Title:
Pipe alignment apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A pipe alignment apparatus includes a first plate adapted to slide along a first track and a second plate adapted to slide along a second track, which is positioned immediately adjacent to and in parallel spaced relation to the first track. The first plate has a first pipe engaging channel oriented in a first direction with converging sidewalls that commence at a peripheral edge of the first plate and converge inwardly. The second plate has a second pipe engaging channel oriented in a second direction that also has converging sidewalls. As the first plate and the second plate slide past each other, the converging sidewalls of the first pipe engaging channel and the converging sidewalls of the second pipe engaging channel guide a pipe extending between the first plate and the second plate into a central position.



Inventors:
Huddleston, Jim (Spruce Grove, CA)
Application Number:
11/385348
Publication Date:
09/28/2006
Filing Date:
03/21/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
166/241.6
International Classes:
E21B19/00
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Primary Examiner:
HARCOURT, BRAD
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CHRISTENSEN O'CONNOR JOHNSON KINDNESS PLLC (Seattle, WA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A pipe alignment apparatus, comprising: a pair of supports adapted for mounting in parallel spaced relation in a substantially horizontal orientation, each of the supports having a first end, a second end, a horizontally oriented first track positioned on each of the supports and a second track positioned on each of the supports immediately adjacent to and in parallel spaced relation to the first track; a first plate adapted to slide along the first track, the first plate having a first pipe engaging channel oriented in a first direction toward the first end of the supports; means for selectively moving the first plate back and forth along the first track; a second plate adapted to slide along the second track, the second plate having a second pipe engaging channel oriented in a second direction toward the second end of the supports; means for selectively moving the second plate back and forth along the second track; the first pipe engaging channel having converging sidewalls that commence at a peripheral edge of the first plate and converge inwardly and the second pipe engaging channel having converging sidewalls that commence at a peripheral edge of the second plate and converge inwardly, such that as the first plate and the second plate slide past each other the converging sidewalls of the first pipe engaging channel and the converging sidewalls of the second pipe engaging channel guide a pipe extending between the first plate and the second plate into a central position.

2. The pipe alignment apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein the supports are incorporated into a frame.

3. The pipe alignment apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein the means for selectively moving the first plate back and forth along the first track and the means for selectively moving the second plate back and forth along the second track are telescopic actuators.

4. The pipe alignment apparatus as defined in claim 3, wherein the telescopic actuators are hydraulic.

5. The pipe alignment apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein the first pipe engaging channel and the second pipe engaging channel are “V” shaped.

6. The pipe alignment apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein the means for selectively moving the first plate back and forth along the first track and the means for selectively moving the second plate back and forth along the second track are motor driven gears that engage engagement means on each of the first place and the second plate.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an apparatus used when drilling wells to centrally position a drill stem relative to a rotary table.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A drilling rig is always levelled prior to drilling commencing, in order to centrally position the drill stem relative to the rotary table. However, during drilling operations the drill stem can become misaligned. This misalignment can be caused by a settling of the drilling rig or by conditions encountered down hole during drilling. When drill stem misalignment occurs, the rotary bushings will not drop into the correct position in the rotary table. Often drilling rig personnel address the misalignment problem by manually forcing the drill stem back into a central position, using crowbars, tug lines, or tongs. This is a dangerous procedure, which has lead to serious injuries, maiming and, in some instances, death. U.S. Pat. No. 5,595,248 (Denny 1997) is an example of a prior art alignment apparatus intended to address misalignment problems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to the present invention there is provided a pipe alignment apparatus which includes a pair of supports adapted for mounting in parallel spaced relation in a substantially horizontal orientation. Each of the supports has a first end, a second end. A horizontally oriented first track is positioned on each of the supports, with a second track positioned on each of the supports immediately adjacent to and in parallel spaced relation to the first track. A first plate is adapted to slide along the first track. The first plate has a first pipe engaging channel oriented in a first direction toward the first end of the supports. Means are provided for selectively moving the first plate back and forth along the first track.

