(19)
(11)EP 3 308 681 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
18.04.2018 Bulletin 2018/16

(21)Application number: 17196044.6

(22)Date of filing:  11.10.2017
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
A47J 27/21(2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
MA MD

(30)Priority: 12.10.2016 US 201662407252 P
09.10.2017 US 201715727811

(71)Applicant: Whirlpool Corporation
Benton Harbor, MI 49022 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • Beber, Kevin J.
    21025 Comerio (IT)
  • Galea, Daniel F.
    21025 Comerio (IT)
  • Snyder, Joseph
    21025 Comerio (IT)

(74)Representative: Guerci, Alessandro et al
Whirlpool EMEA S.p.A. Patent Department
Via Aldo Moro 5 21024 Biandronno - Frazione Cassinetta (VA)
Via Aldo Moro 5 21024 Biandronno - Frazione Cassinetta (VA) (IT)

  


(54)FLOW RESTRICTOR ASSEMBLY


(57) A flow restrictor assembly 40 for a beverage kettle 10 having a valve member 60 that moves with respect to an opening 18 in the interior of the beverage kettle 10 to restrict the flow of liquid from the opening 18 in the beverage kettle 10. The valve member 60 may be coupled to a handle 74 that enables movement of the valve member 60 into varying positions with respect to the opening 18 to control the flow rate.




Description

TECHNICAL FIELD



[0001] The present disclosure generally relates to flow restrictor assemblies for beverage dispensers.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



[0002] According to one aspect, a flow restrictor assembly for a beverage kettle is disclosed. The beverage kettle defines a cavity for holding a liquid and includes an opening for dispensing liquid from the cavity. The flow restrictor assembly comprises a valve member positioned inside the cavity and a handle operably coupled with the valve member to selectively position the valve member in one of a first position or a second position with respect to the beverage kettle opening. Additionally, the assembly includes a biasing member configured to hold the valve member in one of the first position or the second position, wherein the valve member covers at least a portion of the opening in the first position.

[0003] In other aspects, a beverage kettle comprises a cavity for holding a liquid, a spout for dispensing the liquid from the cavity, and a flow restrictor assembly. The cavity includes a bottom surface, a side wall, and a top opening, and the spout is disposed at an opening in the side wall. The flow restrictor assembly comprises a valve member positioned inside the cavity and a handle operably coupled with the valve member to selectively position the valve member in one of a first position or a second position with respect to the opening in the side wall. The valve member is configured to partially cover the opening in the side wall in the first position. Further, rotation of the handle causes the valve member to move from the first position to the second position.

[0004] In still other aspects, another flow restrictor assembly for a beverage kettle is disclosed. The beverage kettle defines a cavity for holding a liquid and includes an opening for dispensing liquid from the cavity. The flow restrictor assembly comprises a valve member positioned inside the cavity. The valve member is movable between a first position and a second position with respect to the opening. The flow restrictor assembly further comprises a structure for supporting the valve member, wherein side portions of the structure each define a channel for engaging side portions of the valve member. Additionally, a biasing arm extends from the valve member and is configured to hold the valve member in one of the first position or the second position.

[0005] These and other features, advantages, and objects of the present disclosure will be further understood and appreciated by those skilled in the art by reference to the following specification, claims, and appended drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0006] The foregoing summary, as well as the following detailed description, will be better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings. It should be understood, however, that the disclosure is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown. In addition, the appended drawings are not necessary drawn to scale, and certain features may be exaggerated in scale or shown in schematic form in the interest of clarity and conciseness.

