Title:
Refillable grout dispenser with guide
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The refillable grout dispenser with guide has a reversible dispensing tip that fits into either end of the tube. The dispenser is operated by standard caulking guns. A plunger disc is pushed through the tube by the caulking gun plunger, forcing the grout out the dispensing tip. The dispensing tip may be removed from one end of the tube, and may be re-installed on the other end of the tube so that the tube may be refilled with grout and used again. The tip has a guide pin extending from near its opening. The guide pin helps keep the dispensing tip raised above the surface the grout is being applied to, and also helps the user move the dispenser along the desired path. The outer surfaces of the dispensing tip may be flat to help the user grip the tip when removing or installing it.



Inventors:
Peay, James M. (Brentwood, TN, US)
Application Number:
11/336999
Publication Date:
07/27/2006
Filing Date:
01/23/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
222/327, 222/568
International Classes:
A63C19/08; B65D88/54
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WILLIAMS, STEPHANIE ELAINE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Richard C. Litman (Alexandria, VA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A refillable grout dispenser, comprising: an elongate, cylindrical tube having a first end, a second end, the tube defining a chamber for containing a sealing compound; a dispenser plunger disc disposed in the tube, the plunger disc being axially movable in the chamber so that the plunger disc is adapted for forcing the sealing compound through the chamber when the plunger disc is moved axially along the chamber; a dispensing tip having a receiving end and a tapered nozzle extending from the receiving end to an open tip end, the dispensing tip having a passage extending axially therethrough from the receiving end to the tapered nozzle tip end, the receiving end being removably disposed within the chamber alternately at the first end and the second end of the tube; and means for removably securing the receiving end of the dispensing tip within the chamber; whereby the sealing compound is adapted for being pushed through the chamber and the dispensing tip, exiting through the open tip end of the nozzle for application to a surface, the dispensing tip being removable from the tube and alternately attached to the alternate end of the tube in order to refill the tube with additional sealing compound.

2. The refillable grout dispenser according to claim 1, further comprising: a bore defined in said nozzle, the bore being substantially axially parallel to the passage in said nozzle and radially offset from the passage in said nozzle; and a guide pin having a first end securely held in the bore and a second end extending from said nozzle for aligning said dispenser during use and adapted for raising the open tip end above the surface to which the grout is being applied.

3. The refillable grout dispenser according to claim 1, wherein the receiving end of said dispensing tip is externally threaded, said means for securing comprising a jam ring having an expandable, hollow, cylindrical body and a circular flange extending radially from one end of the cylindrical body, the cylindrical body being internally threaded, the outer diameter of the jam ring being slightly less than the interior diameter of said cylindrical tube, the cylindrical body being threadably insertable into one of the ends of said cylindrical tube with the jam ring flange abutting the end of said cylindrical tube so that the jam ring expands outward in order to form a compression fit against the end of said cylindrical tube, thereby removably securing said dispensing tip to said tube.

4. The refillable grout dispenser according to claim 3, further including a gasket secured around the outer diameter of said jam ring cylindrical body, the gasket sealing the compression fit between said jam ring and said cylindrical tube.

5. The refillable grout dispenser according to claim 3, wherein said nozzle comprises a plurality of flat, planar exterior surfaces for allowing a user to grip said nozzle when installing and removing said dispensing tip to and from said jam ring.

6. The refillable grout dispenser according to claim 3, wherein each of the ends of said cylindrical tube has a beveled edge.

7. The refillable grout dispenser according to claim 1, wherein said cylindrical tube has an L-shaped slot defined therein at each of the ends of the tube, the L-shaped slot having an axial leg beginning at an edge of the respective end of said cylindrical tube and extending axially along said tube and a transverse leg extending from, and transverse to, the axial leg, said means for securing comprising: a circular flange extending radially outward from said dispensing tip nozzle adjacent to the receiving end, the outer diameter of the receiving end being slightly less than the interior diameter of said cylindrical tube; and a locking pin extending radially outward from the receiving end of said dispensing tip, the receiving end of said dispensing tip being insertable into the respective end of said cylindrical tube with the locking pin engaging and sliding along the axial leg of the L-shaped slot until the circular flange abuts the respective end of said tube and the pin is in registry with the transverse leg of the L-shaped slot, said dispensing tip being rotated in order to turn the locking pin into the transverse leg, thereby securing said dispensing tip to said cylindrical tube with a compression fit between the receiving end and said cylindrical tube.

