Title:
APPARATUS FOR HEATING AND DISPENSING FRENCH FRIED POTATOES
United States Patent 3870193


Abstract:
Apparatus for effecting the automatic vending of heated French-fried potatoes and like articles which includes a rotatable open-ended cage-like container selectively displaceable in predetermined cyclic timed relation from a first position, where it is disposed to receive a remotely introduced charge of pre-processed potatoes, to a charge tumbling position wherein the charge contained therein is subjected to a tumbling action within a high temperature air stream and to a third position for effecting a remote delivery of heated and crisped potatoes externally of the unit.



Inventors:
SCHNEIDER J RAYMOND
Application Number:
05/337144
Publication Date:
03/11/1975
Filing Date:
03/01/1973
Assignee:
SCHNEIDER; J. RAYMOND
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
99/357, 99/427, 99/443R, 99/447, 99/483, 221/150HC
International Classes:
A47J37/12; G07F9/10; (IPC1-7): A47J43/00
Field of Search:
221/150,15A 99
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3667373AUTOMATIC MACHINE FOR VENDING FRIED FOODS1972-06-06Sicher et al.
2825488Vending machines1958-03-04Nelson
2027146Nut roasting machine1936-01-07Bly et al.



Primary Examiner:
Tollberg, Stanley H.
Assistant Examiner:
Rolla, Joseph J.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Nims, Hones, Collison & Isner
Claims:
I claim

1. Apparatus for heating and delivering freshly heated French Fried potatoes, comprising

2. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1 including

3. Apparatus as set forth in claim 2 including means disposed within said housing for dispensing a predetermined quantity of preprocessed potatoes for introduction thereof into said charge supply entry means.

4. Apparatus as set forth in claim 3 including means associated with said cyclically operable means for actuating said heated air stream directing means for a predetermined time period when said cage means is in said second position.

5. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1 including a thermostatically controlled heating element for supplying heat to said stream of air.

6. Apparatus for heating and delivering freshly heated French Fried potatoes, comprising

Description:
This invention relates to an improved construction for automated vending machine apparatus for effecting the delivery of freshly heated and crisped French-fried potatoes and like articles in response to a customer initiated demand therefor.

Recent years have witnessed a rapidly increasing usage of automated vending machines for the dispensing of freshly heated foods and food products in response to a customer-initiated demand therefor. Such increased usage is largely attributable to the adevent of the micro-wave oven and to the permitted rapid in situ heating and/or cooking effected thereby. While such type ovens have proved to be eminently satisfactory for the rapid heating of many different types of foods, they are apparently not particularly suitable for the repetitive preparation of freshly heated and crisped French fried potatoes in an appetizing manner.

This invention may be briefly described as an improved construction for automated vending machines for the preparation and dispensing, upon customer-initiated demand therefor, of freshly heated French fried potatoes and like articles and which includes, in its broader aspects, a rotatable open-ended screen type cage sequentially displaceable from a charge receiving position to an article tumbling position wherein the contained charge of preprocessed potatoes is tumbled in a high temperature air stream for a predetermined period of time and thence to a charge delivery position wherein the freshly heated and crisped potatoes are delivered externally of the machine to the customer therefor. In its narrower aspects, the subject invention includes provision of an enclosing housing desirably containing auxilliary means for dispensing measured charges of preprocessed potatoes from a stored supply thereof for direct and/or customer effected introduction thereof into the rotatable cage and a cyclically operable automatic control system to properly initiate and sequence system component operations in predetermined timed relation to effect the automatic delivery of freshly heated and crisped potatoes at a predetermined time subsequent to their introduction into the charge receiving cage therein.

Among the advantages of the subject invention is the provision of a simple and inexpensive, user actuated automatic vending machine for the rapid delivery of appetizing, freshly heated and crisped French fried potatoes in response to user initiated demand therefor and the avoidance of all usage of hot grease reservoirs as are now conventionally employed in the preparation of such articles. Other advantages include provision of an automated vending machine for dispensing freshly heated and crisped French fried potatoes upon user initiated demand therefor that is safely maintained in sanitary condition during usage thereof and requires essentially only periodic replenishment of an auxiliary supply of preprocessed potatoes and replacement of a single component thereof for continuance of sanitary operation. A further advantage is the permitted usage of potatoes that have been selectively preprocessed in accord with their particular nature and cooking requirements so as to facilitate the ultimate delivery thereof in the most flavorful and appetizing manner.

The primary object of the subject invention is the provision of improved construction for automated vending equipment for the rapid preparation and delivery of freshly heated and crisped French fried potatoes in response to a customer initiated demand therefor.

Another object of the subject invention is the provision of simple and relatively inexpensive, but yet highly reliable, safe and sanitary means for rapidly heating selectively preprocessed French fried potatoes to permit the dispensing thereof from automated vending machinery.

