 324 projects horizontally outward from loop 320, and is parallel to arm 316. A leg 326 projects perpendicularly from leg 324. A horizontal bar 328 is connected to leg 326 through looped portion 330. A second looped portion 332 connects bar 328 with leg 334. Leg 334 is in turn connected with horizontal arm 336. A finger 338 projects angularly from am 336.

As is apparent from FIG. 16, all of the elements of retainer wire 314 are unitary. Thus, all of the elements are formed from a rigid piece of wire through conventional metal bending processes. The retainer wires 314 are pivotally secured in bag supporting plates 260 and 262 by the insertion of arms 316 in holes formed in one leg 274 of a bag supporting plate and the insertion of arms 336 in the other leg 274 of the bag supporting plate (see FIG. 12). A tension spring 340 (FIG. 12) has one end received in notch 322 of retainer wire 314 and the other end received in a hook 342 which is struck out from the front face 272 of a bag supporting plate. As seen in FIGS. 8 and 9, there is a spring 340 with each retainer wire 314.

As seen in FIGS. 5 and 12, pawl bars 268 and 270 are basically U-shaped. A plurality of pawls 344 (FIGS. 10 and 11) is pivotally secured on each pawl bar by rivets 346. In FIG. 15, a section of pawl bar 270 is shown with an associated pawl 344.

The other pawl bar 268 and its associated pawls 344 are identical in structure, and a description of the portion of the pawl bars 270 shown in FIG. is identical to the description of the other pawl bar 268.

Pawl bar 270 includes a plate 348 having a rear flange 350 and a front flange 352. There is an upper opening 354 in front flange 352 and a lower opening 356 in front flange 352 for each pawl.

Pawl 344 comprises an upper plate 358 having an upwardly projecting tab 360 through which rivet 346 passes. Plate 358 also includes a rear tab 362 and projects perpendicularly outward therefrom and a forward tab 364 that lies in a plane that is perpendicular to plate 358. Additionally, tab 364 projects at an acute angle relative to a horizontal plane through plate 358. Tab 364 is received in upper opening 354 of flange 352. A tension spring 366 has one end received in an opening in tab 362 and the other end received in an opening in flange 352. Spring 366 urges pawl 344 in a clockwise direction around rivet 346, as viewed in FIG. 15.

Pawl 344 includes a second plate 368 which is parallel to first plate 358, but is spaced inwardly therefrom by arm 370. Additionally, plate 368 is lower than plate 358. Plate 368 includes a forward rounded portion 372 which projects through opening 356 in flange 352. Spring 356 urges tab 364 through opening 354 and the lower portion of plate 368 through opening 356.

As seen in FIGS. 4, 5 and 6, a brace 374 extends across the entire width of vending machine 20. Brace 374 includes a vertical bacltplate 376, an upper leg 378 projecting perpendicularly from the backplate and a lower leg 380 projecting perpendicularly from the backplate. Backplate 376 includes a pair of flanges 382 that are secured to end supporting walls 44 and 46. Top leg 378 also includes flanges 384 that are secured to end supporting walls 44 and 46. Top leg 378 includes projections 386 spaced along its length. As seen in FIG. 5, a pair of angle bars 388 is secured to the underside of each intermediate projection 386, with a single angle bar 388 secured to the bottom of each end projection 386. As seen in FIG. 6, each angle bar 388 includes a circular hole 390 in the vertical leg thereof.

A pawl bar actuating am 392 is mounted on the exterior vertical leg of each angle bar 388. Arm 392 includes a vertical plate 394 (FIG. 6) having a horizontally projecting leg 396. A projection 398 extends outwardly from plate 394, and serves as a lever arm. Leg 396 includes a flange 400 that projects perpendicularly downward therefrom. A spacer 402 is positioned between the inside face of plate 394 and the outside vertical face of angle bar 388, and the arm 392 is pivotally secured to the angle bar by a pin that passes through a hole in plate 394, spacer 402 and hole 390 in angle bar 388. The pin is shown at 404 in FIG. 4.