FIG. 1 depicts a cross-sectional view of a beverage kettle having a flow restrictor assembly, according to an embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 2 depicts an elevational view of the flow restrictor assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 depicts a side elevational view of the flow restrictor assembly of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 4A-4C depict side cross-sectional views of the flow restrictor assembly of FIG. 2, taken along line IV;

FIG. 5A depicts a cross-sectional view of a beverage kettle having a flow restrictor assembly, according to another embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 5B depicts a rear view of a portion of a flow restrictor assembly, according to the embodiment depicted in FIG. 5A;

FIG. 6A depicts another cross-sectional view of a beverage kettle having a flow restrictor assembly, according to the embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 6B depicts an enlarged cross-sectional view of some components of the flow restrictor assembly according to the embodiment depicted in FIG. 6A;

FIG. 6C depicts an enlarged, exploded view of certain components of the flow restrictor assembly depicted in FIG. 6B;

FIG. 7 depicts a schematic cross-sectional view of a beverage kettle having a flow restrictor assembly, according to another embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIGS. 8A-8B depict schematic front views of the beverage kettle and flow restrictor assembly of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 depicts a top plan view of a lid for the beverage kettle of FIG. 6; and

FIG. 10 depicts a schematic cross-sectional view of a beverage kettle having a flow restrictor assembly, according to yet another embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 11 depicts a schematic view of a portion of the flow restrictor assembly depicted in FIG. 10;

FIG. 12 depicts a front elevational view of another portion of the flow restrictor assembly depicted in FIG. 10;

FIG. 13 depicts a rear elevational view of another portion of the flow restrictor assembly depicted in FIG. 10; and

FIG. 14 depicts a side elevational view of another portion of the flow restrictor assembly depicted in FIG. 10


DETAILED DESCRIPTION



[0007] Beverage dispensing devices, such as beverage kettle 10 depicted in FIG. 1, may be used for dispensing liquids of variable temperatures for a variety of purposes. For example, in some cases, a dispensing device may be used to dispense cold or tepid liquids for consumption. In other cases, such devices may be used to heat and dispense liquid, such as water, for making tea, coffee, or other hot mixed beverages. In some cases, it may be desirable to control how fast a liquid flows out of the dispensing device to prevent excess splashing or inadvertent spill-over. It also may be desirable to control the amount of liquid that is dispensed from a dispensing device. Referring to an embodiment depicted in FIG. 1, aspects of the present disclosure provide a flow restrictor assembly 40 for variably restricting the flow of a beverage from a dispensing device, such as beverage kettle 10.

[0008] FIG. 1 depicts an embodiment of a flow restrictor assembly 40 disposed in a beverage kettle 10. According to aspects of the present disclosure, beverage kettle 10 may generally include an external surface 12 and an interior surface 14 defining a cavity 16 for holding a liquid. As would be generally understood in the art, beverage kettle 10 may further include an opening 18 having a spout 20 disposed thereon for dispensing liquid from the cavity 16. Further, cavity 16 may include a top opening 22 and a lid assembly 24 for closing and/or accessing cavity 16. In at least one case, lid assembly 24 may further include a thermometer 26 integrated therewith for measuring the temperature of a liquid contained in beverage kettle 10. In other cases, lid assembly 24 may include other types of integral devices or instruments, or may be a solid member without separate component integral therewith.

[0009] In some cases, beverage kettle 10 may be coupled to a heating and/or cooling element to heat or cool a liquid contained therein, as would be contemplated by a skilled artisan. For example, beverage kettle 10 may include heating or cooling elements in the walls of the kettle itself, or may be coupled to an external device that heats or cools the liquid on contact. In at least one embodiment, beverage kettle 10 may include a base portion 28 that is configured to rest upon and couple with a heating element 30. In other cases, however, beverage kettle 10 may be a standalone device without an integral heating or cooling facility, and still fall within the spirit and scope of the present disclosure.

