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Title:
FLUID TRANSFER COUPLER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/037447
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A fluid transfer coupler comprises engagement means, such as a frusto-conical flange (16), for releasable engagement with a complementarily shaped fitting, retaining means (18) configured to releasably retain the complementarily shaped fitting, a valve seat (24), valve closure means (22) releasably engageable with the valve seat, a crank member (32),means such as a handle (36) for rotatably displacing the crank member around its rotational axis and a connecting member (26) pivotally connected to the crank member (32) and connected to the valve closure means (22). The crank member (32) is mounted on separate first and second coaxial spindle members (34, 60) which define the rotational axis of the crank member.

Inventors:
ASHTON, Colin (67 Sunnybank Road, Greetland, Halifax Yorkshire HX4 8JP, HX4 8JP, GB)
Application Number:
GB2016/052689
Publication Date:
March 09, 2017
Filing Date:
August 31, 2016
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
FORT VALE ENGINEERING LIMITED (Calder Vale Park, Simonstone LaneSimonstone, Burnley Lancashire BB12 7ND, BB12 7ND, GB)
International Classes:
F16L37/47
Foreign References:
US20020175227A12002-11-28
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WP THOMPSON (8th Floor, No. 1 Mann Island, Liverpool Merseyside L3 1BP, L3 1BP, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1 . A fluid transfer coupler comprising:

engagement means for releasable engagement with a complementarily shaped fitting;

retaining means configured to releasably retain the complementarily shaped fitting;

a valve seat;

valve closure means releasably engageable with the valve seat;

a crank member mounted on separate first and second coaxial spindle members which define the rotational axis of the crank member;

means for rotatably displacing the crank member around its rotational axis; and

a connecting member pivotally connected to the crank member and connected to the valve closure means.

2. A fluid transfer coupler as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the connecting member is pivotally connected to the valve closure means. 3. A fluid transfer coupler as claimed in claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the connecting member is elongate.

4. A fluid transfer coupler as claimed in claim 3, wherein the connecting member is substantially straight.

5. A fluid transfer coupler as claimed in any of the preceding claims, wherein the crank member comprises a recess for receipt of a portion of the connecting member.

6. The fluid transfer coupler as claimed in claim 5, wherein the crank member comprises a recess for receipt of a portion of the connecting member when the valve closure means is engaged with the valve seat.

7. A fluid transfer coupler as claimed in any of the preceding claims, wherein the means for rotatably displacing the crank member around its rotational axis is connected to the first spindle. 8. A fluid transfer coupler as claimed in claim 7, wherein the means for rotatably displacing the crank member around its rotational axis comprises a handle.

9. A fluid transfer coupler as claimed in any of the preceding claims, wherein the first spindle member is rotatably mounted and the crank member rotates with the first spindle member.

10. A fluid transfer coupler as claimed in any of the preceding claims, wherein the second spindle member comprises a stub spindle. 1 1 . A fluid transfer coupler as claimed in any of the preceding claims, further comprising a housing on which the first and second spindle members are mounted and in which the valve seat is located.

12. A fluid transfer coupler as claimed in any of the preceding claims, comprising an inner housing means and an outer housing means.

13. A fluid transfer coupler as claimed in claim 12, wherein the first and second spindle members are mounted on the inner housing means and the valve seat is located in the inner housing means.

14. A fluid transfer coupler as claimed in any of the preceding claims, wherein the valve closure means comprises a poppet valve.

15. A fluid transfer coupler as claimed in any of the preceding claims, comprising a female fitting for releasable engagement with a complementarily shaped male fitting.

16. A fluid transfer coupler as claimed in any of the preceding claims, compris a refuelling coupler.

17. A fluid transfer coupler substantially as herein described with reference to, and as illustrated in, the accompanying drawings.

Description:
FLUID TRANSFER COUPLER

The present invention relates to fluid transfer couplers. In particular, but not exclusively, the invention relates to refuelling couplers.

When transferring fuel from a storage tank to a road tanker, the fuel is dispensed along a loading arm to the outer end of which a refuelling coupler is connected. The refuelling coupler comprises a female fitting which can be releasably and sealingly coupled to a complementarily shaped male fitting for receipt of fuel into the storage tank. The male fitting is provided with a circumferential recess into which one or more retaining members mounted on the female fitting can be releasably located, in order to secure the male and female components together. This can be achieved by, for example, manually actuated cam locks or automatically engaging triggers mounted on the refuelling coupler. Typically, both the male and female components are also provided with a valve in order to minimise escape of fuel vapour during connection and disconnection.

