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Wowzery

Steam Engines in ships 1900s

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Last night I was binge watching some videos on the Titanic and reading though the comments an interesting one popped up about the Californian.  It is a historical fact she was stopped due to ice.  The comment make a claim that it would have taken hours for the Californian to get steam up to even move to the Titanic.

It raised a question to me that I really couldn't find an answer to.

A ship like the Californian and its steam engine wouldn't go cold sitting there.  But I also doubt it would have the pressure to make maximum speed right away.  There should be some time to actually raise steam pressure to get going.

The question is, how long would it take a steam ship of the era to raise steam to not only get underway to get to max speed from such a stop in the middle of the night?

Edited by Wowzery

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I don't know anything about steam engines on a ship like that but I assume (maybe wrongfully) that just cause the ship came to a stop doesn't mean they let the engine go cold. I imagine they maintain the furnaces at a baseline while at sea regardless of if they have the engines engaged to the props or not. 

Edited by Kapitan_Wuff

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Now the problem was getting all the people back to stoke the fires from Shore leave and if you don't have a full crew start shoveling coal you ain't going nowhere

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Alpha Tester, In AlfaTesters, Beta Testers
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Most ships of the era had multiple boilers but they weren't always all lit at the same time for fuel savings. On average in my experience, from dead cold to start up just before you got underway was 12 to 18 hours. Underway with some boilers already lit and system running, maybe a couple of hours. The capt would tell the engineer what speed he was planning on and the engineer would have enough boilers ready. Unexpected big changes in steam demand would take a few hours. Ice breaking takes maximum power so at least a few...

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2 hours ago, Kapitan_Wuff said:

I don't know anything about steam engines on a ship like that but I assume (maybe wrongfully) that just cause the ship came to a stop doesn't mean they let the engine go cold. I imagine they maintain the furnaces at a baseline while at sea regardless of if they have the engines engaged to the props or not. 

That's my assumption, but the question is how long would it take to bring the steam pressure back up to get the ship moving again from that baseline.  Is the baseline able to get the ship moving quickly again?

It was just a question which came up and couldn't find any info on and thought maybe someone here might have some knowledge to answer the question.

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Having just two boilers, and sitting in an ice field, I would assume both boilers were firing. Its cold up there, so they would be using a lot of hotel steam, plus using steam for the generators, pumps, and related aux. equipment. Plus I would assume the engine was on line being turned every now and again, in case they had to get out of the way of something that drifted down on them.

If both boilers were lit and on line, it would not take that long to get up to speed. It depends on how the boilers are built, if naturally aspirated it would take longer than if they have forced draft blowers, but once the boiler are hot, it shouldn't take more than 20-30 mins to get them up to full tilt boogie. So I would guess the ship could make half speed right away, or flank speed in half an hour?

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steam locomotives can take anywhere from 2hrs to 24hrs, depending on boiler size.

2hrs for smaller engines and 24hrs for extremely large engines.

Average seems to be about 8hrs for a 4-8-2, which is large.

Also depends on if the water was cold or warm to start with.

 

This is why we use diesel these days.

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