Other objects and advantages of the subject invention will become apparent from the following portion of this specification and from the appended drawings which illustrate, in accord with the mandate of the patent statutes, a presently preferred construction incorporating the principles of the subject invention.

Referring to the drawings:

FIG. 1 is an oblique schematic view of an automatic vending machine assembly constructed in accord with the principles of this invention adapted to dispense heated and crisped French fried potatoes and like products;

FIG. 2 is a schematic elevational view of a preferred arrangement of mechanical components includable in the unit illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a plan view of the components illustrated in FIG. 2;

FIGS. 4a through 4d are schematic views, partly in section, as generally taken from the line 4--4 of FIG. 2 and are intended tp be generally illustrative of the positioning of the rotatable container assembly in its various operating positions;

FIG. 5 is a schematic electro-mechanical circuit diagram illustrating the essentials of a suitable control system for initiating and controlling the requisite predetermined sequence of operations in timed relation to effect the desired delivery of freshly heated and crisped French fried potatoes.

Referring now to the drawings and particularly to FIGS. 1-3, there is provided a perimetric protective and enclosing housing 10 having the usual coin insertion slots and starting sequence button assembly, generally designated 12, mounted thereon for user initiated starting of machine operations. The nature of the coin reception and starting assembly actuating mechanism may be of essentially conventional construction and forms no part of the novel subject matter of this invention. The perimetric housing 10 is contoured to provide a suitable aperture 14 on the upper surface 16 thereof for introduction of a charge of preprocessed French fried potatoes thereinto and a second aperture 20 disposed adjacent the bottom, thereof defining the delivery end of an internally disposed charge delivery chute containing a removable drawer member 22. As illustrated by the dotted lines, the housing 10 may also include a charge supply portion, generally designated 18, adopted to suitably contain a plurality of stored charges of selectively preprocessed potatoes or the like and associated delivery mechanism (not shown) for effecting the selective introduction thereof into the aperture 14 in response to customer initiated machine actuation.

Disposed within the housing 10 is an elongate horizontally disposed platform 30 having a horizontally disposed rotatable shaft 32, journaled in a pair of supporting standards 34, 36, disposed in spaced relation therewith. A position control cam 38 is mounted at one end of said shaft 32 and the outer shaft end is connected to the side wall of, and thus partially supports, a charge container casing member 40. The diametrically opposed side wall of the casing member 40 is supportively journaled on the terminal end of an elongate tubular heating member 42. The heating member 42 is supported by a standard 44 and has its other end connected to the output of a conventional radial fan assembly 46 driven by a blower motor 48. The charge container casing member 40, which is the general form of a rectangular polyhedron having a pair of adjacent defining side walls thereof open to permit charge introduction and delivery therefrom and free heated air circulation therethrough as will be later explained, is notably displaceable in conjunction with rotation of the shaft 32 and in a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axes thereof. Disposed adjacent to the casing 40 and positioned to normally close one of the open sides thereof during the charge reception and charge heating operations is a spring biased plate member 58, pivotally mounted as at 68.

Rotation of the shaft 32 and concomitant rotation of the charge container casing member 40 is effected by the selection energization of a position drive motor 50 through drive sprocket 52, a drive chain 54 and a driven sprocket 56 mounted on the shaft 32.

Disposed within the casing member 40 is an independently rotatable and cylindrically shaped open-ended charge container or cage member 60, suitably constructed of relatively open mesh wire screening or the like. The cage member 60 is mounted on the terminal end of an independently rotatable stub shaft 62 journaled, as at 64, in the base portion 66 of the casing member 40. The cage member 60 is preferably contoured to provide an elongate cylindrically shaped body portion of uniform diameter and of a length substantially commensurate with that of the casing 40 so as to locate the open end thereof essentially coplanar with one of the open ends of the casing 40 and with the other open side of the casing member 40 being disposed parallel to the container side wall, when the open ends are coplanar, as described above.

As is now apparent, the cage 60 will be rotatably displaced in a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the shaft 32 in conjunction with the rotative displacement of the casing member 40 and is additionally independently rotatably displaceable therewithin.

Independent rotation of the cage 60 within the casing 40 is effected through selective energization of a cage rotation motor 70, drive sprocket 72, a drive chain 74 and driven sprocket 76. The driven sprocket 76 is keyed to a bevel gear 78 and both are freely rotatably mounted on the shaft 32. Bevel gear 78 in turn drives bevel gear 80 mounted on the upper end of idler shaft 82 supported by the standards 84 on the casing member 40. Rotative displacement of the shaft 82 is transmitted, through a terminally mounted sprocket 86, a drive chain 88 and the sprocket 90 mounted on the dependent end of the shaft 62 to such stub shaft 62, and hence to the cage 60.

As is now apparent, the charge containing cage 60 is adapted to be independently rotated about its longitudinal axis by its drive motor 70, and the cage 60 and casing 40 are adapted to be jointly rotatably displaced as a unit in response to predetermined degrees of rotative displacement of the shaft 32 as effected by the drive motor 50.

