Suppose I want to build the Titanic II...

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by DougCim, Aug 23, 2010.

  1. DougCim
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    DougCim Junior Member

    ...what books would tell how to do this?

    I am curious about some aspects of metal hull construction from the early 20th century. Are there any books that tell this info? In particular I am wondering how riveted plate-steel hulls were sealed.

    I am planning on building a small aluminum boat, and have looked at a few vintage small boat/canoe building plans. The older plans used "galvanized iron sheet" (a very mild zinc-plated steel) and riveted and then soldered the seams. The later boats used aluminum and usually used cotton cloth painted with tar for sealing the riveted seams.

    I know that the steel frames for terrestrial buildings (like skyscrapers) were often hot-riveted, but you can't hot-rivet a waterproof seam if you've got anything in there to seal it that will melt or burn... With the old-BIG ships, were these boat hulls hot-riveted or cold riveted? And did they add any step or materials to seal the seams? I'd be rather surprised if they could just rivet the plates straight on with nothing to seal them, and get them watertight. :confused:

    (I guess that vintage books on steam locomotives or boiler-making would also have similar info, but it might not necessarily be the same methods used on ship hulls)
    ~
     
  2. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    Old ships were hot riveted and that is tight for hundred years and longer.
    There are no seams left.

    Regards
    Richard
     
  3. RAraujo
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    RAraujo Senior Member - Naval Architect

    I've seen some riveting when re-building or repairing old ships (NRP "SAGRES").
    At the time it was very difficult to find someone who could still remember how it was done in practice.
    The waterproofing is done by injecting a paste into the seam after the riveting of the seam has been concluded (threaded holes were drilled in one of the plates, in the joint region). Additionally the steel plate edges were hammered so that the injected paste would not escape (called caulking).
    See attached sketch...
     

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  4. Submarine Tom

    Submarine Tom Previous Member

    Just be sure to close off the tops of the bulkheads this time!

    -Tom
     
  5. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    Nope Sir,

    real riveting has no sealer, no paste, no nothing!

    The rivet has to be "cherry warm" as the old chaps called it, and it makes a absolute watertight (even airtight) fit.

    I had to replace several thousand rivets on my museum ships over the decades. All jobs were done by some of the last of the breed, never was anything like that involved.

    The original patterns play a major role in that game.

    Regards
    Richard
     
  6. RAraujo
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    RAraujo Senior Member - Naval Architect

    Richard,

    I was telling what I saw (I didn't mention but they were using hot rivetting also). This was done more than 20 years ago by people who, during their youth, still used to build rivetted ships.

    You can have additional information on

    http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/nvic/2000s.asp#2001 (see 07-01)

    where you can find a reference to caulking but not to the injection of paste.

    Maybe there are different techniques...

    Regards.

    Rodrigo
     
  7. mydauphin
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    mydauphin Senior Member

    I have an old book that show all that info. I will try to find it for you. I got at garage sale and was amazed on how hey laid out hull and welded it together.
     
  8. tinhorn
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    tinhorn Senior Member

    A couple great sources of old books (and old technologies) are www.archive.org and http://books.google.com/ . Both sites are searchable. Maybe you can get mydauphin to republish his public domain book at a site like createspace.com.
     
  9. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    Nice info, thank you Rodrigo.

    Yes I have the impression that there have been some different techniques or varieties at least.
    On several occasions i have seen red lead between the plates. I don´t recall if it was just on one, or on two of our old steamers.

    Last time we rivetted was 1997 or 98, we had to bring a crew of six retired rivetters together, which was a real task. In 2008 just one of them was still alive.
    I am sure one can not learn that by reading books, the rivetting skills are gone.

    Regards
    Richard
     
  10. gwboats
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    gwboats Naval Architect

    Titanic, rivets and all

    Rivetting is still alive and well (noisy) in the UK.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SapNnoKvXXo&NR=1
    This is a locomotive boiler which puts up with higher pressures than a hull will see but the methods the same.

    Cheers,
    Graham
     
  11. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    Very interesting.
    Could you possibly provide a link? u-tube is not available in Turkey where I am at present.

    Thanks
    Richard
     
  12. Wynand N
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    Wynand N Retired Steelboatbuilder

    This guys make it look easy with pneumatic hammers /dolly to form and shrink the rivets. A bit clumsy of the guy dropping a hot rivet in the background.

    When I was a youngster about 18 years old I did a stint with the railways before I became an apprentice boilermaker elsewhere later, in their steam locomotive workshops. Steam was big in the early 70's here.
    It fascinated me when they actually throw the rivet to the riveter and he catches it with a pair of tongs, slipping it in the punched holes. And that happened at quite a pace...:cool:

    However, if I am not mistaken, the hot rivets on the Titanic were hand formed by hand with dolly and hammer - no luxury of pneumatic riveters though.
    The plates would not need a sealer I believe. The pull exerted by the rivets cooling and shrinking must be massive.
    The holes are closely spaced and I still remember the pitch from my trade test days when us "old" boilermakers had to do a boiler patch as part of 2 day test - radius inner and outer plates developed, cut, drilled, rolled and then holes must align up to pass the rivets through. Luckily we were spared the rivet part.

    The pitch between holes are 3 times hole diameter and from and edge 1.5 times hole diameter. This is as said closely spaced and should result in a perfect waterproof joint.
     
  13. DougCim
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    DougCim Junior Member

    I did find a couple results in Google books, here is one-

    http://books.google.com/books?id=qHuQcI0SrrIC

    I did not read the entire section on riveting, but as far as I skimmed, it does not mention any other method than hot-riveting to seal the panels. That's kinda odd, considering that all the info I find on aluminum riveting is done cold--canoes, small boats and aircraft.

    The issue of caulking might have to do with a repair that is easier to do than removing and replacing the entire panel.

    I realize you can't heat an aluminum rivet RED hot, and maybe there is a possibility of losing the heat treatment (is there even any heat treatment of rivets at all, considering they are work-hardened when driven?) but warming them up a couple hundred degrees ºF with a propane torch doesn't seem like it would hurt.

    Looking online I see a lot of the question of if riveting or welding is better for a small (inland) aluminum boat. Advocates of riveting tend to point out that they are cheaper than welded boats and work "well enough". They will develop leaks but loose rivets are much easier to fix than a cracked seam in a welded boat.

    ------

    I also bought the Lindsay reprint book on WW-II aircraft welding, and in it they note a method for building aluminum fuel and oil tanks for aircraft. The seams are riveted with only one row of rivets, and then the heads of the rivets are welded down (melted to the surrounding metal).
    ~
     
  14. tinhorn
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    tinhorn Senior Member

    Kind of a fascinating book. I learned something new about paddlewheels--that waterclosets should be built adjoining the paddlebox so that the spray can be used for flushing them. (Page 245.) Hahahahaha! Those old-timers didn't miss a thing, did they?
     

  15. mydauphin
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    mydauphin Senior Member

    I would be willing to donate book to someone who was willing to do that. I am looking for it now, not sure were I left it...Somewhere safe I am sure...
     
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