US 3911571 A
A can opener having a readily detachable can rotating or feed wheel. The feed wheel is provided with a hexagonally shaped shaft which is drivingly connected to and easily inserted into a correspondingly hexagonally shaped sleeve located within a drive gear shaft. In order to retain the feed wheel shaft within the aforementioned sleeve, there is provided a tension spring around the feed wheel shaft.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Ponczek et al.
[ CAN OPENER  Inventors: George Mark Ponczek, Chicago;
Charles F. Seitz, Oak Park, both of 1]].
 Assignee: Sunbeam Corporation, Chicago, Ill.
 Filed: Aug. 23, 1974  Appl. No.: 499,842
 U.S. Cl 30/4 R  Int. Cl. B67B 7/38  Field of Search 30/4 R, 8, 8.5, 9
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,253,334 5/l966 McLean 30/4 R 3,689,999 9/1972 Swanke 30/4 R 1 Oct. 14, 1975 3,772,777 ll/l973 Trelc 30/4R 3,815,226 6/1974 Married ..30/4R Primary Examiner.lames L. Jones, Jr.
Assistant Examiner Gary L. Smith Attorney, Agent, or FirmGeorge R. Clark; Neil M. Rose; John S. Pacocha [5 7] ABSTRACT A can opener having a readily detachable can rotating or feed wheel. The feed wheel is provided with a hexagonally shaped shaft which is drivingly connected to and easily inserted into a correspondingly hexagonally shaped sleeve located within a drive gear shaft. In order to retain the feed wheelshaft within the aforementioned sleeve, there is provided a tension spring around the feed wheel shaft.
5 Claims, 4 Drawing Figures U.S. Patent Oct. 14,1975 7 3,911,571
CAN OPENER BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION In recent years, the motor-operated electric can opener has become one of the most popular and commercially important small electric appliances. Since it is a relatively simple appliance, it is easy for small manufacturers to design and tool to manufacture an electric can opener. Accordingly, the field has become very competitive with a large number of manufacturers sharing the 4 or 5 million unit a year can opener market in the US. Because of the vigorous competition in the field, the addition of features incorporated in the current can openers, improvements in quality, and the pricing and consequently the cost of manufacturing has become very important.
One of the important features which has been incorporated in a number of the modern can openers has been the ability to remove the cutter mechanism in order to facilitate cleaning of the can opener, including removal of any accumulations of food particles deposited on the cutting mechanism during the opening of cans. An example of such a removable cutting mechanism is disclosed in Ponczek et al. US. Pat. No. 3,765,085 assigned to the same assignee of the present application.
As food will often accumulate on and behind the serrated feed wheel which is a part of the conventional can opening mechanism and is located just beneath the cutting mechanism of most can openers, it would also be a desirable feature to be able to easily remove this feed wheel to facilitate cleaning of the can opener. Although there have been numerous can openers providing a removable cutting mechanism, such as disclosed in the aforementioned Ponczek et al patent, there has heretofore not been available any can opener in which the feed wheel could be easily removed by itself and cleaned.
Removable cutter and feed wheel assemblies have previously been disclosed such as those shown in the patents to Hamwi et al. US. Pat. No. 3,487,542, Yamamoto US Pat. No. 3,757,416, and Swanke et al. US. Pat. No. 3,689,999. These patents, however, do not disclose a feed wheel which could be separated from the rest of the cutter assembly in order to facilitate cleaning. Furthermore, the structure necessary to support and drivingly relate these removable assemblies to their respective can openers are necessarily complex and costly from a manufacturing standpoint. An important advantage of having the feed wheel as a totally separated and easily removable item is the fact that removal of the feed wheel exposes the area behind it facilitating removal of food particles which are commonly found on the serrations of the feed wheel and trapped therebehind.
While the removal of the cutter mechanism and feed wheel may be accomplished in many ways, it is important that the means used for detaching and reassembling these components can be simply and easily operated by the housewife without the need of tools or extraneous hardware. Experience has shown that the electric can openers which included screws or small clips for retaining these various can opener members are easily lost thereby discouraging the housewife from removing the cutter and/or drive wheel for cleaning purposes. The approach taken in the present invention involves a push button mechanism permitting the removal of the cutter mechanism and a tension spring used to retain the drive wheel which can be removed by simply pulling same out away from the can opener. The total removal of exterior face members on the can opener can thus be accomplished to facilitate cleaning without providing or necessitating separate screws, clips or other separate assembly means. The means for detaching and reassembling these various components, however, must also be inexpensive from a manufacturing standpoint or else the can opener will be overpriced and unsalable.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention provides an improved can opener which is simple to manufacture and at the same time includes quality features which have heretofore been unavailable in other can openers. The invention involves the ability to easily remove and reassemble the serrated can opener feed wheel to facilitate cleaning of the feed wheel as well as the adjacent areas of the can opener.