One example of a known refuelling coupler is shown in Figs 5 and 6. The refuelling coupler comprises an outer generally cylindrical outer housing 210 and a generally coaxial cylindrical inner housing 212 slidably disposed through a predetermined displacement within, and coaxially with, the outer housing 210 along the longitudinal axis of the outer housing 210. One end of the inner housing 212 is provided with a plurality of bolts 214 for attachment to an end of a fuel transfer loading arm, the other end of which is connected to a storage tank (not shown). The opposite end of the inner housing is formed into a frusto-conical flange 216 for receipt of the end of a male fitting (not shown). The inner housing 212 is also provided with four equally angularly spaced spring-loaded locking triggers 218 which, in use, are received in a circumferential recess in the male fitting (not shown). In use, as the female fitting is manoeuvred onto the male fitting, the triggers 218 snap into position and are received in the circumferential recess in the male fitting, and holds the two fittings in sealing engagement with each other. The spring-loaded locking triggers 218 can be released by operation of a release handle 220 which is pivotally connected to the upper end of the outer housing 210 at pivots 21 1 . The inner housing 212 also carries a poppet valve 222 which is movable into and out of engagement with an annular valve seat 224 by means of a lever arm 226. As best seen in Fig 6, the lower end of the lever arm 226 is pivotally connected between two lugs 228 on the rear face of the poppet and the opposite end is pivotally connected between two lugs 230 of a splined crank block 232. The splined aperture of the crank block 232 receives a splined portion of a spindle 234 which is pivotally mounted in the inner housing 212 and which is rotatable by means of a handle 236 attached to the end of the spindle which extends out of the inner housing 212. The opposite end of the handle is rotatably mounted in the wall of the inner housing 212 at a location diametrically opposite the mounting of the handle 236.

As best seen in Fig 6, it is necessary for the lever arm 226 to be bent so that it extends around the spindle 234, to allow the spindle and lever arm to move without interfering with each other. However, the use of a bent lever arm has the result that the force applied to the poppet 222 from the lever arm is in a direction inclined to the opening and closing directions of the poppet. Whilst the rear face of the head of the poppet 222 is provided with three elongate extensions 238 in slidable engagement with the inner wall of the inner housing 212 in order to guide the movement of the poppet, the bent lever arm can result in imperfect sealing of the poppet with its valve seat and also requires an additional force to open and close the poppet.

It is an aim of the present invention to overcome or alleviate the problems associated with the prior art. In accordance with the present invention, a fluid transfer coupler comprises:

engagement means for releasable engagement with a complementarily shaped fitting;

retaining means configured to releasably retain the complementarily shaped fitting;

a valve seat;

valve closure means releasably engageable with the valve seat;

a crank member mounted on separate first and second coaxial spindle members which define the rotational axis of the crank member; means for rotatably displacing the crank member around its rotational axis; and

a connecting member pivotally connected to the crank member and connected to the valve closure means.

By mounting the crank member on two separate coaxial spindle members, it is no longer necessary for a single spindle to extend across the width of the coupler. Consequently, it is not necessary for the connecting member to be bent in order to prevent interference with the spindle.

It is therefore possible to use a straight connecting member, with the result that the forces which retain the valve closure means in the opened and closed positions are applied in substantially the direction of movement of the valve closure means. This reduces the forces required to retain the valve closure means in the opened and closed positions. It also assists in seating the valve closure means correctly on the valve seat and reduces the likelihood of the valve closure means being displaced from the valve seat in the event of vibration.

Preferably, the connecting member is pivotally connected to the valve closure means.

Preferably, the connecting member is elongate and more preferably the connecting member is substantially straight. Preferably, the crank member comprises a recess for receipt of a portion of the connecting member, preferably when the valve closure means is engaged with the valve seat.

The recess can be located between the inner ends of the two spindle members, with the result that is no longer necessary for the connecting member to be bent in order to fit around a spindle extending across the width of the coupler.

In one embodiment, the means for rotatably displacing the crank member around its rotational axis is connected to the first spindle. The means for rotatably displacing the crank member around its rotational axis may comprise a handle. In one embodiment, the first spindle member is rotatably mounted and the crank member rotates with the first spindle member.

The second spindle member may comprise a stub spindle. The fluid transfer coupler may further comprise a housing on which the first and second spindle members are mounted and in which the valve seat is located.

The housing may comprise an inner housing means and an outer housing means. The first and second spindle members may be mounted on the inner housing means and the valve seat may be located in the inner housing means.

