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Publication numberUS3585567 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 15, 1971
Filing dateAug 28, 1969
Priority dateAug 28, 1969
Publication numberUS 3585567 A, US 3585567A, US-A-3585567, US3585567 A, US3585567A
InventorsWofford Delbert R
Original AssigneeWofford Delbert R
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus and methods for connecting and disconnecting electrical circuits underwater
US 3585567 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent mi 3,585,567 I [72] Inventor Delbert R. Wofford [56] References Cmd P-o- BOX |160, Owensboro. Ky. 42307 FOREIGN PATENTS am' No' it??? 1969 53,2is io/i942 Netherlands 339/1 i i [45] Patented June l5, 1971 Pn'mary Examiner-Marvin A Champion Assistant Examiner-Terrell P. Lewis Attorney-Laurence RA Brown ABSTRACT: Structure is disclosed for assembling connectors [54] under sea water or in other hostile environments and isolating UNDERWATER the `-iunction from the surrounding water` A flexible b arrieil 8 Claimsn Drawing Figs portion is fitted to envelop the `lunction, and any water inside the barrier is purged by the flow of a fluid such as a liquid, air

[52] U.S.CI 339/45, or gas therethrough. The barrier portion is then lled with 339/75 waterproof substance such as silicone grease. To disconnect,

[S1] Int. Cl ..H0lrl3/54, the grease is forced into the flexible barrier to push the con- HOlr 13/62 nectors apart thereby surrounding each portion with an en- [50] Field of Search 339/45, 75, veloping waterproof body when the barrier is severed between 94, 11S-117, 213; ZOO/8l the connectors.


SHEET 2 0F 2 I FIGA INVENTOR DFLBCHT Ff. "//OFFOPI'J BY (Y.) @www1 ATTORNEY APPARATUS AND METHODS FOR CONNECTING AND DISCONNECTING ELECTRICAL CIRCUITS UNDERWATER This invention relates to means and methods for connecting and disconnecting electrical circuits underwater.

In my copending application, now abandoned, Ser. No. 773,048, filed Nov. 4, 1968, for which the present application is a continuation-in-part there is disclosed apparatus comprising two interfitting electrical connector plug-receptacle structures wherein each connector has its contact surfaces covered with a waterproof barrier of silicone grease or the like, so that the two connectors may be electrically connected underwater without permitting salt water to enter the junction area between the connectors or to come into electrical contact with the connector conductors. However, this connector structure had no provision for disconnecting underwater while keeping the two connectors isolated from salt water.

It is accordingly an object of this invention to provide means and methods of disconnecting electrical circuits underwater without exposing the electrically conductive surfaces to salt water.

Therefore, in accordance with this invention, a pair of interfitting electrical connectors has an elastic barrier member surrounding the junction between the plugs to serve as a receptacle for a waterproof insulating substance such as silicone grease. By confining the barrier member within a rigid cylindrical tubing, the two connectors may be disconnected by forcing between them a charge of the waterproof substance, and the elastic member then can be ruptured to keep each connector isolated from the water or other surrounding atmosphere by the interspersed waterproof insulating substance.

The foregoing, and further objectives and features of the invention, are set forth in the following more detailed description of the invention, which refers to the accompanying drawing, wherein:

FIG. l is a schematic elevation representation, partly in section of two interfitted connectors adapted to be disconnected underwater;

FIG. 2 is a schematic elevation representation, partly in section of two interfitted connectors in connected position surrounded by a rigid cylindrical member;

FIG. 3 is a view as shown in FIG. 2 wherein a waterproofinsulating substance is located in the junction region between the plugs;

FIG. 4 is a schematic view as shown in FIG. 3 wherein the insulating substance is forced between the connectors to push them apart, and

FIGS. 5, 6, and 7 illustrate further steps in the separation of two connectors as shown in FIG. 3 with the electrical contact surfaces enveloped in waterproof insulating substance to prevent damage or electrical shorts when the connectors are disconnected underwater.

Details of plug-connector structure suitable for underwater connection are shown in the above identified copending application. Thus two connectors 10, l1 are coupled by watertight connection to corresponding electrical cables l2, 13, and are mated at a junction 14 so that internal electrical conductor terminals 15, 16 are in conductive contact. The connectors may be brought together underwater without exposing the conductors to salt water by means of enveloping them with a silicone grease or other insulating waterproof body which may ooze out between tlfe junction 14 as shown at 17 in FIG. 2 when the connectors are mated.

