US 3811294 A
A refrigerated cooler-dispenser for drinking water or other beverage which is packaged in a rigid or semi-rigid, faucet equipped container. The cooler-dispenser features a thermally insulated cabinet having a cooling compartment to receive and support one or more cubicle beverage containers in forwardly and downwardly tilted positions with the faucets of the beverage containers extending forwardly outwardly through a recessed closure for the cooling compartment, and wherein the cabinet is equipped with exteriorly accessible, manually operable faucet actuators adapted to engage and manipulate the faucet of the beverage containers between open and closed positions.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1191 Taylor 11] 3,811,294 1451 May 21,1974
COOLER FOR FAUCET-EQUIPPED BEVERAGE CONTAINERS Primary Examiner-Meyer Perlin  Inventor: William Taylor, Columbus, Ohio t or Firm-William Rambo  Assignee: Ebco Manufacturing Company,  ABSTRACT Columbus, Ohio A f d 1 d f d k re rigerate coo erispenser or rm ing water or [221 Med: 1973 other beverage which is packaged in a rigid or semi-  A N 335,041 rigid, faucet equipped container. Thecooler-dispenser features a thermally insulated cabinet having a cooling compartment to receive and support one or more cu-  U.S. Cl 62/390, 62/396, 222/146 bide beverage containers in forwardly and down [51 1 :9. wardly tilted positions withthe faucets of the beverage or Search /39 containers extendingforwardly outwardly through a l 9 ll recessed closure for the cooling compartment, and wherein the cabinet is equipped with exteriorly acces-  References Clted sible, manually operable faucet actuators adapted to UNITED STATES PATENTS engage and manipulate the faucet of the beverage 2,151,104 3/1939 Heitman 62/390 containers between open and closed positions. 3,237,810 3/1966 Gran 62/390 1 a 3,435,990 4/1969 Pike; 222/146-R' 2 Clauns, 5 Drawing Flgures [7 l T la (Q\ I/ I a 2 u -v ,4 l5
MFENTEBIM! 1914 $811,294.
SHEU .1 BF 3 COOLER FOR FAUCET-EQUIPPED BEVERAGE CONTAINERS BACKGROUND-OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates generally to refrigerated water or beverage coolers and dispensers. More particularly, this invention is concerned with a cabinettype, electrically refrigerated cooler-dispenser which is adapted to house and cool one or more cubicle type, rigid or semi-rigidbeverage containers while providing ready exterior access to the usual discharge valve or faucet of such containers.
So-called bottle-type water coolers have met with widespread acceptance in homes, offices, factories and other populated areas. These bottle-type water coolers usually comprise an upright, floor-supported cabinet or base in which is contained a conventional, electrically actuated refrigeration system having a cooling reservoir to receive the mouth of an inverted, five gallon water bottle, and a system of outlet pipes and valves to provide for the gravitational discharge of chilled drinking water from the cooler.
However, these inverted water bottle-type coolers were and are subject to numerous objections stemming principally from the difficulty of handling and the expense of the heavy, large capacity water bottles. Another objection to the bottle-type water cooler stems from the fact that the drinking water must be transferred from the sterile bottle through the air-vented, normally unsterilized reservoir, pipe and faucet valve system of the cooler, and the otherwise pure drinking water sometimes becomes contaminated with impurities during its storage in and travel through the cooler, thus creating a health problem.
Also, while it has been heretofore proposed to userefrigerated, cabinet type coolers for the storage and dispensing of milk packaged in flexible plastic bag-type containers. particularly in comparatively large restaurant operations, such bag-type coolers are relatively difficult to load and operate without serious wastage or contamination of the milk.
SUMMARY AND OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION This invention provides an improved, electrically refrigerated cooler-dispenser for disposable-type, faucetequipped plastic beverage containers and which makes provision for the direct dispensation of the beverage from the container without passage thereof.
through the cooler'itself. Toward this end, the coolerdispenser comprises a table or pedestal-supported, cabinet structure. which houses a conventional electrically-operated refrigeration system and which provides therein a thermally insulated, cooling compartment adapted to receive and chill one or more rigid. or semirigid cubicle-shaped. plastic beverage containers of the type having a manually operable discharge valve or faucet extending outwardly from a lower forward corner hereof. and wherein the cooling compartment is defined in part by a downwardly and forwardly sloping bottom wall to support the beverage container(s) in a forwardly tilted position and thereby facilitate the discharge of the contents of the container(s), and a removable door or closure panel which is recessed or notched to permit the faucet(s) of the beverage container(s) to project outwardly from the cooling compartment for easy access and manipulation.
A primary object of this invention is to provide a cooler for faucet-equipped, disposable plastic-type beverage containers which is efficient in its cooling function, which provides convenient access to its cooling compartment for the loading and unloading of beverage containers therein, and which provides for the exterior manipulation and discharge of beverage from the container faucet without transfer of the beverage to any part of the cooler itself.
