Titanic's EngineOrder Telegraphs by Bill Sauder


Mar 3, 1998
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There are a variety of threads devoted to direct and indirect discussions about Titanic's engine-order telegraphs. Bill Sauder recently completed a comprehensive description of the telegraphs, based on his observations and analysis of the recovered artefacts in the conservation labs of RMS Titanic, Inc. That article has been posted in the Titanic section of marconigraph.com. Any questions about the article can be directed to either Bill or myself in this thread. Hope you enjoy.

Parks
 
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Bruce Beveridge

Guest
For the purposes of this new thread, I post it here also.

Parks,

Well I have to give you credit. Bill went though the instrument's make-up thoroughly and your digital creations are absolutely fantastic. I see that my summation agreed with Bill's in that the one STB telegraph with the black face was indeed printed with red lettering thus showing as pure black in the B&W photo. However, I disagree on the identification once again. There is this maneuvering telegraph indicated on what I called the emergency telegraph. What is a maneuvering telegraph supposed to be? I have never read about anything of this name. The relay engine command to the docking bridge is absent in this synopsis. It must have existed because it was on Britannic, and I quite from "Engineering":

For the handling of the ship Messrs. Ray have fitted between the forward bridge and the after docking bridge four 20" clear double dial all-brass instruments and one flange-back helm-indicator. Two of these instruments enable any possible order to be given to the engine room to control the engines via the bridge; the others enable a complete set of docking and steering orders to be transmitted and replied to between fore and aft. These instruments are connected by the same 6" ball-bearing pulleys; delta metal chain of heavy description is used instead of the usual copper sash-chain.

This addresses the port and starboard docking command telegraph with the flange backed helm indicator. The second set of telegraphs, as the article states, transmitted engine orders "via" the bridge.

Your and Bill's article is great in way of explaining how these things worked, but this maneuvering telegraph and the lack of a engine room relay from the docking bridge is absent. I find it hard to believe that Britannic was different in this regard.

Also, I have a picture of another White Star ship showing the starting platform and a port and starboard engine telegraph are visible one on each side. They were not on pedestals, but mounted higher up on steel and the handles were operated from under rather then on top.

Thank you for this article, and the time you put in it.

Bruce
 
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Bruce Beveridge

Guest
I found the hidden link on the illustration explaining the evidence for this maneuvering telegraph. I apologize that I missed it before.

I'll keep an open mind and look into it more when I start going through my books this spring.

Bruce
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Maybe I got a little too fancy in my construction of the Web page, but yes, there are invisible links in the CG render on the 4th page of the article. Clicking on each telegraph in the picture opens up a new page that describes our rationale for that telegraph's function.

Bill and I may still have to fine-tune the article and/or its presentation. As the article becomes more refined, I'll try to think of a way to make those links more obvious. That page, by the way, is the only instance in that article where I overlaid a navigation map over an image.

For the next two months, though, I have other tasking that will consume my time.

Parks
 

Bob Read

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Mar 3, 2002
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I didn't see that you started a new thread so I will re-post this here.

Parks and Bill:

First let me congratulate both of you on a fine article. There is much I learned from the article regarding technical details.

The one area I'm having a problem with is the analysis of where the different telegraphs were located on the navigating bridge. Perhaps I am
misinterpreting your analysis so please correct me if I am.

In the article the author states:
"The engine telegraphs (main and emergency) have 11 command positions, the docking (rope handling)
telegraphs have 7. Clearly, this is the remains of an undocumented telegraph transmitting only 5 commands. The only unaccounted telegraph is the unit referred to in the 1914 "Engineering" article, relaying engine movements between the after docking bridge and the captain’s bridge."

The problem I am having with the author's conclusions is that in the photo which supposedly shows this "5 star" telegraph recovered from the wreck, it appears to me that there are 6 "stars" (see photo link at bottom with "stars" identified). This would suggest that there is another hidden star making the telegraph in the photo a recovered docking telegraph not some special type like that carried on Aquitania.

