Titanic's Whistles


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Jim Trebowski

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How far away could the ships whistle be heard in Southhampton? 11? 15? Did they really break windows nearby?
 
Dec 4, 2000
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This past week at the Miami Boat Show I ran into Erik Kahlenberg. His family company, Kahlenberg Bros. Co., refurbished the real Titanic whistle and then created three copies for exhibitions. According to Erik, two of the copies were sent to locations specified by the owners of the real whistle.

The third copy whistle remains in the Kahlenberg plant, an orphan. Erik says he has tried to get instructions from the owner, but to no avail. So, the reproduction sits quietly awaiting its fate in a warehouse somewhere in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.

-- David G. Brown
 
Dec 4, 2000
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According to Erik Kahlenberg, the duplicates were made for the exhibitions now open in large cities. He didn't know exactly which whistle went to what display.

-- David G. Brown
 

Mike Bull

Member
Dec 23, 2000
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That's all we need-replica artifacts finding their way to exhibitions. It's bad enough that real stuff is put on display, without fakes too.
 
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Dave Shuttle

Guest
Hi all,
The replica whistles were created to exacting specifications determined by the cobalt x-ray procedures instituted by Kahlenberg on the original whistles from the first funnel. They were specifically created to fill the perceived need for working whistles to be used at Titanic functions such as exhibitions. The original whistles have just enough internal damage as to be deemed unsafe to use and reuse without resulting permanent damage to an irreplaceable artifact.
I have had the opportunity to sound the replica whistles during anniversary ceremonies at the Dallas exhibition last April 15. They are driven by a trailer sized steam generator. I believe a replica pair of whistles also hung in the Tropicana Hotel (Atlantic City, NJ) in the public area adjacent to the boardwalk during the second exhibition run at that facility last year. Both of these instances are excellent opportunities to utilize replicas to do the work of an original at little risk.
Dave Shuttle
 
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Brian R Peterson

Guest
Hi Jim!

The whistles on the Titanic were rumored to have been audible miles away, and I would imagine this to be true as you can hear trains and modern ships from miles out. However the whistles are of such a low key I hardly think they could shatter windows.

Best Regards,

Brian
 
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Scott R. Andrews

Guest
Robert,

A lot depends on both the type of whistles and the atmospheric conditions. The Typhon whistles, which are more like an air horn on a large truck or diesel locomotive than they are a whistle, have a spring-loaded diaphragm at the back of the horn producing the sound and a flared, trumpet-like resonator which, in addition to helping control the pitch and to shape the sound of the device, serves to focus and project the sound waves. These devices are semi-directional in that even though you can hear the sound at all points around the ship, they project their sound most intensely in the direction the bell of the horn faces. The type of whistles used by the Titanic were omni-directional, with the sound waves radiating out in all directions and not augmented by being focused in any particular direction as in the case of a horn. Ignoring all other factors, it's easy to see how, at least in the direction dead ahead, a horn-type device may generate sound over greater distances than a whistle.

What they have in common is that the sound-projecting ability of either type is greatly improved or diminished by atmospheric conditions. Thin, cold, dry air will diminish the effectiveness of either type of whistle, while dense, moist air helps the sound to carry farther. Wind of any sort will also impact the ability of the sound to carry, either assisting the sound to carry or preventing it from being heard at all at a distance, depending upon wind speed and direction.

It is possible that the claims made for the carrying distance of 10 miles for the Typhon whistles are assuming under ideal conditions, i.e. dense, moist air (fog, anybody?) and that the listener is at some distance dead ahead of the ship, or at least not too many degrees either side, and in still air.

As for the ability of these whistles to shatter windows, even at close distance I would suspect that the natural resonant frequency of the window would have to be close to matching some part of the complex blend of tones which make up the single sound you hear from the whistle. In this respect, the triple-bell whistles of the Olympic-class may have a slight edge over the single-note Typhon, since the rather discordant trichord they produced caused generated a strong sub-sonic throb. I suppose this may go some way towards explaining the claims I've heard that at times, even when large whistles of this type could barely be heard, or couldn't be heard at all, they could sometimes be felt or sensed by those on other ships well before the audible part of their sound became apparent to the listener.

Regards,
Scott Andrews
 
May 3, 2005
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Scott-

Thanks very much for your remarks re:"Whistles."

Optical, sonic and radio devices can be directional and can be focused.

The telescope and binoculars might be an optical analogy. If the lookouts were looking directly ahead they might have spotted the iceberg earlier, but if they had been looking to the sides, they wouldn't even have seen it.

The megaphone is just one example of a Sonic device, and Sonar is basically an Audio or Sonic Device.

A radio directional or "beam" antenna focuses the radio waves. The transmission or reception is very good at the front and center of the "beam" but very little efficiency off the sides or the back of the beam. Amateur Radio Antennas of this type are usually rated in "gain" for the radiation or reception to the front and "front to back ratio" for the comparison between front and back radiation or reception. These are listed in Decibels.

