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Title:
LINK COUPLER, CHAINWHEEL, AND ASSEMBLY THEREOF FOR COUPLING AND MOVING CHAINS OF DIFFERENT SIZES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/067183
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A link coupler for coupling two lengths of different sized chain together and facilitating movement of the two lengths of different sized chain is provided. Also provided is an assembly of the link coupler with a dual chainwheel, a small chain, and a large chain. The link coupler includes a body, a small-chain link coupler coupled with the body at a first end of the body, and a large-chain link coupler coupled with the body at a second end of the body. The dual chainwheel includes a small wildcat profile and a large wildcat profile. The small chain is coupled with the small-chain link coupler, and the large chain is coupled with the large-chain link coupler.

Inventors:
SUN, Kanghua (647 Walcott Ave, Ventura, CA, 93003, US)
Application Number:
US2018/050002
Publication Date:
April 04, 2019
Filing Date:
September 07, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
SUN, Kanghua (647 Walcott Ave, Ventura, CA, 93003, US)
International Classes:
B65G17/40; B63B21/04; B63B21/20; B66D1/30; B66D1/72; F16G15/12; F16H9/24
Foreign References:
US20130298521A12013-11-14
US20130105750A12013-05-02
US4841898A1989-06-27
US4397145A1983-08-09
US4034556A1977-07-12
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
McCOY, Michael (Amatong McCoy LLC, 801 Congress Ave. Suite 21, Houston TX, 77002, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. An assembly coupling two lengths of different sized chain together and for moving the two lengths of different sized chain together, the assembly comprising:

a chain assembly including:

a link coupler, the link coupler including a body, a small-chain link coupler coupled with the body, and a large-chain link coupler coupled with the body;

a small chain coupled with the small-chain link coupler; and

a large chain coupled with the large-chain link coupler; and

a dual chainwheel including a small wildcat profile and a large wildcat profile, wherein the chain assembly is engaged with the dual chainwheel, and wherein engagement of the link coupler with the large wildcat profile positions the large chain along a path defined by the large wildcat profile.

2 The assembly of claim 1, wherein, during haul- in or pay-out, the link coupler positions the large chain along the path defined by the large wildcat profile and positions the small chain along a path defined by the small wildcat profile.

3. The assembly of claim 1, wherein the small-chain link coupler and the large-chain link coupler are each pivotably coupled with the body, and wherein the small-chain link coupler pivots about an axis that is perpendicular to an axis about which the large-chain link coupler pivots.

4. The assembly of claim 3, wherein the body includes a first through-hole for pivotable engagement with the small-chain link coupler and a second through-hole for pivotable engagement with the large-chain link coupler, and wherein the first through-hole is perpendicular relative to the second through-hole.

5. The assembly of claim 4, wherein the small-chain link coupler is coupled with the body by a first pin positioned through the first through-hole, and wherein the large-chain link coupler is coupled with the body by a second pin positioned through the second through-hole, and wherein the first pin extends perpendicular relative to the second pin.

6. The assembly of claim 5, wherein, during haul- in or pay out, one of the pins engages with a surface feature of the large wildcat profile, and wherein engagement of the pin with the surface feature positions the large chain along the path defined by the large wildcat profile.

7. The assembly of claim 6, wherein the surface feature includes a series of peaks and valleys formed on the surface of the large wildcat profile.

8. The assembly of claim 1, wherein, during haul-in or pay-out, the large wildcat profile receives, engages, and facilitates movement of the large chain, and the small wildcat profile receives, engages, and facilitates movement of the small chain.

9. The assembly of claim 1, wherein the small wildcat profile includes a series of peaks and valleys that form pockets, and wherein, during haul-in or pay-out:

the pockets of the small wildcat profile receive and engage successive vertical links of the small chain, facilitating movement of the small chain; and

the peaks of the small wildcat profile engage within successive coils of horizontal links of the small chain, facilitating movement of the smalls chain.

10. The assembly of claim 1, wherein the large wildcat profile includes a series of peaks and valleys that form pockets, and wherein, during haul-in or pay-out:

a pocket of the large wildcat profile receives and engages an engagement portion of the link coupler to facilitate delivery of the large chain to the large wildcat profile; and

the large chain is hauled-in or paid-out along the path defined by the large wildcat profile.

1 1. The assembly of claim 10, wherein the engagement portion of the link coupler is a pin that couples the large-chain-link coupler or the small-chain-link coupler with the body.

12. The assembly of claim 1, wherein the link coupler has a shape and dimensions sufficient to engage with the small wildcat profile at the first end thereof and to engage with the large wildcat profile at the second end thereof.

13. The assembly of claim 1 , wherein the link coupler has a shape and dimensions sufficient to maintain engagement between the small wildcat profile and links of the small chain and to deliver links of the large chain to the large wildcat profile during haul-in or pay-out.

14. The assembly of claim 1, wherein the small chain is a messenger chain and the large chain is an anchor chain.

15. The assembly of claim 1, wherein the assembly is a rotary chain jack assembly that includes jack cylinders or drive assemblies positioned to rotate the dual chainwheel.

16. The assembly of claim 1, wherein:

the large wildcat profile includes a series of pockets positioned between a series of outer teeth formed on the chain wheel, and a series of outer whelp tips on the chain wheel adjacent the pockets, wherein the pockets include a bed having a pit formed therein, and wherein a trap end of the bed is formed adjacent the outer teeth; and wherein the small wildcat profile includes a series of pockets positioned between a series of inner teeth, wherein the pockets include beds with trap ends formed adjacent the inner teeth, and wherein a series of grooves are positioned between the beds.

17. The assembly of claim 16, wherein, in the driven mode or the driving mode, with the large-chain link coupler in the perpendicular orientation relative to the plane within which the chain wheel rotates, perpendicular links of the small chain are positioned to seat on the bed of the small wildcat profile, an engagement portion of the large-chain link coupler is positioned to seat against one of the outer whelp tips, the large-chain link coupler is positioned to seat on the bed of the large wildcat profile, and parallel links of the large chain are positioned to engage one of the trap ends of the large wildcat profile and seat on one of the beds of the large wildcat profile.

18. The assembly of claim 16, wherein, in the driven mode with the large-chain link coupler in the parallel orientation relative to the plane within which the chain wheel rotates, perpendicular links of the small chain are positioned to seat on the bed of the small wildcat profile, an engagement portion of the small-chain link coupler is positioned to seat within one of the pits of the large wildcat profile, and perpendicular links of the large chain are positioned to engage one of the trap ends of the large wildcat profile and seat on one of the beds of the large wildcat profile.

19. The assembly of claim 1, wherein a chain line wrap angle of the chain wheel is greater or equal to 135°.

20. The assembly of claim 1, wherein the chain wheel is operable in driven mode or driving mode.

21. The assembly of claim 20, wherein, in the driven mode, loads are transferred from links of the small and large chains to the chain wheel.

22. The assembly of claim 20, wherein, in the driving mode, loads are transferred from the chain wheel to links of the small chain and large chain.

23. The assembly of claim 1 , wherein the large-chain link coupler is oriented perpendicular or parallel to a plane in which the chain wheel rotates.

24. A method for coupling two lengths of different sized chain together and moving the two lengths of different sized chain together, the method comprising:

providing a link coupler, the link coupler including a body, a small-chain link coupler coupled with the body, and a large-chain link coupler coupled with the body;

coupling a small chain with the small-chain link coupler; coupling a large chain with the large-chain link coupler, wherein the link coupler coupled with the small chain and the large chain forms a chain assembly;

engaging the chain assembly with a dual chainwheel, the dual chain wheel including a small wildcat profile and a large wildcat profile; and

hauling-in or paying-out the chain assembly.

25. The method of claim 23, wherein coupling the small chain with the small-chain link coupler includes engaging a link of the small chain with the small-chain link coupler, and coupling the small-chain link coupler with the body, and wherein coupling the large chain with the large-chain link coupler includes engaging a link of the large chain with the large-chain link coupler, and coupling the large-chain link coupler with the body.