Another object is to provide a convenient and compact electrically-operated cooler for drinking'water or otherbeverage which is packaged in a sterile condition in a rigid or semi-rigid disposable plastic container of generally cubicle shape, and which provides for the dispensingof the beverage directly from the faucet of the container without removal of the container from the cooler.
These and other objects and advantages of the invention will be more readily apparent from the following description and the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS:
line 4-4 of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is a detailed vertical sectional view taken along the line 5-5 of FIG. 3 and showing one of the faucet actuators operatively engaged with the faucet of one of the beverage containers positioned in the cooler.
DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now to the drawings, it will be seen that the present cooler comprises a vertically elongated, rectangular cabinet or outer housing 10 which is preferably supported for operation upon a table top or counter, not shown. The cabinet 10 is divided internally by a transverse, horizontal partitionwall 11 into a lower, machinery-containing compartment 12 and an upper refrigerating compartment 13. The lower compartment 12 preferably houses the usual components of an electrically-operated, refrigeration system, including an electric motor, compressor, condenser, valves and conduits, none of which are shown in the drawings since they are well and familiarly known to those skilled in the refrigeration art. The evaporator or cool ing coils 14 of the refrigeration system are, however, shown in FIG. I as occupying the upper, refrigerating compartment 13 and disposed in intimate, heatexchange contact with the bottom and rear walls 15 and 16 of an inner, plastic liner or shell 17 carried within the upper compartment 13. The inner plastic liner or shell 17 is, for the most part, carried in inwardly spaced relation to the adjacent outer walls of the cabinet 10, and the spaces between the outer walls of the cabinet 10 and the inner liner or shell 11 is preferably filled with foamed plastic or other suitable thermal insulating material, not shown, so that the cooling coils l4 and inner shellll are well insulated from the outer walls and lower compartment 12 of the cabinet 10.
cabinet along the upper forward corner of the cabi-' net. The bottom wall of the inner shell 17 is inclined slightly downwardly toward the front of the cabinet and "merges with an integral, oppositely inclined portion 15a to define on the forward portion of the bottom wall of the shell 17a transversely extending drain condensate trough 21. The inner shell 17 is completed by a pair of opposed, upstanding side walls 22. As will be observed, the inner. shell 17 of the cabinet is preferably molded from plastic or synthetic resin material and defines within the upper compartment 13 a forwardly opening, cubicle cooling chamber 23 which is preferably of a size to receive two faucet-equipped, cubical beverage containers 24 in closely spaced, side-by-side relation.
A double wall door or closure panel 25 is removably carried in snug-fitting, closing relation to the forward opening of the cooling chamber 23 by means of a quick-release, flexible plastic latch26. The lower edge 27 of the closurepanel 25 is formed with a pair of relatively spaced arcuate notches or recesses 28 which are arranged to snugly fitv around the stationary sleeve or outer barrel portion 29 of the manually operable'faucets 30 of the beverage containers 24 positioned in the cooling chamber 23. As will beno'ted, the beverage containers 24 preferably-comprise blow-molded, comparatively inexpensive plastic receptacles of the disposable type which are commonly used by dairies to package fluid milk in 2% galqquantities. A typical example of this type of faucet-equipped, disposable plastic beverage container is shown in US. Pat. No. 3,430,824 issued Mar. 4, 1969 to Conners et al.
As seen particularly in FIGS. 1 and 5, the walls of the inner liner or shell 17 which define the cooling chamber 23 and the inner wall ofthe closure panel 25 are designed and constructed to generally conform to and support a pair of these beverage containers 24 with the faucets 30 thereof projecting outwardly through openings defined by the arcuate or semi-circular recesses 28 formed in the lower edge 27 of the closure panel 25 and a pair of complemental arcuate recesses 31 formed in the lower mounting flange 17a of the inner lineror shell 17. This arrangement provides exterior access toand for manipulation of the ported valve cockelements 32 which are slidable axially within the stationary. barrel portions 29 of the faucets 30 to control the outflow of beverage from the containers 24.
Mounted beneath the lower edge 27 of the closure panel 25 and in a pair of adjacent recesses 33 and 34 formed in the front wall of the cabinet are a pair of stir rup-shaped faucet actuators 35 and 36. The right hand actuator 36 is a mirror image of the left hand actuator 35 which will now-be described in detail. The actuator 35 preferably comprises a sheet metal strap or stamping formed with a horizontal crosspiece or bight portion 37 and a pair ofin tegral, down-turned legs 38 and 39. The leg 39 is provided toward its lower end with a laterally outwardly projecting trunnion 40 which .is journalled for rotation or, pivoting movement in an opening 41 formed in the adjacent wall of cabinet. The leg 38 is also provided toward its lower end with a laterally projecting trunnion 42 which extends through an opening 43 formed in the opposite side wall'of the recess 33. Operatively connected with the trunnion 42 is a coaxial torsion spring assembly 44 arranged to resiliently bias the actuator 35 toward its inward, valveclosing position as shown by full lines in the several views of the drawings. The torsion spring assembly 44, however, permits the actuator 35 to be moved manually against spring pressure to a valve-opening position as shown by broken lines in FIG. 5. As shown particularly 7 in FIG. 4, the crosspiece or bight portion 37 of the actuator 35 is formed in its rearward or inner edge with a generally T-shaped slot 45 adapted to receiveand confine therein the diametrically enlarged, flat head portion 46 of the slidable valve cock 32 of the faucet 30. As will be understood, the enlarged head portions 46 of the faucet valves 30 of the beverage containers 24 are simply slipped downwardly into the slots 45 of the actuators 35 and 36 when the containers 24 are initially placed in the cooling chamber 23 and when the closure panel is removed. When the closure panel is replaced, its recessed or notched lower edge portion 27 securely holds the necks or barrels 29 of the faucets in position where the enlarged heads 46 of the valve cocks are held in the'slots 45 of the actuators. The forward edges of the faucet actuators preferably include one or more upturned handle tabs 47 to facilitate the manual manipulation thereof.