8. The refillable grout dispenser according to claim 7, further including a gasket secured around the receiving end of said dispensing tip for sealing the compression fit between the receiving end and said tube.

9. The refillable grout dispenser according to claim 7, wherein said nozzle comprises a plurality of flat, planar exterior surfaces for allowing a user to grip said nozzle when installing and removing said dispensing tip to and from said cylindrical tube.

10. The refillable grout dispenser according to claim 7, wherein each of the ends of said cylindrical tube has a beveled edge.

11. A method for refilling and reusing a refillable grout dispenser, comprising the steps of: inserting a reusable and refillable dispenser into a caulking gun, the dispenser having a cylindrical tube and a dispensing tip removably attached to the tube; dispensing sealing compound from the cylindrical tube through the dispensing tip; removing the dispensing tip from a first end of the cylindrical tube; refilling the cylindrical tube by adding new sealing compound into the tube chamber through a second end of the tube; inserting the dispensing tip into the second end of the tube; and replacing said dispenser into the caulking gun for re-use.

12. The method for refilling and reusing a refillable grout dispenser of claim 11, wherein the step of removing the dispensing tip from a first end of said cylindrical tube further includes the steps of; unscrewing said dispensing tip from a jam ring; removing said dispensing tip and said jam ring from the first end of said cylindrical tube.

13. The method for refilling and reusing a refillable grout dispenser according to claim 12, wherein the step of inserting said dispensing tip into a second end of the tube further includes the steps of: inserting the jam ring into the second end of said cylindrical tube; and screwing said dispensing tip into said jam ring.

14. The method for refilling and reusing a refillable grout dispenser of claim 11, wherein the step of removing the dispensing tip from a first end of said cylindrical tube further includes the steps of: rotating the dispensing tip about its axis so that a locking pin on said dispensing tip disengages from a transverse leg of an L-shaped slot defined in said cylindrical tube; and pulling said dispensing tip from said cylindrical tube, said locking pin sliding along an axial leg of said L-shaped slot until said locking pin is disengaged from said L-shaped slot and said dispensing tip is removed from said cylindrical tube.

15. The method for refilling and reusing a refillable grout dispenser according to claim 14, wherein the step of inserting said dispensing tip into a second end of the tube further includes the steps of inserting and sliding the locking pin on said dispensing tip along an axial leg of an L-shaped slot in the second end of the cylindrical tube; and rotating the dispensing tip so that the locking pin turns into and engages a transverse leg of said L-shaped slot defined in said cylindrical tube second end.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/646,529, filed Jan. 25, 2005.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to dispensers. More specifically, the invention relates to dispensers used in dispensing grout, caulk, or other similar materials.

2. Description of the Related Art

Caulk, grout and other sealing compounds used in building construction are often sold in tubes. The tubes are designed to fit into dispensing mechanisms known as caulking guns. The tubes usually have an opening at their front end through which the compound is dispensed when a plunger at the back of the caulking gun is pushed through the tube and toward the front opening. When all of the sealing compound is pushed out of the tube, the empty tube is removed from the caulking gun and replaced with a new, full tube. Repeatedly disposing of these empty tubes is wasteful and harmful to the environment over time.

Additionally, the sealing compound is usually dispensed along a long, straight line in order to seal cracks around the straight edges of building materials. In order for the sealant to work effectively, the compound must be administered in even amounts along the entire length of those edges, and must not deviate far from the line of the edges. Any gaps in the application of the compound may create a number of problems, such as allowing heat and moisture to pass through barriers, allowing pests, such as insects and rodents, to enter a building, etc.

If the opening in the tip of the tube is too close to the surface onto which the compound is being applied, the compound may back up into the tip and clog the opening. This creates a gap in the sealing compound and opens the door for possible damage to the building. Thus a refillable grout dispenser with a guide that solves the aforementioned problems is desired.

