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Publication numberUS20060185854 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/409,683
Publication dateAug 24, 2006
Filing dateApr 24, 2006
Priority dateOct 1, 1999
Also published asUS7032678, US20040040722
Publication number11409683, 409683, US 2006/0185854 A1, US 2006/185854 A1, US 20060185854 A1, US 20060185854A1, US 2006185854 A1, US 2006185854A1, US-A1-20060185854, US-A1-2006185854, US2006/0185854A1, US2006/185854A1, US20060185854 A1, US20060185854A1, US2006185854 A1, US2006185854A1
InventorsDonald Mosing, David Sipos
Original AssigneeMosing Donald E, Sipos David L
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Horseshoe shaped elevator and method for using same
US 20060185854 A1
Abstract
A U-shaped elevator having no doors is provided with first and second latching mechanisms which when contacted by the tubular to be entrapped within the elevator move from a closed position to an open position and which then return to a closed position as soon as the tubular is entrapped within the elevator. The latching mechanisms have a safety catch which prevents the tubular from being inadvertently removed from the elevator. The safety latch mechanism can only be activated by a handle which is manipulated by hand by personnel working on the derrick utilizing the elevator. The elevator has an open throat to receive tubulars that have couplers or other features with a lower flange surface for lifting a pipe string. The throat access has blocking members that are movable to allow tubulars to move out of the gap unless the blocking members are locked to prevent such movement. The blocking members have latches biased toward a position to immobilize the members. To allow tubulars to exit the throat, an unlocking mechanism is actuated manually or by motorized means under remote control.
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Claims(6)
1. An elevator for lifting and lowering an oilfield tubular joint, the elevator comprising:
a) a body having adjacent arms separated by a throat arranged to accept said oilfield tubular joint;
b) a throat access blocking member arranged to allow said oilfield tubular joint to enter said throat; and
c) said throat access blocking member capable of being held in the closed state, but is non-responsive to force applied by said tubular joint tending to move out of said throat.
2. The elevator according to claim 1 wherein each of said blocking members comprises a door which pivots on said body, wherein the actuation of said blocking member is controlled pneumatically.
3. The elevator according to claim 1, wherein said blocking member comprises a door which pivots on said body, wherein the actuation of said blocking member is controlled hydraulically.
4. A method for entrapping and releasing a joint of tubular within an elevator, comprising the steps of:
Positioning said elevator, carrying a latching member, above a joint of oilfield tubular; lowering said elevator over said tubular to thereby entrap said tubular within said elevator using said latching member; and releasing the entrapment of said tubular.
5. A method for entrapping and releasing an oilfield tubular joint within an elevator, comprising the steps of:
a) positioning an elevator, carrying a latching member; beside an oilfield tubular joint;
b) entrapping said tubular joint within said elevator by pushing the elevator and the tubular joint into latching engagement with each other; and
c) releasing the entrapment of said tubular joint.
6. An elevator for lifting and lowering a joint of oilfield tubular, casing, the elevator comprising:
a) a body having adjacent arms separated by a throat arranged to accept said joint of oilfield tubular; and
b) one of said arms provided with a throat access blocking member that is arranged such that the blocking member responds to force delivered to said blocking member by said joint of oilfield tubular to allow said oilfield tubular to enter and/or exit said throat.
Description
RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/444,425, filed on May 23, 2003, which is a Continuation-in-Part of U.S. application Ser. No. 9/999,344, filed on Nov. 15, 2001, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,568,478, which was a Continuation-in-Part of U.S. application Ser. No. 9/410,706, filed on Oct. 1, 1999, now abandoned.

FIELD OF INVENTION

The invention relates, generally, to pipe handling elevators used for lifting and lowering oilfield tubulars, usually as strings of pipe being tripped into or out of an oil or gas well.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

It is well known in the art of drilling, completion and workover of earth boreholes in the oil, gas and geothermal industries to run strings of oilfield tubulars into and out of such boreholes, sometimes referred to as “tripping in” or “tripping out”. Such tubulars can be, for example, drill pipe, drill collars, casing and tubing. It is also well known to use elevators in such tripping in or out operations to lift or lower such tubulars out of, or into the wells. The handling gear for such tubulars is oftentimes much alike in principle for all sizes but the difference in scale is impressive. Well casing with a diameter of six feet, with a two inch wall thickness, is not uncommon.