26. The method of claim 23, wherein, after coupling the small chain with the small-chain link coupler and before coupling the large chain with the large-chain link coupler, the method includes lowering the small chain with the link coupler coupled therewith into seawater, towards a seabed, wherein the large chain is an anchor chain coupled with an anchor at the seabed.

27. The method of claim 23, wherein the method comprises hauling-in the chain assembly, wherein hauling-in the chain assembly includes:

hauling-in the small chain along a path defined by the small wildcat profile until the link coupler engages the large wildcat profile, wherein engagement of the link coupler with the large wildcat profile delivers the large chain to the large wildcat profile; and

hauling-in the large chain along a path defined by the large wildcat profile.

28. The method of claim 23 , wherein the method comprises paying-out the chain assembly, wherein paying-out the chain assembly includes:

paying-out the large chain along a path defined by the large wildcat profile until the link coupler engages the large wildcat profile;

after engagement of the link coupler with the large wildcat profile, continuing to payout the large chain along the path defined by the large wildcat profile until the link coupler disengages from the large wildcat profile, wherein disengagement of the link coupler from the large wildcat profile delivers the small chain to the small wildcat profile; and

paying-out the small chain along a path defined by the small wildcat profile.

29. The method of claim 23, wherein:

the large wildcat profile includes a series of pockets positioned between a series of outer teeth formed on the chain wheel, and a series of outer whelp tips on the chain wheel adjacent the pocket, wherein the pockets include a bed having a pit formed therein, and wherein a trap end of the bed is formed adjacent the outer teeth; and

wherein the small wildcat profile includes a series of pockets positioned between a series of inner teeth, wherein the pockets include beds with trap ends formed adjacent the inner teeth, and wherein a series of grooves are positioned between the beds.

30. The method of claim 29, wherein hauling-in or paying-out the chain assembly includes operating the chain wheel in a driven mode or driving mode, and wherein the large-chain link coupler is oriented perpendicular relative to the orientation of the plane within which the chain wheel rotates.

31. The method of claim 30, wherein, with a link of the small chain is seated on a bed of the small wildcat profile, the hauling-in or paying-out the chain assembly includes:

rotating the chain wheel until an engagement portion of the large-chain link coupler engages with one of the outer whelp tips and the small chain exits the chain wheel;

rotating the chain wheel until the large-chain link coupler engages one of the beds of the large wildcat profile and a link of the large chain engages with one of the trap ends of the large wildcat profile; and

rotating the chain wheel until the engagement portion of the large-chain link coupler exits the chain wheel and the link of the large chain seats on one of the beds of the large wildcat profile.

32. The method of claim 29, wherein hauling-in or paying-out the chain assembly includes operating the chain wheel in a driven mode, and wherein the large-chain link coupler is oriented parallel relative to the orientation of the plane within which the chain wheel rotates.

33. The method of claim 32, wherein, with a link of the small chain is seated on a bed of the small wildcat profile, the hauling-in or paying-out the chain assembly includes:

rotating the chain wheel until an engagement portion of the small-chain link coupler seats within one of the pits of the large wildcat profile;

rotating the chain wheel until the links of the small chain exit the chain wheel and a link of the large chain engages one of the trap ends of the large wildcat profile and the engagement portion of the small-chain link coupler disengages from the pit;

rotating the chain wheel until the link of the large chain seats in one of the beds of the large wildcat profile and the link coupler exits the chain wheel.

34. The method of claim 23, further comprising transferring loads from links of the small and large chain to the chain wheel.

35. The method of claim 23, further comprising transferring loads from the chain wheel to links of the small and large chains.

36. A link coupler for coupling two lengths of different sized chain together and facilitating movement of the two lengths of different sized chain, the link coupler comprising:

a body;

a small-chain link coupler coupled with the body; and

a large-chain link coupler coupled with the body, wherein the small-chain link coupler is sized to couple with a small chain and the large-chain link coupler is sized to couple with a large chain.

37. The link coupler of claim 36, wherein the small-chain link coupler and the large-chain link coupler are each pivotably coupled with the body, and wherein the small-chain link coupler pivots about an axis that is perpendicular to an axis about which the large-chain link coupler pivots.

38. The link coupler of claim 37, wherein the body includes a first through-hole for pivotable engagement with the small-chain link coupler and a second through-hole for pivotable engagement with the large-chain link coupler, and wherein the first through-hole is perpendicular relative to the second through-hole.

39. The link coupler of claim 38, wherein the small-chain link coupler is coupled with the body by a first pin positioned through the first through-hole, and wherein the large-chain link coupler is coupled with the body by a second pin positioned through the second through-hole, and wherein the first pin extends perpendicular relative to the second pin.

40. The link coupler of claim 36, wherein the link coupler includes an engagement portion formed thereon, wherein the engagement portion is positioned to engage a portion of a dual chain wheel and facilitate positioning of a small chain along a small wildcat profile of the dual chain wheel and facilitate positioning of a large chain along a large wildcat profile of the dual chain wheel.

Description:
LINK COUPLER, CHAINWHEEL, AND ASSEMBLY THEREOF FOR COUPLING AND MOVING CHAINS OF DIFFERENT SIZES

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[001] The present application claims the benefit of United States Provisional Patent Application No. 62/555,408 (pending), filed on September 7, 2017, the entirety of which is incorporated herein by reference. This application also claims priority to, as a Continuation-in- part (CIP) of, United States Patent Application No. 15/43 1, 145 (pending), filed on February 13, 2017, the entirety of which is incorporated herein by reference, which itself claims the benefit of United States Provisional Patent Application No. 62/294,759, filed on February 12, 2016 (expired), the entirety of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD

[002] The present disclosure relates to a link coupler for coupling two lengths of chain, a chainwheel for engaging and moving chain, and to an assembly thereof for coupling and moving chain, as well as to methods of making and using the same.

BACKGROUND

[003] There are many situations in which relatively long lengths of chains are required. A common situation arises in marine applications, particularly in the mooring or anchoring of vessels in deep water, which is often required in the off-shore drilling and production of hydrocarbons. In off-shore drilling operations, platforms or spar buoys (e.g. , for floating production, drilling or construction operations) are typically moored at a desired location using chains that are secured between the platform or spar buoys and anchors that are positioned on the ocean floor. In such installations, the anchor lines are installed by passing a messenger chain or rope from the deck, through a chainwheel, and out to a pre-installed anchor or mooring on the ocean floor. A connecting link secures the messenger chain to the anchor chain. The messenger chain is then hauled back to the platform; thereby, pulling the anchor chain towards the platform as well. Both the messenger chain and anchor chain pass through the same chainwheel. As the messenger chain has a lower capacity, it is usually smaller than the anchor chain. BRIEF SUMMARY

[004] An embodiment of the present disclosure includes an assembly for coupling two lengths of different sized chain together and moving the two lengths of different sized chain together. The assembly includes a dual chainwheel, which includes a small wildcat profile and a large wildcat profile. The assembly includes a link coupler. The link coupler includes a body, a small- chain link coupler coupled with the body at a first end of the body, and a large-chain link coupler coupled with the body at a second end of the body. The assembly includes a small chain coupled with the small-chain link coupler, and a large chain coupled with the large-chain link coupler. Engagement of the link coupler with the large wildcat profile positions the large chain along a path defined by the large wildcat profile.

[005] Another embodiment of the present disclosure includes a method for coupling two lengths of different sized chain together and moving the two lengths of different sized chain together. The method includes providing a link coupler. The link coupler includes a body, a small-chain link coupler coupled with the body at a first end of the body, and a large-chain link coupler coupled with the body at a second end of the body. The method includes coupling a small chain with the small-chain link coupler, and coupling a large chain with the large-chain link coupler. The link coupler coupled with the small chain and the large chain forms a chain assembly. The method includes engaging the chain assembly with a dual chainwheel. The dual chainwheel includes a small wildcat profile and a large wildcat profile. The method includes hauling-in or paying-out the chain assembly.

