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Publication numberUS3682378 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateAug 8, 1972
Filing dateNov 23, 1970
Priority dateNov 23, 1970
Also published asCA942723A1, DE2157872A1, DE2157872C2
Publication numberUS 3682378 A, US 3682378A, US-A-3682378, US3682378 A, US3682378A
InventorsHanson Walter J, Rouan Francis J
Original AssigneePitney Bowes Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Value dispensing mechanisms
US 3682378 A
Abstract
A postage meter having a mechanism which is rotatable to print a postage impression of a selected value. A mechanism for setting the postage value is provided, and is assembled with the printing mechanism for rotation therewith. This setting mechanism includes selector wheels which are coaxially rotatable, and setting bars which are longitudinally translatable in response to rotation of the selector wheels. Economic accountability is assured by postage registers having four drivable decimal orders, and input pinions for each such order. The setting mechanism has four adjustable register-driving gear clusters which are normally disengaged from the register pinions, but engage them during printing. Mechanisms are provided for choking the register, and for clamping the choke devices to provide positive register locking when the driving gear clusters are disengaged from the pinions. The setting bars comprise an assembly of individual bar members, pairs of which are connected together for joint translation. The bars are nested in a unique way, and are formed with respective gear tooth racks which adjust the register-driving gear clusters and set the numerical value of the postage printing wheels. Rectification is accomplished by pawls which engage the setting bar racks, and have a mutually interlocking relationship with a shutter disk. This interlock operates either to disable the meter trip mechanism, and thus prevent postage printing operation, when the setting bars are not in rectified position; or to lock the setting bars during a postage printing cycle. A deadlock latch, which acts as an intermediate link between the shutter disk and trip mechanism, also blocks the trip mechanism when the descending postage balance is low, or the register compartment access door is open.
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United States Patent Rouan et al.

[54] VALUEDISPENSING MECHANISMS Primary Examiner-Richard B. Wilkinson Assistant ExaminerStanley A. Wal Attorney-William D. Soltow, Jr., Albert W. Scribner, Martin D. Wittstein and Louis A. Tirelli ABSTRACT A postage meter having a mechanism which is rotatable to print a postage impression of a selected value. A mechanism for setting the postage value is provided,

and is assembled with the printing mechanism for rotation therewith. This setting mechanism includes selector wheels which are coaxially rotatable, and setting bars which are longitudinally translatable in response to rotation of the selector wheels. Economic accountability is assured by postage registers having four drivable decimal orders, and input pinions for each such order. The setting mechanism has four adjustable register-driving gear clusters which are normally disengaged from the register pinions, but engage them during printing. Mechanisms are provided for choking the register, and for clamping the choke devices to provide positive register locking when the driving gear clusters are disengaged from the pinions. The setting bars comprise an assembly of individual bar members, pairs of which are connected together for joint translation. The bars are nested in a unique way, and are formed with respective gear tooth racks which adjust the register-driving gear clusters and set the numerical value of the postage printing wheels. Rectification is accomplished by pawls which engage the setting bar racks, and have a mutually interlocking relationship with a shutter disk. This interlock operates either to disable the meter trip mechanism, and thus prevent postage printing operation, when the setting bars are not in rectified position; or to lock the setting bars during a postage printing cycle. A deadlock latch, which acts as an intermediate link between the shutter disk and trip mechanism, also blocks the trip mechanism when the descending postage balance is low, or the register compartment access door is open.

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sum 09 HF 14 INVENTORS FRANCIS .J. ROUAN WALTER J. HANSON ATTORNEY P ATENTED M15 8 2 SHEET 100F14 MIA-Zn- INVENTORS FRANCIS d. ROUAN ATTORNEY PATENTEMB 1m 3.682.378

sum nnr 14 INVENTORS FRANCIS J. ROUAN WALTER J. HANSON ATTORNEY PATENTEU 9 9 3. 682 378 \NVENTORS FRANClS J. ROUAN WALTER J. HANSON ATTORNEY PATENTEDAus 81972 SHEET 130F14 INVENTORS FRANUS J. ROUAN WALTER J. HANSON ATTOR NEY PATENTEDAU: a 1912 SHEET 1 4 UP 14 INVENTORS FRANCIS d. ROUAN WALTER J. HANSON ATTORNEY 1 VALUE DISPENSING MECHANISMS FIELD OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to value dispensing mechanisms generally, and in particular to postage meters.