[0010] Beverage kettle 10 may further include provisions to control the flow (i.e., the speed or volume) of liquid exiting cavity 16. For example, beverage kettle 10 may include a valve, gate, screen, or other implement to impact the flow of liquid from cavity 16. In some cases, beverage kettle 10 may include a valve located within cavity 16 and proximate opening 18 to control the flow of a liquid as it is poured out of spout 20. In other cases, however, beverage kettle 10 may include an external device that interacts with the liquid flow out of beverage kettle 10. In at least one embodiment, beverage kettle 10 may include a flow restrictor assembly 40 disposed within cavity 16 to restrict or limit the flow of liquid out of opening 18, and ultimately out of spout 20. According to at least one embodiment described herein, flow restrictor assembly 40 may include a valve member 60 that is movable between variable positions relative to opening 18 to block a portion of opening 18. By blocking a variably sized portion of opening 18, the flow of liquid from cavity 16 through spout 20 may be controlled or restricted.

[0011] According to an embodiment depicted in FIGS. 1-4C, flow restrictor assembly 40 may include a valve member 60 disposed within a flow restrictor assembly structure 41 (FIG. 3). According to the illustrated embodiment, valve member 60 may comprise an elongated, solid member that is movable within flow restrictor assembly structure 41. Accordingly, as described in more detail below, valve member 60 may be moved up and down with respect to flow restrictor assembly structure 41 into various positions (FIG. 4A-4C) to provide varying levels of flow restriction to opening 18.

[0012] As illustrated, in at least one embodiment, flow restrictor assembly structure 41 may include a front cover 42, a back cover 44, and side portions 48. Front cover 42 may comprise a flat member having a cut-out portion or opening 54, also co-located with opening 18 in beverage kettle 10. Back cover 44 may also comprise a flat member coupled with or otherwise fixedly attached to interior surface 14 of beverage kettle 10 near opening 18. Further, in at least one embodiment, back cover 44 is coupled to interior surface 14 slightly above opening 18. In other cases, however, interior surface 14 may be integrally formed with side portions 48 or front cover 42 such that interior surface 14 functions as a back cover for flow restrictor assembly structure 41. In still other cases, back cover 44 may include an aperture (not shown) co-located with opening 18.

[0013] According to the illustrated embodiment, valve member 60 may comprise a flat elongate member generally vertically disposed within flow restrictor assembly structure 41. Referring to FIG. 4A, a cross-sectional view of flow restrictor assembly 40 depicts a cross-section of valve member 60. As shown in FIG. 4A, valve member 60 includes a bottom portion 62, which is operable to block or partially block opening 18. Valve member 60 further includes a middle portion 64 that is slightly inclined horizontally at a bend 63 with respect to bottom portion 62. Middle portion 64 extends vertically to an inclined top portion 68 which is also slightly inclined horizontally at a bend 65 with respect to middle portion 64 and an intermediate portion 66, against top back cover portion 46.

[0014] Valve member 60 may further include a biased arm 70 extending outwardly, and configured to provide tension against flow restrictor assembly structure 41 to hold valve member 60 in one of several varying positions. In some cases, biased arm 70 may include a separate, flat elongate member extending from any of bottom portion 62, middle portion 64, intermediate portion 66, or top portion 68. In at least one case, biased arm 70 may be configured as a separate, flat elongate member, inclined outwardly from middle portion 64, with a protrusion 72 disposed on an end thereof. As described in more detail below, protrusion 72 may be configured to engage with and rest in one of a plurality of detents disposed on front cover 42, such as detent 50 or detent 52.

[0015] Top portion 68 of valve member 60 may include a handle 74, which may extend generally horizontally out of the flow restrictor assembly structure 41, such that a user may move valve member 60 up and down within the flow restrictor assembly structure 41. Thus, according to at least one embodiment, valve member 60 may be positioned at varying heights to block a variable portion of opening 18. In particular, when engaged, handle 74 may be operable to position protrusion 72 in a low position associated with detent 52, depicted in FIG. 4B, or in a higher position associated with detent 50, shown in FIG. 4C, to adjust the flow rate out of opening 18. Additionally, valve member 60 may be positioned to block all or a substantial portion of opening 54 when positioned in a lowest position (FIG. 4A), thereby significantly restricting the flow of liquid out of opening 18. It will be understood, however, that the variable positions depicted in FIGS. 4A-4C are only exemplary, and more or fewer positions may be provided, for example more or fewer detents may be provided in front cover 42, to provide even greater variability in restricting liquid flow out of opening 18.

