1000 Days-Machinery

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(Introduction) | (1910) | (1911) | (1912) | (1913) | (1914) | (1915) | (1916) | (Epilogue) | (The Ship) | (Battle Cruiser) | (Design) | (Protection) | (Ordnance) | (Machinery) | (Miscellaneous) | (Sources) | (Artwork) | (Photos - Build) | (Photos - Pre-War) | (Photos - On board) | (Photos - WW1) | (Photos - Beatty’s Battlecruisers) | (Photos - Miscellaneous)


MACHINERY

Turbines

For Queen Mary there were four Parsons turbines installed, with twelve individual arrangements of blades. The two outboard units where high pressure sets with ahead, astern, and cruising turbine sets. The two inner shafts where low pressure turbines with a similar three set arrangement. Overall the battle-cruisers entire power plant was a large installation with her engines occupied a length of some 112 feet, and had a maximum breadth of 62 feet. The weights of the turbines complete with shafts was 1,989t, while the attendant auxiliary machinery occupying a further 50 tons. Even the water circulating in the condensers, pumps and pipes in this area could weigh as much as 130 tons when in operation.

The main condenser room lay abaft the turbines. They were specifically intended to cool the superheated steam exhaust through its sealed vessels surface area of 58,000 sq/ft of tubing, returning it into clean feed water again for the boilers forward in total her propulsion turbines and auxiliary fittings, occupied a sum floor area of 6,944 sq/ft. The output figure from this impressive plant however reflected this with a telling 75,000 shp the result.

Boilers

In total there where forty-two large tube Yarrow type units housed in Queen Mary’s five boiler rooms amidships. Of these fourteen had been built at Jarrow and twenty-eight at Clydebank. These boiler rooms took up a considerable length of the available hull amidships, with the length of ‘A’ boiler room 34 feet. ‘B’ and ‘C’ rooms each 52 feet. All situated before ‘Q’ turret amidships, along with a combined length of 52 feet for ‘D’ and ‘E’ rooms abaft this mounting. These five separate compartments where 190 feet in length with a maximum breadth of 66 feet at its widest point, and occupied a total floor area of 12,590 sq/ft.

Inside a roughly 15 feet square by 11 feet high boiler where 936 1.75 inch diameter tubes, with a total heating surface of 155,022 sq/ft. The grate area was 2,646 sq/ft, while the working pressure was a maximum of 235 pounds per square inch. The boilers complete with the necessary vents, air trunking, and funnels, totalled some 2,143 tons. While the weight of the water in the boilers alone to a working level, was an impressive 243 tons, from her total maximum ‘as designed’ figure of 650 tons of fresh water for her boilers.

The atmosphere in the boiler rooms was maintained at a higher pressure than the outside air through forced draft induction. And as such these compartments had to be sealed off from surrounding compartments by a series of two door air locks. Gases from the boilers where taken via uptakes to three tall imposing funnels, and here they where vented at around 550 degrees Celsius. The superheated steam was channelled to the turbines aft of the boiler rooms by a series of heavily lagged and insulated pipes, those from the forward three compartments branching to the sides of ‘Q’ mounting amidships through pipe passages.

Fuel

The capacity of her sixteen lower coal bunkers placed between Frame positions 94 to 200, was 45,304 cubic feet. That is exactly 1,053.79 tons, with a range of individual compartments capable of holding capacities between 48.35 tons to 91.76 tons. In the forty-seven upper bunkers between positions 52 to 256, could be held 107,030 cubic feet of coal. That is 2,489.29 tons in compartments ranging in capacity from 31.32 ton units to 77.9 ton units.

Oil fuel was held in twenty-eight compartments, which could hold 1,149 tons, 95% of full capacity (1,170 tons as designed), that is 275,792 gallons, or 44,253 cubic feett of fuel within their bunkers served by feed lines. Although coal was the primary means of firing the boilers, each boiler was provided with three single orifice oil burners, capable of supplying 300 pounds of oil fuel per hour to each furnace to aid combustion and increase thermal efficiency.

Normally just 1,000 tons of coal would have been embarked in peacetime, primarily for draught and economy considerations. But there where ample stowage bunkers available within her hull for the maximum of 3,543 tons of coal outlined above. The governing factor on cruising radius was obviously fuel consumption; here 336 tons could be used up in just one day if steaming at an economical 14 knots. Moreover this would increase to a staggering 1,410 tons in a day if full speed were called upon throughout.

