Switches

Jessie M.

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Jan 13, 2019
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So one thing I've noticed in quite a few representations of the sinking - A Night to Remember and James Cameron's Titanic being two of them - is that during scenes of the engine room that depict the later stages of the sinking the switches shut off by themselves and thus the engineers repeatedly try to hold them in place in order to keep the power on.

I've brought this up with both of my parents and my Dad says that this happens as a precaution so people don't get electrocuted (We have something similar in our bathroom) while my Mom says this kind of tech simply wasn't around during 1912 and it was gravity forcing the switches down.

Forum, your thoughts?
 
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Nov 14, 2005
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They were circuit breakers designed to open during an over-current situation. They were mechanically tripped open (not gravity) and the scenes you see are the crew trying to reclose them. But with the fault current they will continue to reopen. Circuit breakers of that type are designed to protect the equiptment. Today on large power circuits for the utilities they use what is called automatic reclosure. They circuit will attempt to reclose 2 times before it becomes locked out. That because if its something transitory like a metal balloon flying by and contacting you can just blow the fault off reclose and keep from blacking out a city or the grid. What you have in your bathroom is a different type that is designed for the saftey of people. There are differnt types but yours is probably a standard GFI. Ground fault interupter. It opens when it detects current going to ground (hopefully not thru you). There are dozens and dozens of different types of curcuit breakers each designed for different conditions but their main job is all pretty much the same, to open the circuit.
"The Electrician" 28 Jul 1911

Off topic side note - Once a during the summer when the grid was just hanging on by a thread a co-worker caused a double unit trip and the grid became overloaded. They equiptment worked as designed but it cascaded down the line and blacked out Los Angeles and other cities. His nickname after that was "The Prince of Darkness"
 
Jul 8, 2018
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The switches were large circuit breakers controlled by a "Ferranti Overload control with inverse time element equipment" which means it will trip faster with higher fault current, that being said, it is a safety feature, but it did not help during the sinking, hence the electricians holding them in, salt water is a dead short.
 
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