US 3759417 A
A vending machine including a plurality of product supporting and dispensing units, each unit comprising a cantilever supported frame with front and rear rollers, an elongate endless, conveyor belt engaged about and between the rollers and having longitudinally spaced normally vertical transversely extending product separating fences with forwardly and rearwardly, projecting stabilizing pads slidably engaged on the belt for longitudinal adjustment and laterally spaced, elongate, laterally adjustable longitudinally extending and vertically projecting guide members at opposite sides of the belt.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [1 Armstrong et al.
[ Sept. 18, 1973 VENDING MACHINE  Assignee: said Armstrong, by said Christopherson, Los Angeles, Calif.
 Filed: June 3, 1971  Appl. No.: 149,549
 U.S. Cl 221/85, 198/198, 198/204  Int. Cl. G07f 11/00, B65g 15/42  Field of Search 221/82, 84, 85, 76, 221/126, l30;198/197,198, 204,184
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,923,392 2/1960 Gabrielsen 221/85 X 3,263,857 8/1966 Krakauer et al. 221/85 2,590,736 3/1952 Tandler et al. 221/130 X 516,675 3/1894, Cook 221/82 X 3,174,646 3/1965 Johnson 221/130 X 3,245,518 4/1966 Reibel et alu 198/198 7 3,292,772 12/1966 Rice. 198/204 3,329,257 7/1967 Rice 198/204 3,313,400 4/1967 Johnson 198/204 X 3,381,800 5/1968 Everett et al. 198/204 3,580,388 5/1971 Resener 198/198 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 447,526 3/1945 Canada 221/85 1,129,464 l/l957 France 198/198 224,039 12/1968 Sweden 221/85 Primary Examiner-Robert S. Ward, Jr.
Attorney-Georges A. Maxwell  ABSTRACT l A vending machine including a plurality of product supporting and dispensing units, each unit comprising a cantilever supported frame with front and rear rollers, an elongate endless, conveyor belt engaged about and between the rollers and having longitudinally spaced normally vertical transversely extending product separating fences with forwardly and rearwardly, projecting stabilizing pads slidably engaged on the belt for longitudinal adjustment and laterally spaced, elongate, laterally adjustable longitudinally extending and vertically projecting guide members at opposite sides of the belt. 7
7 Claims, 10 Drawing Figures t VENDING MACHINE This invention has to do with certain novel improvements in vending machines and is more particularly concerned with a vending machine of the type or class having product supporting, transporting and dispensing conveyor means.
The art of coin-operated vending machines is extremely old and lightly developed. Throughout the years a number of basic type of product handling means for use in vending machines have developed, one of which consists of an endless conveyor belt or chain, with product supporting trays or the like fixed thereto. in other similar means, a plurality of pivotally connected link-like product carrier units establish the endless product conveyor. The conveyors in such product handling means are, as a general rule, supported in a substantially horizontal position with the products to be dispensed supported on the upper side thereof. The conveyors are intermittently driven or advanced by suitable lever means under control of a coin control mechanism and so that the products are advanced beyond the forward end of the conveyor, where it turns downwardly and rearwardly, and arefree to drop therefrom into and through a suitable delivery chute or the like.
The principle shortcoming to be found in conveyor type product handling means of the character referred to above resides in the fact that no adjustment for handling products of different size, shape and bulk can be readily made. When circumstances require that such means be provided to handle a product of a particular size, shape and bulk, the conveyors and frequently the drive means therefor must be especially engineered and constructed to effectively and efficiently handle the product.
In recent years there has been a notable increase in the variety and in the volume of sales of soft packages or bagged food products, such as potato chip, corn chip, and various other deep fried and/or toasted snacks. Further, there has been a notable and marked increase in sales of such products in small, individual serving-size paper bags. The size and bulk or volumetric displacement of the paper bags employed for such products varies considerably depending on the volume and/or texture of the product and the volume or weight of the servings provided.
