Grandstair Pelligrino and Cameron's idea


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Kathy A. Miles

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I'm just reading Pelligrino's "Ghosts of Titanic." I don't necessarily trust Pelligrino, as he's a bit free with his historical fact, but I do respect him as a scientist. I was also surprised to read about Cameron's science/engineering background.

Starting on p172, Pelligrino describes how he and Cameron think that the grandstair likely came loose and floated out of the top of Titanic when the ship was still near the surface.

This was contrary to Ballard's theory that the grandstair just got eaten by the woodeating critters down there.

Pelligrino's and Cameron's evidence for this is that other places the wood is intact. And, if the grandstair had stayed in place to the bottom and then been eaten, the iron and brass parts which the woodloving critters didn't like would still be there.

But if that was the case, why wouldn't the iron eating critters go for the remains of the grandstair? They've gone for a lot of other stuff.

I'm curious to hear what others think about their theory.
Cheers,
Kathy
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Can't say as I buy it. I understand the construction was pretty rugged, and that is one mighty small hole it would have to just slide up through.

Quite a bit of wood bobbed up to the surface, but consider that the breakup happened in the area of the aft grand staircase...an area where just about nothing survived intact.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Oct 28, 2000
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A staircase rising out of the depths like a wooden tombstone is a powerful Hollywood image, but only that.

As Michael points out, the hole above the stairway was mighty small. And, in 1912 it was filled with the remains of both the glass dome and its protective covering. Even if the entire stair unit could have come adrift in one piece, I can see no way for it to have snaked its way out of that jagged hole. This would have been doubly true if the forward half of the ship was tilted down as is shown in most of the sinking scenarios.

The mechanism by which the whole unit could have come adrift baffles me. I have seen a single #8 wood screw defy the efforts of two men who were trying to remove a plank from a boat with steel crowbars. For the stairway to rise as a unit would require the severing of every fastener that held it into the ship.

The disappearance of the wood in the stairway is probably best explained by the differences in the species of woods used for various purposes on the ship. Even the hardest of wood is really nothing more than dense lettuce. It will decay. Some woods, like teak, have a high natural resistance to decay. Others, like oak and pine, do not. Also, the opening at the top of the stairway where the dome should be allows better circulation of water than in other portions of the interior. I would expect this circulation would have brought a steady supply of wood-digesting microbes to the bankquet provided by the stairway.

As Michael pointed out, the after stairway was really in harm's way that night. It must have been torn apart as the ship broke apart. Lots of pieces of that stairway do exist because they did float free--but not as an architectural unit.

Whenever someone makes an astounding claim, always ask for corroboration. Look for the footnotes. Which eyewitness saw the staircase rise out of the depths? What question during the BOT hearings refers to this event? Which ship sighted the full grand staircase on the morning after? Where did large pieces wash ashore? What are the special design features of the stairway that would allow it to rise in one piece? What are the dimensions of the stairway; and, is the dome opening large enough to admit the stairway as a unit?

If the author does not provide plenty of sources for his claims, then those claims must be considered only as idle speculation. Documentation is the name of the game.

-- David G. Brown
 
Sep 12, 2000
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I think it is going to snow or some sort of weather change....I agree with David Brown. Did I say that?

The only thing that I would add is possibly a simulation model that can demonstrate scientifically what happened. Metalurgists do it a lot to demonstrate disasters even when there are no eye witnesses to the event.

Just a thought.
Maureen
 
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Kathy A. Miles

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Well one thing Pelligrino said was that Cameron came to him and said he had experienced something which convinced him that was what happened to the stairway. Cameron said they built their 97 grandstair exactly to specs from H&W. On the set, they dumped in 8 ft. of water and then for the main scene, they dumped in 50K of water from the top. Cameron said their stairway wrenched itself free and rose up. He said it scared the hell out of the stunt guys on it!

My question to that is they might have built it to specs, but did they have it anchored down to specs?

They weren't claiming it floated to the surface, their point was that that was why it, or at least it's metal parts weren't there in the wreck. They also gave some evidence (I'll look it up if you're interested) that there was a large beam which they reckon was part of the stair which had bashed its' way through the walls nearby. Judging by the debris and stuff settled on it, they believed it had been there since the ship hit bottom.

Cameron also found that the wood loving critters didn't like the wood painted with white lead base paint either and left it pretty untouched. But, as far forward as they went into the wreck they found finned fish, implying there was a good enough oxygen content to support them. Their point with that was that the wood critters had plenty of access to these areas but hadn't gotten to the wood yet.

Kathy
 
Jul 9, 2000
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I suspect that the specs may have been for external appearances. The problem is that this set was not built on an actual ship, but a very convincing looking mock-up which would have lacked the sort of internal framing and structural componants that the real article had, and to which the Grand Staircase was secured.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Here's some basic facts to chew over:

The existing hole above the GSC is smaller than the size of the intact staircase.

None of the 60+ iron balustrades from either the GSC or the railings along the periphery of the GSC, on any deck, have been positively identified.

The pattern of wood decay inside the ship is such that any wood in direct contact with metal is left alone by organisms. This is most dramatically shown in some surviving stateroom doors, where the door is eaten away right up to where the hinges and doorknob are. Those areas are left alone, the wood narrowed but still strong enough to support a latch assembly.

There is no wood attached to the lower GSC foundation, which is in its original location.

All the wood panelling is gone, ripped from the steel bulkheads.

My theory is that the void for the GSC became in effect a giant blender, or Bass-O-Matic, which used fluid dynamic action to churn up the staircase and the surrounding landings.

