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.

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Description

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

FIG. 1 illustrates an exploded perspective view of the present invention in a pourer unit.

FIG. 1A shows an elevation view of the bumper or cushion affixed to the pourer collar showing the liquid identification system.

FIG. 1B illustrates another embodiment of the present invention showing a tapering neck portion with a coding ring around the lowest circumferential flange.

FIG. 1C is a partial perspective of yet another embodiment of the coded collar which fits beneath the lower flange of the neck.

FIG. 2A is a perspective plan view of the pourer tip of the present invention.

FIG. 2B shows a side elevation plan view of the pourer tip of the present invention.

FIG. 2C illustrates a side elevation cross sectional view of the present invention in a first seated position.

FIG. 2D shows a side elevation cross sectional view of the present invention in a second delivery position.

FIG. 3A is a top perspective view of the cap or tip end of the present invention.

FIG. 3B shows a bottom perspective view of the cap or tip end of the present invention.

FIG. 4A illustrates a top perspective view of the valve seat sleeve section of the present invention.

FIG. 4B shows a bottom perspective view of the valve seat sleeve section of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Turning to FIG. 1, a liquid pourer 10 having a unique pour control and contamination reduction nozzle assembly 12 is illustrated in an exploded perspective view. The lower section 14 of the pourer 10 is generally of a shape and configuration well known in the art. However, the upper neck 16 of the pourer is provided with a nozzle receiving chamber 18 to retain a lower valve seat sleeve 20, a valve ball 22, and an upper cap member 24 which make up the nozzle assembly 12.

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.

In FIG. 1, sleeve 20 is provided with ball guides 31 along the inner wall of the sleeve; however, as the other figures show, these guides may be eliminated so long as the upper cap member 24 has the ball stops and liquid flow guides 42 which extend downwardly into the upper end 32 of sleeve 20.

FIG. 1A illustrates a resilient, elastic rubberized bumper or cushion 102 which stretches around the pourer collar member 100. As is well known, collar member 100 extends outwardly from the top of the bottle neck when the pourer is fitted into the liquid containing bottle (not shown). One problem with existing pourers is that the collars are often banged together as the bottles are pulled from the shelf and returned after dispensing of liquid product. The collars chip and become hard to grip both for pouring and when the pourer must be removed after the bottle is empty.

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.

Alternatively, FIG. 1B illustrates that a tapering neck 101A design on the pourer reduces the possibility of impact at the lowermost section or flange of the neck and results in less breakage of the neck shoulders. In this design of FIG. 1B the bumper or cushion 102A may be coded by color or another identifier 103A without the use of the open panel sections.

In FIG. 1C, the coded bumper or collar 102B fits under the clear or transparent tapered neck 101A below the lowest flanged section 100A of the neck. Coded bumper 102B may be seen by the user through the neck. In some cases the outside diameter of the bumper is larger than the lowest section of the neck 101A and may be more easily observed by the user even if the lower neck portion is not transparent.

Turning again to the structural elements of the nozzle assembly, FIGS. 2A-2C show the nozzle 12 assembled with ball 22 inside valve ball retaining chamber 30. As maybe seen, the diameter d6 of the ball 22 (see FIGS. 1 and 2) is less than the inside diameter d7 and less than the height h1 of the valve ball receiving chamber 30. This allows the ball 22 to rock and roll freely inside the chamber 30 when liquid is being poured. Further, this clearance allows the ball to be easily knocked or jarred loose from valve seat 40 if it gets momentarily stuck to the seat. As will be obvious to one skilled in the art the ball diameter d6 is greater than the diameter of the opening in the valve seat. This ensures sealing of the liquid in the container (not shown) to which the pourer 10 is affixed.

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 (FIG. 2C) to a second delivery position (FIG. 2D) wherein the ball abuts against shoulder 42, allowing liquid to flow through inlet port 44, pass seat 40, into chamber 30, into cap member 24 and out discharge port 38.

FIGS. 3A and 3B illustrate the details of the cap member 24. A plurality of fluid flow guides 50 extend along the inner walls 52 of the cap member 24. The guides extend from the nozzle end 39 to the ball stop shoulder 42 with the shoulder extending beyond and into the chamber 30 when assembled. The inner walls 52 taper from a first diameter d8 to a second smaller diameter d9 (FIG. 2C). The guides, the extension of the shoulder 42, and the tapering opening create an aesthetically pleasing convergence of the poured liquid and aerates the liquid.

The lower valve seat sleeve 16 is shown in detail in FIGS. 4A and 4B. It will be understood from the figures that the inlet end 56 may have a plurality of fluid drain channels 58 extending along the inner walls 60 of the sleeve from the lowermost end 28 to the valve seat 40. These channels are very narrow (0.015″ to 0.035″) and are designed to allow fluid to drain back into the container but prevent contamination or pollutants (such as fruit flies and gnats) from passing the valve seat/valve ball in the sealed or seated position and into the container. In some cases the channels may be totally eliminated to prevent even the smallest contaminate from entering the container.

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.

Claims

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.

Patent History

Publication number: 20080073383
Type: Application
Filed: Aug 8, 2003
Publication Date: Mar 27, 2008
Inventor: John Terrance McDonald (San Antonio, TX)
Application Number: 10/536,112

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: Gravity Or Inertia Operated Movable Outlet Elements (222/500); With Separable Attaching Means (222/567)
International Classification: B65D 25/40 (20060101); B65D 5/72 (20060101);