A second plate is adapted to slide along the second track. The second plate has a second pipe engaging channel oriented in a second direction toward the second end of the supports. Means are provided for selectively moving the second plate back and forth along the second track. The first pipe engaging channel has converging sidewalls that commence at a peripheral edge of the first plate and converge inwardly. The second pipe engaging channel also has converging sidewalls that commence at a peripheral edge of the second plate and converge inwardly. As the first plate and the second plate slide past each other, the converging sidewalls of the first pipe engaging channel and the converging sidewalls of the second pipe engaging channel guide a pipe extending between the first plate and the second plate into a central position.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features of the invention will become more apparent from the following description in which reference is made to the appended drawings, the drawings are for the purpose of illustration only and are not intended to in any way limit the scope of the invention to the particular embodiment or embodiments shown, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a top plan view of a pipe alignment apparatus constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side elevation view, in section, of the pipe alignment apparatus illustrated in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an end elevation view, in section, of the pipe alignment apparatus illustrated in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a bottom plan view of an alternative version of the pipe alignment apparatus shown in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The preferred embodiment, a pipe alignment apparatus generally identified by reference numeral 10, will now be described with reference to FIG. 1 through 3.

Structure and Relationship of Parts:

Referring to FIG. 1, pipe alignment apparatus 10 includes a pair of supports 12 in a support frame 14. Supports 12 are adapted for mounting in parallel spaced relation in a substantially horizontal orientation. Each of supports 12 has a first end 16 and a second end 18. Referring to FIG. 3, a horizontally oriented first track 20 is positioned on each of supports 12, with a second track 22 positioned on each of supports 12 immediately adjacent to and in parallel spaced relation to first track 20. Referring to FIG. 1, a first plate 24 is provided which is adapted to slide along first track 20. First plate 24 has a first pipe engaging channel 26 oriented in a first direction toward first end 16 of supports 12. A first telescopic hydraulic actuator 28 serves as means for selectively moving first plate 24 back and forth along first track 20. A second plate 30 is provided which is adapted to slide along second track 22. Second plate 30 has a second pipe engaging channel 32 oriented in a second direction toward second end 18 of supports 12. A second telescopic hydraulic actuator 34 is provided as means for selectively moving second plate 30 back and forth along second track 22. First pipe engaging channel 26 is generally “V” shaped with converging sidewalls 36 that commence at a peripheral edge 38 of first plate 24 and converge inwardly. Second pipe engaging channel 32 similarly is generally “V” shaped with converging sidewalls 40 that commence at a peripheral edge 42 of second plate 30 and converge inwardly.

Operation:

The use and operation of pipe alignment apparatus 10 will now be described with respect to FIG. 1 through 3. Referring to FIG. 2, pipe alignment apparatus 10 is installed beneath a rotary table 50 on a drilling rig 52, with drill stem 54 extending between first plate 24 and second plate 30. Referring to FIG. 1, when misalignment problems are encountered, first telescopic hydraulic actuator 28 is activated to move first plate 24 in the first direction along first track 20 and second hydraulic actuator 34 is activated to move second plate 30 along second track 22. First plate 24 and second plate 30 slide past each other and as first plate 24 and second plate 30 slide past each other converging sidewalls 36 of first pipe engaging channel 26 and converging sidewalls 40 of second pipe engaging channel 32 guide drill stem 54 a central position.

Variation:

It will be understood that other means for moving first plate 24 and second plate 30 back and forth along the first track. In the pipe alignment apparatus 100 shown in FIG. 4, motors 48 are provided, each of which rotates a gear 44 by means of a shaft 46. Gears 44 have teeth 50 that correspond to holes 52 (or indents or means of engaging plates 24 and 30) on each of first plate 24 second plate 30, such that, as motors 48 rotate shafts 46, the movement of plates 24 and 30 is controllable.

In this patent document, the word “comprising” is used in its non-limiting sense to mean that items following the word are included, but items not specifically mentioned are not excluded. A reference to an element by the indefinite article “a” does not exclude the possibility that more than one of the element is present, unless the context clearly requires that there be one and only one of the elements.

It will be apparent to one skilled in the art that modifications may be made to the illustrated embodiment without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as hereinafter defined in the claims.