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Publication numberUS3780243 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 18, 1973
Filing dateOct 12, 1972
Priority dateOct 12, 1972
Also published asCA981351A1, DE2347744A1
Publication numberUS 3780243 A, US 3780243A, US-A-3780243, US3780243 A, US3780243A
InventorsVries D De, P Koomey
Original AssigneeP Koomey, Vries D De
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus for making and breaking an electrical underwater connection between releasable underwater members
US 3780243 A
Abstract
An apparatus for making and breaking an electrical underwater connection between releasable first and second members of an underwater connector by providing a fixed electrical contact on the first member and a movable electrical contact on the second member with means for moving the movable contact into and out of engagement with the fixed contact and penetratable sealing means on each of the members protecting the electrical contacts from water but allowing passage of the movable contacts into and out of engagement with the fixed contact. Piston and cylinder means on the second member for carrying the movable contact for making and breaking the electrical connection. A fluid bypass between both ends of the piston for allowing bypass of a flowable non-water soluble insulating compound between the male and female members as the piston is reciprocated.
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United States Patent [191 Koomey et al.

[ APPARATUS FOR MAKING AND BREAKING A ELECTRICAL UNDERWATER CONNECTION BETWEEN RELEASABLE UNDERWATER MEMBERS Inventors: Paul C. Koomey; Douwe de Vries,

both of 0/0 PO. Box 1637, both of Houston, Tex. 77001 Filed: Oct. 12, 1972 Appl. No.: 296,880

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3/1959 Oshry 200/159 B UX 3/1966 Lawwill et al. 200/61.08 5/1960 Caswell 200/82 B X 2/1957 l-leilmann et al. 200/150 G 4/1961 Caswell 200/82 B X 6/1971 Nichols et al 200/149 A X Dec. 18, 1973 3,213,251 10/1965 Greber ..200/149 AA Primary Examiner-Robert K. Schaefer Assistant Examiner-Robert A. Vanderhye Attorney-James F. Weiler et al.

[ 5 7 ABSTRACT An apparatus for making and breaking an electrical underwater connection between releasable first and second members of an underwater connector by providing a fixed electrical contact on the first member and a movable electrical contact on the second member with means for moving the movable contact into and out of engagement with the fixed contact and penetratable sealing means on each of the members protecting the electrical contacts from water but allowing passage of the movable contacts into and out of engagement with the fixed contact. Piston and cylinder means on the second member for carrying the movable contact for making and breaking the electrical connection. A fluid bypass between both ends of the piston for allowing bypass of a flowable non-water soluble insulating compound between the male and female members as the piston is reciprocated.

7 Claims, 4 Drawing Figures 3.780. SHEET 2 BF 3 243 Wi'iWl PAIENTEDUEBI 8 15173 APPARATUS FOR MAKING AND BREAKING AN ELECTRICAL UNDERWATER CONNECTION BETWEEN RELEASABLE UNDERWATER MEMBERS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION It is generally old, as shown by US. Pat. Nos. 3,486,556 and 3,581,815 to use an underwater connector having releasable male and female members for supplying hydraulic power and controls and magnetic controls for controlling underwater equipment such as well drilling, production and transportation equipment.

However, in addition to providing underwater hydraulic power and controls, it may be desirable to provide direct electrical power and/or controls to the underwater equipment. Since the underwater equipment remains subjected to its environment for prolonged periods of time, any electrical contacts exposed to the water would be subject to corrosion and deterioration. The present invention is directed to an improved apparatus for making and breaking underwater electrical connections while at the same time protecting the electrical connections from the water.

SUMMARY The present invention is directed to an apparatus for making and breaking an electrical underwater connection between first and second coacting and releasable underwater members by providing a fixed electrical contact on the first member and a movable electrical contact on the second member with means on the second member for moving the movable contact into and out of engagement with the fixed contact. A penetratable sealing means on each of the first and second members protects the fixed and movable electrical contacts from water, but allows passage of the movable contact into and out of engagement with the fixed contact.

A still further object of the present invention is the provision of sealing means on one of the members positioned to seal between the members and about the electrical contacts when the members are connected.

Still a further object of the present invention is the provision of a recess in the first member with the fixed electrical contact recessed in the recess. A piston and cylinder is provided in the second member for moving the movable contact to and from the fixed contact. A fluid bypass is provided extending between the ends of the piston and an insulating non-water soluble compound fills the recess, the cylinder and the bypass whereby the compound can'be moved between the recess and the cylinder as the piston is reciprocated for moving the compound out of the way when making the electrical connection, but moving the compound into a contact protecting position when the electrical connection is broken.