Thus, a refillable grout dispenser with guide solving the aforementioned problems is desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The refillable grout dispenser with guide has a reversible dispensing tip that fits into either end of a caulking tube. The dispenser is operated by standard caulking guns. A plunger disc is pushed through the tube by the caulking gun plunger, forcing the grout out the dispensing tip. The plunger disc has an outer diameter slightly less than the inner diameter of the caulking tube. The plunger disc may be made of an elastic material or may have a sealing gasket or O-ring secured around its circumference to seal the connection between the side of the plunger disc and the tube wall. This prevents any sealing compound from escaping past the plunger disc during operation, thereby forcing the sealing compound through the dispensing tip when the plunger is depressed.

A jam ring slides into the end of the tube and holds the dispensing tip to the tube using a compression fit. The jam ring has a flange extending radially from one edge. The flange acts as a stop to prevent the jam ring from being pushed completely into the tube, holding the jam ring at the end of the tube. The jam ring has screw threading along its inner diameter to allow the dispensing tip to be attached to the jam ring. When the dispensing tip is screwed into the jam ring, the jam ring is pressed outward, forming the compression fit against the inside wall of the tube, thereby holding the dispensing tip in the tube. An o-ring or gasket may be secured around the outer diameter of the jam ring to seal the compression fit between the jam ring and the tube wall, preventing any sealing compound from escaping the tube chamber through this compression fit. In a second embodiment, the jam ring and the dispensing tip are basically formed as a single unit at the receiving end of the dispensing tip, with a locking pin extending outwardly from the receiving end and engaging an L-shaped slot in the tube. In this embodiment, an O-ring or gasket may be secured around the outer diameter of the dispensing tip receiving end to seal the compression fit between the receiving end of the dispensing tip and the tube wall.

The dispensing tip has a receiving end and a tapered nozzle that extends away from the tube when the dispensing tip is installed. In a first embodiment, the receiving end has threading around its outer diameter, which allows it to be secured into the threading on the jam ring. When the dispensing tip is fully secured into the jam ring, the receiving end of the dispensing tip extends beyond the jam ring to provide a surface against which the plunger disc may abut during use of the dispenser.

In a second embodiment, the dispensing tip and jam ring are basically formed as a single unit at the receiving end of the dispensing tip. The inner end of the receiving end provides a surface against which the plunger disc may abut during use of the dispenser. The tapered nozzle may be conical with a circular passage opening, or may have a number of flat planar surfaces that converge as they get further from the receiving end. The flat surfaces allow the user to grip the dispensing tip more easily when screwing or unscrewing the dispensing tip into or out of the jam ring, and also allow the user to grip the dispensing tip more easily when twisting the dispensing tip and turning the locking pin into or out of the L-shaped slot. All edges connecting the flat, planar surface on the nozzle are rounded for ergonomic reasons.

A passage extends through the dispensing tip from the receiving end and through the nozzle. This passage allows the sealing compound contained in the tube chamber to be dispensed onto a surface that is to be sealed. The passage may have any cross-sectional profile, including circular or rectangular, and is tapered along with the nozzle, allowing the nozzle to be trimmed at different locations to provide passage openings of different sizes. This allows the user to adjust the area the sealing compound dispensed is spread over.

When the plunger disc has been pushed through the tube until it contacts the receiving end of the dispensing tip, the bulk of the sealing compound that had been contained in the chamber inside the tube has been dispensed. At this point, the dispensing tip may be removed from one end of the tube, and the tip may be re-installed on the other end of the tube so that the tube may be refilled with grout and used again. Fresh sealing compound may be inserted into the larger section of the chamber, now behind the plunger disc, before the dispensing tip is re-installed on that end of the tube.

The dispensing tip may additionally include a guide pin extending from near its passage opening. The guide pin helps keep the dispensing tip raised above the surface that the grout is being applied to, and also helps the user move the dispenser along the desired path. The guide pin may have a groove cut down its side, allowing the guide pin to be pressure fit into a bore in the nozzle. The bore is axially parallel to the passage extending through the dispensing tip, but is offset radially so that the guide pin does not interfere with the compound as it is dispensed.

