Telegraph system


M

Mary S. Lynn

Guest
Yes - have done the "Find" feature.

Admitted "stupid" questions:

The ship's Telegraph system (and not just on the Titanic) was devised to communicate information from the Bridge to the Boiler Room?

Can some kind person - in 300 or so words or less, and without being too technical, explain how - and why - this system worked?

We all watched various portrayals of Murdoch/Hitchens/Lightoller/Smith/ ad infinitum throw that Telegraph switch - depending on the movie. All forward. All backwards. Stop here. Stop there. And no movie really shows the actual signal of the Telegraph! Unless you have a DVD version of any movie, and can press "stop", it's really difficult to follow.

You get fleeting visions of: Half stop/ahead. Full stop/ahead. Reverse. Forward. Quarter stop. Blah, blah, and more blah.

Totally confused, and depending on Titanica expertise.

Thanks in advance
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
Hi Mary,

On the titanic they had 2 telegraphs, one for each engine. These were connected by chains to telegraphs in the engine room. The telegraphs on the bridge are identical to those in the engine room. Stop is right at the top of the telegraph. Then forward and down the telegraph you have, Dead slow speed ahead, Slow speed ahead, Quarter speed ahead, Half speed ahead, Three quarter speed ahead and full speed ahead. The same goes for astern working backwards and down. The telegraphs had bells in them so that whoever was there would hear when the telegraphs were moved.

There is also an arrow on the telegraph showing what position the engine room telegraph is in. When the officer moved the telegraph on the bridge the engineer in the engine would move his telegraph to correspond with the telegraph on the bridge. This moves the arrow on the bridge telegraph and rings the bell on the bridge to show that the order has been acknowledged.

On the Titanic, First Officer William Murdoch Gave 3 rings on each telegraph meaning there was an emergency.

I hope this explains what you wanted to know.

Regards,

Paul Visser
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
I correct myself in what I said about the telegraphs as to the readings on them.
From stop forward and down you have “Standby”, “Dead Slow”, “Slow”, “Half” and “Full” ahead and astern. The attached immage will show you a telegraph. (Not the one on the Titanic)

Paul
84082.jpg
 
M

Mary S. Lynn

Guest
Paul - eternal thanks for giving me such a great answer! I think my main confusion was how the telegraphs on the bridge were connected to the engine rooms. I had assumed - incorrectly - they were connected electronically. Thanks very much for a correct and concise description, as well as the image.

Dead slow ahead - would that mean that the ship was simply floating forward with the engines turned off, and not at anchor?
 
Paul,

Your description was accurate with the following exceptions:

- Both port and starboard engine indicators were located on one telegraph pedestal, one to each side. There was a main engines pedestal on each side of the bridge, which meant that one was always close by, no matter which side of the bridge the deck officer was standing his watch. The two main engines pedestals were duplicates of one another, and each included an engine tell-tale (which is not shown in the 1997 movie and maybe not in the others, either...I would have to check).

- Murdoch did not ring the telegraph 3 times. As was normal procedure, he did move the indicator handle around the dial to ring the bells long and loud so that they would immediately catch the attention of the engineers below. Titanic had a separate emergency telegraph at centreline (which also contained both a port and starboard side), which was installed in Titanic primarily as a backup to a mechanical linkage failure of the main engines telegraph, an incident that was sometimes encountered at that time. According to greaser Scott, the bridge rang down both the main engines and emergency telegraphs.

The configuration of the telegraphs has been verified by Bill Sauder, who has personally examined, measured and catalogued the telegraphs brought up from the Titanic wreck.

Mary,

DEAD SLOW required the engines to be engaged, albeit at a slow RPM, just enough for the ship to maintain headway.

Parks
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
Hi Mary,

I am pleased to have been of some help.

In answer to your last question, stop means that the engines are to be stopped weather the ship is at anchor or not. Standby means that the engines would be stopped but they would keep enough steam pressure so the engines could be started immediately. Dead slow means that the engines would be running very slowly. Just enough to give the ship some headway.

Regards,

Paul Visser
 
M

Mary S. Lynn

Guest
Paul, I thank you once again for your very informative efforts and posts. You have been very kind, and I appreciate it! You answered some very basic questions for me. Thanks, again.
 
