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Publication numberUS3727801 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateApr 17, 1973
Filing dateAug 30, 1971
Priority dateAug 30, 1971
Publication numberUS 3727801 A, US 3727801A, US-A-3727801, US3727801 A, US3727801A
InventorsC Benson, A Caridis
Original AssigneeHeat Control Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Sprinkling device
US 3727801 A
Abstract
A continuous particle-sprinkling device comprising an endless perforate conveyor, a hopper mounted above the upper conveyor run, and an imperforate surface disposed therebelow. The hopper and surface form a container for the particles through which the upper run passes. In operation, the particles are carried in the conveyor performations of the upper run and over the downstream edge of the surface to pour in a substantially constant stream onto food surfaces passing therebelow. In one embodiment, a vibrator for the conveyor serves to disengage adherent particles from the conveyor and in a second embodiment rappers strike the conveyor falling particles.
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United States Patent 91 Caridis et al.

[451 Apr. 17, 1973 SPRINKLING DEVICE [75] Inventors: Andrew A. Caridis, Foster City; Clark K. Benson, Millbrae, both of Calif.

Related US. Application Data [63] Continuation-impart of Ser. No. 863,468, Oct. 3,

I969, abandoned.

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,619,26l Pick et al ..222/37l 2,784,880 3/1957 Pio ..222/37l X 2,940,644 6/1960 Crane ..222/37l X 3,227,263 l/l966 Kastenbein 3,232,413 2/1966 Niederer et al. 3,258,162 6/1966 Beasley ..222/371 X Primary Examiner-M. Henson Wood, Jr. Assistant Examiner-Michael Mar Att0meyFlehr, Hohbach, Test, Albritton & Herbert ABSTRACT A continuous particle-sprinkling device comprising an endless perforate conveyor, a hopper mounted above the upper conveyor run, and an imperforate surface disposed therebelow. The hopper and surface form a container for the particles through which the upper run passes. In operation, the particles are carried in the conveyor performations of the upper run and over the downstream edge of the surface to pour in a substantially constant stream onto food surfaces passing therebelow. In one embodiment, a vibrator for the conveyor serves to disengage adherent particles from the conveyor and in a second embodiment rappers strike the conveyor falling particles.

15 Claims, 9 Drawing Figures s //'I//// I/l/I I I Y ii PAIENIED APR 1 7 I973 SHEET 1 OF 5 INVENTOR.

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AB d PAIENIEl] APR 1 7 I973 SHEET 2 BF 5 .INVENTOR Andrew A. Car/dis BY Clark K. Benson PATENTED APR 1 7 I973 SHEET 3 (1F 5 I s .5 M y mwn m Nmw 0 w mA i7 7 WK.

PAIENIEB P 3.727. 801

SHEET 0F 5 INVENTORS Andrew A. Caridis Clark K. B nson 2 M, M4931 Attorneys 1 SPRINKLING DEVICE CROSS-REFERENCE TO PRIOR APPLICATION This application is a continuation-inpart of prior application Ser. No. 863,468, filed Oct. 3, 1969 now abandoned.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Devices have heretofore been provided in an attempt to continuously deposit uniform layers of food-modifying particles such as flour, seasonings, or flavorings onto the surfaces of a series of food products (e.g., depositing salt on potato or corn chips while the chips are still moist.) In a conventional sprinkling device, a knurled or grooved roller is disposed at the bottom of a V-shaped hopper filled with particles. Upon rotation of the roller, particles are picked up in the roller grooves and are deposited therebelow onto food surfaces. Brushes are normally necessary to free the particles from the grooves. Such a sprinkling device normally produces an uneven distribution of the particles due to a certain amount of unavoidable clogging of the rollers. Furthermore, bristles are periodically pulled free of the brushes and fall onto and thus contaminate the food surfaces. Another conventional technique is to blow the salt particles onto the moist chips. However, it is difficult to control the blowing action to attain an even coating, and the blown salt tends to deposit on the food machinery. Furthermore, a costly compressor must be in continuous operation. There is, therefore, a need for a new and improved sprinkling device which will overcome these problems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION AND OBJECTS A continuous particle sprinkling device comprises an endless perforate conveyor, a hopper mounted above the upper conveyor run, and an imperforate surface disposed therebelow. The hopper and the imperforate surface form a container for the particles through which the upper of the conveyor run passes. In operation, the particles are carried downstream via the conveyor perforations of the upper run to fall over the forward edge of the surface to pour in a substantially constant stream onto food surfaces passing therebelow. The stream is widened on passage through the lower run. Pulsations are imparted to the conveyor serving to disengage adherent particles from the conveyor.