[0016] Valve member 60 may be formed from a rigidly flexible material such that, in operation, bend 63 and bend 65 of valve member 60 create a horizontally applied tension on arm 70, holding protrusion 72 in a selected position, such as in detent 50 or detent 52. More specifically, as shown in FIGS. 4A-4C, bend 63 and bend 65 are configured to press against fixed back cover 44 and top back cover portion 46, respectively, to provide an opposite directional force on arm 70. For example, if a user raises handle 74 in a vertical direction 76 to move protrusion 72 into detent 52, bottom portion 62 of valve member 60 is also raised. In other words, the movement of valve member 60 in a substantially vertical direction 76 with respect to flow restrictor assembly structure 41 moves bottom portion 62 in substantially vertical direction 76 to partially uncover opening 18, causing a partially restricted flow of liquid. The further movement of valve member 60 in a substantially vertical direction 76 such that protrusion 72 rests in detent 50 would further uncover opening 18, allowing a greater flow of liquid through opening 18.

[0017] As discussed above, flow restrictor assembly 40, including valve member 60 and flow restrictor assembly structure 41, as well as other embodiments discussed herein, may be formed from any material selected for rigidity and flexibility under tension, as well as for being resistant to a variety of temperatures, as would be contemplated by a skilled artisan. For example, portions of flow restrictor assembly may be formed from a rigid plastic material or a metal, or any other material having similar properties. In at least one case, both flow restrictor assembly structure 41 and valve member 60 may be formed from a sheet metal. In other cases, however, the flow restrictor assembly structure 41 and valve member 60 may be formed from different materials. Accordingly, it will be understood by one having ordinary skill in the art that construction of the described disclosure and other components, including any of the illustrated embodiments, is not limited to any specific material or method of manufacture, and may be made according to materials, techniques and methods understood in the art.

[0018] It should also be noted that a flow restrictor assembly as contemplated herein may be varied in configuration and still fall within the spirit and scope of the present disclosure. For example, a flow restrictor assembly may include more or fewer detents, thereby providing additional or fewer options for restricting flow. In addition, a flow restrictor assembly may be operatively controlled in a variety of ways, such as by an electro-mechanical switch or by an external member that is operably coupled to a flow restrictor assembly. Those skilled in the art will appreciate the breadth of options contemplated herein, and falling within the scope of the present disclosure.

[0019] FIG. 5A-6C depict another embodiment of a flow restrictor assembly 140, according to aspects of the present disclosure. Similar to the embodiment of FIGS. 1-4C, flow restrictor assembly 140 may be disposed in a beverage kettle 110. Beverage kettle 110 may generally include similar features as discussed above with respect to beverage kettle 10 of FIG. 1. In particular, beverage kettle 110 may generally include an external surface 112 and an interior surface 114 defining a cavity 116 for holding a liquid, as would be known in the art. The beverage kettle 110 may further include an opening 118 having a spout (not shown) disposed thereon for dispensing liquid from the cavity 116. Further, cavity 116 may include a top opening 122 and a lid assembly 124 for closing and/or accessing cavity 116. In some embodiments, lid assembly 124 may further include a thermometer 126 integrated therewith for measuring the temperature of a liquid contained in beverage kettle 110, as shown in FIG. 6A. However, in other cases, lid assembly 124 may be provided without a thermometer, or may include other integral devices or instruments. Further, similar to embodiments discussed above, beverage kettle 110 may be coupled to a heating and/or cooling element to heat or cool a liquid contained therein, as would be contemplated by a skilled artisan.

