US 3919902 A
This apparatus grips and carries the weight of a suspended stand of pipe being added to a lowering vertical pipe string. The apparatus receives the end of a tilted pipe which, as it is hoisted, pivots towards a vertical position. The weight of the pipe is supported in a generally U-shaped block suspended below a travelling block in a hoisting derrick. As the pipe is hoisted the U-shaped block pivots towards a horizontal position and the weight of the pipe is increasingly supported by a thrust bearing on the block. When the pipe is aligned with the pipe string and stabbed into position, drive rollers engage the outside of the pipe and spin the pipe threads into engagement. Idler rollers and the thrust bearing are retracted to permit the pipe to enter the U-shaped opening in the block. The entire block is retracted laterally from the center line of the derrick to permit the pipe joint to pass. During removal of pipe from the pipe string the apparatus operates in reverse.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Johnson Nov. 18, 1975  Inventor: Charles R. Johnson, San Pedro,
 Assignee: Global Marine, Inc., Los Angeles,
 Filed: June 13, 1974 [211 Appl. No.: 478,931
 US. Cl. 8l/57.l6; 81/572; 166/5;
173/164; 175/85; 214/2.5  Int. Cl. E21B 19/06  Field of Search 214/1 P, 2.5; 114/.5 D;
Primary Examiner-Robert J. Spar Assistant Examiner-George F. Abraham Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Christie, Parker & l-lale  ABSTRACT This apparatus grips and carries the weight of a sus-. pended stand of pipe being added to a lowering vertical pipe string. The apparatus receives the end of a tilted pipe which, as it is hoisted, pivots towards a vertical position. The weight of the pipe is supported in a generally U-shaped block suspended below a travelling block in a hoisting derrick. As the pipe is hoisted the U-shaped block pivots towards a horizontal position and the weight of the pipe is increasingly supported by a thrust bearing on the block. When the pipe is aligned with the pipe string and stabbed into position, drive rollers engage the outside of the pipe and spin the pipe threads into engagement. Idler rollers and the thrust bearing are retracted to permit the pipe to enter the U-shaped opening in the block. The entire block is retracted laterally from the center line of the derrick to permit the pipe joint to pass. During removal of pipe from the pipe string the apparatus operates in reverse.
13 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures US. Patent Nov. 18, 1975 SheetZ of4 3,919,902
US Patent Nov. 18,1975 Sheet30f4 3,919,902
'U.S. Patent Nov. 18,1975 Sheet40f4 3,919,902
APPARATUS FOR SUSPENDING AND SPINNING PIPE BACKGROUNd In their search for natural resources men have been directing their attention more and more to the vast ocean regions of the world. Explorations carried out in the deeper parts of the ocean have disclosed rich mineral deposits on the sea bed. Because of the extreme depths at which these deposits occur, for example, in the order of three or four miles below the ocean surface, economic mining and recovery of these mineral deposits has presented formidable problems. Large scale mining operations require very heavy equipment which must be lowered from a surface vessel to the ocean bed. To do this long strings of pipe are lowered from a ship with mining apparatus suspended from the pipe. Extreme weights are involved in the order of many millions of pounds. Because of this very heavy wall pipe is required to withstand the high stresses. Because of this the pipe itself becomes a major factor in the weight and special equipment must be provided for handling the extremely heavy sections of pipe. For example, in one deep ocean mining ship 60 foot long stands of pipe are used, each of which weighs from 30,000 to 40,000 pounds.
These heavy pieces of pipe must be handled on board a ship at sea subject to pitching and rolling as well as heave. lit is essential for safety of personnel and structural integrity of the vessel and its associated equipment that the pipe be firmly constrained at all times.
