Foremast light


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Mar 3, 1998
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In the past, there has been discussion about whether the foremast light was electric or oil-fired. I finally got to examine the actual light recovered from the wreck yesterday and can say with complete certainty that it was electric.

I can also say that I was wrong when I stated in earlier discussions that electrical contact was made through a tongue-and-groove arrangement on the back (which was hinted at by Matt Tulloch during one of our personal correspondences). Instead, there are two rings on the back of the lamp housing that slid over short guide poles on the mast. So where was the electrical connection made? I found a small threaded conduit on the underside of the lamp...a wire evidently entered the lamp housing there through a watertight gland.

Parks
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Interesting news Parks. Thanks for sharing that. Can't say as I'm entirely surprised though. Electricity rather then oil would make for one less daily chore to have to deal with by way of fueling the thing. When was this light recovered and where did you see it?
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Parks!

>In the past, there has been discussion about >whether the foremast light was electric or
> oil-fired.

Were you referring to the controversy about an oil-fired *mainmast* light? (To the best of my knowledge, it has always been accepted that the foremast was equipped with an electric light.)

All my best,

George
 
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<font color="#000066">Were you referring to the controversy about an oil-fired *mainmast* light? (To the best of my knowledge, it has always been accepted that the foremast was equipped with an electric light.)

No, I'm talking only about the foremast light here. You may know that the foremast light was electric, but there have been others who argued differently. Recovery of the lamp housing itself didn't help matters because somewhere along the way the interior was gutted, leaving an empty housing. With no electric assembly inside, some people felt free to speculate. I myself "knew" that the lamp was electric, based on the ship's drawings, the contemporary use of that light on similar vessels, and what I knew of the artifact as described by others. It wasn't until this past Saturday that I was able to examine the light housing for myself and confirm my assumptions.

The one thing that I didn't know before this was how the electrical connection was made. Now I know half the answer: I know that a wire exited the lamp housing and from where. What I still don't know is exactly where that wire ran after it exited the lamp. I assume that it entered the mast at some point, through either an existing opening (such as the crew entry) or a hole drilled just for that purpose. I suspect the former, because there had to be enough slack in the wire to allow for the lamp to be lifted and removed for servicing.

Another interesting detail about the lamp, which you can see in every picture of the artifact, are the baffles on either side of the lamp, installed to restrict the emitted light to the fixed 225 deg. arc required by the International Rules. The two heavy brass loops on the back of the lamp housing each incorporate a hand-turned screw to clamp the light firmly to the guide poles on the mast. This evidently kept the lamp from moving and showing light outside the prescribed 225 deg. arc. I now understand even better the need for the ladder that ran up the side of the mast to allow for servicing of the lamp.

I don't know how RMST was able to pry the lamp loose from the mast. I don't know if they managed to pull the lamp off the guide poles, or if when pulling on the lamp the steel guide poles broke loose from the mast. I would suspect the latter.

Parks
 
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Brian Hawley

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Parks are you talking about the small hole in the base of the light on the right side?

Brian
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Mar 3, 1998
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Yes, that's it. I hadn't seen this picture before...would maybe have answered my question sooner. You can't tell from this picture, though, that the conduit is threaded. Good depiction of the underside of the lamp housing, though. Do they have one showing the back?

Parks
 

Erik Wood

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Aug 24, 2000
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Don't worry Parks,

I took care of it. Moderator Man fights off the double post terrorist again.
 
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Brian Hawley

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No image showing the back of the lamp Parks, but a grand one showing the lamp still attached to the mast. You can see what I believe are the remains of the electric cord exiting the conduit. It appears the breaking off of steel from the mast helped weekend the lamps attachment, it’s a bit tipped back and its flanges are not flush. Does anyone remember RMSTs promise not to rip items from the wreck? Not that I mind I would subscribe to a highly proactive salvage scheme. I must say Corbis.com is a must see, they have 26 pages of images related to Titanic. Many are wreck shots I have not seen before.

Brian
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Brian Hawley

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By the way Parks, what are the other items on the underside of the lamp?

Here is another shot I like from Corbis. Supposedly this is where a ventilator that was blown away in the sinking went down past the corridor leading to the 1st class lounge. The floor tiles in that corridor still look great!

Brian
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Brian Hawley

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And finally one image of the wing bridge. Lots of fixtures still attached to the cab any clue what they were for?


Brian
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Brian Hawley

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Upon further consideration I don't think that is the lamp cord coming out of the housing. I think it’s the port side flange curling off the lamp itself.

Brian
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Brian,

I agree with your last...that's the other baffle, that was evidently deformed at some point during the sinking process. The one picture of the underside is great, because I can see how the guide poles were mounted on the mast! Seeing how the lamp assembly was bent back against the mast, I don't see how RMST could have slid the lamp up and off the guide poles. I would speculate that the steel base for the guide poles was corroded and broke from the mast after a bit of pressure was applied. Thanks for pointing me to these photos.

By the way, this latest photo of the masthead light on the mast appears to be flopped. The conduit is on the wrong side.

The fixtures in the cab wing are the fog signal controls. You can see duplicates in the Olympic bridge photo.

Parks
 

Dan Cherry

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Dec 14, 1999
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Brian,
if I am not mistaken, the picture of the hole with the floor tiles visible is actually of the third class entrance under the poop deck. The roof is peeled back, exposing the third class public rooms. There is video of this flyover in the 1991 US-Canadian-Russian expedition.
 
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Brian Hawley

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You are right Dan, I have been told by someone who has been to the wreck that a fair amount of tiles can be seen in the second and third class areas down there. The info I posted on ET is what was on the corbis image Ralph White took. However that is of little value judging by some dates on Olympic photos and Vanderbitl images they have on the site.

Brian
 

Dan Cherry

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Dec 14, 1999
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Brian,
yes, the stern flyover showed a lot of black and white tiles in this area. I notice that one of the perimeter railings around the opening to the shaft was still fixed to the wreck (upper right) when the photo was taken. The open level would be the poop deck level - a photograph of this steerage entrance area on Olympic can be found in several books on Titanic...
 
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