The Evolution Of Solids Separation Devices

As mentioned previously, during the 1920s, the oil well drilling industry recognized the need to remove cuttings from the drilling fluid. The mining industry used stationary, vibrating screens for classifying larger pieces of ore from smaller pieces. These screens were adapted to separate cuttings from the drilling fluid in an evolutionary process, which has continued through time to yield the sophisticated solids control systems used today. The early machines were called "screens" not "shakers," as reflected in the 1930 Oil Weekly article reprinted on pages 13-14. The oilweil industry adapted mining equipment by redesigning it Lo handle viscous liquids, reducing its weight, and mounting it on skids lo facilitate rig moves. The history of this evolution has been documented in the World Oil's Composite Catalog.

The following is a general chronology of solids separation devices used in the oil well drilling industry. Unfortunately, some early versions are not included because the scope was limited to the Composite Catalog from the first edition (1930) through the 1978-1979 edition. The following descriptions are brief but represent the best general information available for each device. Additional information for each unit is presented in the following reproductions of original advertising pages taken from archival copies of the World Oil's Composite Catalog.

1932 Baroid Sales Company—The Baroid "Lemco mud screen" was one of the first screens developed in the late 1920s, with screen cloth approximately 30 mesh and an extremely high angle with an unbalanced elliptical motion.

1934 Shaffer Tool Works—The "Shaffer vibrating mud screen" is another early machine using somewhat larger dimensions—48" x 55"— while still maintaining a 4 x 5 relationship and using a high angle with elliptical motion.

1935 Allis-Chalmers Mfg. Co.—This early device, as with all of these units was used in the mining industry as a classifier. As it was built to be stationary, it was rather bulky and had to be "skidded" and then reduced in weight for installation on a drilling rig and to make it easily transportable.

1936 Link-Belt Company—Probably the best known of the early shale shakers, this unit was adapted from the mining industry to handle rotary drilling applications in drilling mud, as well as the first designed for installation on a drilling rig.

1937 Gulf Engineers, Inc.—The "Keil vibrating screen" was another adaptation designed for the oil industry. This unit, again, used elliptical motion and was "skidded" for moving.

1938 The Jeffery Manufacturing Co.—The Jeffery "Blue Streak Shale Shaker," primarily used in the midwest, was the first to advertise using the words "si.ale shaker."

1938 Lucey Export Corporation—The "Hudson-Boucher automatic shale separator" was the first barrel-type separator to be offered that became well known along with the "Linda K" and "Thompson." These units were commonly used with a very low substructure because they could be set on the ground and the drilling fluid flowed through them without requiring a great deal of floor height.

1938 Vernon Tool Company, Ltd.—With the "McNeely," designs began to resemble the oilfield units of today. It was well skidded, well supported, and boasted a real vibrator mounted centrally to the deck.

1939 International Nickel Co., Inc.—International Nickel introduced stainless screens—in this case, a monel screen—for use in high H2S, salt water, and sour crude. Many of the early shale shaker screens were not stainless, which did not become standard until the late 1930s.

1939 Link-Belt Company—When examining this unit, it is interesting to see how a standard piece of equipment used in the mining industry was modified for use in the drilling industry and how the variations in the link belt unit evolved over time.

1939 W-K-M Company, Inc.—The W-K-M mud screen was a short-lived adaptation of the barrel-type mud separator. It had a screen exterior with a conveyor that carried the solids through the screen, discharging liquid back into earthen pits.

1940 Chain Belt Company of Milwaukee—Rex mud conditioners were another adaptation from the mining industry that were offered in competition with the Link Belt.

1940 Gulf Engineers, Inc.—The "Jitterbug" unit was introduced and was a name that stuck with shale shakers for many years. This unit emphasizes how much shale shakers changed in a relatively short period of time.

1940 Hutchinson Engineering Works—Hutchinson Engineering became the first to mass produce shakers specifically designed for drilling fluid use. Their "Rumba" became the standard for the oil industry until the mid-1980s.

1943-1944 Hutchinson Engineering Works—

Although many changes were being made in the style of shakers, they continued to use the same elliptical motion and required gravity to remove cuttings from the screens.

1943-1944 Overstrom & Sons—The first Overstrom unit used a roll of wire mounted on the side of the shaker with two long clamps. The screen was pulled tight across the shaker and clamped down. When a tear occurred in the screen, a knife was used to cut the screen and the damaged portion was discarded. A new portion of screen was unrolled, pulled over the shaker frame, and clamped down. There were no hook strips or method of tightening the screen down to the shaker other than the clamps on either side of the frame.

1946-1947 Link-Belt Company—It is interesting to examine the suspension of the link belt in operation. Resembling a truck suspension, it worked quite well in its day and time.

1946-1947 Sunshine Iron Works—This unit was another of the early barrel-type shakers that worked quite well and would remove extremely large cuttings. It was rare to find a screen size finer than 10 mesh on this type of separator.

