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Publication numberUS3717397 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateFeb 20, 1973
Filing dateApr 26, 1971
Priority dateApr 26, 1971
Also published asCA974565A1, DE2220511A1
Publication numberUS 3717397 A, US 3717397A, US-A-3717397, US3717397 A, US3717397A
InventorsCummings G
Original AssigneePeters & Co Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Universal self-leveling dispenser
US 3717397 A
Abstract
Universal self-leveling dispenser useful for food services. Apertures in the elevator platform mount tubular guides for divider rods and provide air circulation for heating and cooling articles on the platform. Heating and cooling units are installable to replace bottom and side walls. Unimpeded air paths below the elevator platform, together with apertures of the platform and particular placement of the temperature changing units provide self-adjusting air flow paths that depend upon where the articles are stacked.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

States Patent n 1 Elite- Cmings 1 Feb. 20, 1973 [54] UNIVERSAL SELF-LEVELING DISPENSER [75] Inventor: Gilbert A. Cummings, Norwell,

Mass.

[73] Assignee: Peters & Co., Inc., Boston, Mass.

[22] Filed: April 26, 1971 [21] Appl. No.: 137,166

[52] 11.8. C1 ..312/7l, 220/93 [51] Int. Cl. ..A47f 1/00 [58] Field oiSearch .312/71; 220/93; 211/49 S, 49 D [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,033,633 5/1962 Holloway et al ..3l2/7l X 1,946,623 2/1934 lrwin ..220/93 Primary Examiner-James C. Mitchell Attorney-John Noel Williams [57] ABSTRACT Universal self-leveling dispenser useful for food services. Apertures in the elevator platform mount tubular guides for divider rods and provide air circulation for heating and cooling articles on the platform. Heating and cooling units are installable to replace bottom and side walls. Unimpeded air paths below the elevator platform, together with apertures of the platform and particular placement of the temperature changing units provide self-adjusting air flow paths that depend upon where the articles are stacked.

12 Claims, 17 Drawing Figures PATENTEnriszoleza SHEET 2 BF 3 FIG. 5

FIG. 6

22 FIG. 8

PATENTED 3. 7 1 7, 397

sum 3 OF 3 //1|/ll/V FIG. l5

UNIVERSAL SELF-LEVELING DISPENSER This invention concerns self-leveling dispensers of the type used in food services such as kitchens and cafeterias.

An object of the invention is to provide a dispenser which is both economical to construct and adaptable to a variety of needs.

Particular objects include the provision of reliable and simple means for driving an elevator platform into sectors for a number of stacks of articles; presenting the articles to the user at the desired temperature condition; and providing a dispenser construction which can be manufactured as a standard item while providing for ready modification to achieve various temperature conditions.

In one aspect the invention concerns a self-leveling dispenser of the known type comprising an elevator platform biased upwardly which has stationary divider rods resting on a bottom surface and passing through apertures inthe article support surface of the platform to separate stacks of articles on the platform from one another. The invention features in this construction a multiplicity of apertures in the supporting surface of the elevator with vertical tubular form guide members secured in selected apertures, and the guide rods slidably disposed within the tubular guide members,

whereby, as the platform moves, the tubular form guide members move vertically along the stationary rods while positioning these rods on the support surface.

Preferred embodiments of this aspect of the invention feature the tubular guide members removably secured in the apertures to enable change in position of the guide rods; the tubular guide members comprising elongated tubes threaded on one end and including a matching member threaded on the tube and engaging and securing the tubular member vertically with respect to the platform with the tubular member protruding freely, vertically from the point of attachment; apertures of horizontally elongated form with the tubular guide members adjustable therealong; and one of the pair comprising the tubular member and the portion of the platform forming the aperture being resiliently deformable, forming a snap lock between the pair.