Elevators in the prior art typically are hinged, heavy clamps attached to a hook and traveling block by bail-like arms, sometimes referred to simply as “bails”. Such elevators oftentimes use one or more doors which are themselves quite heavy, and which may require two or three strong men to close or hinge the one or two doors around the tubular. Doors are a common feature but there are single door and split door types. One type simply hinges to open to admit or eject pipe. In hoisting a joint of drill pipe, the elevators are latched onto the pipe just below the tool joint (coupling) which prevents the drill pipe from slipping through the elevators. Similarly, in lifting casing or tubing, the sections of such tubulars have either an upset end, i.e., one in which the O.D. is larger than the primary diameter of the casing or tubing, or they are joined together with a collar having an enlarged O.D. In all of these type of operations, the elevator when hinged to the closed position, i.e., when the one or two doors are closed shut, the internal diameter of the elevator is less than the O.D. of the end of the enlarged tool joint, upset, or collar to prevent the tubular from slipping through the elevator.

Handling practices differ between small and rather large diameter pipe. Each section of very large pipe will typically be picked up from the horizontal position and swung to the vertical for stabbing into the connection of the assembled tubular string. Such large pipe, for example, large diameter steel casing, presents special problems. When elevators are placed on the horizontal pipe they have to pivot to orient the elevator throat opening downward. That leaves the doors, on door-type elevators, swinging on hinges. The doors on a large elevator may weigh several hundred pounds. To close such doors, drilling crew men place themselves in hazardous situations. The rigging devised to get the doors closed often is creative, but risky.

An elevator with doors needs clearance for the doors to swing in the closing arc under the pipe being engaged. The pipe has to be elevated, or clearance otherwise provided, for the swinging door.

The elevators discussed above are of the so-called“non-slip” variety. There are other elevators which grasp the tubular and can be used to then hoist or lower the tubular, but the grasping elevators are typically used with the light weight tubulars.

The elevators of the “non-slip” variety have generally been constructed with doors (generally, one or two) which open to allow the insertion or removal of the tubulars. These doors have traditionally been heavy, slow in operation, difficult to handle and present a considerable safety hazard to the operator. Also, the balance point of the elevator will change dramatically when the doors are opened, thus exacerbating handling problems and adding danger to the operator.

Especially with very heavy tubulars, for example, 20″-30″ casing, the tubular is initially in a horizontal position, laying in place, for example, on or near the floor beneath a derrick, and the hinged door elevator is lowered near the point of attachment to the tubular. The derrick hands then are required to open the very heavy door or doors, which may weigh several hundred pounds, to allow the elevator to be placed over the tubular. Moreover, because the door or doors must close around the tubular, the tubular end around which the elevator is placed must be above the derrick floor.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention avoids the above mentioned shortcomings by eliminating the troublesome door members. Retention of the pipe is then accomplished by a system of multiple pipe catches, which are automatically deployed after the insertion of the pipe joint and which automatically retract during insertion of a pipe joint. Importantly, since this elevator lacks swinging doors, the element of the greatest safety concern is eliminated and, the equilibrium of the elevator is undisturbed during insertion or removal of pipe.

When a tubular approaches the elevator, according to the present invention, the tubular first contacts the disconnector arms. As insertion continues, the disconnector arms are swung away in an arc-like path and this motion actuates the disconnector links which disengage the safety latches, allowing the pipe catches freedom to move. The continuing movement of the pipe into the elevator next causes the pipe to contact the pipe catches directly and pushes them out of the way against a nominal spring force. After the pipe is fully seated into the elevator, the pipe catches (no longer restrained by the pipe body) will automatically deploy by means of spring power. The pipe is now mechanically entrapped and cannot fall out of the elevator. As a function of the mechanism's geometry, the greater the force from the pipe resting against the catches, the greater will be the resistance to opening. The pipe catches, in effect, become self-energizing. In fact, it will not be possible to manually open the elevator if a side force against the catches is present. This feature is an additional safety benefit.

In practicing the methods according to the present invention, elevators can be dropped or lowered onto a horizontal tubular, or swung against a vertical tubular to latch around the tubular, thus by avoiding all or most of the problems associated with using hinged door elevators.

The present invention comprises a horseshoe, or “U” shaped body having first and second extending arms separated by a throat to accept a pipe or other tubular. On each arm a blocking member imposes into the passage to and from the throat and either blocking member will prevent pipe (within the elevator rating size) from moving out of the throat of the elevator. The blocking member is spring biased to the blocking, or closed state. In the closed state, a spring biased security lock goes to the locked state, and the blocking member is immobilized in the closed state. There are two ways to free the blocking member. One way is for pipe to be urged toward the throat where it engages an enabling lever which lifts the security lock and frees the blocking member to move to admit pipe to the throat. The second way to manipulate the blocking member is to activate a dumping lever which lifts the security lock and moves further to move the blocking member away from the throat to permit pipe to move out of the throat.

The elevator has no structure that prevents the elevator from engaging pipe lying on a rig floor. The elevator freely pivots within the loops of bails which engage ears, one on each side of the body.

