|1.||A barrelscouring device for washing the interior surfaces of a barrel (B) provided with a bunghole (C), and comprising a support block having fluidspraying means (PT) insertable through the bunghole into the barrel and provided with a fluidspraying nozzle (60) at its end, characterized in that the fluidspraying means comprise: a rigid sleeve (16) having one end integral with the support block (12) and an opposite free end; a hollow shaft (38) rotatable within the sleeve under control of first driving means (44, 38a, 42) and having an operative end (38b) projecting beyond the free end of the sleeve; a conduit (58, 64) slidably displaceable within the hollow shaft under control of second driving means (44,66, 70) and having a flexible terminal portion (58) provided with said fluidspraying nozzle (60) and projecting beyond the sleeve within the barrel, the opposite end of the conduit being connectable to a fluidsupply source; a boom (56) having one end fastened to said nozzle and an opposite end hinged to the operative end of the hollow shaft about an axis (P) lying transversely to the axis of the hollow shaft ; and constraint means (80, 82) guiding the flexible terminal portion of the conduit to bend in dependence from the displacement of the conduit within the hollow shaft and preventing the conduit from rotating with respect to the hollow shaft.|
|2.||The barrelscouring device of claim 1, characterized in that the first actuator means comprise a gearmotor (44) housed in the support block and engaging the hollow shaft.|
|3.||The barrelscouring device of claim 1 or 2, characterized in that said conduit (58,64) comprises a rigid portion (64) connected to said flexible terminal portion and received within the hollow shaft with a tail extending within the support block.|
|4.||The barrelscouring device of claim 3, characterized in that said second actuator means comprise a threaded tail of said rigid portion (64) of the conduit, which threaded tail engages a corresponding threading in a stationary bushing (70) integral with the support block, whereby a rotation of the hollow shaft will cause an axial displacement of the conduit.|
|5.||The barrelscouring device of any of claims 1 to 4, characterized in that said flexible terminal portion is partially encased in a rigid lining (74) that is slidable within a roller bushing (52) integrally carried by the operative end of the hollow shaft.|
|6.||The barrelscouring device of any of claims 1 to 5, characterized in that said constraint means comprise a saddleshaped seat (56a) for said flexible terminal portion (58) and obliquely extending from boom (56) beyond its transversal axis (P).|
|7.||The barrelscouring device of claim 6, characterized in that said constraint means further include a Ushaped elastic member (82) having its opposite ends (82a, 82b) attached to said boom (56) and arranged obliquely astride said flexible terminal portion (58) to bias it to engage the saddleshaped seat.|
|8.||The barrelscouring device of any of claims 1 to 7, characterized in that it further comprises a drain collection tank (12b, 98) housed in said support block, having a concave area facing the barrel when said fluidspraying means (PT) is inserted in the bunghole, and having a bottom (12b) provided with a draining channel (92) opening to the outside through an exhaust port (94).|
|9.||The barrelscouring device of claim 8, characterized in that said concave area of the tank (12b, 98) is bounded by a border (100) carrying a sealingly connected tubular gasket (104) capable of sealingly abutting against the outside wall of the barrel.|
|10.||The barrelscouring device of claim 8 or 9, characterized in that at least one surface (98) of the wall of said tank (12b, 98) is of a transparent material.|
It is known to improve the flavor of wine by refining it in wooden caskets or barriques of variable capacity, typically a few hundred liters. After emptying a barrel at the end of a cycle, and before a fresh filling, the interior surfaces of the barrel should be accurately washed or scoured in order to remove the lees that have been deposited during the previous cycle, which lees would affect the quality of the wine to be treated in the new cycle.
Such scouring step is difficult to carry out, because access to the inside of the barrel can only be had through a bunghole of 4 to 5 cm diameter.
According to a widespread current practice for cleaning barriques, the barrel is laid down, with its bunghole facing downwards, on a support structure that is rotatable around the vertical axis of the bunghole. A perforated head is then inserted into the bunghole and is connected to a tube feeding the water or detergent to the head. While the barrique is rotated, water is pumped to the head, so that a number of jets will issue from the per- forations to hit the interior surfaces of the barrel.
The above known method is awkward to be carried out, and is also unsatisfactory in that the barrique is only summarily cleaned, a number of blind spots being left which are not directly showered by the jets.
Another drawback of this method is that the pressure of the jets, which has been reduced from the pump delivery pressure proportionally to the number of output holes in the head, is then further drastically reduced at the point of hitting the wall, because of the consid- erable distance from the output holes of the head, substantially at the center of the barrique, to the wall.