The bottom line is that Captain Smith was no doubt well aware of these limitations and this may very well be the reason the whistles were not sounded on the Titanic as they would have only caused additional panic and used up valuable steam pressure as Michael has pointed out.

>>they could sometimes be felt or sensed by those on other ships <<
One of my criteria for rating organs (of the pipe and computer types): You can feel the deep pedal notes in your feet on a good organ . :)

Regards,
Robert Paige
 
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Scott R. Andrews

Guest
>>they could sometimes be felt or sensed by those on other ships <<
One of my criteria for rating organs (of the pipe and computer types): You can feel the deep pedal notes in your feet on a good organ . :)

Aye, someone after me own heart! I think you'd like the work of one Ernest M. Skinner, then. Outside of their exquisite tonal finishing and broad tonal pallet, his organs were uniformly voiced on much higher wind pressures than the anemic neo-baroque organs that have been in fashion since the end of WW2; as a result, they really have a lot more "presence" in the spaces in which they were installed. Pressures of 6" to 7-1/2" WG throughout were the norm, with the Solo division up on 10", and one or more stops like an 8' Tuba Mirabilis on 25" (good for pealing paint or parting hair at 50 yards); and, undergirding all of this, a pedal division that, in his larger instruments, is supported by an absolutely seismic 32' Bombarde of large scale and voiced on 20" wind. ("Gloriously raucous" was the way one reviewer described this stop on a recording of the 1929 Skinner in Woolsey Hall at Yale.) This is in stark contrast to the 1-3/4" to 3" used in the typical wheezy, under-winded box of whistles the neoclassicists fawn all over.

Regards,
Scott Andrews
 
May 3, 2005
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Scott-

Aye, a kindred soul ! BTW, are you any relation to the late Thomas of the Titanic ?

I must confess to being more of a listener than a musician.But I must confess to being something of a critic of sorts.

We had the rare opportunity to attend an "in person" concert by the late Dr. Virgil Fox many years ago at First United Methodist Church in Dallas.I have a small collection of CD's of Dr. Fox's works..and a good pair of headphones.

Also fortunate locally in the Lay Family Organ at the Meyerson Symphony Center. Haven't attended an "in person" concert but have heard and seen it on television and radio.

My favorite of all is the Spreckels Organ at Balboa Park in San Diego. Have attended a few concerts there.

I must also confess to being "fooled" by the Allen Computer Organ at our church. (This isn't a very good picture of the organ, but the sound chamber is at the top of the Choir Loft and the console is located to the right of the picture.)
I also thought that a recent Postlude was something from Bach, but my daughter (who is a member of the Chancel Choir) informs me it was the theme from the movie "Superman." But still, there's the "feel it in your foot" . :)
http://www.whiteschapelumc.com/worship-music/traditional-worship/

To a Pipe Organ Purist such as yourself you might consider that blasphemy and that I'm really a rank "tin ear" as far as organs go. :)

BTW, and back to the subject of whistles, we have stayed at Hotel Queen Mary and heard the "in person" Voice of Queen Mary.

Regards,
Robert Paige

PS- I would include some website listings on the other organs mentioned above but I'm not sure of the copyright involvements and I'm sure you are familiar with them.
 
May 3, 2005
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Also a note somewhere that there was a pipe organ on Titanic. Is this another of those "myths" ? I think it is pretty well a fact there were a few pianos, maybe one of which was a Grand Piano.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>Also a note somewhere that there was a pipe organ on Titanic. Is this another of those "myths" ?<<

Yep. Sure is. I recall that one was planned for the Britannic but I don't think it was ever installed.
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
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Some may have got the idea that Titanic had an organ from Ian Whitcomb's recording "Music as Heard on the Fateful Voyage". This includes an Aeolian organ on some tracks, notably the "White Star March". However, there was no organ on Titanic. It's just that Whitcomb managed to get hold of some paper rolls of the period. The Aeolian organ worked like a player piano.
 

Adam Burgess

Member
Dec 10, 2006
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I have heard that the Olympic had an organ under the grand staircase however this was not fitted on Titanic, can anyone provide me with more information?
 
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Brian R Peterson

Guest
Hi Adam,

Neither Olympic nor Titanic featured a pipe organ in either GSC, the Britannic however was to feature one to be housed in an elaborate wood casing at the base of the stairs. I am unsure as to whether or not the organ itself was ever installed however.

Best Regards,

Brian
 
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Aaron_2016

Guest
The Titanic's whistle was recovered and blown several times in 1999. To commemorate the 106th anniversary of her departure I have dubbed the audio over silent footage of the Olympic in 1922 soon after her 10th anniversary. Haunting to watch. Farewell to the Titanic and Olympic.


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