These and other features of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a reversible refillable grout dispenser with guide according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a section view drawn along lines 2-2 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a reversible refillable grout dispenser with guide according to the present invention having an alternative connection between the dispensing tip and the tube.

FIG. 4 is a section view drawn along lines 4-4 of FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is an environmental perspective view of a reversible refillable grout dispenser with guide according to the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a section view drawn along lines 6-6 of FIG. 1.

Similar reference characters denote corresponding features consistently throughout the attached drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIGS. 1-6, the present invention is a refillable grout dispenser, designated generally as 10 in the drawings, that has a reversible dispensing tip 20 that fits into either end of the caulking tube 30. The dispenser 10 is operated by standard caulking guns G, as shown in FIG. 5. As shown in FIGS. 2 and 5, the dispenser 10 has a plunger disc 32 that is pushed through the tube 30 by the caulking gun plunger (which is conventionally a caulking gun disc mounted at the end of a trigger driven rod), forcing the sealing compound S out the dispensing tip 20. The plunger disc 32 has an outer diameter slightly less than the inner diameter of the caulking tube 30. The plunger disc 32 may be made of an elastic material or may have a sealing gasket 34 or O-ring secured around its circumference to seal the connection between the edge 36 of the plunger disc 32 and the tube wall 38. This prevents any sealing compound S from escaping past the plunger disc 32 during operation, thereby forcing the sealing compound S through the dispensing tip 20 when the plunger is depressed.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, in a first embodiment, jam ring 40 slides into the end 62 of the tube 30 and holds the dispensing tip 20 to the tube 30 using a compression fit. To aid in the insertion of jam ring 40 into the end 62 of tube 30, the inside edge 41 of the tube end 62 may be beveled. The jam ring 40 has a flange 42 extending radially from one end of the ring 40. The flange 42 acts as a stop to prevent the jam ring 40 from being pushed completely into the tube 30, holding the jam ring 40 at the end 62 of the tube 30. The jam ring 40 has screw-threading 44 along its inner diameter in order to allow the dispensing tip 20 to be attached to the jam ring 40. The jam ring 40 is expandable, so that when the dispensing tip 20 is screwed into the jam ring 40, the jam ring 40 is pressed outward, forming the compression fit against the inside wall 38 of the tube 30, thereby holding the dispensing tip 20 in the tube 30.

An O-ring 46 or gasket may be secured around the outer diameter of the jam ring 40 to seal the compression fit between the jam ring 40 and the tube wall 38, preventing any sealing compound S from escaping the tube chamber 14 through the compression fit. The dispensing tip 20 has a receiving end 22 that fits into the jam ring 40, and a tapered nozzle 24 that extends away from the tube 30 when the dispensing tip 20 is installed. The receiving end 22 has external threading 26 around its outer diameter, which allows the dispensing tip 20 to be secured into the internal threading 44 on the jam ring 40. When the dispensing tip 20 is fully secured into the jam ring 40, the receiving end 22 of the dispensing tip 20 extends beyond the jam ring 40 to provide a surface against which the plunger disc 32 may abut during use of the dispenser 10.

Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, in a second embodiment, receiving end 43 of dispensing tip 20 includes a locking pin 45 that extends radially outward from the outer side of the receiving end 43. The dispensing tip 20 has a flange 49 extending radially therefrom adjacent to the receiving end 43. The end 62 of tube 30 has an L-shaped slot 47 defined therein, the slot 47 having an axial leg 51 that extends inward from the edge of tube end 62 and a transverse leg 53 substantially perpendicular to the end of axial leg 51. To assemble the refillable grout dispenser of this embodiment, receiving end 43 of dispensing tip 20 is inserted into, and forms a compression fit with, the end 62 of tube 30, with locking pin 45 engaging and sliding down the axial leg 51 of L-shaped slot 47. To aid in the insertion of the receiving end 43 into the end 62 of tube 30, the inside edge 41 of the tube end 62 may be beveled.

