US 3830406 A
A modular space-saver type array of dispensing liquid containers for household refrigerator use; parallel-racked rectangular containers have in an embodiment a wedge-section plastic floor draining to a forward valve-supplied sump and accessible for cleaning and refill through a removable hinged top, and have in a further embodiment downwardly sloped top and bottom with vertical front, back and sides; bottoms with rack-engaging detents and open work racks with drip trays are further features.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
8,243,084 3/1966 Stegner........................... 3,370,774 2/1968 Hopf......v.....,. 3,501,056 3/1970 Primary Examiner-Evon C. Blunk Assistant Examiner -James M. S1attery Attorney, Agent, or FirmJohn F. McClellan, Sr.
'[5 7} ABSTRACT A modular space-saver type array of dispensing liquid containers for household refrigerator use; parallelracked rectangular containers have in an embodiment a wedge-section plastic floor draining to a forward valve-supplied sump and accessible for cleaning and refill through a removable hinged top, and have in a further embodiment downwardly sloped top and bot- ARRAY Inventor: Maurice R. Robb, 12240 Arrow Park Dr-., Tantallon, Md. 20022 Nov. 30, 1972 Appl. No.: 310,676
References Cited I UNITED STATES PATENTS United States Patent Robb [ 1 REFRIGERATOR DISPENSING CONTAINER 221 Filed:
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. S m om In 2 22 H2U22H 222222 2 .2. 2 2 u 2 l w S i w .mumw w HmnAmm O 0 8 CWBDAE 284458 923333 899999 111111 02237 1 1 9454 5 882 26 405084 864503 11122 REFRIGERATOR DISPENSING CONTAINER ARRAY This invention relates generally to containers and specifically to containers for use with refrigerated liquids.
One of those household problems which are so universally recognized as to be treated humorously in conversation is the overcrowded refrigerator problem. It is also widely realized that the problem is largely caused by the need to store numerous liquid containers in refrigerators. Such containers come in a variety of sizes, sometimes are too tall to fit between shelves, frequently tip over and spill the contents over other items, especially on lower shelves, usually require covers to prevent contamination and to prevent evaporation, and are generally troublesome to use and replace for children and adults alike. Reusable liquid containers such as bottles and jugs have the added disadvantages of being slippery and of being difficult to clean properly.
Commercial dispensers of bulk fluids are more economical of space than bottles and cans, but are not adaptable for use in ordinary household refrigerators for several reasons including the special equipment required, handling characteristics, cost and the quantities and varities of fluids stored and dispensed.
Primary objects of the present invention-therefore are to provide a refrigerator container array which stores and dispenses liquids such as milk, fruit juices, soft drinks, tea, coffee, wine, cider, beer, water and the like in the smallest refrigerator space, with the least disturbance to other items stored; with the practicable safety, greatest sanitation, ease of inspection of contents and ease of cleaning, and together with the above, with good appearance, durability and low cost.
Other objects of the invention are to provide a system as described which is easily accessible without moving other objects, which is easily operable by children, invalids, and others, which is light in weight, which is easy to set up and take apart, and which affords a variety of different sizes without waste of space because of modular construction.
In brief summary a preferred embodiment of the invention includes a rack-supported set of elongate, rectangular, modular-nesting containers having vertical walls, a bottom-drainage feature and a forward sump and valve arrangement.
The above and other objects and advantages of the invention will become more readily apparent on examination of the following description, including the drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a side elevation in partial section of an embodiment of the invention in place in a refrigerator;
FIG. 2 is an isometric detail illustrating portions of the invention depicted in FIG. 1;
FIGS. 3-5 are side elevations partly in section of embodiments of the inventtion in refrigerators;
FIG. 6 is a front elevation of an embodiment of the invention in a refrigerator.
FIG. 7 is a side elevation partly in section of an embodiment of the invention; and
FIG. 8 is a front elevation of an embodiment of the invention.
In the Figures, like numerals refer to like parts.
FIGS. I and 2 respectively show the invention 10 in a refrigerator R and details of the invention in an exploded view. These Figures are described together.
A standard refrigerator shelf S supports the rack assembly 12 of the invention which in turn supports an array of containers 14, 14a, two of which are shown extending from the closed refrigerator door D to the back B of the refrigerator R.
The rack assembly 12 is generally of rod construction. Longitudinal member 18, 18 (one shown in each Figure) bridge the openings in the refrigerator shelf S, crossbars 20 connect the longitudinal members, legs 22 spaced apart by the length of the assembly stand vertically and have a socket 24 at the top of each leg. A tray 26 rests on the longitudinal members of the base. Upper portions of the rack include container holders 28 which have legs 30 terminating above the containers as sockets 32 and rounded feet 34 terminating below the containers and detachably engaging the sockets below. Crossbars 36 connect the side portions of the racks.
Each container 14, 14a is in the form of a box having a vertical back wall 38, vertical side walls 40 and-42, a vertical front wall 44, a horizontal bottom portion 46 with lower sump portion 48 in the front, an open top 50, and a horizontal cover 52 over the open top. The cover 52 has vertically downturned sides 54, 56 and front 58 and back 60 which form a sliding fit with the walls of the container.
