The discharge vent

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Paul Lee

Member
I am curious about the water discharge vent that nearly flooded lifeboat 13 (the one abeam funnel 4, on G deck)... what was its purpose? And where did the water it was pumping out on April 14th/15th come from?
 
Dave Gittins

Dave Gittins

Member
To quote Fred Barrett, "Well, out of the sea, I expect."

I can resist anything except temptation!

Seriously, I stand to be corrected by the techies, but the pipe normally discharged water used to cool the condensers that condensed the steam that had been through the engines before reuse. It's possible that by the time boat 13 was lowered, the system had been adapted to help the bilge pumps.
 
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Paul Lee

Member
Would that possibly be the purpose of the big pipe sent into the boiler rooms that required the raising of the watertight doors?
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
>>Seriously, I stand to be corrected by the techies,<<

No, I don't think you'll have to worry about being corrected. That was exactly what that discharge was for. What I don't know is if the system could have been re-aligned to give the bilge pumps a helping hand.
 
Dave Gittins

Dave Gittins

Member
According to Mersey's report, which drew on material from H & W, the condenser pumps could draw water from the bilge if required.

"Four gunmetal centrifugal pumps were fitted for circulating water through the condensers. Each pump had suction and discharge pipes of 29 in. bore, and was driven by a compound engine. Besides the main sea suctions, two of the pumps had direct bilge suctions from the turbine room and the other two from the reciprocating engine room. The bilge suctions were 18 in. diameter."

Whether the condenser pumps were used to pump the bilge during the sinking is another thing. Evidence is sadly lacking. Presumably, all that was required was for valves to be turned to a bilge pumping position. Possibly this would have been of little use anyway, as the pumps' intakes were so far aft.
 
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Noel F. Jones

Member
The Shipbuilder makes no mention of such alternative deployment for the bilge pumps. These were located no further forward than the wings of both engine rooms so suction lines must have been run from there to the strum boxes (strainers) in all bilge compartments, howsoever forward.

Noel
 
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Scott R. Andrews

Guest
The bilge pumps and most of the other pumps throughout the engine and boiler rooms, regardless of their primary function, had connection through their distribution boxes to the two 10" bilge and ballast mains that ran most of the length of the ship. However, the main circulating pumps did not have a connection to these mains. As Dave outlines above, they were instead set up to alternately either from the injection inlets, or to draw directly from the bilges of the engine rooms. On the surface, this may sound like a lot of pumping capacity for just these two compartments. However, given the number of large sea connections in each of these compartments, it's easy to picture a ship's engineers trying to cope with the sort of inundation that might result from a fractured injection line or a pump discharge or other large through-hull that's carried away. Under those circumstances, a direct 18-inch suction (or two) could come in very handy!

Regards,
Scott Andrews
 
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Noel F. Jones

Member
In the context, my post:

"The Shipbuilder makes no mention of such alternative deployment for the bilge pumps. These were located no further forward than the wings of both engine rooms so suction lines must have been run from there to the strum boxes (strainers) in all bilge compartments, howsoever forward."

doesn't make sense. It should have read:

The Shipbuilder makes no mention of such alternative deployment for the condenser pumps. The bilge pumps were located no further forward than the wings of both engine rooms so suction lines must have been run from there to the strum boxes (strainers) in all bilge compartments, howsoever forward.

Which, in the light of information subsequently provided, probably doesn't make much more sense anyway.

Noel
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
Scott: What is interesting to me in all of this is that we know from Beesley descending in lifeboat 13 along the side of the turbine room that the main condenser circulating pumps were being used long after the ship had stopped. As you know there was an auxiliary condenser in the main engine room that would have been adequate for taking care of the electric dynamo engines and the other pumps. We also know the engineers had carried a suction pipe from aft to as far forward as into BR 4. Any ideas as to why the main condensers would still have been used since the ship was stopped?
 
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Scott R. Andrews

Guest
Hi Sam,

In spite of the testimony of Beesley, Barrett and Beauchamp, I suspect that the main condensers and circulating pumps had probably been shut down earlier. As you note, the main condensers were really only required to operate the main engines as there was an auxiliary condenser plant in the starboard side of the reciprocating engine room, complete with it's own circulating pump and air pump, designed to handle the full load of all of the ship's auxiliaries. Between this, and the auxiliary surface heater providing preheating of the return feedwater, on the surface of things there would seem to be no need for the main condenser plant.

