Firemen locked up


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Rolf Vonk

Guest
Hello dear people,

I have read some books long time ago with a little story about Titanic. In those two books, the firemen in the forward boilerrooms were locked up during the collision cause of the closing of the watertight doors. The horrible story said they drowned.

I was wondering if this was possible. I believe there were some passageways or gangways through the coalbunkers which lead to F deck. I believe they came out into the ash ejaculation places (if this is spelled correctly). But were there doors to these E.A. places? Some of them were, for example, behind third class cabins.

Any thoughts about this? I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

Rolf
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Dec 2, 2000
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While not going into the specific location, the Shipbuilder artical mentions the existance of escape ladders in each of the boiler rooms. This quote is from John Maxtone-Graham's reprint of the Shipbuilder artical and is found on Page 26 of Olympic & Titanic, Ocean Liners Of The Past;

"A ladder or escape is provided in each boiler romm, engine room, and similar watertight compartment in order that the closing of the doors at any time shall not imprison the men working inside, but the risk of this happening is lessened by electric bells placed in the vecinity of each door, which ring prior to their closing and thus give warning to those below."

Getting out wasn't a problem, keeping the water in was. While the doors were watertight, the trunks and the deck openings leading up and out were not.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Rolf Vonk

Guest
Hi Michael,

Thanks for the information. So there were possiblilities to escape. That could also conclude that the scene of Camerons movie (you know during the closing of the watertight doors) is rather exaggerated. You told about the openings trough the decks and I remember reading somewhere that the decks from Mauretania and Lusitania were waterthigt. Which decks were those? Lower or upper decks?

I'm looking forward to your respons,

Rolf
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Dec 2, 2000
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Hmmmmmmm...I'm not as well informed on the Lusitania and Mauratania as I would like to be so I can't offer you a good answer on that one. I'm looking at some diagrams in my Copy of The Shipbuilder, Volumn One,(Plate 5) but it seems that the highest the watertight bulkheads goes to is the Upper deck. If I read these right...and I may not be...the Lower Deck and portions of the Main Deck appear to be designed to be watertight.

If Eric Sauder is lurking hereabouts, he should be able to offer more information on this.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
R

Rolf Vonk

Guest
Hi Michael,

I don't have volumes of the Shipbuilder, but I try to imagine what you mean. I was wondering how a whole deck could have been watertight, cause when you have the ventilationparts and funnels go trough it, the deck isn't watertight anymore.

Regards,

Rolf
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Dec 2, 2000
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Good question. From what I've seen on any ship I've been on, vents and uptakes are sealed so as to be gastight and at least marginally watertight so there wouldn't be any direct way for water to get in. At least not through the decks.

Boiler uptakes would have to be gastight and fairly robust for obvious reasons....uh....unless you enjoy snorting boiler exhaust and carbon monoxide that happens to be red hot. I don't reccomend it, but to each their own.

Openings in vents where they exhaust or take in air a very different matter, and can cause headaches all their own. Back when I was assigned to the USS Ranger back in '81, some idiot with a chip on his shoulder and an empty cranium set fire to the wardroom on the 03 level. The smoke got into the vents and exhaused into Combat Information Central nearly a third of the way aft. The confusion caused meant that it took something like half an hour to pinpoint the source of the fire. Unless there is some way of isolating sections of vetilation systems,(Warships at least do have such features) water can get in the same way in a flooding compartment and spread to another.

Vent trunks I've seen typically have foundations or mounting points in the decks or bulkheads which are welded, bolted, or riveted in, and in places where the ducting can be removed, there is a gasket where the ducting is bolted in.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Cal Haines

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Dec 2, 2000
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Hi Rolf,

As Michael has already written, escape ladders were provided from all of the major compartments in the engineering spaces. Some of the smaller spaces had their own ladders, such as the area between the double bulkheads and doors just forward of the boiler rooms. Each boiler rooms had a ladder that went up the boiler casing, fore/aft of the uptake. They allowed access to Scotland Road, on E deck, and the boat deck.

This drawing shows the layout in boiler rooms #1 and #2:
Boiler Room Elevation
All Things Titanic - main page

Other than the weather decks, the only watertight deck was a portion of the orlop deck over the shaft alleys. Elsewhere the decks were solid, except where openings were made for various reasons: there were openings above the engine and boiler rooms for ventilation and for the boiler uptakes (flues); other types of openings included those for ladders, plus numerous holes for ducts, piping and the like. You will often see Titanic's system of watertight bulkheads likened to an ice-cube tray: once the water reaches the top of a bulkhead, so it is said, it just pours over into the next compartment. It is really not quite that simple. In a few places water could actually run over the top of a bulkhead, this was the case between the pairs of boiler rooms that share a funnel, but no where else (that I know of). Elsewhere, once a bulkhead is submerged below the waterline, water will flow onto the deck above the bulkhead, move aft and will then find its way below via the various openings. For example, water initially entered the Turkish Bath by flowing down the stairs from E-deck, above. I would not expect the water to drain into boiler room #4, below, very quickly because there were probably very few openings in the deck between.

