TITANIC’S CENTRE PROPELLER: THE STEPHEN PIGOTT EVIDENCE


Encyclopedia Titanica

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Newly found evidence documents changes to Titanics propeller configuration... Titanica! Mon, 26 Oct 2020
 
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Mike Spooner

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Yes Indeed a very good bit of research work of the centre propeller. Which was covered practical word for word in the summer 2020 British Titanic Society Atlantic Daily Bulletin. I am now thinking of all those Titanic models out there with a four bladed propeller having to change them!
One slight correction Olympic was the second ship to be fitted with this combination? Yes for White Star Line, but the Otaki ship built by by William Denny and Brother for New Zealand shipping company in 1908 was the first commercial ship to use this combination, and was successful to. But never a less the article was full of good information and well done Mark.
 
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Thanks for your very kind comments. I'm pleased the article was of interest.

Mike, the section of the article you allude to is simply looking at Harland & Wolff's completed ships with combination machinery, for both White Star and other owners. Ships built by other builders were excluded from the analysis.

Best wishes
 

Mike Spooner

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Thanks for your very kind comments. I'm pleased the article was of interest.

Mike, the section of the article you allude to is simply looking at Harland & Wolff's completed ships with combination machinery, for both White Star and other owners. Ships built by other builders were excluded from the analysis.

Best wishes
Point taken Mark. Thanks again for the good work.
 

Mike Spooner

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Hi Mark,
Whilst on the subject of propellers. Can you give me a reason why H&W did not fit the propellers when on the slipway?
Or was the general practice of H&W not to so.
 

Milos Grkovic

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Hi Mark,
Whilst on the subject of propellers. Can you give me a reason why H&W did not fit the propellers when on the slipway?
Or was the general practice of H&W not to so.
I think it was the general practice to prevent them from spinning once the ship hit the water.
 
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Cam Houseman

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Newly found evidence documents changes to Titanics propeller configuration... Titanica! Mon, 26 Oct 2020
Something interesting, the 1997 movie shows a Four bladed prop. Although, this isn’t their fault, since the movie is based on what evidence they had at the time.

wasn’t Olympic fitted with a three bladed propeller in 1913?
 
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My understanding is that the Olympic retained a four bladed center propeller throughout her entire service life. These things were rather expensive to produce so they weren't just casually thrown away unless there was something massively wrong with them.
 
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The question should be put to all those who claim that Titanic had a 4-laded center prop to show on what historical basis does such a claim depend on.
Because both her sister ships had 4 bladed center props? Not disputing Mr. Chirnside's work on this. He's done excellent research on the subject and knows way more about it than me and most others. But until a definitive photo is found the only way to be sure is for someone to go clean out the mud and look or possibly use a mud (ground) penetrating radar. Both expensive endeavors.
 
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Mike Spooner

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I to do not question Marks research on the three centre bladed propeller for Titanic. But I do find it rather odd they have gone from four to three bladed propeller. As in the case of Lusitania and Mauretania started of with three bladed propellers.
Mauretania in 1908 changed to four bladed propeller with improve speed performance followed by Lusitania in1909 changed to a four bladed propellers as well. Especially when the changes have taken place before Olympic and Titanic are even built.
I can not find what was fitted on the Laurentic ship centre propeller for blades. I can only think if a three bladed propeller was on the ship in direct line of the rudder was considered a better idea. However new technology never stand still and so why not try a four bladed propeller against a three bladed propeller?
 
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A job well done! Mark outdid himself once more!

Thanks Juha, much appreciated.

Hi Mark,
Whilst on the subject of propellers. Can you give me a reason why H&W did not fit the propellers when on the slipway?
Or was the general practice of H&W not to so.

H&W certainly did fit propellers before launch, including Oceanic (1899) whose port and starboard propellers were almost as large as Olympic's. She was launched with her propellers in place as was Celtic. We can see them turning in launch footage. I believe Scott Andrews addressed this issue before regarding Olympic, but I cannot find my note.

10/10 would read again

Thanks. Please do. :)

Something interesting, the 1997 movie shows a Four bladed prop. Although, this isn’t their fault, since the movie is based on what evidence they had at the time.

wasn’t Olympic fitted with a three bladed propeller in 1913?

