US 3913343 A
An ice dispensing device including a storage receptacle for containing a quantity of ice cubes which can have an automatic ice maker attached to said receptacle to supply ice cubes to said receptacle. An ice cube agitator positioned adjacent the bottom of said receptacle and having an inclined blade attached to rotate about an inclined shaft. A dispensing means for dispensing measured quantities of ice cubes from said receptacle without contamination. Control means are provided for periodically operating the agitator means and for refilling the dispensing means to assure correct quantity dispensing.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Rowland et al. 1 Oct. 21, 1975 [541 SANITARY ICE STORAGE AND 2,969,650 1/1961 Eschenburg et a1 62/344 x DISPENSING APPARATUS AND METHOD 3,186,689 6/1965 Davies 1. 222/318 X 3,329,223 7/1967 Swanson et a1. 62/344 X 1 Inventors: Michael Rowland; George 3,608.786 9/1971 Shelley et a1. 222 233 x Stephens, both of 2619 Milford, Houston, 77006 Primary ExaminerWilliam E. Wayner Oc Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Richards, Harris & Medlock  Appl. No.: 410,769
Related US. Application Data 1 T T  continuatiommpan of Ser NO 151658 June [4 An ice dispensmg devlce 1nc1ud1ng a storage recepta- 971 abandoned, cle for containing a quantity of ice cubes which can have an automatic ice maker attached to said recepta 521 U.S. c1. 62/137; 222/313; 222/241; cle 19 pp y ice Cubes I9 Said receptaclecube 2/344 agitator positioned adjacent the bottom of said recep  Int. Cl. F25C 5/18 tack? and having an inclined blade ed o rota e  Field 61 Search 222/318, 241, 76, 233, abOut an inclined Shaft A dispensing means for die 222/146 C; 259/97, 42; 62/344, 137 pensing measured quantities of ice cubes from said re ceptacle without contamination. Control means are [56} References Cit d provided for periodically operating the agitator means UNITED STATES PATENTS and for refilling the dispensing means to assure correct 346,265 7/1886 Charlton et a1 222/241 quanmy dlspensmg' 2,612,294 9/1952 Dorschner 222/252 14 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures I 1 l 14 11'. 5Q. Illll' 52 l 7- 56a 1/1 58 lli 22 il 7 13 6 1 5 o l 28 i C 111F318 =--/35 26 t t 27 60 46 7 1 3 ['1 m 4O 12 l US. Patent Oct.2l, 1975 Sheet 1 of2 3,913,343
I 1| FIG. 1 11m JIM 10 US Patent 0a. 21, 1975 Sheet 2 of2 3,913,343
SANITARY ICE STORAGE AND DISPENSING APPARATUS AND METHOD This application is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 152,658, filed June I4, I971, now abandoned, for ICE MAKING AND DISPENSING APPA- RATUS AND METHOD.
The present invention relates to improvements in ice dispensing and storage apparatus and methods of operating the same. In another aspect, this invention relates to improvements in the breaking up of fusion and bridging between adjacent ice cubes in the storage receptacle and improvements in the dispensing means for dispensing measured quantities of ice cubes from the ice storage receptacle.
In the provision of ice at hotels, motels, restaurants, filling stations, marinas, drive-in groceries, shopping centers, recreational facilities and the like, it has been a general practice to store ice in a receptacle to be manually removed as required. Although such devices have served the general purpose, they have not proved entirely satisfactory under all conditions of service for the reason that the ice supply bins were unsanitary and open to the public, allowing the ice therein to become contaminated. In addition, ice could be pilfered by those not having legitimate access thereto.
The need for solving the problems of elimination of contamination of ice has become an even more acute problem due to recent actions by federal and state health officials requiring minimum standards of sanitation for the dispensing of ice at public facilities. As a consequence, the open ice bin that has been common in many hotels, motels, apartments, etc. has come into disfavor.
To overcome the sanitation problems, it was proposed that a completely closed ice receptacle be used with automatic dispensing means to remove the ice cubes from the receptacle and deliver the cubes to the customer as desired. It was further proposed that conventional designs for dispensing apparatus which had been used with products other than ice be used to dispense the ice cubes from the receptacle.
Although these conventional systems were satisfactory to store and dispense other particulate materials, they have not proved satisfactory to solve the unique problems present in the field of the sanitary dispensing of particulate ice cubes.
