Titanic Gazette Souvenir Shop

Titanic Gazette Souvenir Shop

Titanic Gazette Souvenir Shop

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Technical World Magazine 1911

In March of 1911, the Technical World Magazine released an article about the Olympic and what she had to offer along with her twin sister Titanic.  I decided to share with you what it said since it describes how people (particularly Americans) viewed the Olympic Class Liners (which Titanic was one of) at that time.  It is interesting and a little chilling to also read about how little they prioritized the amount of people the lifeboats could hold.  Please keep in mind that some (but not all) of the figure and things advertised are wrong or exaggerated. Pretty much all that they advertised about the Olympic, they also advertised for the Titanic at the time.  I have attempted to keep the spelling, punctuation, etc. intact.




Some day next July a skyscraper will come floating up Ambrose Channel, the Narrows and the North River to her berth at the new Chelsea docks in New York.  For they are building sea-going skyscrapers these days and they are doing pretty well at it, considering.  This particular skyscraper, the Olympic, the new White Star Liner, is only eleven stories, to be sure, but measured from the bottom of her keel to the top of her funnels, she lacks only twenty-five feet of coming up to the new proposed building height limit in Chicago.  Since the Olympic's foundation is salt water which is more unstable, if possible, than the quicksands which vex the builders in the Lake Michigan metropolis this must be conceded to be a pretty fair height.  Nor are those funnels to lightly considered in computing the height.  They are very much more important than the ornamental lantern sometimes included in reckoning the height of a building.  Though they do not look very big, so exquisitely is the new liner proportioned, they would make a good many suites and offices if they were arranged for that purpose, for there are four of them, each oval in shape, 24 feet 6 inches in diameter the long way and 19 feet wide.  Placed end to end they would make a tunnel 640 feet long with ample room for two standard gauge railroad trains to stand side by side.  
Everything else about this latest prodigy of marine architecture is on the same stupendous scale.  Unfortunately, descriptive writers of former days exhausted the entire stock of adjectives in describing "leviathans of the deep" that sometimes reached the enormous size of five or six thousand tons, so that now when they are really needed to convey an idea of a craft of forty-five thousand tons there isn't isn't a superlative left that is fit to be seen in print.  The only thing



that can be done is to fall back on comparative statistics, and let it go at that.  As a starter it may be said that the length of the Olympic, 882 feet 6 inches, is 182 feet greater than the height of the Metropolitan tower in New York, the tallest structure on the continent, and four times the height of the Bunker Hill monument; and yet any one who has toiled up the steps to the top of Boston's proudest landmark will feelingly agree that it is not to be sneezed at.  Also, the length of the Olympic and sister ship, the Titanic, launched in February, 1911, is twice the height of St. Peter's in Rome and equals the total drop of the famous Bridal Veil falls in Yosemite Valley.  Placed end to end beside the Brooklyn Bridge these two ships would span the East River and extend over the shore one hundred feet on each side.  In short the Olympic is 97 feet 6 inches longer than the Mauretania and Lusitania, is 92 feet six inches wide over the boat deck.  From the boat deck to the bottom of the keel is 97 feet; from the top of the Captain's house to the bottom of the keel is 105 feet 6 inches, and from the top of the funnels to
the bottom of the keel, 175 feet.  There are eleven steel decks and fifteen watertight bulkheads.
The launching of the Olympic alone cost more than enough to build a fine steamship.  More than six hundred steers died to make her path into the water smooth, for twenty-two tons of tallow were used to grease the ways.  Many a Belfast waterman made a modest little fortune (judged by a Belfast waterman's standard) picking up the floating tallow after the launch.  The tallow, however, was too trivial an item for serious consideration when compared to the rest of the bill.
It cost the Belfast Harbor Board, which draws no share of the Olympic's earnings, $292,000 to get ready for the launching.  Of this sum $146,000 went to deepen the channel to 32 feet.  Opposite the berth a pit of fifty feet deep had to be dredged in the bottom of the harbor to make room for the plunge of the stern before the bow left the ways.  Then Harland and Wolff, the builders, had to spend $48,670 to strengthen Victoria wharf opposite the berth lest the terrific commotion kicked up when the monster struck the water should cause the wharf to collapse.  Still, that was but a beginning.  Three of the largest slips they had were converted into two for the Olympic and Titanic.  Over the berth a double gantry had to be erected 840 feet long, 105 feet wide and 220 feet high and equipped with travelers and cranes capable of lifting from 5 to forty tons.  Besides this there was a floating crane to be provided at great cost to transfer the boilers to the ships after they were afloat.  Part of the works had to be entirely reconstructed, other parts were altered and special equipment provided, making the outlay for the plant for building these biggest ships more than two million dollars.
From the time the keel was laid, December 15, 1908, to October 20, 1910, the date of the launching, a fair sized army was steadily employed on the Olympic.  For weeks before before the launching two thousand five hundred men toiled night and day making preparations 