Yes. Many people have cited the movie to me as an example of why I'm wrong. ;-) Another person explained to me that their Titanic model had a 4-bladed centre propeller, therefore I was mistaken. And one person invented a fictional great grand father (aged 115) who had allegedly worked at H&W and told them that they'd witnessed Titanic being fitted with a 4-bladed centre propeller. For some reason, Titanic having a different propeller configuration to what they imagined seems to provoke strong emotions among some people.

Bruce Beveridge's research shows Olympic was fitted with a 3-bladed centre propeller in 1912-13, which was similar in specification to the 3-bladed centre propeller fitted to Titanic in 1912. She later reverted to a 4-bladed centre propeller configuration.

The question should be put to all those who claim that Titanic had a 4-laded center prop to show on what historical basis does such a claim depend on.

Exactly so.

There is no evidence Titanic had a 4-bladed centre propeller.

H&W's own records state she had a 3-bladed one.

Anyone claiming she had a 4-bladed centre propeller needs to provide primary source evidence of their claims.

Because both her sister ships had 4 bladed center props? Not disputing Mr. Chirnside's work on this. He's done excellent research on the subject and knows way more about it than me and most others. But until a definitive photo is found the only way to be sure is for someone to go clean out the mud and look or possibly use a mud (ground) penetrating radar. Both expensive endeavors.

Olympic, Titanic and Britannic were different in many ways, so assumptions about one ship's configuration do not take precedence over ship-specific evidence.

In fact, there are FIVE different wing propeller configurations for 1911-14 alone (Olympic's original configuration, Olympic's November 1911 configuration, Titanic's completed configuration, Olympic's 1913 configuration, and Britannic's completed configuration). These were simply differences of blade pitch or diameter and were all 3-bladed configurations.

Olympic had a 3-bladed centre propeller for a period and a 4-bladed centre propeller for the majority of her career. (By the way, although Britannic was completed with a 4-bladed centre propeller, Simon Mills' research indicated she was envisaged with a 3-bladed centre propeller at an earlier stage of construction.)

I'm advised that, even if some sort of ground-penetrating device could be used, the results from Titanic's wreck may hardly be definitive.

I agree with you that the wreck itself would be the best evidence. However, the absence of that should not blind us to the evidence we have available. Every detail of the H&W engineering notebook specifications which could be checked with other sources is correct and nobody has provided a legitimate reason to doubt it.

We need to be very clear that there's a familiarity bias at work.

The result of this is that people were perfectly happy to assume Titanic had a 4-bladed centre propeller, based solely on Olympic's (1911) configuration, without wanting any proof.

The only reason people question the H&W documentation that Titanic had a 3-bladed centre propeller is simply because it conflicts with their existing assumptions.

In other words, people prioritise the familiar (an assumption supported by no evidence) in favour of the unfamiliar (something documented clearly in H&W's records). This is a natural human bias that all objective researchers have to seek to overcome.

I can not find what was fitted on the Laurentic ship centre propeller for blades. I can only think if a three bladed propeller was on the ship in direct line of the rudder was considered a better idea. However new technology never stand still and so why not try a four bladed propeller against a three bladed propeller?

Laurentic's centre propeller is mentioned in the article. As stated, she had a 3-bladed centre propeller. The results of her trials were apparently so satisfactory that they went a long way to cementing H&W's confidence in using the new combination propulsion system. It was Olympic's 1911 configuration that is the odd one out, since she's the only combination ship H&W completed from April 1909 to January 1914 with a 4-bladed centre propeller.

Best wishes

Mark.
 
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Mike Spooner

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Mark your research does raise an interesting point if Titanic had a three bladed centre propeller and could well be the case, as there were no known photos of Titanic propellers before leaving the dry dock. That now leave us to believe what was fitted on the Olympic with photos must be the same for Titanic!
I only wish we can find that millionaire who is prepared to pay for the cost in removing the mud from Titanic propellers. Come you millionaires out there make a name for your self that will be never be forgotten. I known if I was in that position I wouldn't hesitate and probably with the right marketing could well recover the costs to.
 