TI-IE PRIOR ART Dispensing mechanisms usually include some means for dispensing a tangible article or printing an impression of some value, and a trip mechanism for triggering a cycle of dispensation. In addition, for dispensing mechanisms such as postage meters, which generally operate on a pre-paid rather than a coin-operated basis, there must also be a mechanism of economic accountability, usually a numerical register, to keep a cumulative record of value dispensed over many operating cycles. There must also be some means for selecting the value to be dispensed in each operating cycle, and setting means for guaranteeing that there will be a numerical input which depletes the register by an amount corresponding to the value dispensed.

In such a meter, it is quite a complicated task to design a suitable mechanism which will effect the proper setting of the postage printing wheels and guarantee that a corresponding input will be made to the register. It is also important that the setting mechanism achieve numerical rectification, and that register inputs be prevented except during postage printing operation.

Previous postage meter designs which achieved all these objectives have tended to be complicated and expensive, while those which were simpler and less expensive all had one or more shortcomings. In particular, the cluster gear type of meter (described in detail below) is relatively economical; but the only previously known example of this design suffered from a lack of register security, from a low limit on the maximum amount of postage which couldbe dispensed in a single operating cycle, and from a lack of numerical rectification.

THE INVENTION The present invention provides a postage meter which adopts the cluster gear approach, but carries it out in a more practical manner than in the past. In particular, the present cluster gear meter deals with the problem of postage limitation and the problem of rectification, and it provides an improved design for a setting mechanism as well as a rotating carriage therefor.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of a postage meter embodying this invention, with the protective cover broken away for clarity of illustration.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a sub-assembly comprising the postage printing and setting mechanisms of that meter.

FIGS. 3 through 6 respectively are perspective views of the postage setting mechanisms for each of the four driveable numerical orders of the register of that meter.

FIGS. 7 and 8 comprise a series of sequential sectional views illustrating the operating progression of the register driving mechanism of that meter. These sections are both taken along lines 7-7 of FIG. 9, looking in the direction of the arrows.

FIG. 9 is a top plan view of the sub-assembly of FIG. 2.

FIG. 10 is a front elevational view of the same sub-assembly, seen from the plane indicated by lines 10-10 of FIG. 9, looking in the direction of the arrows.

FIGS. 11A through 11C are vertical sections, with parts broken away for clarity of illustration, showing the trip and lock-out mechanisms of this postage meter in consecutive and/or alternative operating conditions.

FIGS. 11D and 11E are views similar to FIGS. 11A through 11C, but limited to the register lock-out mechanism.

FIG. 12 is an exploded perspective view, with parts broken away for clarity of illustration, of the trip mechanism of FIGS. 1 1A through 11C.

FIG. 13 is a top plan view of the register choking,

clamping and antireveise mechanism of this postage meter.

FIG. 14 is a sectional view taken along the lines 14- 14 of FIG. 1, looking in the direction of the arrows, and showing the same mechanism as FIG. 13.

FIGS. 15A through 15C are fragmentary top plan views, correlated with FIGS. 11A through 11C respectively, of the meter rectifier mechanism, illustrating its cooperation with the shutter disk.

FIG. 16 is an exploded perspective view of a portion of the setting mechanism carriage of this meter.

FIG. 17 is a sectional view taken along line 17-17 of FIG. 13, looking in the direction of the arrows.

And FIG. 18 is a sectional view taken along lines 18-18 of FIG. 16, looking in the direction of the arrows.

