Emergency Stop in Engine Room?


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Aaron_2016

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Quite a number of survivors stated the engines stopped suddenly. Others felt a long vibration and thought they were going full astern. Was it possible that the engines did stop suddenly by pulling a lever (as shown in Cameron's Titanic) and would this create an enormous cavitation which created the impression that the engines were reversing full speed astern when they really were not, and the cavitation continued as the iceberg passed the ship? e.g.


Jane Hoyt
"We were roused by a noise which seemed to indicate that the engines of the ship had reversed. (Cavitation?) I looked out of the stateroom window and saw something white passing by."

Quartermaster Rowe thought "the engines were going full speed astern" when he saw the iceberg pass the stern. (Cavitation of engines stopping suddenly?)

Quartermaster Hitchens said the engines stopped "immediately".

Gladys Cherry
"We were awakened by an awful sort of bang and the engines stopping suddenly."

Frederick Scott said there were two main telegraphs and two emergency telegraphs. He testified that all four rang together and that they indicated 'stop'.

Several survivors looked down at the sea when they saw the iceberg off the stern and they believed the ship was completely stopped or almost completely stopped in the water.

Samuel Rule was in his bunk on E-deck not far from the engines. He told the British Inquiry that he felt the engines stop suddenly and then he felt a strong vibration (Cavitation) and heard the bells ring to close the watertight doors. So he felt the engines stop before the watertight doors closed.

Q - What woke you?
A - The stoppage of the engines.
Q - Did you feel any shock before that?
A - No.
Q - Did you think that something was wrong?
A - I thought so when the ship stopped suddenly.
Q - Did you notice anything further with the engines?
A - Not until she went full speed astern. (Felt a strong vibration - Cavitation of stopped blades?)
Q - You did notice that?
A - I noticed that and the electric bells going in the fidley.
The Commissioner: Does he say full speed astern?
The Attorney-General.) Yes, that is what he said.
Q - You noticed the engines had been reversed?
A - Yes.
Q - I am not sure whether it was after that or at the same time that you heard the electric bells go to close the watertight doors?
A - The same time.


May Futrelle
"I felt a shock and a kind of shiver of the ship. It was so slight that it did not disturb anything but I sat up in bed. I heard the engines pounding below, reversing. (Cavitation?) For about twenty seconds, I should say, this pounding continued. Then followed another shock, scarcely heavier than the first.....Two distinct shocks."

Joseph Scarrott
Before he saw the iceberg he said - "It seemed as if the ship shook in the same manner as if the engines had been suddenly reversed to full speed astern, just the same sort of vibration, enough to wake anybody up if they were asleep."

Virginia Clark reportedly heard the engines give an 'immediate stop with a death-like stillness.'


Is it possible that they did crash stop and the cavitation caused a tremendous vibration to run through the ship at the same time the bell to close the watertight doors rang?


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coal eater

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imagine that you drive car with your safety not plugged over your body now you push brakes with full force,car wont stop instantly tires will give terrible sound and you will be catapulted fro your car throught front window causing serious damage to your body.

now take crash stop on titanic,titanic stops engine in one second and what would happen? crankshaft would be grinded and destroyed possibly piston rods would flex and jam the pistons in cylinders for good.
 
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Aaron_2016

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Thanks, although the newspapers are filled with reports of ocean liners slamming their engines full speed astern to avoid collisions, with no reports of trouble to their engines. Didn't they test this manoeuvre on the Titanic's sea trials just 2 weeks earlier and also on the Olympic? Can't understand why they would be given the option to 'crash stop' and go full astern if they knew it would result in serious damage to the engines? It reminds me of a high speed locomotive that is racing at 60 or 70 miles per hour and someone pulls the emergency cord. The train will slam on its breaks and the wheels of the train will slide across with sparks flying until the train has come to an immediate full stop.

Is it possible that it did occur on the Titanic and that the engineers did a great job at handling the situation? The lookouts were told to be on alert for ice, and the officers were aware there might be ice ahead. My guess is, the engineers were also told to be handy in case they run into some ice.