According to another aspect of the invention, while divider rods pass through some apertures in the article support surface of the platform, the invention features a majority of aperture area remaining left open, the dispenser includes a cabinet enclosing the elevator platform, and an air temperature modifying means is associated with the cabinet, arranged to change the air temperature in a given area of the cabinet, while the open aperture area of the platform provides air circulation passages enabling temperature-modified air to pass through the platform and contact the various stacks of articles thereon at various self-leveled positions of the platform.

In preferred embodiments of this feature the temperature modifying means comprises a heater member located at the bottom of the cabinet, the heater member defining the bottom surface of the cabinet, and the divider rods rest thereon; the heater member is removably mounted in the cabinet to enable replacement by a bottom plate; the temperature modifying means comprises an air cooler forming one side of the cabinet; and the air cooler is removably mounted in the cabinet to enable replacement by a side plate.

Still another aspect of the invention features, with a self-leveling dispenser having an elevator platform sized to receive more than one side-byside stack of articles, and a cabinet surrounding the platform, an air temperature modifying means located below the upwardmost position of the platform, and apertures through the platform defining air flow paths whereby temperature modified air can flow freely about articles on the platform.

In preferred embodiments of this feature the cabinet defines article guide surfaces closely surrounding the platform, the space therebetween providing restricted air passages; the temperature modifying means comprises a heater member forming the bottom of the cabinet, the cabinet being open interiorly permitting air heated by contact with the heater member to pass upwardly by convection to the platform through which it then passes to contact the articles; the temperature modifying means comprises an air cooling member forming a side of the cabinet and the cabinet being open interiorly permitting air cooled by the cooling member to pass freely to the platform and therethrough, establishing a cooling flow path past articles on the platform; and the air cooling member includes an air inlet disposed to draw air from the bottom of the cabinet, and a cooled air outlet is disposed to discharge cooled air at a position spaced above at least certain positions of the platform, whereby when the platform is in those positions, air from the outlet passes directly about the articles, thence through the platform and downwardly to the inlet.

These and other objects and features of the invention will be illustrated in connection with the description of preferred embodiments.

In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the invention; while FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an air cooler unit which can replace the door of the embodiment of FIG. 1 and FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an air heater unit which can replace the bottom panel of the embodiment of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a plan view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 illustrating placement of the divider rods, according to the invention and multiple stacks of articles on the platform; and

FIG. 4a is a cross-section view on a larger scale of the divider rod assembly;

FIG. 5 is a vertical cross section of the embodiment of FIG. 1 showing the heater installed;

FIG. 6 is a view illustrating the air cooler and its flow I path relative to the elevator;

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the heater unit of FIG. 13 is a plan view of another elevator platform while FIG. 14 is a view of a tubular guide member assembled therewith;

FIG. 15 is a plan view of another elevator platform while FIG. 16 is a view of a tubular guide member being assembled therewith.

Referring to FIGS. 1, 4 and 5 elevator platform is supported on cantilever arms 12 and actuated by biasing mechanism 14 to automatically raise the platform as articles, e.g., plates 16 (FIG. 4) are removed.

A cabinet formed by side walls 18, door 20 and bottom panel 22 encloses the platform, and a top 23 can be applied, all serving to protect the articles. When the lid is removed the articles may be progressively added, e.g., dishes, while the dispenser is stationed near a dishwasher, and may be removed e.g., at a serving line.

The platform 10 has a multiplicity of apertures 24 having vertical axes. In this embodiment the articlesupporting surface of the platform comprises a metal sheet 10a (FIG. 9) and the apertures are simply stamped therein.

At selected apertures (in the particular instance shown at four locations, FIG. 4), tubular guide members 26 are installed. Referring to FIGS. 9 and 4a, each guide member comprises an elongated tubular member 28, e.g., 3 inches length or more,-which is threaded on one end. A first nut 30 is applied, and after insertion of the end of the tube through the aperture from the bottom, a second nut 32 is applied, drawing the first nut tightly against the underside of the plate 10a of the platform. In this embodiment the tubular member extends freely downwardly from this fastening.

While the tubular member may be constructed of any material, including bent wire in tubular array, it is presently preferred to use a tube of low-friction rigid plastic such as nylon.