for the great event.  As the weight at the launching was 27 thousand tons, much the largest mass of steel ever put in the water at once, a great deal of careful planning and expert preparation were required to make ready for the sixty-two seconds occupied by the Olympic in making the plunge.  From the time the hydraulic triggers holding the vessel holding the vessel on the ways were released until she was stationary in the water less than two minutes elapsed.  
Since the Olympic represents an investment of $7,500,000 it was necessary that in addition that in addition to being the largest ship the world has ever seen, a distinction she will only retain until the Titanic is placed in service late this fall, when she will be one of the largest two, she should also be the heaviest and strongest.  Five hundred thousand rivets, weighing 270 tons, were used in the construction of the double bottom alone.  The largest rivet was 1/4 inches in diameter.  This double bottom is 5 feet 3 inches deep.  The largest shell plates are 36 feet long and weigh 4 1/2 tons.  The largest beams are 92 feet long.  The after boss arm, a sort of three pronged bracket that tags along to hold up the outer ends of the propellers, weighs 72 1/2 tons.  The rudder, a dainty creation in steel, is 15 feet 3 inches wide with a stock 23 1/2 inches in diameter and weighs a hundred tons, as much as a good sized locomotive.
But speaking of riveting, 3,000,000 rivets weighing in twelve hundred tons, are required to hold the Olympic together.  All the shell plating up to the turn of the bilge and much of the other work was done by power riveters, which in Belfast are very different things from the little hand tool sprouting from the end of a rubber hose, the blood-curdling, nerve destroying r-r-r-r-r-r-r-at-at-at-at-tat of which is so distressingly familiar to American ears.  The Irish riveter is a ponderous affair weighing seven tons which has to be manipulated by means of a traveling crane.  But it does its work so easily and so silently that it was considered quite the thing to invite ladies who visited the works during the building of the Olympic to step up and drive a rivet.
In point, of power the Olympic, though much larger than the Lusitania and Mauretania, drops far behind the swift Cunarders.  For each knot about twenty per hour added to the speed of a steamship the coal consumption increases in an ever-growing ratio that is out of all proportion to the advantage gained.  The luxury of a speed of 25.5 knots an hour comes so high that all other steamship companies have enthusiastically agreed to let the Cunard Company monopolize it.  So it happens that while the Olympic is a third greater in tonnage than the Mauretania her engines will have only fifty thousand horse power, as compared with the Cunarder's seventy thousand horse power, which is only enough to enable her to jog along at twenty-one knots an hour.  Still, a plant of fifty thousand horse power has by no means as yet become what might be called commonplace.
The arrangement of two wing propellers driven by reciprocating engines combined with a center propeller driven by a turbine has been tried out on the White Star Liner Laurentic, plying between Liverpool and Montreal, with such


gratifying results in economy and in eliminating vibration, that it has been adopted for the Olympic.  It has been alleged by the press agent that this absence of vibration abolishes that terror of the seas, mal de mer; but don't you believe it.  There is but one infallible rule for prevention of sea-sickness, and that is to stick to dry land.  It i much cheaper than crossing the Atlantic, any way.  
But to return to the wing propellers, they are each 23 feet 6 inches in diameter, weigh 38 tons each and are affixed to crank shafts weighing 118 tons each.  These ponderous masses of metal are driven at a speed of 75 revolutions per minute by triple expansion engines with four cylinders, the high pressure cylinder being 54 inches in diameter, the intermediate 84 and the two low pressure 97 inches in diameter, which all have a stroke of 6 feet 3 inches.  Each engine bedplate weighs 195 tons.  
The center propeller, which is only 16 feet 6 inches in diameter, has to run at more than double the speed of the wing propellers, or 165 revolutions per minute.  It is driven by the latest type of Parsons turbine, the rotor of which is 12 feet in diameter and 13 feet 8 inches long.  From the company's standpoint the most attractive feature of this arrangement is not that it abolished sea sickness, as alleged, but that it keeps the coal bill down.  Steam, generated in 20 double ended and 5 single ended Scotch boilers, all 15 feet 9 inches in diameter, the double enders 20 feet and the 11 feet 9 inches long, is delivered to the reciprocating engines at 215 pounds pressure.  The high pressure cylinder get all they can out of the steam, which is then passed on to intermediate cylinders, which go after the elasticity in that steam like a Paris hotel keeper after a tourist’s cash, then dole it out to the low pressure cylinders.  Not

The boilers are 15 feet, 9 inches in diameter and 20 feet in length.

