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Publication numberUS3904076 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 9, 1975
Filing dateAug 15, 1974
Priority dateAug 15, 1974
Also published asCA1022895A1
Publication numberUS 3904076 A, US 3904076A, US-A-3904076, US3904076 A, US3904076A
InventorsPayne Harry R
Original AssigneeCavalier Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Adaptable dispensing apparatus with unique escrow bar and associated latch mechanism
US 3904076 A
Images(7)
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 1 Payne Sept. 9, 1975 Primary ExaminerRobert B. Reeves Assistant Examiner-Thomas E. Kocovsky Attorney, Agent, or Fz'rmCameron, Kerkam, Sutton, Stowell & Stowell [57] ABSTRACT Apparatus for dispensing articles such as cans and/or bottles is disclosed as comprising a reservoir or bin for receiving at least two staggered stacks, each stack including at least two columns of the articles with adjacent articles of the staggered stacks aligned substantially axially of each other. A releasable, article support member is disposed beneath each column of the staggered stacks to support two articles thereon and capable of moving from a first article supporting position to a second article releasing position. An escrow bar is disposed to receive one of the released articles from the actuated article support member and is oper able to move from its first article retaining position to a second article releasing position whereby the second article is released. The escrow bar is responsive to the release of an article by one of the first and second support members to permit upon a second cycle or opera tion of the dispensing apparatus with the escrow bar retaining an article, the escrow member to be disposed to its second article releasing position to release the second retained article The dispensing apparatus of this invention is capable of being adapted for dispensing either two stacks of articles such as cans or a sin gle stack of articles such as bottles, in that the escrow bar is readily removed and the dispensing mechanism is operated to release a single bottle at a time without further adaptation thereof.

14 Claims, 9 Drawing Figures PATENTED 5E? 75 SHEET 1 or I PATENTEBSEP 91915 3.904,076

am 2 BF 7 PATENTEDSEP 1975 saw u BF 7 FIG. 4.

PATENTED SEP 9 975 81-1151 5 BF r CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATES APPLICATION Reference is made to commonly-assigned, copending application Ser. No. 495,492 entitled, Adaptable Article Dispensing Apparatus With Cam Actuating Member", filed concurrently herewith in the name of James C. Lindsey.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates to dispensing apparatus for dispensing a single article at a time in sequence from a plurality of articles arranged in a front-to-back staggered stack of the type generally disclosed in my US. Pat. No. 3,224,631, issued Dec. 31, 1965.

Even more particularly, this invention relates to a mechanism for dispensing a single article at a time in sequence from front-to-back staggered stack of articles in which the releasing and dispensing mechanisms are actuated by the weight of the articles in the staggered stacks of articles and release of the releasing and dispensing mechanisms for dispensing a single article at a time from the staggered stack of articles is actuated by electrically energized means.

Even more particularly still, this invention relates to a dispensing mechanism for dispensing in sequence and one-at-a-time an article such as a single can or bottle from front-toback staggered stacks of articles, cans or bottles, hereinafter referred to for convenience as cans, in which the weight of the cans in the stacks actuates the releasing and dispensing mechanisms. The mechanism is released for the dispensing of a single can at a time by electrically energized means which may be energized from any suitable source and controlled by any suitable switch mechanism which switch mechanism may preferably be actuated by the deposit of a coin.

Even more particularly, this invention relates to a dispensing mechanism in which two staggered stacks of cans are arranged in front-to-back relationship with a releasing mechanism common to both stacks for releasing a can from each stack when the releasing mechanism is energized with one can then being immediately dispensed and the other can being retained until the mechanism is again energized, as by the deposit of a second coin, whereupon the other can is released and dispensed.

2. Description of the Prior Art At the present time, articles such as cans of popular beverages are usually stored for selective sale in refrigerated cabinets with coin release mechanisms for dispensing one can at a time. In these cabinets, the cans may be disposed on sloping shelves arranged one shelf above the other or the cans may be arranged in vertical staggered stacks in side byside bins. In the first type of dispenser in which the cans are arranged on sloping shelves, the lowermost can on each shelf may move by gravity to a position where it can be withdrawn manually by the purchaser after a coin has been deposited to release a locking mechanism allowing withdrawal of one can at a time.

In the second type of apparatus, in which the cans are arranged vertically in columns in staggered stacks in side-by-side bins, various devices have been used for releasing one can at a time on the deposit of a suitable coin. Usually this release mechanism is driven by an electric motor and moves from beneath one can in the selected column in the selected staggered stack to a position beneath the next can to prevent more than one can from being dispensed at a time.

The first type of dispenser has advantages of relatively simple construction and the merchandise is visible for selection by the purchaser. A variety of types of beverage can be sold in this machine depending only on the number of sloping shelves provided. This multiplicity of variety is disadvantageous to the supplier who may place the machine on location since the machine can then be used for vending products other than those of the supplier.

In the second type of dispenser in which the cans are arranged in staggered stacks, it has been found that the practical size of the cooler, doors and the like of the apparatus limits the number of double column staggered stacks side-by-side in the cabinet. The number of selections are therefore limited in a machine of maximum size. This is advantageous to the supplier since it limits the number of beverages that can be sold other than those of the supplier. A further advantage is that more cans can be stored in the staggered stack type dispenser than in the shelf type machine. Even greater capacity is obtained when the staggered stacks are arranged in front-to-back relationship. However, in the staggered stack machine, the delivery mechanism is usually motor-driven; it is expensive; and there is always the possibility of a mechanical jam of the mechanism in the automatic, positive drive of the dispensing mechanism for the cans.