When a quantity of ice cubes is constrained within the upstanding walls of a receptacle, unique problems are present in that the individual ice cubes are not necessarily supported by the ice cubes located directly therebelow. This is due to the fact that fusion between adjacent ice cubes at contact points takes place. Thus, a cube of ice is often supported by fusion to other cubes located above or to one side. This fusion between adjacent cubes can create arches, columns and beams within the receptacle which are, in turn, supported by fusion to the receptacle walls and bottom. The quantity of ice in the receptacle can thus become rigid and selfsupporting with varied paths of support of the cubes within the receptacle.
It has also been discovered that the longer the period that the cubes in the receptacle are left at rest, the stronger the fusion bonds between adjacent cubes become and the more rigid and difficult the breaking of these fusion bonds becomes. Due to the fact that long periods of time can exist between the successive dispensing operations from the receptacle, these fusion bonds between adjacent cubes and the walls of the receptacle can present material problems in the dispens ing of ice from the receptacle by conventional gravitational feed means. Thus, the feeding of ice cubes by the force of gravity from a receptacle by conventional means over long periods of time can become impractical.
In addition, it has been found that ice cubes stored in a receptacle can change in size and weight over a period of time due to evaporation and melting. This can be caused by reduced temperature in portions of the receptacle, pressure forces between adjacent ice cubes and the walls of the receptacle and the like. This reduc' tion in size and weight of the individual cubes can create problems in the dispensing of a fixed portion if a time lapse is present between successive portion measuring and dispensing operations.
Therefore, any acceptable ice storage and dispensing apparatus must successfully solve the ice bridging and fusion problems to dispense ice from a storage receptacle over a period of time and must provide a means for consistently dispensing a fixed portion of ice cubes.
According to one aspect of the present invention, an improved sanitary automatic ice cube storage and dispensing apparatus is provided with an improved agitation means which is periodically operated to agitate the ice to break up fusion bonds between adjacent ice cubes.
According to another aspect ofthe present invention, an improved sanitary automatic ice cube storage and dispensing apparatus is provided with means periodically refilling the measuring portion of the apparatus to insure dispensing of a complete fresh portion of ice.
In accordance with the present invention, an improved ice cube dispensing apparatus is provided including an ice storage receptacle which can be placed in communication with an automatic ice maker. Disposed within the receptacle, and extending upwardly from the base thereof is a dispensing conveyor for transporting the cubes within the receptacle to a dispensing chute. The conveyor includes an auger mounted for rotation within a housing, the housing includes an overflow opening and a dispensing opening at the top end thereof, the dispensing opening being in communication with the dispensing chute. Means are also provided to automatically operate the auger and to open or close off the dispensing opening thus circulating ice cubes through the auger to thereby either dispense the ice cubes from, or return them to the storage receptacle. Improved ice agitation means, including an impeller blade uniquely affixed to the shaft of the auger adjacent to the bottom of the receptacle, accomplishes break up of the fusion of the ice disposed within the receptacle by vertically lifting and dropping portions of the ice cubes in the receptacle. Means are provided for actuation of the impeller agitator during the dispensing operations and during defined periods therebetween.
Additional features and advantages of the invention will be readily appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying Drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of the preferred embodiment of the automatic ice making and dispensing apparatus of the present invention;
FIG. 2 illustrates a front elevation of the apparatus illustrated in FIG. I with the lower cover removed therefrom;
FIG. 3 illustrates a partial section of the device taken on lines 33 of FIG. 2 looking in the direction of the arrows;
FIG. 4 is a view identical to FIG. 3 showing the ice dispensing apparatus in the ice dispensing cycle;
FIG. 5 is a view identical to FIG. 4 showing the ice dispensing apparatus in the ice agitation cycle;
FIG. 6 illustrates a partial section of the device showing the improved ice agitator taken on line 6-6 of FIG. 3 looking in the direction of the arrows; and
FIG. 7 illustrates a partial section of the device show ing the auger assembly taken on line 77 of FIG. 3 looking in the direction of the arrows.
Referring now to the Drawings, wherein like reference characters designate like or corresponding parts throughout the several views, there is initially illustrated in FIG. 1 a coin-operated ice making and dispensing apparatus 10 which embodies the features of the present invention. The entire apparatus can be supported on a floor or other flat surface by means of a plurality of legs 12 which are desirably adjustable in length to accommodate variations in the floor surface.
