Quality of steel in Titanic's hull

Nov 14, 2005
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In another thread it was mentioned that a ping test on rivets would be performed. If they didn't sound right they would be replaced. My question is...was there a quality assurance team that actually inspected all the rivets or just ones that didn't look right? From all I've read and seen I think its pretty much accepted that the hull plates buckled and came apart at the seems from rivets popping. I've also read the initial damage open to the sea was about the size of standard household door. Of course as time went by and she sank deeper more openings were exposed to the water. Know this has been covered before but its still interesting.
 

Tim Aldrich

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Jan 26, 2018
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My question is...was there a quality assurance team that actually inspected all the rivets or just ones that didn't look right?
The rivet counters would, I'll assume, would be responsible for the quality control.

As for the constant discussion of Titanic's steel I put this scenario to you for a bit of perspective. When the driver of a little car doesn't look both ways before crossing the road, pulls out in front of a semi and the little car gets crushed and torn apart, does anyone bother to question why the car was torn apart? Was the little car made with inferior steel? Were the spot welds inferior? Poor design perhaps? No. A car, used normally and cared for can last decades.

The little car was torn apart because it was subjected to forces far outside of what it was designed to withstand. I don't think the situation with Titanic is any different. We also have to remember that the people who made the steel were the same people still using lots of asbestos, lead and mercury. Given the technology of that period I would expect the quality of their steel to be anywhere near its modern equivalent.
 

robert warren

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Feb 19, 2016
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Are those days ever really over??? I just read a post some time ago by a guy talking about all the Model T's stowed in Titanic's cargo hold!!What??? Of course I had to set the record straight on THAT one.Where or from who did that come from????!!!!!! Where do people get this stuff??
 
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robert warren

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Yes I get frustrated with the coal fire thing. Like it was a version of The Towering Inferno down there!!!!!! I have to ask people, since when does a smoldering coal bunker make a 882 ship plunge to the bottom????
 

Harland Duzen

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Jan 14, 2017
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Are those days ever really over??? I just read a post some time ago by a guy talking about all the Model T's stowed in Titanic's cargo hold!!What??? Of course I had to set the record straight on THAT one.Where or from who did that come from????!!!!!! Where do people get this stuff??
Yes I get frustrated with the coal fire thing. Like it was a version of The Towering Inferno down there!!!!!! I have to ask people, since when does a smoldering coal bunker make a 882 ship plunge to the bottom????
Don't worry everyone, I set up a thead to vent your anger at naive Titanic experts and mistakes Titanic Basic Mistakes and Amateur Errors: What's Your Experience (and Internally Enraged Reaction)?

Selfish promoting aside, Back To Topic!

I swear the ''Weak Metal" idea is just an excuse for TV shows possibly to increase airtime, I seen at least several shows where they test metal either 100 years old or made using the same technique to just discover it' functioned past expectations.
 
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May 3, 2005
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Please realize that I am one of the more landlubberly of landlubbers on this forum .
There are many experts who can answer your question better than I can.
But one explanation I have read is that the iceberg did not open a hole but popped the rivets holding the plates together which opened a seam to open which allowed the seawater to pour into the hold.
Also just a case of a moving object (Titanic) striking an immovable object (iceberg).
There are all sorts of opinions on what and how the damage was caused by the iceberg.
Also an opinion expressed in a dialogue in the movie "Titanic" (1953 Version)
"Did we hit it ? "
"No Sir.......It hit us."
 
Mar 9, 2018
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At least my analysis of the breakup has not made any mention of the expansion joint playing a part. :)

My hypothesis is based upon a multiple structural failure and that the ship broke up in more than just one location.

I am also working with an engineer who can also render 3D models and help me with my hypothesis of the break-up which will then lead to the damage the Titanic actually took.

Our analysis will be a working backwards theory that will ignore so-called impact damage excuse used by other analyses to explain away certain deformations on the bow and stern sections. We will also be using Survivor account to to verify our findings as we go. We may also find out that many prior assumptions were made on area engineering principal instead real-time engineering principles.

I am doing this because while I feel many of the experts are getting closer they are ignoring the overall picture because they are too stuck on their formal training and experiences on welded ships versus riveted ships. I am not finding fault in their work but I am finding issue with some of the assumptions they make at the beginning of the disaster.

The biggest point of Divergence for me is the 5 compartment flooding scenario. That scenario was invented by Edward Wilding to fill in the gaps of the testimony that the British Board of Trade hearing didn't like from certain people. Wilding originally made up a flooding chart based strictly on the observations of the crew and then how to work out a scenario which would cause the shift to founder. In the same testimony which was on day 19 he also stipulated that the ship sank at a very shallow angle and was subjected to no more stresses then an Atlantic storm giving credence to the claim that the ship sank intact. He also postulated that the stairwell to the fireman's passage was punctured from the side by a jutting piece of iceberg that was able to not only puncture the side of the skin but then another three feat to puncture that water tight stair well casing.

We know that he was wrong about that based on the sonar images that were taken beneath the mud. We also know that when he was commenting purely on the evidence provided he was correct but then he started the error when he based the rest of his testimony off of his flooding Dynamics which insisted that none of the bulkheads failed and water was able to flow over the tops until the ships foundered.

If there is anyone who doubts what I just said then reread his testimony and you will see it for yourself. Knowing that fact it changes everything about the damage taken and the result of that damage on the structural Integrity of the rest of the ship. Another point of Interest is Glen Wilding also testified the extra bracing being added to the Titanic to prevent panting which means it must have been a concern on the Olympic prior to going to sea. Edward Wilding did his job. He went in as a material Witness to defend the Integrity of his company and the ship they designed and built. He perpetuated the 6 compartments flooding scenario and the fact the ship went down in one piece.

Parks Stevenson and David G Brown penned a white paper on the grounding of the Titanic on an iceberg shelf. What they did not report on what's how that affected the structural Integrity in the engineering of the keel and the sides and strength deck.

As I stated before I feel the Titanic suffered a successive engineering failure because of that grounding and the wreck on the bottom of the ocean proves it if you look at the rec as a child so what happened on the surface.

There is a picture of one of the reciprocating engines sticking halfway out of the mud. If that engine landed on a hard surface then it should have crumpled itself but instead it is sticking halfway out of the ground which lends evidence to my theory that the mud cushions the Titanic's impact for the wreck to be preserved as it appeared just under the surface and while she was sinking.

I hope that my theory is given adequate appraisal and not immediately dismissed by the community-at-large. It could be a groundbreaking discovery in the making which would bring together many theories that would also be substantiated by Survivor accounts.

I think the worst thing about those hearings when it concerns Edward Wilding is that the courts allowed him to postulate what he thinks happened and then they turned around and took it as fact. That has served as an injustice to the survivors and to countless Titanic historians over the years because it has laid the groundwork for false appraisal of the sinking.
 
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Jan 5, 2001
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Another point of Interest is Glen Wilding also testified the extra bracing being added to the Titanic to prevent panting which means it must have been a concern on the Olympic prior to going to sea.
What Harland & Wolff did - before EITHER Olympic or Titanic entered service - was arrange their structural design so that: 'At the forward end [the bow] the framing and plating was strengthened with a view to preventing panting, and damage when meeting thin harbour ice'.

The false claims on the subject in the Matsen book and elsewhere have been addressed previously.

Best wishes

Mark.
 
Mar 9, 2018
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I read that testimony by Wilding and we shall see during my investigation if that is the case. When I was speaking with my engineer friend he mentioned the same thing so so far it seems you are correct.

I am excited to see how this project carries through. Thank you for reinforcing that premise. As we investigate the reverse engineering of the wreck I will post our findings here for your review.

Your insight and polite discourse is refreshing and your knowledge is vast. I wonder if we what find may educate you as well. I have always wanted to have a discourse with a respected author on this subject. For me it is amazing.

Is there any reason that Parks and David stopped writing here? Has interest in the professional community died down concerning Titanic?

Travis
 
Mar 9, 2018
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Maybe they stopped coming here because if the number of amateurs (myself included as I am just now going to source material; IE reading the testimonies at the hearings which I find more enlightening than the final results btw. That has also lead me to get a feel for the people involved, getting to know through their words their motivations when amswering questions or asking.)

On that note I get the impression that the Board of Trade was all to happy to omit certain evidence in favor of professional opinion, IE Wilding, in determining from beginning to end what happened then using cherry picked survivor testimony to back up their findings.

That is where I got the impression from Wilding concerning the panting situation he brought up. It seemed to fit in line with the rest of his expert opinion that the Titanic took punching damage (disproven as sonar has shown no holes in the starboard side that would be big enough to allow a chunk of ice to penetrate 3 feet deeper to penetrate the watertight well of the staircase just ahead ofbthe fireman's passage) that the damage was done through a glancing blow at all (See sonar review) That the ship took on water initially in 5 compartments then proceeded to sink by water rising over one bulkhead into rhe next until she sank (He based his entire sinking testimony on conditions drawn up to make the ship founder when eye witness testimony revealed that not enough compartments were taking on water to founder Titanic) He said the ship would not be stressed anymore than designed stress during an Atlantic Storm (See actual wreck to prove that testimony wrong) or that Bulkhead E could have collapsed (Refuting Barret's testimony in that regard while fully accepting his Boiler Room 6 flooding explanation.)

So as you can see I have been reading up on the meat and potatoes of the inquiries and I am beginning to feel they were a white wash to make the builders, the company (IE Smith's decisions) and the Board of Trade look good.

That all seems to fall apart the moment you see the ship in two halves, complete with a missing middle section, where one is pretty much destoryed while the other is very well preserved. This is where I get my hypothesis that somebody knew something behind closed doors and didn't want it getting out.

I will not try to ascertain who for that is immaterial, but it does deserve consideration to how the ship sank and broke up, hence my reverse engineering study. I think if we dismiss the impact damage theory the Titanic Wreck sheds the exact nature of the sinking and from there it will be possible to accurately deduce what kind of damage would have led to her current state.

Sorry for the long reply but I hope you see where my reasoning comes from and it makes imperical sense :)

While I am incorrect in the panting portion it does not dampen the study as a whole, just a position that may have to be struck from the list of potential flaws that afflicted these ships. There is other evidence to prove that the Olympic Class ships/design were more fragile than intended/admitted.

There will be no discussion of weak steel or rivets for the wreck proves they were not a weakness. Not in the least bit! In fact they were too strong and did too well to keep the ship together as it was trying to tear itself apart.

My hypothesis overall is that the ships over all design relied on too many proven principals and supposed facts from prior builds to be adequately scrutinized given the dimensions of the ship, IE the keel being stronger than it was and the ability of the ship to absorb grounding damage without causing overall structural damage to the backbone of the ship.

Travis
 
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Mark Baber

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Moderator's hat on:
Maybe they stopped coming here because if the number of amateurs
People come and go for all sorts of reasons, and it's not fair to speculate as to why, especially when that speculation casts aspersions on others. Please desist.

Moderator's hat off.
 

Jake

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My Recent Findings

In my recent findings researching what exactly happened to the other part of Titanic's Reciprocating Engines. In the 1996 Expedition to the Titanic by the French, navel architect David Livingstone came to the conclusion of that Titanic's Engines snapped in half. Now in the 2012 Expedition they finally found the missing pieces of the Engines. Which was not mentioned in the documentary. Also in the 1996 Expedition they tested Titanic's steel plates for weaknesses which they did find weaknesses. Also the steel plates I believe were what was weak not the rivets. In the collision with the iceberg I believe that the buckling of steel plates is what made the Titanic founder. There had to be weaknesses in the steel for them to buckle. From the reports of the only survivor that was able to see it plates buckled when the iceberg hit. Titanic's steel was proven to be weak under very cold temperatures. What I am saying I do believe Titanic did have some flaws but did in some cases do a lot better than other ships that foundered.
 

robert warren

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Feb 19, 2016
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Yes I do enjoy a good laugh over that one. It's like punching a brick wall bare fisted, then someone saying "well the reason your hand is so jacked up is because the skin and bones in it are inferior quality naaaahhh!"Ha ha !!!
 

Jim Currie

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navel architect David Livingstone came to the conclusion of that Titanic's Engines snapped in half.

Some conclusion! Dos he suggest how this miracle might just have happened?
.
Also in the 1996 Expedition they tested Titanic's steel plates for weaknesses which they did find weaknesses. Also the steel plates I believe were what was weak not the rivets.

Steel for ship building had reached an art form by 1910. They use a process called the Bessemer Process which produce very fine steel. They could also add ingredients like chrome to enhance the steel. At that time Sheffield was the world center for steel making. The rivets were not weak. The bar used to make them was tested to destruction during the manufacturing process. Sure the rivets and the steel would be 'weak' when compared with the products of today but the latter are over-designed as far as every day use is concerned.
As for cold water brittleness... that's a joke. Just think what would have happened to every steel ship that sailed up and down the St Lawrence river in springtime.
Titanic sank simply because the sea water was coming in faster than they could pump it out. The water got in because the edges (seams) of the steel plates were distorted due to heavy impact and the distortion caused the rivet-heads to shear. When the heads sheared, the plate edges were no longer held together and the seams sprung open. The same thing happened on a regular bases well after WW2.

Jim C.
 

jake92

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Dec 2, 2014
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from what i know was that the Titanic steel has been tested and that was was strong don't forget that is wasn't the steel that sank the Titanic is was the rivets in the bow they where weak so when Titanic bow came in contact with the iceberg the rivets heads popped like bullets then the plates shifted the steel was keeping the ship afloat even Thomas Andrews only gave the ship an hour to float that ship was built to the standard of the time even a modern battle ship wouldn't of even took the strain of what the Titanic took that night
 

Jim Currie

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don't forget that is wasn't the steel that sank the Titanic is was the rivets in the bow they where weak so when Titanic bow came in contact with the iceberg the rivets heads popped like bullets

You are describing a phenomenon called "shearing". it happend when the side of a ship grinds against a solid object like a rock or quay wall or another ship. The rivet heads on Titanic or any other ship would have cut into the ice, much the same as do ice skate blades.
Ship's plating is joine at 'butts' and 'seams'. During construction, Titanic's seams and butts were multi-riveted. I do not have any data specific to Titanic, but I know that protruding rivet heads on the outside of ship's hull plates beneath the surface cause drag. Consequently, it was usually the practice to fashion low profile or flush rivet heads to reduce such drag. Here is a copy of pages from one of my old text books you may find of interest.

Rivets 1088.jpg

Rivets 2089.jpg

Jim C.

Rivets 1088.jpg


Rivets 2089.jpg
 
Dec 4, 2000
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The “weak rivet” theory is based upon examination of broken rivets picked up off the bottom in the vicinity of the bow. Without doubt, many of those rivets were found to contain “inclusions” which most likely reduced their strength. Even so, it is dangerous to jump to over-arching conclusions based upon a single bit of evidence. In this case the rivets inspected could not have been damaged or dislodged by the iceberg because of evidence the ship moved some distance under its own power after impact. Then, we have to take into account the drift of the sinking ship over the next two hours or so as it filled and sank. Finally, the force of impact on the bottom was enough to drive the bow deep into the mud. We have no way of knowing what that impact did to the structure and rivets.

As Jim points out, the rivets under water were set flush with the outer surface of the shell plating. Sliding past ice would not have sheared them. At best, some few might have been pushed back into the hull. This would have resulted in minor water penetration through the resulting one-inch diameter holes. Just such an event overtook the 1912-vintage steamer SS Willis B. Boyer departing Duluth harbor in the late 1960s. Despite the missing rivets, the ship was able to complete the season before repairs were made (wooden plugs stemmed the incoming water). The source of this story was a member of the crew who found the leaks.

I've examined the sides of that same ship. They are made of steel of exactly the same quality of Titanic's plates. Impacts against the hard stone walls of the Soo locks have left their marks. Dents up to about 1.5 times the thickness of the plate can be found. The original rivets are in place and the seams still watertight. It is obvious that the doubling of the overlapped seams provides considerable extra strength. And, the dents don't extend beyond the internal vertical frames which provide even more support to the seams. Ice being considerably softer than stone, this evidence on a hull of similar construction causes me to doubt that a water-lubricated sliding impact against the iceberg would have accounted for any serious damage and certainly not anything close to the damage reported on Titanic's hull.

We know that steel plating rolled in 1909 (build year of Titanic) was less ductile than modern materials. I've done an anecdotal study of ship losses involving apparent ductility issues. Longitudinal cracking of plates simply doesn't appear in these stories. Over and over, however, are tales of ships which cracked at right angles to the keel and then broke into two separate pieces. Titanic certainly suffered this fate. It broke in way of boiler room #1. However, the breakup of the ship did not cause it to sink. Rather, Titanic broke as a consequence of unfair loading of the hull girder caused by the sinking. Just as with the rivets, brittle steel has been given far too much credit for the loss of the ship.

-- David G. Brown