Heretofore, it has been proposed to dispense from stacks of articles or cans less than two diameters of the articles or cans in width, with a mechanism for holding the lowermost can in the stack first on one side of the stack and then on the other side of the stack. A mechanism of this type is disclosed in the above-identified US. Pat. No. 3,224,631, which discloses apparatus for dispensing articles from one side or column of the staggered stack and then from the other column of the staggered stack, as referred to above. In particular, first and second support members are provided under each column of the staggered stacks, each of which is movable from an article supporting position to an article releasing position as controlled by a pivotably mounted latch or rock plate. When a coin is deposited within the dispensing apparatus or an initiating switch in a control circuit is momentarily closed, an energizing signal or current is applied to a first lock mechanism associated with the pivotably mounted latch, whereby the latch is permitted to rotate from a first, rest position to either of a second or third position. In the second position, the pivotably mounted latch member serves to retain the first support member in its article supporting position, while at the same time releasing the second support member to its article releasing position, whereby at least two articles from the aligned, staggered stacks thereof are released. One of the two released articles is dispensed for the use of the operator, while the other article is retained by an escrow bar that is held during this first cycle of operation, in its article retaining position.

The movement of the released support member is controlled, as taught in the above-identified patent, by a non-extensible member such as a chain, whose tension is released, whereby the disengaged support member is slowly moved to its article releasing position under the weight of the stacked articles. The chain tensioning mechanism comprises, in the above-identified patent, a motor-driven disk to which the chain is connected. As the disk continues to rotate, the chain tension is again increased and the support member is moved from its second article releasing position back to its article supporting position and the rotatable latch member is disposed to its first, rest position, at which time the rotatably mounted latch member is again latched by the first lock mechanism. When the disk has rotated through a complete revolution, a de-energizing circuit switch is actuated, whereby the control circuit de-energizes the motor.

When the next coin is inserted or the initiating switch thrown, a second cycle commences, wherein the motor-driven disk rotates through a second complete revolution. During the second cycle, a second lock mechanism is actuated whereby the escrow bar is released, permitting it to be moved to its second article releasing position, whereby the article initially released during the first cycle but retained by the escrow bar, is now released. lllustratively, the first and second lock mechanisms comprise solenoid mechanisms that are sequentially energized during the first and second cycles by the aforementioned control circuit.

In the above-identified patent, the mechanism is adapted to release articles such as cans from at least two staggered stacks thereof, corresponding cans in the adjacent stacks being substantially axially aligned of each other. In the present invention, the dispensing apparatus is adapted to vend different types of articles, such as bottles, that may be disposed in a single stack, as well as other articles such as cans, that may be stacked double from front to back. Such adaptation makes the dispensing apparatus more versatile and permits the refrigerated area to be used more efficiently than presently available dispensing apparatus. Further, the conversion or adaptation from articles of one size to another, i.e. cans to bottles, is relatively simple and may be carried out by a technician at the location of the dispensing apparatus. in addition, the control or energizing circuit is simplified with respect to that of the above-referenced patent, in that the switch mechanism for ensuring the sequential energization of the first and second solenoids during the respective first and second cycles of operation, may be eliminated. Further, the dispensing mechanism of this invention is capable of dispensing articles such as bottles disposed in a single stack with the same basic mechanism and circuitry as used to dispense articles such as cans from two stacks thereof, but with the removal of the escrow bar, the energizing circuitry and the remainder of the mechanism being the same for both modes of operation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is therefore an object of this invention to provide an article dispensing apparatus that is capable of easy conversion between dispensing articles of a first size to articles of a second, different size.

It is a further object of this invention to provide new and improved article dispensing apparatus capable of operating in a first mode to dispense articles, c.g. cans, oneat-a-time from staggered stacks thereof in front-toback relation and in a second mode of operation, in which articles of greater axial dimensions, c.g. bottles,

are dispensed one-at-a-time from a single staggered stack thereof.

It is a still further object of this invention to provide a new and improved article dispensing apparatus incorporating a simplified energizing circuit capable of energizing the dispensing mechanism for dispensing articles from either a single or two stacks thereof in substantially the same manner.

These and other objects are accomplished in accordance with the teachings of this invention by providing article dispensing apparatus comprising a reservoir or bin capable of receiving at least two staggered stacks of articles wherein adjacent articles in these stacks are aligned substantially axially of each other and each stack including at least two columns of the articles with adjacent articles in the columns of a stack staggered with respect to each other; an article support member for each column of the first and second stacks of articles movable from a first article supporting position beneath its respective column to a second article releasing position whereby an article from one column of each of the stacks is released; an escrow bar disposed to receive one of the two articles released from the actuated article support member and movable from a first article retaining position to a second article releasing position; a latch plate or means pivotably mounted to move from a first rest position wherein it engages and holds the two article support members in their first article supporting positions, to a second position wherein the latch plate engages and holds one of the article support members in its article supporting position and releases the other article support member to permit it to move to its article releasing position, and to a third position wherein the latch plate engages and holds the other article support member in its article supporting position and releases the one article support member to permit it to move to its second article releasing position; first and second lock means for respectively locking the latch plate in its first position and the escrow bar in its first article retaining position, and wherein the escrow bar is responsive to the release of an article by one of the support members to render the first lock means unreleasable, so that the first lock means retains the pivotably mounted plate in its first rest position to hold the support members in their article supporting positions. Thus, during the first cycle of operation, the first lock means releases the pivotably mounted latch means whereby one of the support arms is moved to its second article releasing position to release two articles. One of the articles descends onto the escrow bar and is retained thereby. During the second cycle of operation, the escrow bar actuated under the weight of the article retained thereby, serves to render the first lock means nonreleasable. Thus, only the second lock means is released during the second cycle, whereby the escrow bar is permitted to move under the weight of its retained article to its second article releasing position to dispense the retained article.