Once the receiving end 43 of dispensing tip 20 is fully inserted into tube 30 with flange 49 abutting end 62, dispensing tip 20 is rotated about its axis so that locking pin 45 is turned into the transverse leg 53 of L-shaped slot 47. Flange 49 and pin 45 prevent the receiving end 43 of dispensing tip 20 from being pushed completely into the tube 30. The compression fit between dispensing tip receiving end 43, and the engagement of locking pin 45 with the transverse leg 53 of L-shaped slot 47 holds dispensing tip 20 in the tube 30. An O-ring 46 or gasket may be secured around the outer diameter of the receiving end 43 in order to seal the compression fit between the receiving end 43 of dispenser tip 20 and the tube wall 38, preventing any sealing compound S from escaping the tube chamber 14 through this compression fit. When the dispensing tip 20 is fully secured into the end 62 of tube 30, the receiving end 43 of the dispensing tip provides a surface against which the plunger disc 32 may abut during use of the dispenser 10.

The tapered nozzle 24 may be conical, or may have a number of flat planar surfaces 28 that taper from wide to narrow as the nozzle 24 extends from the receiving end 22 towards the tip. The flat surfaces 28 allow the user to grip the dispensing tip 20 more easily when screwing the dispensing tip 20 into the jam ring 40, or when unscrewing the dispensing tip 20 from the jam ring 40. Similarly, flat surfaces 28 also allow the user to grip the dispensing tip 20 more easily when twisting the locking pin 45 into or out of the transverse leg 53 of L-shaped slot 47. All edges 18 connecting the flat, planar surfaces 28 on the nozzle 24 are rounded, for ergonomic reasons.

A passage 16 extends through the dispensing tip 20 and extends from the receiving end 22 through the entire length of the nozzle 24 to the tip. This passage 16 allows the sealing compound S contained in the tube chamber 14 to be dispensed onto a surface that is to be sealed. The passage 16 may have any cross-sectional profile, including circular or rectangular, and is tapered along with the nozzle 24, allowing the nozzle 24 to be trimmed at different locations to provide different sized passage openings 52 at the tip end. This allows the user to adjust the area the sealing compound S being dispensed is spread over.

When the plunger disc 32 has been pushed through the tube 30 until it contacts the dispensing tip 20, the bulk of the sealing compound S that had been contained in the chamber 14 inside the tube 30 has been dispensed. In the embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2, the dispensing tip 20 may be unscrewed from the jam ring 40, and both the tip 20 and the jam ring 40 may be re-installed on the opposite end 64 of the tube 30 so that the tube 30 may be refilled with sealing compound S and used again. Fresh sealing compound S may be inserted into the larger section of the chamber 14, now behind the dispenser plunger disc 32, before the dispensing tip 20 and jam ring 40 are installed on that end 64 of the tube 30. Similarly, in the embodiment of FIGS. 3 and 4, the dispensing tip 20 may be removed from the end 62 of tube 30 by rotating dispensing tip 20 so that locking pin 45 is turned from the transverse leg 53 into the axial leg 51 of L-shaped slot 47. The dispensing tip may then be removed from end 62 of tube 30 by sliding locking pin 45 out of the axial leg 51 and out of L-shaped slot 47. Fresh sealing compound S may be inserted into the larger section of the chamber 14, now behind the dispenser plunger disc 32, before the dispensing tip 20 is installed on that end 64 of the tube 30, with locking pin 45 engaging a similar L-shaped slot defined in end 64 of tube 30.

The dispensing tip 20 may additionally include a guide pin 50 extending from near the passage opening 52 in the nozzle 24. The guide pin 50 helps keep the dispensing tip 20 raised above the surface that the sealing compound S is being applied to, and also helps the user move the dispenser 10 along the desired path. The guide pin 50 may have a groove 54, shown in FIG. 6, extending axially down its side, allowing the guide pin 50 to be pressure fit into a bore 56 in the nozzle 24. The bore 56 is axially parallel to the passage 16 extending through the dispensing tip 20, but is offset radially so that the guide pin 50 does not interfere with the compound S as it is dispensed.

It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.