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Rancor

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The lever that was shown pulled in Cameron's movie is the reversing gear which alters the valve timing on the engine. On small model steam engines it seems possible to go from full ahead to full reverse instantly with no fear of problems, but I'm not sure if on full size engines you would want to shut the steam supply off first. In the movie they show the chief shutting the throttle before throwing the engines into reverse and then applying steam while they are still coasting to a stop. I'm sure someone will be able to let us know if that is a realistic depiction or not.
 
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Aaron_2016

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Interesting. Would be fascinating to see the stresses involved and if the sudden stoppage of the gears had some how fractured the hull which did not become apparent until the stern began to lift which accelerated the fracture and caused her to buckle much sooner than expected. I understand Captain Smith went to the engine room soon after the collision. Wonder if he was concerned that the engines were damaged, or more importantly if the engines had damaged the ship.

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The hydraulic coupling of propeller to water is not analogous to rubber on macadam. Slip is not only inevitable in propellers, it's also a necessary for them to operate. So, it is possible to "crash back" a vessel in a manner which would send parts and pieces flying off an automobile. In addition, steam in a cylinder has been described as "elastic." This property also helps when making a safe "crash stop." That said, it's not something that is done as a matter of course. In sea trials it tests the mettle of the whole system against the greatest possible strain expected during the ship's service life. If things go well, that should be the last time the maneuver is attempted as it is a sure indication of poor seamanship to get into a "crash back" situation in the first place.

TOf course, emergency situations do arise. A friend (sadly, not passed) was aboard a US Navy aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Sea just after WW-2. A ferry somehow found itself in front of the man o' war. To avoid a nasty situation and a lot of paperwork the OOD crashed back and stopped just short of collision. Men sleeping in berthing areas above the screws were thrown from their bunks like dolls in a washing machine. My friend escaped injury, but he said several men sported casts on arms and legs later that day.

As for the engineers being told about ice...just wishful thinking. Ice in the form of bergs was the concern of the deck officers. The engineers would be warned of freezing conditions to protect against internal ice damaging the plumbing system of the ship.

A full crew of engineers is on duty while entering or leaving port, or operating in crowded areas where quick maneuvers are expected. This is usually called a "maneuvering watch" in US vessels. The IMM/White Star "rocks and shoals" book paragraph 402 makes this implicit in its instructions to Chiefs. "His presence in the Engine Room when the ship is entering or leaving port, docking or undocking, or in any other special circumstances, is imperative."

On a trans-Atlantic passage the engines would be set for the desired speed after taking departure. The throttles and cutoffs may not have been touched on some voyages for four or more days. There was no need for a maneuvering watch. Instead a smaller number of men would be on duty in what is called a "sea watch." Their job was to maintain and oversee the operation of the equipment, but not necessarily to be stationed for immediate speed or direction changes of the engines.

The IMM/WSL rules book was more explicit: "410.Special Watches At Sea. -- In cas of orders to "stand by" whilst at sea on account of foggy weather or otherwise, a special watch will be appointed and written out by the Chief Engineer, and posted in the Engine Rooom....."

There is no evidence of the "special watch" specified in 410 was ever called out on the day or evening of Titanic's iceberg encounter.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Aaron_2016

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Cheers. I thought the bell rang to the close watertight doors during the collision, yet Samuel Rule said the engines stopped first and then he felt them reverse, and only then did he hear the bell ring. He was near the aft section. Is it possible that the power went off in some of the boiler rooms and stopped the bell from ringing, and when the power came back on the bell began to ring?

Sam Rule

Q - What woke you?
A - The stoppage of the engines.
Q - Did you feel any shock before that?
A - No.
Q - Did you think that something was wrong?
A - I thought so when the ship stopped suddenly.
Q - Did you notice anything further with the engines?
A - Not until she went full speed astern. (Felt a strong vibration and mistook that for the engines going full astern?)
Q - You did notice that?
A - I noticed that and the electric bells going in the fidley.
Q - You noticed the engines had been reversed?
A - Yes.
Q - I am not sure whether it was after that or at the same time that you heard the electric bells go to close the watertight doors?
A - The same time.

I'm puzzled how he managed to feel the engines stop before he felt the vibration and heard the bell ring to close the watertight doors afterwards. Murdoch was at the lever when Olliver arrived on the bridge and Hichens said the Captain rushed out and said "What is that?" - present tense, which suggests the vibration was still occurring when the Captain enquired "What is that? and according to Sam Rule the bell was ringing below decks at the same time as the vibration. I find it strange that he felt the engines stop before all of that occurred.