One of the gigantic parts of the Olympic.  Weight 72 1/2 tons.

until every ounce of pressure that a reciprocating engine can get out of it has been extracted from that steam is it allowed to escape to the turbine.  Although by this time the steam is so weak it can hardly struggle on, the turbine has become so wonderfully efficient that it contrives to develop a great deal of power out of this exhaust steam.  When the turbine gets through with it the steam, which by this time isn’t much more effective than hot water goes to the condenser, and from there back to the boilers to begin the weary round all over again.
Still bearing in mind the outlay of $7,500,000, rather than from an inordinate solicitude for prospective passengers, the company has equipped the Olympic with the most elaborate safety appliances that the ingenuity of man has devised.  In this respect the steamship companies are exactly like the railroads.  Every so-called safety appliance has on a railroad today has been adopted for its economic value, the safety secured and thereby being incidental-a sort of by-product, so to speak.  However, when a passenger by sea or land is zealously guarded from harm it is no part of his business to analyze the motives that insure his safety.  If some blundering steamer should run full tilt into the Olympic as the Florida did into the Republic it is safe to predict that the new giant will not only stay afloat long enough to transfer all her passengers, but that her bulk-


 heads will be found strong enough to withstand the strain of towing to port.  There are the usual doors between watertight compartments all closed at once by a touch on electric button on the bridge, the submarine signaling apparatus that can pick up the tones of a warning bell seventeen miles distant and also tell the direction from which the warning comes, the wireless telegraph that will keep the ship in constant touch with the shore and with other ships and the elaborate fire protection system to be found on all modern liners.  In addition to all these the Olympic has a new wrinkle in the arrangement of the small boats.
To quote from page 156, volume 16 of the Transactions of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, “It is compulsory to provide a full complement of life boats and other life saving appliances together with davits which can be relied upon to lower the boats in a heavy sea without the least chance of mishap . . . Provided a vessel is not afire and can float, even with a big hole in her side she is about the most comfortable and the safest place available in mid-Atlantic.”
The laws of England and the United States do not require a vessel like the Olympic to carry small boats enough to accommodate all the passengers and crew, but even the number she does carry takes up a great deal of room the passengers would rather have devoted to promenades.  By using sixteen sets of Welin double acting quadrant davits, which will swing a boat away from the ship’s side and stay put at any angle in any kind of sea, the Olympic is enabled to stow 32 boats and have most of the deck room too, for each set of davits which has been approved by the conservative British Board of Trade, not only reduces the cost, saves weight and also makes it possible to carry more life boats and still have them readily accessible in case of need.
Since there seems to be no limit to the sums otherwise sane Americans are willing to pay to be ferried across the Atlantic, every facility will be afforded the passenger on the Olympic for getting rid of his money.  On any of the big modern liners one may pay from $112.50 for a single berth in an inside room down in the basement or two thousand dollars for an imperial suite on an upper deck where the passengers who like to stay up all night can congregate under the windows to gabble.  Not many pay the minimum rate in the “high season,” though:  the steamship companies see to that.  One of the big new German steamships quotes a minimum rate of $112.50 per berth but inquiry reveals the fact that



there are just three two berth rooms on the ship at that rate.  The rest of the five hundred and twenty first class passengers pay two hundred to six hundred dollars a head.  The distance across the Atlantic is about three times the distance from New York to Chicago.  The total cost of a trip between these two cities, including berth an meals on the fastest and costliest trains is $38.  Three times the distance would amount to $114.  But the average rate on the new liners is about three times that amount.  The rates on the Olympic have not yet been announced, but there is no reason to doubt that they will be ample. 
In return for his money the first class passenger can eat his meals, provided he isn’t too sick to think of victuals, in a main dining room seating six hundred persons, the biggest and most elaborate dining room afloat, or in a smaller dining room.  Between meals he can loiter in sumptuous drawing rooms, the lounge, or smoking rooms, or library, or he can work up an appetite in the gymnasium, or take a plunge in the swimming pool.  If all these attractions pall he may seek relaxation in the ball room, the theater or the skating rink, all of which combined in a single vast area of glass-enclosed deck.
Should there be any danger of his money burning holes in his pockets before he can get to Europe with it, the passenger on the Olympic can find prompt relief at the verandah cafĂ©, where he can mingle sea-breezes with his liquor; or, if more heroic measures seem called for, he can get rid of his cash in larger wads at the tailor shop or dressmakers’ parlors on board, or he can spend it still faster at the jewelry store.  In fact there is nothing to prevent the passenger from achieving bankruptcy on the outward bound voyage so that he may return on the first homeward bound vessel.  This will save time and simplify the annual hegira.
The Olympic will have accommodations for 2,500 passengers in all.  To run the ship and wait upon this great throng will require a crew of 860 which will be commanded by Captain E.J. Smith, now of the Adriatic.  The new liner will not lack business.  Although sailing dates and rates have not been announced applications for berths have been coming in ever since last fall at a rate which indicates that some intending passengers may have to travel on other ships or submit to the perfectly dreadful and scarcely-to-be-thought of alternative of staying at home.

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