United States Patent 2188573

This invention, in the aspect thereof related to one important field of utility pertains to special equipment for restaurants, buffets and public eating places especially of the cafeteria or socalled automat type. In a broad and public benefit sense, the invention relates to the art of sanitation.

Salvatore, Longo
Application Number:
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Filing Date:
Salvatore, Longo
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
221/94, 221/197, 221/274, 312/61
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This invention, in the aspect thereof related to one important field of utility pertains to special equipment for restaurants, buffets and public eating places especially of the cafeteria or socalled automat type. In a broad and public benefit sense, the invention relates to the art of sanitation.

More specifically, the invention provides a novel dispensing apparatus for supplying eating utensils, as knives, forks, spoons and the like, to one about to eat a meal in a place other than the home; and (by the invention these utensils are housed against handling by anyone and in an antiseptic atmosphere if desired until supplied to a particular person, and in such manner that one or a customary set thereof can be delivered to said particular person and only to him, and this following an operation of the means as by a manual actuator any contamination of which resulting from its use cannot be transmitted to any housed utensil.) The invention, in the now favored embodiments thereof shown in the accompanying drawings (which embodiments, it is clearly to be understood, are shown merely by way of example and iot by way of limitation except as defined in the claims hereunto annexed), consists of certain combinations of elements, arrangements of parts and relationships of structure, and involves certain features and advantages, all as will be made clear from the following description of said embodiments which will now be given.

In said drawings, wherein like characters of reference designate corresponding parts in the several views: Fig. 1 shows one such embodiment, in front elevation.

Fig. 2 is a vertical section, taken on the line 2-2 of Fig. 1.

Fig. 3 is a front view of one of the holders for one type of utensil.

Fig. 4 is a rear view of the same.

Fig. 5 is a fragmentary vertical section, taken on the line 5-5 of Fig. 6.

Fig. 6 is a horizontal section, taken on the line 6-6 of Fig. 5.

Fig. 7 is a vertical, transverse section, taken on the line 7-7 of Fig. 5.

50 Fig. 8 is a fragmentary detail view, partially in perspective.

Fig. 9 is a fragmentary detail view, showing the lower part of the holder of Fig. 3 as seen in that view, but on a larger scale, and showing a plurality of knives K therein.

Fig. 10 is a view similar to Fig. 9, but showing associated parts of the dispensing mechanism.

Fig. 11 is an enlarged detail view, being in part a section taken on the line I1-I1 of Fig. 10.

Fig. 12 is a horizontal section, taken through Fig. 9, and showing different successively assumed positions of a knife K during movement from its holder when a knife is being dispensed.

Fig. 13 is a horizontal section, taken oni the line 13--13 of Fig. 2. 0 Fig. 14 is a detail view showing a modification of said embodiment.

Fig. 15 is a fragmentary vertical section showing another embodiment, this view being taken on the line 15--15 of Fig. 16. Fig. 16 is a vertical section, in a plane parallel to the front of the machine, being a view taken on the line 16-16 of Fig. 15.

Fig. 17 is a detail sectional view, taken' substantially on the line IT-17 of Fig. 15. "20 In both the embodiments illustratively shown in the drawings, it will be noted, there is provided a housing having compartments, such compartments marked K', T', F' and S' in Figs. 1 and 5, wherein are stacked, respectively, knives, forks, :25 teaspoons and table- or soup-spoons, so that the same can be dispensed, or delivered to a takeaway chamber accessible to the person desiring to be utensil-served, one by one as to each particular utensil, and as the result of moving the bottom utensil in a stack out of that sack as is common in the art of merchandise-vending machines.

The only utensils which said person can touch are those delivered to him for his own use. The compartments for the utensil-stacks are all in a :35 closed and locked chamber.

Since the discoveries of Lister and others as to the dangers of indiscriminate handling of things which may later enter the human mouth or which may later touch these things, sanitation laws have been enacted against, for instance, the use of public common drinking cups (to the great benefit of the paper trade, in regard to the making of individual drinking cups). Careful diners in even the finest restaurants (that is, such of these diners as are not too strict in observance of the canons of what are called the customs of good taste) go through the ritual of using the restaurant's napery to wipe or rub briskly the "business end" of the pieces of silver laid on the `50 table with the food: Such wiping, even such brisk rubbing, can not, of course, be very effective for antisepsis. However, a specially baneful practice in cafeterias and automats was particularly in mind in making the present invention. '55 In such establishments and ones similar, as is well-known, the silverware is in baskets or opentop boxes or trays; and are fingered, probably in all parts, by many different persons while in the trays and before being taken away by the one ultimately to make use of them in eating, in a great number if not the majority of instances.

Such practice is outstandingly incongruous in an automat, where the articles of food to be vended are in closed and locked vending-machine compartments, to be sure that only the person who is to consume such an article can possibly handle it.

