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Publication numberUS3926036 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 16, 1975
Filing dateNov 1, 1974
Priority dateNov 1, 1974
Publication numberUS 3926036 A, US 3926036A, US-A-3926036, US3926036 A, US3926036A
InventorsBower James C
Original AssigneeBower James C
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Test apparatus for high pressure container
US 3926036 A
Abstract
A closed system for cleaning, pressure testing and drying high pressure containers, such as for fire extinguishers. The system comprises coacting open and closed sub-systems; the closed sub-system comprising two tanks for holding trichloroethane and flow lines in a valve controlled system for flowing trichloroethane from one tank into the container to be cleaned, pressure tested and dried and thence to the other tank; the open sub-system comprising an outer, invertible jacket and water tank with connecting lines and valves for filling the jacket about each high pressure fire extinguisher container and measuring the expansion under the pressure at which it is tested. The two tanks and the valve system for the trichloroethane can be reversed to allow repeated and continuous use.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 1 1 Bower 1 Dec. 16, 1975 TEST APPARATUS FOR HIGH PRESSURE CONTAINER [76] Inventor: James C. Bower, 7401 Bettinger,

Grapevine, Tex. 76051 [22] Filed: Nov. 1, 1974 [21] Appl. No.: 520,028

[52] US. Cl 73/37; 73/52, 134/169 R [51] Int. Cl. G01M--3/02; B08B 9/08 [58] Field of Search 73/37, 49.5, 52', 134/22 R, 134/169 R [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,821,851 2/1958 Daley 73/37 3,667,487 6/1972 Schoenbeck et al 134/169 R X Primary E.raminerRichard C. Queisser Assistant E.\'uminer.lohn S. Appleman Attorney, Agent, or Firm-James C. Fails [57] ABSTRACT A closed system for cleaning, pressure testing and drying high pressure containers, such as for fire extinguishers. The system comprises coacting open and closed sub-systems; the closed sub-system comprising two tanks for holding trichloroethane and flow lines in a valve controlled system for flowing trichloroethane from one tank into the container to be cleaned, pressure tested and dried and thence to the other tank; the open sub-system comprising an outer, invertible jacket and water tank with connecting lines and valves for filling the jacket about each high pressure fire extinguisher container and measuring the expansion under the pressure at which it is tested. The two tanks and the valve system for the trichloroethane can be reversed to allow repeated and continuous use.

Also disclosed is the preferred apparatus; including the unique lid design of the jacket, as well as other features. The lid swings aside to facilitate insertion of a fire extinguisher container therewithin and has quick connect means facilitating connection and is sealingly closed to the remainder of the jacket pneumatically.

7 Claims, 4 Drawing Figures TEST APPARATUS FOR HIGH. PRESSURE CONTAINER BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention v This invention relates to a system for cleaning, pressure testing and drying containers for high pressure fire extinguishers or the like. More particularly, it relates to a combination, or system, incorporating a closed subsystem for carrying out the test, and an open Sub-syshours which necessitates the requirement that the fire extinguisher container be taken back to the shop to clean and pressure test the containers and to re-fill and re-pressurize the container for further use. In our patent application Ser. No. 473,374, entitled Hydrostatic Tester for Fire Extinguisher, we described an improvement for use in such testing.

The testing is even more complex when the containers, that are usually larger, are to be employed at pressures up to 3,000 to 4,000 pounds per square inch (psi), as for carbon dioxide fire extinguishers. Not only must the containers be clean, dry and rustfree, as described hereinbefore; but they must be tested for the volumetric expansion at elevated pressures. Moreover, the high-pressure containers require an ultra-dry container because the compressed gases tend to freeze in the dispensing head any liquids therein. Thus, here, also, testing, cleaning, drying and re-pressurizing of the containers has; required taking the containers back to the shop and has required a protracted time interval.

, SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Accordingly, it is an object of this invention to provide a system that facilitates cleaning, pressure testing, drying and re-pressurization of the high pressure containers in a minimum period of time, .since it allows the process to be carried out in a van or truck at the industrial site or place of business of the customer; thereby saving time in the test and manhours and gasoline in returning the containers to the shop and back to the site of the business.

It is another object of this invention to provide specific apparatus facilitating connection of the high pressure container with a closed system that uses a fast drying cleaner that also serves as a relatively incompressible liquid for testing the container at high pressure; and an open system for simultaneously measuring the expansion of the jacket at the high pressure as a measure of the acceptability of the container, the open system having an invertible jacket for inverting the jacket and container to allow the liquid to be removed after the test. v

These and other objects will become apparent from the following descriptive matter, particularly when taken in conjunction with the appended drawings.

The system of this invention for cleaning, pressure testing, and drying the high pressure container comprises a combination of two systems, or sub-systems; the first being a closed sub-system employing a liquid that has good cleaning and drying characteristics, vaporizes rapidly, and is nonflammable; a second being an open sub-system having a liquid that is relatively incompressible with a means for measuring the volume of liquid displaced by the high pressure container under pressure.

