US 3707855 A
A garment finishing system comprised of a finisher having a heat exchanger and a steam discharge nozzle, and a low pressure steam boiler coupled to the finisher in a manner so that the finisher heat exchanger outlet is located vertically higher than the boiler water level thereby allowing gravity condensate return and infeed to the boiler, and makeup water infeed to the boiler generally from line pressure and without a pump.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1 1 Buckley I Jan. 2, 1973 GARMENT FINISHING COMBINATION Wis.
Assigneei Macaw-mason 'Co'iiiIpaBI EIgTn:
Filed: Sept. 9, 1971 Appl. No.: 178,923
US. Cl ..68/6, 68/20 Int. Cl ..D06c 1/00 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 8/1962 Sussman ..,68/20 X FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 828,313 1/1952 Germany ..68/5C Primary Examiner-William 1. Price Attorney-Charles F. Lind  ABSTRACT A garment finishing system comprised of a finisher having a heat exchanger and a steam discharge nozzle, and a low pressure steam boiler coupled to the finisher Inventor: Norman A. Buckley, Wauwatosaf Field of Search ..68/5 C, 6, 20; 223/51 in a manner so that the finisher heat exchanger outlet is located vertically higher than the boiler water level thereby allowing gravity condensate return and infeed to the boiler, and makeup water infeed to the boiler generally from line pressure and without a pump.
Most professional cleaning plants have available high pressure steam systems generally between 55 and 125 psi, and consequently most garment finishers are designed to be used with these available high steam pressures. The cost of having steam boilers of this high pressure is substantial, but even more important, many safety codes preclude the operation of such systems under certain conditions. For example, under some codes the accepted use of high pressure steam systems requires special room enclosures for or locations of the boiler and/or possibly the continued presence of a certified operator. The code distinction between low and high pressure steam systems frequently is made at 15 psig, based on ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) and BOLA' (Building Officials Conference of America).
Based in part on the above code restrictions, in coinops or self-service installations where non-technical customers would operate unattended finishing equipment, certain types of finishing equipment have heretofore not been used.
10 Claims, 2 Drawing Figures PATENTEDJM 2 ms r n 8 J O 3 a a w an 0 4 m w u m .m Fl n u- V C w 6 m e v w M iliill" IUQI\III\.HH,FIHH ufl i ld l i l l lfl llllllllll u m 2 w I. u u H u m l!| a o 2 M kl m n M V ww MW U E m .w m m w GARMENT FINISHING COMBINATION manner to allow gravity return of condensate back to l the boiler. The combination can be operated at widely I varying steam pressures, but is particularly suited for use with low pressure steam of less than psi. Since many existing water systems are typically at pressures well above 15 psi, such as between and 60 psi, and because of gravity feed condensate return, there is no need for a separate condensate collecting tank and/or a booster pump and the condensate and makeup water lines can be directly connected to the boiler. This lowers the overall cost of the installation and reduces the number of components that can fail.
The invention will be more fully understood and appreciated after reviewing the following specification, the accompanying drawing forming a part thereof; wherein FIG. 1 is a schematic type elevational view showing a preferred embodiment of the subject garment finisher and steam boiler combination; and
FIG. 2 is a similar schematic type view showing only the coupling externally of the disclosed garment finisher of a more conventional remotely located high pressure steam boiler system.
The disclosed finisher has a steam inlet connection that is directed through a control valve and flow control restriction to a nozzle for discharging conditioning steam and that is also directed through a heat exchanger for heating garment drying air, and air vent means are located at the condensate discharge end of the heat exchanger. A boiler having a generally constant water level is coupled to thefinisher with the condensate discharge end of the heat exchanger located at least approximately 4 inches above the boiler water level to allow condensate return by gravity from the heat exchanger back to the boiler. A water makeup I inlet to the boiler is provided with a float type automatic level control.
l The garment finisher 10 shown isv a batch box finisher, where a large cabinet 12 has a support orrack 14 on which a hanger l6is hooked and a garment'18 is suspended thereon to its full natural contour. The cabinet has an access opening (not shown) through which the operator can load and unload the hanger and garment, and a doortypically would close the opening.
. To condition the garment, live steam is discharged from a steam outlet nozzle 20 to within the cabinet to condense on the garment for relaxing the fibers. There is also provided in the finisher 10 a means for blowing air over the garment to dry it. In this regard, a blower 22 has an inlet 24 open to the enclosure at its lower end and an outlet connected to a channel 26 for discharge at the upper end of the enclosure for air flow downwardly over the garment. A heat exchanger 28 in the channel 26 heats the air normally to temperatures in excess of F to dry the garment, but much higher air temperatures to 250350F can be used to help set the garment in a wrinkle-free finished manner if desired.
The disclosed invention resides in the location of the finisher heat exchanger and its connection relative to a steam generating boiler, and further in the manner of providing a live steam discharging outlet. As shown in FIG. 1, a steam generator boiler 30 is' located closely adjacent the finisher and heat exchanger therein. This boiler can be of a typical manufacture, even of a low pressure or 15 psi output capacity.
The boiler has a casing 32 which defines a chamber adapted to hold water up to water line 34 and where steam when generated is above this line as at 36. If the pressure of the available water supply system is at least approximately 10 psi higher than the steam boiler pressure, which typically is the case when a low pressure boiler is used, makeup water to the boiler is possible by direct connection to a water system line. The water system line 38 is thus connected through control valve 40 and line 42 to the boiler tank 32, and a float 44 car ried on a lever 46 pivoted at pin 48 and operatively connected through linkage 50 can operate the valve 40. Thus demand for water in the boiler is sensed by the water level dropping which lowers the float 44 to open the valve 40 and admit more water, where at the proper water level the buoyed float 44 closes the valve.
A heating source, generally shown at 52, is in the boiler proximate the water to generate the steam as required. An overfill safety device 54 can be operated off the float to prevent or stop operation of the heater 52 should the water level rise beyond the accepted level. Likewise, a pressure responsive control 56 can be used to control the heat element 52 for normal cycling. For example, if 15 psi pressure were desired and set on the control 56, the heater means would operate until the generated steam reached 15 psi pressure and the control would then terminate the operation of the heater means.
A steam line 58 is connected between the boiler steam chamber 36 and a steam inlet connection 60 formed on the finisher 10. Likewise a steam condensate line 62 is connected between condensate connection 64 of the finisher l0 and theboiler chamber 32, and a one way check valve 66 is in the line to limit condensate flow from the finisher to the boiler. The boiler 30 and finisher 10 preferably are closely coupled together or are side by side within an 8-foot separation. The heat exchanger condensate discharge connection 64 is located higher than or above the water level line 34 in the boiler as shown at 68 a minimum of 4 inches, and this provides that condensate can return by gravity from the connection 64 through the check valve 66 to the boiler.
This typical 4 inch minimum head overcomes the resistance of the line and check valve with the boiler and finisher closely coupled in side by side relation with less than 8 feet separation. However, if it were desired to separate the components more horizontally, then the minimum head 68 between the condensate outlet connection 64 and the water level 34 would have to be increased. The minimum declining overall pitch in the line 62 should be no less than approximately one-half inch vertical'drop per feet horizontal separation of the unit.
Referring now to some specifics of the finisher 10, note that line 70 connects steam inlet connection 60 with heat exchanger 28 and the heat exchanger in turn flows continuously to a tee 72 and through line 74 to outlet condensate connection 64. Under most circumstances with a serpentine or coil type heat exchanger, condensate connection 64 is located lower than inlet connection 60; whereas a header type heat exchanger might have these connections almost even. The tee 72 is located generally at or near the discharge end of the heat exchanger, and upright line 76 from the tee leads to a conventional air bleed valve 78, of the heat or moisture sensitive type for example. Consequently, this vent opens automatically when no steam is at the device but closes when steam reaches the device. Any air in the system is forced by the steam moving through the heat exchanger to the tee 72 and then escapes through the open vent. Since air in the system can block effective steam flow through the heat exchanger, the location and operation of this air bleed therefore is rather critical, particularly with this gravity condensate return boiler coupling.
Connected off of steam line 70 is a line 80 which passes through a flow control restriction 82 and control valve 84 to the steam discharge nozzle. The boiler supplies steam for both the heat exchanger and nozzle, but normally each drains power from the boiler at different times. The restriction 82 can be of a fixed size orifice that allows controlled steam discharge when the control valve 84 is opened, and thus keeps the steam consumption more uniform and not markedly beyond the boiler capacity for short bursts.
For example, a preferred cycle provides that steam is discharged into the cabinet for some 100 to 150 second duration, and at this time the boiler pressure might be reduced from a designed 13 to 15 psi to approximately 10 psi. Thereafter, there would be an equally long soak period with no steam discharge or blower operation, which allows the steam to condense on and penetrate into the garment and also provides recovery time for the boiler. Lastly, the blower is powered to circulate heated air over the garment which fluffs and dries the garment, and this phase of the cycle lasts typically some 120 to 180 seconds. The total finishing cycle takes between 5 and minutes and requires a boiler having for example 1% to 2% boiler horsepower for a 6-10 garment capacity cabinet.
The restriction 82 can be of a fixed size orifice and permits long steaming time with a given boiler capacity. Since it is contemplated that the disclosed finisher can be operated where steam is generated by an adjacent boiler, this feature is of importance to reduce the cost of the installation.
Note that the disclosed heat exchanger 28 is set high on the finisher thereby locating the condensate return connection 64 at a minimum distance of approximately at least 4 inches above the water level line on the adjacent boiler. This permits return of the condensate under the forces of gravity and eliminates the need for a condensate return pump. Moreover, the use of a low pressure boiler with its pressure typically of the order of at least 10 psi less than that of any available water system pressure permits water makeup as indicated directly from the water system line. This eliminates the need of a pump for forcing the makeup and condensate water into the high boiler pressure; and it also eliminates the need for a separate condensate collecting vessel.
The disclosed low pressure boiler and garment finisher combination can be used in installations where high pressure steam is not available or where it might even be prohibited by various safety codes and the like, and is particularly suited for self service coin-op installations. The quality of finish is comparable in most respects to that obtained with conventional high pressure finishers, but the lower overall cost and the fact that this finisher system can be used in many previously heretofore restricted installations clearly represent distinct advantages. The disclosed finisher boiler combination is economical to install, and is safe and efficient in operation.
For the sake of comparison, conventional finishing equipment operates at steam pressures of approximately 55 to 125 psig, and many garment finishing experts heretofore have considered 55 psig as an absolute minimum pressure that could be used. It has been found that in use finisher steam pressures might typically range between 10 and 15 psi, where the 10 psi occurs during the steam discharge and the higher pressure is reached during the soak period or drying period.
The disclosed finisher can be constructed of suffcient material gauges to allow operation at high steam pressure, it it were available and or desired. For example, the finisher might be rated for use at pressures up to 50 psig, and the same might be connected to a higher pressure steam line. The schematic of this type installation is shown in FIG. 2 where a typical remotely located high pressure boiler is used. In this, a pressure regulator 91 is in the steam line 92 to steam connection 60 operable to reduce the boiler pressure to the accepted finisher pressure, and a water trap 93 is in the condensate return line 94 from connection 64 and line 95 from the trap empties into condensate tank 96. Line 97 connects the tank 96 through a pump 98 to the boiler 90, and a float controlled water makeup is used but this time to the tank 96. This system allows almost any relative location of the components, since the boiler head is typically sufficient to drive both the steam and the condensate, since the latter is vented to atmosphere in tank 96. Water level control 100 determines the operation of the makeup pump 98, and pressure controller 101 determines the operation of the heating element 102 to the maximum steam pressure while safety water overfill control 103 de-energizes the heater if the water level in the boiler exceeded the safe level.
What is claimed is:
l. A garment finishing combination, comprising a garment finisher and a steam generating boiler disposed in adjacent side by side closely coupled relationship; said finisher having means to support a garment, means to blow air over the garment, means including a heat exchanger to heat the air for drying the garment, means including an air vent from near the condensate discharge end of the heat exchanger and including means for closing the vent when steam is at said vent; the steam generating boiler having a chamber and having means for maintaining a generally constant water level and steam pressure therein; and line means between the boiler and the finisher, and said boiler being located adjacent the finisher and relative to the finisher so that the condensate discharge end of the heat exchanger is at a minimum head of approximately 4 inches above the boiler water level to allow condensate return along the line means by gravity to the boiler.
2. A garment finishing combination according to claim 1, further including a steam discharge nozzle operable to condition the garments, and means connecting the boiler to the steam discharge nozzle and including a control valve for controlling steam discharge.
3. A garment finishing combination according to claim 2,.further including a fixed size flow control restriction in the means connecting the boiler and steam discharge nozzle.
4. A garment finishing combination according to claim 1, wherein said line means includes a condensate return line, and wherein check means in said condensate return line permits condensate flow in the direction only from the finisher to the boiler.
5. A garment finishing combination according to claim 1, further including means on the boiler to limit the generation of pressure therein to psig.
6. A garment finishing combination according to claim 1, further including means on the boiler to limit the generation of pressure therein, wherein the steam boiler pressure is at least approximately 10 psig less than the water pressure of the available fresh water supply line, and wherein a water makeup line is from the water supply line to the boiler.
7. A garment finishing combination according to claim 6, further including means in the finisher including a nozzle to discharge steam to condition the garments, means connecting the boiler to the nozzle, and means along the connecting means including a flow control restriction and a control valve for controlling steam discharge.
8. A garment finishing combination according to claim 6, wherein the garment finisher and steam generating boiler are horizontally separated by at most 8 ft.
9. A garment finishing combination, comprising a garment finisher and a steam generating boiler disposed in adjacent side by side closely coupled relationship; said finisher having means to support a garment, means including a nozzle to discharge steam to condition the garment, means to blow air over the garment, means including a heat exchanger to heat the air for drying the garment, a steam inlet connection to and a condensate return connection from the finisher, conduit means in the finisher between the steam inlet and condensate return connections and including said heat exchanger and a takeoff to the nozzle, the takeoff from the conduit means being located generally between the inlet connection and the heat exchanger and including a flow control restriction and a control valve, means including an air vent from the conduit means generally between the heat exchanger and the outlet connection, said vent means including means for closing the vent when steam is at said vent; the steam generating boiler having a chamber and having means for maintaining a generally constant water level therein and having means for adding heat for generating steam up to a set pressure, and a steam outlet from and condensate return to the boiler chamber; steam line means between the boiler steam outlet and the finisher inlet connection and condensate return line means between the finisher outlet connection and the boiler condensate return and said finisher condensate connection being at a minimum head of approximately 4 inches above the boiler water level to allow condensate return by gravity to the boiler.
10. A garment finishing combination according to claim 9, further including means on the boiler to limit the generation of pressure therein, wherein the steam boiler pressure is at least approximately 10 psig less than the water pressure of the available fresh water supply line, and wherein a water makeup line is from the water supply to the boiler.