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A draw-works is the primary hoisting machinery that is a component of a rotary drilling rig. Its main function is to provide a means of raising and lowering the traveling blocks. The wire-rope drilling line winds on the drawworks drum and extends to the crown block and traveling blocks, allowing the drill string to be moved up and down as the drum turns. The segment of drilling line from the draw-works to the crown block is called the "fast line". The drilling line then enters the sheaves of the crown block and is makes several passes between the crown block and traveling block pulleys for mechanical advantage. The line then exits the last sheave on the crown block and is fastened to a derrick leg on the other side of the rig floor. This section of drilling line is called the "dead line".
A modern draw-works consists of five main parts: the drum, the motor(s), the reduction gear, the brake, and the auxiliary brake. The motors can be AC or DC-motors, or the draw-works may be connected directly to diesel engines using metal chain-like belts. The number of gears could be one, two or three speed combinations. The main brake, usually operated manually by a long handle, may be friction band brake, a disc brake or a modified clutch. It serves as a parking brake when no motion is desired. The auxiliary brake is connected to the drum, and absorbs the energy released as heavy loads are lowered. This brake may use eddy current rotors or water-turbine-like apparatus to convert to heat the kinetic energy of a downward-moving load being stopped.
Power catheads (winches) located on each side provide the means of actuating the tongs used to couple and uncouple threaded pipe members. Outboard catheads can be used manually with ropes for various small hoisting jobs around the rig.
The drawworks often has a pulley drive arrangement on the front side to provide turning power to the rotary table, although on many rigs the rotary table is independently powered.