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External differences between Titanic and Olympic

Discussion in 'Olympic Titanic Differences' started by Caleb, Jul 31, 2017.

  1. Caleb

    Caleb Member

    Hey, I was wondering what some of the external differences were between Titanic and Olympic.
    Ajmal Dar likes this.
  2. Kyle Naber

    Kyle Naber Member

  3. Harland Duzen

    Harland Duzen Member

    Welcome to ET Caleb!

    Olympic A-Deck Promenade was and aways remained open but Titanic and (eventually) Britannic had roughly 1/2 of it enclosed with openable sliding windows and a exterior partition to shield against the wind.

    Olympic's B-deck originally was a fully enclosed promenade but as passengers barely used it, Titanic instead had enlarged staterooms, a private promenade for some passengers and the addition of the Cafe Parisien and A la Carte Restaurant. (Post-disaster, Olympic was refitted with a similar design with a few colour changes and improvements).

    (If you look at pictures of the two, you notice Titanic's B-deck has more portholes

    Olympic used to have 20 lifeboats but Post-disaster was fitted with davits, more boats and collapsable along the full length of the Boat Deck totalling 64.

    Both ships have subtle differences to the Boat Deck and roof atop the officer's quarters such as more / less ventilation ducts, lights, windows etc. (e.g when the Marconi Room and quarters were moved inwards, a roof light was added so the operators had some natural light during the day).
    Ajmal Dar likes this.
  4. Kyle Naber likes this.
  5. Ajmal Dar

    Ajmal Dar Member

    Hi expert,

    I read somewhere that a difference between the Titanic and Olympic was that the Olympic had its bridge windows arranged in a curve but Titanic had no curvature to its bridge windows. Is this right.

    Kindest regards,

  6. Ajmal Dar

    Ajmal Dar Member


    You may already know this, but if you don't then here it is.There were a few other visual differences between Titanic and Olympic as follows:

    1. On Titanic B deck, the aft end of the deck had plating and windows whereas on Olympic, the aft end of B deck was open to the elements.

    2. Titanic forward end C deck had 16 portholes whereas Olympic had 14 portholes. When Olympic was refitted in 1913, it got the two extra portholes. I am not sure whether this was the case with both sides of the ship, but it was the case on the starboard side.

    3. Titanic's wing bridges extended over the sea by about 18 inches to 2ft. On the Olympic, the wing bridges were flush with the side of the superstructure. When Olympic was refitted in 1913, it's wing bridges were extended as per Titanic.

    4. The spacing of the windows for Titanic B deck were different to the spacing of the same windows on Olympic. Titanic's spacing were uneven, whereas Olympic's were even all the way along.

    As you already know, Titanic did not have promenade decks running along the length of it's B deck, but only a small amount of private promenade deck for the parlour suite on each side of the ship. The layout of the B decks of the two ships was quite different, but this was not apparent when looking at pictures of the outside of the two ships.

    You probably already know about all these differences but I just love writing about the Titanic! For me, the let down for the Olympic class ships (as well as not having enough lifeboats) was that they had two reciprocating engines which were old technology and I think it should have had triple turbines, as the Lusitania and Mauretania had these in 1907. The Olympic class design was quite conservative.

    Best regards,

  7. White Star didn't have access to the high-pressure turbine technology, such as Cunard did when they built Lusitania and Mauretania (one of the benefits they got along with their govt. subsidy for staying out of Morgan's IMM).
    And the turbines would have added a LOT to the ships' operating cost. Even though Lusitania and Mauretania were roughly 2/3rds the displacement of Olympic and Titanic, they consumed nearly a thousand tons of coal per day. White Star's ships averaged about 650 tons per day.
    Ismay was a penny-pincher. Economy of operation was a big consideration when designing Olympic and Titanic.


    "Mr. Lowe! Take a bosun's party and a Master-at-Arms, and get those children off the foc'sle at once!"
    Ajmal Dar likes this.
  8. Mike Spooner

