I work on a drilling rig as a roughneck and we had a lecture today (at the office) about mechanical advantage in pulley systems. Now, I know that my boss is well educated in oil drilling, but my instincts tell me that he may have this one wrong.
A drilling rig works sort of like a crane in that it has a tall structure supporting a pulley system. There is a large winch permanently installed on the base platform and then it goes over the top of the structure (the crown of the derrick) and down through a floating sheave--this has a few wraps to give us more mechanical advantage. I am including pictures to help describe the situation.
Here the picture shows the floating sheave (the blocks) which we use to do most all of our operations. Most importantly, we use it to pick up our string of pipe that is in the ground.
As seen in this picture, the blocks hold the weight of the string of pipe. Now he told us that if the pipe get stuck in the hole (maybe it snags something or the hole caves in), that we lose all of our mechanical advantage. He said that is why the weight indicator will shoot up and go back down after it is freed. He said that because when the pipe is snagged in the hole then we are not dealing with a free floating sheave anymore and that is what is required to have a mechanical advantage.
I disagree with this because even if it is not free, there is still a mechanical advantage such that (say the normal mechanical advantage is 6 to 1) our pulling force is multiplied by 6. I would like somebody to confirm this for me.
First picture taken from www.worldoils.com on June 21, 2013 Second picture taken from www.PaysonPetro.com on June 21, 2013