Condensers In The Sinking


Joe Tickle

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I've read some theories that the crew were able to utilise the ships condenser pumps in the sinking to help pump water out of the ship. If they were deployed this way, roughly how much of a contribution would they have made, as in how quickly could they pump water when compared to the bilge pumps?
 
Nov 14, 2005
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I've never read that theory anywhere before. Not saying you haven't just that I've never seen it. From the schematics I've seen given the time they had it wouldn't have worked. 1. You would need to get the flood water into the hotwell (which was getting higher) or you would need to get the flood water to the inlets of the pumps bypassing the hotwell. Probably have to use hoses. I'm sure they probably had a discharge valve downstream of the pumps to drain the system for maintenance so that might not be a problem. You would also have to bypass the feedwater filters because pumping nasty dirty flood water might plug them. 2. Given enough time you could probably McGiver something up but they didn't have the time. 3. Feedwater pumps on a system Titanics size really aren't all that big. Dont think they could pump enough to make a differance. I've seen feed pumps on 25 to 50 megawatt systems where 2 machinists could move them without a hoist. Not really huge pumps.
P.S ...Although I didn't see GPM ratings for the pumps you should check out Mr. Halperns article on Titanic's power plant. I've read it numerous times and its a very good article. It might give you an overview of what it might take to pull off the theory you read about if you haven't already read it. Cheers.
 
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Tim Gerard

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I have a general idea of how a steam system works in normal configuration, but not reconfigured to try to pump out water flooding into the ship. But I thought they were using the condensers as extra pumps later on, and water the condensers were pumping out is what ended up pushing Lifeboat No. 13 directly under No. 15 as it being lowered.

In the real time Titanic sinking podcast that Titanic - Honor and Glory Youtube page has from 2017 they said it was later on that the crew "got serious" or something and started engaging the condensers as pumps, which if that's true makes me wonder why they weren't "serious" right from the start, as soon as Thomas Andrews calculated that the ship wouldn't stay afloat.
 
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Tim Aldrich

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Mr. Christian, the OP was asking about the condenser pumps, not the feed water pumps. The condenser pump the OP is asking about had one job. Draw water from openings in the bottom of the hull, move it through the condensers and then out through the discharge openings in the side of the hull. Those condenser pumps would have been quite large centrifugal pumps.

Check out the link below. It's a photo of Oceanic's engine room before the engines were installed. On the right side of the photo you'll see two, very large, cylinders that kind of look like boilers. Those are condensers. Below the condensers are the circulation pumps (Google some pics of centrifugal pumps so you know what they look like).

There may have been ways to connect Titanic's circulation pumps to the bilges but I have no evidence to that fact.

Oceanic's engine room
 
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Rancor

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As I understand it the condenser pumps did have the capacity to draw suction from the engine room bilge. However due to the flooding being in the forward section of the ship they were not able to be of use.

I'll try and find the source for that information, I suspect it must have been a Sam Halpern special somewhere.
 
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On the systems I worked the condenser tube water were always labled conderser cooling water pumps so if thats what was meant yes I got that wrong. The feedwater pumps were also called condensate pumps and then you also had condensate make up water pumps which maintained the hotwell level. I know what centrifugal pumps are as well as PD pp's, axial pp's, screw pp's, diaphram pp's, eductor pp's..ect ect. Although I used to rebuild small metering pp's I didnt actually work on the bigger pumps themselves, I worked on the instuments that monitored them..flow, pressure, temp, totalizers ect. Thanks for the pic Tim. Interesting. And Gerard I thought the discharge water pushing the lifeboat was from the bilge pp's but I could be wrong about that I would need to check furthur. I would need to see a detailed P&I diagram to see if you could cross connect the systems. But like I said earlier I dont think they had time. After the first 15 or 20 mins or so it was pretty much hopeless.
 
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As I understand it the condenser pumps did have the capacity to draw suction from the engine room bilge. However due to the flooding being in the forward section of the ship they were not able to be of use.

I'll try and find the source for that information, I suspect it must have been a Sam Halpern special somewhere.
It would be interesting to see a more detailed schematic of the set up..ie...the inlet and discharge locations and cross connections. I've looked a little but didn't come up with anything so far. I'm sure they are out there.
 

Rancor

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And Gerard I thought the discharge water pushing the lifeboat was from the bilge pp's but I could be wrong about that I would need to check furthur.

Most compelling theory I've heard so far is the discharge was from the auxiliary condenser circulating pumps.
 
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Most compelling theory I've heard so far is the discharge was from the auxiliary condenser circulating pumps.
That could be. I've seen those pumps on the diagrams. But from the prints and diagrams I've been able to look at, they give no clue where where the discharge points are. Somewhere in another thread someone speculated the discharge that hit the boat might have also been from gravity fed drain for the greywater system. That would make for really messy scenario. But I would think that discharge point would be as low as possible...hopefully under the water line.
 