Was it possible to turn a lever which allows the engines to continue to run but stops them pounding and this created a sudden silence which woke Samuel Rule and then he heard the vibration and the bells ringing? Like cycling at 30mph and lifting the bike's wheels off the ground so that no sound is made but the wheels are still turning?


Also I am puzzled why Fred Scott testified that all 4 telegraphs rang together (two main and two emergency) and that the order received was 'Stop'. Yet Fred himself said:

"They cannot stop the engines at once."
Q - That is what I want. They cannot stop them at once?
A - No; they are bound to let the steam get out of the cylinder first, otherwise they would blow the cylinder covers off if they tried to stop them at once.
Q - You would not know how long it would take to stop the engines?
A - No, I do not.

If that is true then does that mean the reversing gear could not be engaged at that speed and ordering a crash stop would still require a great amount of time to achieve? Yet survivors looked over the rail and saw the iceberg and believed the ship had already come to a full stop, or almost. It is baffling how that was achieved.


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Rob Lawes

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Once again you are dealing with the problems of survivor testimony.

Look at the evidence provided by Scott in the Turbine room, Dillon in the Engine Room and Barrett in Boiler Room 6.

All agree that the order to stop was given.

Barrett sang out close the dampers and just as they were shutting them the crash came.

Dillon estimated the Engine telegraphs rang about 2 seconds before the crash.

Scott said the crash occurred and then all engine telegraphs rang stop.

Three witnesses, agree a bit, disagree a bit. Who is right?
 
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Aaron_2016

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Barrett was also questioned aboard the Olympic and changed his story.

nytbarrett1-png-png.png


I recall another statement were Barrett said there were two shocks and that he saw the order 'stop' appear after the first shock, but before the second shock. A number of survivors believed there were two shocks. This could explain the discrepancy in the order to stop engines - if it rang after the first shock and before the second shock. According to survivor Edith Rosenbaum there were three shocks.
 

B-rad

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Dillon claims there were two telegraph orders, one 2 seconds before any 'shock' and one 1 1/2 min later.
Scott claims no telegraph until after shock.
Hichens claims two telegraph orders also: One with order for 'hard-a-starboard' and then another one, "But, during the time, she was crushing the ice, or we could hear the grinding noise along the ship's bottom. I heard the telegraph ring, sir."
Boxhall only claims to have heard the telegraphs once. His timing seems to line up with Dillion's first telegraph.
What happened in the boiler rooms only shows us that 'stop' was done before the collision. Any reverse order would not have been known by the boiler rooms as full steam would have been still generated. The testimony from the boilers make it sound as if the order was given almost immediately before the ship opened up. If this was the case than the 2 point turn time comes into question.

As far as crash stopping Titanic could be thrown into a crash stop at any speed. Ideally one would monitor the throttle, then throw the ship into reverse, but during a crash stop it was written in period text that the engines should be thrown and then regulate the throttle, for getting the engines going was more important, though such pressures could damage engines, but this is an after thought- you can always tow a ship.

A story of a ship (whose name is not given) would be published in the 'International Marine Engineering'. The author would relate how the ship was powered by, '...two triple expansion engines with four cylinders, the arrangement being forward low-pressure, high-pressure and intermediate-pressure, and after low-pressure. The engines were of inverted type, with a combined power of 16,000 horsepower.” While steaming at '70 revolutions', 'something let go in the port high-pressure cylinder'. “The throttle was closed at the first crash and the reversing gear thrown-over, stopping the engine within eight or ten revolutions.”https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.o...Articles/1140/Eleven-Forty Titanica.odt#_edn1 What this tells us, is that, if this is indeed a true story, the engines were stopped in around 10-12 seconds, having regulated the throttle. Interestingly this engine sounds exactly like the Olympic class engines.


As far as Rule, I find his testimony too confusing to be a good source as to what happened when, his testimony just seems to confirm that certain events happened.

https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.o...icles/1140/Eleven-Forty Titanica.odt#_ednref1 The Penberthy Engineer & Fireman Vol. 20; January 1913 (page 69)

[ii] 70 revolutions a minutes divided by 60 seconds equals 1.17 revolutions per second.
 
