When were the thirdclass quarters painted


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David M. Brown

Guest
I once met a Titanic survivor who was 5 years old at the time of the sinking. She had a number of memories that could have been supplied or suggested to her by adult survivors. However, she had one memory that suggests her memories were her own, not suggestions of others. She said she found the smell of paint quite strong and unpleasant. She was a third-class Swedish immigrant. My question is: Does anyone know how soon before embarkation the third-class quarters, deck, mess, etc. were painted? Is it likely they were still off-gassing in a big way by the time third-class passengers came on board and the ship sailed?
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Dave!

The odor of fresh paint was strong in Second Class as well. Survivor Winifred Van Tongerloo told me that her mother left their cabin door ajar for ventilation during the night because of paint fumes inside the cabin.

All my best,

George
 

Lee Gilliland

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Feb 14, 2003
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I do recall Mrs. Thayer having her maid open all the windows because of the paint smell as well, so I think it was a ship-wide problem.
 

Jeremy Lee

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Jun 12, 2003
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All new ships would have the problem of the paint fumes, and I think even the new QM2 has that problem.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>She said she found the smell of paint quite strong and unpleasant.<<

I'm not surprised. The oil based paints used in this era could...to put it mildly...take your breath away. Things have improved some over the past century but not by much, as anyone who has dealt with primer formula 150 and 151 in the Navy can ruefully attest. Unfortunately, there's really no way of knowing how recently Titanic's cabins and public rooms had been painted, but if the odor was powerful enough to render them uninhabitable and cause problems elsewhere on the ship, you can bet it had happened within just a very few days prior to sailing.
 
Jun 24, 2003
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I have been on several cruise ships and I never noticed any strong knock you down paint odors. The cabins I have stayed in did not require paint.

Also, most ships are sailing under foreign flags so maybe the US has it's hands tied on dealing with any safety/feature issues. Maybe someone who has more knowledge on this can comment.

I did find one article where the House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Washington, D.C. heard a case in 1999.
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Dec 3, 2000
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Hi Jeremy,

"and I think even the new QM2 has that problem."

You're quite right. While on board, I could smell a paint odor as I walking around out on the boat deck. It wasn't strong, but it definitely was noticeable.

Best regards,

Jason
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May 1, 2004
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Pacifique du Nord
A few months back I wondered why FC passenger Henry Sleeper Harper (I believe had his porthole open at the time of the collision. As you will recall, chunks of ice fell into his stateroom.

I wonder now if the porthole was open to deflect the smell of fresh paint?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I wonder now if the porthole was open to deflect the smell of fresh paint?<<

I don't know if he said one way or another. Perhaps one of the passenger/crew people knows the answer to that one. If he did keep the porthole open for that reason, I wouldn't be surprised. Hell, modern day oil based paints are bad enough. The stuff used then could render spaces uninhabitable even at a distance.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Hmmmmmmmmm...I don't know if the heaters themselves were painted. I don't think they were, but I could be mistaken on that. Not that anyone snorting this stuff would have cared about the destinction one way or another. When your eye's are watering and your lungs feel like they've been filled up with sand, you tend to want to get a little fresh air in the room.
 
May 1, 2004
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I'm sorry I didn't make my point clearer. The heaters themselves weren't painted. If the smell from the fresh paint was that overpowering, switching on the heater would only make the smell of the fumes stronger, would, it not? Maybe that's why some portholes were open a bit that night, to let in some air, albeit freezing air + the wind chill!
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Back in 1912, many people would have needed no special reason to leave a porthole open. The Edwardians were great believers in the health-giving properties of fresh air, especially on a sea voyage or a seaside holiday. I'm sure that many of our older members were, like me, brought up to believe that it was unhealthy even in the depths of winter to sleep in a room without a window open.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Mmmmmmmm..point taken Jonathan.

>>switching on the heater would only make the smell of the fumes stronger, would, it not?<<

It might. I've spent enough time in shipyards in the summertime and can attest that high heat didn't improve anything, especially if fumes were present. However, as Bob pointed out, leaving a porthole open anyway to reap the benefits of fresh air is something these people would have done anyway. Even out on the freezing North Atlantic.
 
May 1, 2004
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Well, I leave my windows cracked every night of the year unless it goes below thirty degrees Fahrenheit here in Seattle.

I also enjoy a real gas fireplace in my flat that keeps the living room moderately cosy when all the windows and the sliding glass door in the bedroom/computer room are open. Thank heavens for living on the North side of a new building w/double pane windows in a city that's known for its most dastardly winds to come from the SSW!
 
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Alexander John Cooley

Guest
Perhaps those car freshener trees would probley do the trick?
 

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