In an illustrative embodiment of this invention, the escrow bar takes the form of a pivotably mounted member and is coupled by a linkage to the first lock mechanism. The pivotably mounted escrow bar is movable from a first position to a second position under the weight of the article as it is released from one of the support members. When the escrow bar is in its second position, the first lock means through the linkage is disposed to a nonreleasable position so that during the second cycle of operation, the first lock means retains the pivotably mounted latch plate in its first rest posi tion and therefore the article support members in their first article supporting positions.

In a further aspect of this invention, a non-extensible member is suspended by a frame to engage each of the support members. The frame is movable slowly by a motor-driven disk, from a first position wherein the non-extensible member is tensioned to hold the first and second support members in their first article supporting positions, to a second position wherein the tension placed upon the non-extensible member is released and one of the article support members is permitted to slowly fall under the weight of the articles associated therewith toward its second article releasing position. As the frame returns to its first position, the article support member is disposed to its first position and the pivotably mounted latch member isdisposed to its first position wherein it is locked by the first lock means. The non-extensible member, illustratively in the form of a chain, is further suspended about a surface of the pivotably mounted latch plate, whereby the latch plate is moved to either of its second or third positions as the frame moves to its second position, without a whiplash action" of the latch plate.

In a still further feature of this invention, the diskdriven motor further serves to move a support frame cyclically between first and second positions. The support frame carries at least one tray for receiving the articles dispensing from the above-described dispensing apparatus. When the support frame is in its first position, the tray is aligned with an exit opening from the mechanism to permit the released article to be dispensed therefrom, whereas when the support frame is moved to its second rest position, the tray and support frame serve to block the exit opening and to prevent unauthorized entrance into the dispensing apparatus BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS These and other objects and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent by referring to the following detailed description and accompanying drawings, in which like reference characters indicate like parts:

FIG. 1 is a front view of an embodiment of the present invention showing a plurality of bins for receiving the articles to be dispensed by a corresponding plurality of dispensing mechanisms;

FIG. 2 is a side, partially-sectioned view of one dispensing mechanism as shown in FIG. 1, as taken along line 2-2 thereof;

FIG. 3 is a side view, partially in section, of the dispensing mechanism of FIG. 1 taken along line 3--3 thereof, particularly illustrating the manner in which the dispensing mechanism may be adapted to receive a single stack of articles, e.g. bottles, to be dispensed therefrom;

FIGS. 4 and 5 are side views, partially in section, of the dispensing mechanism of FIG. 1 taken along line 2-2 thereof, particularly illustrating the cyclical operation of the dispensing apparatus and in particular the operation of its escrow bar;

FIGS. 6 and 7 are partial, front views of the dispensing mechanism as shown in FIG. I, particularly illustrating the operation of the pivotably mounted latch plate;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view, partially broken away, of the dispensing apparatus of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 9 is a schematic diagram of the circuit for energizing one of the dispensing mechanisms as shown in the embodiment of FIG. 1.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring now to the drawings and in particular to FIGS. 1, 2 and 8, there is shown an article dispensing apparatus in accordance with the teachings of this invention, as comprising a plurality of bins or reservoirs 10a, 10b, 10c and 10d for receiving staggered stacks of articles, such as bottles and/or cans. As illustratively shown in these figures, the bins 10 are dimensioned along their width and axial length to receive first and second staggered stacks of cans 9, corresponding cans 9 of each stack being axially aligned from the front to the back of its bin 10. As more clearly shown in FIG. I, each stack is considered to include first and second columns of articles with each column of a stack supported by an article support member 59 or 60. In a further embodiment of this invention, as will be explained with respect to FIG. 3, the dispensing apparatus of this invention is adapted to be modified readily to accept a single stack of articles such as bottles 13. As particularly shown in FIG. 2, each bin or reservoir 10 is formed of side walls 11, and front and rear walls 14 and 14'. The side walls 11 of the bins 10 are spaced apart less than twice the diameter of the articles to be dispensed so that the articles will lie between the walls in the staggered stacks. The front and rear walls 14 and 14 are speced to accommodate the axial lengths of the cans 9 to be dispensed from the first and second staggered stacks.

As shown generally in FIG. 1, each bin 10a, 10b, 10c and 10d has an associated dispensing mechanism comprising the first and second support members 59 and 60, one for each column of the staggered stacks of articles, rotatable as shown by the arrows in FIG. 1 from a first, article supporting position directly beneath and supporting the articles in its column of the staggered stacks, to a second, article releasing position, wherein at least one article from the corresponding stacks of that column is released into one of the trays 21a and 21b. It is understood that the elements of corresponding dispensing mechanisms are identified with the letters a, b, c and d throughout these drawings. Further, each dispensing mechanism includes a latch plate 35 pivotably mounted upon a stud 34 fixedly secured to the front wall 14, as shown in FIG. 2. The latch plate 35 includes first and second tumbler plates 79 and 80, each pivotably mounted upon the plate 35 by pins 42 and 43, respectively. A spring 45 is coupled between the bottom ends of the tumbler plates 79 and to bias them together against a rest stop 44. The latch plate 35 is pivotably mounted to rotate from its first, rest posi tion wherein the tumbler plates 79 and 80 respectively engage and hold the support arms 59 and 60 in their first article supporting position, to either of a second article releasing position as shown in FIG. 6, wherein the tumbler plate 80 engages and holds the support arm 60 in its first article supporting position and releases the second support arm 59 to rotate to its second article releasing position, and to a third position as shown in FIG. 7, wherein the tumbler plate 79 engages and holds the support member 59 in its first article supporting position and releases the first article support member 60 to its second article releasing position.