Still a further object is the provision of a resilient penetratable sealing means on each of the members protecting the fixed and movable electrical contacts. The movable contact includes a point for piercing the resilient sealing means as the movable contact is moved toward the fixed contact and the seals again seal off the fixed and movable contacts when the movable contact is retracted.

Other and further objects, features and advantages will be apparent from the following description of presently preferred embodiments of the invention, given for the purpose of disclosure, and taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a fragmentary, elevational view, in cross section, of a portion of coacting underwater members in which an electrical underwater connection is provided and shown in the engaged position,

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary, elevational view, of the apparatus of FIG. 1 in which the electrical underwater connection is disengaged,

FIG. 3 is a fragmentary, elevational view, in cross section, of another embodiment of the present invention showing the electrical connection engaged, and

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary elevational view, in crosssection, of the embodiment of FIG. 3 showing the electrical connection disengaged.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring now to the drawings, and particularly to FIGS. 1 and 2, the preferred embodiment of the present invention is best seen and is generally indicated by the reference numeral 10 in which two coacting and releasable underwater members 12 and 14 are shown in an engaging position. The first member 12 and the second member 14 are adapted to be connected together and released and may be of any conventional type such as shown in US. Pat. No. 3,486,556. One of the members, such as member 12, may be the female member and may be stationary and fixed underwater and connected to the underwater equipment (not shown) to which power and/or controls is desired to be transmitted from above water. The second member 14 may be the movable member and may be the male member which is retrievable and may be raised and lowered from the water surface and releasably connected to and disconnected from the first member 12.

The retrievable member 14 includes a conventional electrical connection 16 for connection to an electrical conductor (not shown) leading to the water surface for providing electrical power or electrical controls to the underwater equipment. The stationary member 12 includes an electrical connector 18 for receiving the electrical power or control from the connector 16 in the member 14 and in turn is connected to the underwater equipment.

The member 12 includes a recess 20 positioned to mate with the member 14 when the underwater connector members 12 and 14 are engaged. A fixed electrical contact 22 such as a circular contact is positioned in the recess 20 and is supported on an insulated rod 24 and is electrically connected to the electrical connector 18 through an electrical conductor 24. The contact 22 is spaced from the contacting face 26 of the member 12 so as to be recessed in the. recess 20.

The male member 14 carries a movable electrical contact 30 such as a ring which is connected by an elec trical conductor 32 to the electrical connector 16 and is thus in communication with equipment at the water surface for supplying electrical power or controls. Suitable means are provided for supporting and moving the electrical contact 30 into and out of engagement with the fixed electrical contact 32 to make or break the electrical underwater connection. Preferably, the movable contact 30 is supported from a piston 34 which is movable in a cylinder 36. The piston includes piston extensions 35 and 37 which are movable in cylinder extensions 39 and 41, respectively; The cylinder 36 is positioned so as to be axially aligned with the recess 20 and fixed contact 22 when the male member 14 is connected to the female member 12. Suitable hydraulic lines 38 and 40 are connected on either side of the piston 30 for reciprocating the piston by a suitable hydraulic controls (not shown) for making and breaking the electrical connection between the contacts 30 and A seal 51 is provided on one of the members, preferably member 14, and positioned to seal between the members 12 and 14 about the recess 20 and the cylinder 36 when the members 12 and 14 are connected for preventing entrance of water into the connection.