In such a mining ship, the pipe may be stored horizontally in special holds below deck. From there it is brought to the deck and elevated onto a platform from which it is lowered into the sea. Special hoisting arrangements within a derrick on the platform are required for handling the extreme weights of pipe. Manual labor is unsatisfactory and mechanisms must be used for erecting and centering the pipe. In addition, to make the threaded joints between adjacent lengths of pipe, means are required for rotating the pipe in either direction. Further, since the pipe is specially coated for corrosion protection, damage to the coating must be avoided.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION There is, therefore, provided in practice of this invention according to a presently preferred embodiment, an apparatus for supporting the upper end of a pipe during a portion of its travel between a horizontal storage position and a vertical use position, and for rotating the pipe when in the vertical position. This apparatus has a travelling frame guided by vertical guide rails and a U-shape support block pivotally mounted in the travelling frame for tilting about a horizontal axis transverse to the opening of the U. The weight of the pipe is carried by a thrust bearing on top of the support block and means are provided for temporarily securing the pipe within the opening of the U during handling. A fluid actuator controllably pitches the support block with the opening of the U tilted upwardly for receiving the end of a piece of pipe. The entire support block is retractable from the center line of the supporting structure for clearance.
DRAWINGS These and other features and advantages of the present invention will be appreciated as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description of a presently preferred embodiment when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a deep ocean mining ship;
FIG. 2 illustrates schematically the hoisting arrangement for pipe;
FIG. 3 is a side view of the pipe supporting spinner partly cut away;
FIG. 4 is a horizontal cross section through the pipe supporting spinner;
FIG. 5 is a side view of the supporting spinner tilted from the vertical;
FIG. 6 is a top-view of a portion of the spinner; and
FIG. 7 is a fragmentary end view of the spinner and supporting frame.
DESCRIPTION FIG. 1 illustrates in perspective a deep ocean mining ship on which the supporting spinner for heavy pipe as provided in practice of this invention is particularly useful. The ship has a large moon pool 12 located amidships which gives access to the water and the ocean floor from the deck of the ship. Subsea mining equipment (not shown) is stored in the large opening of the moon pool during transit and, on reaching the mining site, is lowered from the moon pool 12 to the ocean floor by a string of pipe which is assembled in sections and lowered by a pipe handling system indicated generally by reference numeral 14. The pipe handling system includes a heavy A-frame base 16 which bridges the moon pool 12 amidship of the vessel 10. The hoisting derrick 18 is supported over the moon pool on the A- frame 16 through a double gimbal system 20 which permits the derrick to maintain a vertical position even though the ship may be rolling or pitching.
The A-frame 16 is supported from the main deck 22 of the ship by four support pedestals 24. The A-frame support structure 16 includes a pair of end trusses 26 which bridge the moon pool between the support pedestals. The trusses 26 are tied together by horizontal girders 32 near the top of the trusses. The girders 32 are spaced apart to leave an opening through which a lower end of the derrick structure 18 extends. This lower structure which is hidden in FIG. 1 includes a heavy lift system for handling the extreme weights of the pipe string and sub-sea mining equipment suspended through the moon pool. The ship gimbal support for the pipe handling system and heavy duty hoisting mechanism do not per se form a portion of this invention and no additional description is required herein. Details of a pipe handling system are set forth in copending patent application Ser. No. 479,092 entitled Deep Ocean Mining Ship by John R. Graham and Robert C. Crooke and assigned to the assignee of this invention.
Pipe for lowering mining equipment is stored in foot lengths or stands beneath the deck of the ship. It is raised to deck level and positioned on an inclined conveyor 27 which carries the pipe upwardly and laterally to the vicinity of the rig floor beneath the derrick 18. This arrangement is also illustrated schematically in FIG. 2 wherein a cart 28 carries a stand of pipe 29 at an angle of about 30 from horizontal until the upper end of the pipe reaches the center line 31 of the pipe handling system. When the end of the pipe reaches the center line of the derrick 18, the upper end is supported by a spinner apparatus 33 described in greater detail hereinafter. The supporting spinner is suspended from a conventional travelling block 34 capable of lifting the spinner and supported pipe in the derrick. The draw works for the travelling block are not illustrated herein. As the pipe is lifted it approaches a more vertical position until the lower end is engaged by an automatic roughneck (not shown) which guides the lower end of the pipe to the center line of the derrick. A suitable automatic roughneck is described and illustrated in copending patent application Ser. No. 478,930 entitled AUTOMATIC ROUGHNECK by Charles R. Johnson and assigned to the assignee of this application.