[006] Another embodiment of the present disclosure includes a link coupler for coupling two lengths of different sized chain together and facilitating movement of the two lengths of different sized chain. The link coupler includes a body, a small-chain link coupler coupled with the body at a first end of the body, and a large-chain link coupler coupled with the body at a second end of the body. The small-chain link coupler is sized to couple with a small chain and the large-chain link coupler is sized to couple with a large chain.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[007] So that the manner in which the features and advantages of the system, products, apparatus, and/or methods of the present disclosure may be understood in more detail, a more particular description briefly summarized above may be had by reference to the embodiments thereof which are illustrated in the appended drawings that form a part of this specification. It is to be noted, however, that the drawings illustrate only various exemplary embodiments and are therefore not to be considered limiting of the disclosed concepts as it may include other effective embodiments as well.

[008] FIG. 1 A is a perspective view of a link coupler.

[009] FIG. IB is a perspective view of a portion (body) of the link coupler of FIG. 1 A.

[0010] FIG. 1C is a side view of a chain link.

[0011] FIG. ID is a simplified, side view of a portion of a large-chain link coupler.

[0012] FIG. IE is a simplified, side view of a portion of a small-chain link coupler.

[0013] FIG. IF is another perspective view of a portion (body) of the link coupler of FIG. 1A.

[0014] FIG. 1G is another perspective view of a portion (body) of the link coupler of FIG. 1 A.

[0015] FIG. 1H is another perspective view of the link coupler of FIG. 1 A.

[0016] FIG. II is another perspective view of the link coupler of FIG. 1 A.

[0017] FIGS. 1J-1M depict a link coupler coupled with both a small and large chain.

[0018] FIG. 2A is a perspective view of an assembly that includes a link coupler engaged with a dual chainwheel, with the link coupler coupled with a small chain that is engaged with the dual chainwheel and a large chain that is disengaged from the dual chainwheel.

[0019] FIG. 2B is a detail view of section A of FIG. 2A.

[0020] FIG. 2C is a side, cross-sectional view of the assembly of FIG. 2A.

[0021] FIG. 3A is a perspective view of the same assembly of FIG. 2A, but with the link coupler, the small chain, and the large chain each engaged with the dual chainwheel.

[0022] FIG. 3B is a detail view of section B of FIG. 3 A.

[0023] FIG. 3C is a side, cross-sectional view of the assembly of FIG. 3A.

[0024] FIG. 4A is a perspective view of the same assembly of FIG. 2A, but with the link coupler and the large chain each engaged with the dual chainwheel, and the small chain disengaged from the dual chainwheel.

[0025] FIG. 4B is a detail view of section C of FIG. 4A.

[0026] FIG. 4C is a side, cross-sectional view of the assembly of FIG. 4A.

[0027] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a rotary chain jack with a link coupler engaged with a chainwheel thereof.

[0028] FIG. 6 A is a sectional, front view of a rotary chain jack during haul-in, with the link coupler of the mooring line in transition.

[0029] FIG. 6B is a sectional, side view of the rotary chain jack of FIG. 6A.

[0030] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a rotary chain jack or windlass including a chain stopper and a link coupler engaged with a chainwheel thereof. [0031] FIG. 8 is another perspective view of the rotary chain jack or windlass with the link coupler of FIG. 7.

[0032] FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a dual chain mooring windlass with a link coupler engaged with a chainwheel thereof.

[0033] FIG. 10 is a sectional, front view of a dual chain mooring windlass during transition from hauling in a messenger chain to hauling in a mooring chain, including a link coupler engaged with a chainwheel thereof.

[0034] FIG. 11 is a sectional, side view of the dual chain mooring windlass during transition from hauling in the messenger chain to hauling in the mooring chain of FIG. 10.

[0035] FIG. 12 depicts a driven mode chain wheel.

[0036] FIGS. 13A and 13B depict an assembly of a link coupler coupled with a small and large chain, with the assembly engaged with a chain wheel in a perpendicular orientation.

[0037] FIGS. 14A and 14B depict an assembly of a link coupler coupled with a small and large chain, with the assembly engaged with a chain wheel in a parallel orientation.

[0038] FIGS. 15A-23B depict an assembly of a link coupler coupled with a small and large chain, with the assembly engaged with a chain wheel in a perpendicular orientation as the assembly moves through the chain wheel in driven mode.

[0039] FIGS. 24A-31B depict an assembly of a link coupler coupled with a small and large chain, with the assembly engaged with a chain wheel in a parallel orientation as the assembly moves through the chain wheel in driven mode.

[0040] FIG. 32 depicts a driving mode chain wheel.

[0041] FIGS. 33A-51B depict an assembly of a link coupler coupled with a small and large chain, with the assembly engaged with a chain wheel in a perpendicular orientation as the assembly moves through the chain wheel in driving mode.

[0042] Products, systems, apparats, and methods according to present disclosure will now be described more fully with reference to the accompanying drawings, which illustrate various exemplary embodiments. Concepts according to the present disclosure may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as being limited by the illustrated embodiments set forth herein. Rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough as well as complete and will fully convey the scope of the various concepts to those skilled in the art and the best and preferred modes of practice.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0043] The present disclosure provides for a link coupler for coupling two lengths of different sized chain together, to a chainwheel for engaging and facilitating movement of multiple, different sized chains, and to an assembly of the link coupler and chainwheel for coupling and facilitating movement of multiple, different sized chains. The present disclosure also provides methods of making and using the link coupler, the chainwheel, and the assemblies thereof. Link Coupler

[0044] Certain embodiments of the present disclosure include a link coupler, also referred to as a connecting link assembly, for coupling multiple links of different sized chains together, and for facilitating movement thereof. With reference to FIGS. 1A-1I, link coupler 1000 and portions thereof are depicted. Link coupler 1000 has first end 1012 and second end 1013. At first end 1012, link coupler 1000 includes small-chain link coupler 1007 and, at second end 1013, link coupler 1000 includes large-chain link coupler 1006. One skilled in the art would understand that the small-chain and small-chain link coupler are defined relative to the large- chain and large-chain link coupler, such that the small-chain is smaller relative to the large- chain and the small-chain link coupler is smaller relative to the large-chain link coupler, and that the absolute sizes of the small-chain, large-chain, small-chain link coupler and large-chain link coupler may vary depending on the particular application at hand.

[0045] As would be understood by one skilled in the art, chains are sized according to diameter 1014 {i. e. , thickness of chain link), coil 1015 {i. e. , link opening size), or combinations thereof. Small-chain link coupler 1007 is configured {i.e. , sized, shaped, and arranged) to couple with a small-chain. That is, small-chain link coupler 1007 may have a diameter 1014, coil 1015, or combinations thereof sized, shaped, and arranged to engage (/ ' . e. , link) with a link of a small- chain, such as a messenger chain used in the mooring of floating vessels or platforms. For example, small-chain link coupler 1007 may have the same or substantially the same diameter, coil, or combinations thereof as a link of the small-chain engaged therewith.

[0046] Large-chain link coupler 1006 is configured {i. e. , sized, shaped, and arranged) to couple with a large-chain. That is, large-chain link coupler 1006 may have a diameter 1014, coil 1015, or combinations thereof sized, shaped, and arranged to engage {i. e. , link) with a link of a large-chain, such as an anchor chain used in the mooring of floating vessels or platforms. For example, large-chain link coupler 1006 may have the same or substantially the same diameter, coil, or combinations thereof as a link of the large-chain engaged therewith.

[0047] While both small-chain link coupler 1007 and large-chain link coupler 1006 are shown as having the form of a link of a chain, or a partial link of a chain (D-link), one skilled in the art would understand that the small and large chain link couplers disclosed herein are not limited to these particular structures, and that the small and large chain link couplers may have any structure capable of engaging {e.g. , securely engaging) a chain. In operation, when two chains are engaged with link coupler 1000 (i. e. , a small-chain at first end 1012 and a large- chain at second end 1013) the coupling between the small and large chains and link coupler 1000 may be sufficiently secure such that the chains remain coupled to link coupler 1000 while being moved (i.e. , hauled-in and/or paid-out) under load.