    Mike Spooner Member

    Hi Ajmar Dar,
    You ask the deafferents between Olympic and Titanic. Well there was quite few changes made between the two ships. There is a very good book telling all the changes .TITANIC or OLYMIC WHICH SHIP SANK? By Steve Hall, Bruce Beveridge, Art Braunsceweiger and Mark Chirnside. All are expects. Its quite surprising how many changes were made from the front to the back of the ship. Decks changes on A, B, C,D & E. This is one of the main reason why without a shadow of doubt its the Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic and not the Olympic. The book covers the truth behind the conspiracy of the switch over of the two ships too?
    Engine choice? Now that can be controversial. I personal think under the leadership of William Perrie H&W fell behind on new technology of steam turbines. As by 1906 26 ships had turbines from eight different shipyards! Yes H&W did rather use old technology triple expansion engines with a low pressure turbine engine. The turbine was made under license from a arrival shipyard John Brown of Clyde side. Even the triple expansion had been succeed by quadruple expansion engine too! They are quick to mention the Lusitania and Mauretania are burning more coal. But they had brutal horse power turbines of 68,000-70,000 built for speed. As against Olympic class ships 46,000hp .As one looks at the third ship built for Cunard Aquitania all most the same as Titanic using similar turbine engines but detuned to 59,000hp using less coal with less speed. The price you pay for speed! However further development when gearbox were added a 15% improvement made. The turbines were only half the size and weight too. Space on any ship is premiere were more cargo can be carried.
    Olympic & Titanic could of used turbines. But since H&W were geared to make expansion engine and not turbines.Turbine were more costly to make and set up cost too. But I cant feel it was H&W best of interest to install the older type of engine and been payed for. Then there is the after sale for parts and repairs the benefit for H&W. More money is made in % after sale than new sales?
    If you want to the size of a triple expansion against a turbine same horse power. Come to the Kempton Steam Museum were both are there! Next steam up for the triple 17-18 June 2018. Turbine is not steam up were a eclectic motor as from this year has been added to turn over the engine with the engine covers lifted to exposed the working and water pump to. The triple is 800 tons. Yes smaller than Olympic class ship at 1,000 tons still four stories high. Including a further three stories below the engine for the water pumps. 62 feet high. Well worth seeing.
    I shall be at Southampton this weekend 27th to see a much smaller triple expansion engines in operation on the SS Sheildhall ship, the Titanic Theme from berth 48. Four berths from Titanic set sail from berth 44 on the 10th April 1912 The berth can be see today but under a security area as brand new cars transporter ships are in operation.
    Ajmal Dar likes this.
  9. It's a matter of economics. White Star did not wish to enter the costly speed battle. If they had, then the ships would have been powered by turbines as the Cunard greyhounds were. Instead, the company chose an old-fashioned, time-proven, and low-cost to operate design. Over the 25 to 30 year expected service life of the Olympic class White Star stood to make more profits by spending less on fuel.

    Passenger vessels take in money only once per voyage -- the day people board. After that, everything is expense from the meals to the lumps of coal in the furnaces. There are only two ways to increase the net/net bottom line profit: (1.) cut costs; or, (2.) raise ticket prices. Ticket prices are fixed pretty much by what the market will bear. A shipping company has to make a significant difference over its competition in order to raise prices without losing customers. For instance, reducing the five-day open ocean passage to four days. This means shaving a full 24 hours off the duration of the trip. Such an increase in speed was possible, but at great cost. As speed increase by the square, fuel burn goes up by the cube. So, those Blue Riband winners were in today's terms, "gas hogs."

    If you graph the amount of extra ticket value from a faster voyage against the increased costs, the results are disappointing. Depending on the power plant it is possible that the cost of fuel can never be offset by higher ticket prices. It was the overall high cost of speed that in modern times killed the Concorde despite a public demand for short, fast flights.

    "Up-and-down" triple expansion engines were well understood in the early 20th century. Designers over the previous 50 years had eliminated most of the causes for failure. This was their prime virtue -- dependability. A ship with a "blown" engine collects no ticket revenue while repairs are made at great cost. If that weren't enough, their relatively slow revolutions meant that less heat had to be put back into the boiler feed water to create steam. That's a fuel cost savings.

    Overall, the power plant of the Olympic class design was a wise choice for a company intent upon making profits hauling passengers.

    -- David G. Brown
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  10. Mike Spooner

    Mike Spooner Member

    Hi David,
    I would agree on some of your comments. However when it come to engine choice. You say quite rightly that H&W had eliminated most of the causes for failures for expansions engines. Therefore was a wiser choice to use a expansion engines? But the end of day they still used a turbine! Now if you are looking for the most reliable engine why they did they use three quadruple expansion engines? We hear they got the idea using the turbine as fitted into the Laurentic ship and prove to be 15% more efficient than other ship of simple size. The other ship Laurentic she is compared to with her sister ship Magantic. Question if the turbine proved to be the right choice for Laurentic why they not use it on the Magantic? After all the Laurentic was built first and maiden voyage 29 April 1908. As maiden voyage for Magantic 17 June 1909?. Or had they run into trouble with the turbine?
  11. Kas01

    Kas01 Member

    The problem with your statement, Mike, is that the Olympic-class came off the slipways with outboard screws powered by triple expansion engines, not quadruple expansion as was the case with Megantic (stupid name, in my not-so-humble opinion). The centerline screw was the turbine.

