US 3533241 A
Abstract available in
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Oct. 13, 1970 B. H. BOWERMAN ETAL RUPTURABLE SEAL ASSEMBLY FOR FILING GUIDES 3 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed July 12, 1968 FlG.l
INVENTORS BIH H.. Bowerman Ellis B.Thox#on Fred G. Brifl'on M u rl R.R1ch 0rd son ATTORNEYS Oct. 13, 1970 ow ETAL 3,533,241
RUPTURABLE SEAL ASSEMBLY FOR FILING GUIDES Filed July 12, 1968 3 Sheets-Sheet 2 a i m I I I I LD I LL.
x, S 1 -1 AVE i a i INVENTORS Bill H. Bowermon Ems BLThuxTon Fred G.Brihon Murl R. Richardson ATTORNEYS Oct. 13, 1970 a. H. BOWERMAN E-TAL 3,533,241
RUPTURABLE SEAL ASSEMBLY FOR FILING GUIDES Filed July 12, 1968 3 Sheets-Sheet 5 INVENTORS Bill H. Bowermun Ellis B.Thox1on Fr d 6 Murl R. Richardson WWM ATTORNEYS United States Patent U.S. c1. til-46.5 6 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A rupturable seal assembly for closing the lower ends of the upright tubular members, piling guides and/or legs or standards, of marine drilling platforms to facilitate floating of such platforms to points of installation as well as prevent entry of silt and other debris through said lower ends when the same rest on the bottom of a body of water prior to passage of the piling through the guides.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Field of the invention Rupturable seal assemblies of the heavy duty, reinforced type capable of withstanding relatively high pressures over relatively large areas.
Description of the prior art Insofar as known, the tubular standards and/or piling guides of marine drilling platforms and similar structures secured in place by piling driven therethrough have heretofore had open ends whereby, when said platforms are placed in position, silt and other debris enter the lower ends of said standards and/ or guides. Since the annuli between the piling and guides and/or standards usually are filled with cement or grout, it is most desirable to exclude as much foreign matter as possible. The only prior attempts to solve this problem have consisted of closing the lower ends of the guides and/or standards by fastening metal plates therein or thereon or by mounting caps on said lower ends or by securing wipers to the internal surfaces thereof; however, none of these solutions have proven to be practicable or satisfactory. Although the metal plates and caps provide the buoyancy necessary for economical floating of the platforms or structures to installation points, said plates or caps must have a tight fit with the guides and/ or standards and are thereby difficult, if not impossible, to displace or knock out of the way by the driven piling; while the wipers have been torn out by said piling.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to novel seal assemblies for 010s ing the lower ends of the upright, tubular members, legs or standards and/or piling guides, of a marine drilling platform or similar structure which is adapted to be secured to the bottom of a body of water, such as the ocean, by piling driven through said members that are 3,533,241 Patented Oct. 13, 1970 ice necessarily of relatively large diameter. The seal assemblies are adapted to be mounted on the lower ends of the tubular members or at different elevations therein to prevent the entry of silt and other debris during the installation of the platform until the elastic diaphragms of said assemblies are ruptured by the driving of the piling through said members as well as: to facilitate floating of said platform to its point of installation. The diaphragms of the seal assemblies are of the heavy duty, reinforced type so as to be capable of withstanding relatively high pressures over relatively large areas while remaining sufficiently frangible to be readily rupturable by the piling. If desired, annular wiper assemblies for sealing off around the piling may be mounted in the tubular members immediately above the seal assemblies to prevent the entry of foreign matter after water flooding of said members and rupturing of the diaphragms. Also, the seal assemblies may be employed in conjunction with cement or grout packer assemblies mounted thereabove in the tubular members, piling guides and or standards.