The Ash Rooms on F deck were there to service the ash hoists, which were used in port. The ash hoists were in addition to the ash ejectors, which were used at sea. Not every ash ejector had a ash room above it, only the ones that happened to be located with an ash hoist. It would be possible to escape from a boiler room by climbing to an ash room, but from there the only was out was by opening the watertight door in the side of the ship and jumping into the sea. There was no exit to F deck from the ash rooms (as far as I know). The escape route from the boiler rooms was via the ladders inside the boiler casing.

The boiler room watertight door scene in the Cameron movie is very dramatic, but the layout is wrong. The watertight door from boiler-room #6 to #5 was at the end of a passageway about 18 feet long and a little over 5 feet wide. The movie shows the door as it would have been seen from the other side.

The decks above the boiler rooms could have been made watertight around the uptakes by means of watertight bulkheads and hatches. This was done on warships, but not on Titanic. None the less, except where there were ladders, the decks would be pretty good at slowing the flow of water. To make the boiler casing watertight, for instance, watertight bulkhead would be built to seal it off from each deck it passed through, with watertight doors where necessary. The boiler-room and casing would then form one large watertight compartment, open at the top. All the decks that the casing passed through would be sealed off from the casing and each would form one (or more) watertight compartments between the lateral watertight bulkheads. Every place that a pipe or cable passes through a watertight boundary the deck or bulkhead would be sealed around it. Sanitary drains need valves to seal them off from the space that they drain. Ducts need closures at each watertight boundary. Large watertight hatches are fitted to seal the decks where companion ways lead below decks. When a warship goes to "General Quarters", crewmen have to run around and close all these watertight fittings to make the various areas watertight, this typically takes five to ten minutes to accomplish. I would be surprised if any merchant ships have that level of watertight isolation.

Warm Regards,

Cal
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Hi Cal, and a little aside, on nearly every ship on which I served, the standard was to have what we called condition Zebra set in six minutes...with the CO turning into a fire breathing dragon if it wasn't made to happen that way.

I doubt if you'll ever see that degree of protection in a merchent vessel for several reasons, one of them being that it's rarely necessary and the other being the very high degree of training needed to get it right. Warships typically take a years worth of very intensive training to work up to that level of proficiency. The merchent marine just doesn't have that kind of time to play with or even the manpower.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Rolf Vonk

Guest
Hi there,

Thanks for the great information Cal! It's very interesting what you wrote. Am I right when I say that the ventilation for the boilerrooms came trough the funnels? I was allways thinking that it came through the fances beside the funnels. But It seems they were only used for the ventilation of the passenger and crew areas. Weren't the funnels and fances connected? What was then the function of the Fances beside the funnelspaces on F deck: ventilation for the boilerrooms or for the passengers and crew?

Like Michael said, it must be very difficult to protect a ship in such ways. I guess the fances of each different compartment, must have an own ventilationsystem, cause when they are connected, the danger stays. As Michael said about the little fire during his maritime experiences, it is hard to create a safe ventilationsystem. There is maybe one possibility to connect the ventilation systems on the upperdecks of a vessel. Than you have no danger of incomming water, but the danger of fire stays, isn't it?

I'm looking forward to your responses,

Rolf
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Cal Haines

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Rolf wrote:
Am I right when I say that the ventilation for the boilerrooms came trough the funnels? I was allways thinking that it came through the fances beside the funnels. But It seems they were only used for the ventilation of the passenger and crew areas. Weren't the funnels and fances connected? What was then the function of the Fances beside the funnelspaces on F deck: ventilation for the boilerrooms or for the passengers and crew?

Hi Rolf,

You have me a little confused by the word "fances", it's not an English word. Do you mean fans, that is motor-driven machines that move air?

Ventilation air for the boiler rooms came in via vertical ducts fore/aft of the boiler casings. There were two large fans, located on F deck, for each boiler room. To the best of my knowledge, those fans served only the boiler rooms. Ducts leading from the fans carried the air to four discharges on each lateral coal bunker, coming out about 7 feet above the stoking deck. If you look carefully in the boiler room drawing (Boiler Room Elevation) you can make out the ducts coming into the fan rooms from above and the ducts leading from underneath the fans to the boiler rooms (the horizontal part is just below F deck). The fans and ducts are also visible in this drawing: Boiler Room Section. Most of the air was drawn into the furnaces and went up the stacks. Hot air could also escape up the funnels, outside of the actual flue for the boilers.

One thing most people don't realize is how much air these furnaces required. For every pound of coal that is burned, about 2.5 pounds of pure Oxygen, or almost 11 pounds of air is required. With most of the boiler rooms burning about 8 tons of coal per hour, 88 tons of air per hour are needed! At 12.5 cubic feet per pound of air, that's 2.5 million cubic feet of air per hour. That should change the air in the stokeholds over 50 times per hour. Imagine what it must have been like to have been one of the stokers, with a duct blowing 32°F (0°C) air on your back and a 400°F (200°C) boiler in front of you!

Warm Regards,

Cal
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,641
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453
Easley South Carolina
Rolf, the really big danger with ventilation on any ship is not that water can get in and flood adjacent spaces, but that it can easily spread a fire. Especially if the vent is dirty. Once a fire is spreading through a vent, it can be absolute hell to isolate, much less track down the source of the fire itself.