Consequently, the scouring action is bland and does not remove all lees with certainty, particularly the lees that are nested in the most critical points, e. g. the corners between the ends and the side wall of the barrel.
Therefore, the main object of the invention is to provide a barrel-scouring device for cleaning the interior surfaces of barrels, particularly wooden caskets, barriques, and the like, which is capable of scouring the interior surfaces of a barrel more energetically than conventional devices, without leaving blind spots and allowing the scouring action to be concentrated on the most critical spots.
The above and other objects and advantages, such as will better appear in the following disclosure, are achieved by a barrel-scouring device having the features recited in claim 1, while the dependent claims recite other advantageous, though non-essential, features.
The invention will now be described in more detail with reference to a preferred embodi- ment, shown by way of non-limiting example in the attached drawings, wherein: Fig. 1 is a view in longitudinal cross-section of a device according to the invention, when inserted in a generic barrel; Fig. 2 is an enlarged view of a detail of Fig. 1; Fig. 3 is an enlarged view of another detail of Fig. 1; Fig. 4 is a view of the device in transverse cross-section made along line IV-IV of Fig. 3; Fig. 5 is an enlarged view of another detail of Fig. 1; Fig. 6 shows the detail of Fig. 5 in an intermediate operating configuration of the device.
With reference to the above Figures, a scouring device 10 according to the invention comprises a fluid-spraying means PT which is insertable through a bunghole C of a bar- rique B, and is rotatable about the axis of the bunghole.
The fluid-spraying means PT comprises a cylindrical sleeve 16 rising from a support block 12, and reinforced by four posts 18 that are longitudinally welded to the external surface of the sleeve and spaced at equal angles about its axis.
Support block 12 comprises a housing 12a, bored 20 coaxially to sleeve 16, and carrying a draining tank 12b, described in more detail below, which surrounds sleeve 16 with its concavity facing toward the barrique, and which has a cylindrical cavity 22, coaxial to bore 20. Sleeve 16 is attached to block 12 by means of a collar 24 connected to the cor-
responding end of sleeve 16 and engaging the cylindrical cavity 22 of tank 12b and having an annular expansion 24a that is axially retained between an annular ledge 26 projecting from housing 12a and an associated undercut 28 made in the cylindrical cavity 22.
Within sleeve 16 is rotationally supported a hollow shaft 38 having a threaded end 38a passing through bore 20 of housing 12a and screwed into the hollow driving shaft 42 of a gearmotor 44 attached at the bottom of the housing by means of screws 46. Gearmotor 44 is controlled by a control unit (non shown) which does not belong to the invention. A ring nut 48 screwed on the threaded end of the hollow shaft can be locked against driving shaft 42 to secure the hollow shaft 38.
The opposite end 38b of hollow shaft 38 rises from sleeve 16 and carries a threaded cylindrical connector 50, onto which is attached a hollow box 52, from which a fork 54 projects parallelly to hollow shaft 38. A boom 56 is swiveled around a transversal axis P on fork 54. Within hollow shaft 38 is slidable a conduit comprising a flexible tube 58 and a rigid pipe 64, connected through a coupling 62. Flexible tube 58 has its delivery end provided with a nozzle 60 and fastened to the free end 56b of boom 56, in an offset position when the boom lies longitudinally to shaft 38. Pipe 64 has a threaded tail 66 engaging the threaded bore 68 of a flange 70 attached to the housing of gearmotor 44. The free end 66a of threaded tail 66 is connectible to a detergent-feeding pipe (not shown) through a swivel joint 72.
Flexible tube 58 is partly sheathed in a rigid lining 74, extending from coupling 62 for a length L, and slidable between two opposite pairs of rollers 76a, 76b and 78a, 78b, which are journaled within hollow box 52 and are shaped with concave profiles.
Flexible tube 58 is guided by constraint means to take desired, progressively bent attitudes, corresponding to respective inclinations of boom 56, which depend on the axial displace- ment of the conduit 58,64. The constraint means comprise a projection 56a obliquely extending from boom 56 beyond its transversal axis P, and having a saddle-shaped seat 80 at its end, where flexible tube 58 is slidably received. Flexible tube 58 is elastically retained to engage seat 80 by a U-shaped elastic member 82, which is arranged obliquely astride flexible tube 58 and is attached to boom 56 by its ends such as 82a.
The end 16b of sleeve 16 integrally carries a coaxial cylindrical ferrule 84, within which is
received a lip gasket 86 in sealing engagement with the outside surface of hollow shaft 38, as well as a guiding bush 87. Moreover, the outside mantle of cylindrical ferrule 84 has an annular region 84a with a reduced diameter, which is closely surrounded by a cylindrical apron 88 extending from cylindrical connector 50 in a longitudinal direction to build a labyrinth seal.