Not all elevators are suspended from the traveling blocks by bails, the term used herein represents any of the many contrivances serving the equivalent function in suspending elevators from traveling blocks or the equivalent hoisting apparatus.

In the preferred embodiment, and as a special feature of the invention, the ears are positioned such that the lift vector, originating at the transverse line about which the ears rotate within the bail loops, passes some distance from the centerline of pipe, when positioned for lifting, within the throat. With an open throat, the periphery of the ledge that engages the lifting surface of the pipe, normally the lower surface of a connector, represents an area that has a geometric center shifted toward the back of the throat. Ideally, but not in a limiting sense, the extended lift vector passes through, or near that geometric center.

These and other objects, advantages, and features of this invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from a consideration of this specification, including the attached claims and appended drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

For a further understanding of the nature and objects of the present invention, reference should be had to the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like elements are given the same or analogous reference numbers and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic view of a prior art, oilfield tubular elevator;

FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic view of a second prior art, oilfield tubular elevator;

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the elevator according to the present invention;.

FIG. 4 is an expanded view of a latch mechanism used with the elevator illustrated in FIG. 3 according to the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a series of top plan, sequential views of the elevator according to the invention, illustrating the manner in which the tubular is trapped inside the elevator;

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of an elevator according to the present invention illustrating an additional feature of the invention;

FIG. 7 is an enlarged top view of a portion of the elevator of FIG. 6 illustrating an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 8 is a sectional view taken along the section lines 8-8 of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a top plan view of an alterative elevator according to the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a top plan, cutaway view of a portion of the elevator illustrated in FIG. 9 in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a top plan view of an additional alternative embodiment of an elevator in accordance with the present invention;

FIGS. 12(a) and 12(b) are top plan views of yet another alternative embodiment of an elevator in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 13 is across-sectional view taken along the section lines 10-10 illustrated in FIG. 10;

FIG. 14 is a combined top plan view and a side elevational view of a conventional square shouldered oilfield tubular such as very heavy oilfield casing; and

FIGS. 15(a) and 15(b) are top plan view of yet another embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring now to the drawings in more detail, FIG. 1(a) illustrates a top plan view of a hinged door elevator which is commonly used in the prior art. The prior art elevator 10 has a donut shaped body 12, having a center orifice 14 for encircling a tubular 16 such as is illustrated in FIG. 1(c). The elevator 10 has a pair of ears 18 and 20 having holes 19 and 21, respectively, to which the bales (not illustrated) can be attached. The elevator 10 is quite thick, for example, 8 to 10 inches thick, to have the required strength for picking up tubular strings such as large well casing which weigh in the hundreds of thousands of pounds. The elevator 10 has a door 24 which is made to rotate about a pivot pin 26 to open or close the door 24. As illustrated, the door 24 is in the closed position and is latched to the remainder of the elevator 10 to secure it into position. When the door 24 is to be opened to allow a tubular within the orifice 14 to be released, the door 24 is unlatched and pivoted around the pivot pin 26 as shown by the rotational arrow 28.

FIG. 1(b) and 1(c), respectively, illustrate a top plan view of a tubular 16 to be entrapped within the elevator 10 and an elevated, partial view of the tubular 16. The tubular 16 has an upset, enlarged end portion 30 having an outside diameter 32 as measured between the two lines 34 and 36. The tubular 16 also has a primary section 40 below the upset portion 30 which has a reduced diameter as measured between the two lines 42 and 44. The portion 40 of the tubular is sized to fit within the interior orifice 14 of the elevator 10 as illustrated in FIG. 1(a). Whenever the door 24 is opened, the elevator 10 fits around the tubular 16 at a point along the tapered surface 50 of the tubular 16. As is well known in the art, the tubular 16 also includes a passage 52 along its length for allowing drilling fluid or other fluids to pass therethrough when the tubular is in an earth borehole (not illustrated).

In the operation of using the prior art elevator illustrated in FIG. 1, when it is desired to have the elevator 10 latch onto the tubular 16, whether from the horizontal or vertical positions, the door 24 has to be opened to allow the remainder of the elevator 10 to latch onto the tubular 16 at a point just beneath the upset portion 30. It should be appreciated that when the tubular is very heavy, for example 20″ to 30″ heavy steel casing, the elevator 10 is quite large, weighing several hundred pounds, and it requires a great amount of human effort and exposure to safety hazards to open the door 24 and engage the tubular 16 with the elevator 10.

It should be appreciated that although FIG. 1(a) illustrates a prior art elevator having a single door which pivots around a pivot pin 26, the prior art also includes a pair of doors (not illustrated) which together accomplish somewhat the same function as the door 24, but which are each only half the weight of a single door to allow the two doors to be opened and closed manually easier than a single door.

