The granulated cork spotted after the sinkingwhat was origin of the cork


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Jan 7, 2002
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After Titanic sank, a large quantity of granulated coprk was seen at the surface- the original purpose of the cork which, described in the newly surfaced Officer Boxhall letters to Joe Carvalho was "used by the ships painters under the deck heads whilst the paint was still wet."
What i have always wondered was where on Titanic was this cork to be found? Was it in sheets?
How much was on board?

I have read other accounts that suggested the cork was actually part of Titanic's inner hull, and was one of the many elements used to make her 'practically unsinkable'.

Was Boxhall's description of the true function of the cork correct?
How much was on board- and were could it be found?
Are there any photos of the cork on Titanic or Olympic??

regards
'

Tarn Stephanos
 
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Aug 29, 2000
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I was delighted to finally know what that granulated cork was all about too Tarn. I am sure Boxhall knew what he was talking about, and it makes a lot of sense.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Was Boxhall's description of the true function of the cork correct? <<

Possibly, but if I recall correctly, there was all sorts of cork seen at the wreck site. Given the collapse/implosion of the stern section and any spaces not flooded solid, it's a good bet some of it was insulation from the refrigerated storerooms.
 
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All,

What Boxhall actually is referring to are small fragments of cork that were sprinkled/applied to the ceiling when the paint was still wet. This was designed to absorb some of the moisture that was ever present on ship. I'll scan a pic of what I'm talking about later on.

I don't think that the cork seen after the sinking was what Boxhall described. Mike is right, one of the possibilities was that it could have come from the refrigirating spaces where the walls were insulated with it.

Steward F. Dent Ray had another theory for the cork after the sinking. He thought the cork was from E deck, which was used to insulate some of the 1st class cabins, since the heat from the boiler and engine rooms was a little too strong on E deck. I assume they were placed on the inside of the casings.

Daniel.
 
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All,

Here's the cork on the ceilings that was applied when the paint was wet. Having looked through my photos, I only noticed this cork in 3rd or 2nd class cabins. None of the 1st class cabins that I saw had this. Maybe the cork was configned to certain areas of the ship? Perhaps those closer to the water level, or at the bow a stern. I'm not really sure though.

97341.jpg

(Olympic cabin, 1920)

Regards,

Daniel.
 
Aug 29, 2000
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Thanks for the photo, Daniel- I was trying hard to visualize what was meant. A picture is worth a thousand words.
 
Jul 14, 2000
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Daniel, are you certain that's not asbestos?
Why would granulated cork be applied to the ceilings? It wouldn't prevent fires, and it's not thick enough to appreciably dampen sound.
 
Jul 14, 2000
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I didn't read the previous post about the cork absorbing moisture, sorry.

But I still don't understand the logic in using cork to act as an absorbtion layer. Wouldn't that cause the paint to peel faster with the swelling and contracting of the cork? Not to mention the problems with mold.
If that is what the cork was used for then I must not understand correctly how it worked.
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Granulated cork in the paint would have worked to prevent "sweating" caused when warm, moist air comes into contact with cold steel. The amount of moisture pumped into the air by a passel of passengers can be prodigious. Without the cork, the deckhead in the photo might begin to drip on those walking below.

The cork did not absorb any water. It's function was to allow a thermal transition from the warm ambient air to the cold steel.

In addition, the cork would break up the acoustic echo from the flat panel of steel. This would help to reduce the ambient noise in the area.

If applied correctly, the cork would be encapsulated within the paint. In this condition it could neither absorb nor discharge moisture, so mold would not be a problem.

However, the encapsulated cork in the paint would not have broken loose to form the mass reported on the surface. That much cork was more likely insulation from the cold storage rooms in the stern section. Granulated cork was often used between two wooden walls as insulation. It was cheap and easily poured into cavities of all shapes.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Ok, I see now. That makes better sense, thanks David.

David, were the walls around the freezers made of wood or steel? I thought they were steel, but I have no evidence of them being either steel or wood. I just think of walk in freezers as being steel.
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Yuri-- I don't know for sure what the refer walls were made of. However, steel-framed wood with cork insulation would have been most thermal efficient. Steel walls would have transmitted too much outside heat, taxing the refer plant. However, there may have been some steel used to provide structural support, etc. I'm sure one of the dedicated rivet counters knows the exact details of construction.

-- David G. Brown
 
Aug 10, 2002
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I suspect that the cork attached to the deck head was so well glued in place that it stayed there. Ships I've been on that had refer. boxes had up to a foot thick cork insulation all around. I don't believe they'd have insulated anything hot with cork, as it will burn. When the ship broke up this would have been released and floated on the surface for all to see. So I suspect the cork your talking about came from the cold storage (refer. boxes) rooms.
Regards,
Charlie
 
Jul 14, 2000
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How long after Titanic sank would cork continue to break free from the steel painted surfaces and float to the surface? Is there still cork observed on the wreck today?
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>How long after Titanic sank would cork continue to break free from the steel painted surfaces and float to the surface?<<

If we're talking about the anti-sweat coating, my bet is that one way or another, it's still down there. Most of the paintwork can still be seen adhearing to the wreck even today. Even if it peeled off as opposed to being crusted over, it really wouldn't have anywhere to escape to.
 
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