The first, or closed, system comprises two tanks for holding the cleaning, drying and pressure testing liquid; a valve control system; and flow lines including first and second conduits coupled to the valve control system and which have first ends adapted to be connected to an adapter to be inserted in the high pressure container to be cleaned, pressure tested and dried. The second, or open, System comprises a water tank, pump means for pumping the water, a jacket for enclosing the container to be tested, conduits for conducting the water between the jacket and water tank, and measuring means, such as a burette for measuring water displaced -from the jacket by container expansion. In carrying out the test, liquid from one of the tanks is pumped through one of the conduits to the container to fill the container with liquid, which then is pressurized to the high test pressure for a short period of time; the second system measuring the volume of water displaced by expansion of the container under the pressure as a measure of the acceptability of the container. After the pressure test, the jacket and container are inverted and the respective liquids flowed from the container to the other of the tanks for the closed system and back to the water tank for the open system.

In a further aspect, the closed system comprises a first pair of flow lines comprising two lines separately connected to the top ends of the two tanks; first flow control means for separately connecting said first conduit with either of said lines. of the first pair; a second pair of flow lines comprising two lines separately connected to the bottom ends of the two tanks; and second flow control means for separately connecting the second conduit with either of the two lines of the second pair of flow lines.

The means for connecting the container includes a screw-in adapter that has respective portions of a pair of quick disconnects, or quick connect fittings, connected therewith. The other portion of the quick connect fittings are connected to the lid of the jacket and thence to the respective flow lines. The adapter is screwed into the container while the container is held in a vice as a part of an earlier procedure, such as removing the dispensing head.

In a further aspect, respective sight glasses are connected to the first conduit between the first flow control means and the adapter in the closed system, and between the valve and the water tank in the open system; and a high pressure pump is connected to the second conduit between the second flow control means and the adapter.

In carrying out the cleaning, pressure testing and drying operations with the system, the liquid in the closed system may be flowed; for example, from the first tank to the container to be tested by way of the second flow control valve, the high pressure pump, the second conduit and through the second passage of the adapter. Air is flowed out of the container through the first passage of the adapter, through the first conduit and sight glass and into the other tank by way of the first flow control valve. When liquid is viewable through the sight glass pump is actuated to increase the pressure of the trichloroethane liquid within the container; for example, to 3,300 psi inside the container, with no air in the container. A new reading is taken on the burette to give the cubic centimeters of water displaced as a measure of expansion of the bottle under the high pressure. The measure of expansion also serves as an indicia of acceptability in accordance with the predetermined tests. After holding the pressure for a short period of time to test for leaks in accordance with the predetermined tests, the jacket and container are inverted and the respective liquids are flowed out of the container and the jacket to their respective tanks by way of, respectively, the first conduit and the water conduit. After a number of containers have been cleaned and tested and the second tank becomes full, the first and second flow control valves may be actuated to reverse the flow of liquid from the second tank to the container to be tested; and, thence, to the first tank.

The lid to the jacket is adapted to be drawn downwardly into its sealing engagement with the top of the jacket by pneumatic rams on each side; the lid being swingable about one of the pneumatic rams out of alignment with the interior of the jacket to facilitate insertion of the container to be tested. The container to be tested is connected with the lid via quick connect fittings, as indicated hereinbefore, after the lid has been swung back into position. The jacket is mounted via a shaft that is journalled in a base for inversion of the jacket and container for emptying the liquids therefrom.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 illustrates the respective tanks of the system, including the closed system, of this invention, supported by a stand; and the pivotally mounted jacket with its pivotal lid for holding the container within the jacket for test purposes and the base allowing inverting the container and jacket for emptying.

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of the open and closed systems.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged cross sectional view of the lid, adapter and quick connect fittings.

FIG. 4 is a partial side elevational view, partly schematic, of the jacket with the lid closed and with the container under high pressure test.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT(S) Referring now to the drawings, the system of this invention includes two sub-systems, a closed system for cleaning, pressure testing and drying the container; and an open system in which displaced water determines acceptability of the tested container.

The closed system comprises tanks 1 and 2; a valve control system comprising valves Vl-VS; and flow lines including first and second flexible conduits 25 and 27 coupled to the valve control system and having ends coupled to a lie 29. One of the tanks is filled with a liquid chemical that has good cleaning and drying characteristics, vaporizes fapi'elly and is nonflammable. Preferably, the liquid chefiliiil employed is trichloroethane, which has the above characteristics. The trichloroethane employed also includes a rilst inhibitor. Since this liquid chemical is toxic and has a high vapor pressure, it must be employed in a closed system. As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 3, the conduits are connected via lid 29 with an adapter 30 that sealingly fits within the threaded aperture of the container 31. The illustrated container 31 is ordinarily a metallic container for use with high pressure material, such as carbon dioxide. The usual dispensing head, or mechanism, (not shown) will have been unthreaded from the neck of the high pressure container and removed from the container before the cleaning and pressure testing is done, of course. The adapter 30 is sealingly connected with the conduits 25 and 27 via the respective quick connect fittings and the lid 29 and is sealingly screwed into the top of the container 31. As indicated hereinbefore, the liquid chemical is flowed from one of the tanks into the container 31 and pressurized for the predetermined period of time to clean, pressure test and dry the container. After the pressure test, the container 31, while held by the lid 29, is inverted, along with the jacket 17, to allow the liquid to be flowed from the container to the other of the two tanks. Since the liquid chemical evaporates rapidly, the container dries rapidly. The chemical also will have cleaned the container. Hence, the container is pressure tested, cleaned and dried in a minimum amount of time.