Queen Mary could steam continuously at 24.9 knots for 1,645 nautical miles (nm) when a straight forward all coal medium was employed by the boilers, and 3,415 nm at 17.4 knots. But if a mixed coal and oil firing of the boilers was undertaken then respective figures of 2,390 nm and 4,970 nm were recorded for these speeds, a clear indication of oil-s superior efficiency.

It should also be borne in mind that one bonus which coal had as opposed to oil fuel, was its potential in aiding and reinforcing the protection of certain compartments, through the arrangement of the coal bunkers within the structure. Around 120 tons of her capacity was specifically defined as ‘patent fuel’ used for such protection. It was envisaged that if a shell penetrated her armour, a significant proportion of the force produced by the detonating device would be dissipated and expended in pulverising the contents of a bunker of coal, located being the defeated armour. Leaving surrounding bulkheads dished and bulged, but intact.

However there are some recent discoveries which could nullify any protection properties of this solid fuel medium. Exploration of the wrecks of two great liners, the Lusitania lost off southern Ireland to a single torpedo in May 1915 and the Britannic in the Aegean to a mine in December 1916. Clearly indicate that the single underwater hits they receive, effectively caused a fatal, simultaneous, and much larger detonation in adjacent coal dust filled bunkers. Devastating large areas of their hulls, and inflicting fatal damage. Although built to the very highest standards, the devastation wrought by such an occurrence would have been extensive. Even with the former vessel having an Admiralty say into her design as a possible auxiliary cruiser, and the latter benefiting from experience gain after the Titanic disaster of April 1912, both sank very rapidly.

So granted these new suppositions, one has to now bear this obscure possibility in mind when considering the loss of the ships at Jutland: A seemingly impossible concept to grasp, but the evidence is there, that if a bunker had been hit, and the contents pulverised into volatile dust, or its stocks greatly disturbed, into the ingredients for its detonation, once instigated by the shell detonation. That the telling results embracing surrounding bunkers, or even an adjacent ‘protected’ magazine, cannot be totally dismissed.

Performance

At the time of their trials a number of wildly extravagant reports and claims about the performance of Lion type where made. One trusted journal, the ‘Navy League Annual 1912’ mentioned a figure of 33.5 knots for the Princess Royal on her trials, held between the 9 to 20 September 1912, with a maximum run of no less than 34.7 knots over the measured mile. A staggering passage which later calculations worked out would have required a shp output of over 200,000 shp to achieve.

In actual fact during her trials the lightly loaded Princess Royal at 26,710 tons, achieved a realistic, and very creditable 28.54 knots from 78,803 shp over the Polperro measured mile in rough weather, on the 12 September 1912. It was to be regretted later that during one particular series of six runs over the same course on the 8 July 1913, she was subjected to special full power trials, just to register what could be forced from her machinery. The Princess Royal was ordered to go for maximum power under a deep load displacement of 29,660 tons, to see exactly what she and her kind were capable off in service. In this she achieved no less than 95,117 shp which yielded 27.97 knots, but at a price. The strain of the experience on her boilers and machinery effectively meant that she was thereafter to suffer a number of problems over the years, simply because she had been pushed beyond the limits in this particular trial.

But the fact remains that this class where clearly fast capital ships in service, without the inflated reports quoted at the time. As for Queen Mary herself, during her early trials held over the Polperro mile in the English Channel on the 2 June 1913, very satisfactory performance results were achieved. During four runs that day under full power, with open exhausts, she achieved between 76,180 shp for 27.4 knots and 77,370 shp for 27.58 knots. With her exhausts closed figures of between 82,640 shp for 27.85 knots and 83,350 shp for 28.46 knots where achieved. Her shaft revolutions during these where in the region of 283.5rpm to 290.5rpm with a steam pressure of approximately 203psi. During a subsequent 24-hour trial she managed an average of 25.08 knots from 57,467 shp. This is a fair indication of her inherent speed and endurance capabilities. Derived from her 5,460 tons total weight for her turbines, boilers, fittings and stores. Just over a fifth of her total displacement.

Rudders

This battle-cruiser had two balanced rudders aft side-by-side, directly abaft the inner screws to give excellent manoeuvrability. This system was primarily operated by hydraulic machinery, but with a manual system as a backup if required.