Due to the fragile nature of such products and the little protection provided by the paper bags in which they are packaged, and due to the light weight of the packages, very few vending machines are suitable or even capable of effectively handling and dispensing them.
The above-referred to conveyor type of machine, if
designed to handle products of the size and shape of such paper bagged products is the most effective type of machine for handling such products, but due to the inflexability of such machines, as regards their being adjusted to handle products of different sizes, it has been determined that they are not efficient and practical for dispensing bagged products.
It is to be noted and understood that for the efficient snd practical use of a vending machine, the space occupied by. the machines is generally prime space and is quite costly. Accordingly, the space within the machines must be utilized to its maximum potential. A machine in which any appreciable space is left unoccupied by products to be sold and dispensed when the machine is fully loaded is inefficient and impractical. Accordingly, bagged products such as potato chips and snacks wherein the packages vary considerably in size are not suitable for sale and dispensing by means of a vending machine unless the machine is capable of being easily and conveniently adjusted to compensate for variations in the size of such packaged products, since such machines must otherwise be designed to handle the largest anticipated size of package and makes costly waste of space when packages which are less in size than the maximum size are deposited therein.
a An object and feature of my invention is to provide a vending machine including a plurality of like, elongate, product supporting and transporting units, each of which units includes an endless conveyor belt to sup port the products to be sold and dispensed longitudinally spaced dividers or fences on the belt to separate adjacent products supported thereby and guide means at the opposite sides of the belt to maintain the products in position on the belt and between the fences as the products are transported longitudinally of the units.
Another object and feature of this invention is to provide a product handling unit for vending machines, of the character referred to above, wherein the fences are such that they can be easily, quickly and conveniently engaged and disengaged on and with the belt and such that they can be easily, quickly and conveniently shifted longitudinally of the belt whereby the number and longitudinal spacing of the fences on the belt can be varied to accomodate and handling packages of different sizes.
It is an object and feature of this invention to provide a vending machine unit of the character referred to wherein the guide means at the opposite sides of the unit include, vertically projecting product engaging guide members extending longitudinally of the unit, in lateral spaced relationship from each other and mounted on and with the unit for lateral shifting and adjustment relative thereto and relative to each other to coooperatively receive and to guide products of different size.
' It is not infrequent in the vending machine art that the packages being handled will become caught on or stuck to the mechanism which they are normally supported by or come into contactwith.
. An object and feature of the present invention is to provide a structure of the character referred to having novel means to dislodge products which have become caught or stuck to and/or with the fences and conveyor belt when the products are advanced to be dispensed.
it is an object and feature of my invention to provide a structure of the character referred to wherein the means provided to dislodge the products from the structure for dispensing is established by parts on the product engaging fences and the cooperative relationship of said parts with the belt, the products and with like parts on their adjacent related fences.
The foregoing and other objects and features of my invention will be fully understood from the following detailed description of typical preferred forms and applications of my invention, throughout which description reference is made to the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a vending machine with a portion broken away to shown a product handling unit as provided by the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a side elevational 'view of the unit shown in H6. l.
FIG. 3 is an enlarged sectional view taken substantially as indicated by line 3-3 on HQ 2.
FlG. 4 is an enlarged transverse sectional view of a portion of the unit shown in MG. 2.
FIG. 5 is a sectional view taken substantially as indicated by line 5-5 on FIG. 4.
FIG. 6 is a plane view showing fences engaged onthe belt in one spaced relationship.
FIG. 7 is a view similar to FlG. 6 showing the fences in another spaced relationship.
FIG. 8 is an isometric view of a fence as provided of this invention and showing it related to the belt.
FIG. 9 is a diagrammatic view illustrating a modified form of my invention; and
FIG. 10 is a diagrammatic view of an electrical circuit suitable for embodiment in the present invention.