Referring now particularly to the embodiment of the present invention shown in exemplification thereof in Figs. 1 through 14, the numeral 20 denotes the rear wall of a cabinet, and 21, 22 and 23 the top and side walls thereof, respectively.

The upper front portion of the cabinet is shown as closed by a pair of glass-paned doors 24, hinged at 25 at their tops and at 26 at their bottoms to a horizontal ledge 27. This ledge is the top marginal flange of a front plate including an inclined wall 28 and a vertical wall 29, in which latter wall is an opening 30. At its bottom the housing now being described is closed by a floor wall 31, provided with an opening 32. This opening is subtended by a casing 33 extended therebelow and provided with a door 34, lockable as at 34', in the front of the cabinet. The bottom of casing 33 is fastened to a bracket 34", which is secured to a framing 35 attached to and carried by front legs 36 and rear legs 37 of the cabinet.

The space between the legs 36 and 37 and the casing 33 may be utilized for the storage of service trays.

In Figs. 3 and 4, a holder is shown which may serve for the dispensing of knives, forks, teaspoons and table-spoons; comprising a rear wall 38, side walls 39 flanged to provide front strips 40 and 41. These strips near the bottom of the holder are spanned by a cross-strip 42 which carries a stop 43. This stop permits delivery of only one article at a time, as is made clear in Figs. 5, 7, 9 and 10. The stop 43 is also adjustable to take up the differences in thickness and shape of articles of different manufacture. A reinforcing member 44 surrounds the bottom portions of the rear and side walls of the holder '50 and is provided at the rear of the holder with a .pair of horizontal lugs 45 apertured at 46 (Figs. 2 and .12). The holder 39 is further provided with a cut-out 47 to permit operation of the dispensing mechanism to be described later. At the .5 top of the holder, in back of its rear wall 38, is slidably mounted a handle 48, to facilitate portage while being refilled or replaced in the machine.

Referring now particularly to Figs. 5, 6, 7 and .60 10, a shaft 49 passes through side wall 23 and is journalled in suitable recesses in two bars 50, one secured to each of the two side walls 22 and 23.

On this shaft 49 are placed ejecting units 51, 52, 53 and 54, which are held in place on the shaft -65 by set-screws 55 passing through slots 56 in hubs 57 of carriers 58 each for pivotally supporting, at 60, one of the several dispensing fingers 59.

These carriers 58 are fixed on sleeves 61, supported in bearing blocks 62, mounted on a shelf 63 supported from said blocks. Due to a bentwire spring for each ejecting unit like the one shown at 59a in Fig. 7, the fingers 59 are all normally held relative to their carriers 58 as shown in Fig. 7, but yieldingly so. On the opposite end of sleeves 61 are fixed rocker-arms 64, provided with pins 65. Levers 66, which are spring operated and pivotally mounted on a bar 67, are connected to push-rods or plungers 68 passing through inclined front wall 28, provided with buttons or finger-pieces 69. These levers 66 actuate the rocker-arms 64 by means of the pins 65, and are held in normal position against rubber-stops 70. At the side wall 23, the shaft 49 is provided with a handle 71.

Referring now to Figs. 1 and 5, the four holders K', T', F', and S', in construction each similar to that holder already described in connection with Figs. 3 and 4, are shown as used respectively, for dispensing knives, teaspoons, forks and tablespoons. These holders are placed in the cabinet with the holes 46 of lugs 45 engaging and resting on studs 72 fixed to shelf 63. At their tops they are spaced by pins 73 and held securely by spring-operated latches 74.

When the holders are placed in the machine, the lowermost utensils therein come to rest at their handle portions, as shown in Fig. 5, on the tops of the bearing blocks 62; thus lifting as to each stack, the entire weight thereof off supporting lugs 75 and 76, one at each end of the otherwise open bottom of the holder, for the end portions of the utensils. Consequently, such handle portions as well as the opposite ends of the utensils become entirely cleared relative to lugs 75 and 76, as clearly illustrated in Figs. 5 and 10; .10 the sole support for the stacks now being the bearing-blocks 62.

The holders K', T', F' and S' also have cutouts as at 77 (Figs. 5 and 9), opposite the free ends of the handle portions of the utensils. " In operation, the corresponding plunger 68 for the desired utensil is thrust in, by its finger-piece 69. This actuates the appropriate lever 66 and rocker arm 64, thereby, turning the intended sleeve 61 and moving the associated finger for- ' 4 ward. This finger, engaging the handle of the utensil, will push such handle through the cutout 77 and beyond the lug 76, (compare Figs.:5 and 12), as the first step in moving the utensil toward discharge into a -downwardly and for- .~r wardly sloping slide 78. As the other end of the utensil is held back by the narrowed lower end of vertical strip 40 at the right hand side of the holder, as seen in Fig. 9, a turning motion is imposed upon the utensil to project its handle end cri over said slide. As soon as, during this turning movement, the root end of the handle portion of the utensil is cleared away from the block 62 therebelow, the tip of the utensil over the lug 75 is freed from the holder and the utensil slides ,,,i down along the slide 78 onto a chute 79 sloping downward and toward the bottom center of the -cabinet; the successive positions of a knife K being indicated in Fig. 6 as I, II and III (compare Fig. 12). With knives and such utensils <' also as spoons and forks, the result is that they are brought down to the delivery opening 30, turned through an angle of 900, as shown in Fig. 8.

