Stokers Firemen and Trimmers


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Beckey Payne

Guest
(oh MY)...

What, if any, is the difference between a stoker, a firemen, and a trimmer? And what exactly was the job of each? Probably an elementary question I know, but I'm clueless.

Beckey
 
J

Jemma Hyder

Guest
I have no idea either but I'm guessing that Trimmers hacked up the coal fireman shovelled it in and stokers poked it about a bit, but theres a woman's logic for you lol
 

Ben Holme

Member
Feb 11, 2001
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Beckey and Jemma,

The Trimmers brought the coal from the bunkers to the boiler rooms on wheelbarrows (quite possibly hacking it into smaller pieces beforehand!). Trimmers and Greasers were the lowest wage-earners among the crew.

I believe "Fireman" and "Stoker" referred to the same task, namely shovelling coal into the furnaces.

Hope this helps,

Ben
 
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Beckey Payne

Guest
Thanks Ben. Which leads me to a new question... What's a greaser?

Jemma - Woman's logic works for me! First thing I pictured when I saw the word "Greaser" was a cool dude in a leather jacket and slicked back hair. Second thing was a man actually greasing the mechanical parts of the ships engine. ;-)

Beckey
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Greasing the machinery was a never-ending task. The main bearings in the large reciprocating engines had to be checked while the machine was rotating. A man would reach in and "slap" the bearing as the crank and rod turned. If the metal felt warm, everything was OK. If the bearing was hot--TROUBLE.

Many years ago I had a long talk with the chief engineer on the Mississippi Queen about steam engines. He had served on the tanker Meteor, which was the last "whaleback" ship on the Great Lakes. He stood up to mimic the action of slapping the bearings.

I told him about his old ship, which is now a museum in Superior, Wisconsin. They have disconnected the triple expansion "up-and-down" engine from the propeller. It is now connected it to compressed air so that during the tour of the engine room visitors can see the machine actualy run.

-- David G. Brown
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
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Ben's a bit off track about wages. The engine room crew were actually better paid than almost everybody else, as you'll find on the crew signing on sheets. That was because their work was just plain hard and they got no tips, unlike the stewards, who were paid very little but got tips, at any rate in first class.

The 'black gang' worked 4 hours on and 8 hours off, which gave them the shortest hours of anybody except the senior officers.

Fred Barrett distinguished between firemen and stokers. He said that the stokers were the leading hands among the firemen.
 
Sep 20, 2000
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The engine room crew were actually better paid than almost everybody else, as you'll find on the crew signing on sheets. That was because their work was just plain hard and they got no tips, unlike the stewards, who were paid very little but got tips, at any rate in first class.

Hi, Dave: This may be something that needs to be scrutinized in ET's version of the Crew Particulars. I was recently corrected in a similar impression by a *very* reliable source, who explained to me that the Stewards' pay basis was actually WEEKLY. (ET's tables indicate MONTHLY throughout.) That being the case, stewards actually earned about £14 per month -- £3,10 X 4 -- even *before* tips, as he stated.

I have very little reason to doubt this source. So does anyone have a facsimile copy of the Signing On Sheets that could be checked for the necessary corrections?

Cheers,
John
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
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I hear a lot of stewards crying, 'If only!'

A quick reference will be seen on page 135 of the illustrated ANTR. On Steward Witter's Account of Wages you'll see that he got 15 shillings for the 6 days of the voyage. (Yes, they paid for April 15th) The other £1/12/6 is payment for his time away from England. Technically, the crew's pay stopped when Titanic sank but Bruce Ismay agreed to pay for the time spent away from home.

£14 per month was more than most of the officers got.
 
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Beckey Payne

Guest
Being a Greaser sounds like an extremely dangerous job if I understand David's description correctly. The man had to reach in and "slap" the bearings on moving machinary?? I would assume there were more than a few job related injuries.

Beckey
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Becky -- I've never seen a bearing "slapped" in all of my life. Just relating a story. However, I did notice the man had all 8 fingers and 2 thumbs.