Parks
 
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Kathy A. Miles

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That makes a lot more sense to me. I did not know about the size of the existing hole. I wonder how Pelligrino could have missed that. He's ranking lower and lower on my list as I read the book
happy.gif


Thanks guys!
Kathy
 
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Kathy A. Miles

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This book of Pelligrino's is turning into the realm of fantasy! Not only does he claim the grandstair floated out, mostly intact, but towards the end of the book (which I thankfully just got to) he claims it DID float, and that there were very likely survivors on the stairs. He further states that the Californian just did a cursory search and that the victims likely froze that night. Boy, he must do drugs! At this point, everything he says is suspect. He ought to work for the National Enquirer.
Kathy
 
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Brian Hawley

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I agree with Parks giant blender theory about the staircase. Recently I have been considering that the staircase might have only flooded up to the top of D deck or so by the time the bridge went under. According to Roy Mengot once water was seen on E deck level of the staircase landing, correspondingly you have flooding in boiler room #4. According to Roy this area flooding heralds the beginning of the end, from this point the ship is no longer slowly filling but plunging down. He goes on to explain at his excellent site that what follows is the rapid plunge that has the bridge dipping under with such force as to cause a wave rolling aft. As an aside Gracie points out this wave washed back almost to the base of the second funnel which helped me to get an idea of its size!

At any rate I feel almost certain that the dinning room flooded far slower than spaces above it. The intact leaded glass windows witnessed by Ken Marschall point to a gentle flooding in this area. So if D deck was under water, and the sections of staircase above this level were dry this combined with the blender theory to me helps explain why the foundation for the stairs is in place on D deck but not above. I had always assumed that water plunging down from above had smashed the stairs down to the level that was previously flooded. Yet this is not supported by large amounts of wreckage on E deck. So once again applying the blender theory, you get ripped up sub flooring, balustrades, wood, and the stairs themselves tossed around or even slammed into other areas leaving only the open space down to D deck.

A very interesting theory Parks, in fact I think it is as close as we might get to what actually happened during the final plunge.

Brian
 
Jul 20, 2001
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Sorry I'm a bit late on this thread.

I mostly agree with Park's theory but I feel that any damage done to the GSC would not have happened during the final plung but would more likely have happened at the point of impact with the ocean floor and is connected with the water blast theory.

We can see the evidence of this on the upper decks of the ship with steel walls laid flat. If that is the case then what must the forces have been like in the ship. While I'm no expert on the matter I believe that the force of water inside would have been greater than the water running over the outer decks.

Not only would there have been the inertia of the water inside the hull there would have been additional force from the collapse of the decks towards the rear of the front section of the ship, A bit like a giant tube of toothpaste. Now the only place for this water to go would have been forward and the easiest means of escape would have been though the opening above the GSC and the forward cargo hatch.

In all likelyhood the GSC did not float out but was ripped to pieces and shot out of the ship like confetti.

That's my theory anyway. Please feel free to pick holes it it.

Robert
 

Adam Leet

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May 18, 2001
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As I've posted before, I'm no fan of Pellegrino's downblast theory. It seems to rely on little understanding of hydrodynamics. Personally, I can't see the ship being smashed by a following column of water.

As for the collapsed aft part of the bow section, I wonder if those decks were more upright originally, and began to collapse over the years. This is evident by ongoing collapse that has been observed since 1985.

As for items like the collapsed bulkheads of the Officer's Quarters, that was probably instigated by the destruction of the bridge during descent or the collapse of #1 funnel. The collapsed ceiling of the 1st class entrance is likely due to the fact there wasn't enough support provided to other areas by upright bulkheads and other supports.

As for the staircase, that's open to debate, I guess.


Adam
 
Mar 3, 1998
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I also don't subscribe to the downblast theory. The deckhouses would have suffered more uniform damage from a downblast effect. The sporadic damage seen can be attributed to other, more local, factors.

I don't believe that the aft end of the bow section compressed downward suddenly (as shown in the computer simulation demonstarted to Rose in "Titanic"), but rather gradually collapsed. This is consistent with the trend observed since 1985. Likewise, the roof over the GSC continues its collapse, a process that I believe started when that portion of the ship first submerged.

The exterior walls and roof of the Officers' Quarters survived, with a couple of exceptions, fairly intact. Inside the Quarters, though, the place is slicked clean. Except for the steel walls around the W.C. and elevator machinery room and the insulated walls of the Marconi Silent Room, none of the interior walls appears to have survived the sinking process. This area is forward of the GSC, so the "toothpaste tube" effect from the aft end of the bow section would not have applied. That's what caused me to appreciate the force of the water that was evidently forced through the superstructure as the hull planed to the bottom.

Parks
 
I don't really think that things always happen in one way or another, it could happen certainly in both ways. During the Grand Staircase rapid flooding following the final plunge some parts of the bouserie broke loose and floated through the gash left by the collapse of the dome. the rest of the staircase remained in it's position and was eaten away after the ship reached the bottom.

Something I read in this thread caught my attention:

"Recently I have been considering that the staircase might have only flooded up to the top of D deck or so by the time the bridge went under."

I think you should consider that by 2 am the luxury suites in the forward section of C deck were already flooding. This could happen by two reasons: or the water had already reached the C deck landing of the grand staircase and was pouring forward, or the portholes left open by the passengers were letting the water in. Both situations could have happened simultaniously.

Anyway, I strongly believe that by the time the grand staircase dome collapsed (2: 15 am?), the water had already reached B deck.
 
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