The same reference characters refer to the same elements throughout all the views of the drawing.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT In General-FIG. 1 provides an overall view of a postage meter 30 embodying this invention. In general terms, it comprises a housing 31, a rotary postage printing mechanism 32, and a rotating impression roller 34 therebelow which cooperates therewith to imprint postage upon an envelope E or other postage-receiving object. The envelom is inserted into a printing slot 36 defined by the printing mechanism 32 above it and the impression roller 34 below. The motion of the envelope E engages a trip finger 38 which in turn operates a trip mechanism generally designated 40. The function of this trip mechanism is to switch on the power to an electric motor 42 having an output shaft 44 to which is afiixed a cooling fan 46. When the power is switched on, the motor and shaft drive reduction gearing 48, an output shaft 50 and a drive gear 52 secured to the output shaft. The gear 52 drivingly engages a gear 54 which is secured to a carriage 144 supporting the postage printing mechanism 32 and a setting mechanism 60. The latter mechanism includes manual postage selection means 58 mounted at the front end of the carriage, and a plurality of register-driving gear clusters 62 mounted on the rear end of the carriage. The carriage 144 is mounted for rotation in response to gear 54 and about an axis 56, by means of a rear shaft 64 journaled upon a rear frame plate 66, and a forward shaft 68 joumaled by means of a flanged bushing 69 upon a front frame plate 70. Both frame plates 66 and 70 are upstanding from a meter floor 67.

As is conventional in postage dispensing meters, the register 74 contains a numerical record of the descending postage credit balance, and also the ascending cumulative total of postage dispensed over the entire life of the meter 30. The register comprises several numerical orders, which in the US monetary system represent different decimal places; i.e., the register contains numerical display wheels 76.1 through 76.7 representing, for example, tenths of cents through thousands of dollars respectively. Through conventional Geneva gearing, each of these numerical orders is connected to those above it for decimal carries.

The rotation of carriage 144 about axis 56 drives printing mechanism 32 through its postage printing cycle. Such carriage rotation, which starts from the position of FIG. 7 and proceeds as indicated in FIG. 8 (see arrow 78), also causes the register driving gear clusters 62 to engage register input pinions 72 and thus alter the contents of numerical register 74. For example, a selected one of several gear segments 94 of cluster 62.1 moves into driving engagement with the input pinion 72.1 of the first register order 74.1, as seen in FIG. 8. That pinion 72. 1, which is rotatably mounted on a shaft 87, drives another pinion 73.1 which turns on a stub shaft 85 and is integral with a gear 75.1. The latter meshes with a pair of gears 77.1 and 79.1 which are rotatable on shafts 81 and 83 respectively, and which drive the ascending and descending portions of register 74 respectively. The stub shaft 85 is affixed to one of the register frame plates 317 (see FIG. 13). In a similar manner, the other cluster gears 62.2 through 62.4 drive the other driveable register orders 74.2 through 74.4 by means of their respective input pinions 72.2 through 72.4.

The Setting Mechanism-The cluster gear type of register driving mechanism, which is simpler and more economical than various other approaches, is seen in US. Pat. No. 2,306,499 of F. J. Rouan. In that design, and in the present one, the postage printing mechanism 32 is operable upon rotation about a horizontal axis; and the setting mechanism 60 is rotatable therewith and includes the cluster gears 62 which engage the register input pinions 72 during that rotation, to accomplish the register input function. It follows that the register driving clusters 62 are engaged with the register pinions 72 only during a portion of the postage dispensing cycle. At all other times the register 74 is disengaged therefrom, and in the prior art Rouan meter this left the register in a floating, insecure condition.

As in the prior art, each cluster 62 of the present meter comprises a plurality of the gear segments 94, each having different numbers of teeth, and the value of the register input is selected, to correspond to the amount of postage dispensed, by rotating these clusters 62 about their respective shafts 96 to present different segments 94 to the register pinions 72. In the cited Rouan patent, however, the setting mechanism responsible for rotating these clusters consisted of a direct gear sector and pinion connecting manual selector levers to the clusters. The geometry of that arrangement was such that only two numerical orders of the register could be set from manual selector members placed in side-by-side relationship. Since it is a highly desirable operator convenience feature to have the selector members for all decimal orders in side-by-side relationship, the prior art mechanism was effectively limited to two settable orders; and, as a result the postage meter could dispense no more than $0.99 per postage impression.

Another problem with the prior art meter just described is that it contained no provision for rectifying the setting mechanism; i.e., setting it precisely at some quantized numerical level corresponding to an allowed amount of postage, and not allowing it to slip into some indeterminate or intermediate position between allowed postage levels.