Referring now to FIG. 2, there is illustrated another type of prior art elevator 60 which has no doors, but which depends upon the weight of the tubular being hoisted or lowered to maintain the tubular within the interior of the elevator 60. This type of elevator 60 is typically used by those in the prior art to raise or lower much more light weight types of downhole pipe, such as solid sucker rods, hollow sucker rods and light weight tubing. Elevator 60 has a pair of attachment rods 64 and 66 around which bales can be pivoted thereabouts, allowing the bales to be attached to a hook and traveling block as discussed above with respect to the prior art elevator of FIG. 1.

The light weight tubular 62 of FIG. 2 has an upset end 70 sized to ride on the top of the elevator 60 while the primary portion of the tubular 62 below the upset end portion 70 is sized to fit through the side opening 72 of the elevator 60. This type of elevator is normally not used to handle the very heavy tubulars because of not having a means of entrapping the tubular within the elevator in a secure manner.

Referring now to FIG. 3(a), the elevator 100 is illustrated in this preferred mode of the invention as being essentially U-shaped, sometimes referred to as having a horseshoe shape. A first latching mechanism 102 and a second latch mechanism 104 are located, respectively, within the two arms 106 and 108 of the U-shaped elevator 100. The two arms 106 and 108, together with the arcuate end section 105 form the U-shape. A “stick figure” illustration of a human being 110, which typically would be a rig hand working on the derrick in tripping the tubulars in or out, is illustrated as having his right hand on the elevator handle 112. The latch mechanism 104 is illustrated as being in the open position, whereas the latch mechanism 102 is in a closed position, as will be explained in more detail with respect to FIG. 4, hereafter. Although explained in more detail with respect to FIG. 4 and FIG. 5, it should be appreciated that as the pipe or other tubular enters the open end of the horseshoe shaped elevator 100, the tubular will contact the latching mechanisms 102 and 104, causing both of them to assume the open position as shown in FIG. 3 for mechanism 104. As the tubular proceeds further into the interior of the U-shaped elevator 100 the mechanisms 102 and 104 will return to the closed position as illustrated with respect to mechanism 102 of FIG. 3, thus entrapping the tubular within the interior of the elevator 100.

Referring now to FIG. 4, the enlarged view of the latch 102 is now described in greater detail. It should be appreciated that the latches 102 and 104 are in cut-outs in the sides of arms 106 and 108, respectively, of the elevator 100, and are not located on the top surface of the elevator 100. The top surface of elevator 100 is sized to be smaller, in its internal diameter, than the external diameter of the upset end of the casing being raised or lowered.

The latch mechanism 102 in FIG. 4 includes a disconnector arm 130 having a wear pad 154 which will be contacted first by the tubular to be entrapped. The arm 130 is pivotable about a pivot rod 132 which, as illustrated in FIG. 3(b), traverses the width of arm 106. A spring 149 encircles the pivot rod 132, and has a first end 155 located against the back surface of the wear pad 154, and a second end 151 located against the elevator handle 152 which is used merely to hand position the elevator 100, if and when needed.

A disconnector link 134 has a first end connected to the disconnector arm 130 and a second end connected to a safety latch plate 120. The plate 120 has a recess 126 sized to receive a rod 124, which as illustrated in FIG. 3(b), traverses the width of arm 106.

Further in FIG. 4, the plate 126 is illustrated as being pivotable about a rod 122, which has a spring 160 encircling the rod 122 and having a first end located against one end of the disconnector link 134 and a second end connected within a manual handle 170. The handle 170 is illustrated as shorter than its actual length, which may be one to two feet long for case of operation.

The tubular catch 131 is configured from a hard metal, for example, steel, and is thick enough and strong enough to withstand any forces exerted by the entrapped tubular, and has an arcuate lower surface 133 closely approximating the curvature of the entrapped tubular, for example, as illustrated in step 10 of FIG. 5. The catch 131 also pivots around the pivot rod 132, and has a width closely approximating the width of the arm 106.

FIG. 3 also illustrates a bale attachment member 112, one of which is attached to each of the arms 106 and 108, allowing the elevator 100 to be used with a traveling block (not illustrated).

In the operation of the latch mechanism 102 of FIG. 4, the latch is illustrated as being in the closed position, exactly the same position as if a tubular were trapped inside the elevator 100. The latch mechanism 104 of FIG. 3, which is a mirror image of latch mechanism 102, would also be in the closed position. As the tubular to be entrapped within the elevator approaches the elevator, the tubular first contacts the wear pads of the disconnector arms of the two latches 102 and 104, (e.g., wear pad 154 of arm 130 of latch 102).