Into the opening 34 of the tubular guide members 26 are inserted vertical divider rods 36. Preferably, referring to FIG. 40, these comprise cylindrical steel rods 36a carrying an exterior coating, e.g., of vinyl, which preferably has elastomeric and low friction qualities. The diameter of the rods is less than that of the tubular members providing a freely sliding fit, and the vertical rods rest upon bottom surface 22, the weight of the steel rods tending to overcome any chance friction or tendency to catch on the tubular members. Stop members 38, e.g., threaded nuts or snap-on elements are applied to the lower ends of the rods, simply to prevent removal of the rods through the platform.

In operation it will be understood that the tubular members 28, position the rods vertically in the selected locations on the elevator surface, thus serving to prevent e.g., one stack of dishes from striking the next, see FIG. 4, or otherwise to maintain the integrity of the stacks of articles during dispensing.

As individual articles are removed, and the platform rises (or are added, and the platform sinks) under the influence of mechanism 14, the rods remain stationary while the tubular members 28 slide thereupon while moving with the elevator. Whenever it is desired to locate stacks differently, the rods may be relocated using the threaded fastenings mentioned.

FIG. 10 illustrates a tubular member with integral shoulder 28a and single nut 32a and FIGS. 11 and 12 illustrate the use of such members with different forms of the member defining the platform surface. FIG. 13 illustrates a platform surface having elongated slotform apertures 40 along which the tubular members are adjustable, and enlarged insertion holes into which the tubular member of FIG. 14 may be inserted. In this particular embodiment opposed shoulders 28c and 28d are permanently joined to the guide tube, and being of resilient material, grip the edges of the elongated slots 40 to retain their position in use.

FIG. 15 illustrates a platform formed of wire members 39, defining elongated apertures. The tubular member of FIG. 16 has a single circular ledge 41 defining an annular recess 42. The outer diameter of the ledge is greater than the normal spacing S between adjacent wire members, and is snapped into place, see FIG. 16, by resilient distortion of the wire members, as suggested in dotted lines.

In the embodiments of FIGS. 14 and 16 the tubular members protrude in both vertical directions from the fastening, and thus are adapted to properly position divider rods of considerable length.

In use, as shown in FIG. 1 advantageously the open area of the apertures is in excess of that required by the tubular members, and these apertures, or at least a majority of the area of them are left open, defining air flow passages around the various stacks of articles on the elevator. Thus it is advantageous that the apertures be distributed in an even, repetitive pattern across the platform surface.

Referring to FIGS. 1, 3, 5 and 8 the bottom panel 22 of the cabinet is readily removable and a heater unit 50 of similar form is inserted. Referring to FIG. 7 this heater u'nit comprises a top heated surface 52, a pair of insulator panels 54 of mica or mica like material between which is secured a resistive heater element 56, a bottom insulator 58 and panel 61, joined together around the perimeter by fastenings 63.

As shown in FIG. 5 the rods rest upon surface 52 just as they did on bottom panel 22. Air heated by heated surface 52 rises and the interior of the cabinet is open, so that the air proceeds up to bottom of the elevator and then finds its way past the stacks of articles, through apertures not blocked off by the articles themselves. Thus, in a self adjusting way, air passes around the various sides of the articles, as indicated by dotted lines in FIG. 5, to heat them in the desired manner, without any special steps required to change the heat flow path when changing from one distribution of stacks to another, and with heating of all the articles in the stack no matter what level the platform is at.

Referring to FIG. 5, the heater incorporates a control panel 65 which protrudes at an angle-upwardly to be accessible immediately below the door of the cabinet.

It will be seen that a standard production item having no heating is thus rapidly convertible into a heated dispenser, e.g., to preheat dishes or to preheat food articles to be dispensed.