Referring to FIG. 1 of the drawings, I have shown a vending machine V comprising a box-like cabinet C with vertical rear and side walls lit) and ill, a top wall 12 and a bottom 13. The front of the cabinet is normally closed by a hinged front wall or door 14. The door 14 has a large window opening 15 in its upper portion for visual dispay of products within the cabinet 15, which opening is closed by a glass pane 16; a product discharge opening 17 below the window opening, a coin-receiving slot 18, a coin return opening 19 and product selector buttons 20, at one side of the opening. The cabinet C thus far described is fanciful and is for the purpose of illustrating a general type of cabinet in which the instant invention can be advantageously and effectively incorporated or put into practice.
Within the cabinet C and visible through the window in the front thereof is .a plurality of like product handling units U. The units U are elongate horizontal units fixed to and projecting forwardly from the rear wall 10 of the cabinet and are arranged in predetermined vertical and lateral spaced relationship. In the case illustrated I have shown the machine as having 12 units U, there being three laterally spaced vertical rows of such units, each row including four vertically spaced units. With such a machine, in which each unit U is utilized to handle a distinct product, 12 different products can be soldand dispensed.
Each unit U is under the control of a related selector button 20, the selector buttons 20 being under control of a suitable coin-operated control means. Since the coin-operated control means utilized in carrying out this invention can vary widly in form and construction without'in any way affecting the novelty and spirit of the invention, and since such means are well known to those skilled in the art to which this invention pertains, I have not shown such a means and will not burden this disclosure with further detailed consideration thereof.
The instant invention is primarily or principally concerned with and novelty resides in the nature, construction and the operating features of the units U.
Each unit U includes an elongate horizontal frame with front and rear sides 21 and 22, and mounting means N at its rear end.
While the structure of the frame can vary widely in form, I have for the purpose of this disclosure shown it as being in the nature of an elongate inverted or downwardly opening chanel with a flat horizontal top wall 23 and flat, vertical, laterally spaced side flanges or walls 24 depending from the opposite side edges of the top wall. The side walls 24 are shown as having forwardly and upwardly inclined lower edges and tapering forwardly so as to reduce the weight of the frame and reduce the bulk and/or size of the forward end thereof.
The mounting means N includes laterally outwardly projecting mounting tabs or flanges 25 formed integrally with the side walls 24. The flanges 25 estabiish bearing engagement on the rear supporting wall 10 of the cabinet C and are shown as being fixed to the cabinet by means of suitable screw fastening means 26.
Each unit U next includes a conveyor means carried by the frame F and which includes front and rear follers 30 and 31 and an elongate endless belt E engaged about and between the rollers. The front roller 30 is horizontally disposed and extends laterally across the forward end of the frame. The roller 30 is mounted and rotatably supported on and by the frame by an axle or central shaft 32, the ends of which are engaged in suitable bearings 33 in the adjacent forward ends of the side walls 24 of the frame F and so that the uppermost or top side of the roller 30 is substantially tangential with the upper surface of the top wall 23 of the frame.
The exact nature or construction of the roller 30 and of the bearing means employed to support it can be varied widely, as desired or as circumstances require and without affecting the novelty of this invention.
The rear roller 31 is horizontally disposed and extends transverse the rear end portion of the frame F, in or adjacent a relieved portion or opening 34 provided in the top wall 23 of the frame. The roller 31, like the roller 30 extends between the side walls of the frame and is arranged with top side substantially tangential with the upper surface of the top wall 23 of the frame.
The roller 31 is rotatably supported in and by the frame by means of an axle or central shaft 35, the ends of which are engaged in suitable bearings 36 carried by the side walls of the frame F.
The rear roller 31 is a drive roller and distinguishes from the front roller 30 by the addition or provision of a drive sheave or sprocket 37 at one end thereof and fixed to the axle or said one end of the'roller. The sprocket 37 occurs inward of the. side wall of the frame related thereto.
