The Grand Stair Case

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Joshua Miller

Guest
I am curious as to what happened to the forward grand staircase. Did it collapse when the bow section hit the sea floor? Or was the staircase constructed completely out of wood and eaten away over time? I wonder if both staircases are intact on the Britannic. What are your thoughts?

Josh
 

Ben Holme

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Feb 11, 2001
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Hi Josh,

The amount of "staircase wood" observed floating on the surface after the ship went down is a testament to the staircase's violent demise, as is the complete absence of wood at the wreck. It is likely that the implosion of the enormous glass dome (caused by the plummeting of the bow, and aided by the falling 2nd funnel directly behind it), coupled with the force of the water, undoubtedly ruptured the steel foundations, causing the staircase to literally break free and float through the newly created hole at the top. As the ship made its descent to the sea bed, the staircase may have broken into smaller pieces, hence the observations of wood on the surface.

Hope this helps,

Regards,
Ben
 

Joshua Gulch

Member
Mar 31, 2001
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Josh,
From one to another,
The grand staircases had a fairly well built steel frame to support the thing. Ben answered your question about Titanic's stairs, but Britannic's ought to still be there. Dives to the wreck have shown that the weather cover over the stairs was still intact. The stairs were never completely finished, so it's entirerly likely they're still secured to their mountings, albiet sideways. None of the expeditions have taken the chance to explore that area yet, though.

Another Josh.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Titanic had two "grand" staircases. The forward one is the most famous, but the after staircase shared much of the same attention to detail--save the ornate clock.

The ship came apart in way of the after staircase, which explains the large amount of wood floating on the surface. The forward staircase met a completely different fate. Early photographs from the Ballard expeditions show no violent destruction in this part of the ship to match the catastrophe of the after stairway.

(Check page 172 of Ballard's "Discovery" book for photos of debris from the after staircase.)

--David G. Brown
 

Steve Santini

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Nov 29, 2000
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Hello,
In my humble opinion, the quantity of wood from the grand staircase observed floating on the surface after the disaster was from the aft staircase. This is supported by a section of carved railing border we have in the Titanic Concepts Inc collection. This length of carved oak railing border, found by the Minia's chief officer James Adams, still has faint blue carpenter chalk markings on it's backside indicating it's orignial placement on the vessel. The written markings read "9303 AFT". This artifact can be seen here on the ET online exhibit. Regards, Steve Santini
 

Adam Leet

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May 18, 2001
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I remember hearing about the "floating staircase" theory once, with the entire assembly floating out of the collapsed weather cover. I forget who put it forward, but it certainly wasn't well thought out, as Mr. Stephenson noted.


Adam
 

Ben Holme

Member
Feb 11, 2001
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David -- good point about the after staircase comprising most of the wood on the surface due to its more violent demise.

I don't pretend to be particularly expert on the physcial aspects of Titanic's sinking - I just assumed the "floating theory" was widely accepted as fact. Upon re-reading my post, however, It does seem as though I'm suggesting that the entire frame floated through the hole, but this, as outlined above, was clearly a physical impossibility. If anything floated through the hole, it would be smaller chunks. However, I consider it highly unlikely that the forward staircase remained intact even after the impact with the sea bed, and that it did not comprise at least a small proportion of the floating debris observed afterwards.

Best Regards,
Ben
 

Remco Hillen

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Jan 6, 2001
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"I wonder if both staircases are intact on the Britannic"

Good questions....main problem is that we don't know how much of the GSC's panneling was installed at the time of the sinking.
You probably know the picture of the 3 nurses on the GSC; not much panneling is installed there.

There is however an account by a diver who claimes to have seen some remains of the pipeorgan in the GSC area.

We need a new expedition to fully answer this question.
sad.gif


Regards,
Remco
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Ben -- wood in many ways is much tougher than steel. I do not suspect that the forward staircase came apart to any appreciable amount during the sinking or impact on the bottom. Believe me, I've tried to remove rotton wood from a boat with crowbar and sledge only to be defeated by a single #8 bronze screw.

--David G. Brown
 
Jan 29, 2001
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Evening Gents...

It was Jacques Cousteau whom first penetrated BRITANNIC's Grand Staircase setting, and however a subsequent film was released following Cousteau's '76 visit, much of the information, including recovery of artefacts remains undisclosed. Currently it is Cousteau's daughter who heads up the Society.

As a tradesman of nearly 25 yrs. (Carpentry) I can offer insight into the ensemble of stair construction. I can only presume, and as exemplified by homes from the Victorian period, that stair construction from the Victorian period superceded that of todays standards. In other words homes from the Victorian period were *built by hand*, unlike today where worm-drive skillsaws, cordless drills and pneumetic nailers pave the way.