As seen in FIGS. 4 and 6, control bar 62 connects U-shaped member 60 with pawl bar actuating arm 392, and serves as a plunger extension. Thus, control bar 62 includes an elongated central portion 406. A pair of legs 408 and 410 (FIG. 6) extends from the ends of the central portion 406. A flange 412 projects perpendicularly to leg 408. Flange 412 is pivotally secured to tab 64 of U-shaped member 60 by pin 414. A flange 416 extends perpendicularly from leg 410. Flange 416 is pivotally secured to flange 400 of pawl bar actuating arm 392 by pin 418 and associated washer 420.

As will be explained in further detail hereinafter, each column 50 is pivotable from the vertical position shown in full line in FIG. 4 to the tilted position shown in phantom at 50 in FIG. 4. When the column is in its upright position, the rear bag supporting plate 262 rests on leg 378 of back brace 374 (see FIG. 5). In order to maintain the column 50 in its upright position, a column latch 422 (FIGS. 8 and 9) is provided. Each column latch 422 comprises an L-shaped bar 424 having an outwardly projecting flange 426. A U-shaped bar 428 having a horizontal top surface 430 and legs 432 and 434 extends across the entire width of the vending machine, and is secured at its ends to supporting walls 44 and 46. Latch 422 is pivotally mounted to a tab 436 that is secured to bar 428 by a pin 438. Latch 422 holds column 50 in the upright position shown in FIGS. 8 and 9 by the engagement of flange 426 with bar 312. When it is desired to pivot the column 50, latch 422 is lifted in the direction of arrow 440 in FIG. 9, and the column can be pivoted downwardly in the direction of arrow 442 in FIG. 9. There is a latch 422 provided for each column 50.

As seen in FIG. 9, there is a plate 444 secured to the underside of plate 302 of upper pawl bar guide 264. Plate 444 shown in FIG. 9 is associated with pawl bar 268, and as seen in FIG. 10, there is an identical plate 444 associated with pawl bar 270. Plate 444 includes an upper flange 446 that is secured to plate 302 (see also FIG. 14, which is a sectional view taken on the line l414 of FIG. 10). An arm 448 projects horizontally outward from plate 444, and arm 448 includes a small flange 450.

As best seen in FIGS. 9, l0 and 14, an empty lock 452 is provided for each pawl bar 268 and 270. Lock 452 includes a vertically extending plate 454 that is pivotally secured to plate 444 by pin 456. A first flange 458 having an outwardly projecting lip 460 (FIG. 9) projects perpendicularly from plate 454. A second flange 462 projects from the other side of plate 454. A tab 464 projects from flange 462, and has a lower edge 466 (FIG. 10). As seen in FIGS. 10 and 14, the lower edge 466 of tab 464 overlies a shoulder 468 at the top of leg 352 of pawl bar 270.

As seen in FIG. 4, a roller 470 is rotatably mounted on the bottom of pawl bar 268 by pin 472. A similar roller 470 is also mounted on each pawl bar 270. A tension spring 474 (FIG. 4) has one end secured to column stop 296 and the other end secured to pin 472. Spring474 retains the pawl bars 268 and 270 in the position shown in FIGS. 9 and 10.

The commodities to be vended are packed in pouches or bags which are shown diagrammatically at 476 in FIGS. 10 and 11. The bags are held in place by retainer wires 314 which are urged against the bag-supporting plates 260 by springs 340. Arms 316 and 336 of each retainer wire 314 are rotatably mounted in legs 274 of each bag-supporting plate (FIG. 12). As seen in FIG. 11, each wire 314 can be pivoted to a first position, shown at 478, or a second position which is shown at 480. In passing from the first position to the second position, or from the second position to the first position, the spring 340 passes through the center of rotation of the retainer wire 314. Accordingly, the spring 340 will hold the wire 314 in the first position 478 or in the second position 480 through an overthe-center force or motion.