The endless belt E is an elongate,'endless loop of flat,
ribbon-like flexible belting with straight parallel side edges 40 and fiat inner and outer surfaces 41 and 42. In the preferred carrying out of the invention the belt E can be established of a suitable rubberized or plasticized fabric. i
The belt E is less in lateral extent than the frame and is engaged in taught driving engagement about the roll- I ers 30 and 31 with itsupper portion in'adjacen't sliding supporting engagement with the top surface of the top wall 23 of the frame.
In practice, the belt E can be provided with a resilient section as the bearing means for the front and/or rear rollers can be made suitably adjustable or resilient so as to establish and maintain the belt E under proper tension. Since the manner and means by which tension can be maintained on the belt E is subject to wide varia tions, without departing from or affecting the novelty and spirit of this invention, I have elected not to burden this disclosure with unnecessary disclosure of such a means.
The structure provided by this invention next includes a plurality of product engaging fences P secured to the belt E in spaced relationship and projecting outwardly therefrom. The fences P are adapted to occur between adjacent product items supported by the belt and defined spaces along the belt between which products to be sold and dispensed are deposited.
The fences P are flat, normally vertical sheet metal plates, substantially rectangular in plane configuration and have flat, normally horizontal forwardly and rearwardly projecting stabilizing pads 45 and 46 on their inner transverse edges, which pads normally establish flat bearing engagement with the outer surface of the belt to maintain the fences normal to the plane of the belt.
The forwardly projecting pads 45, on the fences occuring at the top of the belt E, are approximately onehalf the lateral extent of the fences and occur at one side or half of the fences and at one side portion of the belt, The rearwardly projecting pads 46, of those same fences are approximately one half the lateral extent of the fences and occur at the other side or half of the fences and at the other side portion of the belt.
It will be noted that when the belt is moved to advance the fences at the top of the belt to the bottom of said belt, the pads 45 project rearwardly and the pads 46 project forwardly from the fences.
The fences next include anchoring means A to releasably secure the fences to the belt. The means A includes a laterally outwardly projecting downwardly and thence laterally inwardly turned or bent retaining tub 47 formed integrally on the lateral outer edge of each pad 45 and 46, at the ends of said edges adjacent the fences and engaged about the edges of the beltE related thereto, as clearly illustrated throughout the drawings. The retaining tubs 47 are of limited width and occur as close as is possible and practical to the vertical plane of the fences and so that the fences are, in effect, secured to the belt at the ends of their lower and inner edges. The tabs 47 need not and are preferably not urged into tight clamped engagement with the belt, but are urged into snug sliding engagement there with and so that the fences can be moved and adjusted longitudinally of the fence, when desired and as cir cumstances require. 1
It is to be noted that by providing the forwardly and rearwardly projecting pads 45 and 46' on opposite sides of the fences and belt, as set forth above and as illustrated in the drawings, adegree of stability is afforded by the fences equal to or greater than the stability which might be afiorded by single pads coextensive with the inner edges of the fences and twice or two times as deep, that is, projecting twice as far from the planes of the fences. It isto be further noted that with the fence construction that I provide, the fences can be shifted and moved towards each other to positions where the forwardly projecting pads 45 of each pad occurs adjacent the the side of the rearwardly projecting pads 46 of the next or adjacent fence, thereby making it possible to adjust the fences to occur in closer spaced relationship with each other than is possible with fence structures of the same general character wherein the pads occur at one side of the vertical planes of the fencesand are twice or two times as deep, to provide desired and necessary stability to the fences.
In FIG. 7 of the drawings l have diagrammatically illustrated adjacent fences spaced so that the pads 45 and 46 occur in side by side relationship, as described above.
. int o thepath of the fencesP on the belt E andadapted to be opened when the finger is engaged by a fence.
in the preferred carrying out of this invention, the
fence P and so that when a fence P is advanced to a vertical plane through the central axis of the rollers, the vertical plane of the next precedingfence is moved to or rearward of the central axis of the roller 30 and so that at no time during the normal operation of the construction does a fence stop at or about the roller 30 in a position where it is forward of and projects forward from the roller.