    Now the big thing was that, in service and at speed, Lucy not only vibrated, but vibrated so badly that unless some young lassies in steerage were ridiculously desperate for some special alone time, both second class and steerage were damn near uninhabitable.
    Ajmal Dar likes this.
  12. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    The most important statistic concerning a merchant ship...cargo or passenger, is her earning capacity. Basically, this means the amount of useable cubic space. A ship has two basic tonnages... Gross and Displacement.
    In 1912m Gross tonnage was reckoned in units of 100 cubic feet to the long ton.
    Displacement tonnage was simply the weight of water displaced by the ship when she floated. It was the weight of the ship and everything in her at a given time. The statistics Olympic and Titanic were as follows:
    Olympic...Gross 45, 324 tons. Displacement 52,067 tons.
    Titanic.....Gross 45, 328 tons. Displacement 52,310 tons.
    Differences 1, 004 tons 252 tons.

    The foregoing tells us that a Light ship, Titanic was 252 tons heavier than a light ship Olympic and had 100,400 extra useable cubic capacity. However, the external dimensions of the ships were almost the same.
    Unlike, Olympic, the forward end of Titanic's A deck on each side was enclosed. This area alone was almost enough to account for the extra 1004 gross tons.
    The extra steel, brass, and glass required for that enclosure would account for part of the 252-ton weight difference but not all of it.
    Hope this helps.
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  13. Military ships had been using turbines for only a few years when the Olympic class went on the drawing boards. HMS Dreadnought was the first all turbine warship when it was launched in 1906. H&W was just beginning iron work on the first two White Star vessels that year. A Navy can justify taking risks on new equipment if that results in a more effective warship. You only get one chance to lose a war. Lusitania, Cunard's first 4-stack greyhound, was built with all Parsons turbines. I have seen it published that Lucy's props were coupled to the turbines because reduction gears suitable to handle the power did not yet exist. This forced the ship's turbines to rotate far slower than the RPM for maximum efficiency. This problem was most noticed at slower speeds and less at high. In other words, the Parsons prime movers were far from perfect. They were more of a glimpse of the future than the best solution for a ship in the first decade of the 20th century.

    There is evidence that H&W recognized the future. Notice a turbine powered the center shaft of the design. As I recall, this turbine operated on less than ambient air pressure. It used the low pressure created by cooling steam from the two reciprocating engines. Good idea for squeezing every last ounce of thrust out of that expensive coal in the bunkers.

    Once reduction gears caught up with the power demands, turbines were able to run at more efficient speeds. That did not happen until about mid-way through WW-1 and four years after Titanic sank. Even so, there is no clutch pedal or gear shift lever on a steam turbine. They all rotate in one direction. This makes slowing, stopping, and backing down a problem. The installations I've seen solve the problem by adding a smaller reversing turbine. Steam is normally fed to the forward machine. If reverse is necessary, the engineers have to shut down steam to the forward turbine and then open the valves for the reversing turbine. Builds up muscles like Popeye's without the need for spinach. Some multi-screw ships only had reversing turbines on their outboard shafts. There's only so much room in an engine compartment.

    -- David G. Brown
  14. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    Not quite David. The first all turbine warship built for the Royal Navy was the Destroyer, HMS Viper commissioned in 1900. The RN also purchased another all turbine hull, which was converted into a destroyer that same year, commissioned as HMS Cobra however, Viper was the first ship built from the keel up for the RN.

    Yours Aye.

  15. Mike Spooner

    Mike Spooner Member

    Hi Kos 01 member,
    I think you must of misunderstand me or I did not put I across clearly.
    I am well aware the Olympic & Titanic wing engines were triple expansion with a centre turbine engine. The point is it been said that the expansion engine whether a triple or quadruple type are more reliable tried and tested than a turbine. Therefore is the safe choice to use.
    But in the end they have used a turbine engine! If the expansion engines are the right choice why didn't they use three quadruple as used on other ships for White Star.The first ship built for White Star by H&W to use this combination was the Laurentic maiden voyage 29 April1908. All evidence showed the ship was 15% more efficiency than other ships of the same size. But as for the sister ship Magantic built at a later a date maiden voyage 17 June 1909 the combination choice is dropped? Just two quadruple are used! Or had they run into problems with the turbine due to H&W lack of experience in turbine technology?
  16. Mike --

    Do you own any computers, tablets, or "smart" phones. The one thing that's obvious about these devices is that if you can buy one on the open market, it's already out of date. Change comes daily and sometimes hourly in the electronics field. Things were much the same back in the latter 19th and early 20th century with metallurgy, shipbuilding and power plants. Ships not yet completed were outdated by the laying down of a more advanced design. Dreadnought was a revolution because if was the first capital ship (major naval vessel) to come all-turbine from the builders.

