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Hi!

Those of you who know my obsession with technical details which I only partially understand might be groaning, but I thought I'd post this 'theory' anyway. :)

I haven't bothered yet to look into it further, so this is a really *rough* set of ideas.

My idea stems from the 1932-33 refitting and proposed 21 knot limitation, which I have serious doubts about; and there are many sources which do debunk it thoroughly without the need for wierd theories such as the one that follows in this post. :)

It is as this engine work was going on that the following statement was printed on the Olympic’s record, dated November 9th 1932:

‘…It is hoped that the reduction of the speed to 21 knots, decided upon by the owners, will do much to mitigate the stresses to which the vessel has been subjected.’

This vague statement speaks of a ‘reduction’ of the speed, although twenty-one knots would certainly be a limitation of Olympic’s potential. Ships in service experience many stresses, especially on the Atlantic, but it is questionable whether the person is noting those experienced by the ship’s engines, or other aspects of her anatomy.

To assess whether the engines were being referred to or not, we need to deal with other aspects of the Olympic. In early 1931, Olympic underwent significant repairs to her superstructure and upper works, following a terrible winter of heavy weather, and this included welding around the drainage holes beneath her portholes on the bridge and shelter decks to repair fatigued plating, and the fitting of doublers in several areas. (Interestingly, Aquitania was having similar repairs at the same time.) There were concerns as to the ship’s long term seaworthiness and the experimental nature of the repairs — after all, welding was only then coming into use for ship construction. However, by the spring of 1932 these doubts were disappearing:

‘The vessel is under running survey, the whole of which has now been completed, and she has been dry-docked and drilled this month. The general condition is good, but certain defects have been manifested within the past few years.’

As usual, the ship’s passenger certificate was issued for twelve months that year, in contrast to the two-part certification of 1931. From 1933 no notable defects whatsoever were reported. It therefore seems unlikely that it was felt in November 1932 necessary to mitigate stresses to which the ship’s hull was subjected in normal service.

At the time, Olympic’s engines were being worked on and indeed the first quote appears in the middle of the record of engine maintenance, rather than any other aspect of the ship. *Therefore it might seem reasonable to suppose that the reduction in speed was for the benefit of the ship’s engines.* One official who was not aware that the ship’s engine bedplates had needed repairs was concerned because such problems were ‘usually associated with the longitudinal working of the hull structure.’ However, he made a personal visit to the ship and concluded that there was no cause for alarm on November 10th 1932, the day after it had apparently been decided to limit the ship’s speed to twenty-one knots. *Might it be that this reassurance had made a proposed reduction in speed unnecessary? And might it be that the proposed speed reduction had been for the purpose of protecting the reciprocating engines?*

Following this date, various reports appear commenting on the work done to the ship’s engines. One confirms the various casing pressures, before commenting that the revolutions would normally be seventy-eight per minute. Such a number appears to confirm acknowledgement that the ship would be run at well over twenty-one knots, for seventy-eight revolutions would produce up to twenty-three knots in good conditions, were the ship aided by the gulf stream. There is also much documentation as to the completion of the work — it is clear that by the time the ship returned to service in March 1933, the vessel’s engines were performing better than they had ever done before.

Aside from speculating upon the reasons for a proposed speed reduction, based itself on one single source, it is undisputable that Olympic continually exceeded twenty-one knots following 1932, just as she had done before. In fact, she set a new record for herself personally in 1933.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi!

Yep, boring I know. It's hardly a rivetting topic. Even to some techies.
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But can anyone offer an opinion? There's loads of techies here.

P.S. I look forward to discussing Topeka in the Technical section. I am dying for any details, particularly with the Aquitania material, but actually for *everything*!
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Best regards,

Mark.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Allright, I'll bite.

Sort of.

I don't know of any sources which debunk anything in this regard, but it seems to me that they may have been concerned with stresses to both the engine and the hull. A 21 year old ship is no spring chicken and issues with other ships would have prompted them to take a hard look at the Olympic, and err on the side of caution on the paperwork. (or am I missing the point here. I might be as I'm pretty tired.)

Oh, and feel free to ask questions in the tech thread about the gathering. I may just have a few answers for you. (Don't mind the Suicide Befor Reading tag on it.
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Hi Mike, (EOC)!

That good old red print again. I have a few questions I'll post in a technical thread -- I am sure there'll have been some juicy details there. I know Erik's coming out with his own paper and so on, which I am sure that we are all looking forward to.

On the paperwork, you could be right. I don't think you have missed the point at all. But to explain my theory further. My problem is that in solid fact Olympic continually exceeded 21 knots after 1932 and from her speed performance she improved slightly, while her rivals began to slip. Majestic's average declined from 23 knots in 1931 to 22.5 knots in 1933, while Aquitania's and Berengaria's sank slightly. Bearing in mind that she wasn't limited in speed, my question is what could have prompted such a reduction to be considered, and then presumably cancelled?

My thoughts concerned her hull. But, after comparing Olympic's records with her contemporaries I really can't see the difference. Majestic and Leviathan were undeniably suffering from some massive problems, but their speed was never limited; in fact, in 1933 it was proposed to fit the Levi with new engines for 30 knots. Aquitania and Berengaria were suffering similar problems to Olympic, but perhaps not as serious; for they were younger and not worked as hard. Yet in none of their cases is any hint of a speed limitation. So I asked What was different about Olympic?

The answer seems to be engines. Olympic had those two massive piston engines as well as a turbine, unlike her rivals. Investigating this, the statement considering a 21 knot limit appears in the midst of her engine records rather than her hull survey.

My next question was that a limitation was considered, but not implemented. Asking why? I concluded that it was the fact that her engine repairs had gone so well, testified to by every post-December 1932 report.

Then my problem was Am I talking BS?. (Yes, people think.
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) So I thought my theory sounded logical, but there are many techies who would have a better grasp of it than I do.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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You may be right. Obvoiusly the concerns were there, but when they proved groundless, the powers that be simply let the matter drop.

Interesting about the Lavaithan. I wasn't aware that there had been any proposals to re-engine the ship.
 
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Hi Mike,

Thanks for your reply.. I think if there was more than just a brief, obscure reference, we could be more sure of ourselves. As it is, researchers have little evidence or reasoning for it, for the discussion seems to have been at the docks, if anything, between several people.

What we can say beyond doubt is that the limitation is rubbish -- in that we know it wasn't implemented (with no ill effect whatsoever); but assessing anything else is just going into theorising. The problem with any historical subject is that as time goes by and something is repeated, it can be believed; such as the mythical 300-foot gash on Titanic. The '21 knot myth' been around since the 1980s so if it deserves to be debunked, now is the time.

As to Leviathan, I heard the story in my new fifth volume of Frank Braynard's masterpiece. I've now got volume three and five.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
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