Constructions designed to carry out the the invention will be described hereinafter, together with other features of said invention.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of a marine drilling platform having tubular supporting legs and piling guides between the legs resting on the bottom of a body of water, said legs and guides having seal assemblies constructed in accordance with the invention mounted on their lower ends and housing piling driven into said bottom to anchor the platform thereto,
FIG. 2 is an enlarged, broken, transverse, sectional view of a seal assembly mounted on the lower end of a typical piling guide or leg with a wiper assembly and piling thercabove,
FIG. 3 is an enlarged, transverse, vertical, sectional view of a portion of the lower end of a typical leg or piling guide having the seal assembly mounted thereon with a cement or grout packer assembly and piling thereabove,
FIG. 4 is an exploded, fragmentary, perspective view, on a greatly enlarged scale, illustrating the acute angular relationship of the parallel reinforcing cords of adjacent plies of the rupturable diaphragm of the sealing assembly,
FIG. 5 is an enlarged, cross-sectional view illustrating the reverse wrapping of the peripheral portions of adjacent plies of the diaphragm around its peripheral reinforcing ring, and
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary sectional view showing the seal assembly mounted within one of the legs or piling guides intermediates its ends.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT In the drawings, the numeral 1 designates a marine drilling platform having tubular supporting legs or standards 2 between which horizontal reinforcing members 3 are connected in the usual manner. Upright, tubular piling guides or guide sleeves 4, which may have flared upper ends 5, are supported between the lower end portions of the legs 2 by the lower reinforcing members 3 and, with said legs, are adapted to rest upon or have their lower extremities slightly embedded in the bottom of a body of water. The guides 4 and/ or legs are transfixed by piling 6 which are in the form of steel cylinders or pipe of up to five feet or larger in diameter and which are driven as far as possible into the bottom. It is noted that the flared upper ends 5 of the piling guides facilitate the insertion of the piling 6 thereinto and that this piling may be of less length than the piling which extends through the legs 2. Upon completion of the pile driving, the annulus between each guide 4 and/ or leg and its piling is filled with cement or grout to provide a unitary base structure.
metal reinforcing element or ring 9. 'Preferably, the reinforcing ring 9 is circular in cross-section and may have a radial diameter approximately equal to the thickness of the diaphragm whereby the periphery of the latter is enlarged and of greater thickness than the remainder thereof. It is noted that the material of the diaphragm 8 is of substantially uniform thickness and includes a plurality of elastic coextensive layers or plies 50 with each ply having flexible, parallel, reinforcing cords or elements 51 in acute angular relation to the reinforcing cords of adjacent plies, three plies being shown in FIG. 4 for purposes of illustration. Each layer or ply 50 has its peripheral portion wrapped around the reinforcing ring, in reverse direction relative to adjacent plies as shown in FIG. 5 wherein six plies are illustrated, whereby the periphery of the diaphragm (FIG. 5) is approximately circular in cross-section.
For mounting the seal assembly 7 on the lower end of the leg 2, or on the lower end of one of the piling guides 4 (FIG. 1), a pair of heavy, flat rings or annular plates 11 is provided and these plates are adapted to be detachably connected at their external peripheries by a plurality of relatively large bolts 12 and nuts 13. Although the internal diameter of the annular mounting plates 11 may be substantially equal to the internal diameter of the leg, as shown in FIG. 2, or larger or smaller, said plates are of larger external diameter in order to accommodate the bolts 12 and nuts 13. An annular groove or recess 14 is formed in the inner, radial face of each annular plate approximately medially of its internal and external peripheries for confining the periphery of the diaphragm 8. The grooves 14 are semi-circular in crosssection and of slightly less radial diameter than the circular cross-section of the diaphragm periphery so as to slightly deform said periphery when the external peripheral portions of the inner, radial face of each plate 11 are in abutting engagement. Inwardly of its groove, the inner, radial face of each annular plate is recessed, as shown at 15, to accommodate the thickness of the diaphragm when the annular plates are clamped together by the bolts and nuts. In order to prevent damaging of the diaphragm 8 upon flexing thereof, it is desirable to chamfer the internal, inner edges 16 of the plates 11. When relaxed, the diaphragm is arched or cupped inwardly to prevent outward projection and possible damaging thereof.
Although not illustrated in detail, the upper annular plate 11 is adapted to be welded to the lower end of each piling guide 4 and/or leg 2 through which piling is to be driven and the lower annular plate is bolted thereto after confinement of the periphery of the diaphragm 8 between said plates. The seal assembly closes the lower end of the guide and/or leg so as to facilitate floating of the platform to its point of installation as well as prevent entrance of silt and other debris during installation of said platform. In order to position the piling guides and legs on the bottom of the body of water, it is necessary to water flood said guides and legs. The diaphragm flexes downwardly upon engagement by the lower end of the piling 6, as shown in broken lines in FIG. 2, until it ruptures so as to minimize resistance to the passage of said piling through the lower end of the guide and/or leg into the bottom of the body of water. After rupturing of the diaphragm, the water thereabove tends to prevent entry of excessive foreign matter.
If desired, a wiper assembly 17 may be utilized with the seal assembly 7 and includes an annular member or short collar 18, of the same internal diameter as the annular plates 11, for welding to the uppermost of said plates (FIG. 2). A pair of heavy, fiat mounting rings or annular plates 19, substantially identical to the plates or rings 11, is disposed above the collar 18 with the lowermost ring 19 being welded to the upper end of said collar. The uppermost ring is welded to the lower end of a thick collar 20 which has its upper end welded to the lower end of the leg 2 and which coacts with the collar 18 to provide a cylindrical body for the wiper assembly. Although of the same external diameter, the thick collar 20 is of less internal diameter than the collar 18 so as to function as a guide for centering the piling 6 relative to the wiper assembly 17. Preferably, an internal, downwardly-converging, inclined surface 21 is provided at the upper end of the thick collar to assist its guiding function.