Apparatus 10 includes an enclosure or cabinet structure 26 upon which can be mounted an ice maker assembly 14. The illustrated ice maker 14 can be of a conventional design known in the art and commercially available which is effective to produce a quantity of ice cubes which are received by a receptacle 28 (FIG. 3) disposed within the cabinet structure 26 and in communication with ice maker [4. Ice maker 14 (as well as the overall apparatus 10) is preferably electrically powered, but it is contemplated that gas, butane or other forms of power may also be utilized therefor.
It is preferred that the ice maker assembly 14 be of the type which has means to sense the amount or level of the ice stored or contained in a bin or receptacle 28. This sensing means could be a capillary tube or other temperature sensor 13 which is located within receptacle 28 at a desired ice level height in the upper portion of receptacle 28 so that when ice is in contact with the sensor, ice maker assembly 14 remains off and when the ice level falls below the sensor, ice maker assembly 14 is actuated to manufacture and dispense ice cubes into receptacle 28.
It is envisioned, of course, that the apparatus of the present invention could be used without an ice making apparatus with the ice being manually added to the receptacle as needed.
The term ice cube" is used herein in the generic sense to mean particulate ice material" and is not intended as a geometrical limitation of the shape of ice particles which can be manufactured by ice maker 14 or dispensed by the overall apparatus 10 in accordance with the present invention.
In accordance with the operation of apparatus 10, the details of which are subsequently described, ice cubes stored within receptacle 28 are dispensed through chute 22 into a suitable holder, such as a paper or plastic bag 20, positioned within a dispensing recess 18 in the front portion of cabinet 26. The dispensing is normally effected in response to the insertion of the correct amount of coins into a coin receiving slot [9 and the subsequent manual closing ofa vend switch 24 located above a face plate 16, the plate 16 also having a coin return slot 21 and a coin control mechanism (not shown) mounted therebehind. This coin control mech anism and the related circuitry associated therewith is immaterial for the purposes of the present invention in that many such mechanisms are commercially available on the market, it only being sufficient for the present purposes to state that the dispensing of the ice into bag 20 is effected in response to the receipt of the correct amount of coins or tokens through slot I9 or the insertion ofa card or pass key and closing of vend switch 24. Disposed above face plate 16 is a bin empty indicator light 23, the operation and purpose of which is subsequently described.
Referring specifically to FIGS. 2 and 3, it is observed that receptacle 28, which houses a quantity 29 of ice cubes, includes upstanding walls and a lower portion 30 of a generally pyramidal shape. Preferably, receptacle 28 is formed of or coated with fiberglass, foamed urethane, or some other suitable insulating material to reduce the heat loss and melting of the ice therein.
The receptacle 28 is supported by frame 33. A drip pan may be positioned below the lower portion 30 and a drain hose 34 to receive any liquid from the ice melting within the receptacle and direct the liquid therefrom. Additionally, other drain hoses 35 and 37 could be utilized to remove any accumulation of liquid from the dispensing recess 18 and ice maker [4, respectively.
Disposed adjacent or in front of frame 33 is a control box 36 which preferably houses the control mechanisms and circuitry for operating the various portions of apparatus 10 in accordance with the subsequently described operation.
Disposed within receptacle 28, and preferably within the lower portion 30, is a level switch 27 for indicating when the amount of ice disposed with bin 28 falls below a desired minimum. This desired minimum is set to insure that sufficient ice is present in the receptacle to allow a complete vend and to keep the bin sufficiently cold. While various switches known in the art may be utilized for switch 27, one suitable device is a temperature responsive switch which remains open as long as the ice is in contact with (at or above the level of) switch 27. As soon as the ice level falls below that of switch 27, the resulting rise in temperature will be sensed by the switch and it will close, thus energizing bin empty indicator light 23 de-energizing coin control mechanism so that any coins placed in slot 19 will be returned to slot 21 without effecting the dispensing operation.
In accordance with the improved feature of the present invention, the dispensing of the ice from lower portion 30 of the receptacle to external chute 22 is effected by way of an auger assembly 44 inclined at an angle "A" with respect to the vertical axis (FIG. 3). This assembly 44 includes a hollow key hole-shaped cross section housing 46 as shown in FIG. 7 suitably mounted within the receptacle 28 and a screw auger 48 rotatably mounted within housing 46. Screw auger 48 is attached to the output shaft 42 of a suitable driving means 40 which is driven by a motor 38. Consequently, when the motor 38 is energized, screw auger 48 will be caused to rotate and will convey ice disposed within the housing 46 and that adjacent to the bottom opening thereof to the upper end thereof adjacent the chute 22.