Two possibilities exist. First there is, in fact, a recovered 5 star telegraph which is not pictured in the photo. In that case, photo documentation of this unique "5 star" telegraph would be necessary. Second, what was interpreted as a 5 star telegraph is actually a 7 star docking telegraph. It would have been theoretically possible to recover two
of these from the wreckage.

If what is interpreted as a 5 star telegraph is
actually a 7 star docking telegraph then the major premise in identifying telegraph #4 as a 5 star telegraph is lost. We are then back at our starting position of having only 7 and 11 star telegraphs in the wreckage. At that point it is just as reasonable to assume that telegraph #4 is a standard 11 star engine order telegraph except for the fact that it has red dial lettering.

The debate then would shift to whether a docking
bridge engine order telegraph or an emergency back-up telegraph would be more likely to have red lettering. My speculation would be that since red is often associated with emergency, then #4 would be the emergency back-up telegraph. This would also place both telegraphs receiving orders from the docking
bridge side by side as #2 and #3 which would seem to be a logical layout.

Here is the link to the photo from the article which purports to show 5 "stars" where I have placed labels on what I believe are six "stars".

http://webpages.charter.net/bpread/photos/telegraph38.jpg

I'll be interested in your reply.

Regards,
Bob Read
 

Bob Read

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Mar 3, 2002
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I believe I may have found where I misinterpreted the article. Rather than the number of stars found on telegraph, the number of telegraph positions corresponded to the spaces between the stars. Therefore a 5 position telegraph would need six stars to create 5 spaces between them. What is still somewhat cofusing to me is this statement regarding telegraph #4: "Recovery of a telegraph head with a 5-position star wheel (a configuration not encountered in photographic documentation)."

Are you saying that a five position star wheel telegraph head was indeed recovered but that it had not been previously photographed in the debris field? Have you personally inspected this 5 position wheel to confirm the number of star points? If the photo in the article is the only confirmation of the existence of a 5 position telegraph, is it possible that there are other star points out of view in the photo?

If there is indeed a telegraph like that of Aquitania, why would an engine order telegraph from the docking bridge need the docking commands on it? There was a dedicated docking/steering telegraph to communicate these very orders. Also, if there was discovered a 5 position telegraph then has a second one been found?
 

Bob Read

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Mar 3, 2002
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One final post. I combed through the article more closely and I see that you are not saying that telegraph #4 has any docking commands.
I guess my only remaining question has to do with the basis of identification of a 5 position telegraph. Did you inspect it in person to verify 5 telegraph positions or did you deduce that from the photo in the article?

Also, I have neglected to extend my compliments to Parks for the first rate images. They really helped clarify some of the concepts in the article. My compliments to both of you for the fine article.

Regards
Bob Read
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Bob,

Just got in, saw your posts. Looks like you have answered most of your original questions. Since the rest are aimed primarily at Bill, I'll let him answer when he signs on.

Parks
 
Mar 22, 2003
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www.titanicology.com
An excerpt from the Feb 27th 1914 "Engineering" magazine article on the Britannic on the subject of telegraphs, tell-tales, wheels and telemotor steering can be found here: http://titanic-model.com/db/db-02/bruce-3-db-02.html. This is the article that Bill and Parks were referring to in their extremely well done article on the subject of Titanic's engine-order telegraphs.
Nice work folks. Well researched and very informative.
 
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Scott R. Andrews

Guest
Bill and Parks,

I just want to convey my congratulations and my thanks to both of you for this well-written, informative and enjoyable article! Fantastic work, gentlemen!

Thank you both again,
Scott Andrews
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Brilliant work. I've just had my initial read-through, and intend to run it off and go through it more carefully. There was a particularly good job of marrying text and graphics, I thought. Congratulations to Bill and Parks.
 

Bob Read

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Mar 3, 2002
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Ok, I found the answer to the last of my questions. I was wondering about other views of the recovered telegraph to confirm 5 signal positions. In the article there is a photo of the opposite side of the telegraph that I didn't see and you can see that there are no more "stars" around the wheel so all six are shown in the other photo.

