US 3817281 A
Connector apparatus capable of making underwater fluid pressure connection with underwater equipment comprises A. UPWARDLY OPENING RECEPTACLE MEANS TO BE CARRIED BY THE UNDERWATER EQUIPMENT, SAID MEANS HAVING OPPOSED INTERIOR FACES WHICH ARE SUBSTANTIALLY FLAT AND WHICH TAPER DOWNWARDLY, THERE BEING DUCTING IN THE RECEPTACLE MEANS AND TERMINATING AT AT LEAST ONE OF SAID FACES, B. AND A WEDGE SHAPED MEMBER DISPLACED DOWNWARDLY TO SEAT IN THE RECEPTACLE MEANS, SAID MEMBER HAVING EXTERIOR FACES WHICH ARE SUBSTANTIALLY FLAT AND WHICH TAPER DOWNWARDLY, THERE BEING DUCTING IN SAID MEMBER AND TERMINATING AT AT LEAST ONE OF SAID EXTERIOR FACES FOR COMMUNICATION WITH THE DUCTING IN THE RECEPTACLE MEANS IN RESPONSE TO SAID SEATING.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Lewis et al.
[451 June 18, 1974 UNDERWATER MULTIPLE FLUID LINE CONNECTOR  Assignee: Hydril Company, Los Angeles,
22 Filed: Apr. 30, 1973 21 App]. No.: 355,702
 US. Cl 137/594, 285/24, 285/308, 166/.6  Int. Cl. Fl6l 39/00  Field of Search 285/24, 26, 29, 131, 137, 285/302, 308, DIG. 21; 166/.6; 137/594, 595
Primary Examiner-Henry T. Klinksiek Attorney, Agent, or Firm-William W. Haefliger  ABSTRACT I Connector apparatus capable of making underwater fluid pressure connection with underwater equipment comprises i a. upwardly opening receptacle means to be carried by the underwater equipment, said means having opposed interior faces which are substantially flat and which taper downwardly, there being ducting in the receptacle means and terminating at at least one of said faces,
b. and a wedge shaped member displaced downwardly to seat in the receptacle means, said member having exterior faces which are substantially flat and which taper downwardly, there being ducting in :said member and terminating at at least one of said exterior faces for communication with the ducting in the receptacle means in response to said seating.
14 Claims, 7 Drawing. Figures UNDERWATER MULTIPLE FLUID LINE CONNECTOR BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates generally to underwater connectors, and more specifically concerns fluid pressure line connectors which are made-up when the upper section of a sub-sea stack of well head equipment is lowered onto the lower section of such a stack.
In off-shore drilling and production operations it becomes necessary to selectively control, from the surface, the delivery of actuating fluid pressure to a wide range of tool or valve actuators. The latter are commonly carried by relatively vertically movable upper and lower sections of the sub-sea stack of well head equipment, presenting the problem of establishing fluid pressure connection to such actuators in response to lowering of a suitable connector device from the surface. Past attempts to-resolve this problem involved the provision of a socalled stinger which seated down wardly into a receptacle along a frusto-conical interface to register ports or passageways in the stinger and receptacle. Such a configuration presents numerous additional problems among which are excessive complexity and cost, port and passageway mis-match, the
difficulty of adequately sealing-off between the seated stinger and receptacle and about the ports and passageways therein, and undesirable flow restrictions in the latter. Another problem has to do with making pressure connection to actuators carried by the vertically separable sections of the stack, via receptacle means accommodating such separation.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is a major object of the invention to provide solutions to the above as well as other problems encountered in making such sub-sea fluid pressure connections. Basically, the invention is embodied in apparatus that comprises upwardly opening receptacle means to be carried by the undersea equipment and having opposed interior faces which are substantially flat, i.e., not annular, and which taper downwardly, there being ducting in the receptacle means and opening at at least one of the faces; and, a wedge-shaped member displaced downwardly to seat telescopically in the receptacle means, that member having exterior faces which are substantially flat and which taper downwardly, there being ducting in the member and opening at at leastone of the exterior faces for communicating with the ducting in the receptacle means in responseto such seating. As will appear, the flat face construction of the wedge member and receptacle means obviates problems of proper duct registration, and enables the provision of more ducts per unit face area and improved sealing about the ducts (since sealing is against a flat face, not a conical face).
It is another object of the invention to provide first and second receptacles defining the interior faces to which the ducts open, the first receptacle supported by a first or upper section of the sub-sea stack which is movable relative to the second or lower section of the stack, the latter section supporting the lower receptacle. Provision is made for wedge member seating against both receptacles, as for example by supporting one of the receptacles for yieldable downward movement on its section of the stack and relative to the other receptacle, so that all seating faces seal properly and all ducts in the wedge member and multiple receptacles arrive at proper registration. This then accommodates the connector structure to relative separation or makeup of the upper and lower sections of the stack, without problems.
Additional features include the provision for locking of the wedge member to the receptacle means; guiding of the wedge member into the receptacle means; and the supporting of the wedge member and receptacles in the manner to be described.