When the pipe is on the center line of the apparatus it is lowered into engagement with a pipe string supported by heavy lifting equipment (not shown) beneath the rig floor of the derrick. It will be noted that the stand of pipe is formed of two 30 foot lengths of pipe having a pipe joint 21 in the middle. A female threaded box 23 is provided at the upper end of each length of pipe and a male threaded pin 25 is provided at the lower end. Thus, when the pipe is in its vertical position on the center line of the derrick it can be lowered so that the pin is stabbed into a box on the adjacent length of pipe being lowered in the sea. The added stand of pipe is then rotated to tighten the threaded joint and the weight of the pipe being lowered can then be supported by the heavy lift system by the new section added. In this manner the length of pipe being lowered into the sea is continually increased. Conversely, when the mining equipment is being raised alternate threaded joints in the pipe string are unscrewed and double lengths of pipe are removed and carried to the hold of the ship in a manner exactly opposite to that during lowering of the pipe.
The supporting spinner for handling the upper end of the pipe in the derrick between its inclined position on the lateral conveyor and its vertical position aligned with the pipe string is seen in side view and horizontal cross section in FIGS. 3 and 4 respectively. In these views the supporting spinner is in its horizontal position for handling pipe on the center line 31 of the pipe handling system. In FIG. the supporting spinner is tilted in its position for receiving the end of the pipe from the conveyor. The end of a pipe stand 29 with its end box 23 is shown in phantom in position in the spinner.
A pair of rods 36 connected to the travelling block (not shown in FIG. 3) are connected to a rectangular, U-shaped support block 37 by a pair of pins 38. This permits pivoting of the support block relative to the rods 36 which carry the weight of a supported pipe to the travelling block. The support block is a heavy steel box with an opening 39 (FIG. 4) on one side so that it is in the form of a U when viewed from the top. The opening of the U is towards the side of the derrick from which pipe from storage is received. Since this happens to be aft on the ship, this nomenclature will be used for convenience.
The support block 37 has a generally .l-shaped track 41 fixed along each side. The lower portion of the track 41 is straight and extends along the bottom edge of the support block in a fore and aft direction. This straight portion also extends beyond the support block in the aft direction.
The support block is surrounded on three sides by a travelling frame 42 which also has a generally U-shape opening towards the aft end of the ship. The travelling frame is guided by and maintained in a substantially horizontal plane by guide rails 43 extending vertically in the derrick. A pair of rollers 44 having a common axis of rotation transverse to and intersecting the center line 31 of the derrick are mounted on the travelling frame. These rollers 44 are in the lower straight portion of the track 41 on the support block. A second pair of rollers 46 are mounted on the travelling frame forwardly of the first pair of rollers and they too are in the track 41. The upper portion of the track 41 (lower part of the J) is in the form of a circular are having a radius of curvature the same as the distance between two of the rollers 44 and 46.
An hydraulic cylinder 47 is mounted on the forward part of the frame by a swivel 48. The piston rod 49 of the cylinder is connected to the support block 37 at its forward end by a pivot pin 51. When the piston rod is in an intermediate position as illustrated in FIG. 3, the support block 37 is horizontal and both pairs of rollers 44 and 46 are in the straight portion of the track 41, with the forward set of rollers 46 in the forward end of the track. When the piston rod 49 is extended there is a tilting moment around the center line rollers 44. This causes the support block 37 to tilt with the forward rollers 46 moving along the curved upper portion of the track 41 towards a position as illustrated in FIG. 5. It will be noted that this causes the lower end support rods 36 to the travelling block to be displaced from their positions spanning the center line 31 since the pivot pins 38 are near the upper portion of the support block.