[0020] Flow restrictor assembly 140 may be disposed in cavity 116 to restrict the flow of liquid out of opening 118. As depicted in FIGS. 5A-6C, according to another illustrated embodiment, flow restrictor assembly 140 may include a first portion, or a flow restrictor assembly structure 150, and a second portion, or a valve member 170. As described in more detail below, valve member 170 may be movable between a plurality of positions to restrict the flow of liquid out of opening 118 and ultimately beverage kettle 110.

[0021] With reference to FIGS. 5A-6C, flow restrictor assembly structure 150 may include a front cover 152 and a pair of side portions 156. Front cover 152 may further incorporate a biasing assembly 160, configured to engage with valve member 180, as described in more detail below. Flow restrictor assembly structure 150 may be assembled within and attached to an interior surface 114 of beverage kettle 110. In some cases, flow restrictor assembly structure 150 may be mechanically fastened to an interior surface 114 via screws or other similar mechanical fasteners; however, in other cases one or more portions of flow restrictor assembly structure 150 may be attached via adhesive or welding. In at least one case, side portions 156 may include top side flanges 154 and bottom side flanges 158 that are mechanically welded or otherwise adhered to interior surface 114 of beverage kettle 110.

[0022] Referring to FIG. 5B, the pair of side portions 156 may include a pair of back portions 196 and a pair of front portions 198. Together, back portions 196 and front portions 198 may define a valve member channel 202 for receiving valve member 180. Back portions 196 may be attached to interior surface 114 of beverage kettle 110 along an interior cavity attachment surface 200. Interior cavity attachment surface 200 may be affixed to an interior surface 114 of beverage kettle 110, as depicted in FIG. 6A.

[0023] Referring to FIGS. 6B and 6C, portions of a flow restrictor assembly 140 are depicted. In particular, flow restrictor assembly 140 may include a valve member 180 that is configured to be positioned at different heights within beverage kettle 110 to restrict the flow of liquid out of opening 118. In at least one embodiment, valve member 180 includes a handle portion 182 for moving valve member 180 up and down with respect to opening 118, an extension portion 184, and a restriction portion 192. In some cases, extension portion 184 may include a plurality of mechanisms to hold valve member 180 in a variable height position with respect to opening 118. In some cases this may include a knob, hole, flange, or other mechanical feature that may be used for biasing against or otherwise holding the valve member in place. In at least one case valve member 180 includes a plurality of detents, high detent 186, middle detent 188, and low detent 190, collectively detents 191, for engaging with a protrusion 178 on biasing assembly 160.

[0024] Flow restrictor assembly 140 may also include a biasing structure to engage with valve member 180 to hold valve member 180 in position with respect to opening 118. Biasing structure may be integrated with the entire flow restrictor assembly or may be a separate structure configured to engage with valve member 180. In at least one case biasing assembly 160 is integrated with flow restrictor assembly structure 150 as shown in the illustrated embodiment depicted in FIGS. 6A-6C. Biasing assembly 160 may include first side 162 facing cavity 116, and a second side 164 facing valve member 180. Second side 164 may be configured to interact with a protrusion member 172 having a protrusion 178 for engaging with detents 191.

[0025] According to the illustrated embodiment, protrusion member 172 may include an extended edge member 174 and a second edge member 176. Biasing assembly 160 may include a first flange 166 and a second flange 168, configured to receive and hold extended edge member 174 and second edge member 176, respectively, of protrusion member 172. In addition, a biasing spring 179 or other biasing mechanism may be disposed between a first side 162 of biasing assembly 160 and protrusion member 172 such that protrusion member 172 presses against first flange 166 and second flange 168. Accordingly, biasing spring 179 may create a tension applied in a direction 161 that is perpendicular to protrusion 178 and one of plurality of detents 191 to hold protrusion 178 in one of the plurality of detents 191.

[0026] Accordingly, in operation, valve member 180 may be moved vertically in valve member channel 202 such that protrusion 178 rests in either high detent 186, middle detent 188, or low detent 190 resulting in restriction portion 192 covering all of, a portion of, or none of opening 118, respectively.