The feed wheel is provided with a hexagonally shaped shaft which is drivingly connected to and easily inserted into a correspondingly hexagonally shaped sleeve located within a drive gear shaft. In order to re tain the feed wheel within the aforementioned feed wheel sleeve, there is provided a tension spring around the feed wheel shaft. This spring, through tension, holds the feed wheel shaft and attached feed wheel within the feed wheel sleeve. The use of the aforementioned hexagonally shaped feed wheel sleeve, feed wheel shaft, and tension spring therebetween provides a simple and low cost mechanism from a manufacturing standpoint.
It is an object of the present invention to provide a functionally improved and mechanically simple can opener appliance.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an improved can opener having an easily removable feed wheel mechanism.
It is another object of the present invention to provide an improved can opener with a feed wheel and cutting mechanism, each of which can be separately removed from the can opener and from each other in order to facilitate the cleaning thereof.
It is still another object of the present invention to provide an improved can opener with an easily removable feed wheelattached thereto wherein said feed wheel and driving and attaching means can be manufactured and assembled easily and inexpensively.
Further objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent as the following descriptions, procedure, and features of novelty which characterize the invention will be pointed out with particularities in the claims annexed to and forming a part of this specification.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a can opener incorporating the removable drive wheel embodying our invention;
FIG. 2 is a section view taken generally on line 2-2 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a partial sectional view taken generally on line 33 of FIG. 2 and showing the drive wheel in place in the can opener;
FIG. 4 is a partial sectional view taken generally on line 33 of FIG. 2 similar to FIG. 3 only with the drive wheel removed from the can opener.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now to the drawings, there is shown in FIG. 1 a combined can opener and knife sharpener designated generally by reference numeral 11. The can opener 11 is conventional insofar as it includes a housing 12 which encloses a motor 13 which drives, through gear reduction 14, a drive gear shaft 15. The drive gear shaft 15 contains and supports therein a serrated can rotating or feed wheel 16.
Cooperating with the feed wheel 16 to open or cut the lid of a can is a cutting mechanism 24. The cutting mechanism 24 includes a pivotally mounted, manually operated lever 25 which supports a plow-type cutter 26. The cutter 26 is movable between the retracted or load position with the lever 25 in a generally vertical position and a cutting position, as best shown in FIG. 1, in which it overlaps the feed wheel 16 and the lever 25 extends generally horizontally.
Located at the top portion of the lever 25 is a release button 27 which when depressed, allows the user to remove the cutting mechanism 24 to facilitate the cleaning of the can opener 11. The removal of the cutting mechanism 24 is more fully described in the aforementioned Ponczek et al. U.S. Pat. No. 3,765,085 assigned to the same assignee' of the present application. Also attached to the lever 25 and coordinated with the cutting mechanism 24 is a metal plate 28 which supports a magnet assembly 29. The magnet assembly 29 is used to retain the lid of a can after it has been separated from the sides of the can.
The housing 12 of the can opener of the present invention is made up of two basic parts, one being a boxlike portion 30 and the other a front plate 31. The front plate 31 may be designated the support plate since it carries all the mechanism of the can opener including the motor 13, the drive gear shaft 15, and the cutting mechanism 22. The front plate 31 and the box-like portion 30 cooperate to form an enclosure 32 within which the motor and reduction gearing are received.
The box-like portion 30, which is best shown in FIG. 2, is made of an inexpensive styrene plastic material since it performs little function except to enclose the mechanism carried by the front plate 31. The portion 30 is also formed with a forwardly projecting base 33 which provides the necessary support for the can opener preventing it from tipping forwardly when a can is received between the cutter 26 and the feed wheel 16, and force is being applied by the operator downwardly against the lever 25.
The portion 30 is also formed with a rearwardly projecting appendage 36 which serves to enclose a knife sharpener or grinding wheel 37. The appendage 36 is merely of suitable size to enclose the wheel 37 and includes angled slots 38 and 39 which are adequate to receive knife blades for guiding them into proper engagement with the opposite faces of the grinding wheel 37.
The grinding wheel 37 is supported on the rearwardly extending end of a motor shaft 41. Also supported on the shaft 41 and inwardly of the grinding wheel 37 is a fan 42 which circulates air across the motor 13 and outwardly through a downwardly facing opening 43 as best shown in FIG. 2.
The feed wheel 16 has a shaft 17 extending from a rear portion thereof as best shown in FIG. 4. In order to drive the feed wheel 16 in a manner which will be more fully described below, the feed wheel shaft 17 is made of a hexagonal shape and is received in driven connection in a correspondingly hexagonally shaped feed wheel sleeve 18 within the drive gear shaft 15. As best shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the drive gear shaft 15 is constructed with a flanged head portion 15a facing the front of the can opener, which has a circumferential measurement greater than the circumferential measurement of the portion of the drive wheel abutting therewith; In this manner, not only will the head portion 15a retain the drive gear shaft 15 against rearward movement thereof, but food particles which may fall behind the drive wheel 16 will not slip between the shaft 15 and the front cover 31. That is, the head 15a,
being larger than the abutting portion of the drive wheel 16, will act as a shield preventing food particles from slipping between the drive wheel shaft and front plate where it would be difficult to clean. Any food particles falling behind the drive wheel 16 would thus be trapped either between the drive wheel 16 and the outer face of the head 15a, or slip into the feed wheel sleeve 18, either of which would be easy to clean when the feed wheel 16 is removed from the can opener.
In order to retain the feed wheel shaft 17 within the feed wheel sleeve 18, there is provided a C-shaped retaining spring 19 which fits within a slot 20 on the feed wheel shaft 17. The inner diameter of the retaining spring 19 is larger than the outer diameter of shaft 17 at the bottom of the slot 20 thereby allowing room for the compression of said spring. Furthermore, the outer diameter of the retaining spring 19 is larger than the outer dimensions of the feed wheel shaft 17 wherein, as best shown in FIG. 3, the retaining spring will exert pressure against the feed wheel sleeve 18 thus providing a frictional restraint against axial movement of shaft 17. In this configuration, the pressure exerted will be sufficient to keep the feed wheel in proper position during normal usage of the can opener while still allowing easy removal of the feed wheel when the operator pulls the feed wheel out from the can opener as best shown in FIG. 4. When the feed wheel 16 is removed in this manner, it will obviously be easy for the operator to clean the serrated wheel itself as well as the areas behind the feed wheel and at the front of the can opener.
When a can is being opened, the motor 13 will turn gear through the gear reduction 14. The drive gear shaft 15 is attached to the center of gear 14a and is thereby in driven connection with the motor 13. Thus, as the drive gear shaft 15 is rotated by the rotation of gear 14a, the can rotating wheel 16 will correspondingly rotate and be driven by the similar circumferential shape existing between the feed wheel shaft 17 and the feed wheel sleeve 18.
As best shown in FIG. 3, there is provided a thrust receiving member or bearing washer 21 located behind the head 15a of the drive gear shaft 15 which facilitates the ease of relative movement between the drive gear shaft and the front cover 31 and retains the feed wheel,
shaft against any axial displacement as pressure is being exerted inwardly by a can being opened. There is also provided a spring washer 22 around shaft 15 and between the front cover 31 and gear 14a. The spring washer 22 will maintain a secure fitting of the shaft 15 while not necessitating the tightening thereof to inhibit its rotation within the cover 31.
While there has been shown and described a single embodiment of the present invention, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that numerous changes and modifications may be made, and it is intended in the appended claims to cover all such changes and modifications which fall within the true spirit and scope of the present invention.
What is claimed as new and desired to be secured by Letters Patent of the US. is:
1. In a motor driven can opener of the type having a housing enclosing an electric motor which is drivingly connected to a can rotating means, and cutting means movably mounted on said housing for engagement with the top of a can being opened, the combination comprising a removable serrated feed wheel a front side and a back side; a feed-wheel-shaft extending from the back side of said feed wheel; an elongated gear-drivenshaft having two ends; one of said ends being positioned within said housing and being driven by said electric motor; the other of said ends extending to the exterior of said housing and being formed with an elongated chamber adapted to drivingly receive said feedwheel-shaft whereby rotation of said gear-driven-shaft rotates said feed-wheel-shaft and said feed wheel; and spring means located between said feed-wheel-shaft and said chamber and exerting pressure therebetween to retain said feed-wheel-shaft against axial displacement with respect to said gear-driven shaft, said feed wheel and feed-wheel-shaft being detachable from said gear-driven-shaft providing disassembly of said feed wheel and feed-wheel-shaft from said can opener independently of said cutting means.
2. The can opener of claim 1 wherein said geardriven-shaft includes a flanged head extending to the exterior of said can opener; a portion of said feed wheel abutting said head of the gear-driven-shaft; and said head having a cross sectional area greater than the cross sectional area of said abutting portion of said feed wheel to shield against food particles falling behind said feed wheel and then slipping behind said gear-drivenshaft.
3. The can opener of claim 2 wherein said can opener housing is formed with a bore to receive said geardriven-shaft; and wherein a thrust bearing is located within said bore inwardly of said gear-driven-shaft head for resiliently absorbing any axial load exerted between said gear-driven-shaft and said housing.
4. The can opener of claim 1 wherein the outer configuration of said feed-wheel-shaft is defined by flat surfaces; and wherein the inner configuration of said elongated chamber is formed with corresponding flat surfaces whereby to provide a driving connection therebetween.
5. In a motor driven can opener of the type having a housing enclosing an electric motor which is drivingly connected to a can rotating means, and cutting means movably mounted on said housing for engagement with the top of a can being opened, the combination comprising a removable serrated feed wheel having a front side and a back side; a feed-wheel-shaft extending from the back side of said feed wheel; an elongated geardriven-shaft having two ends; one of said ends being positioned within said housing and being driven by said electric motor; the other of said ends extending to the exterior of said housing and being formed with an elongated chamber adapted to drivingly receive said feedwheel-shaft whereby rotation of said'gear-driven-shaft rotates said feed-wheel-shaft and said feed wheel; and spring means located between said feed-wheel-shaft and said chamber and exerting pressure therebetween to retain said feed-wheel-shaft against axial displacement with respect to said gear-driven-shaft, said spring means comprising a C-shaped spring located on said feed-wheel-shaft; and a slot in said feed-wheel-shaft to receive and retain said spring.