The present postage meter 30 represents an improvement in several respects over the meter disclosed in the Rouan patent. One such feature of this invention is the use of a translatable bar mechanism 98 for connecting a set of coaxially rotatable postage selectors to rotate the register driving clusters 62, thus selecting the appropriate gear segment 94 to correspond with the amount of postage. Translatable bar connections have been used in postage meters in the past for varying the effective value of a register driving gear, as for example in US. Pat. No. 2,510,350 of F. J. Rouan; but there the bar-responsive register-driving mechanism is much more complicated and expensive than the present cluster gear mechanism. The use of a translatable bar connection to a rotating cluster gear, which is presented here for the first time, is the first approach ever to permit the relatively simple and inexpensive cluster type of register drive gearing to be used with more than two driveable register orders, and is therefore the first to raise the maximum dispensable postage amount of a cluster gear meter above $0.99.

For a full appreciation of this aspect of the invention, the readers attention is directed first to FIG. 2, which provides a detailed view of the printing and setting mechanisms mounted on the rotatable carriage 144. (The direction of carriage rotation is indicated by arrow 78 in FIG. 2.) To select the desired amount of postage, thesetting mechanism 60 comprises selection mechanism 58 which is partially enclosed in a housing 89 and includes notched finger disks 80.1 through 80.4 to which are secured postage read-out number wheels 82.1 through 82.4 respectively. Each finger disk 80 and its associated number wheel 82 are integrally molded of a plastic material, and rotatably mounted upon a horizontal selection mechanism shaft 84 journaled between the two arms of a U-shaped bracket 86 (see also FIG. 9) on the carriage 144. Each finger disk and number wheel assembly 80, 82 has integrally molded therewith a respective one of the selector pinions 90.1 through 90.4, which drive the setting mechanism 60, causing it to perform two related functions. The first of these functions is to set the type wheels of printing mechanism 32 into position to print the selected amount of postage; and the second is to adjust the displacements which the register driving gear clusters 62 impart to their respective register input pinions 72.

Each of these register driving gear clusters 62 comprises a hub 92 on which are formed nine different angularly spaced gear segments 94.1 through 94.9 containing one through nine gear teeth respectively, and corresponding to the numerical values one through nine which the selection mechanism 58 can assign to each of four decimal orders. In addition, there is a space 94.0 between each pair of gear segments 94.1 and 94.9, which corresponds to the assignment of zero value to a particular decimal order.

The hubs 92 are mounted for rotation about vertical shafts 96 in response to the setting mechanism 60. Such rotation determines which of the gear segments 94.1 through 94.9, or the space 94.0, is presented to the associated register input pinion 72. When the space 94.0 is thus selected, there is a zero input to the associated register order; and when one of the segments 94.1 through 94.9 with progressively increasing numbers of gear teeth is selected, the input to the associated register order corresponds to selection of postage levels one through nine respectively.

In contrast to the earlier Rouan cluster gear design, the first four decimal orders 76.1 through 76.4 of register 74 are all driveable by respective gear clusters 62. As a result, the postage level may be manually set in four separate decimal orders, employing the selector members 80.1 through 80.4, and the meter 30 is able to print four'decimal orders of postage, for which the printing mechanism 32 comprises four decimal order print wheels 95.1 through 95.4 respectively. Thus, meter 30 is the first cluster gear design which can print amounts of postage up to $9.99 9/10, yet all four of the manual postage selector members 80 are in side-byside relationship and mounted for coaxial rotation on shaft 84. The remaining register orders 76.5 through 76.7 change only in response to conventional Geneva gearing (not shown) upon receiving decimal carries from lower orders.

The setting mechanism 60 comprises a connecting linkage including four bar assemblies 98.1 through 98.4 which are responsive to the four selector pinions 90.1 through 90.4 respectively. In FIGS. 3 through 6 it is seen that these bar assemblies comprise rather complicated shapes which are simplified for manufacturing purposes by dividing them into respective front and rear bar members 100 and 102, and using respective fastening screws 124 to unite each pair of bars for translation as a unit.

The front bars 100.1 through 100.4 respond to the selector pinions 90 and set the type wheels 95 of postage printing mechanism 32. They are formed with respective tooth racks 104.1 through 104.4 which engage the selector pinions 90.1 through 90.4 respectively. In addition, the front bars are formed with print wheel drive branches 106.1 through 106.4 respectively bent at an angle thereto. Branch 106.4 slants somewhat upwardly from bar 100.4, while the other branches 106.1 through 106.3 extend sidewardly from bars 104.1 through 1043 respectively at angles of about 90, and have extensions which are slanted slightly upwardly.

