Uwe Bermann

Hello,my name is Uwe Bermann and I live in germany. Please excuse my bad english!
Since over 20 jears I employ myself already with the titanic and her sisterships.
Unfortunately I find only very few over the machine-area in all this jears.
I think that i will give no photosgraphs from the titanic machine-area,but perhaps
from the olympic's.
My very interests are,where the steering-platform of the engines is, where the pipes are,
and where the stairs and trough-walks in the machine-area were.
I have seen in the book"the birth of the titanic" a photograph from the installed
of the engines in the Britannic. The photograph is maked from R.J.Welch at april 29
1914 and has the number H 1996.
Can someone tell my if it gives further more of this lightheartedness photographs?
Or can it be,that the machine-area of the Olympic-Class ships is a classification
that will be never uncovered?

Greetings from Germany
Uwe Bermann
Mar 3, 1998

The location of the steering-platform has not been confirmed. It does not show up in engine-room arrangement diagrams of Olympic or Titanic. Bill Sauder has a theory of where it was located, and asked Jim Cameron to look for it during his recent expedition to the wreck. Unfortunately, the area is so damaged that no definitive evidence pointing to its location could be found.


Morgan Eric Ford

Did you mean to say the starting platform?

Morgan Ford
Dec 29, 2000
Dear Eric Ford,
I guess what Uwe means is the engine control plattform.
Uwe, tell me:
Was meinst Du mit 'Steering-platform''?
Meinst du den Ort, wo die Maschinen bedient wurden, oder welchen Ort sonst? Erklär es,notfalls kann ich es auch in etwa übersetzen.

Because of the structure of old steam ships engines, there will be no single control plattform or control desk, as today found.
The recipoking engines had a sidewalk, often called the control grid walkway. In many ships these walkway was the lower deck, because large ships engines have many grid iron areas, and the more little ships do not need because the engies are seldom larger than a couple of meters.
Large engines comonly have the controls at the base, were the main shaft is located. The engineer must be close to the large bearings, close to the moving parts, because to hear and feel his engine going.- there was no electronic to control the rotation or to control the power output, alls was done by the hands of the engineer.
So at that point (Look at older threads, or the links page to find a picture of the engine) was located a large steering wheel, alike that one someone find in the steer-house at the bridge.
This wheel controls the cut-off of the valves, as the direction of the engine. So the power output was adjusted by this wheel. In Titanics large engines, the wheel might not be easly turned, if the engine stood still or had to be moved very quickly, to shift the linkage. So a browns engine supported the engineers action!
Also here were the main pressure gauges fitted: Pressure in main stem pipe (just to give a sign how the boiler complete pressure were), pressure in hp cylinder, pressure in mp cylinder, pressure in lp cylinder. Also steam temperature was surely measured and viewed as the rotation or count or recipoking actions. Maybe also the pressure of the many oil pumps were shown, because no central oiling unit, as found in smaller engines were possible to fit.
So maybe the main engineer had his staff, some greasers, who just watched the many oiling points, so walkways or grin iron walks must have been found everywere, were oil was need, maybe also inside the engine (What a job, maybe to look after the crosshead oiling status, someone must have climb into the engine will the large piston was moving up and down...).
Atop, at the cylinder level a larger walkways must have been found, because here the oiling points for cylinder stroke and piston must be located and to give the greases possibility to refill and check them, a workplace must have been located here, as for the engineers, who have to look for strange noise or maintainace of the fitting crew for cylinder and valve access. So the main steam pipes will be located betwen the engines or close to the upper deck celling, because there those huge tubes will not disturb any maintainance action neccessary after install.
Well, the turbine in the middle does not need an engineer, because there is only a single valve, to be opened or closed, all other action comes from the amount of steam lead to the recipoking engines.
I do not know if Titanics lp cylinder works a vacuum levels, but the Turbine will have done, because to make the condensator more effective and save water, so all actions were located to both recipoking engines, so there will be two controls for each engine, and may some side controles for oil, support steam valves, cooling units or any other kind.
And: There will be another control panes. usually close to the engine room and the dividing wall to the boiler area, the boiler control! Here the engine telegraph was located, because for full power, first the boiler must run full power. So not an simple engineer has to comit the telegraph order, not it must be submitted by the main power plant guard, maybe the engines officer. He had to take care for boiler pressure, coal consuption, fresh water consuption, engine status, number of boilers online, the stoking action and gave orders to the crew of stokers, coal trimmers, greasers and engineers.
This maybe a place were we can call 'engine controll plattform', but the was no possibility to control realy the engine nor the boilers. this is impossible in large ships.
Today, with modern electronics, modern linkages this can be done. The german word is BOB-Kesselanlage....
So here the commands were given by sound of voice, bell or other devices, and not by switching a trigger. Here the whole engine crew must work as team.. The trimmers must deliver the coal for the stokers, and if the rhythm of coal bought by the trimmers to the stokers was not fine adjusted, the stoker was unable to hold pressure and fire. also, the removement of ash must be done regulary, and without doing this in circlurar many, to many boilers will produce less steam, so eninge power will go up and down, as to be at one level.
So a harmonish betwen the coal gang, the boiler crew and the engineers must have ben, because otherwiese the whole engine was ineffective and uncontrolable....
Is this okay for you Uwe? It is speculative, because I have not visitited Titanics engione rooms ;-)
But I tried to help from the point of me view visiting many ships recipoking power plants and boiler rooms!

Tom Bates

Aug 16, 2002
The mauretania had an engine starting-platform like Uwe said picchers can be fund in the engineering reprint. i will look at my plans tonight and give my theory on ware it was at. and i will give some more info on the how the engines of the time were controld.