The closed system also comprises a sight glass 37, a filter 39, a high pressure pressure gauge 41, a high pressure pump 43, and a source 45 of low pressure gas which may comprise air, nitrogen, or other compressed gases. The tanks 1 and 2 are supported on a stand 47 which also supports other components of the system. Supported on a test panel 49 of the stand 47 are hand actuated levers LVl-LVS for controlling the valves Vl-VS, respectively. Also mounted on the panel are the sight glass 37, filter 39 and the pressure gauge 41.

The open system, FIGS. 1 and 2, includes water tank 11, inlet flexible conduit '13, inlet pump 15 for flowing water to the jacket 17 about the container 31; return flow means 18 for returning water from the jacket 17 and manometer, or overflow sight glass 19, for measuring via displaced water, the expansionof the container 31 when it has been pressurized.

In the closed system, the adapter 30; the flow control valves; and the flow connections between the various control valves of the closed system will be described now in detail. Referring first to FIG. 3, the lid 29 comprises a flat, metal, disc-like plate 51 having a plurality of threaded apertures extending thereth rough. Specifically, the respective water inlet conduit 13, the water return conduit of the return means 18 and the two flexible conduits 25 and 27 have their ends sealingly interposed in and connected with the threaded apertures in the plate 51, as by fittings 52. Conventional tubing fittings may be employed for the interconnection. The conventional fittings include the flared fittings, as well as Beryl fittings and the like. Threadedly connected into the bottom of the two central apertures are respective tubular members 53 and 54 having the top halves 55 and 56 of quick connect fittings threadedly and sealingly connected thereto. The bottom halves 57 and 58 of the respective quick connect fittings are connected via tubular members 59 and 60 with the adapter 30. The adapter 30 has a central tube 61 that is an extension of conduit 27 through the adapter and into the bottle 31 connected therewith. The central tube 61 is surout of the, container-31 as the trichloroethane is flowed inwardly through the tube 61. The annulus 62 is sealingly connected, via fitting 63 threaded into the aperture in the adapter 30, with the flexible conduit 25. It is noted that the lower end of the tube 61 extends below the bottom end of the adapter 30 to facilitate influx of the trichloroethane without disrupting flow of the fluid, such as air or trichloroethane, leaving the container 31.

As indicated hereinbefore, the adpater 30 has threads 65 that threadedly engage the threads in the container 31 for sealing insertion therewithin.

Continuing the description of the closed system, the valves VlV3 and V5 are four-way hand operated valves that are commercially available. Valve V4, on the other hand, is a two-way on/off hand operated valve which is also commercially available.. Referring to FIG. 2, each of the valves Vl-V3 and V5 have a main port MPVl-MPV3 and MPVS, respectively and three selectable ports labeled 2-4. Either of the three selectable pofls 2-4 of valves V1-V3 and V5 may be connected in fluid communication with its main port by proper positioning of a hand actuated lever to either of three positions corresponding with ports 2-4. When the hand actuated lever of valves V1-V3 and V5 is located in the position corresponding with the position labeled 1, the valve is closed and flow through the valve is terminated. For example, referring to the valve V3, either of its ports 2-4 may be connected to its main port MPV3 by moving its lever LV3 to positions corresponding with ports 2-4, respectively. Movement of the lever to the 1 position terminates flow through the valve. As employed in the system of FIG. 2, port 2 of valve 1 is plugged and port 3 of valve 5 is plugged. Valve V4 also has a hand operated lever LV4 which may be moved to a position corresponding to the l position to close the valve or to a position corresponding to the 2 position to allow flow through the valve.

Referring to FIG. 2, conduit 25 is coupled to the main port of the valve V1 by way of pressure gauge 41, valve V4, sight glass 37 and filter 39. In this respect, a T (tee) connection 67 is connected to the flexible conduit' 25 and the pressure gauge 41 is connected to the end 67A on the T 67. A conduit 69 is connected to the other end of the T connection and also to the port labeled 2 of valve V4. A conduit 71 is connected to the other port of the valve V4 and to the sight glass 37. Conduit 73 is connected to the other end of the sight glass and to the filter 39, while conduit 75 is connected to the other end of the filter 39 and to the main port of the valve V1.