[001] Link coupler 1000 includes body 1001. Body 1001 has first end 1002, second end 1003, top 1004a, bottom 1004b, first side 1005a, and second side 1005b. First end 1002 is relatively smaller than second end 1003 and includes a through-hole 1020 for coupling with small-chain link coupler 1007. When body 1001 is coupled with small-chain link coupler 1007, pin 101 la (also referred to as a tab) is positioned within through-holes (not shown) on each end of small- chain link coupler 1007 and within through-hole 1020 at first end 1002 of body 1001. As such, small-chain link coupler 1007 is movably (e.g. , pivotably) coupled with body 1001 via pin 101 1a, such that small-chain link coupler 1007 pivots about pin 101 1a.

[002] Second end 1003 is relatively larger than first end 1002 and includes a through-hole 1030 for coupling with large-chain link coupler 1006. When body 1001 is coupled with large- chain link coupler 1006, pin 101 lb (also referred to as a tab) is positioned within through-holes (not shown) on each end of large-chain link coupler 1006 and within through-hole 1030 at second end 1003 of body 1001. As such, large-chain link coupler 1006 is movably (e.g. , pivotably) coupled with body 1001 via pin 101 1b, such that large-chain link coupler 1006 pivots about pin 101 1b. Thus, in some aspects, large-chain link coupler 1006 and small-chain link coupler 1007 are movable (e.g. , pivotable) relative to body 1001 independent of one another. Large-chain link coupler 1006 pivots about an axis (defined by pin 101 la) that extends perpendicular to the axis (defined by pin 101 1b) about which small-chain link coupler 1007 pivots. As will be more evident from the figures described below, pins 101 1a and 101 1b or other portions of link coupler 1000 operate to engage with dual chain wheels to facilitate or cause large chains to engage with the large wildcat profile, small chains to engage with the small wildcat profile, or combinations thereof.

[003] While link coupler 1000 is shown as including two link couplers, small and large, independently coupled with a body positioned therebetween, the link coupler disclosed herein is not limited to this particular arrangement and structure, and may include other structures capable of concurrently linking with both small and large chains, and of engaging with a chainwheel.

Link Coupler - Engagement Features

[004] A dual chainwheel includes two chainwheel profiles (also referred to as wildcat profiles), including one configured (i.e. , sized, shaped, and/or arranged) to engage with a relatively small, messenger chain and another configured to engage with a relatively larger, anchor chain. For example, a dual chainwheel, such as is shown in FIGS. 2A-4C (discussed in more detail below), may include an inner chainwheel profile configured to engage with a relatively small messenger chain and an outer chainwheel profile configured to engage with a relatively larger anchor chain. Link coupler 1000 includes one or more features that provide for engagement of link coupler 1000 with a dual chainwheel, including the size, shape, profile, surface features, and arrangement of one or more of the components of link coupler 1000, such as the size, shape, profile, surface features, and arrangement of small-chain link coupler 1007, large-chain link coupler 1006, and body 1001, and including the relative arrangement of these components. In some aspects, link coupler 1000, or at least the body 1001 thereof, has the shape generally of a "dog-bone."

[005] Dual chainwheel engagement features of body 1001 include the relative arrangement of first end 1002 and second end 1003. As shown, first end 1002 is arranged 180° relative to second end 1003, such that through-hole 1020 extends perpendicular to through-hole 1030. That is, an axis 1021 extending through and axially aligned with through-hole 1020 is perpendicular to an axis 1031 extending through and axially aligned with through-hole 1030. This provides for the perpendicular arrangement of small-chain link coupler 1007 relative to large-chain link coupler 1006. First end 1002 may have width 1041 that is wider than width 1042 of second end 1003 in the dimension of body 1001 defined from first side 1005ato second side 1005b. First end 1002 may have height 1043 that is shorter than height 1044 of second end 1003 in the dimension of body 1001 defined from top 1004a to bottom 1004b. Through- hole 1020 of first end 1002 may be sized to engaged with a relatively small messenger chain, and through-hole 1030 of second end 1003 may be sized to engaged with a relatively large anchor chain (i.e. , through-hole 1020 may have a smaller diameter than through-hole 1030). Body 1001 may include one or more surface features, such as beveled edges 1051 on first end 1002, second end 1003, or combinations thereof. Between first end 1002 and second end 1003, body 1001 includes mid-section 1053, which is a narrow section of body 1001 relative to first end 1002 and second end 1003. Thus, these features of body 1001, including: (1) the perpendicular arrangement of small-chain link coupler 1007 relative to large-chain link coupler 1006; (2) the relative widths of first end 1002 and second end 1003; (3) the relative heights of first end 1002 and second end 1003; (4) the relative sizes and direction of extension of through- holes 1020 and 1030; (5) the surface profile of body 1001, including beveled edges 1051; and (6) the narrow mid-section 1053, separate or in combination, provide for selective engagement of body 1001, small-chain link coupler 1007, large-chain link coupler 1006, and any chains attached thereto with a dual chainwheel, such that small-chain link coupler 1007 and any chain attached thereto engages with a small wildcat profile of the dual chainwheel and large-chain link coupler 1006 and any chain attached thereto engages with a large wildcat profile of the dual chainwheel.

[006] Dual chainwheel engagement features of the small and large chain link couplers include the relative, perpendicular arrangement of small-chain link coupler 1007 and large-chain link coupler 1006. As shown, small-chain link coupler 1007 is arranged 180° relative to large-chain link coupler 1006, such that the coil of small-chain link coupler 1007 opens perpendicular to the opening of the coil of large-chain link coupler 1006. Small-chain link coupler 1007 has width 1061 that is narrower than width 1062 of large-chain link coupler 1006 in the dimension corresponding with the dimension of body 1001 defined from first side 1005a to second side 1005b. Small-chain link coupler 1007 has height 1063 that is greater than height 1064 of large- chain link coupler 1006 in the dimension corresponding with the dimension of body 1001 defined from top 1004a to bottom 1004b. The coil of small-chain link coupler 1007 is sized to engaged with a relatively small messenger chain, and the coil of large-chain link coupler 1006 is sized to engaged with a relatively large anchor chain. Pin 101 1a extends perpendicular to pin 101 1b, and pin 101 1b extend beyond width 1062, such that pins 101 1a and 101 1b are positioned to engage with surface features of the dual chainwheel, as described in more detail below, to facilitate transition between moving a small chain to moving a large chain. While pins are shown and described as forming the engagement feature that facilitates transition between moving a small chain to moving a large chain, the link coupler is not limited to this particular structure, and may include another structural engagement feature configured (position, sized, shaped, and/or arranged) to engage with the dual chain wheel in such a manner that small chains are positioned to engage with the small wildcat profile of the dual chain wheel and large chains are positioned to engage with the large wildcat profile of the dual chain wheel. Thus, these features of the small and large chain link couplers, including: ( 1) the perpendicular arrangement of small-chain link coupler 1007 and large-chain link coupler 1006; (2) the relative widths of small-chain link coupler 1007 and large-chain link coupler 1006; (3) the relative heights of small-chain link coupler 1007 and large-chain link coupler 1006; (4) the relative sizes of the coils of small-chain link coupler 1007 and large-chain link coupler 1006; and (5) the relative positioning and sizes of the pins 101 1a and 101 1b, separate or in combination, provide for selective engagement of small-chain link coupler 1007 and large- chain link coupler 1006, and any chains attached thereto, with a dual chainwheel, such that small-chain link coupler 1007 and any chain attached thereto engages with a small wildcat profile of the dual chainwheel and large-chain link coupler 1006 and any chain attached thereto engages with a large wildcat profile of the dual chainwheel. As such, small-chain link coupler 1007 engages with a portion of a dual chainwheel that is distinct from a portion of the dual chainwheel that engages with large-chain link coupler 1006.