In one embodiment, the valve closure means comprises a poppet valve. By way of example only, a specific embodiment of the present invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

Fig 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of refuelling coupler in accordance with the present invention;

Figs 2 (a) to 2 (d) are a side view, cross-sectional view looking in the direction of arrows B-B, cross-sectional view looking in the direction of arrows D-D and an end view looking in the direction of arrow E of the refuelling coupler of Fig 1 , shown in a closed configuration;

Figs 3 (a) to (d) are views corresponding to Figs 2 (a) to 2 (d), shown in an opened configuration; Figs 4 (a) to (b) of perspective views from the front one side and above and from the rear and one side of a crank block which forms part of the refuelling coupler of Fig 1 ;

Fig 5 is a perspective view of an example of refuelling coupler known from the prior art; and

Fig 6 is a cross-section through the refuelling coupler shown in Fig 5.

The refuelling coupler shown in Figs 1 to 4 is similar in general construction to the prior art refuelling coupler shown in Figs 5 and 6. The main difference relates to the lever arm, as will be explained.

The embodiment of refuelling coupler shown in Figs 1 to 4 comprises a generally cylindrical outer housing 10 and a generally coaxial cylindrical inner housing 12 slidably disposed through a predetermined displacement within the outer housing 10 along the longitudinal axis of the outer housing 10. A plurality of bolts 14 extend perpendicularly from one end of the inner housing 12, for attachment to an end of a fuel transfer hose, the other end of which is connected to a delivery tanker (not shown). The opposite end of the inner housing is formed into an engagement means in the form of a frusto-conical flange 16 for receipt of the end of a complementarily shaped male fitting (not shown). The inner housing 12 is also provided with four equally angularly spaced spring-loaded locking triggers 18 which, in use, are received in a circumferential recess in the male fitting (not shown). In use, as the female fitting is manoeuvred onto the male fitting, the triggers 18 snap into position and are received in the circumferential recess in the male fitting, and retain the two fittings in sealing engagement with each other. The spring-loaded locking triggers 18 can be released by operation of a release handle 20 which is pivotally connected to the upper end of the outer housing 10 by means of pivots 21 . The inner housing 12 also carries a valve closure means in the form of a poppet valve 22 which is movable into and out of engagement with an annular valve seat 24 by means of a straight, elongate lever arm 26 formed from two identical plate members arranged face-to-face with each other. The use of two, thinner plates rather than one, thicker plate increases the strength of the arm, since the thinner material tends to be stronger due to work hardening of the cold rolled plate. Thinner plates can also be more accurately laser cut, with less edge kerf. The rear face of the head of the poppet is provided with three elongate extensions 38 (only two of which are visible in the drawings) in slidable engagement with the inner wall of the inner housing 12 in order to guide the movement of the poppet. As best seen in Figs 2 (c) and 3 (c), the lower end of the lever arm 26 is pivotally connected at pivot pin 27 between two lugs 28 on the rear face of the poppet and the opposite end is pivotally connected between two lugs 30 of a crank member in the form of a splined crank block 32. A splined aperture of the crank block 32 receives a splined portion of a spindle 34 which is pivotally mounted in the inner housing 12 and which is rotatable by means of a handle 36 attached to the end of the spindle which extends out of the inner housing 12.

The aforementioned description is very similar to the description of the prior art refuelling coupler shown in Figs 5 and 6. However, one very important difference is that the inner end of the spindle 34 (i.e. the end opposite to that where the handle 36 is attached) is received in, and terminates at, an internally splined boss 50 which forms part of the crank block 32, as best seen in Figs 4 (a) and (b). The crank block 32 is provided with a further tubular boss 52, aligned with, but separated from, the splined boss 50. As best seen in Figs 2 (c) and 3 (c), the spindle 34 is rotatably mounted in the wall of the inner housing 12 by means of a bushing 54. The two ends of the spindle 34 are splined for attachment to the complementarily splined aperture 51 in the boss 50 and to a complementarily splined aperture 56 at the inner end of the handle 36. In addition, the further boss 52 of the crank block 32 is provided with an aperture 58 which receives one end of a stub spindle 60, the other end of the stub spindle being rotatably mounted in a recess 62 by means of a bushing 64.