Flexible conduit 27 is connected to the port labeled out of the hand pump 43, serving as the high pressure pump means; while conduit 77 is connected to the in port of the hand pump 43 and to the main port of the valve V2. A first pair of conduits 81 and'83 are coupled to the tops of the tanks 1 and 2 and to ports 3 and 4, respectively, of valve V1. A second pair of conduits 87 and 85 are connected to the bottom ends of tanks 1 and 2 and to ports 4 and 3, respectively, of valve V2. Conduits 91 and 93 are also connected to the tops of tanks 1 and 2 and ports 4 and 3, respectively, of valve V3. Port 2 of valve V2 is connected to port 2 of valve V3 by way of conduit 95. The main port of valve V3 is connected to the source 45 by way of conduit 97. Conduit 91 has a T-connection 101 coupled therein with its end 101A connected to port 2 of valve V5 by way of conduit 103. Conduit 93 has a T-connection 105 coupled therein with its end 105A connected to port 4 of valve V5 by way of conduit 107. The main port of valve V5 has a vent conduit 109 connected thereto.

In one embodiment, the gas source 45 comprises an air pump driven by a DC (direct current) motor 111, that may be supplied with power from a battery 113 of the service vehicle. An on/off switch 115 is employed to control the operation of the motor 111 and, hence, the air pump; which is a small pump capable of producing 40 psi of air pressure. Although not shown, the pump employs a regulator to ensure that the pressure does not exceed 40 psi. When 40 psi is reached, the air pump on the truck unit will automatically shut off. In another embodiment, source 45 may be a cylinder filled with nitrogen under pressure. An on/off valve would be employed, as well as a regulator set at 75 psi. The pump 43 is a high pressure, hand operated pump capable of producing pressures up to 5,000 psi. The handle 43A is employed for operating this pump.

The open system will now be described in detail. As indicated hereinbefore, the water tank 11 is connected with the inlet pump 15 via suitable fittings and flexible conduit 13. The water pump 15 is connected with the lid 29 via conduit 13A. The sector of conduit 13A has a vacuum relief valve 119 connected in parallel with the pump 15. Specifically, the vacuum relief valve 119 is a conventional check valve type relief valve which prevents flow of water outwardly when water is being pumped into the jacket 17 but allows air flow inwardly through the valve 119 when water is being pumped from the jacket 17. Since the end of the conduit 13A is threadedly and sealingly connected with water inlet aperture 121, FIG. 3, the water can flow freely into the interior of the jacket into the annular space about the container 31 suspended therewithin. The return flow means 18 for the water includes the water outlet aperture 123 into which the T fitting 125 is threadedly connected. At one end, the T fitting 125 is connected with conduit 42 for return to the water tank 1 1. At the other end, the T fitting 125 is connected with conduit 127 for connection with the overflow sight glass 19. A valve 129 is interposed in the conduit 127 for protecting the sight glass 19 from pressure variations during the high speed flow of fluid from the jacket 17 during filling and/or emptying.

The conduit 42 is connected with water return pump 131. The discharge side of water return pump 131 is connected with a valve 133 via conduit 135. The valve 133 serves to direct the flow of water either through conduit 137 directly to the water tank 11, or through the sight glass (SG) 138 and filter (F) 139. As described hereinbefore with respect to the trichloroethane, flow is directed through the sight glass 137 during the filling of the jacket 17 until all of the air has been flowed therefrom and only water is seen in the sight glass.

During the filling operation, it is advisable not to have to run the water return pump 131. Accordingly, a T fitting 141 is interposed in the conduit 42. The T fitting is connected with check valve (CV) 143. The downstream side of the check valve 143 is connected via conduit 145 with the conduit downstream of the pump 131, effectively serving as a bypass around the pump during the filling of the jacket 17. The respective water inlet and water outlet pumps are employed, rather than employing a single pump with suitable conduit and valvin g, in order to allow filling with a pump operated by the 12 volt system of the vehicle without overheating and without undue dalay in pumping time. Each of the respective pumps is controlled by its own switch and the two pumps can be operated in conjunction if desired for further increases in flow; thereby decreasing time for filling the jacket. Ordinarily, such is not necessary. As can be seen in FIG. 1, the water tank 11 is also supported in the stand 47.

The lid 29 having a fire extinguisher container 31 coupled thereto, is raised and lowered by way of pneumatically operated rams 149 and 151 on diametrically opposed sides, FIG. 1. Specifically, the lid 29 is pivotally mounted on the rod 153 of the ram 151. The lid 29 is immobilized against movement longitudinally of the rod 153 by suitable upper and lower nuts 155 and 157, FIG. 3. The nuts 155 and 157 may be threaded and screwed into place if the rod 153 is threaded. Preferably, however, the rod 153 is smooth and the nuts 155 and 157 will be held in place by suitable set screws 159. A bushing 161 is joumalled intermediate the nuts 155 and 157 to facilitate pivotal movement of the lid 29 into the open position to allow insertion of the container 31 within the jacket 17 and pivotal movement back into position to quick connect the lid with the container 31. On the opposite side, lid 29 has a lug 163 welded thereto. The rod 165 of the pneumatic ram 149 can be clamped into engagement with the lug 163 for pulling the lid downwardly concurrently with downward movement of the rod 153. Thus, together, the rods 165 and 153 pull the lid into sealing engagement with the top of the jacket 17, as illustrated in FIG. 4. Conventionally, the bottom portion of the lid has an annularly disposed sealing surface that engages a suitable seal, such as an o-ring 169, FIG. 2, in the top of the flange 167 on the jacket 17.

