Insulation and backing material between the paneling and the steel of the hull

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I have always wondered what sort of backing or insulation (if any) was placed between paneling and the steel of the hull. Lets take for example a 1st class cabin on C deck- I'm assuming the ornate woodwork was not just placed against the steel plating- but rather there was some wood backing that the panels were affixed to- Could there have been insulation? Asbestos perhaps?

The D deck galley partition on the Big Piece retained a large swath of thick canvas like material-I never could figure out it's purpose- perhaps part of the insulation?

When the remnants of the Strauss suite were explored, and sections of intact ornate paneling found still in place- I was curious- what was between the paneling and the steel of the hull?

One thing I noticed on the 'Big Piece' was there were surviving sections of a horsehair material affixed to the C deck area, close to the porthole rims- In older homes from the time of 1912, horsehair was often a layer behind the plaster or woodwork-I assume this horsehair material was located throughout the ship...

Some areas, particularly in 3rd class had bare metal as walls, and the only insulation material, if any, was a coat of paint...
There may have been no insulation at all, Tarn. I've seen any number of panals on board ships which were simply screwed and/or bolted to the bulkheads by way of metal frameworks. Mind you, I'm not saying this was the case with Titanic, but it's not inconceivable either.

you talk about an issue that has been on my mind for quite a while. I would like to learn how they did it on Olympic and Titanic, but so far I know only what the ever helpful 'Practical Shipbuilding' by A. Campbell Holms has on this topic:

"In cabins and storerooms the vessel's side is covered with lining, or cleading, of feather-and-groove boarding, about 3/4 inch thick. In order to hold this in place, ferrings are fixed on the sides of the frames (by bolts, screws, or by small horizontal shores, or toms, from the adjacent frame), and the lining is then nailed to the ferrings (see Figs. 7 and 8, Plate 56). The lining directly below the sidelights should be fitted in a portable fashion, so that it may be easily removed for cleaning and painting the steelwork, for, owing to rain or leakage water trickling down from the lights, the shell plating is here particularly liable to corrosion; in old vessels it is sometimes rusted through in holes."


If you are interested in these technical matters, you should IMHO really get this book. Volume I (10" x 6") contains all the text, Volume II (13" x 16") all the drawings and illustrations. The editions must be the same, otherwise the numbers of the plates and figures will not match.
I know that on Normandie and some of the German liners (Imperator, Vaterland), the paneling was removed after the initial voyages because of vibration. Accd'g to Beesley's account, those who had sailed before on Olympic she was steady as a rock and Titanic steadier still.
Some of that insulation material dropped off during daily sprayings of the Big Piece- most of the shed bits we put in the glass rust vials we gave to our volunteers at the 1999 St Paul Titanic exhibit's volunteer appreciation party, but I rescued two thumbnail size bits for myself from the drain which are now glued inside of two of my 1912 Titanic books.....

The first is a thumbnail sized swatch of a canvas like material- quite a bit of it was originally on the D deck partition of the Big Piece, but washed away, note jpeg....
I'm curious as to its function- Insulation, muffling of the creaking, etc...

Then there was a horsehair like material- There were odd patches of it still clinging to the inboard section of C deck...Many turn of the century homes have material like this behind plaster, so it would be interesting to see what function this material served..


I asked conservator Joe Sembrat, who oversaw the conservation and cleaning of the Big Piece at his facility 'Conservations Solutions inc' what became of any remaining insulation material-He said priority was to save the metal-not any insulation, rust, wood or paint fragments..

So it all power blasted down the drain..


Tarn Stephanos
I could darkly remember having read something about squeaking and measures against it, now I have found it again: please see Titanic's Blueprints, By Roy Mengot on the TRMA web site and look for 'flannel'.

On the starboard side of D deck, between frames 38 and 41 aft, there was an insulated room, according to Bruce Beveridge's (much used) accomodation plan.
'Practical Shipbuilding' contains a lengthy section about refrigeration and insulation, and which materials could be used, and where, and why. Among the many materials mentioned are felt and cow hair. The use of insulation appears to be connected with refrigeration, at least in this book.
Does the Big Piece extend aft, measured in frames, as far as frame 38?
"Does the Big Piece extend aft, measured in frames, as far as frame 38?'

I'm not sure- But I do know it was once part of 1st class staterooms C-79 and C-81 on the starboard side....

The D deck partition that was attached seems to be from a glass storage room in the 1st class galley....


Tarn Stephanos

Here is a glimpse of the edge of the D deck glass room partition, with white paint intact-
The paint was an exciting find, as I should think the entire galley must have been painted white.
The partition clearly extended from the hull to the beginning of the doorway depicted on the deckplan..
My head is in the corner, gives one an idea as to scale...


Tarn Stephanos
What kind of glass do you suppose was stored in the glass room- Dinner plates? Cups? Crystal?
Or all of the above?

All 1st class, or 1st and 2nd class glassware?


Tarn Stephanos
Hmmm..I wonder why my image appeared as a link?
Here is another attempt-
The D deck partition of 'The Big Piece', with white paint intact...I could be mistaken, but I believe the white edge is along a doorway/door frame that led into the glass storage room...

Tarn Stephanos

Bear in mind the D deck partition is severely bent...
To orient yourself- The Big Piece is face down on a flatbed truck (on it's starboard side-if it were still fitted in the ship)- So the edge of white paint closest to my head would point towards the ship's bottom , the area of white furthest away from me points towards the ship's deck...The edge with the white paint should be sticking straight up, but is bent forward (towards Titanic's bow-if it were still fitted in the ship)
You can just see large clumps of mud and some kind of insulation material along a beam....

Jason D. Tiller

Hi Tarn,


Hmmm..I wonder why my image appeared as a link?

The reason is, when you click on the feature "Upload Oversize Image" which is what you did, that's how it appears. But, when you click on "Insert Image / Document" it's displayed in your post, as above.​
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