So taking this into account, the risers were set onto the steel foundation (Of which Parks reports is still in place of orgin aboard T), then the treads and risers were mounted. Probably a highly rated marine glue of sort, and fastnened with screws. Then you would have your intricate hand rail/goosenecking and balustrade installation (tounge and groove on TITANIC?)

Having years of stair construction under my belt, I cannot completely ruleout Pelligrino's theory, because when you install a *staircase* in a home (In this case a *floating hotel*) in-itself in becomes a whole...

...perhaps seperation of handrail and balustrade during TITANIC's break-up...my guess is the riser and tread ensemble parted as a whole.

Michael A. Cundiff
USA
 
Jan 29, 2001
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ADDENDUM:

...pardon me, the correct spelling is
S U P E R S E D E - "To be superior to".

...as in TITANIC's case...:)

MAC
USA
 
Jan 29, 2001
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Once again pardon me..I am a bit tired...

FIRST - Stringers (Horse's in today's teminology)

SECOND - Tread/Horizontal/Flat Member (So as you have a place to stand while erecting the riser.

THIRD - Risers/Vertical/Upright Member

FOURTH - Carpet, Oak, Tile, or what have you
(Just before the C-of-O(Certificate of Occupancy)

MAC
USA
 
J

Joshua Miller

Guest
Hi,
This is in response to Remco's post. I have never seen this photograph of the three nurses on the Britannic's GSC. Where can I find it? Can someone please tell me where it is to be seen?
Also was the pipe organ just displaced after the sinking?

Thanks,
Josh
 

Steve Smith

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Mar 20, 2011
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I seem to remember that the Grand Staircase set used by Cameron for the Titanic movie was broken from it's foundations by the force of water during the "sinking" scenes.
As it was a fairly accurate reproduction of the original it was suggested that this could be an indication of what happened to the real thing - though as mentioned above I don't see how it's then going to go floating off on it's own. Surely it's more likely that large chunks survived and were trapped in the ship with other debris.

On a slightly different point - Obviously a fair amount of wood was still on the ship (from Grand Staircase or anywhere else) when it hit the bottom. Would pieces that were then dislodged by the final impact float all the way back up to the surface - or would the pressure prevent it? Anyone know?

Steve
 
Mar 3, 1998
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From an engineering standpoint, the Grand Staircase set used in the movie was significantly larger than the original and the construction techniques were significantly different from those used by H&W.

From a forensics standpoint, the controlled lowering of the set into the basin at Fox Studios Baja did not accurately reproduce the forces at work within Titanic's hull during the actual sinking.

Cameron's re-enactment was for visual purposes only, and in that, he succeeded. However, to take that re-creation and use it as a forensics case study will result in flawed and misleading conclusions.

In regards to the amount of wood that remains in the wreck, I will direct you to Ken Marschall's description of the interior at:

http://home.flash.net/~sparks12/titanic.html

Parks
 
Mar 3, 1998
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A comment on my last post:

My remarks were meant to address an exact re-creation of the break-up of the staircase. There are lessons that can be learned from what happened when the movie set was submerged, as long as those lessons are caveated properly.

It is evident that the wood was violently lifted, probably entirely out of the void. The landing on D-Deck shows no remnant of wood, which means that the wood didn't simply dissolve away...it had to be wrenched free. My question is: What happened to the cast-iron balustrades? And not just the ones on the actual staircase itself, either. What happened to the balustrades along the periphery of the staircase? Not a one remains, even among those that were fastened between columns (which still remain). There is not a single balustrade to be found in the entire void...neither on one of the upper decks, nor down on the D- or E-deck landings. Out of all the balustrades in the GSC area, I find it astonishing that none are in evidence today.

Then again, strange things happen at sea.

Parks
 

Dan Cherry

Active Member
Mar 3, 2000
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Parks,
I agree about the peripheral balustrades. It seems inconceivable that every single one was swept or knocked away during the sinking when the columns still remain. I have always found myself wondering if perhaps a few did indeed survive the trip to the bottom in their place and now lie buried under the floor debris around the perimeter of the GSC opening. Being made of heavy wrought iron, I suppose if they did remain, after the woodwork was eaten/rotted away, they would probably tip back onto the floor at an early stage in wreck decomposition and are covered under inches of silt and fallen rusticles from the ceiling above, or tumbled the other way and fell into the GSC void (unlikely, since the steel foundation is discernable at the bottom and likely some evidence of balustrades would be visible today).

My .02
 
Jan 29, 2001
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Evening...

Some rephrasing is required on my behalf.

What I meant by *as a whole* is actually the three primary sections departing their foundation as a *whole*

1) The approach or winder section up to the landing (Base of Honor and Glory location).

2) The adjunct riser assembly which makes a 90 degree to the right based at the landing.

3) Same as above, only a 90 degree to the left.


A very conceivable theory!

Michael A. Cundiff
USA