Conversely, when the piston rod 49 is retracted from its intermediate position, the support block is pulled forward as guided by the straight portion of the track 49 moving along the rollers 44 and 46. This brings the support block to a retracted position as illustrated in phantom in FIG. 3. Thus it will be seen that the support block has three alternative positions, a horizontal center line position as illustrated in FIG. 3 for supporting the weight of a stand of pipe 29; a tilted position as illustrated in FIG. 5 for receiving and supporting the weight of a pipe as it is received from a conveyor or delivered to it; and a retracted position as illustrated in phantom in FIG. 3 for clearing a pipe in the center line 31 of the hoisting system. Referring to FIG. 4, within the box forming the support block 37 there are a pair of bell cranks 52 mounted on fixed pivots 53. One arm of each bell crank is pivotally connected to the piston rod 54 of an hydraulic cylinder 56. Each of the hydraulic cylinders 56 is pivotally mounted in the support block by a pivot 55. A rubber tired idler roller 57 is mounted on the end of the other arm of each bell crank When the piston rod 54 is retracted, as illustrated on the left side of FIG. 4, the bell crank is pivoted so that the idler roller 57 is retracted and the opening 39 of the U-shaped support block is substantially free of obstruction. When the piston rod 54 is extended, the bell crank 52 pivots to a closed position so that the idler roller 57 engages the outside of a pipe 29 in the support block, as illustrated in the right side of FIG. 4.
A pair of rubber tired drive rollers 58 are mounted in the support block and are rotated together by geared belts 59 connected to a reversible drive motor 61. The
drive rollers 58 engage the side of a pipe 29 held in the U-shaped opening by the idler rollers 57. The idler rollers and drive rollers are provided with rubber faces for high friction and also to avoid damaging the corrosion resistant coating on the outside of the pipe.
As best seen in FIG. 6, on top of the support block 37 there is a guide collar 62 concentric with the center line 31 (when the support block is in its central horizontal position). A pair of arcuate thrust bearing segments 63 are mounted in the guide collar. Each of the thrust bearing segments has a plurality of ball bearings 64 protruding through the upper portion for supporting the weight of the pipe. As best seen in FIG. 3 the box end 23 of the pipe is enlarged and has a downwardly facing shoulder 66 somewhat analagous to a flange. When the pipe is'in its vertical position in the spinner, the shoulder 66 rests on the balls 64 of the bearing segment. Each bearing segment is connected to the piston rod-67 of an hydraulic cylinder 68 that is pivotally mounted on top of the support block by a pivot 69. When the piston rod 67 is retracted as illustrated in the left side of FIG. 6, the thrust bearing segment 64 is retracted to leave the U-shaped opening of the support block unobstructed. When the piston rod 67 is extended the thrust bearing segment is extended to its closed position as illustrated in the right side of FIG. 6 so that the two thrust bearing segments can collectively support the weight of the pipe.
When a pipe is to be received by the spinner, the idler rollers 57 are retracted and the bearing segments 63 are retracted, leaving'the U-shaped opening 39 unobstructed. The piston rod 49 of the control cylinder 47 is extended so that the support block 37 is tilted towards a position as illustrated in FIG. 5. The degree of tilt is limited by engagement of the forward rollers 46 with the end of the curved section of the track 41. This preparation is completed with the spinner below the position that the end of the pipe will be when delivered from the on deck conveyor. The travelling block is above the position to be occupied by the end of the pipe. Thus when the pipe is delivered by the sloping conveyor the box end 23 passes between the support rods 36 extending between the spinner and the travelling block. At this point the block and support spinner are raised in the derrick so that the weight of the upper end of the sloping pipe is picked up partly by the drive rollers 58 and partly by the thrust bearings 63 which are moved to their extended position once the pipe is in the U-shaped opening of the support block. The idler rollers may also be extended to their closed position at this pointto assure retention of the pipe in the opening. As the travelling block is.then raised in the derrick the weight of the pipe is increasingly picked up by the spinner as the pipe pivots towards its vertical position. As this occurs the support block pivots towards its horizontal center line position as controlled by the position of the pipe. The hydraulic cylinder 47 is permitted to retract as required to accommodate the change in tilt. Initially the lower end of the pipe is controlled by the cart 28 on the conveyor and later as the pipe approaches its vertical position it is controlled by the aforementioned automatic roughneck.
