Forward expansion joint


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Kathy A. Miles

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I have just been re-reading Lynch's Titanic Illustrated History, and on page 108 he mentioned that Phillips and Bride were having a hard time hearing the marconi, both because of the steam venting and also because of a hissing noise which seemed to be coming from the forward expansion joint outside the cabin.

I would think that the hissing would have been awfully loud to be heard over the steam venting. I'm concluding that from Lights comments about having to use hand signals to communicate for getting the boats ready. It also seems to imply that since they heard both at the same time, the noise from the expansion joint started early. I'm wondering just what can be inferred from this other than the obvious that it was displaced air? I'm wondering if this is evidence of damage to the hull from twisting stresses as it passed around the iceberg? I would think that if they heard it that so early (I believe I read that the steam vented for 1/2 hour,) it would not have been just as a result of water intake from the small gashes from the iceberg. I wouldn't think air could come up through the expansion joints all that easily so I"m thinking there was some other damage which affected the expansion joint. Can anyone add insight to this?
Thanks
Kathy
 

Erik Wood

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Hi Kathy,

Can you sight the testimony in either or both inquiries where the expansion joint is open that early in the event??
 
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Kathy A. Miles

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After reading Lynch's comments I checked the testimonies. What I found there was not absolutely conclussive. I read Cottam's testimony about how he had had to help PHillips with some messages because Phillips was having trouble hearing both because of the steam venting and the hissing through the forward expansion joint (actually they don't specify forward, but it was.) Cottam specifically mentioned Phillips was having trouble hearing the Frankfurt and the Olympic.

As for a specific time frame, when I read Lynch, it had made it sound to me as if both sound problems were occurring at the same time. That seemed reasonable assuming Phillip's conversations with the Frankfurt and Olympic occurred early. But these could also have been later conversations with the same ships. So I have to go back a step and say that my first impression was that it had been earlier, but I can't back that up substantially.

Cheers,
Kathy
 

Erik Wood

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My main purpose for asking is that an open expansion joint that early in the evening should mean a faster sinking based on the flooding patterns. Another question I would which I am not sure can be answer is, How open was the expansion joint during this time period? Was it broke open beyond it's capacity or just slightly apart?

I don't recall any other testimony stating an open expansion joint that early in the sinking, but it still interesting, any further info you can provide would be great.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Erik,

I hope that you are not insinuating that an open expansion joint directly contributed to flooding, but that it was rather an indicator of events happening below the strength deck.

Parks
 
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Kathy A. Miles

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Parks, no I'm not implying it had anything at all to do with flooding, merely that it might infer something about the damage which had occurred below.

Eric - I've been looking for more info about communication with the Frankfurt and it appears that all communications with that ship was within 20 minutes of Phillips first sending distress signals. The Frankfurt was the first to answer, and, according to Bride the last communication with the Frankfurt was 20 minutes after that.

I agree, it'd be hard to tell how far open it was. I am getting ready to move and don't have access to all my books so I can't answer questions such as: How long was it before the first distress signal went out? And then how long did the steam vent above? That will give us a few more clues. But if the steam was venting at the same time as the hissing from the expansion joint - I'd say it must have been awfully loud. I don't know enough about the expansion joint construction to get an idea of how much pressure it would take to force air through it. Any ideas?

Cheers,
Kathy
 

Erik Wood

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Without going into my theory deeply I am not imply that the expansion joint contributed to flooding by was the reaction of other things going on with in the structure. In April at Captain Week's event in Maine I am going to spill the beans on 4+ years of research regarding not only the expansion joint but the sinking in general.

The open expansion joint is piece of the large Titanic puzzle, but not the only piece. If you can't make it to Maine I will try to get you a copy of the power point presentation as well as the handouts right after the event. As you have my trust something prior to that may be arranged as soon as both are complete.
 
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The expansion joint did not penetrate the strength deck. As you may well know, the expansion joints were designed to allow the superstructure to flex atop the hull girder as it in turn flexed in a seaway. Therefore, I am puzzled by the reference to differential pressure forcing air through the joint. Where is this high pressure supposedly being generated in the superstructure?

I can understand noise being created by physical movement in the expansion joint. But escaping air? It just doesn't make sense to me. And Cottam's account doesn't really help much, especially since Bride doesn't corroborate the claim.

There are numerous vents atop the deckhouse in which the Marconi Room was housed. Maybe Phillips heard air rushing through those instead? We'll never really know.