- As illustrated, shaft 42 extends from driving means 40 up through lower portion 30 of receptacle 28 and is provided with suitable seals (not illustrated) to prevent any leakage of the liquid from receptacle 28 along shaft 42. The upper end of the shaft is suitably constrained by a bearing or the like.
At the upper end of auger housing 46 are a pair of openings 50 and 52, respectively, providing the overflow and vend outlets. The vend opening 52 preferably extends to a level below overflow opening 50, and communicates with vending chute 22. A vend door assembly 56 positioned adjacent vend opening 52 includes a vend door member 56a operatively connected to a solenoid assembly 58, the solenoid assembly 58, respectively, moving vend door 56a to an open and closed position for respectively allowing the ice which is transported up the housing 46 to enter, or be restrained from entering dispensing chute 22. The operation of solenoid S8 to move door 56a to the open position (as illustrated in FIG. 4) is in response to the insertion of coins into opening 19 ofa fact plate and subsequent actuation of vend switch 24.
When vend door 56a is in the closed position (for example FIG. 5), any ice transported up through housing 46 will exit through overflow opening 50 back into receptacle 28. This ability to refill auger assembly 44 with a fresh supply ofice is of particular advantage in insuring the dispensing of a fresh and correct quantity of ice in each dispensing operation without regard to the time span between each dispensing operation. This is accomplished because the auger is periodically operated with the vend door 56a closed by a control mechanism to cause ice cubes to be transported into and up through auger assembly 44 out overflow opening 50, and back into receptacle 28. This insures that before the ice in auger assembly 44 can become stale or reduced in size through evaporation or melting during prolonged periods of time between vend operations, that auger assembly 44 will be operated to remove the ice therefrom through opening 50, and fresh ice will enter auger assembly 44 from receptacle 28. Thus, by periodically operating the auger, a full auger is assured and reliable portion control can be accomplished through a timed operation of the auger.
in accordance with another improved feature of the present invention, an impeller blade 60 is attached at an angle to and rotates with shaft 42 to enable the agitation and subsequent breaking of the fusion between adjacent ice cubes within receptacle 28. As illustrated in FIG. 6, impeller 60 includes a cutting edge 61 and an inclined plane surface 62 afforded by attaching the impeller 60 to the shaft 42 at an angle with respect to the axis of shaft rotation. As illustrated in FIGS. 3, 4 and 5, the impeller 60 is inclinably attached to shaft 42. and shaft 42 is inclined at an angle A with respect to the vertical axis of receptacle 28. The inclined plane surface 62 of impeller 60 thus forms a compound angle with respect to the vertical axis of receptacle 28.
As impeller 60 is rotated with shaft 42, the plane sur; face 62 successively changes its angle of inclination with respect to the vertical axis. Adjacent ice cubes near the bottom of receptacle 28 and in contact with this inclined plane 62, are physically forced up the inclined plane, but at differing rates of speed and at successively varying angles to the vertical as the angle of inclination of the plane surface varies with rotation. The cubes thus forced generally upward are driven against those cubes immediately above the cubes in contact with the impeller and in turn against other cubes higher up within the receptacle 28, thereby breaking up fusion of the ice within the receptacle.
Impeller is preferably located as near the bottom of receptacle 28 as practical, since it has been discovered that ice cubes located radially around and outside the volume swept by said impeller 60 and below the plane swept by the upper tip of said impeller 60, cannot by thusly agitated. It has been further discovered that the shape of the lower portion 30 of the receptacle 28 cannot aid the gravity feed ofice cubes into the area of agitation. In the present embodiment, the walls are preferably shaped in the lower portion 30 of receptacle 28 to closely conform to the perimeter of the volume swept by impeller 60 so as to reduce the quantity of unagitated ice cubes. As illustrated in FIG. 6, impeller 60, preferably of semicircular shape, is mounted off center.