The sump portion 48 has an opening 62 connecting with a faucet 64 on the front wall exterior. The horizontal portion'46 of the bottom is, in vertical section, a
wedge 66 of solid material with the base 68 of the wedge at the rear. At the front, the apex of the wedge terminates at 70 in a smooth slope down into the sump. Under the forward portion of the wedge a downward, horizontal flange 72 in the bottom engages a crossbar 36 of the rack beneath. Inside the container, as in the upper container 14a, FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, a floating seal 74 is preferably provided. The floating seal is the same form generally as the top, having vertical side walls 76, 78 backwall 80 and front wall 82, around a horizontal portion 84, but is inverted. The walls form a sliding fit with the interior of the container.
A transparent vertical window 86 of polystyrene or the like, heat-sealed in the front wall of container 14a permits viewing the contents and the front wall 82 of the floating seal 74 indicating the nature and the level of the fluid F contained.
Materials for the invention can be any suitable for such applications. Polyethylene or polystyrene containers, vinyl covered metal rods for the rack structure, and polyethylene faucets and trays will serve satisfactorily.
FIG. 3 illustrates an operational feature of the invention. The containers are shown without the tray beneath but the operation is the same with a tray beneath, the tray being short enough to slide to the rear, as in FIG. 1, if necessary. In filling an awkward container, such as a teapot T, FIG. 3, with tea, the container 14 is lifted slightly to free detent flange 72 on the bottom of the container from the detent position. and slide forward to achieve the necessary overhang.
FIG. 4 shows another container embodiment 14b which has no detent flange structure and which has a cover 52a similar to that previously described, and of similar thermoplastic material such as polyethylene, ex-
cept that a slit 88is provided in the cover sidewalls at laterally opposed positions, making a hinge 90 of the iltop at that point. To inspect the contents of the container without removing it entirely, or to refill it, the container is slid forward and the hinged portion of the top is raised.
FIG. 5 illustrates another embodiment b of the invention in which the containers 140 have flat bottoms 46a inside and out except for paired detent flanges 72a. The, rack structure 12b is the same as before except that shorter front legs 30a and longer back legs 30b tilt the containers to the front sufficiently to allow removal of the majority of fluid contained. When titled, the top and bottom slope to the front and the walls and back are vertical, permitting compact, close racking of the units while providing a front sump. The legs of rack assembly 512 may be unitary as shown.
FIG. 6 shows a front view of an embodiment 100 of the invention installed in a refrigerator R. In this embodiment a full-width container module 14d of ice water or the like rests at the top, and smaller containers such as at 140 beneath.
The invention provides numerous advantages. Clutter normally found in refrigerators is reduced to a minimum by removal of fluid storage to the modular containers. Efficient use of the space side-to-side, front-toback, and top-to-bottom permits use of smaller refrigerators for thesame amount of refrigerated material. Protrusion of the cover preserves cold air circulation space around the walls, even when pushed against another surface.
The overlapped, sealing cover structure prevents evaporative loss and mixing of odors and flavors, and preserves the freshness of contents, particularly in conjunction with the floating seal, which minimizes the area of liquid exposed to air.
The transparent window allows inspection of the contents, and, particularly in conjunction with the floating seal makes determination of the level of the contents easy at a glance.
The open top structure in cooperation with the cover hinge feature allows quick inspection and refill of the containers in place in the refrigerator. With the containers removed for cleaning the open top structure provides complete hand-wipe access. In suitable materials, such as polystyrene, the open structure of the above embodiments is well adapted for cleaning in automatic dishwashers.
The wedge-section bottom allows pullout to obtain long overhang for filling without danger of having the container slide on the downhill tilt of a rack and out of the refrigerator, and for adults makes the use of bottom detent structure unnecessary.
The wedge section bottom and the sump structure together permit efficient drainage of the contents.
, friction plug 92 in a hole 94 in the front 96, together with wedge-section bottom 66a, rack engaging detent 72b, valve 64, sump 48a, rack 12 and tray 26 as previously described.
The embodiment 10d is particularly suitable for storage of beer and carbonated drinks, the friction plug 92, being simply pressed in place, can be blown outward by any overpressure to prevent rupture of the container.
FIG. 8 illustrates an embodiment 102 with various modular containers 14a, 14f, 14g, according to this invention in which additional capacity is provided by increasing height of the containers while preserving uniform width, providing flexibility in arrangement within refrigerators. Rack assembly 812 is shown with suitable length legs to permit stacking of the various height containers.
Obviously, many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. It is, therefore, to be understood that within the scope of the appended claims the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described.
1. A system for refrigerator-storage of a plurality of liquids comprising: a rack, a plurality of substantially rectangular-section containers held by the rack in overand-under relation, at least one of said containers including: a front wall, a rear wall, a horizontally elongate structure between the front wall and rear wall including a pair of side-walls, a removable top, said top having downturned edges exteriorly overlapping all said walls of the container, each said downturned edge of the top which overlaps a side-wall of the container having a slit intermediate the length of said down-turned edge, the top having a transverse hinge section intermediate said slits, thereby providing for upward opening of a portion of the top as a filler for said container, a bottom with a sump at the forward end of the bottom and a portion of the bottom sloped downward to the sump from the rear wall, and a valve at the front wall of the container.
2. A system as recited in claim 1, with a rectangular float extending substantially between the side walls and the front and back walls inside the container, said rectangular float having upturned edges all around, sealingly engaging the side walls and front and back walls of the container, and a transparent portion in the fronttainer.