The jacket 17, having the container 31 sealingly disposed therewithin, can be inverted by way of a pivotal mounting comprising a fulcrum shaft 169 that is journalled in a triangularly shaped base 171. Inversion of the jacket 17 and container 31 facilitates emptying of all of the liquids therefrom and return of the liquids to their respective tanks.

Operation Operation of this invention is described with respect to testing a high pressure fire extinguisher container.

The closed system will be prepared for carrying out the test by filling tank 1 with liquid trichloroethane, including a rust inhibitor. The tanks 1 and 2 are l2-gallon tanks. Only gallons of trichloroethane are employed, however, to allow air space for transferring the liquid rapidly. The liquid is inserted into tank 1 via a port 173 having a removable plug. After filling operations, the plug will be replaced. Having filled tank 1 with 10 gallons of trichloroethane and assuming source 45 is an air pump, the pump may be turned on by closing switch 115. The hand lever LV3 of valve V3 is then turned to position 4. This allows the pressure in tank 1 to build up to 40 psi to prepare the system for use without delay. After the air pump automatically shuts off, all hand levers LV1-LV5 are turned to position 1.

In carrying out a test on a given fire extinguisher, the.

dispensing head of the extinguisher will have been actuated to remove all of the fluid in the fire extinguisher, after which the dispensing head will be unthreaded from the neck of the container and removed. The container may then be inverted to remove any loose material through its opening. The container will have been inspected and the adapter screwed thereinto to form a seal with the container for carrying out the high pressure test, the pneumatic rams 149 and 151 will have been extended by proper positioning of the valve handle 175 of the valve 177. The valve 177 is connected in the usual manner and by conventional flexible hoses and fittings with the respective rams 149 and 151 and with a suitablesource of air at superatmospheric pressure for energizing the respective pneumatic rams 149 and 151 for opening and closing the lid 29. The lid 29 may be clamped into position by suitable diametrically opposed clamps 179 after it has been closed. If desired, the rams 149 and 151 may be employed to keep the lid closed.

In any event, the lid 29 is pivoted out of the way and the fire extinguisher container 31, with the adpater 30 screwed thereinto, is inserted within the jacket 17. The lid is swung back into place and the quick connect fittings 55-57 and 56-58 are connected; thereby connecting the container with respective flexible conduits 25 and 27. The valve handle 175 is positioned to effect closure of the lid 29 into sealing engagement with the flange 167 of the jacket 17. Following closure of the lid 29, the container is totally contained within the jacket 17 so that any volumetric expansion it undergoes will effect overflow of water from the completely filled jacket 17.

After the container 31 has been sealingly connected with the respective flexible conduits 25 and 27, the following steps are taken in the following sequence. First, the hand levers LVl-LVS of the valves V1V5 are turned to the following positions in the following sequence; valve V2 to position 4; valve V1 to position 4; valve V3 to position 4; valve V4 to position 2; and valve V5 to position 4. This allows liquid to flow from the bottom of tank 1 to the container being tested. Flow is by way of conduit 87, valve V2, conduit 77, pressure pump 43, flexible conduit 27, and central tube 61 of adapter 30. Air from the container will flow out of tank 2 and then through vent 109. Flow is by way of annulus 62 of adapter 30, through flexible conduit 25, conduit 69, valve V4, conduit 71, sight glass 37, conduit 73, filter 39, conduit 75, valve V1, conduit 83, and into tank 2. Tank 2 is vented by way of conduit 93, conduit 107, valve V5 and vent 109. During the filling process, air from the pump 45 is applied to tank 1 by way of conduit 97, valve V3 and conduit 91.

When the container becomes filled, liquid can be seen passing through the sight glass 37. Air bubbles caused from the air escaping from the container also will be intermixed with the liquid chemical. Since the lower end of the annulus 62 of the adapter 30 is higher than the lower end of the central tube 61 (in the upright position of the container 31) and is flush with the lower side of the adapter, all of the air will be removed from the container. This is important to prevent the container from exploding during the pressure test and to ensure an accurate test. When there are no air bubbles observed passing through the sight glass 37, the lever LV4 of the valve V4 is turned to position 1 to terminate the flow of liquid from the container being tested.