In connection with the present invention, a barrier member 18 which is expandible or made of elastic material such as rubber, surrounds the junction 14 and contacts each connector l0, l1 at respective ridges 19, 20. Cylindrical clamps 2l, 22 may be used to hold the barrier member 18 in place to provide a watertight seal. The elastic barrier member 18 may be installed under water and for that purpose is threaded upon a cable 12 or 13 before mating connectors l0, l1. If so there may be some moisture inside the compartment 23, and this may be removed if valves 24, 25 are opened and air is passed through tubes 26, 27 to purge the compartment.

Mounted on at least one connector is an inlet valve 28 through which the insulating substance may be passed into the interior of the connectors to exit at the junction 14 between the plugs, as by means of a connected grease fitting 29, or the like, shown in FIG. 2.

A rigid cylindrical cover 30 passed over clamps 21, 22 confines the barrier 18 within a predetermined limited zone 3l when additional insulation material 17 is passed through fitting 29 as shown in FIG. 3, where the elastic barrier 18 is expanded to fill the zone 31 and connector cover 30.

Further pressure of the insulating substance will tend to disconnect the plugs by separating at junction 14 as shown in FIG. 4. This permits the rigid cylindrical cover 30 to be removed so that the flexible barrier 18 can be shaped and ruptured as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6 to permit isolation of plugs l0 and 1l under water with connector surfaces 15 and 16 enveloped in the insulation substance and totally insulated from the water.

Accordingly there is disclosed herein apparatus for and methods of disconnecting electrical connectors underwater without exposing electrical terminals to the corrosive or conductive Contact with salt water.

What l claim is:

l. Electrical connector structure for disconnection in a hostile environment comprising in combination, two interfitting connector members with electrically conducting contact surfaces for making electrical connections at a junction therebetween, a common flexible diaphragm member adapted to encompass said junction, coupling means for fitting to each connector said common diaphragm member to surround said junction, pliable environment insulating barrier substance held by said coupling means inside said common diaphragm to surround each interfitting connector member and the junction between said two members when interfitted, means supplying a flow of said pliable insulating substance between said connector members when they are disconnected and moved apart thereby to cover said contact surfaces and isolate the junction from the environment, and structure permitting said common diaphragm member to be separated to encompass each of said connector members and a portion of said pliable substance therearound separately.

2. Structure defined in claim 1 including means for confining said flexible diaphragm into a predetermined area surrounding the junction between said members.

3. Structure defined in claim 1 including valve means for introducing an environmentproof substance into the region inside said barrier means.

4. The method of making and breaking electrical circuits between two interfitting electrical connectors having electrically conductive surfaces meeting in an interface junction isolated from the surrounding environment, comprising the steps of:

a. coupling the two interfitting electrical connectors together while immersed in the surrounding environment, surrounding the interface between the connectors with a pliable environmentproof insulating barrier substance, and

c. decoupling the two interfitting electrical connectors while retaining the pliable substance in surrounding contact with the electrically conductive surfaces of each connector to electrically isolate the electrical circuits from the surrounding environment.

5. The method defined in claim 4 including the step of introducing a pliable environmentproof substance about the electrically conductive surfaces of both connectors.

6. The method defined in claim 4 including the step of purging the region inside said barrier member by passing a fluid nonconductive substance therethrough.

7. The method defined in claim 5 including the step of introducing said environmentproof substance inside said barrier member after it is installed.

b. surrounding the interface between the connectors with an environmentproof barrier member, and c. forcing environmentproof substance between the connectors inside said member with enough pressure to force apart the connectors for decoupling.

UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION June 15, 1971 Patent No. 3 585 567 Dated Inventor(s) Delbert R. Wofford It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:

On the cover sheet insert [73} Assignee Texas Gas Transmission Corporation, Owensboro, Ky.

Signed and sealed this 23rd day of May 1972.

(SEAL) Attest:

EDWARD M. PLETCHER,JR. ROBERT GOTTSCHALK Commissioner of Patents Attesting Officer FORM IDO-1050 (10-69) uscoMMDc eo31e-psa KLS. GDVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE z |969 0-365-334

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7641487 *Mar 21, 2006Jan 5, 2010Vetco Gray Controls LimitedConnection device
US20090042422 *Mar 21, 2006Feb 12, 2009Trevor Ronald MorganConnection device
DE3209727A1 *Mar 17, 1982Oct 7, 1982Inst Francais Du PetroleIn fluessigem medium zusammensteckbare elektrische steckverbindung
U.S. Classification439/158
International ClassificationH01R13/523
Cooperative ClassificationH01R13/523
European ClassificationH01R13/523