The rear drive roller 31 can be of any suitable or necessary circumferential or diametric extent and is shown as being the same size as the roller 30 so that only one size roller need be provided, thereby maintaining the inventory of parts to a minimum and simplifying servicing of the structure. I
The unit U that I provide next includes drive means D to intermittently drive and advance the belt for wardly longitudinally of the top wall of the frame.
The drive means D is extremely simple and includes an electric drive motor supported beneath the rear end of the frame F by means of a suitable bracket 51, with the output shaft 52 of the motor extending transverse the axis. of the frame, a sheave or sprocket 53 on the shaft 52 and a drive belt or chain 54 engaged with and about the sheave or sprocket 53 and the sheave or sprocket 37.
The mounting bracket 51 can be of any suitable nature or design and in the case illustrated is shown as a U-shaped metal part with a flat base portion 55 extending transverse the axisof the frame and on which the motor is secured and vertical legs 56 projecting upwardly from the base and releasably fastened to the side walls of the frame. I
In addition to the above, the drive means D includes power supply and controlmeansS, which means includes an on switch 60, preferably directly related to the manually operable selector button 20 for the unit U and accessable at the front of the vending machine and an off switch fil carried by the frame F and operable in response to the position of the fences F on belt The off switch 61 is a normally closed trigger switch mounted on the frame F with its finger62 projecting The switch 61 is preferably mounted adjacent the lower edge ofa side wall 24 of the frame with its finger 62 projecting laterally, below the belt E to be engaged by the rearwardly advancing fences. The switch 61 is mounted so that it can be shifted and its position adjusted longitudinally of the frame. In practice, the switch is positioned so that it is engaged by a fence P when the foremost fence at the top side of the belt reaches a position where it is vertically aligned with the axis of the roller 30, as illustred in FIG. 2 of the drawlngs.
The means S is such that upon momentary closing of the on switch 60, by manual engagement of'the selector button 20, the circuitto the motor 50 closed and the motor moves the belt sufficiently to move the fence engaged with the off switch 61 out of engagement with that switch, permitting it to close and maintain the circuit to the motor closed with resulting advancing of the belt untilthe next to follow fence engages the finger 62 of the switch 61, to open said switch, opening the circuit to the motor. During the above cycling of the structure, the fence P which was foremost at the top of the frame F is advanced to the underside of the frame and the next following fence P is advanced to the upper forward end of the frame.
FIG. it) of the drawings is a diagramatic view of a typical circuit incorporating the motor 56) and switch 60 and 61 referred to above, in the circuit shown the motor is connected with a pair of lines 65 and 66 extending from a suitable power source. A normally open relay switch 67 is engaged in the line 67. The relay 67 is connected with a pair of lines 68 and 69 leading from a step down transformer 70 which transformer is connected with the power source. The on switch 60 is engaged in the line 69 and the off switch 61 is engaged in a line 71 bridging the switch 60.
It will be apparent that the sought after operation can be effectively accomplished with the circuit shown or by other circuits of a similar nature.
Finally, each of the units U is provided with and includes guide means G, which means includes a pair of laterally spaced upwardly projecting, elongate guides 80 extending longitudinally of the frame in spaced relationship from the opposite sides thereof.
The guides 80 are shown as being established by wire stock and as including a pair of vertically spaced, horizontal, longitudinal rails 81, fixed to and extending between vertical end posts 82. The end posts 82 have laterally inwardly extending, horizontal carrier bars 83 at their lower ends which bars are slidably engaged in axially aligned pairs of related openings 84 on the side walls of the frame.
With the means G set forth above, itwill be apparent that products engaged on and supported by the upper portion of the belt FE, between the fences P are effectively guided by the rails 81 of guides 80 and are prevented from shifting laterally and out of supported engagement on the belt.
It will be further apparent that when a product of a different size is engaged on and with the unit U, the guides 80 can be easily and conveniently shifted and adjusted laterally relative to the frame so as to accomodate and establish proper guiding engagement with the product.