Propellers

The combined shafting, propeller and bearing weight were 212t. Each shaft possessed a three bladed propeller with the diameter of the inner set 12 feet 3 inch and the wing pair 11 feet 8 inch. The pitch of the propeller blades was 12 feet 4 inch for the inner set and 12 feet 2 inch for the wing set. The designed optimum high performance figure was 275rpm for maximum speed.

Coaling

To close this section special mention has to be made of one unavoidable evolution undertaken upon the call, ‘Clear lower deck, hands to coal’. The frequency with which this particular task was tackled should not be surprising. Given the very active employment of this ship, and the consumption figures already indicated above by such a powerful and demanding vessel as Queen Mary. As such coaling has been featured quite prominently in a significant number of personal accounts dating from this period.

To clearly illustrate this it should be noted that during the nineteen-month period between the outbreak of war in August 1914 and towards the close of her career in March 1916, no less than sixty-eight individual coaling evolutions’ where undertaken by Queen Mary. In this a colossal 60,815t of coal was taken on-board during this documented period.

Universally accepted as being one of the most backbreaking, dirty and grimy tasks to befall a coal burning ship. It was still at the same time fully appreciated and recognised as being an essential evolution by everyone who took part in it. Reflecting this it has been noted that this very necessary task attained a high degree of keen competitiveness, and crew involvement in its successful execution. It is oft mentioned that with such a well organised and motivated crew as Queen Mary’s, it was possible to maintain an average loading performance of 240 tons per hour (tph) of prime quality Welsh coal.

This expertise on the part of her crack crew to coal rapidly has left a number of unmatched records to examine. For instance on the 26 December 1914 after covering the Cuxhaven raid, she returned to Rosyth to take in 1,350 tons. In this her crew achieved a squadron coaling record of an average of 295tph. She broke this on the 23 April 1915 during a 1,060 tons coaling, when her crew averaged a staggering 318tph. Further to this it has also been noted that during one 950 tons coaling on the 19 April 1915, during a particularly intense hour-and-a-quarter spell, her crew took in 402t. Without doubt the crew of Queen Mary where masters of this particular evolution, however a lot depended upon the fittings and condition of the collier serving her. Needless to say, if the derricks and holds of the supplying vessel were poor, then no matter how well the crew performed, a slow coaling would ensue despite their best efforts.

A typical coaling would see the entire crew attired in a varied assortment of old kit, their ‘coaling rig’, and ready to undertake the common task. A picture of the scene would reveal a collection of men were absolutely any rig was allowed, and by all accounts some of the attire was divers and sartorial in their effects. With overalls, suits blazers, riding breeches and remnants of old uniforms being sported in any combination thereof by an individual.

Coaling ship was always a ‘clear lower deck’ evolution, and nobody was excused, except the captain and a few privileged officers and men who had specific duties related to the evolution, but kept them separate from its physical side. These exceptions would have included Surgeons Lobb and Gowans, who stood by, clean and ready in case of an accident. Paymaster Harvey with his assistant dealing with the paperwork involved. While the hands of the officers coaled with their men, with even Chaplain Kewney setting a good example by shedding his clerical garments and assisting in some light-capacity.

A characteristic coaling evolution in early 1916 would have seen Commander James in overall charge of the whole operation from Queen Mary, leaving Lieutenant Hanly to supervise in the collier alongside. With the other lieutenants and midshipmen of Divisions worked with their men in the holds. Leaving Lieutenant-Commander Clayton to act the part of traffic manager on the battle-cruisers upper deck assisted by a couple of other midshipmen to organise and supervise the movements of the barrows and men.

Hoses would have been deployed beforehand at various points to check any hint of fire, but also be so positioned to commence the very necessary cleaning of the ship immediately afterwards. Other preparations would also have been undertaken even before the collier had arrived alongside. New whips would have been rove, derricks rigged and topped bags and shovels brought up from the dim recesses of Queen Mary’s bowels, to be distributed among the men designated to work in the holds. The battle-cruisers teak decking would have been brushed over with a moist mixture of sand and lime, to prevent the coal-dust from soaking in too much. While all paintwork on the upper deck would have been swathed in canvas screens to minimise the coal dusts fouling of the ships finish, and entering the interior of the ship.