For a utensil such as a knife, because of its 1 greater length, an additional impulse is desirably imparted to insure a quicker turning before it reaches the end of its travel. This is here shown as accomplished by a rubber-covered rod 80 7 (Fig. 6), which, when the blade of the knife strikes against it, will tend to give the blade an additional kick to act turningly on the knife. To augment this action teats 81 (Figs. 6 and 7) .are provided on the chute T9, which will retard the handle, and insure the knife coming down as indicated at IV in Fig. 6.

For utensils such as teaspoons, no slide 78 is required (and note that none is shown in Fig. 5).

,6 When utensil is delivered into the opening 30, it falls upon a paper napkin 82 interfolded in and at the top of a suitably upwardly fed stack of such napkins in casing 34.

By thrusting in one or more of the plungers 68, one or more of the different kinds of utensils may be dispensed. Such movement of a plunger 68 (Figs. 7 and 11) rocks the associated finger in a clockwise direction, for applying its ejecting thrust against the lowermost utensil in the ap,-1 propriate holder; such finger, however, idly passing below the utensil stack, due to the spring 59a, on return movement of the plunger.

When a complete set of four utensils is desired, this is done by pressing the handle 71 downward, thus rotating shaft 49. The set-screws 55, acting against the ends of slots 56, will thus operate all four fingers 59 simultaneously; and a complete set of utensils will be delivered. Springs 83 are fastened to hubs 57 and to shelf 63, to ',2 return the dispensing mechanism to normal position. A spring 84 acting on a lever 85, which latter is mounted on shaft 49, returns the shaft to normal position.

On picking up the utensils dispensed by trans3P0 fer to the receptor R (Fig. 8) just beyond the opening 30, as a person's hand is placed in the opening 30, his fingers will naturally go in between the folds of the uppermost napkin, thus "automatically" taking up a napkin when pick5 ing up the utensil or utensils dispensed.

The napkins 82 are shown as supported and fed upward by a plate 86, having two flanges 87, supporting two shafts 88. On these shafts are mounted gears 89, engaging perforations 90 provided in the side walls of casing 33. Tensionsprings 91 are wound around shafts 88, of sufficient strength to move the stack of napkins in an upward position. An additional leaf spring 92, acts to help when the napkin casing is fully loaded. To facilitate filling the casing with napkins, a spring-operated finger 93 engages a hole 94 in the casing and holds the plate 86 in down position until the door 34 is closed. This door carries a pin 95, which disengages the finger 93. Fig. 14 shows a modification in which a crossstrip 42a, corresponding to the cross-strip 42 of Fig. 9, is not mounted on the holder 38, but, instead, on an L-shaped bracket 42' on the main structure of the cabinet.

Referring to the embodiment shown in Figs. 15, 16 and 17, which is in exemplification of a form of apparatus according to the invention in which a plurality of holders for each of a plurality of different utensils are provided, in order to give a machine of large capacity but relatively small bulk, two of such holders for each kind of utensil are shown. It will be understood, however, that any number may be employed. For maximum space saving, each group of holders for stacking the same type of utensil are arranged tandem fashion crosswise of the machine. The holders for carrying the knives, the teaspoons, the forks and the table-spoons are marked, respectively, K2 and K3, T2 and T3, F2 and F3, and S2 and S3. Cross-bars 100, supported on blocks as shown in Fig. 15 at the front and back of the cabinet, carry posts 101 topped by locating pins 102 for apertures in lugs 103 of the holders corresponding to the lugs 45; and for lifting the weights of the stacks of utensils in the holders from their bottom lugs corresponding to the lugs 75 and 16 of Fig. 3, standards 104, similar to the bearing blocks 62 previously described, are also mounted on the cross-bars 100. Each unit of the ejecting mechanism includes a pair of shafts 105 and 106, 1 journalled in standards 104 and posts 101; these shafts being operatively interconnected by gears 10T. On the ends of said shafts opposite to said gears are secured finger-carrying disks 108 and 109 the fingers of which are offset 450 in relation one to another. All the shafts 105 extend toward the front of the machine only as far as the gear-couples 107, while all the shafts 106 extend to the front of the machine, a bar 108' providing a bearing for the shafts last mentioned. .5 Actuating finger pieces 106' are loosely mounted on the shafts 106, and are provided with pawls I10 engaging ratchets Ill fast on said shafts.