The blower motor 48 is selectively actuable and the output of the blower or fan assembly 46 is adopted to feed air to and through the tubular heating element 42. The terminus of the tubular heating element 43 extends through the casing 40 and is disposed in proximity with the cage 60 for effecting the directed delivery of a stream of high temperature air, suitably at about 800°F, thereonto, as will be hereinafter pointed out. The electrical heating element disposed within the tubular heat 42 (not shown) is independently theremostatically controlled and is adapted to be maintained, while in standby condition, with sufficient current flowing therethrough as to maintain an ambient operating temperature adjacent thereto at about 800°F when the blower motor 48 is inoperative and to effectively deliver a heated air stream at about 800° F when the blower 46 is operative.

Referring now also to FIGS. 4 and 5, the cage 60 (and casing 40) will, in the preferred mode of operation, normally be initially stationarily positioned with its longitudinal axis vertically disposed and with the open end thereof disposed closely beneath the charging aperture 14 for reception of a charge of preprocessed potatoes introduced thereinto. When so positioned, the adjacent open side wall of the casing member 40 will be effectively closed by the spring biased closure plate 68. See FIG. 4a. Essentially, all components but the aforesaid heating element are in an "off" condition, the switch SW-1 is maintained open and the switch SW-2a will be normally closed by suitable nodes on the position control cam 38. The unit is then ready to receive a charge of preprocessed potatoes introduced into the cage 60 through the aperture 14, either automatically or by a user. Upon depression of the start sequence button 99, power will be supplied to the position control motor 50 through the closed contacts of switch SW-2a, energizing said motor 50 and effecting initiation of rotation of the shaft 32 with concomitant rotative displacement of the positioning cam 38. The initial rotative displacement of the cam 38 permits the normally biased closure of switch SW-1 to be effected and a thereby permitted release of the depressed start button 99 without breaking the closed positioning motor drive current. As the shaft 32 rotates from its 0° starting position to a 90° position (see FIGS. 4b and 4c), the casing 40 and container cage 60 will be displaced from the vertical to a horizontal position. Such displacement will result in a partial displacement of the plate 58 as indicated in FIG. 4b and permitted spring biased return thereof of the position illustrated in FIG. 4c wherein it effectively closes the open end of the now horizontally disposed rotatable cage 60. When the cage 60 reaches its horizontal position, the positioning control cam 38 will operate to open switch SW-2a and close switch SW-2b. The opening of switch SW-2a opens the energizing circuit for the cage positioning motor 50 and halts further rotative displacement of the shaft 32, casing 40 and cage 60. The closure of the switch SW-2b closes the energizing circuits for the cage rotation motor 70 to effect independent rotative displacement of the cage 60 within the casing 40 and for the blower motor 48 to initiate the flow of a stream of air through the heating element 42. Concurrently thereunder, the closure of the switch SW-2b closes the energizing circuit for an internal timing motor 100 to initiate operation thereof. The timing motor 100 drives a cam 102 that is adapted, after a predetermined time delay that defines a dwell period of suitably about 40 to 60 seconds, to close normally open switch SW-3 and reenergize the position control drive motor 50. During the above described dwell period, the contained charge of preprocessed potatoes within the rotating cage 60 will be tumbled within a stream of heated air in the vicinity of 800°F emanating from the tubular heating element 42, with the heated air being vented from the casing 40 from the now open underside thereof.

The reenergization of the position control drive motor 50 and concomitant resumption of rotation of shaft 32 will effect an opening of the switch SW-2b, a concomitant closure of switch SW-2a and resumption of rotative displacement of the casing 40, contained cage 60 and the now heated contents thereof. The opening switch SW-2b opens the energizing circuits for the blower motor 48, the cage rotation motor 70 and the timing motor 100 effecting a cessation of operation thereof. The closure of switch SW-2a permits continued operation of the position control motor 50 and continued rotative displacement of the casing 40 and contained cage 60. As the casing 40 and cage 60 progress (see FIG. 4d) from the horizontal through their vertical inverted position, the contained charge of heated and crisped French fried potatoes will be dumped from the open end of the cage 60 into the delivery chute and into the removable charge receiving drawer 22 disposed therewithin. Said rotative displacement of the shaft 32, positioning control cam 38, casing 40 and cage 60 will continue until the casing 40 and cage 60 reach their initial starting position with the open end of the cage disposed beneath the charge entry aperture 14, at which time the control cam 38 will operate to open SW-1 and stop the operation of the motor 50. At such time all components will be disposed in condition for the resumption of a new cycle of operation.

As will now be apparent, the subject apparatus is fully enclosed by the perimetric housing 10 which not only provides the requisite safety features to preclude customer injury resulting from use thereof, but also facilitates the maintenance of the operating components in a sanitary condition. In operation, the charge of pre-processed potatoes only comes in contact with the rotating cage 60 which is an inexpensive and readily replaceable unit for sanitary purposes.