Regards,
Bob Read
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Thanks to all for your comments, it's gratifying to know that the "heavy hitters" found the article to be informative. I won't speak for him, but I imagine that Bill will be appreciative, too...I'm waiting for him to be done with a hectic weekend so that he can post.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Parks, I just had my initial read through of that article and it's an impressive work. It's not something I've seen touched upon outside of techie circles and I hope it get's a good read through from a much broader audience.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Well, there's a good chance that you'll see the CGI again (albeit under different ownership), and the CGI is based upon Bill's observations.

The telegraphs were easy, actually, because Bill's descriptions were thorough and the photos he took (or had access to) of recovered artefacts were very comprehensive. It's not often that one has direct access to the items in question. The other things that I've been working on lately have really been a challenge because for them I don't have the luxury of such direct access. But, more on that when the time is right. Just know that there is more to come for anyone interested.

Parks
 

Erik Wood

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Apr 10, 2001
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I just did a brief look through and plan on making a detailed read later this week. From what I can see GREAT WORK!!!
 

Bill Sauder

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Dec 19, 2000
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I wanted to thank everybody that stopped by to read my telegraph article and the kind comments about it.

To be honest, these purely technical articles are my least favorite to write. The format is always the same (the ankle bone’s connected to the shin bone….), they take a lot of graphic support, and it’s hard to string facts into something at passes for an interesting description. Parks, however, came to my rescue with his talented CGI reconstructions, which “add a little verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and uninteresting narrative”.

As you can see, the article was not written as a rebuttal per se to anything the TRMA group had posted, it was meant to be a stand-alone discussion of the Titanic’s telegraph installation from *primary sources* and conclusions that might be drawn directly from that information, without having to reference questionable, marginal sources.

To address specific questions, Bob Read originally had several questions. As he discovered, most are answered in the original article, but two remain:

Bob: Did I inspect the recovered telegraphs personally?
Bill: Yes, almost all of them. I have never personally seen one of the main engine telegraphs, however since it is safe to assume it’s identical/nearly identical to the unit I have already have inspected in Atlanta, I went ahead with publishing the telegraph article. When I do finally see it, I will update it if needed.

As the article mentions, I saw the various telegraphs at different times: at the recovery, in the conservation lab, during exhibit set-up and break-down, and while on display under glass (but before/after operating hours). RMST allowed me to take any photos and dimensions needed, permitted me to handle the units (consistent with conservational considerations), and they answered questions regarding specifics of recovery.

Perhaps the next edition of this article will fold this information into the text, but I wanted to keep tightly focused on mechanics and function.

Bob: [paraphrase]: Are there any hidden teeth on the proposed “manoeuvring telegraph” that would change its identity?
Bill: No, I took dozens of photos of that particular unit when it was on display in LA a few months ago. Because the teeth wrap around the center shaft, it takes several images from different points of view to document them all. In the interests of bandwidth, I selected a single photo that shows all the teeth. There are no more teeth on the backside behind the shaft, making this a five-order telegraph.

Bruce Beverage also had some questions asking for further justification on function assignment, but once he found the links, I gather he found the article at least complete.

Bruce promises to “keep an open mind and look into it more when I start going through my books this spring.”

Thanks Bruce, but I have to ask, since the article is composed of primary source material; what books will you be referring to?


Thanks again,

Bill Sauder
 

Bob Read

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Mar 3, 2002
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Bill:
Thanks for the reply. In my last post I discovered a second photo of this telegraph that was in the article. It show the opposite side of the telegraph and you can see that there are no other "stars" than those shown in the other photo. I had no idea how you were going to make a positive ID of a specific telegraph type but the deductions made from the "stars" was ingenious. Good work.

Regards,
Bob Read
 
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Bruce Beveridge

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Bill,

In response to your question; I am in the process of gleaning through all of my period ship related books and I was going to check for any indications of docking commands, and whatever requirements may be listed for communication etc. Sometimes hints like these lay in parts of books that I usually breeze over. I have a few books which talk about telegraphs and their workings, but again, I didn't spend much time taking in the information.

After mulling it over however, after I posted that initial message, I agree with your assessment on this issue fully, and have no need to try and look for anything else. I think you nailed it with this one.

Bruce
 

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