In similar manner, cooling can be achieved. Referring to FIGS. 2 and 6 an air cooler 60 is constructed to be suspended by clips 62 from the cabinet, filling the space previously closed by door 20. This unit includes a fan and coil, has an air inlet 64 at the bottom and an air outlet 66 at the top. In this case the air flow is the reverse, the cooled air flowing downwardly past the articles on the platform, thence through the perforations in the platform surface, thence to the air inlet of the cooler. This arrangement also ensures substantial sweeping of the volume of the cabinet unoccupied by articles on the platform. The interior space between the platform and the air inlet being kept open for this purpose.

Numerous changes in the specific details will be understood.

What is claimed is:

1. In a self leveling dispenser comprising an elevator platform and means for biasing the platform upwardly to cause its upward travel as articles on the platform are removed, and including stationary rod means resting on a bottom surface and passing through apertures in the article support surface of the platform, said rod means arranged to separate stacks of articles on the platform from one another, the improvement wherein said elevator platform comprises an article supporting surface having a multiplicity of apertures distributed thereover with vertical tubular form guide members secured in selected apertures, said guide rods slidably disposed within said tubular guide members, whereby, as said platform moves, said tubular form guide members move vertically along said stationary rods while positioning said rods on said support surface.

2. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein said tubular guide members are removably secured in said apertures to enable change in position of said guide rods.

3. The dispenser of claim 2 wherein said tubular guide members comprise elongated tubes threaded on one end and including a member threaded thereon engaging the member defining said article supporting surface, and securing said tubular member vertically with respect thereto, said tubular member protruding freely, vertically therefrom.

4. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein said apertures are of horizontally elongated form and said tubular guide members are adjustable therealong.

5. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein one of the pair comprising said tubular member and the portion of the platform forming an aperture is resiliently deformable forming a snap lock between said pair.

6. ln a self-leveling dispenser comprising an elevator platform and means for resiliently biasing the platform upwardly to cause its automatic upward travel as articles on the platform are removed, and including stationary stack guide rods resting on a bottom surface and passing vertically, and relatively slidably through apertures in the article support surface of the platform, said stack guide rods arranged to extend along and stabilize a stack of like articles and to separate stacks of articles on the platform from one another, the improvement wherein said elevator platform comprises an a'rticle supporting surface having a large multiplicity of apertures distributed thereover, said apertures each adapted to receive a said guide rod, said guide rods selectively and removably disposed in a minority of said apertures: while the majority of the aperture area remainsopen, said dispenser including a cabinet enclosing the elevator platform and air temperature modifying means associated with said cabinet, arranged to change the air temperature in a given area of the cabinet, said open aperture area of said platform providing air circulation passages enabling temperature-modified air to fpass through said platform and contact said stacks 0 articles thereon at various selfleveled positions of said platform.

7. The dispenser of claim 6 wherein said temperature modifying means comprises a heater member having a heated horizontal surface located at the bottom of said cabinet, said surface defining the bottom surface of said cabinet beneath all of said apertures, and said stack guide rods resting thereon.

8. The dispenser of claim 7 wherein said heater member is removably mounted in said cabinet to enable replacement by a bottom plate.

9. The dispenser of claim 6 wherein said temperature modifying means comprises an air cooler forming one side of said cabinet, said air cooler being removably mounted in said cabinet to enable replacement by a side plate.

10. A self-leveling dispenser comprising an elevator platform sized to receive more than one side-by-side stack of articles, means for resiliently biasing the platform upwardly to cause its automatic upward travel as articles on the platform are removed, and a cabinet surrounding said platform while providing access to said articles, an air heater located below said platform, and apertures through said platform defining air flow paths whereby heated air can flow freely about articles on said platform, said air heater comprising a generally planar heated surface forming the bottom of said cabinet and removably supported peripherally by said cabinet, said air heater sized to be removed from said cabinet and a control assembly for powering said air heater carried by said removable heater and protruding from the bottom thereof, said cabinet being open interiorly permitting air heated by contact with said bottom-forming heated surface to pass upwardly by convection to said platform through which it then passes to contact and heat said articles.