A slide-bar 112 guided in annular recesses 13 on the shafts, carries four pawls 114 identical with',20 each other, and with the pawls shown in Fig. 16, squarely beyond the pawls 110..

In operation, the finger piece 106' appropriate to the article desired to be dispensed is moved from right to left through 450 and by means of'25 the associated pawls 110 and ratchet III the adjacent shaft 106 is rotated through 450, which in turn, through gear-couples 107, rotates the associated shaft 105 in the opposite direction.

As illustrated in Fig. 17, if a finger 115 of the3O0 disk 108 is in position to dispense an article from a holder K2, T2, F2 or S2, as the case may be, upon operation of the finger piece 106' last referred to, a finger 16S of the disk 109 will be, as shown in broken lines, in operating position '35 after the shafts have been rotated 450 from the positions shown in Fig. 17. Thus the articles are alternatingly ejected from each group of holders assigned for multiple stacking of the same type of utensil. : t40 If a complete set of utensils is desired the bar 112 will, when thrust inward, accomplish this result, through the pawls 114.

A spring 117 is shown for causing return of bar 112 to normal position. By varying the number of teeth of the ratchets 11, and also the number of fingers 115 and 116, any group of holders could comprise any number of holders for multiple stacking of any utensil of one particular kind. Other variations and modifications are possible within the scope of the invention, and parts of the improvements can be used without others.

I claim: 1. A machine of the kind described, comprising a holder for an article to be dispensed, said holder including means for maintaining a plurality of like articles in vertically stacked relation, said articles being elongated and of considerably different shapes at opposite ends and being individually horizontally arranged with each article in the stack directly vertically below another therein; a housing for the holder for protecting the articles against contaminating contact, said housing having an opening; a receptor adjacent to said opening; means manually operable from the exterior of the housing for swinging an end article in the stack laterally of the stack thereby first to free one end of said article from the stack and then to free the remainder of said article from the stack; and means for guiding the thus freed article to said receptor for manual removal therefrom by way of said opening.

2. A machine as in claim 1, in which said freeing means includes means for applying a substantially horizontal thrust against said end article.

3. A machine as in claim 1, in which said holder 6 includes a fixed part for intercepting one end of said end article, and in which said freeing means is a shiftable element for applying a thrust against said end article laterally of the stack by push thereagainst at a point along said article intermediate its ends.

4. A machine as in claim 1, in which said holder includes a plurality of spaced members adapted to engage said end article at a plurality of spaced points along its length, and in which 5 said freeing means includes means for applying a substantially horizontal thrust against said end article at a point therealong intermediate its points of engagement with said members.

5. A machine of the kind described, for dispensing different utensils singly or in a set thereof, comprising means for maintaining said articles in a plurality of stacks, all articles being alike in any stack but with different kinds of articles in different stacks; a shaft extending *5 under all the different stacks; a dispensing instrumentality individual to each stack; a plurality of manually operable members each permanently operatively coupled to a different one of said instrumentalities whereby operation of any one of said members always operates a different one of said instrumentalities to dispense a different kind of article; a manually operable member permanently operatively coupled to said shaft whereby operation of the last-named memMS ber always rotates said shaft; and means permanently operatively coupling said shaft and all of said instrumentalities whereby rotation of said shaft always operates all of said instrumentalities simultaneously.

6. In apparatus of the kind described, in combination, a housing; a dispensing mechanism therein including a removable holder for a stack of articles of like but irregular shape, and a manually operable ejector, said holder having an opening in its bottom and also having a member partially closing this opening such that before the holder is positioned in the housing the weight of the stack prevents extraction from the latter of the lowermost article; and a positioning means for the holder in the housing, said positioning'10 means including a device which automatically lifts the stack in the holder to position said lowermost article below said member thereby to permit extraction of said lowermost article on operation of said ejector, after positioning of the holder in the housing by the aid of said positioning means.

7. In combination, a dispensing machine including a holder for articles of tableware, said holder including a means for maintaining a plurality of like such articles in stacked relation; manually operable means for dispensing an end article in said stack, said dispensing means including means for removing said article from the holder by thrust sidewisely against said article in a direction to swing one end thereof laterally of the stack, said thrusting means adapted to engage said article at a point nearer one end thereof than the other to insure that during said thrust said article will swing as aforesaid incidental to being displaced from the stack; an article receptor including means for supporting an article thereon in position to facilitate manual removal of the article from the receptor; and means for directing an article discharged from the stack to come to rest on the receptor in said position, and including a resiliently operating device in the path of travel of the article on its way to said position on the receptor.