When the unit that I provide is set into motion and upper foremost fence P advances forwardly and downwardly about the roller 30, it pivots away from the next following fence and the rearwardly projecting pad 46 thereof pivots or swings upwardly and forwardly away from the upper surface of the belt. At the same time,
the forwardly advancing forwardly projecting pad 45 of said next following fence projects forwardly from the forward end'of the belt, out of engagement with the adjacent (upper) surface of the belt. As the fences P, with their related pads are advanced and move relative to each other and relative to the belt in the manner set forth above, it will be apparent that as a product which was arranged between the fences and supported by the belt and/or pads is advanced, over and beyond the forward end of the belt, it is disengaged by the leading fence, which is below and rearward of the forward end of the belt and is permitted to drop freely from the forward end of the unit for discharge from the machine. If the package has become stuck to the fences, pads and/or belt, the upward swinging of the rearwardly projecting pad on the leading fence and the forwardly projecting pad on the trailing a fence cooperate to work on and dislodge the product from the noted parts and in effect eject the product.
The above noted relative working of parts is particularly important and is particularly effective in dislodging wax paper bags and the like which tends to cling and stick to the surfaces of the'structure which they contact and bear against.
In those cases wherethe forwardly and rearwardly projecting pads of adjacent fences are arranged in side by side relationship, the dislodging effect afforded thereby is notably enhanced as the rearwardly projecting pad is better adapted to lift the product up and from engagement with the forwardly projecting pad, as it advances about the roller 30.
The several units U provided in the vending machine V are such that their forward ends are spaced rearward of the glass pane 16 in the front of the machine a sufficient distance to permit the products carried by and disengaged or released by the units to drop freely between the glass pane and the units to a tray 85 inward of and accessably through the discharge opening 17 on the front of the machine.
In the case illustrated, the endless belt is provided with fences P about its entire circumferential extent and is suchthat it operates or moves continuously in one direction and is automatically prepared to be loaded with a new and fresh supply of products when the last product, previously engaged thereon, has been discharged.
In practice and as diagramatically illustrated in FIG. 9 of the drawings, a number of fences sufficient to extend along the upper side of the belt, when the unit is loaded with packaged product and which are moved to occur beneath the belt as the packages are discharged can be provided. In such a case, space at the rear of the unit to permit the upwardly movement of fences about the rear roller need not be provided but it is necessary, upon reloading the unit, to manually urge and move the belt in a reverse direction to reposition the fences at and along the top of the belt. In such a case, the number of fences required is reduced by one half.
In FIG. 9 of the drawings, l have shown a manually engageable knob at one end of the front roller to effect reverse moving and resetting of the belt and fences.
Having described my invention, I do not wish to be limited to the specific details set forth in the above and illustrated in thedrawings, but wish to reserve to myself any modifications or variations which may appear to those skilled in the art and which fall within the scope, of the following claims:
Having described my invention, I claim:
l. A vending machine comprising a cabinet defining a chamber with a vertical wall and a dispensing opening, a plurality of product supporting and dispensing units secured to the vertical wall in spaced relationship above the opening, each unit comprising an elongate horizontal frame with front and rear ends, means securing the rear end of the frame to said wall, front and rear rollers rotatably carried by the frame or axes transverse the axis of the frame, an elongate endless belt engaged about and extending between the rollers, a plurality of flat normally vertical fences secured to the belt in longitudinal spaced relationship and extending transverse the belt and drive means to intermittently drive one of said rollers and to advance the upper portion of the belt with the fences thereon forwardly, downwardly and 9 rearwardly about the front roller a distance equal to the longitudinal distance between adjacent fences, wherein the fences have flat forwardly and rearwardly projecting stabilizing pads normally establishing flat bearing engagement on the belt and downwardly and laterally inwardly turned tabs engageable about the opposite sides of the belt and establishing yielding gripping engagement therewith.