The automatic roughneck assures that the lower pin end of the pipe is aligned with a descending pipe string in the pipe handling apparatus. Thereupon the travelling block and spinner are lowered so that the suspended pipe is stabbed into the lower pipe string extending into the ocean. At that time the drive motor 61 is activated so that the drive rollers 58 rotate the pipe supported by the thrust bearings and engage the threaded connection between the suspended pipe and the descending pipe string. Preferably the pipe is stabbed into a continuously moving pipe string so that rotation and engagement of the threaded connection occurs during descent of the spinner at a rate substantially as that of the pipe string.
Since the pipe is descending continuously provision must be made for passage of the enlarged pipe box 23 past the spinner. This is accomplished by retracting the spinner from the center line of the derrick. First, the travelling block and support spinner are lowered at a rate somewhat faster than the rate of descent of the pipe string. The piston rod 49 of the condtrol cylindner 47 is then retracted, which draws the support block forwardly as guided by the straight portion of the track 41 engaging the pairs of rollers 44 and 46 on the frame. The support block is retracted -to a position as illustrated in the fragmentary phantom portion in FIG. 3 which allows ample clearance for the pipe box 23 past the support block.
- When it is desired to remove pipe from an ascending pipe string the operation is reversed. The spinner is raised until the thrust bearings engage the shoulder on the box end of the pipe and the drive motor then rotates the pipe to disengage the threads. Once disengaged from the pipe string, the stand of pipe being removed is elevated until the lower end is swung aside by the automatic roughneck. The stand of pipe as supported by the spinner can then be lowered to be picked up by a cart on the conveyor and returned to the hold of the ship for storage.
What is claimed is:
1. A pipe supporting spinner for travelling along a vertical rail system in a derrick and supporting and spinning a heavy pipe comprising:
a travelling frame including means for guiding engagement with a vertical guide rail;
a Ushaped support block;
means for mounting the support block in the frame for pivoting about a horizontal axis transverse to the opening of the U;
an actuator for controllably pivoting the support block between a first position with the opening of the U facing horizontally and a second position with the opening of the U tilted upwardly;
a thrust bearing on top of the support block for receiving the weight of the pipe and permitting free rotation thereof;
means on the support block for releasably securing a pipe in the opening of the U transverse to the pivot axis; and
means on the support block for engaging the outside of a pipe and imparting axial rotation thereto.
2. A pipe supporting spinner as defined in claim 1 further comprising means for alternatively opening the thrust bearing for receiving a pipe in the opening of the U and closing the thrust bearing for supporting the weight of a pipe.
3. A pipe supporting spinner as defined in claim 1 wherein the means for securing comprises:
a pair of bell cranks pivotally mounted on the support block;
an idler roller on one arm of each bell crank for engaging the outside of the pipe; and
a hydraulic actuator connected to the other arm of each bell crank forpivoting it between an open position clearing the U-shaped opening and a closed position with the roller in engagement with a pipe in the U-shaped opening.
4. A pipe'supporting spinner as defined in claim 1 further comprising:
an arcuate track on each side of the support block;
a pair of rollers on the support frame engaging the track, the arcuate track having a radius of curvature equal to the distance between the rollers and the pivot axis, for guiding the support block during pivoting.