The slanted branch 106.4 and each of the slanted extensions of branches 106.1 through 106.3 extend into interleaved relationship (see FIG. 10) with the four decimal order postage printing wheels 95.1 through 95.4, and broaden out to form toothed racks 110.1 through 110.4 respectively. The racks 110 drive pinions 112.1 through 112.4 respectively, each of which is formed integrally with an associated one of the postage printing wheels 95.1 through 95.4 respectively;

all the print wheels and their pinions being rotatably mounted upon a common shaft 114 (FIG. 10) which is non-rotatably afiixed to a print mechanism housing 1 16 (see FIG. 1) in a manner which is conventional in the postage meter art. Thus, as the operator of the postage meter manually rotates the disks to select the amount of postage indicated by the numerals on the read-out wheels 82, the selector pinions and selector racks 104 translate the bar members longitudinally, causing the print racks to rotate the print pinions 112 and printing wheels 95 into printing positions which correspond to the postage selected.

The rear bar members 102 each perform three functions: setting the gear clusters 62; rectification of the setting mechanism 60; and slidably mounting the bar assemblies 98 on the carriage 144.

So far as setting the gear clusters 62 is concerned, the

bars 102.1 through 102.4 are formed with toothed rack tabs 126.1 through 126.4 respectively bent at right angles thereto, which engage pinions 128.1 through 128.4 respectively, secured to gear cluster hubs 921 through 92.4 respectively. When any one of the bar assemblies 98 is longitudinally translated, such motion causes the rack tab 126 thereof to rotate the associated pinion 128 and gear cluster 62 about its shaft 96, thus selecting the angular position of the cluster. This in turn presents a particular gear segment 94 of the cluster to its register input pinion 72, i.e., the segment with the number of register-driving teeth which is appropriate to the particular postage level desired for the particular decimal order. Rectification-Another respect in which the present invention represents an improvement over the earlier cluster gear patent is that here means are provided for rectifying the setting mechanism. One result is that the print wheels-95 are set precisely in various positions each corresponding to an allowed quantum of postage, and are not allowed to assume intermediate, numerically indeterminate positions. But even more importantly in a cluster gear meter, it is essential to rectify the angular positions of the cluster gears 62; because otherwise it would be possible for two consecutive gear segments 94 of any one cluster 62 to pass on opposite sides of their associated register input pinion 72, without engaging that pinion at all. In that case, there would be no register input, and the scheme of economic accountability would fail.

In this meter, rectification is accomplished by rectifying pawls 136 which are resiliently biased into engagement with position-determining teeth formed on an appropriate member of the setting mechanism 60. These could be, for example, the teeth of pinions 90 or 112 which transmit motion from the selector wheels 80 to print wheels 95. Preferably, however, special toothed rectifying racks are provided on the translatable bar assemblies 98, and the resiliently biased rectifying pawls are arranged to act directly on those bars.

The rear bar members 102.1 through 102.4 are formed with respective right angle dog-leg bends 102a from which are folded respective right angle flanges 130.1 through 130.4. These bar flanges 130 have two functions, one of which is rectification. They are formed with toothed rectifying racks 132.1 through 132.4 respectively, which cooperate with respective rectifying pawls 134.1 through 134.4. One pair of oddnumbered pawls 134.1 and 134.3 are in superposed relationship and are pivotally mounted on the upper surface of the carriage 144 (see FIGS. 1, 2 and 16) by a single fastener 136.1, and the otherpair of even-numbered pawls 134.2 and 134.4 are similarly superposed and mounted on the lower surface of the carriage by fastener 136.2. Each of these pawls 134 is formed with a tooth 138 which nests between the teeth of the associated rectifying rack 132 when the associated bar assembly 98 is in one of its rectified positions, or rides over those teeth 132, rotating the associated pawl 134 about its fastener 136, when the associated bar assembly is between rectified positions.

