Californian's specifications


Adam Leet

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May 18, 2001
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I know Californian was a rather obscure vessel, and probably would never have been mentioned had it not been for her role in the Titanic disaster. Despite that, I have chosen to build a 1:400 wooden model of her, to compliment my 1:400 Olympic class models and 1:400 Carpathia, which I'm also planning to build.

I have a set of plans for her, but, unfortunately, it's for a waterline model. Any information regarding her height from keel to funnel tops, or even her draft, would be helpful. While she is obscure, I'm holding out hope there's some information out there.


Adam Leet
 
Dec 8, 2000
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Hello Adam,

From Haws (Merchant Fleets in Profile 2, Patrick Stephens, 1979):

Tons 6,223 g, 4,038 n
Dimensions 447 ft 7 in (136.42 m) x 53 ft 9 in (16.38 m) x 30 ft 6 in (9.3 m)
Hull Steel, three decks, bridge 115 ft (35.05 m)

This also agrees with the information in Reade's The Ship That Stood Still (Patrick Stephens, 1993) - with the rider that Reade may've used Haws as his reference. Reade offers quite a detailed physical description, including reference to her 'prosperously deep loading' as being 'so characteristic of the Leyland ships.' (p 18)

Only a quick skim and not exactly the answers you wanted - but it's a start.

Cheers,

F
 

Joshua Gulch

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Mar 31, 2001
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Adam,
A couple of years I contemplated building a Californian model. But, with no plans available, I began drawing up a set myself. I didn't get very far before I called the whole project off until I could gather more info. I have some notes I took somewhere around here. I could try to dig 'em out.

Also, where did you manage to find plans?

Josh.
 

Tracy Smith

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Apr 20, 2012
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Adam, when you are done making this model, please take a picture of it and post it on this site, along with the pictures of your other models. I'd love to see it.
 

Adam Leet

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Scott Reigel sent me a copy of the plans he sent me, which came with the Carpathia plans that I originally requested. Guess that convinced me.
happy.gif


Out of curiosity, what does this (bridge 115 ft ) measurement indicate? Is it from keel to bridge deck? The wheelhouse? Just need a little clarification.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Adam, you will need more accurate measurements than the books provide if you are going to be able to scale up drawings with reasonable accuracy. Most importantly, Californian was not 447 ft 7 in long overall, but 447 ft 7 in between perpendiculars. That's from where the stem meets the waterline to the aft edge of the rudder post. As Californian had a plumb stem, that length is easy to measure on the drawing. You could then use that to create a scale and get other dimensions. The 115 ft looks to me like the length of the promenade deck, of which the bridge is a part. Some may refer to it as the bridge deck.

Don't forget the sails. (See Leslie Reade). They seem to have still been there in Lord's day.

In passing, it should be understood that many references to ships understate their length by giving Length Between Perpendiculars instead of Length Overall. They do that because LBP gives a truer idea of the ship's capacity than LOA, which may include long overhangs that contain very little usable space.
 

Adam Leet

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I had considered the 447' length to be B.P., especially after I scaled using the ship's width, which is between 53 and 54 feet, as a reference. The O.A. length turned out to be something around 474 feet. I also think she had a height from keel to shelter deck around 47 feet, at midships. At least I hope that's accurate. Guess I still have some work to do.
happy.gif
 
Dec 8, 2000
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Hello Adam,

Hrm. Having read Dave's post and re-read the info in TSTSS and Haws, my response is: what Dave said.

From Haws, on dimensions: "unless recorded as overall, the figures given are the registered dimensions between perpendiculars." So, there you go - with apologies for not checking that before. Ditto with Dave on the 115ft 'bridge deck', going by the scale drawing.

Do you have access to Reade's book? There's quite a bit of information on Californian's physical appointments.

Do keep us posted, I'd quite like to see the completed model.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I tried to find Leslie Reade's book only to find out that it's no longer in print. Amazon had a used one on offer from the owner, but at $490.00, I don't think I'll be in any rush to get it.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Dec 8, 2000
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US$490! That's outrageous. There's usually a few copies knocking about the 2nd hand circuit for under US$100.

Time for the old inter-library loan plan, then, if you're in the US.

(Note to self: better not tell anyone how much I paid for my new copy lest I be tarred and feathered...)
 
