Jessie M.

Member
Jan 13, 2019
23
8
13
So after watching a couple snippets of James Cameron's Titanic I found an interesting line said by an extra that goes a little something like this...

First Class Female Passenger: I felt a shudder, is everything alright?

Butler: Nothing to worry about Miss, we've likely just thrown a Propeller Blade, can I get you anything?

Now; I know this scene was most likely to express both the effects of the collision within the ship and how the staff did their damndest to keep folks calm but that bit about Propeller Blades made me a touch confused. Just the way he said it... Like it was somehow normal? It also felt somewhat genuine in the sense that that was something likely said at some point during the sinking.

So that leads to my question... Was "throwing" a propeller blade (Which I assume means one of the Propeller blades came free of the ship) a common occurrence for ships back then?
 

Rancor

Member
Jun 23, 2017
323
214
88
The Olympic threw a propeller blade in February 1912. Given the proximity to the Titanic disaster perhaps this would have been fresh in the minds of passengers and crew and may have been the first conclusion they jumped to.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Tim Aldrich

Member
Jan 26, 2018
143
125
88
Wisconsin
The outer propellers of Titanic were built-up units. A central hub had three individual blades attached. Failure of the studs which attached the blades to the hub, hidden casting flaws in a blade (no ultra-sound tech in those days to check with), contact with a solid object... Many things could cause a propeller blade to come off and if one did come off there would be one heck of a vibration.

The center propeller was a single casting. Blades and hub were all one piece.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 2 users

Dave Gittins

Member
Mar 16, 2000
5,055
339
433
Just to make it clear, on some ships the propeller blades were bolted to a central hub. Any failure in the bolts and a blade came off.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Jessie M.

Member
Jan 13, 2019
23
8
13
Thank you guys for answering! I think I've got a better understanding now. :D

If I'm being totally honest though; had I been told that I probably would be even more anxious. Always a little nervous going on a ship cause there's nothing underneath you except for endless water, and then to be told that something's wrong with the ship? :eek:Yeah no, get me back on land please.
 

Rancor

Member
Jun 23, 2017
323
214
88
Most ships even today have at least two propellers, so you'd be unlikely to get completely stranded. Though the recent example of the Viking Sky does rate a mention I guess!
 
Dec 27, 2017
76
53
48
Isle of Man
With aircraft if there is a problem with the propellers then getting back to land quickly is a forgone conclusion- it's what happens when you get there that's the problem. Give me a ship with a propeller problem any day!
 

Kurt Urbain

Member
Oct 11, 2018
61
68
48
I believe Olympics starboard prop got nicked up in the Hawke collision, and the shaft was also damaged, so they snagged replacements off the Titanic which was still being built. It delayed the Titanics completion for a couple weeks.
 
Mar 18, 2008
2,652
1,153
248
Germany
I believe Olympics starboard prop got nicked up in the Hawke collision, and the shaft was also damaged, so they snagged replacements off the Titanic which was still being built.

Only part of the starboard shaft was taken from Titanic.
The blades were different from the one Olympic had also there were replacement blades for every ship.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Dave Gittins

Member
Mar 16, 2000
5,055
339
433
Actually, only passenger ships are likely to have two propellers. Most freighters are quite crude, with one big engine and one big prop. They don't even have bow thrusters. They make work for tugboats.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Jessie M.

Member
Jan 13, 2019
23
8
13
Y'know, when it came to incidents where the blade was damaged or just straight up fell off I thought more of the Atlantic than the Olympic... Although, throwing a propeller blade sounds much less violent than having it ground to nothing by a bunch of rocks.

Not as recent as the Hawke accident... But just as memorable. I've heard the Atlantic tragedy called "Titanic before Titanic" a time or two before.
 

Mike Spooner

Member
Sep 21, 2017
1,070
216
138
Whist on the subject of propellers it will be another theory to prove right or wrong whether the centre propeller was a four blade or three blade? So you sea dives next time down can you please remove the sand or sea mud away from the two propellers, were we can put to bed of how many propeller blades are there?
 

Mike Spooner

Member
Sep 21, 2017
1,070
216
138
Yes we know there was a three bladed centre propeller and used on the Olympic in the war years. But did the Titanic have one fitted? As there are no known photos of Titanic propellers.
 

Mike Spooner

Member
Sep 21, 2017
1,070
216
138
Seeing that believing is better evident that a piece of paper!
Can you be 100% sure what was fitted to the Titanic?
 
Mar 18, 2008
2,652
1,153
248
Germany
In case of the centre prop yes. We know from Olympic that they did change it too during the years and do a test what is better. The documentation as far as I know match with the photographs. H&W own records would not have something which was not added on the ship. It is not a "report" or "article" in a magazine which can be inaccurate.
 

Mike Spooner

Member
Sep 21, 2017
1,070
216
138
What I have read a change of a propeller blade from a new type of ship was quite common. So IF Titanic centre propeller was change to a three bladed. I would of thought that's a good idea to compare two identical ships for performance in there early days of sailing.
 

Charley Smith

Member
Jan 11, 2017
27
10
23
60
Norfolk, Virginia, USA
My opinion of the 3 vs 4 blade controversy is the same as Ioannis'. The documentation found at H&W in recent years is about as 'slam dunk - case closed' as you can get. There's no other known definitive photos or records to disprove it. The H&W document clearly states the size, number of blades and the blade angle of each ships propellers. Changes were meticulously recorded for the surviving Olympic as different blade angles were tried and the center prop went from 4 to 3 and back to 4 blades. I think this one source along with photos that survive provides good evidence to deduce that:

1. The Olympic class was designed with a 4 bladed center propeller.
2. Titanic introduced a 3 bladed center propeller but the testing results were lost.
3. Olympic was then switched to a 3 bladed center propeller but later switched back.
4. Britannic was finally built with a 4 blade center propeller.
5. There was some reason the 3 blade design wasn't desirable.

I would really like a photo to turn up or get to actually see the propeller just for the 'AHA!' value, but for now... We found 'the Bible' from the people who built the propellers. I want an accurate scale 3 blade for my Minicraft! :(
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Similar threads

Similar threads