11. A self-leveling dispenser comprising an elevator platform sized to receive more than one side-by-side stack of articles, more for resiliently biasing the platform upwardly to cause its automatic upward travel as articles on the platform are removed, and a cabinet surrounding said platform while providing access to said articles, an air cooling member, and apertures through said platform defining air flow paths whereby cooled air can flow freely about articles on said platform, said air cooling member forming a removable side of said cabinet and said cabinet being open interiorly permitting air cooled by said cooling member to pass freely to said platform and therethrough.

12. The dispenser of claim 11, wherein said air cooling member includes an air inlet disposed to draw air from the bottom of said cabinet, and a cooled air outlet disposed to discharge cooled air at a position spaced above at least certain positions of said platform, whereby when said platform is in said positions, air from said outlet passes directly about said articles, thence downwardly through said platform, downwardly

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1946623 *Sep 21, 1932Feb 13, 1934Irwin Hiram DDisplay tray assembly
US3033633 *Jan 28, 1960May 8, 1962American Mach & FoundrySelf-leveling dispenser
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3937095 *Oct 24, 1974Feb 10, 1976Lincoln Manufacturing Company, Inc.Self adjusting elevator
US4161146 *Dec 2, 1977Jul 17, 1979Avedko B.V.Stacking device
US4206954 *Jul 17, 1978Jun 10, 1980Avedko B.V.Guide bush
US4354605 *Mar 12, 1980Oct 19, 1982Amf IncorporatedAdjustable dispenser
US4584467 *Jan 28, 1985Apr 22, 1986Shelley Manufacturing Division Of Alco Food Service Equipment CompanyForced hot air heating cabinet for self-leveling plate dispensers and the like
US6802419Oct 11, 2002Oct 12, 2004Bert Co Industries, Inc.Package form and method of making a package
US6899223May 9, 2002May 31, 2005Bert-Co Industries, Inc.Form for a package and method of making same
Classifications
U.S. Classification312/71, 219/400, 219/385
International ClassificationA47B31/00, A47B31/02
Cooperative ClassificationA47B31/02
European ClassificationA47B31/02
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Oct 24, 1985ASAssignment
Owner name: M&I MARSHALL & ILSLEY BANK AS AGENT FOR M&I MARSHA
Free format text: SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:VOLLRATH COMPANY;REEL/FRAME:004485/0822
Owner name: M&I MARSHALL & ILSLEY BANK AS AGENT FOR THE BENEFI
Owner name: M&I MARSHALL & ILSLEY BANK AS AGENT FOR THE PRUDEN
Free format text: SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:VOLLRATH COMPANY;REEL/FRAME:004485/0822
Effective date: 19850923
Oct 11, 1985ASAssignment
Owner name: SECURITY FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF SHEBOYGAN
Free format text: SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:VOLLRATH COMPANY, THE;REEL/FRAME:004500/0581
Effective date: 19850920
Mar 16, 1981ASAssignment
Owner name: VOLLRATH COMPANY, THE, 1236 NORTH 18TH ST, SHEBOY
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:WHITLOCK, JOHN TRUST IN BANKRUPTCY FOR PETER AND COMPANYINC.;REEL/FRAME:003862/0981
Effective date: 19801215
Owner name: WHITLOCK, JOHN TRUST IN BANKRUPTCY, FOR PETER AND
Free format text: COURT APPOINTMENT;ASSIGNOR:PETERS & CO. ,INC.;REEL/FRAME:003862/0980
Effective date: 19800902
Mar 16, 1981AS02Assignment of assignor's interest
Owner name: VOLLRATH COMPANY, THE, 1236 NORTH 18TH ST, SHEBOYG
Owner name: WHITLOCK, JOHN TRUST IN BANKRUPTCY FOR PETER AND C
Effective date: 19801215
Mar 16, 1981AS12Court appointment
Free format text: WHITLOCK, JOHN TRUST IN BANKRUPTCY, FOR PETER AND COMPANY, INC. * PETERS & CO. ,INC. : 19800902