Parks
 
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Erik Wood

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My question is not about steam being released from the expansion joint but by Kathy's theory that it happened so early in the evening and that it went unnoticed by all survivors that early in the sinking.

I am going to have to dig through some plans and bug Roy Mengot about the stuff in the area.
 
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Erik,

No, I know that you're not talking about steam...that was a separate issue. I'm referring to the assertion that air escaped noisily through the expansion joint, presumably expelled by differential pressure created by water entering the hull. It is the causal factors behind that assertion that I am failing to comprehend.

Parks
 

Erik Wood

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Ahhhh,

I am with you now. Sometimes it takes a hammer for my brain to click on. My wife can attest to that.
 
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Noel F. Jones

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Hissing from the expansion joint?

I would conjecture that this arose from fractured steam lines for such as space heating. Assuming these transited the expansion joint they would include expansion loops which may have failed when stressed beyond design tolerances.

I can think of no other reason why any hissing noise should emanate from an expansion joint.

Noel
 
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Kathy A. Miles

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I did a little more poking as far as time line, wish I had all my books available. The first distress call went out at 12:15 and Bride testified that the Frankfurt was the first to respond. There was a brief conversation then he testified that they had their last conversation with the Frankfurt about 20 minutes later which would make it around 12:35-12:40. Cottam specifically mentioned problems hearing the Frankfurt and mentioned both noise sources.

So whether it was hissing from damaged steam pipes, or escaping air from water intake, I'm saying given that it was so early, might that not imply something about the initial damage done?

Cheers,
Kathy
 

Rennette Marston

Rennette Marston
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606618c9b32b2adb593296f9fbb255ac.jpg

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From looking at the wreck photos and footage, it appears as though the forward expansion joint had opened at some point in the sinking. It is commonly accepted amongst most Titanic "experts" and the public that the Titanic's expansion joint opened when the bow hit the ocean surface. But there are accounts by eyewitnesses (Second Officer Lightholler, for example) that her expansion joint separated before the bow completely plunged and there was hissing from the opening (perhaps imprisoned air escaping?) Some theorize that the opening of the expansion joint caused the first funnel to detach and fall down.

Here's my idea of how it played out:

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This scenario also seems to correspond with a sketch made by Titanic survivor Bertha Watt which shows the vessel breaking into three sections. She witnessed the break-up from a lifeboat on the starboard side of the Titanic.

watt_sketch-jpg.jpg


What are your thoughts?
 
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Kate Powell

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Hello Rennette,

I am certainly no expert on this but to me your idea sounds plausible. The aft joint could have presented a weak spot in the structure with eventually the stress concentrated at this point having some effect, perhaps beginning, the break-up. I'm not sure the expansion joints penetrated very far down however, so not sure this accounts for the full break-up and sinking. Would very much welcome the opinion of others more knowledgeable on this.
 
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Rennette Marston

Rennette Marston
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The aft joint could have presented a weak spot in the structure with eventually the stress concentrated at this point having some effect, perhaps beginning, the break-up.

The aft joint did not play a huge role in the break-up of the Titanic, but the expansion joints would certainly open up due to the extreme stress and compression on the hull. But it is an intriguing idea, nonetheless.
 
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Jim Currie

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Hello there.
A great deal of fiction has been written on this subject

Expnsion joints in a ship were put there for a purpose. They compensated for the differential expansion between layers in a multi-deck superstructure due to unequal heat expansion and seaway stresses. Those who have been in a heavy head sea will recall the severe back and forth surging experiences after a heavy impact with a large wave.
However, they had only an indirect relation to the structural integrity of the hull itself, in that they prevented stresses propogating downward and adding to the existing stresses on the main hull strength members and theatening hull strength.
In the case of Titanic, her hull would bend first, then fail. After that, the failure would propogate upward causing longitudinal bending stress in the superstructure. The E Joints would open to maximum, then part completely.
 
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Rennette Marston

Rennette Marston
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Hello Rennette,

I am certainly no expert on this but to me your idea sounds plausible. The aft joint could have presented a weak spot in the structure with eventually the stress concentrated at this point having some effect, perhaps beginning, the break-up. I'm not sure the expansion joints penetrated very far down however, so not sure this accounts for the full break-up and sinking. Would very much welcome the opinion of others more knowledgeable on this.

Here's my new video on the Titanic sinking which demonstrates this idea.

 
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