The Rotating Carriage and Mechanisms Mounted Thereon-An additional aspect of this invention is the provision of the rotating carriage 144 which contains an elongated cavity within which the register-driving cluster gears 62 are mounted for rotation about their respective shafts 96, and the bar means 98 are mounted for the translating motion which sets the cluster gears 62 and print wheels 95. More specifically, as seen in FIGS. 1, 2 and 7, the rear of the carriage comprises a pair of upper and lower confronting plates 146 and 148 respectively for rotatably mounting the cluster gears and slidably mounting the bar means, and at the front of the carriage is the housing 89 which partially encloses the postage selection mechanism 58. The space between the plates 146 and 148 constitutes a rear cavity 150 within which the bar means 98 are housed, the interior of housing 89 constitutes a front cavity 88 in which the selection mechanism 58 is contained, and the bar means 98 extend longitudinally forward from rear cavity 150 into front cavity 88 to engage the postage selection mechanism 58.

The carriage 144 also comprises a founpronged forked frame member 152 (FIGS. 1, A and 16) at the forward end of the cavity 150, to which the upper and lower plates 146 and 148 are secured by fasteners 330; and a disk 154 (FIGS. 1, 2, 13 and 14) to which these plates are secured at the rear of cavity 150, by means of tabs 156 and fasteners 157. The carriage members 146, 148, 152 and 154 thus form a strong rectangular frame to support the bars 98 and cluster gears 62 within rear cavity 150.

With reference to FIGS. 1 and 16, the front wall of the four-pronged member 152 and projects formed with a circular passageway opening 152a surrounded by a hollow cylindrical shaft 68, which is integral with the front wall of member 152 and projects forwardly therefrom. A smaller diameter sleeve 71 is secured to the rear wall 116b of print mechanism housing 1 16, and projects rearwardly therefrom into the interior of the hollow shaft 68 to mount the housing 116 (and the print mechanism 32 therein) upon the pronged member 152. Two hollow roll pins 65 (cylindrical pins rolled from sheet stock) pass through diametrically opposite radial openings 63 formed in the shaft 68 and sleeve 71, to secure the shaft and sleeve together. These pins are squeezed prior to insertion in the holes 63, and then expand for a friction fit therein. In addition, set screws 61 are threaded into tapped holes 59 which are formed on opposite sides of frame member 152 and sleeve 71 at 90 displacements from holes 63, thus forming a more rigid assembly. The U-shaped bracket 86, which supports the selection mechanism 58, is secured by fasteners 332 to the front wall 116a of housing 116 (FIG. 9), and its two arms project forwardly therefrom. The selector housing 89 is also mounted on the front wall of housing 116. The entire carriage 144 is mounted for rotation about axis 56 by means of the shaft 64, which protrudes rearwardly from disk 154 and is journaled on the rear frame plate 66, and hollow shaft 68 which is journaled within shouldered bushing 69. The bushing in turn is supported upon the front frame plate 70. Opening 152a and the hollow interiors of shaft 68, bushing 69, sleeve 71 and housing 116 define a continuous axial passageway through which the bar assemblies 98 pass from the rear cavity to the front cavity 88.

The second function of the bar flanges 130 is to mount the bar assemblies 98 slidably on the carriage 144. As best seen in FIG. 7, but with reference to FIGS. 1 through 6 and 9 also, the underside of carriage plate 146 is formed with a wide, shallow channel 158 which is elongated in the direction parallel to axis 56, and slidably receives an upper pair of odd-numbered bar flanges 130.1 and 130.3 in superposed relationship. These flanges are retained within the channel 158 by means of a rivet 160 which is driven upwardly into the carriage plate 146 through a pair of slots 162.1 and 162.3 formed in both flanges 130.1 and 130.3 respectively. The rivet has an enlarged head overlapping the edges of the slots 162, to prevent vertical escape of the flanges. Similarly, the upper surface of carriage plate 148 is formed with a wide, shallow channel 164 which slidably receives a lower pair of even-numbered bar flanges 130.2 and 130.4 in superposed relationship. These flanges are also retained within the channel 164 by means of another headed rivet 166 which is driven downwardly through respective slots 162.2 and 162.4 thereof into the lower carriage plate 148. The heads of rivets 160 and 166 are not tight against the bar flanges 130, so as to avoid binding their sliding movement; while the width of slots 162 is greater than the outside diameter of the rivet shafts for the same reason. The slots are sufiiciently elongated to permit each bar assembly 98.1 through 98.4 to move through a full 10 numerical setting positions in response to the postage selection mechanism 58.