As insertion continues, the disconnector arms are swung away in an arc-like path and this motion actuates the disconnector links which disengage the safety latches, e.g., plate 120, allowing the pipe catches, e.g. catch 131, freedom to move. The continuing movement of the pipe into the elevator next causes the pipe to contact the pipe catches directly and pushes them out of the way against a nominal spring force. After the pipe is fully seated into the elevator, the pipe catches (no longer restrained by the pipe body) will automatically deploy by means of spring power. The pipe is now mechanically trapped and cannot fall out of the elevator. As a function of the mechanism's geometry, the greater the force from the pipe resting against the catches, the greater will be the resistance to opening. The pipe catches, in effect, become self-energizing. In fact, it will not be possible to manually open the elevator if a side force against the catches is present. This feature is an additional safety benefit.

It should be appreciated that as the tubular to be trapped within the elevator touches the disconnector arm such as arm 130 in FIG. 4, the disconnector link 134 causes the safety latch plate 120 to disengage from the rod 124. As the tubular moves further past the catch 131, the plate 120 swings into position such as is better illustrated for latch mechanism 104 in FIG. 3, which illustrates the disconnector link 134 as being essentially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the arm 108. In that position, the latch 104 is in the open position and allows the tubular to be further inserted within the interior of the elevator 100. As the tubular goes past the latch mechanisms 102 and 104, the latch mechanisms 102 and 104 return to their closed position such as is illustrated by the latch mechanism 102 in FIG. 3.

When the tubular which is entrapped within the elevator 100 is in a position which no longer requires the elevator 100 to be used, the handle 170 illustrated in FIG. 4 is rotated manually to return the latch mechanism 102 to its open position. The corresponding handle for latch mechanism 104 is similarly rotated, and with each of the latch mechanisms 102 and 104 in the open position, the elevator 100 is easily removed from the tubular.

Thus, it should be appreciated that in utilizing the apparatus and method herein disclosed, whenever it is desired to attach the elevator according to the invention around a tubular, whenever the tubular is in a horizontal or near horizontal position, the only step required to attach the elevator to the tubular is to drop the elevator, or lower the elevator onto the tubular and the latching mechanisms herein described will entrap the tubular with no additional steps required. Such a method is illustrated by means of the sequential steps of FIG. 5 in which the elevator 100 is lowered onto the horizontal tubular 200. Similarly, if the tubular is in a vertical position, the elevator can be moved into the latching position merely by positioning the elevator up against the tubular and pushing the two elements together i.e., the elevator against the side of the vertical tubular.

FIGS. 6, 7 and 8 illustrate some additional features and alternative embodiments of the invention. FIG. 6 shows the U-shaped elevator 1 with a pipe section P in the throat 2. Latch 3 in arm 1 a is in the closed position to retain the pipe in the throat. Latch 4, in arm 1 b, is in the open position to allow pipe to move in or out of the throat. Latches 3 and 4 correspond, for the most part, to the latches 102 and 104 previously described herein, both as to structure and as to function.

Ears 1 d and 1 c of the elevator 1 are situated such that their centerline passes some distance d toward the throat from the pipe centerline, identified as PCL in FIG. 6. Point LV is the origin of a lift vector when a pipe load is lifted by a pair of bails (not illustrated) which engage the ears 1 d and 1 c, respectively. The ears can rotate in the loops of the bails (not shown) which suspend the elevator from the traveling block. When lifted pipe is vertical, the pipe usually has a top coupler with a downwardly facing plane surface that rests on the area 1 e of FIG. 6. With the area interrupted by the throat gap, the geometric center of the lift area is usually near the lift vector LV. This is an optional feature and the distance d is a design choice influenced by elevator size and the nature of the expected pipe string load.

FIG. 7 illustrates alternative details of latch 3. In arm la, post 7 bearingly supports rotating members 5 and 6. Member 5 is the blocking member that prevents movement of pipe into and out of the throat. Member 6 is the incoming load sensor lever. When engaged by incoming pipe, lever 6 pivots about post 7, pushes link 8 to rotate member 10 about secondary post 9 to lift recess 10 a clear of post 11. The blocking member 5 then rotates about post 7. Post 9 is mounted on member 5 and swings with member 5. Posts 11 and 7 are secured within the arms 106 and 108 of the elevator 100 illustrated in FIG. 3.

The access to the throat can be cleared by pulling handle 12 toward the free end of the arm. That action rotates member 10 about secondary post 9 and all elements mounted on member 5 rotate counterclockwise to pull blocking member 5 out of the throat access, to free pipe to move from the throat of the elevator.

Springs 15 and 16 bias the blocking member to the closed state and bias the security lock, element 10 on post 11, to the locked state.