However, since the female member 12 is generally stationarily positioned on the water floor adjacent the equipment to be serviced for prolonged periods of time, and the male member 14 is raised and lowered for various purposes, into and out of engagement with the member 14, the seal 50 would not protect the electrical contacts 22 and 30 from the water when the members 12 and 14 were disconnected. In the preferred embodiment an insulating non-water soluble silicone compound, such as sold by Dow-Corning under the trademark DC, is provided filling the recess 20 and the por tions 39 and 41 of the cylinder 36 in which the piston extensions 35 and 37 move. The member 14 may include a recess 21 between the coacting face 27 and the movable contact 30 and may also be filled with the compound 50. The compound 50 protects the electrical contacts 22 and 30 even when the members 12 and 14 are disconnected and exposed to water. The compound 50 fills the cavities of the recesses 20 and 21 and cylinder 39 to prevent the entrance of water. In addition, a bypass, including portions 52 and 54, is provided, preferably in the piston extensions 35 and 37. The purpose of the bypass passageway portions 52 and 54 is to allow the insulating and sealing compound 50 to be displaced from one end to the other end of the piston 34 and piston extensions 35 and 37 as the piston 34 is actuated. Thus, referring to FIG. 2, the recesses 20 and 21 are initially filled with the flowable silicone compound 50 when the electrical connection is disengaged. When the piston 34 is'actuated to move the movable electrical contact ring 30 into engagement with the fixed contact 22 the insulating and sealing compound 50 will flow through bypass passageways 54 and 52 into the member 14 and into cylinder extension 41, as best seen in FIG. 1. And when it is desired to release the member 14 from the member 12, the piston 34 is retracted again forcing the insulating and sealing compound 50 from the member 14 through the bypass passageways 52 and 54 and into the recesses 20 and 21, as best seen in FIG. 2, so as to seal off the fixed contact 22 from water contact during the period the member 14 is disconnected from the member 12.

Therefore, the insulating and sealing compound 50 will initially cover and protect the fixed electrical ciprocates thereby preventing damage to the conductor 32 as the piston 34 reciprocates.

Other and further embodiments and modifications can be made one of which is shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 wherein like parts are designated with like numbers corresponding to the parts in FIGS. 1 and 2 with the addition of the suffix a. In the embodiment of FIGS. 3 and 4, the insulating silicone compound is replaced by a 1 seal 60 on the member 12 and a coacting seal 62 on the 6 contact 22, will be moved out of the recess 20 to allow 0 engagement of the contacts 30 and 32 and can again be replaced in the recess 20 when the electrical connection is disengaged.

The electrical conductor 32 may include a coiled portion 31 to allow extension and retraction of the movable contact 30, and may also include a rigid portion 33 about which the passageway 52 of psiton 34 remember 14. The seals and 62 may be any suitable resilient penetratable sealing means such as rubber, plastic or neoprene. The movable electric contact 64 includes a point 66 which is forced through the seals 60 and 62 by the piston 34a and into contact with the fixed electrical contact 68. The electrical connection is disengaged by the piston 34a being retracted and as the pointed electrical contact 34 is removed, the seals 60 and 62 close the opening made by the point 66 to protect the electrical contacts 64 and 68 from water when the members 12 and 14 are disconnected.

The present invention, therefore, is well adapted to carry out the objects and attain the ends and advantages mentioned as well as others inherent therein. While presently preferred embodiments of the invention have been given for the purpose of disclosure, numerous changes in the details of construction and arrangement of parts may be made which will readily suggest themselves to those skilled in the art and which are encompassed within the spirit of the invention and the scope of the appended claims.

What is claimed is:

1. Apparatus for making and breaking an electrical underwater connection comprising,

a first underwater member adapted to remain positioned underwater,

a second underwater member adapted to be lowered underwater and releasably coact with the first member,

a fixed electrical contact on said first member,

a movable electrical contact on said second member for coacting with the fixed contact for conducting electricity from the water surface,

a hydraulic piston and cylinder connected to the second member for actuation from the water surface for moving the movable contact into and out of engagement with the fixedcontact, and

penetratable insulating non-water soluble sealing means on each of the first and second members positioned for protecting the fixed and movable electrical contacts from water when the first and second members are disconnected but allowing passage of the movable contact into and out of engagement with the fixed contact.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the movable contact including a point for piercing the sealing means as the movable contact ismoved toward the fixed contact.

3. Apparatus for making and breaking an electrical underwater connection comprising,

a first underwater member having a recess and adapted to remain positioned underwater,

a fixed electrical contact in said recess,

a second underwater member adapted to be lowered underwater and releasably coact with the first member,

said second member including ahydraulic cylinder,

a piston movable in the cylinder,

control means for actuation from the water surface for moving the piston,

a movable electrical contact connected to the piston for movement to-and from the fixed contact,

a bypass passageway between both ends of the piston for allowing bypass of flowable material between the recess and the cylinder,

an electrical insulating and sealing non-water soluble flowable solid compound filling the recess, the cylinder and the bypass for protecting the fixed and movable electrical contacts from water when the first and second members are disconnected but allowing passage of the movable contact into and out of engagement with the fixed contact.