The shape and size of impeller 60 is such that when rotated with shaft 42, the impeller 60 sweeps through and successively cuts into, lifts and drops a portion of the volume 29 of ice within the receptacle 28. The force imparted by the impeller 60 is sufficient to break the fusion between adjacent cubes and this force is transmitted upward and slightly outward by the action of driven cubes coming into contact with other cubes. After the fusion between adjacent cubes is thus broken. and after the impeller blade 60 rotates out from under the cubes thus broken apart, these loose cubes can fall by gravity downward into the space vacated by the impeller 60 as it rotates to a new position. Since these loose cubes immediately begin to readhere to each other, it has been discovered that the impeller 60 must rotate at some speed so that it again passes under this same portion of ice cubes before fusion can reoccur.
The force imparted by impeller 60 against the ice cubes has been found to be dissipated with height above the impeller. This is caused by the packing of cubes into void spaces, and horizontal dissipation caused by cubes contacting others at random angles. The present invention provides a storage receptacle 28 of substantial capacity to allow sufficient accumulation of ice cubes 29 within to meet peak demands and the agitating means is sized sufficiently to provide agitating force and motion to the desired ice level height in the upper portion of receptacle 28. As the impeller 60 is rotated with shaft 42, the impeller will assume successive positions within the receptacle 28. With each complete revolution, it can be seen that the impeller passes under a portion of the total horizontal cross-sectional area of the receptacle 28.
Continuous agitation of the volume 29 of ice would eventually damage the ice cubes and reduce their desirability as saleable products. Agitation must be forceful enough to break the fusion between adjacent cubes and move them to prevent their immediate refusion. A constant application of sufficient force and motion sub stantially reduces size and quality of ice cubes. It is however, only necessary to agitate and subsequently break the fusion between adjacent ice cubes within the receptacle 28 during the time when it is desired to convey a portion of said ice cubes out through the dispensing means. Except during vending periods, it is of no consequence that ice may be allowed to fuse together and bridge. provided that the bridge or fusion should not be allowed to exist for so long a period of time as to be too strong for impeller 60 to break.
Inasmuch as continuous agitation is neither desirable nor necessary, agitation and subsequent breaking of fusion between adjacent ice cubes should occur at time intervals independent ofthe agitation which would normally occur during vending or dispensing of ice, These agitation cycles. to be subsequently described, are sufficiently frequent as to prevent a strong fusion bond between adjacent ice cubes and allow rapid unbridging and separation of adjacent ice cubes during either the vending or dispensing cycles or subsequent agitation cycles.
It is important to note that both agitation impeller 60 and auger 48 are attached to shaft 42. Thus, by operat ing motor 38 both agitation of the ice within the recep tacle to eliminate bridging and circulation of ice through the auger assembly 44 to assure proper portion control, can be accomplished simultaneously.
The operation of the apparatus in accordance with the invention can be described by reference to the following cycles:
(1) inert; (2) standby; (3) vend; and (4) agitation. lnert Cycle When the receptacle or bin 28 is empty. or the volume 29 of ice therein is below level switch 27, light 23 is illuminated, informing customers of the deficiency in the supply of ice, and the coin control mechanism diverts any coins inserted within slot 19 to return slot 21. As a consequence. and during this portion of the cycle, solenoid 58 remains in its deactuated position and vend door 560 remains closed (FIG. 3). Since sensor 13 is preferably located above level switch 27, the deficiency in the supply of ice will also cause actuation of ice maker 14 to produce ice cubes to fill receptacle 28 to the desired level.
Standby Cycle As the ice produced by unit 14 is ejected into receptacle 28, the level of the ice cubes therein rises to and above the level of switch 27, the corresponding drop in temperature actuating switch 27 to turn off light 23 and actuate the coin control mechanism to the coin acceptance" mode. The unit 14 will continue to produce ice cubes until the level of sensor 13 is reached, and in the meantime, apparatus 10 will now automatically vend ice cubes in response to the receipt of the correct amount ofcoins and manual closing of the vend switch. Vend Cycle Upon receipt of the correct amount of coins within coin receiving slot 19 and subsequent pressing of vend button 24. the control mechanism within the housing 36 will energize motor 38 to rotate screw conveyor auger 48 and to actuate solenoid S8 to translate vend door 560 to its open position. As a consequence, ice cubes within housing 46 are transported to and through the vend opening 52 where they pass through dispensing chute 22 and into bag 20 (FIG. 4). v
A suitable timing mechanism contained within hous' ing 36 controls the period of time auger 48 is rotated and vend door 56a remains open. By setting this timing mechanism for a prescribed time period, the amount of ice dispensed through chute 22 can consequently be controlled. Since. as previously described. auger assembly 44 is always full of ice cubes, accurate control of the amount of ice that is vended can therefore. be effected. At the end of this prescribed time period, the control mechanism within housing 36 de-energizes motor 38, deactuates solenoid 58 to close vend door 56a. and the vend cycle is completed. Vend door 56a, thus being closed, seals off the unvended ice within assembly 44 and receptacle 28, thus preventing contamination of the unvended ice therein. and prevents ice from being dispensed during the agitation cycle.