Therefore, the crank block 32 is rotatably mounted on two separate, independent spindles, the first spindle 34 for rotating the crank block 32 and the second, stub spindle 60. By having two separate spindles for mounting the crank block 32, it is not necessary for a single spindle to extend across the diameter of the inner housing 12. Consequently, and as best seen in Figs 2 (c), 3 (c) and 4, the crank block 32 can be shaped to receive the lever arm 26. As shown in the Figures, the crank block 32 comprises the two upstanding lugs 30, extending generally perpendicularly to the spindle-receiving bosses 50, 52, which are provided with aligned apertures 66 for receipt of a pivot pin 68, which is pivotally connected to the upper end of the lever arm 26. The crank block 32 also comprises a web 70 of material joining the two upstanding lugs 30, but it will be seen that an elongate recess 72 is formed between the inner faces of the upstanding lugs 30 and the spindle-receiving bosses 50, 52, for receipt of the lever arm 26, as will be explained.

By moving the handle 36, the spindle 34 connected to the handle can be rotated, which in turn causes the crank block 32 to rotate. The handle 36 can be displaced through slightly more than 180° from the position shown in Figs 1 and 2 to the position shown in Fig 3. This in turn moves the lever arm 26 which causes the poppet valve 22 to be displaced from sealing engagement with the valve seat 24 as shown in Fig 2 to a position in which it is displaced from the valve seat 24 as shown in Fig 3. As best seen in Fig 2, when the poppet valve 22 is in the closed position, the lever arm 26 is received in the elongate recess 72 between the inner faces of the upstanding lugs 30 and the spindle-receiving bosses 50, 52, and it is therefore possible to use a straight, non-bent lever arm 26.

Since it is possible to use a straight lever arm 26, the force from the lever arm holding the poppet valve 22 open or shut as the case may be is provided substantially in the direction of travel of the poppet valve 22, in contrast to the prior art arrangements. In fact, and as can be seen in Figs 2 (b) and 3 (b), in the closed and opened positions of the valve the lever arm is misaligned very slightly with the direction of movement of the poppet valve 22, but only so that the position of the crank block 32 has an over-centre action when the poppet valve 22 is in the closed and opened positions, so that the valve can be held in those two positions.

In use, the refuelling coupler is attached to one end of a loading arm by means of the bolts 14, the other end of the loading arm being connected to the inlet/outlet of a delivery tanker. With the poppet valve 22 in the closed position shown in Fig 2, the coupler is offered to a complementarily shaped fitting (not shown) connected to a tanker to which fuel is to be delivered. Engagement of the refuelling coupler with the fitting causes the triggers 18 to snap into position in a circumferential recess in the male fitting. This allows the outer sleeve 10 to engage over the triggers locking them into position whilst the triggers hold the two fittings in sealing engagement with each other. The displacement of the outer sleeve releases the handle interlock, at which point the poppet valve 22 is then displaced into the opened position shown in Fig 3 by pivoting the handle 36 and the spindle 34 to which the handle is attached through an angle of slightly greater than 180°. Fuel can then flow through the coupling and through the fitting to which the coupling is connected, and from there into the tanker.

Once the required amount of fuel has been supplied, the pumps automatically switch off and the poppet valve 22 is closed by rotating the handle 36 to its other extreme position shown in Fig 2, in the reverse of the procedure outlined above. This causes the lever arm 26 to be received in the elongate recess 72 in the crank block 32. The spring-loaded locking triggers 18 can then be released by operation of the release handle 20, which allows the refuelling coupler to be separated from the male fitting to which it was previously attached.

As shown particularly in Figs 2 (b) and 3 (b) the pivotal mounting of the crank block 32 on two separate spindles allows the lever arm 26 to be received in the longitudinal recess 72 in the crank block 32 between the inner ends of the two spindles 34, 60 and allows a straight lever arm to be used. The use of a straight lever arm allows the force which retains the poppet valve 22 open and closed to be applied in substantially the same direction as the direction of movement of the poppet valve, without a significant bending moment. Consequently, the stresses applied to the straight lever arm 26 are significantly reduced whilst applying same forces to hold the poppet valve 22 in its opened and closed positions as compared with the use of a bent lever arm as in the prior art. The over centre action of the lever arm contacting the crank block results in a lockout of rotation of the primary load- bearing mechanism. This mechanism is then interlocked with the handle locating into the outer sleeve handle interlock preventing accidental operation when the valve is not connected to the tanker.

Once refuelling is completed and the valve is closed, the undelivered fuel is retained in the loading arm. In certain circumstances, due to thermal expansion the retained fuel expands and pressurises the system. This is commonly controlled by a relief valve that releases the pressure back into the storage tank. However, in some circumstances a relief valve is not present, but the pressure can be significant, particularly with rigid piping systems. The present invention helps to prevent leakage of fuel in such circumstances. The invention is not restricted to details of the foregoing embodiment.




 
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