In general, it is an object of the present invention to provide an improved device for effecting substantially uniform distribution of food-modifying particles upon a series of food surfaces.

It is a particular object of the invention to provide a device of the above type which incorporates means for preventing clogging and insuring substantially continuous flow of such particles.

Additional objects and features of the invention will appear from the following description in which the preferred embodiments are set forth in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a front view (fractured and partially broken away) ofFlG. l;

FIG. 3 is a top view (fractured and partially broken away) ofFIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line 4-4 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged schematic representation of a portion of FIG. 3 with non-essential parts removed;

FIG. 6 is a top view of a second preferred form of the present invention, the hopper being removed;

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view (fractured) taken along the lines 6-6 of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is an enlarged, cross-sectiona view taken along the lines 8-8 of FIG. 7; and

FIG. 9 is a fragmentary, detailed view of the adjustment provision for the upper and lower beaters taken along the lines 9-9 of FIG. 8.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS The sprinkling device of the present invention is mounted on a housing 10, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 4. An endless perforate conveyor belt 11 having an upper run 12 and a lower run 13 is mounted on the housing 10. A container 14 for the particles 9 to be dispensed is defined by a hopper 16, the bottom of which opens upon the upper run 12 of the conveyor and a plate 17 disposed below the upper run. With the conveyor belt 11 in operation, particles 9 supplied to the hopper 16 fill openings in the belt and are carried over the forward edge of the plate 17 to fall through the lower run 13. Desirably, vibrating means such as assemblies 18 are provided for agitating the belt to disengage such particles as may tend to adhere to the conveyor.

The conveyor belt 11 is driven by a gear motor 19 mounted on a gear box 20 secured to a base plate 15 of the housing 10, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. A conventional variable speed control transformer (not shown), such as produced by Minarik Electric Co., Los Angeles, California, may be employed to control the conveyor speed by regulating the electric power supplied to the motor 19. The motor is coupled to the gear box 20 having an output drive shaft 21 on which is mounted a drive sprocket 22 (FIGS. 1 and 3). A continuous drive chain 23 wound upon the sprocket 22 drives a sprocket 24 which is mounted on a conveyor drive shaft 26. A pair of conveyor drive sprockets 25 are mounted on the shaft 26 (FIG. 3).

Housing side walls 28 and 29 are provided to support the sprinkling device (FIG. 2). A pair of sleeves 27 are mounted into the side walls 28 and 29 and serve as hearings to rotatably carry the drive shaft 26. At its 0pposite end, the conveyor is supported by a pair of idler sprockets 30 mounted on a shaft 31, as shown in FIG. 4. Suitable take-up bearing assemblies, described below, are provided to carry the shaft 31 and serve to permit adjustment of the tension in the conveyor 11, and to this end, the side walls 28 and, 29 are provided with slots 32 to accomodate horizontal movement of the shaft 31 (FIG. 1).

More specifically, identical take-up assemblies are provided for the side walls 28 and 29 and the exemplary description of the assembly in the side wall 28 will apply equally to that of the side wall 29. Each assembly includes an L-shaped bracket 33 (FIG. 3) having one leg 34 flush with side wall 28 and the other leg 35 projecting therefrom at a right angle. A hearing 36 is mounted on leg 34 serving to rotatably carry the conveyor shaft 31. A plate 38 is rigidly connected to extend from the side wall at a right angle and serves to receive the threaded free end of an adjustment bolt 37 which is fixedly secured at its other end to the leg 34 of the bracket 33. Adjusting nuts 40 are arranged on the bolt 37 to flank the plate 38. Rotation of the adjusting nuts 40 to urge the bolt 37 toward the leg 34 moves the conveyor shaft 31 in the same direction and causes a tightening of the conveyor belt 1 1. Conversely, the belt 11 may be loosened by rotating the nuts 40 in the opposite direction. Hold down nuts 39 are provided at the opposite sides of the leg 34 and when loosened, serve to maintain the plate 33 and the conveyor shaft 31 in a fixed horizontal plane on sliding movement thereof in response to the turning of the nuts 40. When the conveyor belt 11 has the desired amount of tension, the nuts 39 are tightened to hold the plate 33 in the selected position.

The conveyor 11 may be formed of any flexible perforate material which iscapable of carrying the particulate material placed in the hopper 16. It is apparent that increasing the vertical thickness of the belt, the size of the perforations, passageways or voids therein, causes '1 increase in the amount of material that can be carried in the passageways or openings and, correspondingly, the rate of particle flow. It has been found that a mesh-woven wire belt is particularly suitable for carrying the particles. By way of example, I have found an effective conveyor belt to be of the following type: Cyclone brand; No. 6 mesh; No. 18 gauge; conventional spiral weave; belt thickness one-fourth inch; and belt openings /32 across with a diamond pattern. As will be explained hereinafter, the belt material selected should be flexible and resilient enough to withstand the stresses of continuous vibrations resulting from the vibrating means provided to separate particles which adhere to the conveyor belt.

Referring to FIG. 3, the hopper l6 suitably rests directly on the upper conveyor run 12 in a free-floating manner. Means for preventing lateral movement of the hopper are provided by L-shaped angle bars 41 secured to the housing side walls 28 and 29 by bolt and nut fasteners 42 arranged as shown. The hopper 16 may be formed in rectangular cross-section and having vertical side walls 43 and vertical front and rear walls 44 and 46, respectively. The vertical side walls have been found to spread the particles uniformly onto the conveyor. The hopper may be formed from suitable sheet material, such as sheet plastic or sheet metal. Optionally, a doctor blade 47 (FIGS. 3 and 4), suitably of plexiglass, may be provided and attached to the front wall 44 by fasteners 48. The blade 47 serves to prevent particle build-up in the region between the wall 44 and the downstream edge of the plate 17. Such particle build-up could clog the device or produce an undesired variation in the particle flow. v

The imperforate plate or surface 17 covers the entire area below the hopper l6 and extends downstream along the underside of the conveyors upper run 12 to a beveled forward edge over which the particles begin their descent (FIG. 4). The plate 17 is suitably mounted on bars 49 extending between the housing side walls 28 and 29. The upper conveyor run 12 is urged downwardly toward the upper surface of the plate 17 by the weight of the hopper l6 and the particles therein. This coaction causes the run 12 to scrape against the upper surface of the plate 17 and, thus, to prevent particle build-up therebetween.

As shown in FIG. 2, two identical vibrating means assemblies 18 may be provided at opposite sides of the conveyor 11 to dislodge any particles that might otherwise adhere thereto. The following description of the assembly 18 adjacent to the housing side wall 28 applies equally to the one in the other side wall 29. A vibrating shoe 50 (FIGS. 1, 4 and 5) extending transversely of the lower conveyor run 13 is held thereon by gravity and is mounted to a cross bar 51. The bar 51 extends through a slotted opening 52 in the housing side wall 28 and is prevented from horizontal motion by a pin assembly which comprises a vertically aligned top tab 54 and a bottom tab 56 mounted above and below the slotted opening 52. An L-shaped pin 57 is slidably received through openings provided in the tabs 54 and 56 and extends through the cross bar 51, serving to hold the cross bar in a relatively fixed position in the horizontal plane while permitting vertical motion. The shoe 50, resting upon the lower conveyor run, is vibrated by a conventional vibrating mechanism 58 which is suitably attached by a fastener 61 and bracket arm 60 (FIGS. 2 and 4) to one end of the cross arm 51. The other end of the side arm is secured by the fastener 61 to the end of the cross bar 51. The vibrating mechanism 58, it has been found, is suitably a conventional industrial pulsating electro-magnetic vibrator such as the Syntron model V-2. The vibrating mechanism 58 causes the bracket arm 60 to vibrate or oscillate, which pulsating motion is transmitted through the cross bar 51 to the shoe 50 upon the lower conveyor run 13. To some extent, the entire conveyor belt is vibrated by the shoe 50 to cause any particles that might otherwise adhere to the conveyor belt to be disengaged. The degree of vibration utilized is governed by the attraction of the particles to the conveyor belt. Vibration in the belt may be changed either by varying the conveyor speed or adjusting the belt tension.

Although the vibrating assemblies 18 have been described in terms of a vibrating shoe seated on the lower conveyor run, it is apparent that many alternative means of vibration could be employed. For example, the shoe could be shifted to the upper run or shoes could be provided for both the upper and lower runs. Alternatively, vibrating means could be attached directly to the conveyor drive shaft 26 or to the conveyor idler shaft 31. In another variation, a mechanical vibrator, such as a bar mounted on an eccentric drive may be employed to periodically strike the conveyor.

In operation (FIG. 5), a continuous line of food surfaces to be coated by particles are passed directly below the conveyor belt 11. For an example of foods for coating, potato chips still moist with cooking oils are advanced below the conveyor belt for salting by the sprinkling device. Salt isfed into the hopper 16 and the conveyor belt 11 is set in motion clockwise, as viewed in FIGS. 4 and 5. As the belt travels, the particles from the hopper fill the conveyor perforations or openings, but are prevented from falling therethrough by the imperforate upper surface of the plate 17 arranged beneath the hopper discharge and upper conveyor run. As the particles are carried to the forward edge of the plate 17, they fall from the upper run 12 under the force of gravity through the lower conveyor run 13 and 7 onto the potato chip surfaces. The vibrator assemblies 18 have been set in operation to disengage salt that might otherwise adhere to the conveyor belt with the result that there is only an insignificant amount of salt being carried along the lower run by the conveyor mesh. The salt particles fall from the plate 17 in a substantially uniform stream which increases in area or expanse by passage through the lower run. It seems that the spreading out or dispersing phenomenon is caused by a certain portion of the particles striking the mesh of the lower run and traveling a short distance on the conveyor while the remainder of the particles not so struck fall directly below the plate. In one run, the conveyor is moved at 3/10 inch per minute to deposit lbs. per hour.

SECOND PREFERRED EMBODIMENT A second preferred embodiment 70 of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 6 through 8 of the drawings. The sprinkling device 70 comprises a frame or housing 71 having mounted therein a conveyor assembly 72 including a perforate conveyor belt 75 supported along its upper run by an imperforate surface plate 73 having a V-shaped metering edge 97 disposed below and downstream of an opened bottom hopper 74. A food conveyor 80 for carrying articles of food, for example corn chips or potato chips, is arranged vertically below the housing 71 so that the food articles may be sprinkled as they pass through the sprinkling station defined by the sprinkling device 70 and the proximate portion of the conveyor 80.

In the embodiment 70 of the sprinkling device beaters or rappers 76 comprising a series of cam members 104 are providedto impart pulsations or oscillations to the perforate conveyor belt 75, best shown in FIG. 8. The beaters or rappers 76 function to effect a uniform distribution of food-modifying particles from the belt unto a series of food surfaces passing therebelow on the food conveyor 80. The beaters are provided to engage gently both the upper and lower runs of the conveyor belt so as to dislodge particles which may tend to adhere to the conveyor belt.

The frame or housing 71 serves to mount the conveyor 72, the imperforate surface plate 73, the hopper V 74 and the beaters or rappers 76. To this end, the frame comprises (FIGS. 6 and 7) spaced apart, vertically oriented side walls 77 and 78 joined together by five horizontally disposed tie rods 79 (FIG. 8). The conveyor 72 is mounted between the side walls 77 and 78 and includes a neoprene covered drive roll and shaft assembly 81 and an idler roll and shaft assembly 82, the perforate or wire mesh conveyor belt 75 being wound about the idler and drive roll and the friction forces between the neoprene drive roll and wire mesh belt is sufficient to drive the conveyor belt and idler roll.

The idler roll and shaft assembly 82 is journaled in two adjustment brackets 84 mounted on the frame side walls .77 and 78 (FIG. 6). The idler roll adjustment brackets 84 include a rotatable threaded member 86 which, when rotated, urges the idler roll and shaft assembly away from the drive roll assembly so as to maintain the conveyor belt in a suitable taut condition.

The shaft 86 for the drive roll assembly 81 is journaled at each of its ends in a bearing assembly 87, each fixedly mounted to one of the frame side walls 77 or 78. Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, the shaft 86 in the drive roll carries at the right hand end a drive coupling 88 which connects the roll shaft 86 to an electric motor and gear reduction unit 89, commonly known as a gear motor." A variable speed control (not shown) is operatively coupled to the motor transmission unit 90 to permit speed variation of the conveyor. A motor mount 91 is rigidly secured to the frame side wall 78, as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7.

It will be appreciated that the conveyor is of the friction-drive belt design and a suitable covering for the drive roll 81 has been found in a product manufactured by The Standard Rubber Company, which is its number X1921, neoprene black, Shore A, 45 durometer. The conveyor belt material found to cooperate satisfactorily in this system is a wire mesh belting material manufactured by Ashworth Bros., Inc. of Winchester, Virginia and is specified as balanced weave B 84 84-24 formed from 24 guage wire in T-l8-8 stainless steel with a belt thickness in the range of 0.101 to 0.102

inches. That wire mesh belting material was found to contain 84 openings per foot in both the lateral and longitudinal directions. A satisfactory belt speed has been found to fall in the range of 0.1 1 through 1.1 feet per minute, which is provided by the 10 to 1 speed variation capacity of the conveyor motor controller (not shown) which may be associated with the present unit.

The hopper 74 is rectangular in horizontal cross-section and may be provided with an inclined rear wall 92 and a top cover 93. The hopper 74 may be suitably supported with respect to the frame 71 by the arrangement of horizontally disposed angle iron 98 and bar 99, the ends of which are received on the vertically extending studs 101 and 102, respectively, extending from the frame side walls. A pair of nuts threadably received over the ends of each of the studs maintain the horizontal members 98 and 99 in the operative relationship, as shown.

The particulate seasoning material 9 contained within the hopper 74 exits therefrom through the bottom opening 94 (FIG. 8) which is disposed in close proximity to the upper run of the conveyor belt 83, as shown. It will be appreciated that the imperforate surface plate 73 is arranged in a supporting relationship immediately below the upper run of the wire mesh belt 75. The plate 73 is supported from the frame walls by the laterally extending members 85 so as to lie adjacent to the hopper opening 94 so that when particulate material is entrained within the wire mesh belt moving in the direction of the arrow 96, such material will be carried along the plate to its V-shaped free or metering edge 97. It has been found that by arranging the metering edge 97 at an acute angle to the direction of movement of the wire mesh conveyor belt that a satisfactory and more uniform distribution of salt or seasoning materials is assured. The edge 97 may be oriented in the shallow Vee, as shown in FIG. 6, or in a very steep and narrow Vee. Alternatively, the edge 97 may extend diagonally across the belt from edge to edge, or the edge may be configured in a narrow Vee when it is desirable to arrange the sprinkling device laterally (belt 75 moving at 90 to product belt '80) of the product movement. This enables the use of a relatively narrow belt 75 with a substantially wider product belt 80.

The span of the belt upper run between the metering edge 97 and drive roller 81 is engaged by the upper beater 76 which serves gently to rap upon or pulsate the wire mesh belt for shaking or releasing particulate material therefrom.

The rotatable beaters or rappers 76 (FIGS. 6 and 7) are arranged to extend horizontally between the frame side walls '77 and 78 and include a plurality, for example, four, of angularly spaced cams 104 of hard, high impart strength plastic material. The cams 104 are rectangular in cross-section and are mounted upon a rotatable shaft 106 such that adjacent cam sections are offset from each other at 45, shown best in FIG. 8. The effect of this arrangement is that the belt is percussively contacted alternately along its length as the shaft 106 rotates. The beaters or rappers 76 are driven from an air motor 107 operating through a gear reduction unit 108 having a sprocket 109 mounted on its output shaft. The air motor 107 and reducer 108 unit is mounted on the frame or housing 71 by the Z-shaped bracket 110, as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7. The upper one of the two beaters has at the left end of its shaft a sprocket 1 1 1 arranged so that a drive chain 112 may rotate the beater shaft 106 in the direction of the arrow 1 13 (FIG. 8). As shown in FIGS. 6, 7 and 9, the two beater shafts 106 are each provided on opposite sides of the housing with two pulleys 114 to be drivingly interconnected by stretchable rubber O-ring belts 116 so that the lower beater shaft may be driven from the upper shaft.

The center lines of the beater shafts 106 are located with respect to the belt 75 so as to position the four corners of the cam rods 104 for a tapping" or rapping engagement with the conveyor belt 75. Referring to FIG. 9, the severity of the rapping or beating action upon the conveyor belt 75 may be changed to achieve the desired amplitude of oscillation or pulsation imparted to the belt for shaking loose adhering particles by suitably adjusting the beater shaft mounting brackets 121 so as to change the center-to-center shaft spacings. More specifically, the bearings which receive the ends of the beater shafts 106 are mounted upon the brackets 121 which are each retained against the respective frame side walls 77 and 78 by two spaced apart stud fasteners 122. One of the stud fasteners 122 extends through a vertically elongated slot 123 in the bracket 121. Thus for adjustment of the center-to center shaft spacing, the fasteners 122 are loosened and the bracket pivoted so that the stud 122 will occupy a new position with respect to the slot 123. Thereafter, the fasteners are retightened to maintain the shafts 106 at the desired spacing.

Being that the belt 75 is formed from a stainless steel wire material, it follows that a substantial abrasive action occurs between the beater elements 104 and the belt. A material found satisfactory in this service is provided by the Arguto-MP Bearings, Inc. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and specified as their Arguto Hi-D product which is an ultra high molecular weight polymer material made from a basic resin known as Hi- Fax 1900, a trademarked product of The Hercules Power Company.

The beater or rapper elements 76 may be 1 inch square by about 5 inches long and rotated at from 400 to 500 RPM by application of a rotary vane air motor of one-third horse power with a 15 to 1 gear reducer. A satisfactory motor is model lAMNRV-GR11 of the Gast Manufacturing Corporation.

Referring to FIGS. 7 and 8, a belt hold down bracket 117 is provided along each side of the belt and secured to the frame side walls 77 and 78 over the metering plate 73 so as to maintain the conveyor belt 75 in the desired close relationship to the plate. This prevents particulate material from accumulating between the plate and belt to lift the belt from the plate into an interferring relationship with the hopper. Further, the belt hold down brackets by preventing the mentioned accumulation of particulate material obviates the situation where undue concentrations of flavoring material would be discharged irregularly from the plate unto the product. Two belt wear guides 118 (FIGS. 6 and 7) secured to the frame walls 77 and 78 adjacent the belt upper run maintain the belt in the desired spaced relationship from the frame walls.

OPERATION The sprinkling device is placed in operation by first setting in motion the conveyor drive motor 89 and the beater drive motor 107 to place the belt in motion, as indicated by the arrow 113, FIG. 8. A particulate food seasoning material 9 is deposited within the hopper 74 so as to exude therefrom through the lower opening 94 and to be captured or entrained by the voids, perforations or openings in the wire mesh conveyor belt 83 so as to be carried downstream from the hopper and across the imperforate plate 97 as the conveyor belt is advanced. Upon reaching the angled metering edge 97 of the plate 73, the particulate material is released and dispensed on the product carried by the food conveyor belt 80. The expanse of conveyor belt on the upper run downstream of the metering edge 97 is engaged by the upper beater 76 which imparts pulsations'to the belt insuring that the particulate material will fall freely by gravity onto the food articles carried by the food conveyor belt 80. Similarly, the lower beater 76 engaging the lower run of the belt further urges particulate material from the belt so as to provide a substantially uniform distribution of food-modifying particles to the food articles carried below the sprinkling device on the belt 80.

It is apparent from the foregoing that there has been provided a new and improved sprinkling device which produces a substantially uniform distribution of particles. This device is useful in the sprinkling of foodmodifying particles such as salt onto various food surfaces, such as potato chips and corn chips. This device is particularly effective to maintain a uniform distribution of falling particles even if such particles are somewhat adhesive in nature.

We claim:

1. In a device for sprinkling particles on food, an endless perforateconveyor having upper and lower runs, a plate disposed between the upper and lower runs, means for supplying particles to the upper run, said supply means and plate cooperating to form a container for the particles, said conveyor passing through the container thus formed to carry particles therefrom in the conveyor perforations downstream over a forward edge of the plate and down through the lower run so that the particles fall in a substantially uniform stream onto a series of food surfaces passing therebelow and means for vibrating the conveyor so that adhesive particles are shaken loose from the conveyor perforations.

2. A sprinkling device as in claim 1 wherein the conveyor is formed of a flexible mesh-like material and the vibrating means comprises a vibrating shoe urged against the conveyor.

3. A sprinkling device as in claim 2 wherein the conveyor is formed of a flexible metal mesh.

4. In a device for sprinkling particles onto food, an endless perforate conveyor having upper and lower runs, a hopper mounted above the upper run, a plate disposed between the upper and lower runs and having a forward edge extending downstream of the hopper, said hopper and plate cooperating to form a container for the particles, said conveyor passing through the container thus formed to carry particles therefrom in the conveyor perforations over the forward edge of the plate to pour under the force of gravity through the lower run so that the particles fall in a substantially uniform stream onto a series of food surfaces passing therebelow and means for vibrating the conveyor so that adhesive particles are shaken loose from the conveyor perforations.

5. A sprinkling device as in claim 1 wherein vibrating means comprises a rotatable element arranged for interrupted contact with said conveyor, and drive means serving to rotate said element.

6. A sprinkling device as in claim 5 wherein said rotatable element includes a shaft arranged transversely of said conveyor and having thereon a plurality of projections on its periphery, said element being disposed to present said projections alternately into engagement with said conveyor belt upon rotation of said shaft.

7. ln apparatus for sprinkling granular material on articles of food, a food conveyor for carrying articles of food through a sprinkling station, hopper means positioned above the conveyor adapted to carry the granular material to be sprinkled in the sprinkling station, said hopper means having side walls forming an opening extending in a horizontal plane in the lower portion of the hopper means through which the granular material can flow by force of gravity, an imperforate horizontally disposed plate positioned below said hopper means a predetermined distance in a vertical direction to form a space between said hopper means and said plate, said plate having a size such that it at least underlies all of said opening in said hopper means, an endless sprinkling conveyor having an upper run extending through said space and traveling over said plate and under said opening in said hopper means, means for advancing said sprinkling conveyor, said upper run of said conveyor substantially filling said space between said plate and hopper means, said side wallsof said hopper means being in close proximity to the upper surface of the upper run of the sprinkling conveyor whereby no substantial granular material can pass from said hopper means except that granular material which has entered the perforations of the upper run of the siprinkling conveyor, said plate having a length in the lrection of travel of the upper run of the sprinkling conveyor which is substantially less than the length of the upper run of the sprinkling conveyor whereby the granular material carried out of the hopper means by the sprinkling conveyor can drop downwardly out of the perforations of the upper run of the sprinkling conveyor as soon as the perforations carrying the granular material clear the forward extremity of the plate so that the granular material can flow through the lower run of the sprinkling conveyor and sprinkle granular material in uniform manner upon the articles of food passing therebelow on the food conveyor.

8. Apparatus as in claim 7 together with means for imparting vibration to the sprinkling conveyor to shake loose any of the granular material adhering to the sprinkling conveyor so that the upper run of the sprinkling conveyor is substantially free of granular material at the time it enters said space.

9. Apparatus as in claim 8 wherein said means for vibrating the sprinkling conveyor includes means engaging the upper run of the sprinkling conveyor and imparting vibration to the upper run of the sprinkling conveyor in a region which is adjacent the front extremity of said plate.

' 10. Apparatus as in claim 9 wherein said means for imparting vibration is in the form of a plurality of angularly spaced cam members extending transversely of the upper run of the sprinkling conveyor.

11. Apparatus as in claim 8 wherein said means for imparting vibration includes a shaft extending transversely of the conveyor, means for rotating the shaft and a plurality of cam members carried by the shaft alternately to engage said conveyor.

12. Apparatus as in claim 11 wherein said cam members are in the form of blocks on said shaft having an gularly spaced cam surfaces thereon, said cam surfaces of adjacent cam members being angularly displaced with respect to each other.

13. Apparatus as in claim 9 wherein said vibrating means also includes means for imparting vibration to the lower run of the sprinkling conveyor.

14. Apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said forward edge of said plate includes a portion extending diagonally of said conveyor.

15. Apparatus as in claim 4 wherein said forward edge is substantially V-shaped in plan.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification222/196, 239/659, 222/371, 198/734, 198/533, 198/529, 198/629, 198/633
International ClassificationA23P1/08, A62C35/60, B65G65/00
Cooperative ClassificationA23P1/082, A62C35/605, B65G2814/032, B65G65/00
European ClassificationB65G65/00, A23P1/08B2, A62C35/60B