As shown most clearly in FIGS. 1 and 8, a front end portion of each of the article support members 59 and 60 is disposed within a corresponding opening of a front mounting plate 91 to be rotatably mounted thereby. A portion 163 of the support members 59 and 60 extends radially inward to form a radial arm about which its support member rotates. The support members 59 and 60 extend through arcuate openings 55 and 57, respectively, of the front wall 14 to extend across the lower portion of its bin 10 to selectively block the passage of the articles. The other or back end of the article support members 59 and 60 is fixedly secured to an arm 63' which is rotatably mounted by a pin 64' affixed upon the back wall 14'. Upon release of articles from the staggered stacks by one of the support members 59 or 60, one of the articles falls into one of the trays 21 or 22, whereas the other article falls onto and is retained by a pivotably mounted escrow bar 82.

As shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 8, each dispensing mechanism includes a first locking mechanism or means generally designated by the numeral 16, for locking the pivotably mounted latch plate 35 in its first rest position, and a second lock means generally designated by the numeral 62, for locking the escrow bar 82 in its first article supporting position. The first locking mechanism 16 comprises, as best shown in FIG. 2, a solenoid with an actuatable plunger 17, to which is secured a finger arm 20 by a cotter pin 21. The solenoid 15 is mounted upon the front face of the wall 14, and the finger 20 is so configured as to engage a member 22 that is pivotably mounted by a pin 24 upon a bracket 25 (see FIG. 1) affixed to the front wall 14. As best seen in FIG. 2, the rotatable member 22 is biased by a spring 19 in a downward, counterclockwise direction whereby a narrowed portion 29 (see FIG. 1) thereof is disposed within a slot 36 of the plate and the rotatably mounted latch plate 35 is maintained or locked in its first rest position, as shown in FIG. 1. When the solenoid 15 is energized, as will be explained in detail later, its plunger 17 is withdrawn, rotating the member 22 upward and away from the plate 35, whereby the latch plate 35 is free to move to either of its second or third positions, as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, respectively.

As shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 8, the second locking mechanism 62 includes a solenoid 63 mounted upon the front mounting plate 91; the solenoid 63 comprises a plunger 61 to which is attached a finger arm 65 as by a cotter pin 168. The finger arm 65 is so configured as to engage a member 66 pivotably mounted by a pin 68 from a bracket affixed to the front mounting wall 91. The rotatably mounted member 67 is biased by a spring 69 in a downward, counterclockwise direction, as shown in FIG. 2, to a position wherein an opening 66 within the member 67 engages and retains a finger 77 of a bracket 72 that supports the escrow bar 82. Upon energization of the solenoid 63, the plunger 61 and its attached finger 65 are raised upward, engaging and withdrawing the pivotably mounted member 66 from the finger 77 of the escrow bar support assembly 73. As will be explained, the escrow bar 82 is now permitted to rotate to its article releasing position.

As most clearly shown in FIGS. 2 and 8, the escrow bar 82 is pivotably mounted by an assembly 72 to rotate from a first, substantially verticle position, wherein the escrow bar 82 retains and supports an article thereon, to a second, article releasing position as shown in FIG. 8, whereby the article retained by the escrow bar 82 is released to fall into its associated tray 21a. The support assembly 72 is pivotably mounted to swing, when released by the second locking mechanism 62, to rotate as shown by the arrow in FIG. 8, to its sec ond article releasing position. As shown in FIG. 2, the support assembly 72 includes a pair of radially extending arms 73 and 75 whose end portions are rotatably mounted as by studs 76 and 78, respectively. The studs 76 and 78 are fixedly secured to the front mounting wall 91 and the front wall 14 of the bin 11, respectively. The arm 73 includes the finger 73 for engaging the opening 66, whereby the mounting assembly 72 and the escrow bar 82 are held in their first position. The escrow bar 82 is pivotably mounted with respect to the support assembly 72 by a cotter pin 80 that is capable of being easily removed, as will be explained in detail later. Upon the front end of the escrow bar 82 remote from its article supporting portion, a weight 84 is suspended, whereby in the absence of an article thereon, the escrow bar 82 is rotated in a counterclockwise direction as shown in FIG. 4. The escrow bar 82 is coupled by a link 28 to the finger arm 20 of the first locking mechanism 16. In particular, the bottom end of the link 28 is inserted through an opening 88 of the escrow bar 82, whereas the topmost end is disposed within an opening within the finger arm 20. As a result, when the escrow bar 82 is free of an article, it rotates to a first position under the influence of the weight 84, whereby the link 28 pulls the finger arm 20 down into engagement with the rotatably mounted member 22; in this position, the finger 20 engages the member 22 upon en ergization of the solenoid 15, removing it from locking engagement with the latch plate 35. Upon release of an article from one of the support members 59 and 60, an article 9 in the front stack falls onto and is retained by the escrow bar 82. The weight of the released article 9 rotates the escrow bar 82 is a clockwise direction, as shown in FIG. 2, to its second position; in this position, the link 28 is forced upward disposing the finger arm 20 out of engagement with the rotatably mounted member 22. Thus, when an article is retained by the escrow bar 82, the finger 22 is disposed from engagement with the member 22 and the first lock mechanism 16 is inoperative to release the rotatably mounted latch plate 35.