--David G. Brown
 

Cal Haines

Member
Dec 2, 2000
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Tucson, AZ USA
Becky,

Titanic's bunkers were set up so that the trimmers did not need to wheel the coal to the firemen as they did on some ships. There was a bunker door opposite each boiler, so that the fireman could just turn around and scoop up the coal. Trimmers were still needed to haul away the ash from the boilers. About once a watch the ash would be pulled out of each furnace and dumped on the plates in front of the boiler. The trimmer would have to cool the ash with a hose and cart it to the ash ejectors, where it was fired into the sea by a high pressure jet of water. Trimmers were also needed to move coal from remote parts of the bunkers and keep the supply near the boilers full.

As near as I have been able to determine, there were four trimmers per boiler room, one fireman for each boiler end (10 in most boiler rooms) and a leading fireman in overall charge of the boiler room. All the boiler rooms were in turn supervised by a fairly senior engineer. Each fireman had three furnaces to tend and it was hard but skilled work. A good fireman could use half the coal of a unskilled man; there was a heck of a lot more to it that just shoveling coal. Most movies get this wrong. They usually show a bunch of guys feverishly shoveling coal into the furnaces, with all the doors standing open. In fact, the doors were kept closed as much a possible. They were probably close 5 to 10 minutes at a time.

On the topic of the greasers slapping the bearings to check the them, I've seen it done and it's even scarier to watch than I can describe. Imagine a block of metal the size of a car engine, revolving so quickly that you can't really follow it with your eye, then imagine trying to stroke it as it flashes by. I have a photo of a greaser on the SS Jeremiah O'Brien doing it that I can post if there is interest. It's pretty daunting to watch...

Cal
 
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Jane Barrett

Guest
Hello

I learnt last night that Leading Fireman Frederick William Barrett on the Titanic could be my Great Uncle. I am interested to learn if this is correct. The only details that I have is my Grandfather had a brother by the same name (my grandfather passed away before I was born), he would have come from the Vauxhall Area in Liverpool and was born in 1884. I telephoned the Liverpool Echo to see if they had a web site to access old editions of the paper, but unfortunately they do not and to find out any history I will need to visit the Picton Library in Liverpool.

Awaiting your reply

Kind Regards,

Jane Barrett

[email protected]
 

Cal Haines

Member
Dec 2, 2000
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Tucson, AZ USA
Hi Jane,

Frederick Barrett is one of my favorite Titanic persons. It would be most exciting if it turns out that you are related! Based on the date and place of birth you may well be. Do you have any more information on your Grand Uncle? Religion, date and place of death, etc.? I'm not an expert on this, but as I understand it, there are British census records that are helpful given a local and date. There may also be some church records, such as marriage and christening if you know which church.

Cal
 

Brian Meister

Member
Mar 1, 2001
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Dear Ms Barrett,

Thank you for posting you query to the
board! I gave researched the crew of the
Titanic extensively and can tell you that
finding this man is quite a challenge. The
name Frederick Barrett is quite common.
Also, if you are utilizing the list here
on ET for your source, know that the survivor
Frederick Barrett has been confused with a
Frederick William Barrett, who was lost in the
sinking, and was from Hampshire, not Liverpool.
The Leading Fireman has had no middle name
ascibed to him in any other source that I have
seen since commencement of my search.
Having said that, I am also aware that
his middle name may very well have been
William, but that there is just no documen-
tation of it.
Please E-Mail me privately, as I might
have a couple of clues for you.

Regards,

Brian Meister
 
May 7, 2006
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Regarding the wages paid to the crew. I don't know what rate the Fireman were on but I doubt it would be anywhere nere £14. I know for a fact that My Great Uncle Willaim Mackie was paid £11 10 Schillings a month. This for a highly educated and trained professioal. I can't imagine Firemen, Stokers and Trimmers earning any where nere this amount.

Thanks
Robert
 
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Robert Burns

Guest
My father the late Samuel Jackson Burns said that two of our ancestors went down with the Titanic. Percy Cornelius Taylor, was a cellist in the orchestra and John Taylor was a stoker. Is anybody else researching these names, if there are I would like to hear from them. Regards Bob Burns.
 
Apr 5, 2005
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Just browsing, as I'm a new 'girl' on the ship!
Found this thread on Frederick Barrett interesting, I wonder if Jane found out if she was related. Realise this enquiry was a few years ago, but any further info would be helpful.
Mr Barrett was in the same Boiler Room as Mr Shepherd who is my relative.
Thanks
Barbara
 

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