Before the container 31 is subjected to high pressure testing, the jacket 17 is filled with water. Specifically,

the water pump 15 is started, causing water to flow via conduit 13A and water inlet aperture 121 into the annular space between the container 31 and the jacket v 17. Air flows from the jacket 17 out of the aperture 123 and conduit 42 back .to the water tank 11 which isby way of T fitting 141, check valve 143, conduit 145, valve 133, sight glass 137 and filter 139. If desired, the valve 133 may be positioned so as to flow the air through conduit 137 until the jacket 17 is nearly full when it will be vented through the sight glass 137 to insure that all of the air is out of the jacket 17. Once all of the air is out of the jacket 17, the valve 133 is closed and the valve 129 is opened to allow levelling of the water at a zero reading position in the overflow sight glass 19. Once the zero reading has been obtained, the system is ready for the pressure test of the fire extinguisher container.

For the high pressure test of the fire extinguisher container, the pump handle 43A of the high pressure pump 43 is operated to apply a desired amount of pressure to the container determined by its predetermined test specifications. For example, as indicated hereinbefore, the pressure test may be about 3,300 psi. The pressure may be read on the gauge 41. After the desired pressure level is obtained, the pressure is maintained for a predetermined period of time; for example, about 60 seconds. During the 60 second test period, the hand 1evers of the valves are turned to position 1. During'the time that the pressure is maintained within the container 31, the container and gauge 41 are observed to determine if there are leaks in the container 31. At the same time the pressure test is being carried out, the trichloroethane, or liquid chemical, acts to dissolve all foreign matter within the container, thereby cleaning the container. As the container 31 is pressurized, it will tend to increase in its volumetric dimension, causing a flow-of part of the water from intermediate it and the jacket 17. The water flows into the overflow sight glass 19 and, as illustrated in FIG. 4, a new reading is taken that gives the differential volume AV effected by the pressure. The differential volume is a measure of the soundness of the container, since a weaker container would expand a greater amount under the predetermined pressure of the test.

After the test has been carried out for the desired period of time, the differential volume has been checked, and it has been found that the container is satisfactory, the liquid is removed from the container and the water is removed from the jacket. This is accomplished by pivoting the jacket 17 with the container 31 therewithin to invert both. The hand levers LV 1-LV5 of valves Vl-VS are moved to the following positions in the following sequence in order to move the liquid from the container 31 into the tank 2: valve V1 to position 4; valve V2 to position 2; valve V3 to position 2; valve V4 to position 2; and valve V5 to position 4. in these valve positions, the liquid chemical from the container 31 will be emptied into tank 2. Flow is by way of annulus 62 of adapter 30, conduit25, conduit 69, valve V4, conduit 71, sight glass 37, conduit 73, filter 39, conduit 75, valve V1 and conduit 83. The top of tank 2 is vented by way of conduit 93, conduit 107, valve V5 and vent 109. In addition, air is injected into the fire extinguisher container 31 from the air pump 45 by way of conduit 97, valve V3, conduit 95, valve V2, conduit 77, hand pump 43, conduit 27, and central tube 61 of the adapter 29. The air flows upwardly to the inverted bottom of container 31 and pushes the liquid out through annulus 62, conduit 25, etc. When the fire extinguisher container is empty there will be no liquid flow seen through the sight glass 37. When liquid flow stops, the flow of air into and out of the container is continued for about to seconds depending upon the size and 10 shape of the container. This allows air to flow through the container at 40 psi, thus drying any liquid residue remaining in the container.

Simultaneously with emptying of the liquid from the inverted container, the water is pumped out of the inverted jacket by energizing water outlet pump 131. During the emptying, the valve 133 may be moved to flow the water directly through conduit 137 into the water tank 11. The pumping out of the water is facilitated by allowing air in through the vacuum relief valve 119 and conduit 13A to the interior of the jacket 17. Since the pressure on the discharge side of the pump 131 is higher than the suction side, the check valve 143 is moved into a closed position to prevent flow through the conduit 145. Ordinarily, the valve 129 is closed before the pump 131 is energized; for example, simultaneously with the opening of the valve 133. Thus, all of the water is moved from the jacket 17 back into the water storage tank 11.

Having removed all of the liquid chemical from the container 31 and having dried the container 31 while it is inverted, the hand levers LV1-LV5 of the valves V1-V5 then are moved to the following positions in the following sequence: valve V4 to position 1; valve V1 to position 11; valve V2 to position 11; valve V3 to position 1 and valve V5 to position 1. In these positions, all of the valves will be closed. The fire extinguisher container within'the jacket is turned to the upright position, by pivoting around the shaft 169. The valve handle 175 is moved to move the lid 29 and the container 31 upwardly by extension of the rods 153 and of the pneumatic rams 149 and 151. if clamps 179 are employed, they are released, of course, before the pneumatic rams are extended.

The container 31 is disconnected from the lid by disconnection of the quick connect fittings 55-57 and 56-58 and the lid 29 is swung out of the way. Thereafter, the container 31 has the adapter 30 screwed therefrom, is inspected and returned to service by re-pressurizing with the carbon dioxide following insertion of the dispensing head.

