Wrought Iron and Steel Rivets which type where

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Tim Foecke

Jul 16, 2003
Hello. I'm new to this forum. I've searched a while for this information, but there is so much here that it's like sipping on a fire hose. I hope this finds its way to the people that might know.

A bit of background. Some might know my work on the metallurgy of the Titanic, especially work on the material that make up the rivets. I'd be glad to answer questions and issue clarifications on anything you might have read/heard on the topic.

One thing that I have been interested in finding out concerns the distribution of the two types of rivets on the ship. We found that all of the bulkhead, deck and porthole rivets we examined were wrought iron. The hull rivets were a mixture of wrought iron and steel.

I have seen mention in a web site on a recent History Channel show that Mr. Stephenson (sp?) stated that steel was used when they could use the hydraulic riveter, iron when they needed to be driven by hand. This makes sense when you consider the respective flow strengths at rivet re-heat temperatures. I have also had an unsubstantiated claim by Bill Garzke that within the 3/5th length, the seams were triple riveted with steel, and outside this, double with iron.

Does anyone have access to any plating or riveting diagrams that state what type of rivets were used where on the shell, both above and below the turn of the bilge?

Also, were they able to hydraulicly rivet below the turn, or did the bottom structure get in the way?

Thanks in advance, and I hope to lurk and pick up some good info here.

Mar 3, 1998
Dr. Foecke,

Welcome. I'm familiar with your work. And thanks for spelling my name correctly, that is something rarely seen. Half my family tree changed the spelling back in the late 1700s because they were tired of correcting people.

Off the top of my head, I would answer that yes, my understanding is that the plates between the keel and margin plates were hydraulically riveted. The proof to back that assertion may take a little more time to provide. I could point you to some products from the MFP, but I take it that you want to dig deeper. Plans that I have consulted in the past belonged to someone else. After reading your post, I sent off a query and will respond in full when an answer comes back.

While you wait, happy reading!


Mary S. Lynn

Take a deep breath, roll your eyes, grimace, mix a hefty Gilbey's and tonic, pop open another Bud Light, e-mail each other off-board, and prepare to journey from expert to novice....or worse than novice. Or refer to another thread.

Rather than a spur "puncture" - or "ripped 'er open like a tin can", could there have been a spur "pressure", which could have dented the steel plates inward, forcing the rivets to pop out, thus creating an avenue for that infernal seawater? Good steel...bad rivets?

Steel Plates - would the size of them have affected the impact? Smaller? Larger?

"Sweating steel". Steel results from a marriage (smelting) between iron and whatever, and it becomes a non-element. When steel comes into contact with water - time of contact and mass of water taken into consideration -, does it lose its initial strength properties? What does water do to weaken steel over a short period of time?

"Burning steel". The collapse of the Twin Towers was due to 2000+ degrees of heat (provided by impacting jet fuel) directed towards steel support beams, causing them to lose strength by sagging in the middle, and then collapsing downward.

"She's made of steel, Sir. I assure you, she can sink".

Thanks in advance from an English teacher.
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