Upon release of one of the support members 59 or 60 by the rotatably mounted latch plate 35, as explained above, the released support member rotates downwardly under the weight of its column of articles to release articles in each of the stacks supported thereby. It is desirable to control the movement of the released support arm rather than permit it merely to fall under the weight of the articles. To this end, tension is placed upon and released from a non-extensible member 89 taking the form of a chain suspended to receive either of the article support members 59 or 60 as it is released by the rotatably mounted latch plate 35 and then rotates downward under the weight of its supported articles. The non-extensible member 89 is supported upon a frame generally identified by the numeral 100, as shown in FIG. 1; in particular, the support frame includes a pair of leg members 102 and 102', from the ends of which the non-extensible member 89 is secured by a flange portion 103 extending therefrom. As shown particularly in FIG. 8, the last link of the non-extensible member 89 is secured to a bolt 105, which in turn is disposed through an opening within the flange 103. A spring 107 is disposed about the bolt 105 and is secured thereto by a nut 109 threadably secured to the end of the bolt 105. In this manner, an article may become jammed with respect to the support members 59 and 60, and yet the dispensing mechanism and in particular the operation of the frame 100 may continue due to the biasing action of the spring 107. It is understood that a similar spring may be inserted between the end of the non-extensible member 89 and the end of the other leg 102'.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 8, the non-extensible member 89 extends from the flange 103 downwardly along the length of the corresponding arm 102. A pair of rollers 152 and 154 are mounted upon the front wall 14 to suspend the non-extensible member 89 horizontally and beneath each of the article support members 59 and 60. As shown in FIG. 8, a suspension assembly is disposed between the support arms of each bin 10 to suspend the non-extensible member 89 is tension against the lower portion of the article support members 59 and 60. In particular, a roller 146 is disposed centrally of two adjacent bins and is rotatably mounted upon a pin 148 affixed to the front wall 14. The roller 146 includes a flange 150 (see FIG. 3) for retaining the non-extensible member 89in association with the roller 146. On either side of roller 146, there are disposed posts 142 and 144, likewise affixed to the front wall 14, to assist in aligning the non-extensible member 89 with respect to the article support members 59 and 60.

As seen in FIG. 2, the arm 102 of the support frame 100 is suspended to a side wall 11 by a pair of studs 106 and 110 disposed respectively within slots 108 and 111 of the arm 102 to permit the rectilinear motion of the arm [02 and therefore the frame 100 from a bottommost, first position, as shown in FIG. 5, to an uppermost, second position as shown in FIG. 4. As shown in FIGS. 4, S and 8, the frame 100 is driven rectilinearly by a motor 126 coupled through a suitable gearing mechanism 128 to a shaft 114; in turn, the shaft 114 is fixedly secured to each of a pair of disks 1 18 and 118'. As will be explained in detail later, as the motor 126 is energized, the disks 118 and 118' are rotated whereby the frame 100 is driven between its first and second positions to alternately increase and decrease the tension applied to the non-extensible member 89. More specifically, the disks 118 and 118' include, respectively, rollers 128 and 128' for engaging channels 130 and 130' respectively affixed to the corresponding arms 102 and 102'. Thus, as the disks 118 and 118 are rotatably driven, the channels 130 and 130' and therefore the arms 102 and 102 move in a rectilinear fashion.

As seen most clearly in FIGS. 8 and 1, the trays 21 and 22 are associated with the frame 100 so that the front end of each tray 21a and 21b moves up and down so as to be aligned with an exit opening (not shown) through which the article is to be dispensed. In particular, each tray 21a and 21b is affixed at its leading edge to a support flange 124. A limiting, U-shaped member 122 is secured at each end of the flange 124. As shown in FIG. 8, when the disks 118 and 118' are rotated to their lowest positions, the trays 21a and 21b are aligned with the exit opening to permit dispensing of an article 9 therethrough and the limiting member 122 engages the upper edge ofa plate 116 affixed to a flange 96 of the dispensing apparatus housing to thereby define the tray's exit position, even though the frame continues to move to a still lower position. As shown most clearly in FIG. 1, as the disk 118 rotates, it engages the limiting member 122, directing it upward along with the flange 124 whereby the leading edge of the trays 21a and 21b is likewise moved up. As seen in FIG. 2, the rear edge 151 of the tray 21a sits within a retaining portion of a J-shaped member 153 affixed to the rear wall 14', whereby the tray may be rotated thereabout.

Referring now to the diagram of the circuit shown in FIG. 9, it will be seen that the wire 198 leads from a suitable source of electric power to one side 199 of a timer or limit switch 132. As shown in FIG. 2 and 8, the timer switch 132 is disposed to be engaged by a flange attached to the disk 118 and serving as a switchactuating surface that is cyclically rotated into engagement with and closing a switch arm 216 of the switch 132. Wire 200 leads from side 199 to switch element or arm 233. Switch element 233 is normally set to be disengaged from contact or side 205. In turn, contact 205 is connected by wire 206 to solenoid 207 of relay 208 and is extended by a wire 209 to solenoid 15. The other side of solenoid 15 is connected by a wire 210 to the other side of solenoid 207 and by wires 222 and 219 to the source of electric power.

Coil 207 actuates two switch elements 211 and 224 which normally engage contacts 212 and 225, respectively. Switch element 211 is connected by wire 214 to contact 215 of switch 132. Contact 217 of switch 132 is connected by wire 218 to connection 227 of motor 126. The other connection 228 of motor 126 is connected by wire 219 to the source of electric power. Switch 224 is connected by wire 226 to the motor connection 227 and, when actuated, engages contact 223 which is connected by wire 222 to motor connection 228.

Solenoid 63 of the second locking mechanism is coupled in parallel by wires 232 and 231 to the contacts of the coil 207. Assuming the several switches of FIG. 9 to be in the positions as shown, the deposit of a coin in the mechanism (not shown) to obtain an article, e.g. a can or a bottle of beverage or other goods, will move switch element 233 into engagement with contact 205 to permit electric current to flow through wires 198 and 200, the coil 207 of the relay 208 and conductors 222 and 219, whereby the circuit for the coil 207 is completed to the source of electric energy, thereby energizing the coil 207. As a result, the solenoid coil 15 of the first lock mechanism 16 is energized to raise the rotatable member 22 and relay 208 is energized, moving switch element 211 into engagement with contact 213 and moving switch element 224 into engagement with contact 223. Current then flows through wires 198 and 200, switch element 233, wires 225 to motor connection 227 to initiate the energization of motor 126, the motor circuit being completed through motor connection 228 and wire 219. At the same time, relay 208 is energized through wire 198, switch element 216, contact 215, wire 214 switch element 211, contact 213 and wire 234, the circuit being completed through wires 220 and 219.