Back in my Navy days, one of the routine maintainance checks we had to perform was cleaning out vents and filters. It was a time and labor intensive task, but it beats being burned to a crisp.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
R

Rolf Vonk

Guest
Hi there,

Cal, OOOOPPS I'm sorry to confused you! I meant indeed the fans. The word was not in my dictionary so I had to guess. I'm happy you did understand what I meant with "fances".

It took some time to study the paintings you mentioned in your topic. So, the air for the boilers came through the smokestacks and was blown by the fans into the boilers. It's amazing how much air the boilers required. I even didn't know that they needed air. I wonder how the stokers stayed fit in such circumstances!

What was the function of the ash ejectors? Were they connected to the boilers or to the coalbunkers?

Michael, I didn't know that it was needed to keep the vents clean. I thought it was logic that the wind in the vents took all the dust away. But I understand that dust, dirt etc. can be quit dangerous in combination with fire.

You can see the tops of Titanics most important fans on much pictures. They tops of the fans are covered with a grating. They are near both sides of the funnels. Were they connected to a kind of electronical system or was it just the wind blown in by the driving of the vessel which caused the ventilation? I don't know if an electronical "air-conditioning" system allready excisted back in 1912. Beside I wonder if you need "air-conditioning" on the Atlantic. It seems to be more needed on the pacific etc.

Hope to hearing from you soon,

Rolf
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Cal Haines

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Hi Rolf,

Air for Titanic's boilers did not come in via the smokestacks. It was drawn in via the large vent cowls, located on either side of the funnels, by the fans on F deck. Here is a model that shows the cowls:
Vent Cowl Detail -- Fine Arts Models
Fine Arts Models -- 1:48 Titanic Main Page
These are the large cowls that you see near the funnels. The smaller cowls were used to ventilate other areas of the ship.

The ash ejectors were used to dispose of ash from the boilers while at sea. The ash was the non-combustible elements from the coal that were left over after the coal had burned. It could be up to 20% of the mass of the coal--good coal had much less. Each of the double-ended boiler rooms had two ash ejectors. They were built into the coal bunker bulkheads and consisted of a hopper and an inclined pipe that discharged, via a curved section, at F-deck. In use, a large pump was run that pumped water at high pressure across an opening at the bottom of the hopper and up the discharge pipe. The ash was shoveled into the hopper and was carried away into the sea by the stream of water, sort of like a household toilet. On most ships, it was the job of a trimmer to clear away the ash after a fireman shoveled it out of the furnaces.

The ash ejectors could not be used in port, as they would have raised havoc with passing boats. Instead, ash hoists were used. Titanic was equipped with four of them, one for each of the ash rooms on F-deck. An ash hoist was simply a steam powered cylinder and cables that could hoist a bag filled with ash up to F-deck, where a man would lower it to the dock or a waiting barge.

Refrigeration equipment did exist in Titanic's day, but it was used to keep fresh food and some cargo cold. I can't recall now what ship had the first air conditioning for passenger spaces, but it was some time after Titanic.

Warm Regards,

Cal
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,641
457
453
Easley South Carolina
Sorry to say that they didn't have air conditioning back then, but as you correctly surmised, it wasn't really needed on the North Atlantic run. Even in the summer time, it can get mighty cold out there. This wasn't much of a problem for ships designed for this run as they had steam heating systems to keep people warm.

Dust doesn't have much of a problem building up in vents. Depending on conditions, it can cling to the metal almost as if glued there. The big headache is less cleaning the ducting itself as it is keeping the filters clean. They can get dirty mighty quick and once they get clogged up, they severely restrict the efficiency of the system.

As to the ash ejectors, their perpose, quite simply was to jettison ash from burned coal into the sea. I'd have to look over my diagrams when I get the chance, but you can bet they weren't connected to the coal bunkers. You want to burn the stuff befor you flush it into the ocean.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Rolf Vonk

Guest
Hi,

Thanks guys for the information and for the patience to clear things up for me. I was a bit confused about the fans, cause I was thinking they were used for the ventilation of the public areas. Now I understand that they ventilated the boilerrooms. The little cowls were for the public areas.

Their must have been inside pressure on the ash ejectors otherwise the water could enter the ship. With the ash ejectors I had the same impression as with the condensor (?) who was, I believe, used for the enginerooms. Does the condensor works via the same principle?

I'm looking forward to your responses,

Rolf
 

Cal Haines

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Dec 2, 2000
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Hi Rolf,

The ash ejectors discharged well above the load water line, so water pressure was not an issue, except perhaps when in rough seas. They had valves that could be closed keep water out when not in use. Quite a bit of pressure was used as the pumps had to carry a continuous stream of water and ash up the pipe.

The condenser discharges were above the light water line, but below the load water line. The circulating pumps were designed to operate with the discharges submerged. Not a problem, however, as they were the largest pumps aboard. Unfortunately, they could not be used to fight the flooding that doomed Titanic.

Warm Regards,

Cal
 

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