Boiler explosion


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Jack Coburn

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i read somewhere on an internet site about the boilers exploding as the Lusitania sank, i also believe i heard they exploded as the empress sank too. Can someone please tell me why they exploded? I'm not wondering why this happened on Titanic, because i think it would have something to do with the fact they weren't hot when they filled up with water, but, even if they are really hot, i'm still wondering why boilers would explode at all when they fill with water. Can someone please explain to me
 
You're message came across as rather garbeled, but I'll try to help you out here. The theory of a possible boiler explosion stems from the fact that there was some sort of secondary explosion after the torpedo did it's work. Personally, I think this was more a consequence of steam lines rupturing then anything else, though I could be mistaken. Claims of boiler explosions are typically attributed to thermal shock, that is to say extremely cold water coming into contact with extremely hot casing of a boiler and rupturing as a consequence of that. (Metal casing splits,the steam goes BOOM!!!!)

The problem with this theory is that there don't seem to be any examples of the Scotch Marine Boilers used by all the ships you mentioned ever failing for that reason.
 
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Jack Coburn

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You're most likely right, I was just wondering about the boiler explosions because i thought i read somewhere that the boilers did explode. I wasn't actually referring to that second explosion after the torpedo hit, because i already knew about that and i think it is commonly believed that the lusitania had ammunition aboard which caused it, but i thought i did read somewhere that the boilers did explode on both the lusitania and the Empress, but i haven't seen the sites in ages so i'm most likely wrong. Thanks for your help though
 
I am still in doubt over whether the Lusitania's boiler was caused by cold water or ammunition, but for the Empress it was definately cold water. What is the temp. of the St. Lawrence at that time of the year? Its like everyone is saying the boiler exploded but there are no documented proof, even the Titanic.
 
>>but i haven't seen the sites in ages so i'm most likely wrong<<

I'm sure you read it, but just because somebody wrote it doesn't mean they're right. Like Titanic, a lot of myths have grown up out of the affair which have been passed off as history so one has to be careful in fact checking the source material.

>>I am still in doubt over whether the Lusitania's boiler was caused by cold water or ammunition,<<

Since the torpedo hit in the forward machinary spaces while the cargo holds...which is where any ammunition would be...are observably undamaged, I'd say that ruling out ammunition as a cause is about one of the safest bets going.

And if I may, what actual evidence is there that any of the boilers on the Empress of Ireland exploded? Claims are one thing, physical evidence is quite another and the machinary spaces *have* been probed by ROV's. As far as I know, no boilers with burst casings have been found. They may have missed something or something might be out there but not published so if anyone has a photo identifiably from the Empress which supports this, I'd love to see it. (Assuming of course that one has the legal right to post it!)
 
Jermemy and Jack

The Lusitania was Carrying a Highly Explosive Cargo of Aluminum Powder, and While Michael is Right That the Torpedo Struck the Machinery spaces(Boiler Room # 1), The Aluminum Powder Still Could Have Possible Exploded, As The Ship Shook and the Containers the Aluminum Powder Was in Could Have Easily Been Thrown Causing the Aluminum Powder to Explode. Looking At The Facts However, I would Say it's more Likely a Explosion Involbing Steam Occurred (Not However a Boiler, as that Would've Caused Tremendous Damage to the Decks.
 
>>As The Ship Shook and the Containers the Aluminum Powder Was in Could Have Easily Been Thrown Causing the Aluminum Powder to Explode<<

Actually, it couldn't. If you were talking about fulminate of murcury...really nasty stuff that's used in primers....you might be onto something. However, aluminium powder needs some sort of ignition source to even so much as burn. Absent that, you could use the stuff as the core of a baseball, and all you would have would be an unusually heavy baseball.
 
I Suppose Thats a Good A point. Which Is Why My Conclusion Leaned toward an Explosion Involving Steam, I Will Not However dismiss The Possibility of an Aluminum Powder Explosion As The Cause of the 2nd Explosion as it was aboard the Ship.
 

Jason D. Tiller

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"What is the temp. of the St. Lawrence at that time of the year?"

According to this website: St. Lawrence Information, the temperature is anywhere from 50F to 75F throughout the season. In the winter time, it will drop to 45F or to a very cold temperature of 32F which is two degrees over freezing.

As to the boilers exploding on the Empress of Ireland, where did you get that from? From the survivor accounts that I've read, their's nothing in them to indicate any explosions. As Mike stated and from what I know as well, none of the casings have been discovered in the dives. Without that evidence, you can toss this one in the garbage.
 
>>I Will Not However dismiss The Possibility of an Aluminum Powder Explosion As The Cause of the 2nd Explosion as it was aboard the Ship.<<

I would. Aluminium powder is not explosive in and of itself and there remains the fact that the cargo holds where any such would be show no evidence whatever of any sort of internal explosion.
 
Hello Jason
Actually I've read some survivor accounts that talk about the explosion that rocked the Empress as it lay on it's side and sent people into the water. I always assumed it was when water entered the funnels that caused that.
 
Regarding the Lusitania's boilers, a survivor from the boiler room, William Hughes- I think, said the boilers 'crumpled up like pieces of paper.'
 
>>the boilers 'crumpled up like pieces of paper<<

Seems an odd description. Peculiar to think of rivetted heavy boiler plate "crumpling" under any circumstances.

Could it be that the boilers suddenly emptied, say due to the steam line rupturing, then suffered destruction due to the furnace heat. Is this possible?

Or is the witness referring perhaps to the effect of the torpedo blast?
 
It's hard to say Malcolm. He didn't really elaborate. The rest of his account is fairly solid, no flourishes, so I tend to believe his account, but how he meant it is another story.
 
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