These and other objects and advantages of the invention, as well as the details of an illustrative embodiment, will be more fully understood from the following description and drawings in which:
DRAWING DESCRIPTION FIGS. la and lb shown in elevation, an underwater stack of well head equipment;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged elevation showing a multiple fluid line connector prior to make-up;
FIG. 3 is an elevation taken on lines 3-3 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a view like FIG. 3, but showing the connector fully made-up, as depicted in FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 is an elevation taken on lines 5-5 of FIG. 4; and
FIG. 6 is a valve and actuator diagram.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION faces 14a, and V-shaped receptacle 13 has arms 15 car- I rying pads 16 defining opposed interior flat faces 16a.
The two receptacles 12 and 13 are relatively vertically movable, the former being attached as by structure 17 to and at the side of a first or upper section of an underwater stack of well head equipment, and the latter receptacle 13 being attached as by structure 18 to and at the side of a second or lower section of the stack. In this regard, the upper section of the stack is vertically movable relative to the lower section, as will appear in the later discussion of FIG. 1. Structure 18 includes a tubular element 18a which downwardly receives a stem 19 integral with arms 15 via plates 20 and 21. An elastomer sleeve 22 is bonded to both the stem 19 element 18a, and serves as a spring to yieldably resist slight downward deflection of receptacle l3 relative to receptacle 12, allowing controlled make-up of the underwater connection, as will appear. FIG. 3 shows the elastomer sleeve 22 prior to downward deflection, whereas in FIG. 5 the sleeve has been yieldably and resiliently deflected downwardly in shear, and by the amount r seen in FIG. 2.
The apparatus also includes a wedge-shaped member, as for example is indicated at 24, which is to be displaced downwardly to seat on the receptacle means,
that member having exterior faces which are substantially flat and which taper downwardly. Further, ducting in that member opens at at least one of the exterior faces for communication with the ducting in the receptacle means as a result of connector make-up.
In the illustrated example, V-shaped wedge member 24 has arms or plates 25 defining exterior flat faces 25a inclined at the same angularity from vertical as interior faces 14a and 16a of the receptacles. Accordingly, upon completion of make-up as seen in FIG. 4, the faces 25a flatly engage faces 14a and 16a.
The referenced ducting in the receptacle means ma include the multiple ducts 26 in the arms 14 of receptacle member 12, and multiple ducts 27 in the pads 16 carried by arms 15 of receptacle member 13. Such ducts open at the interior faces 14a and 16a as described and shown. Likewise, the referenced ducting in the wedge member 24 may include the multipleducts 28 and 29 in the arms or plates 25, and opening at the exterior faces 25a so as to register and communicate with the described ducts in the receptacle members. Upon downward displacement of wedge-shaped connector member 24, the latter initially seats in receptacle member 13 (i.e., against faces 14a of the latter). Continued downward lowering of the wedge member 24 results in downward displacement of receptacle member 13 therewith, with consequent shear deflection of the elastomer spring 22 to the condition seen in FIG. 5, and ultimate positive seating of the wedge member 24 against the interior faces 14a of receptacle member 12. Such ultimate seating arrests the downward movement of the wedge member 24 and receptacle member 13, loading being transferred via connection 17 to the upper section of the stack, as will be described. Accordingly, the interior faces 14a and 16a of the receptacle members are each positively engaged by the exterior faces 25a of the wedge member; the ducts 28 in member 24 are in full registration with the ducts 26 in the receptacle member 12, and the ducts 29 in the member 24 are in full registration with the ducts in member 13. Provision for elastomer sealing about the mouths of the registered ducts may be more in accordance with the description in the co-pending application of George E. Lewis entitled Underwater Sealing of Exposed Ports In Relatively Closable Members," such seals indicated at 90 in FIG. 5.
It will be noted that the receptacles l2 and 13 have vertically interfitting relation; thus, for example, the arms 14 of receptacle 12 straddle the arms 16 of receptacle 13, as seen in FIG. 2, each pair of arms 14 being interconnected by the lateral plate structure 30. Also, end plates 31 are joined to opposite ends of the downwardly tapering arms 14, and have upwardly flaring ends 310 acting as guides for laterally guiding opposite ends 32 of the member 24 during downward lowering of the latter so as to guide the wedge member 24 into vertical alignment with the receptacle members.
The member 24 is shown as supported by a cable 33 via intervening structure 34. The latter includes a frame 35 from which the member 24 is suspended via support plates 36, and a universal joint connection 37 between the frame and the cable. Frame 35 carries a number of valves 38 located within protective housings 39 also carried by the frame for removal in order to gain access to the valves during inspection or repair intervals at the ocean surface. Extending the description to FIGS. 3 and 6, each valve may be of the 4-way type,
as seen at 40. In the position shown, fluid pressure from a source 41 passes via line 41a and the port 42 in the valve body 43 to a line 44 that extends to an actuator 45 via the described connector apparatus. The latter is schematically indicated by the block 46. Pressure is delivered to actuator chamber 47 to urge the piston 48 in the direction of arrow 49, and pressure in chamber 50 at the opposite side of the piston is exhausted to the sea via connector block 46, line 51, port 52 in the valve body, check valve 52a and outlet 53. In the alternate position of the valve body, pressure is supplied to chamber 50 and exhausted from chamber 47. The actuator drives a tool 54 representing a wide variety of subsea tools, such as rams, blowout preventers, well head connectors, valves, etc. If the tool is located on the lower section of the undersea stack of equipment, the connector block 46 may represent interengaged members 24 and 13, whereas if the tool is located on the upper (removable) section of the undersea stack, the connector 46 mayrepresent interengaged members 24 and 12. Lines 44 and 51 are also shown in FIGS. 3.and 4, the latter Figure additionally showing lines 60 and 61 extending between the connector and the actuator.