    Even so, as you pointed out turbines weren't new. The first vessel to prove these machines could work was Turbinia built in 1894 by Ccharles A. Parson who invented the modern turbine a decade earlier. He commissioned Turbinia to prove his concept and that it did. At the Spithead Navy Review of 1897 it turned up 30 knots or so and cut didoes around the Royal Navy. Things weren't exactly "tickety-boo" with Turbinia. The problem of gearing down the high revs of the turbine to the slower revolutions needed by a propeller in water plagued development of the ship which, though fast was only about 12% efficient.

    Looking at the flux in shipbuilding of that period, it's obvious H&W with White Star's consultation decided upon a rather conventional design of proven reliability for the Olympics. Instead of being the most modern, they were to be the most reliable. Or, their prime movers were to be so. And, the career of "Old Reliable" RMS Olympic proved that point valid. The low pressure turbine was a clever idea to get one foot into the tent of modernity without risking too much on unproven equipment. If you really study the Olympics, though, they are twin screw vessels at heart, augmented with an auxiliary third screw at speed.

    One thing to understand is that the cost of a breakdown of an engine in a passenger ship is far more than just parts and labor to repair it. You have to add in the lost ticket revenue for trips missed while the vessel is incapacitated. And, there is the loss of "old" customers who are forced to try a different shipping line, find it to their liking, and never come back. There is also the cost in terms of lost crew. Key ratings could not sit ashore in those days. That meant no pay. They had to find other jobs on other ships. "Up and downers" were easily repaired in frame -- that is without removing the whole or even a substantial part of the machinery from the ship. Turbines not so much. Full teardown is needed to get a bad rotor out and tha'ts just for starters. Looking at the state-of-the-art in 1905 when the ships were just pencil marks on paper, I'm sure a lifetime cost/benefit analysis came out in favor of traditional reciprocating steam.

    Turbines developed rapidly in both size and reliability. However, had Titanic been an all-turbine ship, it would not have benefited one iota from those rapid improvements. Look at that I-phone you unboxed a year ago. There's a new one now, and yours doesn't have any of the alleged improvements and never will. You're stuck with outmoded technology. Saying that turbines would have been a better choice in 1916 or 1922 or any other particular year misses the point. If built with turbines, the OIympics would have been the same as an MS-DOS computer in a Windows-10 world.

    I've often pondered the question, "If Titanic had not foundered and had been brought back to H&W repairs, would the total cost have been greater than scrapping the damaged vessel and applying that money to completing Britannic or starting a 4th Olympic class steamer?" It's a hypothetical question with no answer in reality. History does not reveal its alternatives. But, we all need something to justify that third round of adult pop in the local public house.

    -- David G. Brown
  17. Harland Duzen

    Harland Duzen Member

    IF such a thing had happened, perhaps they could have copied what they did with the Suevic and remake a new bow section (provided there wasn't any greater damage to the keel or other parts of the hull).
  18. There is nothing built by hand of man that cannot be rebuilt or repaired no matter how bad the damage if you are willing to stand the cost. But, we'll never know what might have happened 'cuz it didn't happen. There are no alternatives in history...unless you're standing treat at the local grog shop.

    -- David G. Brown
  19. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    Perhaps they could have swapped the Titanic with the Britannic and....

    Oh wait, we've been down that road.

    Harland Duzen likes this.
  20. Mike Spooner

    Mike Spooner Member

    Hi Dave,
    You seem to dodge the question ask for by giving me a load computer unnecessary technology. The question was why a turbine was used, as the expansion reciprocal engine had a proven track record for reliability as the turbine was still in the development stage. Specially what H&W was doing was rather unconventional driving the turbine by the exhausted steam from the two triple expansion engines? Charles Parsons was already on to driving turbines from high pressure turbine to low pressure turbine and successful to. To drive a turbine from a piston reciprocal engine was different characteristic flow of steam. The first commercial ship to try this combination was the Otaki for the New Zealand shipping company by William Denny Clyde side. 7,420 ton 1908. The engine design was very much under Charles Parsons control. Parsons was never very knee on the idea as it did not offer the same smooth steam flow as from a high pressure turbine did. The first ship built by H&W with this combination was Laurentic for White Star maiden voyage 29 April 1909. This proved a 15% improvement on economy of other ships the simple size. However her second sister ship Magantic maiden voyage 17 June 1909 was not to have the turbine! Had they run into trouble due to H&W lack of experience in turbine?
    As great turbines are and the only form steam power engine still been used today to generator 80% UK electricity. Turbines are more delicate less roust and require greater accuracy in assembly too easy damaging the blades. If poperly maintance with the right person will outlast any piston expansion engine.
    Yes Olympic did well with this combination but not without her teething problems to start with. How many more ships were to use this combination? Looking at H&W ship listed I can see after Britannic only a further 11 ships were to use this combination before been dropped.
    Back to the first question why did they used a turbine which did not have the same track record as a reciprocal piston engine?