Dec 8, 2000
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It's worse than outrageous! Following up with my claims as to the availability of TSTSS 2nd hand, there's a currently a listing of 10 on www.bookfinder.com. Removing double listings leaves 8 copies: 7 ranging in price from US$75 to US$87, the 8th at US$136. Some booksellers may not have updated their listings lately, but it's hard to believe that all 8 copies have gone.

(Note to self: *never* buy used books from Amazon or EvilBay. Always go through the bookshop circuit!)
 

Dave Gittins

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Just to really upset everybody, Andrew Rogers, Titanic explorer and lottery winner extraordinaire, recently bought a brand new copy of The Ship That Stood Still for $20. Aussie dollars! It had evidently been lying about the shop for years.

Me, I'm just grateful for the McGuire Maritime Collection in the State Library of South Australia and a photocopier.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!(Ripping sound of tearing hair in background!)
angry.gif


Twenty bucks Australian? Oh to be in the right place at the right time! Looks like I'll have to try the library interloan thing to get it. Sure would be nice to be able to get a some of the really good books without having to rob a bank or kill somebody to pay for it.
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Lawd ha' mercy!
 
Dec 8, 2000
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Damn! Dave just topped me! Mine was a cancelled special order. I got it at a major book chain on a 15% off every thing day: I just walked in off the street, and there it was! Raced to the till, paid for it, then checked out the rest of the shelves. I *never* go into that shop.

Mike - from memory it cost the equivalent of about US$20. Mwahahahahaha.
proud.gif
(Still got some hair left?)
 

Adam Leet

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May 18, 2001
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All right. Going with the 115 foot measurement for the bridge deck, it fits with the plans Scott Reigel sent me...but her length O.A. turns out to be 448 feet, which also brings her width down to 50 feet. If I use her 54 foot width as reference, the O.A. length is 474 feet, but the bridge deck turns out to be around 120 feet long, and that's including the forward curve of the superstructure. Right now I have two sets of designs; one for a 448 O.A. and one for 474 O.A. Talk about a conundrum.
sad.gif



Adam
 

Adam Leet

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May 18, 2001
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I think I'm going with the 465 foot length. Since there's little information on her, and without the wreck for reference at the moment, I'll have to make an educated guess on this one. Who knows? I may have it right.
happy.gif
 
Sep 20, 2000
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FYI: In re-reading portions of "The Ship that Stood Still" (First American Edition 1993; W. W. Norton) lately, I came upon the surprising contention that the Californian's freeboard was "only 11 feet" (p. 311; Source: "Official Log")!

Now, from an examination of that "Plan of the Californian (Courtesy: Rob Caledon Ltd., Scottish Record Office)" also included in the work (Plates), I strongly suspect that's a typographical error, and should have been printed as "21 feet". This would agree with the relative, vertically-oriented dimensions on that plate for the ship's breadth of 53.6 ft. (The printed scale is of course meaningless, as the image is obviously reduced.)

Is this indeed an error, as I suspect, and is it present in the Patrick Stephens edition as well? Is 21 feet the reasonable alternative?

Also, the Caledon plan for "S.S. Californian, No. 159" varies slightly in its stated "Dimensions: 447.6 B.P. · 53.6 · 34.8 moulded" from other numbers cited here. Mind you, I'm not saying I doubt those previous numbers, from Haws: "Dimensions 447 ft 7 in (136.42 m) x 53 ft 9 in (16.38 m) x 30 ft 6 in (9.3 m)." (Reade's verbal description on page 17 of the "First American Edition" simply *truncates* those values to whole numbers -- "447 feet long, 53 feet beam and a hull 30 feet deep" -- but they otherwise agree.)

But I'm curious: Is something slightly different implied by "moulded" that would account for that 4+ foot difference between it and the hull depth? For example, is the double bottom included in "moulded", but excluded from "hull depth"?? (Sort of like O.D.'s and I.D.'s -- Outside Dimensions and Inside Dimensions -- for pipes and tubing?)

Cheers,
John Feeney
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Moulded depth refers to the vertical distance from the baseline to the moulded line of the main deck at side measured at the midship section.

As to the 11 foot freeboard, I agree. This one must have been a typo...unless somebody can convince me that the ship drew 20 feet when fully loaded. Rather a stretch there, and an 11 foot freeboard seems decidedly low for a freighter designed for the brutal environment of the North Atlantic...or any stretch of open ocean for that matter.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

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