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Hichens claims two telegraph orders also: One with order for 'hard-a-starboard' and then another one, "But, during the time, she was crushing the ice, or we could hear the grinding noise along the ship's bottom. I heard the telegraph ring, sir."

The second one might have been the reply from the engine room which Hichens heard.
 
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coal eater

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i have done crash stop on my kawasaki motorcycle. from maximum speed to full stop and results were had,almost fell from my machine but notthing wrong happened.

ship engines usually wont be damaged by going from full ahead to full astern without slowing down and reversing but this would be very painful for cranshafts,brearings. i talked to friend that works on oil tankers and in emergencyc ase this can be done but afer that inspection would be handy to see if cranshafts are not flexed.they did have one incident with it but not severe,crankshaft just "disassembled itself" when engine went from full ahead to full astern with no stop between.

also in titanic case,if there was stop or crash stop this would be mentioned,only stop was and no full astern because if full astern all steam supply would continue and boilers would not need to be shut down but there was stop and not needed boiler had to be shut down and steam wented.
 

Rancor

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After rereading this thread I'm a bit confused, are we talking a 'crash stop' in terms of going from full ahead to full astern on the engines in the shortest time possible in order to take the way off the ship, or just stopping the engines quickly?

If the latter I assume you would close the throttles as quickly as you can. Or would you throw the reversing gear over and manage the throttle as you close it allowing a small amount of steam to bring the engines to a stop quicker instead of allowing them to coast to a stop? Would it make much of a difference?
 

Tim Aldrich

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A trip over to YouTube to search "Kempton Park steam engine" is recommended. Though the engine is working pumps and not propellers it is the closest thing to an Olympic class steam engine we'll ever see. The video I watched shows start up and a nice walk around the engine showing the various gauges. The engine is turning about 15-20 rpm from what I recall. Try to imagine that massive engine doing 70rpm and then instantly having the reversing gear thrown over to astern. I'm no marine engineer, just a humble diesel mechanic and hobby machinist, but the thought of instantly reversing any engine (especially a massive steam engine) just sets off all sorts of warning bells and red flags in my head. From what I know about steam engines (self-taught and not an expert) my gut feeling is that the process shown in JC's movie would be pretty much how it would have looked.

Again, I'm not an expert. This is just my opinion regarding any possible full ahead to full astern order.
 
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Aaron_2016

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After rereading this thread I'm a bit confused, are we talking a 'crash stop' in terms of going from full ahead to full astern on the engines in the shortest time possible in order to take the way off the ship, or just stopping the engines quickly?

No problem. I'm trying to understand why survivors like Samuel Rule felt the engines suddenly stop and the pounding ceased, and then afterwards he heard the watertight doors close and felt a vibration which made him believe the engines were going full astern. Trying to fathom how it was possible for the engines to stop so suddenly before Murdoch closed the watertight doors.

Here are four theories.

- The emergency telegraphs ring 'stop'.
- The engines crash stop.
- Sam wakes up and feels the engines have suddenly halted.
- The iceberg strikes.
- Murdoch closes the watertight doors.
- Sam hears the bells ringing and a strong vibration as the ice passes underneath the ship and he mistakes that for the engines going full speed astern.


- The emergency telegraphs ring 'stop'.
- The engines crash stop.
- Sam wakes up and feels the engines have suddenly halted.
- The iceberg strikes, but he's so far aft that he doesn't feel it.
- Murdoch closes the watertight doors.
- Sam hears the bells ringing and a strong vibration as the cavitation of the stopped blades or the strong vibration of a lost blade creates the impression the engines are going full speed astern as the liner shakes from 'stem to stern'.


- The emergency telegraphs first ring 'stop' and then 'full astern'.
- The engines crash stop or the reversing gear is pulled.
- Sam wakes up and feels the engines have suddenly halted.
- The iceberg strikes.
- Murdoch closes the watertight doors.
- Sam hears the bells ringing and a strong vibration as the engines start reversing.
- The engines go slow astern as they build up towards full astern, but Captain Smith orders them to stop.


