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Title:
MOUNTING DEVICE FOR AN ELONGATE MEMBER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/079082
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A mounting device for an elongate member, comprising: an elongate housing having an elongate axis; an internal passageway passing through the elongate housing parallel to the elongate axis; an elongate sleeve located within the internal passageway and being configured for longitudinal movement along the passageway; a plurality of ball-receiving recesses in the wall of the internal passageway, each recess having a ball-guiding surface inclined to the longitudinal axis; a plurality of apertures in the sleeve; a ball located in each of the ball-receiving recesses and engaged with a respective aperture in the sleeve, the balls and the apertures being configured to allow the balls to project partially through the apertures but to prevent balls from passing through; biasing means configured to bias the sleeve in a direction to urge the balls to project radially inwardly through their respective apertures in the sleeve and into the internal passageway.

Inventors:
THOMSON CRAIG RICHARD (GB)
LITTLE ANTHONY JOHN (GB)
BENNETT STEPHEN (GB)
GIDDINGS DANIEL MARK (GB)
Application Number:
PCT/GB2020/052155
Publication Date:
April 29, 2021
Filing Date:
September 08, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
FIRST SUBSEA LTD (GB)
International Classes:
E21B41/10; B63B21/50; F16B2/16; F16B7/02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WP THOMPSON (GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A mounting device for an elongate member, comprising: an elongate housing having an elongate axis; an internal passageway passing through the elongate housing parallel to the elongate axis; an elongate sleeve located within the internal passageway and being configured for longitudinal movement along the passageway; a plurality of ball-receiving recesses in the wall of the internal passageway, each recess having a ball-guiding surface inclined to the longitudinal axis; a plurality of apertures in the sleeve; a ball located in each of the ball-receiving recesses and engaged with a respective aperture in the sleeve, the balls and the apertures being configured to allow the balls to project partially through the apertures but to prevent balls from passing through; biasing means configured to bias the sleeve in a direction to urge the balls to project radially inwardly through their respective apertures in the sleeve and into the internal passageway.

2. A mounting device as claimed in claim 1, comprising a plurality of longitudinally-spaced rows of ball-receiving recesses, each recess having a ball-guiding surface inclined to the longitudinal axis and a ball located in each of the ball-receiving recesses, and wherein the sleeve comprises a plurality of longitudinally-spaced rows of ball-receiving apertures corresponding to the balls.

3. A mounting device as claimed in claim 1 or claim 2, comprising spring means configured to bias the sleeve in a direction to urge the balls to project radially inwardly through their respective apertures in the sleeve.

4. A mounting device as claimed in any of the preceding claims, comprising means for displacing the elongate sleeve longitudinally along the passageway in a direction opposed to the biasing means.

5. A mounting device as claimed in claim 4, wherein the sleeve is connected to a portion which is displaceable from the exterior of the housing.

6. A mounting device as claimed in claim 5, comprising a portion mounted on the exterior of the housing and connected to the sleeve.

7. A mounting device as claimed in claim 6, comprising an external sleeve displacably mounted on the exterior of the housing and connected to the elongate sleeve located within the internal passageway.

8. A mounting device as claimed in any of the preceding claims, comprising one or more mounting points at an end of the housing.

9. A mounting device as claimed in claim 8, wherein the mounting points comprise flanges.

10. A mounting device as claimed in any of the preceding claims, wherein the housing comprises an outer sleeve portion through which the internal passageway passes, the movable elongate sleeve being slidably mounted within the outer sleeve.

11. A mounting device as claimed in any of the preceding claims, comprising guide means for guiding a mandrel into the internal passageway.

12. A mounting device as claimed in claim 11 , comprising a bell mouth at one end of the elongate housing.

13. A mounting device as claimed in claim 11 or claim 12, wherein the guide means is connected to, and moves with, the elongate sleeve.

14. A mounting assembly comprising a mounting device as claimed in any of the preceding claims and further comprising a mandrel, the mandrel having a peripheral recess configured to receive a plurality of balls of the mounting device.

15. A mounting assembly as claimed in claim 14, wherein the mandrel has a plurality of peripheral recesses configured to receive a plurality of balls of the mounting device.

16. A mounting assembly as claimed in claim 15, wherein the number of peripheral recesses in the mandrel corresponds to the number of rows of balls of the mounting device.

17. A mounting assembly as claimed in any of claims 14 to 16, wherein the mandrel comprises a radially projecting portion configured to abut a portion of the elongate sleeve when the balls are located in the peripheral recess or recesses of the mandrel.

18. A mounting assembly as claimed in claim 17, wherein the radially projecting portion of the mandrel comprises a shoulder.

