Electrician articles


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Mar 3, 1998
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Bill Sauder and I have made available a couple of Titanic-related articles that were originally published in "The Electrician" journal. Check in either the Olympic or Titanic sections of my website.

Some of the Internet-savvy among you may recognise the 1910 Bradfield article, but not the treatment that I've given it.

Parks
 

Inger Sheil

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Feb 9, 1999
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G'day Parks! Ta to you and Bill for getting those articles on-line - the more source material available, the better. Good to see that you got clearer prints of the images as well.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Ing,

Thank you for your help early on in this effort...it saved us valuable time in the archives. I agree with you completely that the more source material available, the better.

The articles provided support for one of Bill's long-standing contentions...that the information in "The Shipbuilder" was cobbled together from a number of sources, to include contemporary trade magazines and vendor-supplied brochures. In the case of the wireless, that information -- lifted largely from the Bradfield article -- in "The Shipbuilder" number on Olympic/Titanic was already a year old by the time of publication and completely obsolete by the time of Olympic's sailing. One must keep this in mind when quoting from "The Shipbuilder." Corroboration is paramount, even in primary source material.

Michael,

I hope that you will find that they are a valuable resource...they're the best that I can find in their respective areas of interest (the same areas in which I needed to delve for the purposes of my own research). If I find something even more valuable in terms of historical information, then I'll post that, too.

Parks
 

Paul Visser

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Parks, thanks a million for posting that info on your web site. It is an absolute gem!

I just have 2 questions to ask that I hope somebody can clear up for me.

1. From the article on Parks Stephenson’s web site: "Besides the four main generating sets there are also two 30 kw. sets situated in a recess off the turbine room at saloon deck level, well above the water-line. These may be connected by means of a separate steam pipe to boilers situated in one of several boiler rooms…" Does this mean that they had to manually run a separate pipe from the dynamos and connect them to the boilers to get them going? That would have to be one hell of a big heavy pipe methinks???

I would have thought there would have been pipes running to the emergency dynamos and all one would have to do is open a valve to provide them with steam? Maybe it is just the way the article is worded that has me confused?

2. The article describes 2 main power busses that the main dynamos can be connected to, and it describes the switch gear in great detail. We also know that there were emergency lights fitted throughout the ship. What it doesn’t tell us is, weather the emergency dynamos were dedicated exclusively to running the emergency lights and power devices essential to running the ship, or was it possible to connect them to the main power busses as well?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

Paul
 
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Scott R. Andrews

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"...I would have thought there would have been pipes running to the emergency dynamos and all one would have to do is open a valve to provide them with steam? Maybe it is just the way the article is worded that has me confused?..."

Paul,

It's most definitely the wording that is confusing you. What they were trying to convey was that the emergency generating sets were supplied with steam from a line separate from the main steam lines. This line ran along the overhead on E-deck and had connections to boiler rooms No. 2, 3 and 5. All that would have necessary to run the engines of these dynamos was to open a throttle valve at the particular engine. Valves along the steam line's run would have been provided to connect or isolate the line from one source or another. This steam line also provided an emergency steam supply to the pumps which were connected to the bilge system.

Regards,
Scott Andrews
 

Paul Visser

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Thanks for that Scott, I think you have just saved me from having a fatal heart attack
happy.gif


Confirming this leads me to asking another question: How long would it take for them to get the emergency dynamos running, but not necessarily connected up to provide power? Just running so that they could be switched in if need be?

The reason I am asking all these questions is because David G. Brown and I are trying to puzzle out what really happened to the power on the night of the sinking.

Believe me, every bit of information opens a new door to the truth of what really happened, and it is really appreciated. We will be happy to give you our conclusions and maybe we can even debate that.

Regards,

Paul
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Paul's comments regarding the conductivity of salt water attracted my attention. Or, rather the lack of conductivity. For several years I have noted that the failure of the electric lights in the boiler rooms seems to coincide with the Barrett and Shepherd finding boiler room #6 flooded.

