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EDWARD C. SMETAK

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RELEASE MECHANISM PATENT

 

While working at Exxon Production Research Company, Ed designed the unusual torsion pile foundation for Exxon's guyed tower platform.  Conventional battered platforms have large bases, and as a result, offer significant resistance to torsional forces imparted on the foundation.  However, the constant and slender cross section of the guyed tower offers little resistance to torsional forces.  As a result, six 6-foot diameter, 80-ton torsion piles were required at the base of the tower.  The six piles were preinstalled at the base of the jacket prior to launch.

Ed designed the special latch assembly shown below to hold each 80-ton pile in place during launch and upending and release the pile during installation.  Near the top of the 6-foot diameter pile, a transition cone reduced the diameter to 3 feet.  The latch assembly was located in the interior of the pile just below the transition cone.  A 3-foot diameter follower was used to release and drive the piles.  The follower, which was lowered from the surface through a series of guides on the jacket, consisted of ten sections each of which was fitted with external-flush driveable connectors to speed assembly.  An external spider at the top of the jacket supported the string while follower sections were added.

 

Ed's patent for an underwater pile release mechanism

 

There was no margin of error for these latch assemblies.  The results would have been catastrophic if any of the latches released prematurely during launch and upending or failed to release during the pile installation procedure.  The latches worked great and Ed earned a patent on the release mechanism.

 


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