Hand grip 14 is used for manually moving the elevator and glove shield 13 to keep gloves out of the mechanism.

Alternatively, a powered version of the latch mechanism leaves the option of manual manipulation of the latches unencumbered. A motor 20 rotates (see FIG. 3) post 7, as an output shaft of the motor 20. The post 7 is keyed to element 6 and bearingly situated in plates 1 a and 1 aa as well as blocking member 5. Motor 20, can be secured to plate 1 aa, and driving pinion 21, in mesh with gear teeth 6 a on lever 6, as an alternate arrangement, requiring cutaway 5 a in one side of the blocking member 5.

The mounting and configuration of driving motor 20 accommodates either fluid powered or electric drive systems. Open center valving serves motor 20, if fluid is used, to facilitate free wheeling of the motor for manual latch operation. The motor 20 can be mounted on either plate 1 a or plate 1 aa to project either above or below the elevator.

FIG. 8 shows plates 1 a and 1 aa, and only the elements involved in adaptation for motor use of the latching mechanisms described herein. Plates 1 a and 1 aa are continuations of the lower and upper surface plates defining the envelope of the body of the elevator which is currently of weldment construction. Current construction practices are not to be construed in a limiting sense.

Referring now to FIG. 9, an alternative embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in more detail. The ‘Articulated-Cradle Elevator’ (“A.C.E.”) is a tool designed to lift ‘square shouldered’ tubulars quickly and safely. Tubulars may be lifted either vertically or from the horizontal. This ability allows the A.C.E. to function efficiently in dual modes as both the main tubular string-elevator and as a single joint elevator.

In the current, preferred embodiment, the A.C.E. consists of a body 200 that, functions as the basic platform to which, the lifting ears 202 and the cradles 204 are affixed. The body 200 structure is a beam, fabricated or otherwise, resembling a rectangular hollow tube—other shapes may be appropriate depending on tool size, capacity or other economic factors—formed into a three-sided “U” shape, as illustrated in FIG. 13, leaving one side 201, called the throat, open for movement of the oilfield tubular 206 into or out of the A.C.E. The lifting ears 202 are designed for a specific size bail, depending on the intended capacity of the tool. The cradles 204 are designed to wrap around the tubular 206, under the square shoulder 203, illustrated in FIG. 14, to a far more substantial degree than is possible with ‘Horseshoe’ type elevators, illustrated in FIGS. 3-8 herein, whose very nature typically limits the contact to a maximum of 180 degrees. Also, the cradles 204 greater bearing surface of up to approximately 250 degrees is centrally located in relation to the centerline 205 of the lifting ears 202, thus allowing the elevated tubular to hang perfectly straight. This latter feature is sometimes not possible with Horseshoe type elevators of large capacity due to their eccentric bearing surface in relation to the ears.

The ability of the cradles 204 to wrap around the tubular 206 to such a great degree is a function of their being able to pivot to open and closed positions. In the open position the cradles 204 swing out of the throat 201 of the body 200 so that, a tubular 206 may move unhindered into or out of the body 200 and in the closed position, the cradles 204 swing into the throat 201 of the body 200 and encircle the now trapped tubular 206 centrally over the lifting ears 202. The cradles 204 are attached to the body 200 by means of pivot pins 207 and are urged to the normally open position by the cradle-open springs 209. Whenever a tubular 206 enters the open A.C.E. it pushes against the back of the cradles 204 moving them to the closed position. When the closed position is attained, the sliding lock blocks 211 are freed from the open position and are urged backward to the lock position by the lock springs 213. The unlocking handles 215 are now in the extreme back of their respective slots and this provides reliable visual indication of lock status. The tubular 206 is now securely trapped within the closed cradles 204. To remove the tubular 206, the sliding lock blocks 211 must be moved to the forward position either manually or by a motor. Unlocking handles 215 are provided for manual operation. As soon as the sliding lock blocks 211 are moved out of the way, the cradle-open springs 209 articulate the cradles 204 pivotally to the open position, ejecting the tubular 206 from the A.C.E. and trapping the sliding lock block 211 in the forward or open position.

The improvements are: (1) Greater shoulder bearing area via the cradles more generous wrap around and centralized location, insuring less stress on the collar of the tubular and providing greater lifting capacity; (2) Centralizing the tubular over the lifting ears for a perfectly straight lift which, aids stabbing into the previous joint; (3) Superior lock strength by means of a solid lock block rather than numerous pins and linkages, to assure the tubular remains securely within the A.C.E.; (4) Simplified operation by means of a straight pull, single motion handle; (5) Increased operator safety due to the operating handles being far removed from the lift bails to preclude pinching injuries; (6) Simple, accurate, reliable visual indication of lock status, thus eliminating the need for operator intervention to ensure lock-up.