19. A mounting assembly as claimed in claim 18, wherein the shoulder extends circumferentially around the mandrel.

20. A mounting assembly as claimed in any of the preceding claims, wherein the ball-receiving recesses comprise a rounded portion at one end configured to receive a respective one of the balls.

21. A mounting assembly as claimed in claim 20, wherein the rounded portions of the recesses are complementarily shaped and sized with the respective balls.

Description:
Mountinq device for an elongate member

The present invention relates to mounting devices for an elongate member and particular, but not exclusively, to a mounting device for a pull head connector.

In offshore energy applications, it is often necessary to secure a mooring line to an offshore installation. This can be achieved by attaching a mandrel to one end of the line, the mandrel having an aperture passing radially through it. The mandrel can be drawn into complementarity-shaped aperture passing through a housing, and the mandrel can be secured in position in the housing by means of a pin which engages with the aperture in the mandrel.

However, in order to secure the mandrel in position, it is necessary to align the aperture in the mandrel accurately with respect to the pin, which can be very difficult in subsea environments where the mandrel and the housing are likely to be in constant relative motion unless and until secured to one another.

In accordance with the present invention, a mounting device for an elongate member, comprises: an elongate housing having an elongate axis; an internal passageway passing through the elongate housing parallel to the elongate axis; an elongate sleeve located within the internal passageway and being configured for longitudinal movement along the passageway; a plurality of ball-receiving recesses in the wall of the internal passageway, each recess having a ball-guiding surface inclined to the longitudinal axis; a plurality of apertures in the sleeve; a ball located in each of the ball-receiving recesses and engaged with a respective aperture in the sleeve, the balls and the apertures being configured to allow the balls to project partially through the apertures but to prevent balls from passing through; biasing means configured to bias the sleeve in a direction to urge the balls to project radially inwardly through their respective apertures in the sleeve and into the internal passageway.

The mounting device of the present invention allows a mandrel to be drawn into the housing, and by providing one or more peripheral recesses or grooves on the mandrel, the balls can be engaged with the recesses or grooves to secure the mandrel to the housing, without the need for accurate alignment. This greatly facilitates the securing of a mooring line, particularly in offshore energy applications.

There may be a plurality of longitudinally-spaced rows of ball-receiving recesses, each recess having a ball-guiding surface inclined to the longitudinal axis and a ball located in each of the ball-receiving recesses, and wherein the sleeve comprises a plurality of longitudinally-spaced rows of ball-receiving apertures corresponding to the balls.

The mounting device preferably comprises spring means configured to bias the sleeve in a direction to urge the balls to project radially inwardly through their respective apertures in the sleeve.

The mounting device preferably comprises means for displacing the elongate sleeve longitudinally along the passageway in a direction opposed to the biasing means.

The sleeve may be connected to a portion which is displaceable from the exterior of the housing.

The mounting device may comprise a portion mounted on the exterior of the housing and connected to the sleeve, for example an external sleeve displaceable the mounted on the exterior of the housing and connected to the elongate sleeve located within the internal passageway.

The mounting device may comprise one or more mounting points at an end of the housing, for example flanges. In one embodiment, the housing comprises an outer sleeve portion through which the internal passageway passes, the movable elongate sleeve being slidably mounted within the outer sleeve.

The mounting device may comprise guide means for guiding a mandrel into the internal passageway, for example a bell mouth at one end of the elongate housing.

The guide means is preferably connected to, and moves with, the elongate sleeve.

The present invention also includes a mounting assembly comprising a mounting device in accordance with the present invention and further comprising a mandrel, the mandrel having a peripheral recess configured to receive a plurality of balls of the mounting device.

Preferably, the mandrel has a plurality of peripheral recesses configured to receive a plurality of balls of the mounting device.

Preferably, the number of peripheral recesses in the mandrel corresponds to the number of rows of balls of the mounting device.

Preferably, the mandrel comprises a radially projecting portion configured to abut a portion of the elongate sleeve when the balls are located in the peripheral recess or recesses of the mandrel.

This allows the mandrel to be pulled through the elongate sleeve without the balls engaging firmly in the peripheral recess or recesses of the mandrel. However, once the radially projecting portion of the mandrel abuts the elongate sleeve, the balls are received in the peripheral recess or recesses of the mandrel, which secures the mandrel to the elongate sleeve. The radially projecting portion of the mandrel may comprise a shoulder, for example a shoulder which extends circumferentially around the mandrel.

Preferably, the ball-receiving recesses comprise a rounded portion at one end configured to receive a respective one of the balls.