Motor 126 then begins to rotate shaft 114 and disks 118 and 118' coupled thereto, whereby the selective release of an article is accomplished, as will be explained in detail. As the disk 118 continues to rotate, its flange 120 disengages contact arm 216, moving it into engagement with contact 217. The motor circuit for energizing motor 126 is now energized through wire 198, switch element 216, contact 217, wire 228, connection 227, connection 228 and wire 229. The motor 126 will now rotate the disks 118 and 118 through one complete revolution, at which time the flange 120 moves the switch arm 216 back into engagement with contact 215. At this point, the motor energizing circuitry is opened, de-energizing motor 126; further, relay 208 is de-energized, returning its contacts to their normal position.

The operation of the dispensing mechanism as shown in FIGS. 1 to 8 will now be explained with regard to dispensing articles such as cans arranged in two stacks from front to back of the bin 10 as shown in FIG. 2, one-at-a-time in a two-cycle mode of operation. Initially, a coin is deposited into a suitable mechanism, whereby the switch element 233 is closed to contact 205 to energize the relay 208 whereby its associated contacts are closed and also to energize the motor 126. At the same time, the solenoids l and 63 of the first and second lock mechanisms 16 and 62 are energized. Thus, the solenoid l5 retracts the plunger 17 and the finger arm 20, whereby the rotatable member 22 is moved upward against the bias of spring 19. As a result, the pivotably mounted latch plate 35 is released whereby it may pivot to either of its second or third positions. As illustratively shown in FIGS. 2, 4 and 8, the lowermost articles in the staggered stacks received within the bin a are disposed upon the article support member 59, whereby upon release, the member 59 is rotated down under the weight of its articles to release articles from the first and second stacks thereof. As shown in FIG. 5, an article from the rearwardmost stack falls into the tray 21a and is dispensed through the exit opening. The motor 126 drives the disks 118 and 118' toward their lowermost positions whereby the tray 21a is permitted to rotate downwardly to that position as shown in FIG. 5, whereat it is disposed in alignment with the exit opening to permit the article to be dispensed therethrough. While the rearwardmost article is being dispensed, the article from the forwardmost stack thereof falls onto the escrow bar 82 which is to tated from its position as shown in FIG. 4 to that position as shown in FIG. 2, wherein it supports and retains an article. It is noted that both of the solenoids and 63 are energized at essentially the same time. However, at the beginning of the first cycle of operation, no article is retained by the escrow bar 82 and even though the second locking mechanism 62 releases the escrow 82, it remains unaffected thereby, as shown in FIG. 5.

Initially, the disk 118 is disposed in its uppermost po sition as shown in FIG. 4, and as the motor 125 begins to rotate the disk 118 in a counterclockwise direction, the roller 128 engages the channel 130 disposing it downward along with the frame 100 associated therewith. In its initial uppermost position, the frame 100 applies a maximum tension to the non-extensible member 89, whereby it is disposed in tension against the lower surfaces of the article support members 59 and 60. Thus, as the first lock mechanism releases the latch plate 35 and one of the article support members 59 or 60 is released, the tension applied by the frame 100 to the non-extensible member 89 is released and the selected article support member 59 or 60 is permitted to rotate downwardly under the weight of the articles in its column, following the movement of the nonextensible member 89 as the frame likewise moves downwardly.

As the control circuit is initially energized by the closure of the switch element 233, the motor is rotated to an extent whereby the contact element 216 is released as shown in FIG. 5 and therefore the motor 126 is energized. The motor 126 will continue to be energized, rotating the disks 118 and 118' until the disk 118 brings the flange into contact with the contact element 216, thereby disposing it against contact 215 whereby the motor 126 is de-energized, thus completing the first cycle of operation. At this point, a single article has been dispensed from the rearwardmost stack and a second article is retained by the escrow bar 82, to be dispensed during the second cycle of operation, now to be described.

To commence the second cycle of operation, a further coin is deposited in the dispensing apparatus whereby the coin-operated vend switch is operated to throw contact element 233 against contact 205, to energize motor 126 as explained above and to energize the solenoid coils 15 and 63 at substantially the same time. At the beginning of the second cycle, an article, eg a can 9, is resting upon the escrow bar 82, dispos ing it to the position as shown in FIG. 2. In this position, the link 28 is directed upwardly to dispose the finger arm 20 of the first lock mechanism 16 out of engagement with the rotating member 22. As a result, when the solenoid 15 is energized, the plunger 17 retracts, pulling the finger arm 20 with it; however, the finger arm 20 does not engage the rotating member 22, the pivotably mounted latch plate 35 remains locked in its first rest position, and neither of the article support members 59 nor 60 is released. As shown in FIG. 2, the solenoid 63 is energized, pulling its plunger 6] and coupled finger arm 65 upward, thus rotating the rotatable member 66 upward to release the finger 77 of the escrow bar support assembly 72. As shown in FIG. 8, the assembly 72 and the escrow bar 82 rotate to one side under the weight of the article, thereby releasing it into the tray 21a. As illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 8, the motor 126 rotates the disks 118 and 118' to their lowermost positions, whereby the frame 100 is lowered until the limiting member 122 comes to rest upon the plate 116 to orientate the flange frame 124 and the corresponding tray 21a with respect to the exit opening. Thus, the article 9 drops into the tray 21a to be dispensed through the aligned exit opening. The motor 126 continues to be energized until the flange 120 engages the contact arm 216 to de-energize the motor. At the end of either cycle as shown in FIG. 4, the disk 118 is dis' posed to its uppermost position, whereby the trays 21a and 2119 are misaligned with respect to the exit opening so that one may not reach through the exit opening to extract one of the articles. As seen in FIG. 4, the flange 124 serves to at least partially block the exit opening.

