Differences between Stokers Trimmers and Engineers


Oct 19, 2007
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I am sure this is something everyone knows, but you never know if you don’t ask. I would like to know what the difference is between stokers, firemen, trimmers, and engineers? They all seem vaguely the same to me. It would make research and understanding easier if I knew the difference between the duties of a "stoker" vs. a "trimmer”￾.
Thanks
Drea
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I would like to know what the difference is between stokers, firemen, trimmers, and engineers? They all seem vaguely the same to me.<<

In a broadly general sense, they are, since all of these are engineering diciplines and there is some interchangability and even conflation of the terms. Engineers refer to the officers, more often then not. These are the guys who are in charge of and have overall responsibility for the Engineering department under the suprevision of the Chief Engineer.

Firemen can refer to the stokers but can also involve some other trade such as those who work on the engines themselves. Stokers are specifically those who shovel coal into and tend to the furnances/boilers. Trimmers are the guys in the coal bunkers who keep the coal level so as to avoid unbalancing the ship and also deliver coal to the coal doors in the bunkers so it can be taken to the boilers.
 

Adam Went

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Apr 28, 2003
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Engineers are also usually the blokes that would go around repairing any faults that occurred during a voyage. Where possible, anyway. There was a team of these men sailing on the Titanic's maiden voyage to help make sure everything ran smoothly.

As Michael said, they are quite similar - more or less working as part of the same team but with slightly different responsibilities.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>There was a team of these men sailing on the Titanic's maiden voyage to help make sure everything ran smoothly.<<

This was Harland And Wolff's Gaurantee Group, which was led by Thomas Andrews. Tragically, not one of these men survived.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Do not confuse the H&W group with the engineers on board the ship. Very different people.

The engineers were responsible for running all the machinery of the vessel: the propulsion engines, auxiliary engines and pumps, the electric dynamos, the refrigeration equipment, etc. The firemen fed the furnaces of the boilers while the trimmers worked the bunkers and delivered the coal and removed the ash. A stoker was just another name for a fireman. There were also leading stokers who acted as foremen to make sure that the trimmers and firemen in the boiler sections were doing their job in accordance with the orders from the engineers. The maintenance of the machinery, such lubrication of engines and electric motors, were done by the greasers.
 

Adam Went

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Apr 28, 2003
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So many of the crew who stayed below never made it out of there, unfortunately.

Yes, I was trying to think of what they were called - the H&W Guarantee group. Thanks Michael.
 
Oct 19, 2007
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Thank you! It was always confusing to read about how ‘none of the engineers survived the sinking’ and then come across a stoker or fireman survivor. I think I have it now: same team different duties and designation.

A.C