Bolts 22 and nuts 23, similar to the bolts 11 and nuts 12, detachably connect the rings 19 together at their external peripheries and each of said rings has a substantially medial groove 24, similar to the grooves 14 of the annular plates 11, in its inner, radial face for confining and deforming the external periphery of an annular flexible wiper element or blade 25 which may be formed of the same reinforced, multi-ply material as the diaphragm 8. Except for its peripheral portions, the material of the wiper blade 25 is of constant thickness in the same manner as the major portion of the diaphragm and has its external periphery wrapped, in reversely directed alternate layers or plies, around an annular, metal reinforcing member or ring 26 which is substantially identical to the reinforcing ring 9 of said diaphragm. Due to its being molded around the reinforcing ring without decreasing the thickness of the material, the external periphery 27 of the wiper blade is enlarged and approximately circular in cross-section and is of slightly greater radial diameter than the semicircular contour of the grooves 24. For accommodating the thickness of the wiper blade 25 and preventing damage thereto upon flexing thereof, each ring 19 is recessed at 28 inwardly of its groove and chamferred at its internal, inner edge 29 in the same manner as the annular plates 11.
The wiper blade has an internal diameter appreciably smaller than the diameter of the piling 6 and has its inner portion 30 arched or bowed downwardly for sealing off around said piling irrespective of the eccentricity of the latter. An enlarged lip 31, approximately circular in cross-section is formed on the internal periphery of the blade 25, and is unreinforced so as to be more flexible than said remainder of said blade. Due to the sealing engagement of its lip 31 with the piling, it is readily apparent that the wiper blade prevents ingress of foreign matter upon rupturing of the diaphragm 8 by said piling. It is noted that the wiper assembly 17 is desirable but not essential and that seal assembly 7 may be used alone, in which event, the uppermost annular plate 11 is welded to the lower end of the piling guide 4 and/ or supporting leg 2 as shown in FIG. 1.
In FIG. 3, the seal assembly 7 is shown mounted at the lower end of one of the piling guides; however, it is mountable in the same manner on any one of the supporting legs as well as within said guides and/or legs. For mounting the rupturable diaphragm 8 of the seal assembly, modified mounting rings or annular plates 32 are provided and these plates are identical to the annular plates 11 except for their connection to each other. Instead of the bolts 12, and nuts 13, bolts 33 extend through the external peripheral portion of the lower mounting plate 32 and are screwthreaded into the upper plate. As shown, the seal assembly 7 may be used in conjunction with a cement or grout packer assembly 34 which includes a cylindrical casing or housing 35 of slightly greater diameter than the piling guide 4 and of the same external diameter as the annular mounting plates. A thick collar 36, which may be of approximately the same internal and external diameters as the mounting plates 32, may be interposed between and welded to the lower end of the piling guide and the upper end of the casing 35 which has its lower end welded to the uppermost of said plates. For centering the piling 6, an internal guide ring 37 is welded in the upper end of the casing and has an inner, downwardly-converging, inclined surface 38 at its upper end.
The packer assembly includes upper and lower anchor rings 39 and 40 which are welded to the interior surface of the casing 35 for supporting therebetween an annular, substantially toroidal inflatable member or bladder 41, the upper ring 39 being spaced immediately below the guide ring 37 and the lower ring 40 being spaced immediately above the seal assembly 7. Annular flanges 42 and 43 project from the upper and lower ends of the bladder 41, respectively, and have enlarged, annular, internal beads 44 and 45 at their respective extremities. The rings 39 and 40 are provided with external recesses 46 and 47 for receiving and confining the bladder flanges 42 and 43 their beads 44 and 45 so as to anchor the bladder against accidental displacement and in contiguous relation to the interior surface of the casing. For distorting the bladder into sealing engagement with the piling, a suitable fitting 48 is mounted in the outer wall of said bladder adjacent its lower end and extends through the casing 35 for connection with a hose or tube 49 which leads to a pressure fluid source (not shown) at the surface. Although the bladder 41 may be formed of any suitable elastic material, preferably, it is reinforced in substantially the same manner as the diaphragm 8 and wiper blade 25.