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Bob_Read

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Mike Spooner: You wrote: “That now leave us to believe that what was fitted on the Olympic must be the same for Titanic!” Since when? There were many things fitted on Titanic that were not fitted on Olympic. Your argument has more holes than a sieve.
 
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Thanks Juha, much appreciated.



H&W certainly did fit propellers before launch, including Oceanic (1899) whose port and starboard propellers were almost as large as Olympic's. She was launched with her propellers in place as was Celtic. We can see them turning in launch footage. I believe Scott Andrews addressed this issue before regarding Olympic, but I cannot find my note.



Thanks. Please do. :)



Yes. Many people have cited the movie to me as an example of why I'm wrong. ;-) Another person explained to me that their Titanic model had a 4-bladed centre propeller, therefore I was mistaken. And one person invented a fictional great grand father (aged 115) who had allegedly worked at H&W and told them that they'd witnessed Titanic being fitted with a 4-bladed centre propeller. For some reason, Titanic having a different propeller configuration to what they imagined seems to provoke strong emotions among some people.

Bruce Beveridge's research shows Olympic was fitted with a 3-bladed centre propeller in 1912-13, which was similar in specification to the 3-bladed centre propeller fitted to Titanic in 1912. She later reverted to a 4-bladed centre propeller configuration.



Exactly so.

There is no evidence Titanic had a 4-bladed centre propeller.

H&W's own records state she had a 3-bladed one.

Anyone claiming she had a 4-bladed centre propeller needs to provide primary source evidence of their claims.



Olympic, Titanic and Britannic were different in many ways, so assumptions about one ship's configuration do not take precedence over ship-specific evidence.

In fact, there are FIVE different wing propeller configurations for 1911-14 alone (Olympic's original configuration, Olympic's November 1911 configuration, Titanic's completed configuration, Olympic's 1913 configuration, and Britannic's completed configuration). These were simply differences of blade pitch or diameter and were all 3-bladed configurations.

Olympic had a 3-bladed centre propeller for a period and a 4-bladed centre propeller for the majority of her career. (By the way, although Britannic was completed with a 4-bladed centre propeller, Simon Mills' research indicated she was envisaged with a 3-bladed centre propeller at an earlier stage of construction.)

I'm advised that, even if some sort of ground-penetrating device could be used, the results from Titanic's wreck may hardly be definitive.

I agree with you that the wreck itself would be the best evidence. However, the absence of that should not blind us to the evidence we have available. Every detail of the H&W engineering notebook specifications which could be checked with other sources is correct and nobody has provided a legitimate reason to doubt it.

We need to be very clear that there's a familiarity bias at work.

The result of this is that people were perfectly happy to assume Titanic had a 4-bladed centre propeller, based solely on Olympic's (1911) configuration, without wanting any proof.

The only reason people question the H&W documentation that Titanic had a 3-bladed centre propeller is simply because it conflicts with their existing assumptions.

In other words, people prioritise the familiar (an assumption supported by no evidence) in favour of the unfamiliar (something documented clearly in H&W's records). This is a natural human bias that all objective researchers have to seek to overcome.



Laurentic's centre propeller is mentioned in the article. As stated, she had a 3-bladed centre propeller. The results of her trials were apparently so satisfactory that they went a long way to cementing H&W's confidence in using the new combination propulsion system. It was Olympic's 1911 configuration that is the odd one out, since she's the only combination ship H&W completed from April 1909 to January 1914 with a 4-bladed centre propeller.

Best wishes

Mark.
Thank you for your reply. I've always enjoyed reading your research over the years. You do excellent work on the subject of Titanic and other ships. As for the center prop if I was sitting on a jury I would rule in your favor that you have proven your case. If I was sitting in a casino and asked to place a bet on it I wouldn't. I know thats not logical but I guess I have some Missouri blood in me. Show me after we dig it out. That's my flaw not anyone elses. Anyway again thanks for your hard work and your book on the Aquitania is on my list to get. I look foward to reading it as I have liked the history of her. Especially her later years. Cheers...SteveC.
 
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