Referring now to FIG. 10, there is illustrated another view of the embodiment of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 9. In FIG. 10, there is illustrated, essentially, what is the embodiment of FIG. 9 and its mirror image. The parts are essentially in duplicate, and numbered the same and shows essentially the same parts, in the same positions, as illustrated in FIG. 9. With the release handles 215 in the open position, the springs 209 will cause the cradles 204 to move to the “open position” and allow the casing or other tubular 206 to be moved into the position within the interior of the cradles 204. By releasing the handles 215, the cradles 204 will wrap themselves around the exterior of the casing 206 but underneath the square collar having shoulder 203 illustrated in FIG. 14. As discussed herein above, the cradles 204, respectively, will pivot around the pivot pins 207 and the cradles can be moved into the throat 201 of the “U” shaped body 200 illustrated in FIG. 13. This is made possible by the cutaway section 213 of each of the cradles 204 to allow the cradle 204 to fully pivot as desired, under which the cutaway section 213 can slide into the throat of the body 200. Once the tubular 206 is fully within the confines of the cradles 204, whereby the cradles 204 can ride underneath the square shoulder surface 203 illustrated in FIG. 14, the cradles are locked into position and cannot be unlocked until the manual release handles 215 are activated, or alternatively, the manual handles 215 can be actuated by a motor such as a pneumatic motor or hydraulic motor to release the handles 215 and allow the tubular 206 to be removed from the body 200. It should be appreciated that in FIG. 10, the lifting ears to which the bails are attached are not illustrated but they are each identical with the lifting ear 202 as illustrated in FIG. 9.

In operation, of the device as illustrated in FIGS. 9 and 10, after the cradles are fully in place underneath the square shoulder 203 illustrated in FIG. 14 of the tubular 206, the elevator having the body 200, is raised or lowered to move the tubular 206 into the vertical or horizontal positions as desired. When it is desired to release the tubular 206 from the apparatus illustrated in FIG. 10, the release handles 215 are manipulated, either manually or by a motor, for example, a pneumatic or hydraulic motor or two such motors to handle the two handles 215, to cause the cradles 204 to move completely out of the path of the tubular 206 to enable the tubular to be fully released from the elevator illustrated in FIG. 10.

Referring now to FIG. 11 there is illustrated yet another alternative embodiment of the present invention. The Horseshoe body 300 is comprised of two lift ears 302 and one not shown and two bearing surfaces, the bearing 304 and one not shown. Affixed to the body 300 are the lift pins, one lift pin 306 and one not shown, and two flaps, the flap 308 and one not shown. The Flap 308 is rotated on the hinge pin 310 out of body opening 312 to allow the tubular 314 to enter into body 300. This may be accomplished manually or by lowering the body 300 over the tubular 314. Once the tubular 314 is fully inserted into body 300, flap 308 automatically, by spring force or by motor means, is returned to the closed position as shown in FIG. 11, trapping the tubular 314 within the body 300. Upon lifting the Horseshoe elevator 300, the collar of the tubular 314 rests evenly on top of flap 308 and on bearing surface 304, as well as on their mirror image counterparts.

With this system the lift pin 306 is located on the center of the tubular 314 so that the weight of the tubular 314 is carried symmetrically on the axis of the tubular 314 and the tubular 314 hangs straight.

It should be appreciated that in using the apparatus illustrated in FIG. 11, the Horseshoe Elevator 300 illustrated in FIG. 11, has a mirror image on its other side such that there are two of everything illustrated in FIG. 11. Thus, there are two sets of wear surfaces 304, two sets of Flaps 308, etc., which all work together. In the use of the elevator illustrated in FIG. 11, the flap 308 is rotated out of the way by causing it to pivot around the pivot pin 310 until the tubular string 314 can be moved into the opening within the Horshoe Elevator 300. After the tubular 314 is in place within the elevator, the flap 308 on each side is rotated to be around the tubular 314 and the elevator 300 can be manipulated in the usual ways to either raise, lower or otherwise manipulate the tubular 314. It should be appreciated, in using the elevator illustrated in FIG. 11, that to capture the tubular within the elevator 300, the flap 308 is rotated to ride under the square collar 203 of the tubular 206 (or the tubular 314, as the case may be). This causes the wear pad 304 and the flap 308 to both be under the square collar on each side of the elevator illustrated in FIG. 11. In use, it should be appreciated that the two sets of flaps 308 and the two sets of wear pads 304 are each under the square collar of the tubular 314 which allows the tubular 314 to be raised, lowered or otherwise manipulated because all of the weight of the tubular will be born by the two sets of wear pads 304 and the two flaps 308.