Assembly of Link Coupler with Small and Large Chains

[007] FIGS. 1 J-1M depicts link coupler 1000 connected with small chain link 11 10 and large chain link 1 1 15. As shown, large-chain link coupler 1006 and small-chain link 1007 are each in the form of a D-link. Large-chain link coupler 1006 is coupled with body 1001 via pin 101 lb having pin head 1017b. Pin 101 lb is secured to large-chain link coupler 1006 and body 1001 via nut 1019b. Similarly, small-chain coupler 1007 is coupled with body 1001 via pin 1011a having pin head 1017a, and pin 101 1a is secured to small-chain link coupler 1007 and body 1001 via nut 1019a.

Assembly of Dual Chainwheel and Link Coupler

[008] Certain aspects of the present disclosure include a dual chainwheel configured (i.e., sized, shaped and/or arranged) to engage with a relatively small chain, such as a messenger chain, and a relatively large chain, such as an anchor chain. The dual chainwheel is also configured to engage with the link coupler disclosed herein. Some aspects of the present disclosure include an assembly of a dual chainwheel and a link coupler. With reference to FIGS. 2A-4C, an assembly of a dual chain wheel and a link coupler is depicted, in accordance with some aspects of the present disclosure, where a messenger chain and an anchor chain are sequentially shown being hauled-in.

[009] FIGS. 2A-2C depict assembly 2000, including dual chainwheel 1 108 engaged with messenger chain 1 110 and link coupler 1000. Dual chainwheel 1 108 includes first chainwheel profile 1 109a, here shown as an outer chainwheel profile, and second chainwheel profile 1109b, here shown as an inner chainwheel profile. First chainwheel profile 1 109a is configured (i.e., sized, shaped and/or arranged) to receive, engage, and move a relatively larger chain size, in comparison to the chain size that second chainwheel profile 1109b is configured to receive, engage, and move. Second chainwheel profile 1109b includes a series of surface features, such as peaks, ledges, undulations, valleys, grooves, pockets, grooves, wheel pockets, and surface contours configured for engagement with a small chain and optionally link coupler. Inner pocket flat beds 1 191 are configured (/ ' . e. , sized, shaped and/or arranged) to engage within coils of vertical links of messenger chain 1 110, and inner bottom grooves 1 190 are configured (i.e. , sized, shaped and/or arranged) to engage with horizontal links of messenger chain 1 110. As used herein, "vertical links" and "horizontal links" of a chain refer to adjacent links of a chain that are oriented 90 degrees or substantially 90 degrees relative to one another. As shown in FIG. 2C, link 1 1 16 of messenger chain 1 1 10 is a vertical link and link 11 17 of messenger chain 11 10 is a horizontal link, and link 1 118 of anchor chain 1 1 15 is a vertical link and link 1 1 19 of anchor chain 1 1 15 is a horizontal link. In operation, inner bottom grooves 1190 engage with successive horizontal links 11 17, while chainwheel 1 108 rotates to progressively haul-in or pay-out messenger chain 1 110, and inner pocket flat beds 1191 engage with successive vertical links 11 16. Small-chain link coupler 1007 is configured (i.e. , sized, shaped and/or arranged) to fit and engage with second chainwheel profile 1 109b . As such, messenger chain 1 1 10 is hauled- in or paid-out along a path defined by second chainwheel profile 1 109b.

[0010] FIGS. 3A-3C depict assembly 2000, including dual chainwheel 1108 in transition from engagement with messenger chain 1 110 and link coupler 1000 to engagement with anchor chain 11 15 and link coupler 1000. First chainwheel profile 1109a has a width 1 1 1 1a that is greater than the width 1 11 1b (shown in FIG. 2A) of second chainwheel profile 1109b. First chainwheel profile 1 109a includes a series of surface features, such as peaks, ledges, undulations, valleys, grooves, pockets, grooves, wheel pockets, pits, and surface contours configured for engagement with a large chain and optionally link coupler. First chainwheel profile 1 109a includes a series of peaks outer whelp tips 1194, outer teeth 1 195, and outer link pocket flat beds 1 198 that are configured (i.e. , sized, shaped and/or arranged) to receive and mate with a portion of link coupler 1000 such that anchor chain 11 15 engages with and is moved along first chainwheel profile 1109a. Link coupler 1000 includes one or more features that facilitate this transition of engagement of chainwheel 1 108. Pin 11 10b of link coupler 1000 is configured (i.e., sized, shaped and/or arranged) to engage within an outer link pocket flat beds 1198a of first chainwheel profile 1 109a, against one of the outer whelp tips 1194 of first chainwheel profile 1 109a. As such, large-chain link coupler 1006 is engaged with first chainwheel profile 1 109a, and, in at least some embodiments, does not engage with second chainwheel profile 1 109b. In operation, pin 1 110b is engaged within an outer link pockete flat bed 1198, and chainwheel 1 108 rotates to progressively haul-in or pay-out anchor chain 1 1 15.

[0011] As shown in FIGS. 4A-4C, as anchor chain 1 1 15 is further hauled-in, messenger chain 11 10, and ultimately link coupler 1000, become disengaged from chainwheel 1 108. Thus, pin 11 10b and large wildcat profile surface features facilitate transition of engagement between second chainwheel profile 1 109b and messenger chain 1 110 to engagement between first chainwheel profile 1 109a and anchor chain 1 115, and facilitates movement of anchor chain 11 15 along a patch defined by first chainwheel profile 1109a. As such, anchor chain 1 115 is hauled-in or paid-out along a path defined by first chainwheel profile 1 109a. [0012] While the link coupler is shown and described as including a pin to facilitate transition to engagement with the anchor chain, the link couplers disclosed herein are not limited this particular structure, and may include other structures capable of causing a dual chainwheel engaged therewith to transition from engagement with a messenger chain to engagement with an anchor chain. Further, while the chainwheel profiles disclosed herein are shown as including peaks and valleys to facilitate engagement and transition between the chainwheel profiles and the messenger chain, link coupler, and anchor chain, the chainwheel profiles disclosed herein are not limited this particular structure, and may include other structures capable of facilitating engagement and transition between the chainwheel profiles and the messenger chain, link coupler, and anchor chain.

[0013] Thus, link coupler 1000 facilitates the interconnection of two different sized chains, and facilitates the transition of engagement between a dual chainwheel and the two different sized chains. Link coupler 1000 may have a length and/or pitch that allows a smaller link driving wheel of a dual chainwheel (/ ' . e. , second chainwheel profile) to engage the link coupler 1000. The pitch of the body 1001 may have dimensions sufficient to maintain engagement between second chainwheel profile 1 109b and links of the small chain (i. e. , messenger chain 1 1 10), and to deliver the links of the larger chain (i. e. , anchor chain 1 1 15) to first chainwheel profile 1 109a for engagement there-between. In some aspects, body 1001 is shaped, sized, and/or arranged to engage wheel pockets and/or wheel ledges of the dual chainwheel 1008 (i.e. , inner bottom grooves 1 190 and inner pocket flat beds 1 191).

[0014] The link coupler 1000 disclosed herein may be coupled with many types of chain including, but not limited to, anchor chains and messenger chains. In some aspects, the link coupler 1000 connects with relatively heavy-duty chains, such as an anchor chain or haulage chain, including chains used in conjunction with chainwheels for transmitting tensional drives. Furthermore, the link coupler 1000 may be used with many types of chainwheels. In some aspects, the link coupler 1000 is used in conjunction with a dual chainwheel, as is disclosed in U.S . Provisional Application 61/555,350, filed on Nov. 3, 201 1 (Expired), and U.S. Patent Application No. 13/669,310, filed on November 5, 2012 (Abandoned), the disclosures ofwhich are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties. In some aspects, the link coupler 1000 is used in conjunction with a dual chainwheel, as is disclosed in U.S. Patent No. 9, 127,747, issued on September 5, 2015, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

Rotary Chain Jack Assembly [0015] FIG. 5 is a reproduction of FIG. 1 from incorporated U.S. Patent Application No. 15/431, 145, with the exceptions that: the reference numerals for the dual chainwheel and components thereof have been changed; the reference numerals for the link coupler and components thereof have been changed; and the references numerals for the offshore structure and top surface thereof have been changed. Otherwise, all reference numerals refer to the element shown and described in the description of FIG. 1 of incorporated U.S. Patent Application No. 15/431, 145.