[0027] FIGS. 7-9 refer to yet another embodiment of a flow restrictor assembly 240, according to aspects of the present disclosure. Similar to the embodiments discussed above, at least a portion of flow restrictor assembly 240 may be disposed in a beverage kettle 210. Beverage kettle 210 may generally include similar features as discussed above with respect to beverage kettle 10 of FIG. 1. In particular, beverage kettle 210 may generally include an external surface 212 and an interior surface 214 defining a cavity 216 for holding a liquid, as would be known in the art. The beverage kettle 210 may further include an opening 218 having a spout (not shown) disposed thereon for dispensing liquid from the cavity 216. Further, cavity 216 may include a top opening 222 and a lid assembly 224 for closing and/or accessing cavity 216.

[0028] According to the embodiment of FIGS. 7-9, flow restrictor assembly 240 may include a valve member 260 that is movable between variable positions within cavity 216 relative to opening 218 to block a portion of opening 218, thereby controlling the flow of liquid out of cavity 216. In some cases, flow restrictor assembly 240 may further include a knob 230 operably coupled to valve member 260, accessible as part of lid assembly 224. As discussed in more detail below, the rotation of knob 230 with respect to a top surface 228 of lid assembly 224 causes valve member 260 to rotate within cavity 116. Accordingly, the rotation of valve member 260 within cavity 216 selectively covers or uncovers portions of opening 218 to control the flow of liquid from opening 218.

[0029] Referring to FIGS. 7-8B, according to aspects described herein, valve member 260 comprises an elongate member coupled to knob 230, and extending downward from a bottom surface 226 of lid assembly. As shown in the cross-sectional view of FIG. 7, valve member 260 may further include multiple flat portions connected at varying angles with respect to each other such that an outer surface 266 of a bottom portion 262 of valve member 260 may align with, or lay flush with, a side wall of the interior surface 214 of beverage kettle 210. Moving upward from bottom portion 262, in some cases, a middle portion 264 may be slightly angled toward a center of lid assembly 224. In other cases, however, depending on the configuration of the beverage kettle, middle portion 264 may have no angle and may be shaped to be flush with an interior surface all the way up the lid assembly. On the lid assembly, a top portion 268 may be operably coupled to a knob 230 accessible on the top surface 228 of a lid assembly 224.

[0030] FIG. 9 depicts one embodiment of a top surface 228 of lid assembly 224. Knob 230 may serve as a dial, having marker 232 to rotate between position "A" 234, position "B" 236 and position "C" 238, effectively rotating valve member 260 across opening 218 in varying degrees. Accordingly, in operation, when knob 230 is rotated into position "A" 234, valve member 260 may be in a closed position as depicted in FIG. 8B, thereby fully restricting the flow of liquid through opening 218. When knob 230 is rotated into position "B" 236, valve member 260 may be in a partially open position as depicted in FIG. 8A, thereby partially restricting the flow of liquid through opening 218. When knob 230 is rotated into position "C" 238, valve member 260 may be in a fully open position (not shown), thereby not restricting the flow of liquid through opening 218.

[0031] FIGS. 10-14 refer to yet another embodiment of a flow restrictor assembly 340, according to aspects of the present disclosure. Similar to the embodiments discussed above, flow restrictor assembly 340 may be disposed in a beverage kettle 310. While only partially depicted in FIGS. 10 and 11, beverage kettle 310 may generally include similar features as discussed above with respect to beverage kettle 10 of FIG. 1. In particular, beverage kettle 310 may generally include an external surface (not shown) and an interior surface 312 defining a cavity 316 for holding a liquid, as would be known in the art. The beverage kettle 310 may further include an opening 318 having a spout (not shown) disposed thereon for dispensing liquid from the cavity 316. Further, as would be known in the art, beverage kettle may include a top opening and a lid assembly for closing and/or accessing cavity 316. According to aspects described herein, beverage kettle 310 may also include flow restrictor assembly 340 disposed within cavity 316. Similar to previously described embodiments, flow restrictor assembly 340 may include a valve member 360 that is movable between variable positions relative to opening 318, thereby configured to restrict or limit the flow of liquid out of opening 318.