FIG. 7 reveals that the upper and lower carriage plates 146 and 148 are provided with sockets which receive the opposite ends of shafts 96 for rotatably mounting the cluster gears 62 within the cavity 150, so that the selected one of the gear segments or spaces 94.0 through 94.9 can be brought into driving alignment with the associated register input pinion 72. Pinions 128 are provided to rotate each gear cluster 62 in this manner, each pinion being located atone end of 1 its associated shaft 96 and hub 92, adjacent to one of the carriage plates 146 or 148, where it is conveniently engageable by the associated bar rack 126 for rotating the cluster gear in response to translation of the associated bar assembly 98.

As best seen in FIG. 9, odd-numbered alternate cluster gears 62.1 and 62.3 are located on one side of the carriage 144, and drive their respective register input pinions 72.1 and 72.3 during a first half of the carriage rotation (as illustrated for cluster gear 62.1 in FIGS. 7 and 8). Even-numbered alternate cluster gears 62.2 and 62.4, on the other hand, are located on the opposite side of the carriage, and thus drive their respective pinions 72.2 and 72.4 during the second half of such rotation.

The carriage frame member 152 serves many subsidiary functions. In order to keep the rectifying pawls 134 resiliently biased into engagement with their associated rectifier rack teeth 132, a pair of leaf springs 168 (FIGS. 1 and are secured on opposite sides of the frame member 152 by machine screws 170. Each leaf spring is fork-shaped to form pairs of independently flexing tines 172.1, 172.3 (extending upwardly) and 172.2, 172.4 (extending downwardly), which engage respective projections 140.1 through 140.4 of respective rectifying pawls 1341 through 134.4. Note that the upper and lower surfaces of frame member 152 receive the rectifying pawl fasteners 136.1 and 136.3, respectively; and the side surfaces thereof receive the leaf spring fasteners 170. In addition, the unique upper and lower pronged configuration of member 152 allows the right angle dog-leg bends 102a of bar members 102.1 and 102.3 to reach upwardly through the upper bifurcation thereof, and those of the other two bar members 102.2 and 102.4 to reach downwardly through the lower bifurcation; so that their flanges 130 engage respectively with rectifying pawls 134.1 and 134.3 atop the frame member 152, and 134.2 and 134.4 and below the frame member.

The shape of each bar assembly 98 is complicated by the requirement that it perform five functions simultaneously: driven engagement with one of the selector pinions 90, driving engagement with one of the print wheel pinions 112; rectifying engagement with one of the pawls 134; driving engagement with one of the cluster pinions 128; and slidable mounting of the bar assembly itself upon one of the rear carriage plates 146 or 148. The design is further complicated by the fact that only the selector pinions 90 and cluster pinions 128 are located with the carriage cavities 88 and 150 respectively and are thereof adjacent to the path of translation of the main bar members 100 and 102 respectively; whereas the print wheel pinions 112 are displaced sidewardly therefrom, and the rectifying pawls 134 are located above and below the carriage frame member 152. The problem of print wheel pinion engagement is solved by providing the forward bar members 100 with the sidewardly extending branches 106 which bring the toothed racks 110 into proximity with print wheel pinions 112; while the problem of rectifying pawl engagement is solved by providing the vertically extending right angle dog-leg bends 102a, as previously described. Despite their intricately branched shapes, however, the bar assemblies 98 must be translatable independently of each other, without any interference between the various bends 102a branches 106, in order that the four register orders 74.1 through 74.4 be settable independently. For the same reason, moreover, the flanges 130 and racks 126 must avoid mutual interference while performing their respective functions of slidably mounting the bar assemblies 98 on the carriage plates 146 and 148, and driving the cluster pinions 128. In order to avoid such mutual interference, the various parts of the bar assemblies 98.1 through 98.4 are folded, interleaved and slidably nested with each other in a way which will now be described.