It is dangerous to assume that coincidence is the same as cause and effect. Just because boiler room #6 was discovered flooded, and a few minutes later the lights went out, does not mean the two events are related...although they could be.

I have also noted that when the lights came back on, it was as if a switch had been thrown.

Paul's information on the relative conductivity of salt water would seem to refute an argument that the blackout was caused by a flooding-induced short circuit. Current demand would have gone up as the wires got wet, but only slightly and over time. It would be unlikely that boiler room #6 caused enough problems for the electrical system to have "tripped out" one of the main breakers.

If salt water did not cause the blackout, what did? The other likely possibility is switching the emergency lighting circuits to the emergency generators. There seems just enough time between the accident and the blackout for the emergency dynamos to have been started and run up to speed. If so, could it be that whoever was on the switchboard took the boiler room circuit (all 6 rooms) off the regular supply, but failed to connect this circuit to the emergency dynamos?

This latter scenarion fits the nature of the blackout--lights switch "off"; lights switch on. The period of darkness may just represent the length of time it took to get the word back to the switchboard. Or, perhaps the man doing the switching left the control station to shut down fans (like Ranger) and other unnecessary equipment to preserve the electric supply for lighting.

-- David G. Brown
 

Paul Visser

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Jun 10, 2003
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Exactly, and to prove this theory we need to know weather the emergency dynamos were dedicated to emergency lighting and systems only or weather they could also be connected to the main power busses. The fact that they were only 30 kw each leads me to believe that they could not be connected to the main power busses.

Regards,

Paul
 

Jim Currie

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Perhaps the emergency lighting system and how it was designed to operate throws a light on some of the heretofore dark areas?

For instance: did all emergency circuits required manual switching? If not, and all emergency lighting 'came-on' automatically, then it is conceivable that the four cargo lights (type? and if rigged) would come on as well as all the bridge area lighting; thus allowing personnel to move safely about the decks in emergency evacuation mode. I am thinking about how various personnel and in particular Lightholler saw Captain Smith as he was crossing and re-crossing the bridge. The 2/O said he saw him (a) in silhouette and (b)about 50 feet away as he crossed the bridge. It was said also that numerous persons were on and around the bridge for most of the time. I can't think they would have been bumping into each other in pitch blackness.
The cargo floodlights being on over the fore and after decks would also cause a re-think about what was seen from 'Californian'.
I'm also curious as to how so many people saw fragments of ice on a blacked-out foredeck and how one of the ABs saw people mustered there. Indeed how did even these people see where they were going?

More food for thought?

Cheers,

Jim.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Jim. There were changeover switches that allowed certain parts of the electrical system to connected to the emergency circuit. There were 500 incandescent lamps located throughout the ship that were always connected directly to the emergency circuit and most came on on every night when the emergency dynamos were turned on. I believe they ran the emergency dynamos from sunset to sunrise every night. When the lights went out down in the boiler rooms not too long after the collision, the folks down there were not thrown completely into the dark. Orders were given almost immediately to get lamps to put up by the gauges of the boilers to augment the lighting down there. By time they brought those lamps forward from the engine room, the regular lights had come back on.

As I said earlier, I know of no evidence to suggest that any of the carbon arc cargo lights were ever lit that night. Even on the boat deck, it appears that lighting was adequate but relatively poor. One particular event comes to mind when Lightoller realizes that the lamp trimmer Hemming was still on board the ship and standing not very far from him. He recognized him by his voice.
 

Jim Currie

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I thought you might have some ideas on this Sam. I am aware of the lamps etc. and the DC relative low output lighting. Having said all that, I am very much interested as to how all these guys could recognise this one and that one if you get my drift?
You will recall that the worthy Senators kept asking 'did you recognise if these were first or second Class or was it Mr. So-and-so or Mrs what-day-ye-call her? etc. Perhaps a little more in-depth thinking in this direction might be fruitful?

Cheers,

Jim
 
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