The bags 476 are loaded onto column 50 when the retainer wires are in the first position 478. The upper edge of the bag 476 placed against a notch 282 in the bag-supporting plate 260, and the retainer wires are pivoted from the first position 478 to the second position 480 by rotating fingers 338 (FIG. 8) of the retainer wires. Thus, the fingers 338 serve as a handle for moving the retainer wires to a position whereby they will hold the bags 476 in place. As is apparent in FIGS. 10 and 11, the bags 476 are retained in place by the urging of springs 340 against the retainer wires 314 whereby the bars 328 of the retainer wires will urge the upper portions of the bags into the notches 282. The force of the spring 340 is sufficient to retain the bags in place until the bags are released by the operation of the machine.

The bags 476 are mounted on the front bag-supporting plate 260 when the columns 50 are in the vertical position shown in FIGS. 10 and 11. When it is desired to load the rear bag-supporting plates 262, column latch 422 (FIG. 9) is pivoted upwardly in the direction of arrow 440 and the column 50 is pivoted downwardly in the direction of arrow 442 (FIG. 9) to the position shown in phantom at 50' in FIG. 4. The pivoting motion is also indicated by arrow 482 in FIG. 4. The columns 50 are pivotally mounted on shaft 48 by brackets 52 (FIGS. 4 and 5). The pivoting of the column is continued until the column lies in a plane that is approximately 15 to the horizontal. At this point, column stop 296 will abut the lower edge of leg 378 (FIG. 6) of brace 374. Accordingly, the leg 378 will maintain the column 50 in its tilted position.

After the column 50 has been tilted, the bags 476 are mounted on the rear bag-supporting plate 262. The mounting is carried out in exactly the same manner as was done with the front bag-supporting plate 260. Thus, the upper edges of the bags 476 are secured in place by bars 328 of retainer wires 314 and notches 282 of the bag-supporting plate. The springs 340 retain the retainer wires in place. One of the features of the machine of this invention is that each of the columns 50 is pivotable independently of the other columns. Thus, the operator of the vending machine can easily load each of the columns by standing adjacent the columns when the column has been pivoted outwardly. In the prior art vending machines, all of the columns were pivoted outwardly as a unit, or were slid outwardly from the machine in order to be filled in their vertical position. This created a problem when it was attempted to fill the middle columns on the vending machine.

After the front and back bag-supporting plates have been filled with bags, the columns 50 are returned to their vertical positions. The mere loading of the bags on the plates automatically sets the machine for vending, and the operator need go through no further steps in order to prepare the commodities for vending. The only other step that must be taken by the operator is to set the coin mechanism to have the correct price for each bag-supporting plate of commodities. The setting of the price for each of the various commodities is carries out in the manner described above. After the bags have been loaded and the prices have been set, the front door 24 of the machine is closed and locked. The machine is now set for the deposit of coins and for vending.

Referring again to FIG. 1, the user of the machine will first select the item that he wishes to purchase by reviewing the items for sale through the glass front of the vending machine 20. After noting the item he wishes to purchase, he will note the plunger number for that specific item. For instance, if he wishes to purchase the item designated number 10, the customer will then pull plunger number 10 (FIG. 3) which has been indicated at 236. The customer will also note the price for the selected commodity, which for item number 10 has been set at $0.05. Accordingly, the customer will insert a nickel in coin slot 26 and pull the plunger indicated at 236 in the direction of arrow 484 (FIG. 6).

Since the correct amount of money has been deposited to render plunger 236 operational, the lock formed by leading edge 244 (FIG. 7) of plate 204 and the forward portion 232 of plate 224 will be open, and the plunger 236 will be permitted to undergo a full-stroke operation, thereby effectuating the vending of a commodity associated with plunger 236. Referring again to FIG. 6, it is seen that the full-stroke operation of plunger 236 will rotate lever 146 in the direction of arrow 486, in the manner described above with respect to the coin mechanism. At the same time, the movement of the plunger 236 in the direction of arrow 484 will move control bar 62 forward, in the direction of arrow 246. This in turn will cause pawl bar actuating arm 392 to rotate in the direction of arrow 488 around pin 404 (FIG. 4).