M

Mary S. Lynn

Guest
Parks - I defer to you as an expert (not because I saw you on TV and taped you....yeah, right!), but because you ARE an expert, and have have provided extra information about the Telegraph system. A few questions for you:

"Both port and starboard engine indicators were located on ONE telegraph pedestal". Is this the same pedestal whose picture was taken and published in GotA? Were there two identical pedestals? If so, why is there only one picture?

My understanding is that Murdoch rang the Telegraph only one time, to "ring the bells loud and long". Why do the movies only show a very quick Telegraph move, from far side to near side, which could have been anything? Cinemagraphics aside...

An "engine tell-tale" would be...?

Thanks, Parks.
 
Mary,

I'm no expert, just someone who listens closely when others talk. My knowledge about Titanic's engine-order telegraphs comes from Bill Sauder, who must know the subject better than anyone, thanks to his work on the real devices.

I'm not sure which telegraph pedestal you are referring to in GotA. Most of the telegraphs have been recovered. Are you perhaps thinking of the telemotor pedestal for the ship's wheel?

There were two identical telegraphs for the main engines, one to port, the other to starboard. The deck officer stood his watch on the windward side of the bridge and having duplicate telegraphs meant that one would always be closest to where the watch officer was standing.

Whenever you move the indicator handle from one command to the next, a bell rings both in the telegraph housing and in the associated telegraph down in the engine room. A single bell ring can be lost in the noise of the engine room, so it was customary to move the handle far forward and then back over multiple commands, so that more than one bell sounded (this is the sound effect that you hear in the movie, by way of example). This clanging of multiple bells could not be missed by the engineering watch, or so it was intended. The extent to which the watch officer would move the handle was dependent on his own style...there was no set requirement to move the handle x number of spaces. I did not advise on the 1997 movie, and don't remember Murdoch's move without watching the film again. I did advise on GotA, and made certain in that film that "Murdoch" rang the pointer forward and back in order to give a good ringing of the bells.

An engine tell-tale in this instance is a circular dial on the aft side of the telegraph housing that gave a visual indication of the direction in which the engines were running.

Parks
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
BTW, I noticed that in Cameron's movie, the telegraph was made by a certain J.W. Ray & Co., but was it the same company that supplied the telegraph to the real ship?
 
Jeremy,

Yes, J.W. Ray & Co. made the original telegraphs for Titanic. I talked with them a few years back and can't remember if they built the telegraphs for Cameron's film, or if Cameron had his own local contractors replicate them. I can tell you, though, after having disassembled and re-assembled two of the ones used in the film myself, that even though the telegraphs look authentic, they are not constructed like the originals. They are, like most everything else used in the film, minimally constructed with the sole purpose of looking good on film.

By the way, Cameron keeps two of the telegraphs (the ones I fooled around with) and the ship's wheel, binnacle and telemotor assembly in his office at Lightstorm Entertainment.

Parks
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
>>they are not constructed like the originals<<

Were the ones in the film actually working or were they just a hollow shell of brass?

Another question - Is J.W. Ray & Co still existing today?

Thanks!
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
Jeremy,

They did not "work" in the sense that there was no interior mechanism. The "telegraph bells" were added to the soundtrack during post production. However, the indicator handle did rotate and there was a light inside that illuminated the facings. You can see a picture of one having a facing being changed on the "Behind the Scenes of GotA" page in the Cape Race section of my website.

J.W. Ray & Co. was still in existance when I talked with them a few years ago. They used to have a website, but that site appears to no longer to be operable. For people with money to spend, they sold a telegraph with facings similar to what Titanic had for the home. Unfortunately, it appears that the company had retained no specific record of their installation aboard Titanic...the Browne photograph of Olympic's bridge and the Daily Sketch photograph of Smith standing in front of Titanic's bridge remain the best historical sources of information about Titanic's engine telegraphs. I don't know what the company's situation is today...maybe someone in the UK could call the number listed in the Merseyside (Liverpool) directory and check up on them.

Parks
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
Hi people,

My turn to pick your brains.....

Were the red and white lights in the boiler rooms, and the bell which was mentioned in the inquiry somehow connected to the telegraphs or were they manually operated by the engineers using a switch or switches? Were there any other lights in the boiler rooms like standby or slow speed or anything like that as well?

Looking forward to your replies,

Paul Visser
 
Top