[0016] FIG. 5 depicts rotary chain jack assembly 5000, including rotary chain jack 100. Rotary chain jack 100 includes dual chainwheel 1108a engaged with link coupler 1000, both of which are positioned on top surface 5002 of offshore structure 5001. Top chain link 131 of anchor chain 130 is coupled with link coupler 1000 (also referred to as a shackle or back-to-back shackle). In the position of the mooring line, as shown in FIG. 5, link coupler 1000 is coupled with dual chainwheel 1 108a. As shown, pin 101 lb is coupled with outer tip whelp 1 194 of dual chainwheel 1108a. Link coupler 1000 is also coupled to messenger chain 150.

[0017] In assembly 5000, dual chainwheel 1108a is coupled to frame 120. Dual chainwheel 1108a includes axle 1 12 engaged within a through-hole (not shown) of frame 120. Frame 120 is coupled to a portion of offshore structure 5001, such as via bolting, welding, or any other such method well known to those of ordinary skill in the art. Offshore structure 5001 may be, for example and without limitation, an offshore floating platform, such as for offshore drilling and production of hydrocarbons or for construction, or a ship. In some embodiments, frame 120 retains dual chainwheel 1 108a in a position that is raised above top surface 5002 of offshore structure 5001, allowing dual chainwheel 1 108a to rotate relative to frame 120 without contacting top surface 5002 of offshore structure 5001. Offshore structure 5001 may include inboard hawse pipe 182 and outboard hawse pipe 180.

[0018] Assembly 5000 includes jack cylinders 160. At first end 161 of jack cylinders 160, jack cylinders 160 are coupled, such as via bolting, to frame 120. In other embodiments, first end 161 may be coupled to a portion of offshore structure 5001. Second end 162 of jack cylinders 160 are coupled, such as via bolting, to crank arm 163. Crank arm 163 is coupled with axle 1 12, such as via pinning, press fit, or any other manner well known to those of ordinary skill in the art. In operation, actuation of jack cylinders 160 rotates crank arm 163, rotation of crank arm 163 rotates axle 112, rotation of axle 112 rotates dual chainwheel 1 108a, and rotation of dual chainwheel 1 108a either deploys or hauls in chain anchor chain 130 depending upon the direction of rotation of dual chainwheel 1 108a. [0019] Assembly 5000 includes stopper assembly 170. Stopper assembly 170 is positioned on frame 120, such that stopper assembly 170 selectively engages anchor chain 130 for gripping of anchor chain 130, and selectively disengages from anchor chain 130 for allowing passage of anchor chain 130, such as during deployment of hauling-in of anchor chain 130. Stopper assembly 170 couples with frame 120 such that stopper assembly 170 is positioned to engage anchor chain 130 on an outboard side of dual chainwheel 1 108a, intermediate of dual chainwheel 1 108a and an anchor (not shown) engaged with anchor chain 130.

[0020] With reference to FIGS. 6A and 6B, once messenger chain 150 is hauled-in, but still engaged with second chainwheel profile 1 109b, link coupler 1000 becomes engaged with outer tip whelp 1 194 of first chainwheel profile 1 109a. After engagement of link coupler 1000 with outer tip whelp 1 194, further rotation of dual chainwheel 1 108a results in the passing of chain 130 over first chainwheel profile 1 109a. Also shown in FIGS. 6 A and 6B are inboard stopper assembly 172, outboard stopper assembly 171, chainwheel latch 191, main latch 175a, and auxiliary latches 176a and 176b, the operation of each of which is describe in more detail in incorporated U.S. Patent Application No. 15/431, 145.

[0021] FIGS. 7-1 1 are reproductions of FIGS. 1, 3, 10, 14, and 15 from incorporated U.S. Patent Application No. 15/603,068, respectively, with the exception that the reference numerals for the dual chainwheel and the link coupler have been modified. Otherwise, all reference numerals refer to the element shown and described in the description of the relevant figure in U.S. Patent Application No. 15/603,068.

[0022] With reference to FIGS. 7-9, assembly 6000 is depicted, including a rotary chain jack 100 on vessel 200. Rotary chain jack 100 includes dual chainwheel 1108b. Assembly 6000 includes link coupler 1000 engaged with anchor chain 15 (including vertical link 15a and horizonal link 15b), messenger chain 10, and dual chainwheel 1 108b. In this manner, a continuous chain of two different chain sizes is formed by coupling link coupler 1000 with both messenger chain 10 and anchor chain 15. In operation, pin 101 1b of link coupler 1000 engages with teeth of dual chainwheel 1 108b, such as outer tip whelp 1194, to facilitate transition from hauling-in messenger chain 10 to hauling-in anchor chain 15.

[0023] Dual chainwheel 1 108b is rotatably coupled to frame 1 via axel 14. Frame 1 is coupled to a portion of offshore vessel 200, such as the deck. Frame 1 may be coupled to offshore vessel 200 via welding and/or bolting, for example. Drive assemblies 32, such as hydraulic or electric motors, are operatively coupled to gear assembly 6, and gear assembly 6 is operatively coupled to dual chainwheel 1108b. Drive assemblies 32 operate to drive gear assembly 6, gear assembly 6 operates to drive dual chainwheel 1108b, and dual chainwheel 1 108b operates to pull-in or pay-out anchor chain 15 and/or messenger chain 10, depending upon the direction of rotation of dual chainwheel 1 108b.

[0024] The rotary chain jack 100 includes rotatable chain stopper 20a. Rotatable chain stopper 20a rotates about an axis in response to actuator 56, such that actuator 56 initiates rotation of rotatable chain stopper 20a. Actuator 56 may be, for example and without limitation, a linear actuator, such as hydraulic or pneumatic cylinder. The operation of actuator 56 and rotatable chain stopper 20a are described in more detail in incorporated U.S. Patent Application No. 15/603,068.

[0025] FIGS. 10 and 1 1 depict assembly 6000 during transition from hauling-in messenger chain 10 to hauling-in anchor chain 15. During transition, link coupler 1000 engages outer tip whelp 1 194 of dual chainwheel 1 108b. Outer tip whelp 1194 is shaped to receive link coupler 1000. Also shown in FIGS. 10 and 1 1 are latches 25, adapted to selectively engage with links of messenger chain 10 and anchor chain 15, and latch cylinder 39 configured to ratchetedly engage with dual chainwheel 1108b, the operation of each of which is described in more detail in incorporated U.S. Patent Application No. 15/603,068.

[0026] One skilled in the art would understand that assemblies 2000, 5000, and 6000, as shown and described herein, are exemplary, and that the link coupler disclosed herein may be incorporated into assemblies of different structure and arrangement.

Method of Coupling and Moving Chains

[0027] Certain aspects of the preset disclosure include methods for coupling two lengths of different sized chain together and moving the two lengths of different sized chain together. The method may be implemented using the link couplers, dual chainwheels, and assemblies disclosed herein, such as are shown in FIGS. lA-11.

[0028] The method includes providing a link coupler. The link coupler may be in accordance with those shown and described herein, including a body, a small-chain link coupler coupled with the body at a first end of the body, and a large-chain link coupler coupled with the body at a second end of the body.

[0029] The method includes coupling a small chain with the small-chain link coupler. For example, the small-chain link coupler may be disengaged from the body by removing the pin. After disengagement from the body, the small-chain link coupler may be engaged through a coil of a chain link of a small chain, and then re-engaged with the body via the pin.

[0030] The method may include coupling a large chain with the large-chain link coupler. For example, the large-chain link coupler may be disengaged from the body by removing the pin. After disengagement from the body, the large-chain link coupler may be engaged through a coil of a chain link of a large chain, and then re-engaged with the body via the pin. The link coupler coupled with the small chain and the large chain forms a chain assembly.

