Liquid Pourer Assembly
A liquid pourer assembly having three main components: an upper cap, a valve ball, and a lower valve seat sleeve. The ball is capable of freely moving within a chamber within the sleeve when liquid is being delivered, but seals the liquid in the container when in the upright position. Very narrow drain channels allow liquid to pass back into the container but precludes contaminants from entering the container.
This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/401,866, filed Aug. 8, 2002.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a liquid pourer assembly; and, more particularly, to a pourer which seals the contents of a bottle or other fluid container from exposure to contaminates when in a first stored position and allows for the free flow of liquid from the bottle when in a second delivery position. Thus, the present invention provides a unique stopper and a nozzle combination. Further, the present invention aerates the liquid flow creating an aesthetically pleasing flow pattern. Further yet, the present invention provides a bottle bumper or protective cushion around the pourer and the bumper identifies the contents of the liquid in the bottle.
Like fleas and ticks on a dog, flies and gnats present a serious contamination problem to millions of bottles in licensed beverage establishments all over the world. In the USA bottles are routinely checked for bug contamination by the state Alcohol Beverage Control officers and local health departments. Contaminated bottles are poured out or confiscated and in many states the owner/operators are fined $50 or more per bottle. Desperate to avoid this nuisance and profit drain many costly and time consuming methods are employed such as covering every bottle pour spout with: a plastic cup, paper cone, rubber tip, golf tee insertion, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, plastic garbage bags, etc. Several types of screened pourers or pourers with attached “dust covers” are available, but these easily clog, break-off, and do not give a professional look and pour flow.
Prior art devices are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,996,860; 5,961,008; 5,924,606; 5,641,098; 4,214,675; 3,794,202; 3,344,963; and 1,716,802. However, nothing in the art teaches or discloses the free pour flow of liquids from a liquid container through a ball cage assembly that then allows the ball to seal/seat in such a manner as to prevent liquid contamination (primarily from insects such as fruit flies, gnats, and the like) and reduce liquid evaporation from the liquid container, as is achieved by the present invention.
Further, the present invention has a structure which facilitates the unseating of the ball from the valve seat when moved to the delivery position. In prior art devices, a ball valve often sticks on the valve seat because the liquid contains sticky, sugar-like substances which secure the ball to the seat when such substances dry.
The simplicity of the present inventive design allows for low cost manufacture of the pourer. The three-piece construction is easy to fabricate and assemble.
Further yet, the unique tip design allows the ball to move from the seated position to the delivery position with little interference in fluid flow through the pourer. Fluid flow guides facilitate the convergence of the liquid as it exits the discharge post to create an aesthetically pleasing, twisting, fluid flow pattern.
A resilient, rubberized bumper or cushion is affixed to the pourer collar to protect the bottles from being banged together. Further, the cushion is provided with a unique structure to allow the bartender or user to immediately identify the liquid in the bottle according to an identification code associated with the cushion.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
As will be further understood below, the nozzle assembly 12 may be sized to retrofit existing pourers 10 which have been adapted to receive the assembly 12. The assembly 12 may be fabricated by any number of well known processes, but preferably it is composed of molded plastic material which may be snapped together and then inserted into the nozzle receiving chamber 18. The valve ball 22 may also be made of a non-stick coating material or stainless steel to reduce the propensity of the ball sticking on the valve seat when remnants of the poured liquid remain and/or dry on the ball and valve seat surfaces.
In one embodiment of the present invention, to ensure proper alignment and assembly, the nozzle receiving chamber 18 has an inner ledge or shoulder 26 with an inner diameter d1, less than the outer diameter d2 the lowermost end 28 of the sleeve 20. The outer diameter d4 of the chamber 18 is approximately equal to the outer diameter d3 of the upper end 32 sleeve 20 so as to achieve an interference fit to secure the sleeve 20 within the chamber 18 upon assembly. The nozzle assembly 12 may be pre-assembled as a unit and subsequently inserted into the chamber 18. In such cases, there is no need for shoulder 26, the nozzle assembly 12 is simply glued into the chamber 18.
Assembly of the nozzle assembly 12 is easy to accomplish by inserting ball 22 into a valve ball retaining chamber 30 inside the sleeve 20. Cap member 24 with discharge port 38 has a downwardly depending wall 34 sized to have an interference fit with the outer diameter d5 approximately equal to diameters d3 and d4. Cap member 24 has a lip 36 which abuts against top end 37 of the neck 16 of the pourer to retain and seal the entire nozzle assembly 12 inside the neck 16.
The bumper 102 protects the collar edge, but it is uniquely designed to have an open panel section 103 around the circumference of the bumper. It has been found that an identifier 104 may be placed inside the collar in panel section 103 which indicates the product in the bottle. It may be coded for price, quality of product, age of the open bottle, or any other indicator important for management to control and track. For example, panel 103 may be color coded to indicate the price of the liquid in the bottle. The bartender merely glances at the panel and knows that this product is too expensive to use on “long” pours. Another color could mean that the product is less expensive and more “wastage” or “spillage” is possible.
Turning again to the structural elements of the nozzle assembly,
The top of the chamber 30 is formed by the ball stop shoulder 42 on the bottom of the cap member 24. These shoulder stops 42 extends downwardly into only the upper portion of chamber 30 and effect the flow pattern of the liquid being poured. Thus, when the container and nozzle are pivoted or inverted to pour liquid, ball 22 moves from a first seated position (
The lower valve seat sleeve 16 is shown in detail in
Although the invention has been described with reference to a specific embodiment, this description is not meant to be construed in a limiting sense. On the contrary, various modifications of the disclosed embodiments will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon reference to the description of the invention. It is therefore contemplated that the appended claims will cover such modifications, alternatives, and equivalents that fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.
1. A liquid pourer assembly comprising:
- an upper cap member having a discharge port at a first end and a ball stop shoulder at a second end;
- a plurality of fluid flow guides extending along inner walls of said cap member from said first end to said ball stop shoulder, said inner walls tapering from a first diameter to a second smaller diameter from said shoulder to said discharge port;
- a valve ball having a first diameter and movable from a first seated position to a second delivery position within said assembly upon pivoting said pourer assembly, said first ball diameter greater than said first inner wall diameter of said cap member; and
- a lower valve seat sleeve engageable with said upper cap member to form a ball retaining chamber, said sleeve having a fluid inlet with a valve seat, said ball retaining chamber having a height and inner wall diameter greater than said diameter of said valve seat and greater than said diameter of said valve ball, said ball stop shoulder extending outwardly into only an upper section of said retaining chamber.
2. The assembly of claim 1 wherein said inlet has drain channels extending along inner walls of said sleeve from a lowermost end of said sleeve to a valve seat section.
3. The assembly of claim 2 wherein said drain channels have a width in the range of about 0.015″ to about 0.035″.
4. The assembly of claim 1 further comprising a cushion collar extending circumferentially around said pourer assembly.
5. The assembly of claim 4 wherein said cushion collar further comprises an identification panel.
Filed: Aug 8, 2003
Publication Date: Mar 27, 2008
Inventor: John Terrance McDonald (San Antonio, TX)
Application Number: 10/536,112
International Classification: B65D 25/40 (20060101); B65D 5/72 (20060101);