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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

TITANIC - Main Lifeboats




Titanic's recovered lifeboats 
The Titanic 30 ft. Main Lifeboats
-The main 30 ft. lifeboats of Titanic were a focal point of the disaster. Unfortunately.we do not have any detailed plans of these boats. They may exist in the Harland and Wolff archives but as yet we have been unable to locate them. It is also possible that there were never any plans of these boats. Much of traditional boatbuilding has been done without plans. The boatwright would know the specific dimensions for any particular boat type and size.
He had made enough of them and the methods passed down to him did not include specific plans in many cases.
The model builder is faced with a difficult situation when trying to model these boats. While the major dimensions are known, very little has been known about the interior details. The modeler has been forced, in many cases, to model the main lifeboats with the covers on. It is for these reasons that I decided to try to draw the 30 ft. main lifeboats. To do so I have used the rigging plans, photos of the interiors, and textual descriptions of the dimensions.
In some of the Board of Trade literature the main dimensions are given in feet and inches.
It is my personal opinion that the main dimensions were whole numbers. I believe the Board of Trade numbers were arrived at by tape measure. It is because of this that the measured dimensions may have feet and inches. I believe the inches were either from the inaccuracies inherent in tape measurement or the actual boats were built fractionally different than the specified whole number measurements.
The interior details were taken almost exclusively from photos of Titanic's actual lifeboats.
The photo survey of these interiors was incomplete. From my study of other ships' boats I have included details of construction that were common to many boats of the day. At the present it is the best that can be accomplished with the available information.
Rather than give a lengthy treatise on the lifeboats I will instead comment briefly on each of the drawings included in this article. While the original drawings have nice smooth curves, the process of converting them to a format that could be used here has introduced some pixelization or "zig zag" of the curved lines.
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br-1.jpg (86337 bytes)
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Figure 1-
Drawing number one [fig 1] shows a longitudinal cross section and a starboard profile. The details are fairly straightforward with a few details that should be noted. Since these boats had a depth of 4 ft., when rowing, a person could not rest his feet on the floor of the boat. They inserted wooden foot rests between the seats which were raised to such a height that the feet could be rested comfortably on the rest. This allowed resistive force to be applied to the foot rests during rowing. Thomas Andrews' notebook mentions copper buoyancy tanks being installed on the main lifeboats. The usual practice was to place these tanks at the bow and the stern of the boat. They are included on the drawing in these locations but there is no reliable photo evidence of their placement.
The starboard profile shows the planking run. It is accurate in the number of planking strakes used from the keel to the gunwales. There are many photos which give the profile view with considerable detail.
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br-2.jpg (49413 bytes)
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Figure 2-
Drawing number two shows a simplified rigging plan. The photos taken from Carpathia of one of the lifeboats with sail rigged are poor in detail. It is possible to make out the sail rig but the details of the rigging lines are much more difficult, if not impossible, to tell.
There appears to be port and starboard mainmast stays rigged in the photo. I will leave it for others to more specifically define a typical rig of the standing lug type.
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br-3.jpg (81571 bytes)
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Figure 3-
Drawing number three shows a half breadth plan. This plan shows the interior details of the boat on the top half of the drawing and the lines of the boat on the bottom half of the drawing. There is also a body plan which has corresponding lines to the half breadth plan.
A planking cross section is shown to show how a typical half frame, keel, and planking were constructed. A simplified drawing of a boat chock is shown. Only an inboard chock was used. The upper part of the chock was hinged to allow the boat to be swung free without obstruction. The chocks had locating pins on their underside. These pins were used to locate the chocks at one of two fixed locations on the deck. The boats were either positioned at their most inboard position so that the entire body of the boat was over the boat deck or positioned at the outboard position so that only the inboard half of the boat was over the boat deck. The outboard position was to allow more promenade room on the boat deck.
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br-4.jpg (28449 bytes)
Figure 4-
Drawing number four shows scale drawings of an oar, the mast, and the yard. These items are self explanatory. To see how the mast and yard are positioned see drawing number two.
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br-5.jpg (83883 bytes)
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Figure 5-
Drawing number five shows identification details which were applied to the external surface of the boats. An explanation for their placement is given on the drawing. The boat numbers were painted on the boat. The draft plate shows the dimensions of length, breadth, depth, and capacity.
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br-6.jpg (37494 bytes)
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Figure 6-
Drawing six shows closeup details of the identification details shown in drawing five. The port nameplate, ship nameplate, draft plate, and company flag were painted brass. The flagstaff was black, the flag red and the star was white. While it is not shown on the drawings, the gunwales of the boats were painted a medium brown.
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