[0031] The method may include engaging the chain assembly with a dual chainwheel. The dual chain wheel may include a small wildcat profile and a large wildcat profile.

[0032] The method may include hauling-in or paying-out the chain assembly, such as by pulling the messenger chain or releasing the messenger chain.

[0033] In some aspects, after coupling the small chain with the small-chain link coupler and before coupling the large chain with the large-chain link coupler, the method includes lowering the small chain with the link coupler coupled therewith into seawater, towards a seabed. In some such aspects, the large chain is an anchor chain coupled with an anchor at the seabed. Once lowered in proximity to the anchor chain, the method may include coupling the anchor chain with the large-chain link coupler, which may be performed underwater.

[0034] Hauling-in the chain assembly may include hauling-in the small chain along a path defined by the small wildcat profile until the link coupler engages the large wildcat profile. Engagement of the link coupler with the large wildcat profile results in the delivery of the large chain to the large wildcat profile. Hauling-in then includes hauling-in the large chain along a path defined by the large wildcat profile.

[0035] Paying-out the chain assembly may include paying-out the large chain along a path defined by the large wildcat profile until the link coupler engages the large wildcat profile. After engagement of the link coupler with the large wildcat profile, the paying-out includes continuing to pay-out the large chain along the path defined by the large wildcat profile until the link coupler disengages from the large wildcat profile. The disengagement of the link coupler from the large wildcat profile results in the delivery of the small chain to the small wildcat profile. The paying-out continues by paying-out the small chain along a path defined by the small wildcat profile.

Assembly Operation Sequence

[0036] The link couplers disclosed herein may be configured into customized sizes, lengths, and shapes, such that the link coupler is capable of smoothly transiting chain mooring lines around a chain wheel, including transitioning from transiting smaller chain link sections to larger chain link sections or transitioning from transiting larger chain link sections to smaller chain link sections.

[0037] The link couplers disclosed herein may be used in a variety of loading applications including, but not limited to: (1) applications where a chain wheel is driven by a chain link line, such as in fairlead assemblies; and (2) applications wherein a chain wheel is driving a chain link line, such as in a windlass pulling system. Some exemplary fairlead assemblies and loading applications with which the link couplers disclosed herein by be used include those shown and described in U.S. Patent Nos. 5,845,893; 8,915,205; 9, 126,659; and U.S. Patent Publication No. 2018/0086421, the entireties of each of which is incorporated herein by reference.

Chain Wheel - Driven Mode

[0038] FIG. 12 depicts a chain wheel suitable for use in driven mode. With reference to FIG. 12, certain features of chain wheel 1 108c will be described; however, the function of such features, including the interaction of the features with the link coupler will be described in further detain with reference to FIGS. 13A-3 IB.

[0039] Chain wheel 1 108c includes outer interior wall 1199, outer link pocket flat bed 1198, outer pocket pit 1 197, outer link pocket trap end 1196, outer teeth 1 195, outer whelp tip 1194, and outer whelp base 1193. Thus, the large wildcat profile of chain wheel 1 108c is at least partially defined by outer interior wall 1199, outer link pocket flat bed 1198, outer pocket pit 1197, outer link pocket trap end 1196, outer teeth 1 195, outer whelp tip 1 194, and outer whelp base 1193.

[0040] Chain wheel 1 108c includes middle interior wall 1 192, inner interior wall 1 187, inner pocket flat bed 1 191, and inner bottom groove 1 190. Chain wheel 1 108c also includes inner pocket trap end 1189. Thus, the middle interior wall 1 192, inner interior wall 1 187, inner pocket flat bed 1 191, inner bottom groove 1190, and inner pocket trap end 1189 at least partially define the small wildcat profile of chain wheel 1 108c.

[0041] Chain wheel 1 108c may be operated in driven mode, and the link coupler may be used in any orientation, which allows for use of larger D-links interfacing with the chain wheel 1108c either perpendicular (horizontal link) to, or parallel (vertical link) with the chain wheel plane. As used herein, "perpendicular" and "parallel" are denoted with respect to the larger D- link plane relative to the orientation of the chain wheel plane. FIGS. 13A and 13B depict chain wheel 1 108c in driven mode, engaged with small chain 1 110 and large chain 1 115, which are coupled with link coupler 1000. In FIGS. 13A and 13B, large-chain link coupler 1006 is a large D-link oriented perpendicular to the plane within which the chain wheel 1 108c rotates. FIGS. 14A and 14B depict chain wheel 1 108c in driven mode, engaged with small chain 11 10 and large chain 1 115, which are coupled with link coupler 1000. In FIGS. 14A and 14B, large- chain link coupler 1006 is a large D-link oriented parallel to the plane within which the chain wheel 1108c rotates.

Operation Sequence - Chain Wheel in Driven Mode with Perpendicular D-Link [0042] FIGS. 15A-23B illustrate the steps of interfacing between small chain 1 110, link coupler 1000, large chain 1115, and chain wheel 1 108c, with large-chain link coupler 1006 in the perpendicular orientation, and with engagement transitioning from engagement with small chain 11 10 to engagement with large chain 1 1 15.

[0043] With reference to FIGS. 15A and 15B, before link coupler 1000 enters into engagement with chain wheel 1 108c, small chain link 1 1 10 seats on inner pocket flat bed 1 191, with small chain coupler 1007 clear of outer interior wall 1 199.

[0044] With reference to FIGS. 16A and 16B, as chain wheel 1 108c rotates, small chain 11 10 continues to interface with inner pocket flat bed 1 191, while pin head 1017b (or nut 1019b or other portion of pin 101 lb) of large chain coupler 1006 approaches towards outer whelp base 1193.

[0045] With reference to FIGS. 17A and 17B, pin head 1017b (or nut l019b or another portion of pin 101 lb) engages with outer whelp base 1 193, while small chain 11 10 is still seated inner pocket flat bed 1 191.

[0046] With reference to FIGS. 18A and 18B, the assembly stays in substantially the same configuration as in FIGS. 17A and 17B while the chain wheel 1108c continues to rotate.

[0047] With reference to FIGS . 19A and 19B, pin head 1017b (or nut 1019b or another portion of pin 101 lb) engages with outer whelp base 1193, while small chain 1 1 10 is departing from inner pocket flat bed 1 191, and large-chain link coupler 1006 is approaching towards outer link pocket flat bed 1 198.

[0048] With reference to FIGS. 20A and 20B, large-chain link coupler 1006 engages outer link pocket flat bed 1 198, while pin head 1017b (or nut 1019b or another portion of pin 101 lb) is still engaged with outer whelp base 1193.

[0049] With reference to FIGS. 21A and 21B, chain wheel 1108c rotates further, while large chain link 1 115 approaches towards outer link pocket trap end 1196.

[0050] With reference to FIGS. 22A and 22B, large chain 1 115 engages outer link pocket trap end 1196, while large-chain link coupler 1006 is still engaged with outer link pocket flat bed 1198. Also, pin head 1017b (or nut 1019b or another portion of pin 1011b) departs from engagement with outer whelp base 1193.

[0051] With reference to FIGS. 23A and 23B, large chain link 1115a fully seats on outer link pocket flat bed 1 198, while large-chain link coupler 1006 departs away from outer link pocket flat bed 1 198. In operation, the next large chain link 1 115b approaches to the next outer link pocket flat bed 1 198 of chain wheel 1108c.

Operation Sequence - Chain Wheel in Driven Mode with Parallel D-Link [0052] FIGS. 24A-31B illustrate the steps of interfacing between small chain 1110, link coupler 1000, large chain 1115, and chain wheel 1108c, with large-chain link coupler 1006 in the parallel orientation, and with engagement transitioning from engagement with small chain 1110 to engagement with large chain 1115.

[0053] With reference to FIGS.24A and 24B, as link coupler 1000 begins to enter chain wheel 1108c, smaller chain link 1110 seats on inner pocket flatbed 1191, and small-chain link coupler 1006 clears outer interior wall 1199.