Referring now to FIG. 12, there is illustrated a single door elevator 400 which has a body 402 and the single door 404 which pivots around a point on the line 406. Before the door 404 is rotated to open up the elevator 400, it is secured to the body 400 by any conventional latching mechanism 408 as desired.

As seen further in FIG. 12 a and 12 b, the door 404 is rotated through the use of a fluid driven activator 410 which can be used to rotate the door 404 to the open position or to rotate it in the reverse direction to close the door 404 against the body 402 to allow the latching mechanism 408 to hold the body 402 and the door 404 in the secured position. The fluid driven actuator 410 is powered by a pump 412 which can be either pneumatic or hydraulic and supplies the fluid under pressure through the flexible line 414 to the actuator device 410.

As illustrated in FIG. 12 b, the dotted line 416 illustrates the path through which an oilfield tubular can be moved without being forced into contact with any point of the elevator. This leaves an unimpeded path for the tubular such as the tubular 206 of FIG. 14. This feature is accomplished, by always having the point 418 of the door to the left hand side of the dotted line 416 as viewed in FIG. 12 b. It should be appreciated that if the point 418 is to the right side of the dotted line 416, the tubular moving into or out of the elevator may very well bump the point 418 of the door and impede the travel either into or out of the elevator illustrated in FIGS. 12 a and 12 b.

Referring now to FIGS. 15 a and 15 b, there is illustrated a two-door elevator 500 having a body 502 and first and second doors 504 and 505 which can be maintained in the closed position by a latching mechanism 508. The door 504 is open and/or closed by the actuator 510 which is controlled by a fluid pump 512 connected between the pump 512 and the actuator 501. In a similar vein, the door 505 is opened or closed by the actuator 511 controlled by a fluid pump 513 through a flexible line 515.

It should be appreciated that the pumps 512 and 513 can be individual pumps or can be the same pump to drive the actuators 510 and 511, and can be either pneumatic or hydraulic as desired.

FIG. 15 b also illustrates a pair of dotted lines which are parallel to each other and which define the area into which the doors 504 and 505, respectively, are rotated to make sure that the respective points 520 and 522 are clear of the tubular as such tubular leaves or enters the elevator 500. Thus, when the door 504 is rotated to cause its point 520 to be on or to the left side of the line 516 and the door 505 is rotated to cause the point 522 to be on or to the right side of the dotted line 518, the tubular to be moved into or outside the elevator will always have an unobstructed path. This characteristic is advantageous in that it will prevent the doors 504 and 505 from being damaged by the heavy weight oilfield casing as it is moved into or outside of the elevator 500, which also prevents damage to the tubular. This is, of course, the very same reason for maintaining the point 418 of the door 404 in FIG. 12 b on or to the left side of the dotted line 416.

From the foregoing, it will be seen that this invention is one well adapted to attain all of the ends and objects hereinabove set forth, together with other advantages which are obvious and which are inherent to the elevator described and illustrated herein.

It will be understood that certain features and sub-combinations are of utility and may be employed without reference to other features and sub-combinations. This is contemplated by and is within the scope of the claims.

As many possible embodiments may be made of the elevator of this invention without departing from the scope thereof, it is to be understood that all matter herein set forth or shown in the accompanying drawings is to be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.

While one or more of the preferred embodiments of the present invention contemplates the use of an elevator having a U-shape with parallel arms, the arms can either be parallel, or inclined slightly towards each other or even inclined slightly away from each other. Moreover, while the present invention contemplates that a given elevator will have a single pair of latching mechanisms, the elevator according to the present invention could also include two or more pairs of latching mechanisms which could be used to entrap a tubular within the elevator.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7992909Jul 12, 2007Aug 9, 2011Frank's Casing Crew And Rental Tools, Inc.Single joint elevator with jaws secured by a powered door
US8141923Jan 19, 2007Mar 27, 2012Frank's Casing Crew And Rental Tools, Inc.Single joint elevator having deployable jaws
US8240391May 9, 2007Aug 14, 2012Frank's Casing Crew And Rental Tools, Inc.Single joint elevator with gripping jaws and method of hoisting a tubular member
US8393661 *Dec 30, 2011Mar 12, 2013Frank's Casing Crew And Rental Tools, Inc.Single joint elevator having deployable jaws
US8678456 *Feb 7, 2013Mar 25, 2014Frank's Casing Crew And Rental Tools, Inc.Single joint elevator having deployable jaws
US20120107083 *Dec 30, 2011May 3, 2012Frank's Casing Crew And Rental Tools, Inc.Single joint elevator having deployable jaws
Classifications
U.S. Classification166/379, 166/77.52
International ClassificationE21B19/06, E21B19/16
Cooperative ClassificationE21B19/06
European ClassificationE21B19/06