S. A .pipe supporting spinner as definedin claim 4 wherein .the means for mounting the support block comprises: i a pair of axially aligned spaced apart rollers on the travelling frame; and
straight tracks on either side of the support block engaging the respective rollers, said actuator also being movable for retracting the. support block as guided by the straight track engaging said rollers. 6. A pipe supporting spinner as defined in claim 1 wherein v the actuator for controllably pivoting comprises: l g
a hydraulic cylinder; 7 .means for pivotally mounting the hydraulic cylinder on the frame; and a piston rod in the cylinder having an end connected to the support block and movable between an in termediate position with the support block horizontal, an extended position with the support block tilted, and a retracted position with the support block retracted into the frame. I
s 7. pipe supporting and hoisting arrangement comprising: v
a hoisting derrick having a vertical center line; a weight carrying travelling block in the derrick;
I vertically extending guiderails in the derrick;
a generally horizontal travelling frame engaging the guide rails for vertical travel in the derrick;
a U-shaped support block for supporting the weight of a pipe;
means for pivotally mounting the support block in the travelling frame for pivoting about a horizontal axis said means pivotally mounting the support block in the travelling frame including means for supportingthe support block for movement of the axis of pivot laterally in a horizontal plane relative to the vertically travelling frame;
load carrying means extending between the travelling block and the travelling frame for raising and lowering the travelling frame; and
drive means mounted on the travelling frame and engaging the U-shaped support block for moving the support block between any of three positions relative to'the travelling frame, said three positions comprising:
a. a tilted position with the U-shaped opening facing upwardly for supporting the weight of an inclined piece of pipe;
b. a horizontal position on the center line of the derrick for supporting the weight of a vertically extending pipe; and a c. a retracted position withdrawn horizontally from the center line of the derrick for clearing a pipe on the center line.
8. A pipe supporting and hoisting arrangement as defined in claim 7 wherein the means for moving comprises:
a hydraulic cylinder; 1
means for mounting the hydraulic cylinder on the travelling frame; and
a piston rod in the cylinder having an end connected to the support block and movable between an extendedposition with the support block tilted, an intermediate position with the support block horizontal on thecenter line, and aretracted position with the support block retracted. s
9, A pipe supporting and hoisting arrangement as defined in claim 7 wherein the' travelling frame is generally U-shaped with the opening of the U facing horizontally in the same direction as the U-shaped opening in the support block,
10. A pipe supporting and hoisting arrangement as defined in claim 7 further comprising means on the support block for engaging theoutside of a pipe supported thereby and imparting axial rotation thereto.
11. A pipe supporting and hoisting arrangementas defined in' claim 7 wherein the means for pivotally mounting comprises:
a first pair of coaxial rollers on the travelling frame,
the axis of the rollers being the horizontal axis and intersecting the vertical center line;
a second pair of coaxial rollers on the travelling frame parallel to the first 'set of rollers and spaced apart therefrom; and I an arcuate track oneach side of the support block engaging respectivefones of the" second pair of 'rollers for guiding tilting of the support block.
12. A pipe supporting and hoisting arrangement as defined in claim further comprising a horizontal track on each side of the support block engaging respective ones of the first and second pairs of rollers for guiding retraction of the support block.
13. A pipe supporting and hoisting arrangement as defined in claim 7 further comprising:
an upwardly facing thrust bearing on the support block for supporting a flange thrust bearing on the support block for supporting a flange on a vertically extending pipe in the horizontal position of the support block; and
means for alternatively opening the thrust bearing for receiving a pipe in the opening of the U and closing the thrust bearing for supporting the weight of a pipe.
UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION Patent No. 3,919,902 Dated November 18, 1975 Inventor(s) Charles R. hnson It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:
Column 1, line 29 "Iit" should read it Column 8, line 51, after "flange", delete "thrust bearing on the";
line 52, delete "support block for supporting a flange".
Signed and Sealed this Twelfth Day of April 1977 [SEAL] A ttes t:
RUTH C. MASON C. MARSHALL DANN Arresting Officer Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks