Bursting - Low Pressure Engine Cylinder


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Aaron_2016

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A low pressure engine cylinder can be found on the seabed beside the broken middle section in the debris field. Has this engine cylinder been carefully analysed to detect if there are any unusual markings or indentations other than landing on the seabed? I'm not an engineer, but can anyone hypothesize what this engine was doing in the moments leading up to the break up? e.g. Was it possible for this cylinder to burst and fracture the hull? Is part of the keel still attached underneath or was it simply held in place by its weight? Trying to figure out if this piece of machinery caused the hull to break or was a contributing factor to the break up.

If the ship was bending and was listing heavily to port, would this piece have been in operation while it was being pulled like a cracker? Would it snap and propel the pipes and gears into the hull, tearing the side open and breaking the ship in two?


cylinder.PNG



If it was not mounted onto the plates would the strong list to port cause it to slide over and crash through the side of the hull on the port side, breaking the ship open?


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Rancor

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Is that one of the forward LP cylinders from the main engines? If so I would have a guess that it would have been depressurised during the breakup as the engines were stopped and had been for some time.
 
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Aaron_2016

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Is that one of the forward LP cylinders from the main engines? If so I would have a guess that it would have been depressurised during the breakup as the engines were stopped and had been for some time.

One of the forward LP cylinders. Not sure where the other forward one is - could it have exploded and broken the ship in two? Reading incidents from other vessels. In 1911 the SS Allianca was caught in a hurricane - which might have put stress on the hull and machinery. The LP engine cylinder 'blew out' and they repaired the damage. Not sure what 'blew out' meant, but as the Titanic was a much larger vessel with enormous engines the effect might have been much greater and buckled open the hull. Was it possible to contain the escaping steam inside one of these cylinders and would it compress if left unattended and explode?



Allianca.PNG


Cylinder1.PNG


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Scott Mills

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A low pressure engine cylinder can be found on the seabed beside the broken middle section in the debris field. Has this engine cylinder been carefully analysed to detect if there are any unusual markings or indentations other than landing on the seabed? I'm not an engineer, but can anyone hypothesize what this engine was doing in the moments leading up to the break up? e.g. Was it possible for this cylinder to burst and fracture the hull? Is part of the keel still attached underneath or was it simply held in place by its weight? Trying to figure out if this piece of machinery caused the hull to break or was a contributing factor to the break up.

If the ship was bending and was listing heavily to port, would this piece have been in operation while it was being pulled like a cracker? Would it snap and propel the pipes and gears into the hull, tearing the side open and breaking the ship in two?


View attachment 38870


If it was not mounted onto the plates would the strong list to port cause it to slide over and crash through the side of the hull on the port side, breaking the ship open?


.

The most likely explanation is that this came out during the breakup. I find it highly unlikely that there would have been a cylinder blow-out at the point during the sinking when the hull failure occurred because, by then, the engines were not in operation.

Furthermore, keep in mind that this was a steam engine. Even during operation, the only think in this cylinder was steam--nothing that was itself a chemical explosive like in a combustion engine. Finally, even had there been an over-pressure event while the engine was operating at maximum tolerances, a lot of bad things would have happened to the people in the engine room ranging from steam burns to flying rivets; however, this would never have been enough to cause the ship's hull to fail catastrophically.
 

Stephen Carey

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As a marine engineer of some 50 years or more, I can assure you all that the LP cylinder would not explode under any circumstances at the time of the sinking as the engines had not been used for some hours. In any case the term "low pressure" kind of gives it away, in that the steam from the IP cylinder entered the LP at 24psi and exited to the turbine or condenser at 9psia (below atmospheric), so around the pressure of a Manchester fog... The ship reported as having the "lp cylinder blow out" was probably the same exact reporting as when QE2 (whilst still a steamship) suffered an engineroom fire "when an oil pipe running through the boiler burst". I think we can all imagine the Board of Trade allowing oil pipes to pass through boilers...
Back to the LP cylinder lying on the seabed - when the ship broke in two due to extraordinary stresses on the hull, it broke around the forward end of the engines, resulting in the LP cylinders being broken off, to fall with the rest of the wreckage to the ocean floor. Either that or they broke off as the stern spiralled to the bottom or when it eventually hit the deck (I don't know how far from the main wreckage the cylinders lie).
The engines themselves consist of a heavy bedplate that houses the main bearings, crankshaft and the oil sump. This is attached to the "tank top" by means of "holding down bolts" (which I have tightened on more occasions than I care to remember). The tank top is actually the top of the double bottom tanks which hold various fluids such as oil, fuel (though not in Titanic's case) and water, or left empty as "cofferdam spaces". If you turn the ship upside down, there is little chance of the holding down bolts keeping the engine in place, and it will likely tear itself loose and fall out, as they are only intended to hold the engine in place under normal (upright) forces. Even the propeller forces are not visited on the holding down bolts, as that is the job of the thrust bearing (or bearings in Titanic's case) which takes the thrust of the propeller to avoid shoving the engine through the forward engineroom bulkhead.
On top of this bedplate are mounted the engine cylinder columns, which are heavy items bolted to the bedplate at the bottom and on which the hp, ip and lp cylinders are mounted at the top. Whether the lp cylinder broke loose at bedplate, column or cylinder level I don't know as the photos are not that clear, but any of them are possible.
upload_2017-10-30_12-15-19.png

In this rather nice picture of a model Titanic port main engine from the Titanic Research and Modelling site (Titanic's Portside Engine - Part 1) you can see the bedplate at the bottom (at the bottom level of the ladder). That's the tank top. Also bolted to the tanktop is the thrust bearing assembly, the row of collars seen at the after end (furthest right on the picture) with the flange that connects to the first line of shafting going to the propeller. The pump is likely to be the thrust bearing oil pump. The detail of the flywheel is interesting, where you can see the cylinder and worm gear of the steam engine that operated the "turning gear" to turn the engine at low revs during maintenance or warming through.
Working up, you can see the "A" frame columns that support the guides, reversing gear and other bits of kit. On top of the columns are the cylinders themselves, with the large LP cylinder at the after end, "sister" of the one of the same size at the forward end which is not visible on the picture.
upload_2017-10-30_12-20-49.png

(This model is really beautiful - wish I had it...) This is the inner side of the port main engine where you can see the LP cylinders more clearly at each end. The detail of the model is incredible - you can see the starting platform in the centre with the large wheel and the various gauges mounted on a stand. Looking at the forward LP cylinder, I would think that the likely break-up happened at the cylinder level rather than at the column level, or maybe somewhere in-between - who knows? Perhaps we will be lucky and further exploration of the wreck will concentrate more on the marvel of her propelling machinery than the inside of the 1st Class passenger spaces, all of which have been over-documented to infinity and beyond in this engineer's opinion!
 
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Stephen Carey

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Done a bit of searching since my post above and found a clear image of the engines - or what's left of them -
titanic's engines.jpg

Here you can see the next cylinders in the line, with the foremost LP cylinder missing on both engines. It shows that not only the cylinder is missing, but the "A" (or "Y") frame plus the bedplate is also gone. You can see where the crankshaft on the port and starboard engines has sheared off, below which is the flattened double bottom plating, with - to the left of the picture - a partially unflattened piece. This looks as if the major break-up and tearing of the double bottom occurred in this position, ripping away the foremost cylinders as they were still attached to the tank top. Interesting stuff!
 

Rancor

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Looks like the browns reversing engine is visible on the port side engine... would it be possible to tell from its position whether the engines were running forward or astern when the throttle valve was shut for the final time?
 
Mar 18, 2008
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It seems the wreck indicates that they are in a forward/ahead position, according to wreck observations by Parks Stephenson.
This would confirm the engine orders mentioned by Dillon who was there in the main engine room.
 
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Mar 18, 2008
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Not really.
From the testimony of Dillon

3720. Was anything done to the engines? Did they stop or did they go on? - They stopped.
3721. Was that immediately after you felt the shock or some little time after? - About a minute and a half.
3722. Did they continue stopped or did they go on again after that? - They went slow astern.
3723. How long were they stopped for before they began to go slow astern? - About half a minute.
3724. For how long did they go slow astern? - About two minutes.
3726. And then did they stop again? - Yes.
3727. And did they go on again after that? - They went ahead again.
3728. For how long? - For about two minutes.
3729. Then did they stop the boat after that? - Yes.

The ship was actually going nowhere.
 

Scott Mills

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Correct.I meant originally only that, there is physical evidence of forward momentum after Titanic struck the iceberg. There are still plenty of people (here even) who still deny this.

HOWEVER, I would be remiss if I did not point out that Fred Scott said:

STOP ENGINES -Wait 15-
SLOW AHEAD -wait 10-
STOP ENGINES-wait 5-
SLOW ASTERN-wait 5-
STOP ENGINES

Of course, the difference being the final slow astern order. Even so, maybe the truth is somewhere in-between?

By the way, there is a lot of corroborating evidence to support something closer to Fred Scott's timeline--as far as for how long the engines ran ahead after the collision--than there is to support Dillon's account. This evidence comes from both the passengers and crew.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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From passengers and crew it is clear that the ship was moving for not more that 10 Minutes. Scott is way too off with his time which would place the final stop well after midnight (about 12:10 to 12:15 a.m.). By that time the crew was already working at the boats and the steam was venting off from the funnels.

Maybe you can share with us the "lot of corroborating evidence to support something closer to Fred Scott's timeline"
 

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