Rancor

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That could be. I've seen those pumps on the diagrams. But from the prints and diagrams I've been able to look at, they give no clue where where the discharge points are. Somewhere in another thread someone speculated the discharge that hit the boat might have also been from gravity fed drain for the greywater system. That would make for really messy scenario. But I would think that discharge point would be as low as possible...hopefully under the water line.
20200411_230556.jpg


Starboard main condenser discharge at the G deck level. I'll see if I can find the aux condenser discharge.
 
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Thanks for that schematic. With the cold atlantic water going thru their condensers that must have greatly increased the efficency of their turbines. We always had a problem with hot cooling water for the condenders. Being in the desert with 120* summers it cut down our output considerably. There was a good solution for it but the govt. would never go for it. Titanic's condensers were design at 28" of vacuum with 60* cooling water. I dont think we ever got that (28") even in winter.
 
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Rancor

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I ran across this from paul lee's site. One of Mr. Halpren diagrams showing the main condenser discharge location on the hull. Right above the waterline during normal conditions. And as you said at G deck level.

Good find!

Intetestingly the good money is on the main condensers being shut down once the main engines were stopped for the final time. The dynamos and other auxiliaries would have exhausted to the auxiliary condenser.
 
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Good find!

Intetestingly the good money is on the main condensers being shut down once the main engines were stopped for the final time. The dynamos and other auxiliaries would have exhausted to the auxiliary condenser.
Yes from all I've read that would be right. I think I've read it before but can't remember. Maybe you know. Did all the main steam line and engine steam drains go to the main or aux condenser or could they be route to either? Just curious from a maintenance and not an operating view. Anyway I was looking around and found another link that gives a good brief overview of Titanics systems and the second link covers some of the pumping arrangements available to Titanic. I'll post them in case you haven't already seen them.
 
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Doug Criner

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At first, I was a bit confused by this thread. At first, I was thinking of condensate pumps - that take suction from the condensate side of the condensers and discharge back to the boilers. That would take quite a bit of time-consuming rigging to help with dewatering the flooding. But I think we are actually talking about the main seawater pumps that provided cooling for the condensers, right? That would be a horse of a different color - the main seawater piping was over two feet in diameter, and unless there were Dutchman connections provided in the original ship's design, it would be unthinkable

But, I do recall that the engineers did try to rig up an emergency pumping system to use as supplementary bilge pumps. I can't remember what pumps were involved, but it seems like they were permanently installed Dutchman or swing connections that they tried to line up to the pumps? Maybe somebody can remind me?
 
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Hello Mr. Criner. In case you haven't seen it already in the video below the author states that the engineers did try to run pipes back to the bilge pumps but the effort failed and even if they were successful the pumps were too small to really make a difference. The second link states that the attempts to utilize the pumps made things worse. But I don't know what to make of that theory. Something just doesn't sound right about it to me. The timeline of sequence of events seems off to me.

 
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It was the main condenser discharge shown in http://www.paullee.com/titanic/flood_pics/Side_3.PNG that pushed lifeboat #13 toward where #15 was being lowered. The main condensers were located in the turbine engine room, port and starboard, and the discharges just aft of WTB L at G deck level. The auxiliary condenser was located in the main engine room on the starboard side about halfway between WTBs L and K, and the discharge would have been above it at G deck level.
 
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It was the main condenser discharge shown in http://www.paullee.com/titanic/flood_pics/Side_3.PNG that pushed lifeboat #13 toward where #15 was being lowered. The main condensers were located in the turbine engine room, port and starboard, and the discharges just aft of WTB L at G deck level. The auxiliary condenser was located in the main engine room on the starboard side about halfway between WTBs L and K, and the discharge would have been above it at G deck level.
Yes. I guess they needed to condense the steam they were still using to run the dynamo's and such. Other than that it would have served no purpose to keep those pumps running at that stage of the game.
 
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Rancor

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It was the main condenser discharge shown in http://www.paullee.com/titanic/flood_pics/Side_3.PNG that pushed lifeboat #13 toward where #15 was being lowered. The main condensers were located in the turbine engine room, port and starboard, and the discharges just aft of WTB L at G deck level. The auxiliary condenser was located in the main engine room on the starboard side about halfway between WTBs L and K, and the discharge would have been above it at G deck level.

Excellent info as always, thanks Samuel.

Do you put any weight behind the theory of main condensers being shut down to save steam? There have been several posts on this forum where it has been speculated. Though I guess hard to prove definitively either way. Would the auxiliary condenser discharge be of sufficient volume to cause problems with the lowering of the lifeboats as you describe? And was it necessary to keep the main condensers running with the main engines shut down?
 

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