Personally, I suspect that the main condensing plant was probably shut down not very long after the engine room became fully aware of the true nature of the situation that they were facing. The main circulating pumps were the biggest users of steam in the main engine rooms, second only to the main engines themselves. Once it became clear that ship wasn't going anywhere, these pumps had no secondary purpose other than clearing water from the bilges of the engine rooms -- not a factor that night. Given how drastically steam production was cut between loss of two boiler rooms and the drawing of fires and blowing off of steam in others, I have to ask myself why wouldn't Chief Bell have shut down these redundant systems? This would seem to be the logical thing to do, if for no other reason than to conserve the steam still being produced for the pumps connected to the bilge system, which were no doubt being run at peak capacity, and for the main electric plant, which I'm sure was also seeing an increase in load as lights were being turned on all over the ship.

Another thing that had me suspecting that the main condensers had been shut down by this time has to do with the complete absence of any similar stories from the occupants of boat No.14 (or from those in 12 and 16) on the port side, which were all lowered between 1:15 and 1:25 (per Behe, et. al.), not long before Nos. 13 and 15. Had boat No.14 encountered anything like the stream of water that those in No.13 were threatened by, I'm sure that somebody in that boat would have become alarmed enough to have said something about it during the launching, or in accounts written after the fact.

Yet, the fact remains that boat 13 did encounter a large stream of water as they reached the surface of the sea, so this water came from someplace. What I suspect is this: the large stream of water that threatened this boat and had these men so concerned might not have been from the condenser discharge, but from one of the pump discharges just forward of this. One of these was a shared discharge was from the two large duplex pumps in the forward starboard side of the turbine engine room -- two of the numerous pumps that had distribution boxes which allowed connection to multiple discharge and suction sources, including the bilge mains. Though not nearly as large as the main condenser discharge, this was from a pipe of about 8-inch inside diameter attached to a valve and chest with an with an outlet of approximately 10 to 12 inches, and had with two pumps of at least 150-ton/hr capacity connected to it. Among other things, these pumps and their counterparts on the port side appear to be set up to perform a variety of tasks, from bilge pumping to circulating the two oil coolers in the turbine engine room and the fresh water distillers up in the didcharge recess. Even though this wouldn't have been nearly as impressive as the huge waterfall that normally issued from each of the main condenser discharges, a jet of water a that is about foot in diameter at it's source, spreading out to perhaps twice that as it fell, would certainly be at once both awe-inspiring and terrifying to those being lowered through the darkness into it's path. To anybody but one of the ship's engineers, I'm sure that this could have easily been mistaken as being the discharge from the condenser.

Now, I could easily be wrong on all of this. For one thing, the exhaust line from the generators had connections not only to the surface feed heater and the auxiliary condenser -- there was also a connection through a large valve to the after end of the starboard main condenser. Could they have operated the starboard condenser alone, with one or both starboard circulating pumps running at reduced speed? Perhaps; a bit like using a shotgun to kill flies. But, perhaps... Without knowing the conditions under which this connection was designed to be used, it's not possible for me to evaluate my suspicions based on this information alone. What I wouldn't give for a look at the engine room operations manual for one of these ships!...

Regards,
Scott Andrews
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
Thanks Scott for that detailed explanation. One other thing I just thought about is the use of those silent blowoffs. If they were still trying to condense excessive steam pressure they would have exhausted that into the starboard condenser. If I recall correctly, the silent blowoff was connected to the output from the LP cylindars on the starboard reciprocating engine. This would have exhausted directly to the starboard main condenser.
 
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Paul Lee

Member
Perhaps the port condenser discharge was underwater? There was apparently a big list to port at the time of boat 13/15 and 14/16 launch....
 
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Scott R. Andrews

Guest
Hi Paul,

The discharge openings from the condensers were approximately bisected by the maximum load line, which was at 34'-7". The following image is cropped from one of the well-known photos of the Titanic departing Belfast for her trials:

98841


In this picture, the ship had a mean draft of a little less than 30 feet. The color transition from the red paint to the black can just barely be discerned.

Regards,
Scott Andrews
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
Scott: The pictures shows three discharges. The large one I assume is from the main condenser circulating pumps. Can you identify the two smaller ones?
 
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