Cargo Winches


Nov 13, 2017
Hello all, I'd like to know more about the composition of the large cargo winches next to the holds on deck, particularly the steam-powered winches. Does anyone know if these were made of brass or bronze? What about the size (potential weight)? I figure there must be a contemporary advertisements somewhere that would mention their composition. I've looked through "The Shipbuilder" and tried a somewhat in-depth online search but have yet to arrive at an answer. This question is not really limited to Titanic specifically, but large liners built during the late 1800's/early 1900's in general. I know there is a wealth of knowledge on Titanic out there and figured this might be a good place to start. Thank you!

Stephen Carey

Apr 28, 2016
Cargo winches hardly changed from their inception to their inclusion on tankers that I sailed on, built in the 70s (1970s that is, not the 1870s!). In the same vein, the double cylinder Thom. Lamont pumps in my "Sothern's Marine Engineering" tome dated 1927, are still the same as those fitted as stripping pumps on tankers today. It's old tech, but it works. I can't find the book in amongst all my boxes of books from our last house move, but if you really want definitive materials for everything, I'm pretty sure they would be in this book (it tells you how to build a steam reciprocating engine).
The steam cylinders and cylinder heads are made of cast iron, machined and drilled to face off the castings and hold the cylinder head studs. These cylinders are held in a mild steel frame by bolting. The Piston or slide valve covers are also cast iron bolted.
For the cylinder covers these are either cold rolled steel, cut out of boiler plate or forged steel, depending on the pressure. At the low pressures Titanic experienced, the covers would likely have been cast and machined.
Pistons cast iron, but the piston rods probably forgings to avoid them rusting when exposed to saltwater, as stainless steel was not prevalent in the early 20th century. From wiki: "Between 1904 and 1911 several researchers, particularly Leon Guillet of France, prepared alloys that would today be considered stainless steel". Connecting rods and crankshaft also forged and machined, bearings bronze.
If you really want a full breakdown of parts and materials, let me know via this site and I'll have a root through around 6 boxes of books!
I also tried the web, but nothing much there, is there? Have you tried the Titanic modelling site? They seem to know everything about everything!

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