The bottom F of tank 12b is shaped with a circumferential hollow 90 surrounding the bushing and has a draining channel 92 leading to an exhaust port 94 to which a cock 96 is connected. Moreover, a transparent cylindrical window 98 surrounds tank 12b, and supports a connection ring 100 having a conical seat 102 receiving the rim of a bellow- shaped gasket 104, whose opposite rim engages the external wall ofbarrique B around bung-hole C. An elastic ring 106 clamps the rim of the bellow-shaped gasket engaging the conical seat, so that a seal is provided. Other annular gaskets 108, 110 seal the transparent window with respect to block 12a and to connection ring 100. Thus, block 12a, cylindrical window 98, connection ring 100, bellow-shaped gasket 104 and the side wall of the barrique together define a draining chamber V surrounding sleeve 16.
In operation, the barrique B is supported with horizontal axis on a fixed support structure, with its bunghole C facing downwards, while device 10 is preferably mounted on a bench placed beneath the barrique. While the boom is extended longitudinally, the nozzle- carrying end of device 10 is radially inserted through the bung-hole, until the bellow- shaped gasket 104 is pressed against the outside surface of the barrique. Preferably, an auxiliary centering tool (not shown) may be attached to support 12, which is provided with four brackets in abutment with the outside surface of the barrique B, in order to provide further resting points and to aid in centering the device.
Washing water is then supplied to the device by connecting a pump (not shown) to coupling 72. The liquid goes through union pipe 64 and flexible tube 58 to be ejected from nozzle 60 as a high-pressure jet. When gearmotor 44 is operated, boom 56 is driven to turn around driving shaft 42, by the intermediary of hollow shaft 38, cylindrical connector 50, hollow box 52 and fork 54. The boom's rotation is transmitted, via flexible tube 58 and union pipe 64 (which are integral with boom 56), to the threaded extension 66 of the union pipe. Threaded extension 66 cooperates with stationary flange 70 to be displaced axially, and both its rotation and its linear displacement are applied to the length of flexible tube that is stiffened by rigid lining 74, which will slide within the hollow box 52 between
rollers 76,78, which act a guiding means for the slide made by the rigid lining surrounding the flexible tube.
As shown in Fig. 6, the length of flexible tube free from lining 74, which constitutes a flexible terminal portion for the conduit and is attached to boom 56 near its end, is progressively bent by the action of the lever due to the offset between the length of flexible tube inserted in the rigid lining 74 and the end 58b of the flexible tube attached to boom 56, thereby driving the boom to swivel around pivot P. Seat 80 and elastic member 82 cooperate to guide the proper bending of flexible tube 58, which will progressively and continuously increase the inclination of boom 56 around axis P as the union pipe is displaced, up to an angle a of substantially 180°. Such rotation of boom 56 about axis P, together with the rotation about the axis of hollow shaft 36, will sweep the nozzle through a spherical path, so that the jet will impact the entire internal surface of barrique B. It should be noted that the distance from nozzle 60 to the wall of the barrique is reduced to only a few centimeters, whereby the jet intensity and pressure at impact are high.
It will be apparent of a person skilled in the art that the inclination of boom 56 is univocally defined by the angular position of the driving shaft, so that the direction of the jet can be determined at any given moment from the number of turns performed by the motor. It is therefore possible to stop the motor at the most critical areas, such as corners between the ends of the barrique and its lateral wall.
The scouring liquid flows into draining chamber V through the gap between bunghole C and sleeve 16, and from there to the circumferential hollow 90 and to the drain channel 92, so that it is eventually exhausted from the exhaust port through the cock. The above- described exhaust arrangement, due to the seal between the drain tank and the wall of the barrique surrounding the bung-hole, allows the scouring to be carried out while main- taining a clean working environment. Moreover, by shutting the cock and sustaining the supply of scouring liquid, the draining chamber V fills up progressively with exhaust liquid, and it is then possible to visually check the degree of cleanliness of the exhausted liquid and determine whether an additional scouring step should be carried out.
A preferred embodiment of the invention has been described, but a person skilled in the art can make a number of modifications to it, depending on needs, w hich all belong to the spirit of the same inventive concept. For instance, the displacement of rigid lining 74 which causes boom 56 to swivel about transversal axis P, and the rotation of the nozzle about the axis of the bunghole might be obtained by separate, independent driving means for displacement and for rotation, rather than being interlocked to a single gearmotor as described above with reference to the preferred embodiment.
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