Referring now to FIG. 3, there is shown the manner in which the dispensing apparatus of this invention may be readily modified on location by a serviceman with readily available tools so that articles such as bottles 13 may be singly dispensed from the same essential mech anism that dispensed cans 9, as explained above. First, a rear spacing wall 82 is disposed within the bin 10 at a position slightly in excess of the axial length of the bottles 13. In an illustrative embodiment, the rear spacing wall includes a flange 84 having a plurality of fingers 164 adapted to be aligned with corresponding openings 160 within the side walls 11 of the bin 10. When the rear spacing wall 82 has been spaced the correct axial distance from the front wall 14, a suitable keying member 162 is disposed within one of the openings 160 so as to engage adjacent fingers 164 to retain the rear spacing wall 82 at its correct position. As shown in FIG. 1, it may be necessary to insert side spacing walls 170 to narrow the bin width so that the bottles 13 are staggered. Further, as shown in FIG. 3, the escrow bar 82 is removed by withdrawing the cotter pin 80 best shown in FIG. 2; further, the link 28 may be readily removed from the finger arm 20 of the first locking mechanism 16. A serviceman may readily perform these operations at the on-site locations of the dispensing apparatus in a relatively short period of time and without special tools. In the operation of the modified embodiment as shown in FIG. 3, a coin is deposited to close the contact element 233 to initiate rotation of the motor 126 and to simultaneously energize the solenoids l and 63. Since the escrow bar 82 has been removed, the solenoid 63 of the second locking mechanism will be energized but without any effect upon the dispensing operation. Rather, the solenoid is energized to lifi the rotatable member 22 to release the pivotably mounted latch plate 35, and in turn to release one of the article support members 59 or 60, whereby one bottle 13 from the corresponding column of the single staggered stack thereof, is released. As shown in FIG. 3, there is no escrow bar 82 to retain the released article and it falls directly into the tray 21b. The operation of the dispensing apparatus of the subject invention as shown in FIG. 3 is a single-cycle operation from single staggered stacks of similar articles. The motor 126 will continue to rotate the disks until the timer switch 132 is actuated to de-energize the motor 126, thus completing the dispensing cycle.

Thus, there has been shown a dispensing mechanism that is readily capable of being adapted to dispense various types and sizes of articles. For example, in one mode of operation, the dispensing apparatus of this invention may be disposed to dispense cans from at least two staggered stacks thereof in a double-cycle mode of operation, wherein two cans are first released by an actuated support member, one article of which is dispensed to the customer, while a second article is retained by an escrow bar, to be released during a second cycle of operation. In a second mode of operation, the escrow bar is readily removed to permit a single cycle of operation, in which articles such as bottles are released singly.

The conversion of the dispensing apparatus from its first to its second mode of operation is simple in contrast to that required for the complex mechanisms of the prior art. The conversion contemplated by this invention may be carried out on location with simple tools in a relatively short period of time.

Further, the non-extensible member for controlling the movement of the released support member allows one of a plurality of dispensing apparatus to malfunction, e.g. an article jam therein, by providing springs associated with the ends of the non-extensible member (chain) whereby additional slack is provided by the springs to permit the support arm of the operating dis pensing mechanism to swing down, i.e., the springs attached to the ends of the non-extensible member being compressed to allow its article support member to rolate downwardly. Further, the trays for receiving the dispensed articles are coupled to the support frame to be moved from a first position wherein the bin is aligned to dispense articles through an exit opening, to a second position whereby the exit opening is blocked to prevent unauthorized entry into the dispensing apparatus.

Numerous changes may be made in the abovedescribed apparatus and the different embodiments of the invention may be made without departing from the spirit thereof; therefore, it is intended that all matter contained in the foregoing description and in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.

What is claimed is:

1. Apparatus for storing and successively dispensing articles from first and second staggered stacks, each stack including at least two columns of the articles with adjacent articles in the columns of a stack staggered with respect to each other and adjacent articles in the first and second staggered stacks aligned substantially axially of each other, said apparatus comprising:

a. an article support member disposed to support each of the two columns of the first and second stacks of articles, each of said article support members disposable from a first article supporting position beneath its respective column of the first and second stacks, to a second article releasing position whereby an article from one column of each of the first and second stacks is released;

b. an actuatable escrow means disposed to receive one of the two articles released by one of said first and second article support members and movable from a first article retaining position to a second article releasing position;

c. latch means pivotably mounted to be moved from a first, rest position, wherein said latch means engages and holds said first and second article support members in their first article supporting positions, to a second position wherein said latch means engages and holds said first article support member in its first article supporting position and releases said second article support member to permit it to move to its article releasing position under the weight of the articles, and to a third position wherein said latch means engages and holds said second article support member in its article supporting position and releases said first article support member to permit it to move to its second article releasing position;

d. first releasable lock means for normally retaining said pivotably mounted latch means in its first rest position;

e. second releasable lock means for normally retaining said escrow means in its first article retaining position; and

f. said escrow means responsive to the release of an article by one of said first and second support members to render nonreleasable said first lock means whereby said first lock means retains said pivotably mounted latch means in its first rest position.

2. Dispensing apparatus as claimed in claim I, wherein there is included first actuating means for releasing said first lock means, whereby said pivotably mounted latch means is permitted to be disposed to either of its first or second positions, second actuating means actuatable for releasing said escrow means to be moved to its second article releasing position, and control means for first releasing substantially simultaneously said first and second lock means, whereby one of said first and second support members is disposed to its articles releasing position to release articles from its corresponding columns of the two stacks so that one of the articles is released and the other article is retained by said escrow means which is disposed in its second position, and for releasing a second time said first and second lock means whereby said first lock means is defeated by said second lock means to retain said latch means in its first, rest position and said second lock means is released to permit the release of the other article by said escrow means.