[0032] According to the illustrated embodiment, flow restrictor assembly 340 may include a valve member 360 disposed within a flow restrictor assembly structure 341, that is movable with respect to the flow restrictor assembly structure 341. Accordingly, as described in more detail below, the position of valve member 360 with respect to flow restrictor assembly structure 341 may be adjusted to provide varying levels of flow restriction to opening 318.

[0033] In at least one embodiment, flow restrictor assembly structure 341 may include a back portion 344 and side portions 342. In some cases, back portion 344 may be integrally formed with side portions 342, and a channel 346 may be defined in side portions 342. Further, in at least one embodiment, back portion 344 is coupled to interior surface 312 over opening 318, and an aperture 356 is defined in back portion 344 to allow liquid to pass. In other cases, however, interior surface 312 may be integrally formed with flow restrictor assembly structure 341 such that interior surface 312 functions as a back portion for flow restrictor assembly structure 341.

[0034] FIGS. 12-14 depict a front view, rear view, and side view, respectively, of valve member 360. According to the illustrated embodiment, valve member 360 includes an integrally formed member generally vertically disposed within flow restrictor assembly structure 341. Specifically, valve member 360 includes a bottom portion 366, which is operable to block or partially block opening 318. Valve member 360 further includes a middle portion 364, inclined away from bottom portion 366 via connecting portion 365 such that surface 367 of middle portion 364 is offset from bottom portion 366. Middle portion 364 also extends to a top portion, or handle 362, inclined substantially perpendicularly from surface 367 of middle portion 364.

[0035] Referring to FIG. 14, a surface of middle portion 364 may include one or more levels or surfaces, including surface 367, surface 368 and surface 370. In at least one case, surface 368 may be raised with respect to surface 367, and surface 370 may be raised with respect to surface 368. Accordingly, since surface 367 of middle portion 364 is offset from bottom portion 366, middle portion 364 may be structured such that surface 370 (and a protrusion 372) aligns with, or resides in substantially the same plane as bottom portion 366.

[0036] Valve member 360 may further include a biased member extending from middle portion 364. The biased member may be configured to engage with flow restrictor assembly structure 341 and to hold valve member 360 in one of several positions with respect to opening 318. In some cases, the biased member may be separately attached to valve member 360, and in other cases, the biased member may be integrally formed. In at least one embodiment, a biased arm 374 is formed as a cut-out flange or extension from a central portion of middle portion 364. The biased arm may extend from surface 368, and include a projection, i.e., protrusion 372, to interact with flow restrictor assembly structure 341. As described in more detail below, protrusion 372 may be configured to engage with and rest in one of detent 348, detent 350 or detent 352, collectively detents 354, to adjust the position of bottom portion 366 with respect to opening 318.

[0037] In operation, valve member 360 may be positioned in channels 346 of flow restrictor assembly structure 341, and handle 362 may be operable to move valve member 360 in a vertical direction within the flow restrictor assembly structure 341. Thus, according to at least one embodiment, valve member 360 may be positioned at varying heights to block a variable portion of opening 318. In particular, when engaged, handle 362 may be operable to position protrusion 372 in a low position associated with detent 352, or in higher positions, associated with detents 350 and 348, respectively, to adjust the flow rate out of opening 318. It will be understood, however, that the positions associated with detents 354 are only exemplary, and more or fewer detents, or other restriction mechanisms, may be provided to adjust the position of valve member 360.

[0038] Similar to other embodiments, valve member 360 may be formed from any rigidly-flexible material known in the art. In particular, the properties of valve member 360 may be such that, in operation, when valve member is situated in channels 346 and bottom portion 366 is pressed against opening 318, biased arm 374 is rigid enough to create a horizontally applied tension, holding protrusion 372 in a selected position, such as in one of detents 354. Additionally, however, valve member 360 must be flexible enough such that biased arm 374 can flex inward, and then spring back into an adjacent detent, when a user moves the position of valve member 360.