Preferably, the rounded portions of the recesses are complementarily shaped and sized with the respective balls.

By way of example only, a specific embodiment of the present invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure 1 is an exploded view of a pull through connector assembly comprising an embodiment of platform mooring connector in accordance with the present invention;

Figure 2 is a perspective view of the platform mooring connector of Figure 1, shown with a mandrel secured in the connector;

Figure 3 is a perspective view of the platform mooring connector of Figure 1 , shown with the mandrel removed;

Figure 4 is a perspective view of the mandrel shown in Figure 2;

Figure 5 is a perspective view of an upper end connection forming part of the platform mooring connector of Figure 1 ;

Figure 6 is a vertical cross-section through the platform mooring connector of Figure 1 ;

Figure 7 is a view of the portion identified at B in Figure 6, to a larger scale; and Figures 8 and 9 are views of the portion identified at C in Figure 7, to a larger scale, shown in an unsecured and a secured condition respectively.

Figure 1 shows a pull through connector assembly 10 in which a mooring line 12 having connecting eyes 14, 16 at each end can be releasably secured to a platform mooring connector 18 in accordance with the present invention. The connecting eye 14 at the upper end of the mooring line 12 is connected to a mandrel 20 by means of a securing pin (not shown) passing through a securing eye 24 at the lower end of the mandrel 20. The upper end of the mandrel 20 is provided with a securing eye 26 to which a winch wire 28 is attached, in use. The connecting eye 16 at the lower end of the mooring line 12 is connected to a bottom tendon 30 in the form of a conventional twisted Y-link which allows pivoting around two orthogonal axes, and which is secured to equipment (not shown) to be moored.

The platform mooring connector 18 and the mandrel 20 are shown in more detail in Figures 2 to 6.

The upper end of the platform mooring connector 18 is formed into two identical parallel longitudinally extending planar flanges 32, each of which is positioned between a respective identical pair of parallel flanges 34, 36 of an upper end connector 38 and is pivotally connected thereto by means of two securing pins 40, each passing through a respective pair of aligned apertures 42, 44 in the flanges 32, 36. The upper end of the connector is in turn pivotally connected between securing flanges 46 which, in use, would be secured (e.g. by welding) to a platform structure.

As best seen in Figures 2, 3, 6 and 7, the platform mooring connector 18 comprises an elongate, generally cylindrical, body 50 having a longitudinally extending through aperture 52 aligned with its longitudinal axis A - A. The aperture 52 comprises a main cylindrical aperture portion 54 of circular cross section which terminates at its upper end in a shoulder 56 and a lower portion 58 of slightly greater internal diameter. A radially outer sleeve 60 has main and lower outer surface portions 60a, 60b corresponding to the inner diameters of the main and lower portions 54, 58 respectively of the aperture 52 and an inner cylindrical surface 62 of constant diameter. The inner cylindrical surface 62 of the outer ring is provided with three longitudinally spaced rows of twelve identical, equally angularly spaced recesses 64 having a ramped surface 66 which is inclined to the longitudinal axis A - A. A metal ball 68 is located in each recess 64 and is configured to be able to project partially (but not completely) through an associated aperture in a cylindrical inner sleeve 70 which can be displaced in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axis A - A, as will be explained.

The inner sleeve 70 has an outer diameter which corresponds to the inner diameter of the inner surface 62 of the outer sleeve 60 and is slidably mounted in the outer sleeve 60. The inner sleeve is biased downwardly (leftwards as shown in Figures 2 to 6) by means of twelve identical compression springs 72 extending between the lower end of the outer sleeve 60 and a radially extending flange 74 at the lowermost end (the left end as seen in Figures 2 to 6) of the inner sleeve 70. The flange 74 is configured to engage with, and abut, a circumferential shoulder 21 on the mandrel 20 located approximately three-quarters of the way along the mandrel from the securing eye 26 at the upper end of the mandrel towards the securing eye 24 at the lower end of the mandrel. The inner sleeve 70 is connected to, and moves with, end cap 76 which has an outwardly flared bell mouth 78 for guiding the mandrel 20 into the connector 18.

The inner sleeve 70 and the end cap 76 (including the bell mouth 78) are also connected to, and move with, an external sleeve 80 which is slidably mounted on the exterior of the body 50 of the connector. The external sleeve 80 may be displaced, if necessary, by means of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) or a diver, but that will normally only be necessary if the device becomes seized, as will be explained.

In its rest state, the inner sleeve 70 is biased towards the position shown in Figure 6 towards the end cap 76 by means of the compression springs 72, which in turn displaces the balls 68 along the inclined surfaces 66 such that the balls 68 project partially through their corresponding apertures in the inner sleeve 70 and into the longitudinal aperture 52.