1946-1949 Thompson Tool Co.—The Thompson tool shale separator became the standard in the industry for the barrel-type shaker. There were many of these machines built and were still being used into the early 1970s in many old, relatively shallow, fields using earthen pits.

1950 Link-Belt Company—When comparing this 1950 version of the link belt to the earlier units, although somewhat more sophisticated, they look much the same. Pages are included to show the many parts comprising a unit. There were a number of screen meshes that were used and, interestingly, some rectangular-type meshes or openings, or combinations used that later became known as the "b-type" screens.

1951 Thompson Tool Co.—Opening the big round cover, where the drilling fluid entered the unit, exposed large paddles that turned in much the same manner as a mill wheel for grinding grain. These paddles used the fluid flow through the pipe to rotate themselves. They were connected to a shaft that turned the spiral drum so that the unit was self-powered and ran strictly off the gravity flow of mud through the unit.

1952-1953 Link-Belt Company—In the early 1950s, innovative mud boxes were developed, which were commonly called possum bellies, or back tanks, for more equal distribution of mud flow across the mud shaker screens. Conveyors were also introduced to move the solids away from the shakers to an area where they could be more conveniently handled, which was necessary particularly in offshore operations.

1952-1953 Vernon Tool Co., Ltd.—As today's mud systems are rather sophisticated, it is interesting to look at the early introduction of centrifugal separators, hydrocyclones, desanders and desilters. This early unit may possible originate from the grain or feed industry.

1954-1955 Hutchison Manufacturing Company—The Hutchinson, which later became known as Hutchison-Hayes "Rumba" shakers, illustrates one of the first schematics showing how separation occurred and how "conveyance off the screen" actually worked. A cartoon depicts how the device handled the discards.

1954-1955 Thompson Tool Co.—Thompson was one of the first to introduce galvanized parts. Soon, other manufacturers were using galvanized parts, which continued quite extensively from 1950 through the 1970s.

1955-1956 C. F. Hickman Company—The

"Linda K," first introduced by C. F. Hickman, was a barrel-type separator used quite heavily in the south and southwest. It had the same basic application as the Thompson, using mud flow to power the barrel. In most cases, the barrel diameter was larger than the Thompson but the operation was pretty much the same. This unit is still manufactured today by Funston Supply in Wichita Falls, Texas.

1955-1956 Merco Centrifugal Co.—The Merco concentrator was a very early unit that controlled the specific gravity, was a relatively high rpm unit, and used centrifugal force in its separation.

1955-1956 Medearis Oil Well Supply Corp.—

Medearis is one of the early fabricators that built mud tanks for surface tankage rather than using earthen pits. These tanks had provisions for mounting solids separation equipment on top of the mud tanks.

1957 Hutchison Manufacturing Company—

This illustration provides an excellent view of how the motion of the shaker handled the separation of materials.

1957 Thompson Tool Co.—Known for their barrel-type separators, this was Thompson Tool's introduction into the vibrating screen-type separators. This shaker was introduced as a galvanized unit.

1958-1959 Medearis Oil Well Supply Corp.—

Medearis introduced their first shakers as accessories to their tank fabrication. They used elliptical-style shakers and some, in time, became extremely high angle and used relatively high rpm motors.

1960-1961 Hutchison Manufacturing Company—These "Rumba" units could be obtained in two different configurations: either as an overslung or an underslung unit. The under-slungs became much more popular because they lasted longer and provided better use of the screen by directing the flow across the entire surface. However, the overslung screen handled gumbo much better and allowed for easier removal of large pieces.

1970-1971 Centrifuge, Inc.—Centrifuge, Inc. introduced the "Derrick Mfg. Co." machines to the oil field. These were some of the first "Derrick" industrial units that were modified for oil field operation and possessed both an extremely high angle and high rpm. This is where the term "high speed" originated from for fine-screen shakers. Although the centrifuge had been used in the oil field for some time, during the early 1970s they became an integral part of the solids control system to remove colloidals from drilling fluids.

1968-1969 S. N. Marep-Although most of the oil field equipment was built in the United States, the S. N. Marep shaker was built in France and several other shakers were manufactured in Romania and Russia.

A circular motion Baroid double-deck shale shaker.

1974-1975 Dahloiy, Inc.—Dahlory began sloping its screen downhill at extremely high angles, that were being used at this time. The units still used elliptical motion but in a more efficient manner.

1960-1961 Thompson Tool Co.—Quite fearless in their early endeavors, Thompson Tool was not adverse lo experimenting with new methods. They introduced an extremely efficient desander and a packless centrifugal pump to feed these units, which was quite innovative for the time.

1966-1967 Baroid Division National Lead Company—Baroid introduced the double-deck shaker, as well as circular motion, to the oil field shale shaker. In the beginning, it was extremely difficult to maintain the integrity of the screens, but as these units became more popular and personnel became more familiar with them, they found they could run much finer screens—up to 80 mesh. These units could also remove considerably more solids than the current shakers that were only using 30-square mesh screens.