4. The apparatus of claim 3 including a second recess, said second recess positioned in the second member between the piston and the recess in the first member and adapted to receive said insulating and sealing compound. 7

5. The apparatus of claim 4 including, a flexible electrical cable connected to the movable contact and extending through the bypass. 6. The apparatus of claim 3 including, solid sealing and insulating means on the second member about the cylinder for sealing against the first member about the recess when the first and second members are connected.

7. The apparatus of claim 6 including, a second recess, said second recess positioned in the second member between the piston and the recess in the first member for receiving said insulating and sealing compound.

Patent Citations
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US2781435 *Mar 10, 1952Feb 12, 1957Marx ErwinArc-extinguishing mechanism for electric switches
US2877324 *Apr 8, 1957Mar 10, 1959Erie Resistor CorpSwitch
US2936355 *Jun 21, 1957May 10, 1960Ite Circuit Breaker LtdLatch means for recirculating gas blast interrupters
US2978559 *Dec 16, 1957Apr 4, 1961Ite Circuit Breaker LtdBushing mounted interrupter
US3213251 *Feb 5, 1962Oct 19, 1965Henry GreberCircuit breaker having arc extinguishing medium of granulated insulating material which includes a lubricant to decrease friction between elements thereof
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3839608 *Jul 23, 1973Oct 1, 1974Stewart & Stevenson Inc JimApparatus for making and breaking an electrical underwater connection between releasable underwater members
US4117287 *Apr 11, 1977Sep 26, 1978Compagnie Francaise Des PetrolesCombined electrical-hydraulic connector means
US4480160 *Aug 31, 1982Oct 30, 1984Donaldson Company, Inc.Differential pressure switch
US6095838 *Sep 21, 1998Aug 1, 2000Brickett; Benjamin P.Sliding bypass valve connector
EP0120714A2 *Mar 29, 1984Oct 3, 1984BICC Public Limited CompanyElectrical connectors capable of withstanding great changes in ambient pressure and temperature
EP0184973A2 *Dec 3, 1985Jun 18, 1986Hughes Tool CompanySupporting system for a riser
WO2007010179A1 *Jun 26, 2006Jan 25, 2007Vetco Gray Controls LtdUnderwater module
Classifications
U.S. Classification200/82.00R, 218/89, 200/61.19
International ClassificationH01R13/523, H01H1/38, E21B33/038, H01H1/12, E21B33/03
Cooperative ClassificationH01H1/38, H01R13/523, E21B33/0385
European ClassificationH01R13/523, E21B33/038B, H01H1/38
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
May 7, 1992ASAssignment
Owner name: BAROID CORPORATION, TEXAS
Free format text: RELEASED BY SECURED PARTY;ASSIGNOR:CHASE MANHATTAN BANK, THE;REEL/FRAME:006085/0590
Effective date: 19911021
Mar 8, 1989ASAssignment
Owner name: CHASE MANHATTAN BANK (NATIONAL ASSOCIATION), THE
Free format text: SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:BAROID CORPORATION, A CORP. OF DE.;REEL/FRAME:005196/0501
Effective date: 19881222
Feb 14, 1988ASAssignment
Owner name: BAROID TECHNOLOGY, INC., DELAWARE
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:NL INDUSTRIES, INC., A NJ CORP.;REEL/FRAME:005091/0020
Effective date: 19890210
Apr 5, 1982ASAssignment
Owner name: NL INDUSTRIES, INC., 1230 AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS,
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:C. JIM STEWART & STEVENSON, INC.;REEL/FRAME:003967/0240
Effective date: 19780323
Apr 5, 1982AS02Assignment of assignor's interest
Owner name: C. JIM STEWART & STEVENSON, INC.
Effective date: 19780323
Owner name: NL INDUSTRIES, INC., 1230 AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS,
Jul 13, 1981AS02Assignment of assignor's interest
Owner name: C. JIM STEWART & STEVENSON, INC.
Owner name: NL INDUSTRIES, INC., 1230 AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS,
Effective date: 19810706
Jul 13, 1981ASAssignment
Owner name: NL INDUSTRIES, INC., 1230 AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS,
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:C. JIM STEWART & STEVENSON, INC.;REEL/FRAME:003883/0252
Effective date: 19810706
Owner name: NL INDUSTRIES, INC., A CORP. OF NJ, NEW YORK
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:C. JIM STEWART & STEVENSON, INC.;REEL/FRAME:003883/0252