3. Dispensing apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein there is further included a regulator disposed beneath and in an engaging manner with said first and second support members, and drive means for moving gradually said regulator to permit said first and second support members to follow the gradual movement of said regulator toward their second article releasing positions.

4. Dispensing apparatus as claimed in claim 3, wherein said regulator comprises a non-extensible flexible element extending beneath said first and second support members, said drive means including means for tensioning said non-extensible flexible element, an eccentric, an electric motor rotating said eccentric through one complete revolution, and an assembly for suspending said non-extensible member with respect to said first and second support members and engaged by said eccentric for reciprocal movement from a first position wherein said non-extensible flexible element is held taut against said first and second support members to a second position wherein the tension applied to said non-extensible flexible element is released.

5. Dispensing apparatus as claimed in claim 4, wherein said latch means comprises an engaging surface against which said non-extensible flexible element is tensioned for controlling the movement of said pivotably mounted latch means to either of its second or third positions and for retaining said latch means in either of its first or second positions for a period sufficient to permit the articles to be released by either of said first or second support members.

6. Dispensing apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein there is included reservoir means for receiving the stacks of the articles and said escrow means is disposed tranversely of said reservoir means for a length not greater than the axial length of the article to be dispensed.

7. Dispensing apparatus as claimed in claim 6, wherein there is included a spacing wall and means for adjustably disposing said spacing wall from an opposed wall of said bin a distance slightly in excess of that of the axial length of the article to be dispensed, whereby a single stack of the articles may be disposed within said bin.

8. Dispensing apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein said escrow means comprises a pivotably mounted bar, a link coupling said pivotably mounted bar and said first lock mechanism, and said pivotably mounted bar pivotable from a first position wherein said escrow bar is free of an article to a second position under the weight of an article released from one of said article support members wherein said link is disposed by said escrow bar to render unreleasable said first lock mechanism.

9. Dispensing apparatus as claimed in claim 8, wherein said escrow bar includes an article receiving portion and a weight for normally disposing said escrow bar in its first position.

10. Dispensing apparatus as claimed in claim 8, wherein said escrow bar is pivotably mounted by a readily removable pin to permit the ready removal of said escrow bar.

11. Dispensing apparatus as claimed in claim 4, wherein there is included means fixedly mounted with respect to said latch means for suspending said nonextensible flexible element so that when tension is applied thereto in the first position of said assembly, said non-extensible member is disposed to abut the lower surfaces of said first and second article support members.

l2. Dispensing apparatus as claimed in claim 11, wherein said suspension means comprises a rotatably mounted roller having a flange for aligning said nonextensible member with respect to said first and second article and second article support members.

13. Dispensing apparatus as claimed in claim 4, wherein there is included a tray disposed to receive articles released by said first and second article support members and said escrow means, and support means for supporting said tray and engageable with said suspending assembly to be moved from a first position wherein said tray is aligned to dispense the released articles through an exit opening, to a second position wherein said tray is misaligned with respect to said exit opening.

l4. Dispensing apparatus as claimed in claim 13, wherein said mounting member includes a limiting member engageable with a portion of the dispensing apparatus housing for limiting the movement of said support means as said suspending assembly moves towards its first position and thereby defining said first position of said support means.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3224631 *Jun 6, 1963Dec 21, 1965Seeburg CorpDispensing mechanism for articles in front to back staggered stacks
US3300084 *May 25, 1964Jan 24, 1967Seeburg CorpDispensing mechanism for articles in front to back staggered stacks
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4354616 *Nov 6, 1980Oct 19, 1982Cavalier CorporationAlternate column circuit reciprocator for multiple column vending machines
US4460107 *Feb 8, 1982Jul 17, 1984Cavalier CorporationPlural mode multi-column dispensing machine
US4511059 *May 26, 1983Apr 16, 1985Cavalier CorporationVending machine with side mounted escrows
US4511060 *Jun 9, 1983Apr 16, 1985Cavalier CorporationAntitheft side mounted escrows for vending machine
US4991739 *Aug 10, 1988Feb 12, 1991Coin Acceptors, Inc.Vending machine
US4991740 *Aug 10, 1988Feb 12, 1991Coin Acceptors, Inc.Vending machine
US5368190 *Sep 30, 1993Nov 29, 1994Hieb; Larry E.Apparatus for vending work objects
US20100200607 *Jul 14, 2008Aug 12, 2010Felix Guindulain BustoExtractor system for cans and bottles for dispensing machines
WO1990001754A1 *Aug 9, 1989Feb 22, 1990Coin Acceptors IncVending machine
WO1990001755A1 *Aug 9, 1989Feb 22, 1990Coin Acceptors IncVending machine
WO2002009557A1 *Jul 27, 2001Feb 7, 2002Caltex New Zealand LtdA dispensing apparatus
Classifications
U.S. Classification221/67, 221/116
International ClassificationG07F11/08, G07F11/04, G07F11/16
Cooperative ClassificationG07F11/08, G07F11/16
European ClassificationG07F11/16, G07F11/08
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Oct 17, 1988ASAssignment
Owner name: CONNECTICUT BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, THE, N.A., 100
Free format text: SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:CAVALIER ACQUISTION CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:004985/0311
Effective date: 19880104
Owner name: CONNECTICUT BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, THE, N.A., A N
Mar 7, 1988ASAssignment
Owner name: CAVALIER ACQUISITION CORPORATION, A TENNESSEE CORP
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:CAVALIER CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:004835/0657
Effective date: 19880224
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:CAVALIER CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:4835/657
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:CAVALIER CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:004835/0657