- The emergency telegraphs ring 'stop'.
- The iceberg strikes.
- The engines do not crash stop, but simply come to a gradual stop.
- Murdoch closes the watertight doors but the power has gone out in the boiler rooms near Sam and the bell does not ring.
- Sam wakes up and notices the ship has stopped. The power comes back on in the boiler rooms and the bells start ringing in some of the rooms with a delayed effect.
- The engines are going slow astern or slow ahead at this time and Sam mistakes that for full speed astern.


.
 
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Jim Currie

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A trip over to YouTube to search "Kempton Park steam engine" is recommended. Though the engine is working pumps and not propellers it is the closest thing to an Olympic class steam engine we'll ever see. The video I watched shows start up and a nice walk around the engine showing the various gauges. The engine is turning about 15-20 rpm from what I recall. Try to imagine that massive engine doing 70rpm and then instantly having the reversing gear thrown over to astern. I'm no marine engineer, just a humble diesel mechanic and hobby machinist, but the thought of instantly reversing any engine (especially a massive steam engine) just sets off all sorts of warning bells and red flags in my head. From what I know about steam engines (self-taught and not an expert) my gut feeling is that the process shown in JC's movie would be pretty much how it would have looked.

Again, I'm not an expert. This is just my opinion regarding any possible full ahead to full astern order.
Hello Tim.

There was a coal trimmer named Dillon stationed in the main engine room during nthe emergency sequence. Here is his evidence. It gives you an idea of timing:

715. Did you feel the shock when the ship struck? A: - Slightly.
3716. And shortly before that had the telegraph rung? A: - Yes.
3717. Can you say at all how long before she struck that was?
A: - Two seconds.
3718. What was the order given by the telegraph? A: - I could not tell you.
3719. You just heard it ring. Then a few seconds after that you felt a slight shock?
- Yes.
3720. Was anything done to the engines? Did they stop or did they go on? A: - They stopped.
3721. Was that immediately after you felt the shock or some little time after? A: - About a minute and a half.
3722. Did they continue stopped or did they go on again after that?
A: They went slow astern.
3723. How long were they stopped for before they began to go slow astern? A: - About half a minute.
3724. For how long did they go slow astern? A: - About two minutes.
3725. Two or three did you say? A: - Two minutes.
3726. And then did they stop again? A: - Yes.
3727. And did they go on again after that? A:- They went ahead again.
3728. For how long? A: - For about two minutes.
3729. Then did they stop the boat after that? A: - Yes.
 
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Julian Atkins

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I have stopped and reversed many miniature steam locomotives by pulling the reverser lever over from forward to 'backgear' with the regulator opened. It is quite fun to do! This has been on portable 'up and down' tracks as opposed to a continuous track that comprises a circuit. Never any mechanical problems as a result. In fullsize you would close the regulator momentarily whilst doing this on a steam locomotive with lever reverse.

Titanic was a bit more complicated as it also had the turbine, and effects on the condenser, but I have not the slightest doubt that the massive machinery of the compound steam engines would have suffered no damage in a sudden stop, then immediate reverse into backgear. The strain would have been taken by the prop shafts and their massive thrust bearings and the propellors.

Cheers,

Julian
 
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coal eater

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engine itself cant be damaged from going full ahead to full astern.but strain to material can eventually lead to some malfunction,i think one of british or american WW2 aircraft carriers had once gone from full ahead to full astern and something wrong went here so propeller shaft flexed and demolished few decks.
was it british hms illustrous?

crash stop on titanic technically was possible,but never was done at all. we all know the metalurgy in 1900 years was not best so crash stop probably would be not healthy for engine peripherials.
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi 'coal eater',

I don't know about Harland and Wolff, but by 1905 most major UK railway companies that built steam locomotives had established scientific metallurgy testing labs.

now take crash stop on titanic,titanic stops engine in one second and what would happen? crankshaft would be grinded and destroyed possibly piston rods would flex and jam the pistons in cylinders for good.

There is no way the crankshaft of the compound reciprocating steam engines on Titanic could be damaged. They were massively built with bearings between each crank and at each end. The idea that a piston rod would flex and jam the pistons is just silly. The piston rod is very accurately guided by the crosshead in the slidebars. The piston rod cannot do anything but go up and down perfectly guided.

Cheers,

Julian
 

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