The lower front wall portion of the cabinet 10 is also recessed to define therein a well 48 beneath the faucets 30 of the beverage containers. The well 48 provides sufficient space beneath each faucet 30 to position a drinking cup or other receptacle to catch water or other beverage discharged from the faucets when they are opened by their actuators. A shallow drain receptor tray 49 is removably positioned at the bottom of the well 48 to collect spillage therein. 7
Referring again to FIG. 1, it will be noted that the condensate drain trough 21 'formed in the bottom wall of the cooling chamber 23 is provided in its central region with a funnel-shaped drain outlet 50 to which is connected the upper end of a drainage tube 51. The drainage tube 51 extends downwardly through an opening 52 formed in a diagonal fairing plate 53 disposed at the top of 'the well 48,so as to discharge condensates initially collected in the trough 21 to the receptor tray 49 positioned in the bottom of the well 48.
The operationof the present beverage cooler is believed readily apparent. However, when it is desired to use the cooler, at least one, and preferably two, of the containers 24 are placed in the cooling chamber 23 by first unfastening the flexible plastic latch 26 and removing the closure panel 25 to gain free access to the cooling chamber from the front opening thereof. The containers 24 are placed in the cooling chamber so that the stationary barrel portions 29 of their faucets 30 rest in the semicircular recesses 31 formed in the flange 17a (see FIG. 5), and the enlarged heads 46 are engaged in the T-shaped slots 45 of the faucet actuators 35 and 36. The closure panel is then replaced to close the cooling chamber and securely locked in position by the latch 26.
Energization of the refrigeration system, which is normally thermostaticallycontrolled, functions to circulate a refrigerant through the cooling coils l4 and thus cool the contents of the cooling chamber 23.
When itis desired to discharge beverage from the cooler, either one or the other of the actuators 35 and 36 may be manually pivoted outwardly to move the ported valve cock element 32 axially outwardly from the barrel portion 29 of the faucet (see broken lines FIG. 5), and thus permit the beverage to flow by gravity outwardly and downwardly from the faucet into a cup or other receptacle held within the recessed front wall of the cabinet beneath the faucet. The torsion spring assembly 44 associated with each of the faucet actuators will function to return the actuator and faucet to their closed positions upon release of the actuator to thus minimize spillage. When either or both of the beverage containers have been emptied, they may be readily and easily replaced with full containers simply by removing the closure panel 25 to thus gain access to the cooling chamber.
As will be apparent, the present cooler may be used in the home, office, restaurant, or any other populated area to refrigerate and dispense potable water or substantially any other liquid beverage packaged within the disposable type plastic container without requiring transfer of the beverage from the packaging container into the cooler structure.
While a single preferred embodiment of the invention has been illustrated and described in detail, it Will be understood that various modifications in details of 6 tively spaced apart, outer and inner walls defining a fowardly opening compartment to receive and house a shape-retentive, cubicle beverage container with the faucet of said container extending forwardly and outwardly beyond said compartment, said compartment being defined in part by a forwardly and outwardly sloping bottom wall arranged to tilt a beverage container positioned in said compartment slightly downwardly and outwardly toward its faucet; refrigerantcirculating means including a cooling element positioned in adjacent, heat-exchange relation to at least one of the inner walls of said cabinet and operable to cool the contents of said compartment; a thermally in sulated closure panel removably carried on said cabinet in closing relation to said compartment and having a recessed lower edge portion arranged to fit around and permit access to the faucet of a beverage container positioned in said compartment; and a manually operable, spring-biased faucet-actuating handle pivotally carried on the exterior of said cabinet beneath the recessed lower edge portion of saidclosure panel for engagement with the faucetof a beverage container positioned in said compartment, said handle being operable upon manual release to close the faucet of a beverage container withv which it is engaged. Y
Z. A refrigerated cooler according to claim 1, wherein the bottom wall of said compartment is formed toward the forward portion of said compartment with a drain trough having an outlet connected with a remotely extending drain tube arranged to discharge condensates from said compartment.