As seen in FIG. 9, the forward bar members 100.1 through 100.4 of each assembly 98 are arranged in parallel, side-by-side (and therefore non-interfering) relationship within the selector cavity 88. The two lower order bars 100.1 and 100.2 are positioned below, and the two higher order bars 100.3 and 100.4 above, the axis of rotation of the shaft 84. Consequently, as seen in FIG. 10, the two lower order selector racks 104.1 and 104.2 engage their respective pinions 90.1 and 90.2 from below, while the two higher order selector racks 104.3 and 104.4 engage their respective selector pinions 90.3 and 90.4 from above. As a result, the bar assemblies 98.1 and 98.2 are driven rearwardly by their respective pinions 90.1 and 90.2, from the forward limiting positions of these bar assemblies illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 5 respectively. Similarly, the bar assemblies 98.3 and 98.4 are driven forwardly by their respective pinions 90.3 and 90.4, from the rearward limiting positions of these bar assemblies illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 3 respectively. To accommodate these differing directions of bar assembly motion, slots 162.3 and 162.4 extend rearwardly from their respective rivets 160 and 166, while slots 162.1 and 162.2 extend forwardly therefrom. Note also that the direction of rotation order the respective cluster gears 62 and print wheels depends on the direction of translation of their bar assemblies 98.

The described vertical displacement of bar members from each other permits their respective sidewardly extending, print-wheeLdriving branches 106 to overlie one another within the print wheel housing 1 16, to avoid mutual interference. Thus, as seen in FIGS. 9 and 10, the lowermost of these members is the lowest order branch 106.1; which is bent from the lower and frame of bar 100.1, one of the two lower bars 100 (see also FIG. 6). The next one above is the second of branch 106.2, which achieves a spaced, overlying, noninterfering relationship to branch 106.1 by being bent from the upper edge of the other lower bar 100.2 (see also FIG. 5). The next one above the third order branch 106.3 which achieves a spaced overlying, non-interfering relationship to branch 106.2 by being bent from the lower edge of the bar 100.3 (see also FIG. 4), one of those positioned above bars 100.1 and 100.2. Finally, the fourth order branch 106.4 achieves a spaced, overlying, non-interfering relationship with branch 106.3 by being bent from the top edge of the other upper bar 100.4 (see also FIG. 3).

The rear bars 102.1 through 102.4 are connected to their respective front bars 100.1 through 100.4, extending rearwardly therefrom in relatively closely spaced, parallel, side-by-side (and therefore non-interfering) relationship, as seen in FIG. 9. Close spacing is necessary to permit these bars to pass through the interior openings of print housing 116, sleeve 71, bushing 69, shaft 68 and member 152 (see FIG. 16). Such spacing is and achieved by securing the third and fourth order rear bar members 102.3 and 102.4 directly to their respective front bar members 100.3 and 100.4 (see FIGS. 4 and 3 respectively), So that the third and fourth order bar assemblies 100.3, 102.3 and 100.4, 102.4 are essentially co-linear. The first and second order rear bar members 102.1 and 102.2, in contrast, are laterally offset from their respective front bar members 100.1 and 100.2 (and thus brought into proximity

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4050374 *Jun 21, 1976Sep 27, 1977Pitney-Bowes, Inc.Meter setting mechanism
US4099049 *Nov 10, 1976Jul 4, 1978Pitney-Bowes, Inc.Ascending register lockout system for a postage meter
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US4898093 *Oct 6, 1988Feb 6, 1990Frama AgFranking machine
US5295433 *Jul 2, 1993Mar 22, 1994Pitney Bowes Inc.Value selection mechanism including means for weakening a shaft thereof
US5325773 *Dec 28, 1992Jul 5, 1994Pitney Bowes Inc.Multi-value dispensing apparatus
US5372065 *Jul 2, 1993Dec 13, 1994Pitney Bowes Inc.Value selection mechanism including means for weakening a drive gear to permit distortion thereof
US5445074 *Nov 2, 1994Aug 29, 1995Pitney Bowes Inc.Value selection and printing apparatus including a security device
US5493967 *Sep 16, 1994Feb 27, 1996Pitney Bowes Inc.Value selection and printing apparatus including a security device
EP0257153A1 *Aug 27, 1986Mar 2, 1988Pitney Bowes PLCPostage meter and control arrangement for same
EP0339915A2 *Apr 24, 1989Nov 2, 1989Pitney Bowes PLCA locking arrangement
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Classifications
U.S. Classification235/101, 101/91
International ClassificationG07B17/00
Cooperative ClassificationG07B17/00508, G07B2017/00548
European ClassificationG07B17/00F2