Referring again to FIG. 9, the position of the pawl bars 268 and 270 is shown therein prior to the pulling of a plunger 34 and prior to the pivoting of pawl bar actuating arm 392. As seen in FIG. 9 with respect to pawl bar 268, the first plate 358 and the associated tab 364 of one pawl occupy the same slot as the second plate 368 of the next highest pawl mounted on the pawl bar. Thus, again referring to FIG. 15, it is seen that the upper slot 354 for one pawl 344 will be the lower slot 356 for the next highest pawl 344 on the pawl bar. As seen in FIG. 10, when a pawl bar is in its at-rest position, the lower plate 368 of each pawl abuts the front face 272 of the bag-supporting plate 260.

Referring to FIG. 4, it will be seen that the movement of the pawl bar actuating arm 392 in the direction of arrow 488, as caused by the full-stroke movement of the plunger, will cause a force to be applied against the roller 470 of a pawl bar 268 or 270. This causes the associated pawl bar to rise verticaLly in upper pawl bar guide 264 and lower pawl bar guide 266 (FIG. 9) from the position shown in FIG. 10 to the position shown in FIG. 11. Thus, the pawl bars 268 and 270 are normally held in the lower position shown in FIG. 10 by the urging of spring 474 (FIG. 4) and can be caused to reciprocate vertically, as indicated by arrows 492 in FIG. 10, by the rotational movement of the pawl bar actuating arms 392.

Referring again to FIG. 10, it is seen that all of the lower plates 368 of the pawls are urged against the front plate 272 of the bag-supporting plate 260 by the action of springs 366. As the pawl bar 270 is moved upwardly by the action of arm 392, the rounded ends 372 of the lower plates 368 of each pawl will ride over legs 324 of each bag retaining wire 314 (see FIGS. 32 and 16). Accordingly, the legs 324 will cam the lower plates 368 outwardly against the urging of springs 366. When a plunger 34 has reached the full outward extent of its stroke, the pawl bar 270 will be in the position shown in FIG. 11.

As seen in FIG. 11, when the pawl bar 270 is in its uppermost position, the tab 364 of the uppermost pawl 344 is spaced away from leg 324 of retainer wire 314. This is because there is a bag 476 supported by the next lowermost retainer wire 314, and therefore the plate 368 of the uppermost pawl has cammed the tab 364 away from leg 324 during the upward movement of pawl bar 270. Accordingly, when the plunger is returned to its at-rest position shown in FIG. 4, and the arm 392 has returned to its at-rest position, the pawl bar 270 will move downward in the direction of arrow 494 (FIG. 11) to its at-rest position which is shown in FIG. 10. During the downward movement, tab 364 of uppermost pawl 344 will bypass leg 324 of retaining wire 314, since the tab has been cammed outwardly by the engagement of the lower plate 368 on the leg 324 of the next lowermost retainer wire 314.

Referring still to FIG. 11, it is seen that the third retainer wire 314 from the top of bag-supporting plate 260 has been pivoted to its first position, indicated at 478, wherein it will not retain a bag 476 in place. The retainer wires 314 are pivoted to the position shown at 478 by the engagement of tab 364 of a pawl with leg 324 of a retainer wire 314 during the downward movement of a pawl bar. Thus, when the tab contacts the leg 324 the retainer wire 314 is rotated in a clockwise direction, as viewed in FIG. 11, until it passes its center point, at which time the spring 340 rotates the retainer wire to the position shown at 478. When this occurs, a bag 476 is released and drops downwardly from the front face of bag retaining plate 360. Eventually, the bag falls on chute 36, and is delivered in the direction of arrows 496 to the outermost portion of the chute 36 in the front of the machine (FIG. 1). At this point, the customer will have the purchased commodity delivered to him. All pouches on the front supporting plate 260 will be deposited on the central portion of the chute 360, as viewed in FIG. 4, and all pouches supported on the rear bag-supporting plate 262 will be deposited on the rear of the chute 36, as viewed in FIG. 4. Thus, a single delivery chute 36 is provided for all of the columns, and it is not necessary to provide a separate delivery chute for the front bag-supporting plate and a separate delivery chute for the rear bag-supporting plates.