It is noted that the bladder is relatively flat in crosssection whereby it is disposed outwardly of the internal margins of the anchor rings 39 and 40 when it is deflated. Also, it is pointed out that the recess 46 of the upper anchor ring is elongated vertically and widen so that the bladder flange 42 and bead 44 may slide up and down relative to said ring and thereby permit foreshortening of the bladder 41 upon inflation thereof. After driving of the piling, the bladder is inflated so as to seal off around said piling and support the cement or grout (not shown) which is introduced to fill the annulus between the piling guide 4, or supporting leg 2, and said piling. If desired, the wiper assembly 17 may be interposed between the seal assembly 7 and packer assembly 34 for conjoint use therewith.
As shown in FIG. 6, a modified seal assembly 52 may be mounted within one or more of the upright tubular members (supporting legs 2 or piling guides 4) intermediate the ends thereof for controlling the buoyancy of the platform during floating thereof to its point of installation. Modified mounting rings or annular plates 53, similar to and of smaller diameter than the mounting plates 11 and 32, are adapted to be welded within the tubular member at any desired elevation or location and have similar annular grooves 54 in their inner, radial faces for confining and slightly deforming the complementary periphery of a circular diaphragm 55. Due to the welded securement of the rings 53, it is unnecessary to bolt said rings together; otherwise, the latter are identical to the other annular plates. Also, the diaphragm 55 is identical to the diaphragm 8 except for its smaller diameter and has the same shape and type of enlarged periphery 56 molded around an annular, metal reinforcing member or ring 57 whereby said periphery is circular in cross-section. For protecting and reinforcing the modified seal assembly 52 against accidental displacement, a plurality of upright, spaced, guide lugs 58, having inwardly and downwardly inclined upper surfaces 59, may overlie the upper mounting ring 53 and be welded thereto as well as to the inner surface of the tubular member.
The foregoing description of the invention is explanatory thereof and various changes in the size, shape and materials, as well as in the details of the illustrated construction may be made, within the scope of the appended claims, without departing from the spirit of the invention.
What we claim is:
1. In combination with a tubular piling guide and/or supporting leg member of a marine drilling platform or similar structure,
a rupturable seal assembly for closing the bore of the member including a circular diaphragm of reinforced elastic material and of uniform thickness which is relatively thin compared to the area of the diaphragm,
an annular reinforcing element molded in the periphery of said diaphragm and having a circular cross-sectional contour,
the peripheral portion of the diaphragm completely surrounding the reinforcing element without reducing the thickness of the material of said diaphragm whereby said diaphragm periphery is enlarged and of substantially circular cross-sectional contour,
upper and lower complementary annular plates for mounting said diaphragm on an upright tubular member of a marine drilling platform,
means for fastening together the annular mounting plates at their external peripheral portions,
each annular mounting plate having an annular groove of semi-circular cross-sectional contour in its inner fiat face intermediate its peripheral portions,
the annular grooves being of slightly less radial diameter than said diaphragm periphery for confining and slightly deforming said periphery when said mounting plates are secured in abutting relationship,
the inner flat face of each mounting plate being recessed inwardly of its annular groove to accommodate the thickness of said diaphragm and permit abutment of the external peripheral portions of the inner faces of said mounting plates, and
means for securing the upper mounting plate to the lower end of the upright tubular member of the platform.
2. The combination defined in claim 1 wherein the annular reinforcing ring has a radial diameter approximately equal to the thickness of the diaphragm whereby the periphery of said diaphragm has a radial diameter approximately three times greater than said diaphragm thickness.
3. The combination defined in claim 1 wherein the diaphragm includes a plurality of reinforced plies with the peripheral portion of each ply being wrapped around the annular reinforcing element in a reverse direction relative to adjacent plies.
4. The combination defined in claim 1 or 3 including:
a wiper assembly for sealing off around piling driven through the upright tubular member and having a cylindrical body interposed between and secured to the seal assembly and member,
an annular blade of elastic material having an internal diameter less than the diameter of the piling,
an annular reinforcing ring molded in the external periphery of the blade and having a circular crosssectional contour,
the external peripheral portion of said blade completely surrounding the reinforcing ring without reducing the thickness of the material of said blade whereby said blade external periphery is enlarged and of substantially circular cross-sectional contour,
the cylindrical body including separable upper and lower annular mounting means having annular grooves of semicircular cross-sectional contour in their inner faces for receiving and confining said enlarged external periphery of said blade, and means for detachably'fastening together the mounting means. 5. The combination defined in claim 1 or 3 including a packer assembly interposed between the seal assembly and upright tubular member for sealing off around piling driven through said member so as to support cement introduced into the annulus between the piling and member.
6. The combination defined in claim 1 or 3 wherein the rupturable seal assembly is mounted within the upright tubular member intermediate its ends.
8 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS JACOB SHAPIRO, Primary Examiner US. Cl. X.R.