After a brief ‘Pep-up’ talk from the commander the groups of men would scatter to their appointed stations. The forecastlemen, foretopmen, maintopmen, quarterdeckmen, and marines repaired to their respective holds in the collier, where they were divided up into gangs of five for shovelling the coal into the waiting two-hundredweight bags. In these holds the work of shovelling the coal into bags would have been backbreaking and demanding. For no two consecutive shovel loads were exactly the same weight, so ones balance constantly had to be adjusted. In addition it would have been extremely difficult to keep ones footing on the shifting bed of coal. Soon the confined space would reek of coal-dust, and before long all involved would be jet-black from head to foot.

Breathing the fine powder into lungs, perspiring profusely, back, shoulders, arms, and thighs aching with the strain, the work continued. Occasionally there was a few minutes’ rest between hoists but otherwise the work went on continuously, since to each man it was a point of honour that the whip which visited all the gangs in rotation should not be kept waiting. If there were any undue delay in hooking on there would have been loud shouts from above, and angry nautical exhortations from the lieutenant, midshipmen and others working in the hold to expedite matters. The dust would soon be so thick that the powerful arc lights would only be seen as a blurred glare across the compartment, as the jet-black figures whirled in and out of the murky cloud.

In the holds shouts of ‘Stand from under’, as empty bags came down from the deck above. And every now and then a shrill screech on a whistle, a frenzied shout of ‘Mind your backs, stand clear’ as a hoist would go hurtling, swinging and banging across the hold as the wire whip strained and tautened out. The labouring men would spring aside to get clear, for a ton of coal in the small of the back would have been quite sufficient to send a twelve-stone man flying and cause him serious injury.

But still the work would have gone on without a stop. Hoist after hoist would leave the hold, disappearing into the dust cloud, swinging through space to finally land with a thud and more shouts on the battle-cruisers once immaculate deck. Overall it must have seemed like an industrial scene. With these heavy loads hoisted inboard by booms and winches in whips of ten sacks, accompanied by the hiss of steam the murmur and creak of blocks, and the seemingly endless stream of sacks ranged in four dumping grounds on the wide expanse of the weather deck.

Here parties comprised mainly of artisan ratings, like the carpenter’s mates, shipwrights, plumbers and blacksmiths, unhooked and un-strapped the whips as they arrived and placed them on barrows for transportation. These trundled along the deck to various bunker-openings and there the contents of the sacks where emptied down the numerous deck shuts descending into the cavernous bunkers below by the ‘tippers’. Here between decks lay a truly grimy task for the Stokers, with the trimming and stowing of the coal by brute force and shovels, in the dust filled bunkers every bit as demanding as the conditions in the holds described above.

The empty bags were collected by a number of ordinary seamen and Boys who then returned them to the hold of the collier, and woe betide these youths if the men digging in the holds were delayed through a shortage of empties. While on the after shelter-deck, if they were not required in actually coaling, the marine bandsmen under Bandmaster Taylor would be aiding the proceedings by playing the latest music-hall songs. But even their strident and very tuneful efforts would only be heard at intervals in the clatter of the winches and the hollow rumble of the barrows.

Well May the all oil ship of a later generation keep a brightly burnished shovel suitably inscribed ‘Lest we forget’ in a prominent position. So that their ships companies might gaze thereon with reverence in times to follow, and thank there lucky stars that never had to endure similar evolution’s on such a regular basis as that undertaken by the crew of Queen Mary and her kind.

Following such an undertaking the very necessary cleaning of the ship would effectively occupy the rest of the day. So that afternoon the crew armed with hose, scrubbers and soap, would set about cleaning the ship, themselves and their clothes, but despite their efforts coal-dust would seem to be everywhere, lodged in every nook and cranny, requiring a demanding operation to purge their ‘Home’ of its grimy mark. Afterwards the crew would relax, discussing no doubt the per hour rate of their strenuous efforts in the recent evolution in a very competitive manner. Ending perhaps with a bet or vow, to perform even better in the next coaling, measured in just days away.


(Introduction) | (1910) | (1911) | (1912) | (1913) | (1914) | (1915) | (1916) | (Epilogue) | (The Ship) | (Battle Cruiser) | (Design) | (Protection) | (Ordnance) | (Machinery) | (Miscellaneous) | (Sources) | (Artwork) | (Photos - Build) | (Photos - Pre-War) | (Photos - On board) | (Photos - WW1) | (Photos - Beatty’s Battlecruisers) | (Photos - Miscellaneous)