1966-1967 Medearis Oil Well Supply Corp.—

Medearis introduced a cuttings washing system that transported the cuttings from the shaker directly into a washing system that adequately removed the drilling mud from the cuttings. This enabled the cuttings to be discharged overboard and the fluid returned back to the mud system or held as makeup. This was an important early device for offshore drilling, particularly on the west coast.

1974-1975 Swaco/Dresser—The Swaco division of Dresser introduced their vibrating screens using elliptical motion. The vibrator was positioned so that they could run finer screens, and it competed very efficiently with Baroid's doubledeck screen. One of the advantages of this machine was the "openness" of its design—one could actually see the separation occurring. This also enabled broken screens to be seen and replaced much more quickly and easily.

1974-1975 Hutchison-Hayes International, Inc.—Hutchison-Hayes, formerly Hutchinson Manufacturing, introduced a cascade-type unit where elliptical motion was used on both the top and bottom shakers; however, the bottom shakers had the vibrator moved out very close to the discharge end of the shaker to attempt to increase conveyance. The process included scalping off the shale (the large cuttings or

1968-1969 Thompson Tool Co.—This unit has an adjustable orifice for controlling the underllow. The advertisement depicts a good cross-section showing the desander hydocyclone in operation.

Centrifuge Inc. unbalanced elliptical motion shale shaker.

Brandt Shakers

IMCO triple-deck shale shaker. Designed by Louis Brandt prior to starting The Brandt Company where he designed the Brandt double-deck shale shaker.

gumbo on the top shaker) and then passing the underflow across the second set of shakers to produce a finer cut. The Hutchison-Hayes "Rumba SCS" was the first cascade-type unit advertised in the Composite Catalog; however, the concept was originally introduced by The Brandt Company

1974-1975 lmco Services—Imco introduced a circular motion shaker that was the first triple deck—probably the only triple deck used to any extent in the oil field. It was used as a rental shaker to compete with the Baroid "Double Deck" and Swaco "Super-Screen" units and was designed and manufactured by The Brandt Company.

1974-1975 Milchem, Inc.—The Milchem shaker was another adaptation of a mining unit thai was redesigned for oil field use and was an outgrowth of the Payne-Harris shaker. The rotary mud separator was the first centrifuge introduced that was different than those currently being used and was originally developed by Mobil Oil Company.

1976-1977 The Brandt Company—This was the first advertisment for Brandt, which began in the early 1970s with tandem shakers that used circular motion. These became the standard for the industry for many years and were manufactured in junior, singles, duals, triples, and quads. Another unit advertised was the cascade-type that used elliptical motion on the top deck to remove coarse cuttings and gumbo and then directed the flow across the bottom circular motion to produce a finer cut. In later years, the circular motion machines were used as the scalpers over linear units. Also depicted is one of the first introductions of the mud cleaner, originally referred to as the silt separator.

1976-1976 Dreco—The Dreco unit and its operation was basically the same as the Milchem unit.

1976-1977 Swaco/Dresser—Desilter cones mounted over the back of the Swaco super-screen shaker, produced a mud cleaner. This is an early rendition of what is now known as the mud conditioner. Also shown is the super clone

Cascade Shale Shaker

Milchem, inc. elliptical motion shale shaker.

An elliptical motion Magcobar "super-screen" shale shaker, a refinement of the original units.

centrifuge, which was the "poor man's" centrifuge where water was readily available, but maintenance was probably extremely difficult.

1976-1977 G&C Enterprises, Inc.—The "Shimmy Shaker" was an air-powered shaker that required an extremely large volume of air to operate and, in most cases, an additional compressor was added to rig equipment when it was in operation. This unit worked quite well but was inefficient in maintaining operations.

1976-1977 Medearis Oil Well Supply Corp.—

This advertisement takes another look at the Medearis unit using extremely high angle shakers and still using elliptical motion.

1978-1979 The Brandt Company—Brandt developed the use of a canted blade impeller for agitation of mud in mud tanks during oil field drilling. They also developed the use of a chart to determine the turnover rate (TOR) which was copied by a number of users throughout the industry. One of the early versions of a cuttings cleaner is also depicted.

1978-1979 Picenco International, Inc.—Pioneer did a tremendous amount of research and testing with hydrocyclones separation in its desanders and desilters. Additionally, they were leaders in the use of internal coatings. Their units consisted of cast iron bodies that were later replaced by polymers using various elastomers for the bodies. This reduced erosion, increased the life, and reduced the cost so that parts could be replaced more efficiently.

1978-1979 Sweco, Inc.—The Sweco Sand Separator became known as the "mud cleaner" and was the first introduced into the oil field in 1971.

Was this article helpful?

+2 0

Responses

  • kaija
    How hydocyclones operates?
    9 years ago

Post a comment