Referring again to FIG. 11, it is seen that after a retainer wire 314 has been tripped during the return of the pawl bar to its at-rest position, the next highest pawl 344 will not be cammed outwardly when the pawl bar is raised for a vending operation. Thus, it is seen that the intermediate pawl bar shown in FIG. 11 does not have its lower plate 368 cammed outwardly by leg 324 of the lowermost retainer wire 314, since the retainer wire 314 has been moved to its lower position 478. Accordingly, when the pawl bar 270 is raised, the intermediate tab 364 is not cammed out of the way of leg 324 by its lower plate 368. Thus, tab 364 will be cammed over leg 324 on the second from the top retainer wire 314 during the upward motion of pawl bar 270, but will overlie the leg 324 when the pawl bar is about to be returned to its at-rest position by the return of the plunger. Accordingly, when the pawl bar 270 is moved downward, the tab 364 will come in contact with leg 324 of the second from the top retainer wire 314. Continued downward motion will rotate retainer wire 314 in a clockwise direction, thereby releasing the bag 476 which is second from the top. The bag will then be delivered through chute 36 to the purchaser.

The next time the plunger associated with the column 270 that'is shown in FIG. 11 is used, the uppermost pawl 344 will not be cammed away from leg 324 of the uppermost retainer wire 314, since the next to the top retainer wire has been pivoted downwardly to a position which is shown at 478 in FIG. 11. Accordingly, the bag 476 secured by the uppermost retainer wire 314 will be released when the pawl bar 270 returns to its lower, at-rest position.

When the uppermost retainer wire 314 in' a column is rotated downwardly to its lower position, which is indicated at 478 for one of the lower retainer wires, empty lock 452 (FIG. 14) is automatically rotated around pin 456 until the lower edge 466 of tab 464 overlies shoulder 468 on pawl bar 270. As seen in FIG. 9, so long as the uppermost retainer wire 314 is in its upper, bag retaining position, the empty lock 452 is kept out of alignment with the pawl bar by the engagement of lip 460 on leg 326 of the retainer wire. However, when the retainer wire is rotated downwardly, thereby dispensing the pouch secured thereby, the empty lock 452 is automatically rotated under its own weight to a vertical position, whereby the lower edge 466 of tab 464 will overlie the shoulder 468 on pawl bar 270 (see FIGS. 11 and 14). With the empty lock 452 in its pivoted position overlying shoulder 468, it is no longer possible to pull the plunger associated with the locked pawl bar. This is because the movement of the plunger will rotate the pawl bar actuator arm 392 through a small arc, thereby lifting the associated pawl bar. However, the plunger will not be able to undergo a full-stroke operation, since the lock 452 will prevent the raising of the pawl bar, and thereby prevent the further movement of the plunger. Accordingly, the customer must either select a different commodity at the same price or must pull the coin return plunger 38, thereby returning the deposited money to the customer through chute 36. The mechanism for returning the deposited money is described in detail in my aforementioned copending application Ser. No. 789,738.

It is thus seen by reference to FIG. 11, that the bags 476 are dispensed sequentially in going from the bottom to the top of the bag-supporting plate 260 or 262. When the column is loaded with commodities, all of the retaining wires 314 will be pivoted upwardly to the position shown at 480 in FIG. 11. When the plunger associated with a given pawl bar is pulled for the first time, the lowermost retainer wire 314 will be pivoted downwardly, since there is nothing to cam the lowermost pawl 344 outwardly during the upward stroke of the pawl bar. After the lowermost retainer wire 314 has been tripped, the next lower retainer wire 314 will be tripped the next time the plunger is pulled for a full-stroke operation. The sequence of the tripping of the retainer wires is that described with respect to FIG. 11. The bags are always dispensed on the return stroke of the plunger.

It is apparent from a review of FIGS. and 11 that the bagsupporting plates 260 and 262 and the associated pawl bars are automatically set for a vending operation when the bags are loaded in place. Thus, when the retainer wires are set in their bag-supporting positions, they are automatically set for operation, and the man filling the machine need do no further work in order to prepare the machine for vending. This is a distinct advantage over the cam track arrangement presently used, wherein the operator must reset the cam each time the machine is filled, or else the machine will not operate properly.