[0039] Flow restrictor assembly 340, including valve member 360 and flow restrictor assembly structure 341, may be formed from any material selected for rigidity and flexibility under tension, as well as for being resistant to a variety of temperatures, as would be contemplated by a skilled artisan. For example, flow restrictor assembly 340 may be stamped, molded or otherwise formed from a rigid plastic material or a metal, or any other material having similar properties. Again, it will be understood by one having ordinary skill in the art that construction of the described disclosure and other components is not limited to any specific material. Other exemplary embodiments of the disclosure disclosed herein may be formed from a wide variety of materials, unless described otherwise herein.


Claims

1. A flow restrictor assembly 40 for a beverage kettle 10, wherein the beverage kettle 10 defines a cavity 16 for holding a liquid and includes an opening 18 for dispensing liquid from the cavity 16, the flow restrictor assembly 40 comprising:

a valve member 60 positioned inside the cavity 16;

a handle 74 operably coupled with the valve member 60 to selectively position the valve member 60 in one of a first position or a second position with respect to the opening 18;

a biasing member configured to hold the valve member 60 in one of the first position or the second position; and wherein,

the valve member 60 covers at least a portion of the opening 18 in the first position.


 
2. The flow restrictor assembly 40 of claim 1, wherein:

the handle 74 is operably coupled with the valve member 60 to selectively position the valve member 60 in a third position; and

the biasing member is configured to hold the valve member 60 in the third position.


 
3. The flow restrictor assembly 40 of claims 1-2, further comprising:

a flow restrictor assembly structure 41 that supports the valve member 60.


 
4. The flow restrictor assembly 40 of claim 3, wherein:

the valve member 60 is disposed within the flow restrictor assembly structure 41.


 
5. The flow restrictor assembly 40 of claim 1, wherein:

the valve member 60, the handle 74, and the biasing member are integrally formed; and

the biasing member comprises a biased arm 70 inclined from the valve member 60.


 
6. The flow restrictor assembly 40 of claims 3-5, wherein:

the biased arm 70 comprises a protrusion 72;

the flow restrictor assembly structure 41 comprises at least one detent 50,52; and

the protrusion 72 is configured to engage with the at least one detent 50,52 when the valve member 60 is in the first position.


 
7. The flow restrictor assembly 40 of claim 3-6, wherein the flow restrictor assembly structure 41 comprises:

a front cover 42;

a rear cover 44; and

a pair of side portions 48.


 
8. The flow restrictor assembly 40 of claim 7, wherein:

the at least one detent 50,52 is disposed in the front cover 42.


 
9. The flow restrictor assembly 40 of claims 7-8, wherein the flow restrictor assembly structure 41 further comprises:

a top back cover portion 46.


 
10. The flow restrictor assembly of claim 9, wherein:

a surface of the top back cover portion 46 engages with the valve member 60 to hold protrusion 72 in the at least one detent 50,52.


 
11. The flow restrictor assembly 40 of claim 3-11, wherein:

the valve member 60 is slidably engaged with the flow restrictor assembly structure 41.


 
12. The flow restrictor assembly 40 of claim 1-11, wherein:

the valve member 60 comprises a flat elongate member having a bottom portion 62, a middle portion 64, and a top portion 68.


 
13. The flow restrictor assembly 40 of claim 12, wherein:

the bottom portion 62 of valve member 60 is configured to cover at least a portion of the opening 18 in the first position.


 
14. The flow restrictor assembly 40 of claims 1-5, wherein:

the biasing member comprises a biasing arm 70 extending from the valve member 60 and configured to hold the valve member 60 in one of the first position or the second position.


 
15. The flow restrictor assembly 40 of claim 14, wherein:

the biasing arm 70 comprises a flat elongate member.


 




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