Also provided is what may be referred to as means for locking the wedge member 24 of the receptacle means to hold the interengaged faces in that condition during operation. Such means may include bolt mechanism, as for example laterally and downwardly extending bolt arms 64, and an actuator 65 therefore associated with the wedge shaped member 24. The arms 64 may have toggle configuration with pivotal connection at 66 to the actuator plunger 67 which extends vertically, the actuator carried by the frame 35 via crosspiece 68. The locking means may also include keepers in the form of lateral slots 69 in the end plates 31 of receptacle member 11. During landing of the member 24 on the receptacles, the bolt arms 64 are spread by the actuator 65 to terminally enter the keeper slots, the toggle spreading of the arms exerting great vertical force to forcibly lock the member 24 to the receptacle 12. Additional slots 71 in plates 36 pass the bolt arms 64. Blocks 98 on member 24 guide the ends of the bolts in a spreading direction.
Referring now to FIGS. 1a and 1b, a typical underwater stack 70 of equipment includes an upper section 71 and a lower section 72 as previously referred to. The
upper section includes, in vertical sequence, a riser section 73, ball joint 74, blow-out preventer 75, and well head connector 76. Each one of a pair of receptacles 12 at opposite sides of the stack is rigidly connected at 17 to the connector 76.
The lower section 72 of the stack may typically include, in vertical sequence, a stub casing 78 (to which connector 76 connects), blow-out preventer 79, hydraulic rams 80, and well head connector 81, the latter attaching to stub casing 82 projecting upwardly from the well. Fluid pressure accumulators 83 are carried by the stack, and may be connected to the valves, 38, via the receptacle means and wedge shaped member as described. Receptacle members 13 are connected with the lower stack via structure 18a and bracket arms 85. Guide lines for the stack upper section appear at 86.
1. In connector apparatus capable of making underwater fluid pressure connection with underwater equipment, the combination comprising a. upwardly opening receptacle means to be carried by the underwater equipment, said means having opposed interior faces which are substantially flat and which taper downwardly, there being ducting in the receptacle means and terminating at at least one of said faces,
b. and a wedge shaped member displaced downwardly to seat in the receptacle means, said member having exterior faces which are substantially flat and which taper downwardly, there being ducting in said member and terminating at at least one of said exterior faces for communication with the ducting in the receptacle means in response to said seating,
c. said receptacle means comprising first and second vertically interfitting receptacles, the first receptacle generally horizontally straddling the second receptacle and ducting extending in each of the receptacles and opening at generally horizontally spaced interior faces of the receptacles, and
d. means supporting the second receptacle for yieldable downward deflection relative to the first receptacle so that the wedge shaped member seats downwardly initially against second receptacle interior faces and then against first receptacle interior faces.
2. The combination of claim 1 wherein said ducting comprises multiple ducts in the wedge shaped member and multiple ducts in the receptacle means, the duct openings in said faces of the wedge shaped member and receptacle means being in registration.
3. The combination of claim 2 including means locking said wedge shaped member to said receptacle means so that said exterior and interior faces are in interengagement.
4. The combination of claim 3 wherein said locking means includes bolt mechanism and an actuator therefor associated with the wedge shaped member, and keeper mechanism on one of the receptacles to receive the bolt mechanism in response to displacement of the bolt mechanism by the actuator.
5. The combination of claim 1 including a frame sup porting the wedge shaped member, and multiple valves on the frame and having fluid pressure communication with the ducting in the wedge shaped member.
6. The combination of claim 1 including said equipment supporting said receptacle means at an underwater location.
7. The combination of claim 6 wherein said equipment comprises a stack of underwater well head equipment.
8. The combination of claim 7 including vertically movable structure supporting said member to depend therefrom, and valves on said structure in flow controlling communication with the ducts in the wedge shaped member.
9. The combination of claim 1. including support structure attached to each receptacle to accommodate relative vertical movement thereof.
10. The combination of claim 1 including said equipment having a first section supporting the first receptacle and a second section supporting the second receptacle, said second section being relatively vertically movable.
11. The combination of claim 10 wherein said equipment comprises a stack of underwater well head equipment, and means to elevate the first section relative to the second section.
12. The combination of claim 11 wherein said receptacles are located at the side of the stack.
13. The combination of claim 12 wherein said member seats downwardly against interior faces of both receptacles.
14. The combination of claim 1 including guide means on the first receptacle for guiding the wedge member into vertical alignment with the receptacles.