The hand levers of all of the valves Vll-VS are left in the 1 position except the hand lever LV3 of the valve V3, which is turned to position 4 to maintain pressure on the tank in use so the system will be ready for the next test.

After tank 1 is exhausted, tank 2 can be used by reverse flowing the liquid through the containers to be tested. A determination as to when tank 1 becomes empty can be made by viewing the sight glass 37 during the filling portion of the test. Where there is no liquid flow through the sight glass during the filling portion, it can be determined that there is no further liquid flowing from tank 1 to the container 31. Since the operator is in the middle of a test, he probably will not want to start the test over. The following steps can be followed to continue filling the container from tank 2. These steps are the same steps that would be used if the operator were starting a new test using tank 2 for filling instead of tank 1. When using tank 2 for filling, initially all of the hand levers of the valve will be turned to the 1 position except thathand lever LV3 of valve V3 will be turned to the 3 position to allow pressure to build up in tank 2. The hand levers of the valves then are moved to the following positions in the following sequence: valve V2 to position 3; valve V1 to position 3; valve V3 to position 3; valve V4 to position 2; and valve V5 to position 2. This vents tank 1, pressurizes tank 2 and al- 1 1 lows the container 31 to be tested to be filled from tank 2. Flow from tank 2 is by way of conduit 85, valve V2, conduit 77, hand pump 43, conduit 27 and central tube 61 of adapter 30. The sight glass 37 is observed for liquid flow, and after air bubbles are not viewable in the liquid flowing through the sight glass, it can be determined that the container is full of liquid. Hand lever LV4 of valve V4 is then turned to the position 1.

The water will be flowed into the jacket about the container 31 following closure of the lid and a zero reading taken, as described hereinbefore.

The pump handle 43A next is actuated to obtain the desired pressure in the container and this pressure is maintained for the predetermined test interval, as described hereinbefore. During the test interval, the hand levers of all the other valves are turned to the l position. The differential volumetric expansion is measured via displaced water, as described hereinbefore. After the period of time and the determination of satisfactory tests, the fire extinguisher container 31 is inverted by inverting the jacket 17. The hand levers of the valves are moved to the following positions in the following sequence: valve V1 to position 3; valve V2 to position 2; valve V3 to position 2; valve V4 to position 2; and valve V5 to position 2. This allows air to be injected into the container through conduit 27 and the liquid to be forced out of the container into tank 1. When the container is empty, there will be no more liquid viewable in the sight glass. Air flow through the container then is continued for about to 30 seconds, depending upon the size and shape of the container, to dry any liquid residue remaining in the container 31. The hand levers of the valves next are moved to the following positions in the following sequence: valve V4 to position 1; valve V1 to position 1; valve V2 to position 1; valve V3 to position 1; and valve V5 to position 1. The water will have been pumped out of the jacket 17 as described hereinbefore.

The fire extinguisher container 31 and the jacket 17 are then turned upright and removed as described hereinbefore. The fire extinguisher container 31 is inspected and returned to service, similarly as described hereinbefore.

As can now be understood, the use of trichloroethane as the cleaning and testing agent enables the cleaning and testing to be performed simultaneously and drying to be done substantially instantly, since the trichloroethane has a high vapor pressure. By using a closed system, trichloroethane may be used even though it is toxic. By using a rust inhibitor, the effectiveness and lifetime of the closed system is increased. In addition, by use of the closed system, including the sight glass 37, there is no waste of the test liquid and no escape of fumes. Since trichloroethane is very expensive, waste is undesirable. The test can be carried out rapidly (any size conventional container 31 may be tested in 5 to 10 minutes), so time is saved. Moreover, the test may be carried out in a service vehicle, thereby eliminating many trips back to the shop, as mentioned previously. If desired, the same equipment can be used in the shop. The flow of liquid from one tank to the other may be reversed by proper operation of the valve system; consequently, there is no delay in continuing the test when one tank becomes empty.

From experience, it has been found that many tests may be carried out before the trichloroethane in the closed system is required to be changed and fresh trichloroethane is employed.

Any liquid other than water can be employed in the open system.

As indicated hereinbefore, this invention can be employed to test any high pressure container having similar requirements to those delineated. The jacket 17 is large enough to enable testing most conventional high pressure containers similar in size to fire extinguisher containers and still be mounted on a vehicle. The height of the jacket as well as the stand is adapted for vehicle mounted equipment.

The valve Vl-VS are manufactured by Imperial Eastman and may be purchased from Kines International, Fort Worth, Texas. Trichloroethane having a rust inhibitor may be purchased from Van Waters and Rogers of Dallas, Texas. It is identified as trichloroethane III NU.

From the foregoing, it can be seen that this invention provides the objects delineated hereinbefore.

Although the invention has been described with a certain degree of particularity, it is understood that the present disclosure is made only by way of example and that numerous changes in the details of construction and the combination and arrangement of parts may be resorted to without departing from the spirit and the scope of this invention.

What is claimed is:

1. A combination apparatus system for cleaning and pressure testing and drying a high pressure container having an opening leading to its interior comprising:

a. a closed system for pressure testing said container;

said closed system including:

i. two tanks for holding a volume of a first liquid chemical less than the total volume of said two tanks; said first liquid chemical having good cleaning characteristics, having high vapor pressure for rapid vaporization, and being nonflammable;

ii. first and second conduits having first ends adapted to be coupled in fluid communication with the interior of said high pressure container by way of its opening;

iii. a first pair of flow lines comprising two lines separately connected to the tops of said two tanks;

iv. first flow control means for separately connecting said first conduit with either of said lines of said first pair; I

v. a second pair of flow lines comprising two lines separately connected to the bottoms of said two tanks;

vi. second flow control means for separately connecting said second conduit with either of said lines of said second pair of flow lines; and

vii. pressurizing means connected to said second conduit for elevating the pressure interiorly of said container once said container has been filled with said liquid chemical;

b. an open system for measuring the volumetric expansion of said container when subjected to pressure; said open system including:

i. a reservoir for a second liquid;

ii. a jacket means adapted for insertion of said container therewithin; having a lid means for sealingly engaging the top of said jacket and encompassing said container;

iii. conduits connected with said reservoir and said lid means;

iv. liquid flow means for flowing said second liquid into and from said jacket and about said container means disposed therewithin when said lid means is closed; and

differential volume measuring means connected with one of said conduits that are connected with said lid means for measuring the differential volume of liquid displaced by said container when subjected to high pressure; said differential volume measuring means having means for obtaining a zero reading before pressure is applied interiorly of said container within the filled jacket and a means for reading the volume displaced by said container after said pressurizing thereof.

2. The combination system of claim 1 wherein at 15 least one of said two tanks in said closed system contains said liquid chemical having said good cleaning characteristic; said reservoir for said second liquid contains said second liquid; a sight glass is connected to said first conduit between its first end and said first control means and a second sight glass is connected into a conduit of said liquid flow means of said open system.

3. The combination system of claim 1 wherein said pressurizing means comprises a high pressure pump and said closed system further comprises:

a. said high pressure pump coupled to said second conduit; b. a gas pressure line; c. said second flow control means being adapted to separately connect said second conduit with either of said lines of said second pair or with said gas pressure line;

d. a third pair of flow lines comprising two lines separately connected to the tops of said two'tanks respectively at positions different from the connectionof said lines of said first pair with the tops of said two tanks;

e. a source of gas under relatively low pressure;

f. a third flow control means for separately connect 14 g. a fourth flow control means coupled to said first conduit between its first end and said sight glass for controlling flow through said first conduit;

h. a vent; and

i. a fifth flow control means for separately connecting either of said lines of said third pair to said vent.

4. The combination system of claim 1 wherein said jacket of said open system has ram means having at least a first extensible rod for pulling said lid down- 0 wardly into sealing engagement with the top of said jacket; said lid is pivotally mounted on said rod of said ram means for being swung out of the way for insertion of said container within said jacket; said lid being pulled down into sealing engagement with the top of said jacket by said ram means; said lid having on its bottom, one portion of quick connect means; said container having screwed into its said opening an adapter having a mating portion of quick connect means for connecting said first ends of said first and second conduits with the interior of said container such that said container can be quickly coupled to said lid before pressurization and quickly uncoupled following testing.

5. The combination system of claim 4 wherein said lid can be closed and water injected into said jacket before testing so as to float large containers toward said lid to facilitate connection with said quick connect means.

6. The combination system of claim 4 wherein two respective rams are provided, and the second of said rams has its extensible rod that is connectable with a side of said lid diametrically opposite the pivotal connection of said lid with said first extensible rod of applying a uniform pressure to ensure sealing engagement of said lid with the top of said jacket.

7. The combination system of claim 1 wherein said jacket is pivotally mounted via a fulcrum shaft on a base portion such that said jacket, with any said container therewithin, can be inverted to facilitate flowing ing said source with either of said lines of said third 40 of said one or more liquids from within said jacket.

pair or with said gas pressure line;

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4002054 *Aug 4, 1975Jan 11, 1977Grenci Carl AMethod and means for volumetric expansion testing
US4577487 *Dec 14, 1984Mar 25, 1986Dooley John GPressure vessel testing
US6014893 *Aug 11, 1998Jan 18, 2000Chrysler CorporationTest fixture
US6339960Oct 30, 2000Jan 22, 2002Mississippi State UniversityNon-intrusive pressure and level sensor for sealed containers
US6539958 *Oct 16, 2000Apr 1, 2003Motorvac Technologies, Inc.Cooler flusher
US6561048 *Jan 9, 2001May 13, 2003General Electric CompanyWater-flow testing apparatus
US6883526Mar 27, 2003Apr 26, 2005Motorvac Technologies, Inc.Method of using a cooler flusher
Classifications
U.S. Classification73/37, 134/169.00R, 73/52
International ClassificationG01M3/02
Cooperative ClassificationG01M3/02
European ClassificationG01M3/02