2. A structure as set forth in claim 1 wherein each unit includes guide means to maintain products engaged on the top of the belt between adjacent fences from shifting laterally relative to the frame and comprising elongate vertical guide members in lateral spaced relationship from the sides and extending verti cally above the plane of the belt and substantially coextensive with the longitudinal extent of the frame, and means securing the guide members to the frame for selective lateral shifting of the guide members.
3. A structure as set forth in claim 1 wherein the pads are substantially equal to one-half the lateral extent of the belt, the forwardly projecting pads occurring at one side of the belt and adjacent the side of the forwardly projecting pad of the next adjacent fence, said rearwardly projecting pads pivoting forwardly and upwardly relative to the belt and the forwardly projecting pad of the next adjacent pad when their related fences advance forwardly and downwardly about the front roller and the forwardly projecting pad of said next adjacent fence advancing forwardly and projecting horizontally forwardly from the upper forward end of the belt and front roller as said rearwardly projecting pad pivots forwardly and upwardly.
4. A vending machine comprising a cabinet defining a chamber with a vertical wall and a dispensing opening, a plurality of product supporting and dispensing units secured to the vertical wall in spaced relationship above the opening, each unit comprising an elongate horizontal frame with front and rear ends, means secur ing the rear end of the frame to said wall, front and rear rollers rotatably carried by the frame on axes transverse the axis of the frame, an elongate endless belt engaged about and extending between the rollers, a plurality of flat normally vertical fences secured to the belt in longitudinal spaced relationship and extending transverse the beltand drive means to intermittently drive one of said rollers and to advance the upper portion of the belt with the fences thereon forwardly, downwardly and rearwardly about the front roller a distance equal to the longitudinal distance between adjacent fences, said drive means including an electric drive motor, mechanical drive means between the motor and a related roller and control means to start and stop said motor,
said control means including a manually operable start switch to close a power supply circuit to the motor and an off switch engageable with the: fences and opening the power supply circuit when engaged by a fence, said of? switch being positioned longitudinally of the unit whereby it is engaged by a fence when a fence is advanced forwardly to a position where it projects upwardly from the front roller.
5. A structure as set forth in claim 4 wherein each unit includes guide means to maintain products engaged on the top of the belt between adjacent fences from shifting laterally relative to the frame and com prising elongate vertical guide members in lateral spaced relationship from the sides and extending vertically above the plane of the belt and substantially coextensive with the longitudinal extent of the frame, and means securing the guide members to the frame for selective lateral shifting of the guide members.
6. A structure as set forth in claim 5 wherein the fences have flat forwardly and rearwardly projecting stabilizing pads normally establishing flat bearing engagement on the belt and downwardly and laterally inwardly turned tabs engageable about the opposite sides of the belt and establishing yielding gripping engagement therewith. r
7. A vending machine comprising a cabinet defining a chamber with a vertical wall and a dispensing opening, a plurality of product supporting and dispensing units secured to the vertical wall in spaced relationship above the opening, each unit comprising an elongate horizontal frame with front and rear ends, means securing the rear end of the frame to said wall, front and rear rollers rotatably carried by the frame on axes transverse the axis of the frame, an elongate endless belt en gaged about and extending between the rollers, a plurality of flat normally vertical fences secured to the belt in longitudinal spaced relationship and extending transverse the belt and drive means to intermittently drive one of said rollers and to advance the upper portion of the belt with the fences thereon forwardly, downwardly and rearwardly about the front roller a distance equal to the longitudinal distance between adajcent fences, each unit including guide means to maintain products engaged on the top of the belt between adjacent fences from shifting laterally relative to the frame and comprising elongate vertical guide members in lateral spaced relationship from the sides and extending vertically above the plane of the belt and substantially coextensive with the longitudinal extent of the frame, and
means securing the guide members to the frame for selective lateral shifting of the guide members, means securing the guide members to the frame including elongate, horizontal, laterally inwardly extending rods.
spaced longitudinal of the members and slidably engaged in and through registering openings in the frame. i