Throughout the entire vend operation, and as a con sequence of the rotation of auger 48 and shaft 42, impeller blade is caused to rotate. The resulting move ment of this blade 60 as a consequence of its angular attachment to the shaft 42 thus imparts a lifting and dropping motion to different portions of the volume 29 of ice within the receptacle 28 as the shaft rotates. the resulting wave motion therein advantageously and effectively agitating, breaking up and unbridging the ice particles throughout receptacle 28.
Agitation Cycle The timing mechanism within the control housing 36 is also effective to periodically actuate motor 38 independent of the vend cycle. to transport the ice cubes upwardly through housing 46 while during this time period vend door 56a remains in a closed positionv Since vend door 56a remains closed, the so-transported ice cubes will exit through the overflow opening 50 and fall back into receptacle 28 (FIG. 5). At the same time, agitation and unbridging of the ice cubes within the bin is effected, as before, by the rotation of blade 60. Consequently, in addition to the periodic agitation of the ice cubes within receptacle 28 during time periods when the dispensing is not being effected. any ice which may have partially melted within the auger assembly 44 will be removed therefrom, and replaced to insure an accurate portion control.
As a consequence of the above-described features and operations, apparatus It] automatically dispenses precise amounts of sanitary and contamination-free ice therefrom, assures the provision of a continuous supply of ice in response to vending requirements, and is substantially free of operating difficulties clue to the adherence and bridging of the ice cubes contained therein.
Various modifications of the disclosed preferred embodiment may become-apparent to one skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.
1. An ice cube vending machine comprising:
receptacle means for storing a volume of ice cubes;
a first means in communication with said receptacle means at a point spaced above the lowermost portion of said receptacle means for receiving ice cubes retained in said receptacle means and alternatively dispensing and mixing said ice cubes in said receptacle; said first means comprises a screw auger means for conveying ice cubes from a first point spaced above the lowermost portions of said receptacle means to a second point elevated above said first point, means supporting said auger means in said receptacle, and valve means attached to the elevated end of said auger means for selectively diverting ice cubes conveyed by said auger means into the upper portion of said volume of ice cubes stored in said receptacle means and out of said receptacle means;
a second means provided in said receptacle means for first vertically lifting and thereafter dropping portions of the ice cubes in said receptacle to agitate said ice cubes. and thereby eliminate bridging and fusion of said ice cubes in said receptacle;
means periodically operating said first and second means; and
an ice manufacturing means connected to said receptacle to supply ice cubes thereto.
2. A machine as defined in claim 1 wherein said screw auger means is inclined within said receptacle means.
3. A machine as defined in claim 1 additionally comprising a dispensing chute means connected to said valve means for delivering ice cubes out of said receptacle means.
4. An ice cube vending machine comprising:
receptacle means for storing a volume of ice cubes;
selectively operable first means in communication with said receptacle means adapted to receive ice cubes retained in said receptacle means for selectively dispensing said ice cubes from said receptacle means;
second means positioned in the bottom of said receptacle means for first vertically lifting and thereafter dropping portions of the ice cubes in said receptacle to agitate said ice cubes, and thereby break up bridging and fusion of adjacent ice cubes in said receptacle, said second means comprising an impeller blade mounted to rotate about an axis in said receptacle in an area spaced above the lowermost portion of said receptacle, surface means on said blade extending from said axis through an angle less than 360 for lifting a portion of the ice in said bin onto said blade and abruptly dropping ice from the blade surface;
control means periodically operating said second means to thereby periodically break up bridging and fusion between adjacent ice cubes; and
ice manufacturing means connected to said receptacle to supply ice cubes thereto.