It is to be understood that there is a separate plunger for each pawl bar 268 and 270. Although the operation of the machine has been described with respect to pawl bar 270 in FIGS. 10 and ll, it is to-beunderstood that the operation of the pawl bar 268 and its associated bag-supporting plate 262 is identical to that describedwith respect to pawl bar 270 and its associated plate 260.

The specific coin mechanism disclosed herein is exemplary of the type of coin mechanism that can be used in the vending machine of this invention. The specific coin mechanism disclosed forms no part of this invention, as this mechanism is disclosed and claimed in my copending Pat. application Ser. No. 789,738. Other coin mechanisms known to the art can also be used in carrying out the concepts of this invention. All that is required of the coin mechanism is that after the correct amount of money has been deposited, the plunger must be able to undergo a full-stroke operation in order to raise and lower the pawl bar.

Without further elaboration, the foregoing will so fully illustrate my invention, that others may, by applying current or future knowledge, adopt the same for use under various conditions of service.

What is claimed as the invention is:

ll. A pouch vending machine comprising at least one plate adapted to support a plurality of pouches containing a commodity, means for securing said pouches on said plate, a manually operable member adapted to release one of said pouches from said plate after a predetermined amount of money has been inserted in the vending machine, said means for securing said pouches on said plate comprising a plurality of resiliently mounted retainers, with one retainer being provided for each pouch loaded on said plate, said retainers holding said pouches on said plate when in a first position and said retainers releasing said pouches from said plate when in a second position, a pawl bar controlled by said manually operable member for moving the lowermost retainer on said plate from a first position to a second position, when said lowermost retainer has a pouch associated therewith, said pawl bar being vertically reciprocable relative to said plate by said manually operable member, a plurality of pawls pivotally mounted on said pawl bar, with one pawl being associated with each retainer, and means for preventing the movement of all other retainers that are associated with commodities when said lowermost retainer is moved from said first position to said second position.

2. The vending machine of claim 1, wherein said pawl bar is positioned behind said plate, and each pawl is resiliently urged into said plate.

3. The vending machine of claim 2, wherein each retainer includes a bar, said bar being resiliently urged into said plate to retain a pouch against said plate when said retainer is in said first position.

4. The vending machine of claim 3, wherein each retainer further includes a second bar, said second bar being positioned between said pawl bar and said plate, said second bar acting to cam said pawls away from said plate when a pouch is secured by the pouch retaining bar of said retainer, and said second bar permitting a pawl to contact said plate when there is no pouch retained by the pouch retaining bar associated therewith, whereby the uppermost pawl not cammed away by said second bar will contact the second bar of the lowermost retainer having a pouch secured thereby during the reciprocation of said pawl bar, and will move said lowermost retainer from said first position to said second position, thereby releasing the pouch associated with said lowermost retainer.

5. The vending machine of claim 1, wherein each pawl comprises an upper plate and a lower plate, said upper plate being adapted to move said retainer from said first position to said second position and said lower plate controlling said upper plate during the reciprocation of said pawl bar, thereby controlling whether said retainer will be moved from said first position to said second position during said reciprocation.

6. The vending machine of claim 5 wherein said retainer is pivotally mounted on said plate and is held in said first position or said second position by spring'means, said spring means holding said retainer in said positions by an over-thecenter force, whereby said spring means will maintain said retainer in either of said positions.

7. In a vending machine, a plate adaptedto support a plurality of pouches containing commodities thereon, each pouch

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3010556 *Sep 28, 1954Nov 28, 1961Benz William ARefrigerated food vender
US3140798 *Jun 1, 1961Jul 14, 1964Philip J MalonsonVending machine apparatus
US3349961 *Sep 8, 1964Oct 31, 1967Seeburg CorpVending machine having a lock-out means
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4371093 *Apr 14, 1981Feb 1, 1983Berger Martin MVending machine with convertible shelves
US7191933 *Oct 9, 2003Mar 20, 2007Asahi Seiko Kabushiki KaishaAutomatic fare paying device for vehicles and method
Classifications
U.S. Classification221/125, 221/89
International ClassificationG07F5/26, G07F11/64, G07F11/00, G07F5/00
Cooperative ClassificationG07F5/26, G07F11/64
European ClassificationG07F5/26, G07F11/64