The mandrel 20 is generally elongate and cylindrical and, as explained previously, is provided with securing eyes 24, 26 at its lower and upper ends. The cylindrical portion of the mandrel is also provided with three identical circumferential peripheral grooves 84 in addition to the shoulder 21 as previously described. The spacing of the grooves 84 is identical to the spacing of the apertures in the inner sleeve 70 (and therefore the spacing of the balls 68) and the profile of the grooves matches that of the inwardly projecting portions of the balls 68, whereby the balls 68 and grooves 84 are configured to be a close complementary fit with each other. In use, a winch wire 28 is connected to the securing eye 26 at the upper end of the mandrel 20. The winch wire is passed through the platform mooring connector 18 and is winched inwardly using a conventional winch (not shown). Continued winching causes the mandrel to be drawn into the interior of the platform mooring connector 18, which is assisted by means of the bell mouth 78 at the lower end of the connector 18.

As the mandrel 20 continues to be drawn into the platform mooring connector 18, it passes the three rows of balls 68 in turn, but engagement of the balls by the mandrel causes the balls 68 to travel upwardly and radially outwardly along the inclined surfaces 66 of their respective recesses 64, as shown in Figure 8, which is accommodated by the longitudinal movement of the inner sleeve 70 against the restoring force of springs 72.

Eventually, the shoulder 21 of the mandrel 20 engages the radially extending flange 74 of the inner sleeve 70 such that any further upward movement (movement from left to right in the Figures) of the mandrel also causes the same longitudinal movement of the inner sleeve 70 (and of the end cap 76, bell mouth 78 and outer sleeve 82 which the inner sleeve 70 is connected), thereby compressing the spring is 72, which apply a restoring force in the opposite (downward) direction. In this position, the three rows of balls 68 are aligned with the respective grooves 84 in the mandrel and the balls 68 thereby become seated in their respective grooves 84, as shown in Figure 9, thereby preventing longitudinal displacement of the mandrel with respect to the inner sleeve and securing the mandrel within the connector assembly 10. If the tension in the winch wire 28 is released, the springs 72 displace the inner sleeve 70 downwards (to the left in Figures 7 and 8) so that the balls 68 are engaged with the radially inner ends 67 of their recesses 64.

It will be observed from Figures 8 and 9 that the lower, radially inner, end 67 of the recesses 64 are formed into a part-spherical shape, complementarily shaped to the shape and size of the balls 68, to provide a secure seating for each of the balls and to help retain the engagement of the balls with the outer sleeve 60. The downward force on the mandrel (in the direction from right to left in the Figures) due to the weight of, and tension in, the mooring line 12 serves to increase the engagement of the balls in the part-spherical inner ends 67 of the recesses 64. If it is desired to disengage the mandrel from the platform mooring connector 18, an upward force is applied to the mandrel at the upper securing eye 26, against the tension in the mooring line 12. In view of the engagement of the circumferential shoulder of the mandrel 21 with the radial flange 74 of the inner sleeve 70, the mandrel 20 and inner sleeve 70 (and the end cap 76, bell mouth 78 and outer sleeve 82 which the inner sleeve 70 is connected) are therefore displaced longitudinally together. This allows the balls 68 to move radially outwardly, along the inclined surfaces 66 of the recesses 64, thereby disengaging the balls 68 from the grooves 84 in the mandrel. When the balls 68 are disengaged, a lock pin can be fitted by means of a ROV or a diver to a fitting 82 on the external sleeve 80 (Figure 3). This locks the balls 68 in the retracted position, allowing the mandrel 20 to be lowered out in a controlled manner By releasing the upward force on the mandrel, the balls 68 can be completely disengaged from the recesses 84 in the mandrel 20, allowing the mandrel 20 to be pulled downwardly (from right to left in the Figures) as a result of the tension in the mooring line 12. The mandrel is thereby disengaged from the platform mooring connector and can be withdrawn from it.

If the above-described disengagement procedure does not work (for example, if the assembly becomes seized, which may occur after a prolonged period on the water) the disengagement may be achieved by displacing the external sleeve 80 downwardly (to the left as shown in Figures 6 to 9) by means of a ROV or a diver. As the inner sleeve 70 is connected to the outer sleeve 80, displacement of the outer sleeve 80 will also result in displacement of the inner sleeve 70 and disengagement of the balls 68.

The invention is not restricted to the details of the foregoing embodiment.

For example, the number of balls 68 (and associated recesses 64) and/or the number of springs 72 may differ from those illustrated and described, depending on the load requirements.