5. A machine as defined in claim 4 wherein said first means comprises a screw auger.
6. A machine as defined in claim 4 additionally comprising control means for energizing the ice cube manufacturing means when the ice in said receptacle is less than a predetermined amount,
7. A machine as defined in claim 4 wherein said axis is vertically inclined in said receptacle.
8. A machine as defined in claim 7 wherein said blade is inclined with respect to said axis.
9. An ice cube vending machine comprising:
receptacle means for storing a volume of ice cubes;
a first means in communication with said receptacle means at a point spaced above the lowermost portion of said receptacle means for receiving ice cubes retained in said receptacle means and alternatively dispensing and mixing said ice cubes in said receptacle;
a second means positioned in the bottom of said receptacle means for first vertically lifting and thereafter dropping portions of the ice cubes in said receptacle to agitate said ice cubes, and thereby eliminate bridging and fusion of said ice cubes in said receptacle, said second means comprising an impeller blade mounted to rotate about an axis in said receptacle in an area spaced above the lowermost portion of said receptacle, surface means on said blade extending from said axis through an angle less than 360" for lifting a portion of the ice in said bin onto said blade and abruptly dropping ice from the blade surface;
means periodically operating said first and second means; and
ice manufacturing means connected to said recepta cle to supply ice cubes thereto.
10. A machine as defined in claim 9 additionally comprising control means for energizing the ice cube manufacturing means when the ice in said receptacle is less than a predetermined amount.
ll. A machine as defined in claim 9 wherein said impeller blade is inclined with respect to said impeller axis.
12. An apparatus as defined in claim 11 wherein said axis of said impeller is vertically inclined in said receptacle means.
13. An ice cube vending machine comprising:
receptacle means for storing a volume of ice cubes;
a first means in communication with said receptacle means at a point spaced above the lowermost portion of said receptacle means for receiving ice cubes retained in said receptacle means and alter natively dispensing and mixing said ice cubes in said receptacle; second means provided in said receptacle means for first vertically lifting and thereafter dropping portions of the ice cubes in said receptacle to agi tate said ice cubes, and thereby eliminate bridging and fusion of said ice cubes in said receptacle, said second means comprises a semicircularly shaped impeller blade and means mounting said impeller blade to rotate about an axis within said receptacle means at a point spaced above the lowermost portion of said receptacle;
means periodically operating said first and second means; and
an ice manufacturing means connected to said receptacle to supply ice cubes thereto.
14. An automatic ice cube vending machine comprising in combination:
a sealed sanitary receptacle means defined by said frame for storing a volume of ice cubes;
means mounted on said frame for manufacturing ice cubes;
delivery means connecting said ice cube manufacturing means and said receptacle means for delivering ice cubes to said receptacle means;
ice cube dispensing and mixing means in communication with said receptacle means positioned at a point spaced above the lowermost portion of said receptacle means and adapted to receive ice cubes retained in said receptacle means for selectively dispensing said ice cubes from said receptacle means and mixing said ice cubes in said receptacle, said mixing and dispensing means comprising a screw auger means mounted for conveying ice cubes from said receptacle, said screw auger having a shaft and a screw blade attached to rotate therewith, valve means attached to the elevated end ofsaid auger means for selectively diverting ice cubes conveyed by said auger means into the upper portion of said receptacle means and out of said receptacle means, and dispensing chute means connected to said valve means for delivering ice cubes out of said receptacle means;
movable ice cube agitating means provided in said receptacle means for first vertically lifting and thereafter dropping a portion of the ice cubes in said receptacle to agitate said ice cubes, and thereby break up bridging and fusion between adja l1 12 cent ice cubes in said receptacle said agitating and opening said valve means to dispense ice cubes means comprising a semicircular shaped impeller from said receptacle; and blade inclined with respect to and attached to rosecond control means periodically operating said tate with the lowermost portion of said auger shaft; power means and closing said valve means to break power means connected to rotate said auger shaft; 5 up bridging and fusion between adjacent ice cubes. first control means for operating said power means UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION Patent No. 3 3 Dated October 21, 1975 Inventor(s) Michael L. Rowland et a1 It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:
Column 5, line 19, after "of a" and before "plate",
delete "fact" and insert --face-.
Signed and Scaled this mgh Day of mum [sEM-l RU'I'H C. MASON C. MARSHALL DANN Arresting Offl'w (umminiuner 0] Parent: and Trademark: