Sounding machine on the T


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Dennis Smith

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Hi All,

I've just finished reading the British Inquiry and found out that she had a Depth Sounder on board. The type was - quote - "Kelvin Patent Sounding Machine". Excuse my ignorance, but I thought that echo sounders and the like were a relatively new thing - maybe 40's or 50's.
What was it?, How did it work? Did it use the same format of a rate of 1500 metres per second in fresh water?, Or was it more guesswork or guesstimation? (Help Parks - I'm in over my head again!!!).

Another question - Did the "Kelvin" in "Kelvins" work with someone else to start up the Radio Officer Company called Kelvin Hughs? (SP - I,m Welsh and can't spell HUGGGHHHS- What a *******)

Any replies that make sense (or not) would be appreciated - Thanks


Best Wishes and Regards

Dennis
 

Adam Leet

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The sounding machines used on the Titanic used the old method of sinking a line of rope to determine depth. The machines were located inboard of boats 3 and 4 on the boat deck. The sounding spars (what held out the line from the ship) can be seen sitting at a diagonal angle underneath boats 3 and 4.

The machines were generally covered when not in use. As for more detail, I'm sure someone else would be happy to chime in.

Hope this helps.


Adam
 

Bob Godfrey

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David Haisman

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Kelvin Hughes and Chadburns were common names on the bridges of most British merchnantmen for telegraphs and other systems.
Deep sea sounding gear consisted of a weight on the end of piano wire, dropped at speed from a boom.
Swinging the lead for shallower waters was done in ''the chains'', the lead line being marked every few fathoms by knots, bunting, leather and leather thongs in order to read and feel during darkness. On the bottom of the lead there was a hole with tallow inside in order to determine rock or sandy bottom.
Union Castle line carried out this ''lead swinging'' even in their most modern ships at places like Madeira and other places prior to dropping the hook.
Without going through all the markings, I can't be more specific as it was a long time ago but someone out there with experience or their library, no doubt will.

All the best,

David
 

Dave Gittins

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I don't have the experience, but I do have the book, in this case from the Grey Funnel Line.

2 fathoms-2 strips of leather.
3 fathoms-3 strips of leather.
5 fathoms-piece of white bunting.
7 fathoms-piece of red bunting.
10 fathoms-piece of leather with hole in it.
13 fathoms-piece of blue bunting.
15 fathoms-piece of white bunting.
17 fathoms-piece of red bunting.
20 fathoms-two knots.

This dates from the 1930s. I'm sure there was another system that used different fabrics, such as serge and calico, to make the marks recognisable in the dark. Today there is a metric version.

There's a photo by Francis Browne showing Titanic's lead line lying on a little platform below the bridge after being used at Queenstown. The water there is quite shallow, so the sounding machine was not used.
 

Dennis Smith

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Hi All,

Thanks very much for all the info. The sounding machine looks an odd device, but if it worked ok what the hell. The marks for the lead line I had to learn as a young Sea Cadet (Many years ago), I was also questioned on it when I took my AB's ticket in the 60's. Not sure if the marks have changed since then, but I suppose that the lead and line is no longer used - or is it??

Again thanks very much for the info - much appreciated.

Best Wishes and Rgds

Dennis
 
Oct 28, 2000
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As some of you know, I teach would-be captains what they need for the U.S. Coast Guard examination for lower-level licenses. About two months ago, we learned that memorizing the U.S. standard markings for the lead line will no longer be necessary. The test will not contain questions on this subject. So far, it appears this is true. The old-fashioned leadline seems to be going the way of whipstaffs, gammoning, and catharpins. Alas, such is progress.

-- David G. Brown
 

Dave Gittins

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I still keep a simple leadline handy. I sometimes use it to check out shallow anchorages in the dinghy, just to see if there's swinging room.

Just don't do what I did last time. I dropped it overboard and, oddly enough, it sank. Luckily it was in about 3 metres of nice clear water, so the world's worst snorkel diver retrieved it.

A catharpin is a cross between a catfish and a terrapin.
 
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I thought a catharpin was a pin used to belay the fur of the ship's cat in a typhoon. Keeps 'em from being blown overboard.

--David G. Brown
 
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