[0054] With reference to FIGS.25A and 25B, as chain wheel 1108c rotates, small chain link 1110 interfaces with inner pocket flat bed 1191, and pin head 1017a (or nut 1019a or another portion of pin 1011a) approaches towards outer pocket pit 1197.

[0055] With reference to FIGS.26A and 26B, pin head 1017a (or nut 1019a or another portion of pin 1011a) engages with outer pocket pit 1197, while small chain link 1110 remains seated on inner pocket flat bed 1191.

[0056] With reference to FIGS.27A and 27B, with pin head 1017a (or nut 1019a or another portion of pin 1011a) engaged with outer pocket pit 1197, small chain link 1110 departs from inner pocket flat bed 1191, and large chain links 1115 approach towards outer link pocket trap end 1196.

[0057] With reference to FIGS.28A and 28B, large chain link 1115 engages outer link pocket trap end 1196, while pin head 1017a (or nut 1019a or another portion of pin 1011 a) is engaged with outer pocket pit 1197.

[0058] With reference to FIGS.29A and 29B, while large chain link 1115 interfaces with outer link pocket trap end 1196, pin head 1017a (or nut 1019a or another portion of pin 101 la) depart away from pocket pit 1197 and larger chain link 1115 approaches towards outer link pocket flatbed 1198.

[0059] With reference to FIGS.30A and 30B, large chain link 1115 engages with outer link pocket flat bed 1198.

[0060] With reference to FIGS.31A and 3 IB, the assembly of chain wheel 1108c, small chain 1110, large chain 1115, and link coupler 1000 is in the same continuation of in FIGS.3 OA and 30B, with chain wheel 1108c further rotated, and link coupler 1000 exiting engaging with chain wheel 1108c.

[0061] In operation, within driven mode, loads are transferred (e.g., always or substantially always transferred) from chain links (1110 and 1115) to chain wheel 1108c. In the perpendicular orientation of the driven mode, as shown in FIGS. 15A-23B, the sequence of interfacing features is essentially as follows: (1) the small chain links 1110 interfaces with the inner pocket flat bed 1 191 ; (2) the pin head 1017b (or nut 1019b or another portion of pin 1011b) interfaces with the outer whelp base 1 193; (3) the large-chain link coupler 1006 interfaces with the outer link pocket flat bed 1 198; (4) a large chain link 1 1 15 interfaces with the outer link pocket trap end 1196; and (5) the large chain link 11 15 interfaces with the outer link pocket flat bed 1 198. In the parallel orientation of the driven mode, as shown in FIGS. 24A-3 IB, the sequence of interfacing features is essentially as follows: (1) the small chain links 11 10 interfaces with the inner pocket flat bed 1 191 ; (2) the pin head 1017a (or nut 1019a or another portion of pin 101 la) interfaces with the outer pocket pit 1197; (3) a large chain link 11 15 interfaces with the outer link pocket trap end 1196; (4) the large chain link 1 1 15 interfaces with the outer link pocket trap end 1196; and (5) the large chain link 1 1 15 interfaces with the outer link pocket flat bed 1 198.

Chain Wheel - Driving Mode

[0062] FIG. 32 depicts a chain wheel in driving mode. With reference to FIG. 32, certain features of chain wheel 1 108d will be described; however, the function of such features, including the interaction of the features with the link coupler will be described in further detain with reference to FIGS. 33A-51B.

[0063] Chain wheel 1108d includes outer interior wall 1 199, outer link pocket flat bed 1198, outer pocket pit 1 197, outer link pocket trap end 1 196, outer teeth 1195, outer whelp tip 1194, and outer whelp base 1 193. Thus, the large wildcat profile of chain wheel 1 108d is at least partially defined by outer interior wall 1 199, outer link pocket flat bed 1 198, outer pocket pit 1197, outer link pocket trap end 1196, outer teeth 1 195, outer whelp tip 1 194, and outer whelp base 1193.

[0064] Chain wheel 1 108d includes middle interior wall 1 192, inner interior wall 1 187, inner pocket flat bed 1 191, and inner bottom groove 1 190. Chain wheel 1 108d also includes inner pocket trap end 1 189. Thus, the middle interior wall 1 192, inner interior wall 1 187, inner pocket flat bed 1 191, inner bottom groove 1190, and inner pocket trap end 1189 at least partially define the small wildcat profile of chain wheel 1 108d.

[0065] Chain wheel 1 108d may be operated in driven mode, and the link coupler may be used in any orientation, which allows for use of larger D-links interfacing with the chain wheel 1108d either perpendicular (horizontal link) to, or parallel (vertical link) with the chain wheel plane. As used herein, "perpendicular" and "parallel" are denoted with respect to the larger D- link plane relative to the orientation of the chain wheel plane. FIGS. 13A and 13B depict chain wheel 1 108d in driven mode, engaged with small chain 1110 and large chain 11 15, which are coupled with link coupler 1000. In FIGS. 13A and 13B, large-chain link coupler 1006 is a large D-link oriented perpendicular to the plane within which the chain wheel 1 108d rotates. FIGS. 14A and 14B depict chain wheel 1 108d in driven mode, engaged with small chain 1 1 10 and large chain 1 1 15, which are coupled with link coupler 1000. In FIGS. 14A and 14B, large- chain link coupler 1006 is a large D-link oriented parallel to the plane within which the chain wheel 1 108d rotates.

Operation Sequence - Chain Wheel in Driving Mode

[0066] Chain wheel 1 108d, when operating in driving mode, works (or only works) with perpendicular interfacing, with the higher, outer whelp tip 1 194 on the chain wheel 1 108d, which are reinforced to accommodate larger torsional loads. The raised outer whelp tips 1 194 may be integrated into the chain wheel 1 108d casting, or may be standalone parts that are assembled onto the chain wheel 1 108c (as is shown in Fig 32) . The chain line wrap angle of the chain wheel 1 108d may be greater or equal to 135° in order to prevent chain links from "jumping" off from the chain wheel 1 108d. In operation, within the driving mode, loads are transferred (e.g. , always or substantially always transferred) from the chain wheel 1 108d to chain links ( 1 1 10 and 1 1 15).

[0067] The interfacing sequences of the chain wheel 1 108d with small chain 1 1 10, link coupler 1000 and large chain 1 1 15 may be the same as described with reference to the chain wheel 1 108c operated in driven mode and with a perpendicular orientation (i.e. , the sequence shown and described with reference to FIGS. 15A-23B). As such, the details of the interfacing will not be repeated. Link coupler 1000 orientation is illustrated in FIGS. 33A and 33B, and the sequences of transition for the link coupler around the chain wheel 1 108d are illustrated, sequentially, in FIGS. 34A-5 IB. Briefly, in the driving mode, as shown in FIGS. 33A-5 IB, the sequence of interfacing features is essentially as follows: ( 1) the small chain links 1 1 10 interfaces with the inner pocket flat bed 1 191 ; (2) the pin head 1017b (or nut 1019b or another portion of pin 101 1b) interfaces with the outer whelp base 1 193; (3) the large-chain link coupler 1006 interfaces with the outer link pocket flat bed 1 198; (4) a large chain link 1 1 15 interfaces with the outer link pocket trap end 1 196; and (5) the large chain link 1 1 15 interfaces with the outer link pocket flat bed 1 198.

[0068] Although the present embodiments and advantages have been described in detail, it should be understood that various changes, substitutions and alterations can be made herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the disclosure. Moreover, the scope of the present application is not intended to be limited to the particular embodiments of the process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter, means, methods and steps described in the specification. As one of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate from the disclosure, processes, machines, manufacture, compositions of matter, means, methods, or steps, presently existing or later to be developed that perform substantially the same function or achieve substantially the same result as the corresponding embodiments described herein may be utilized according to the present disclosure. Accordingly, the appended claims are intended to include within their scope such processes, machines, manufacture, compositions of matter, means, methods, or steps.