Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Waratah - steel pipes or copper pipes?

(this is the 200th post on the Waratah)

Victoria Daily Colonist - Wednesday September 1, 1909

'Weight is leant to the optimistic opinions of her owners by the
assurances today of Mr. C. S. Richardson , a marine engineering expert ,
who was a passenger to Durban , by the Waratah
on an official mission on behalf of the Geelong Harbour Authorities.'

'He praises the ship  and her machinery without qualification ,
and suggests that either the loss of a propeller
or some other temporary disablement caused by the
excessive strain of the gales accounts for her still being at sea.'

'He states that it is possible that the steam main pipe is ruptured , and criticises the
steel steam pipes with which the Waratah is fitted instead of copper.'

In a previous post I explored the issue of steam pipes on the Waratah and the following gives more detail:

"The Waratah did have one small repair carried out here, but it was of so insignificant a character that the cost did not exceed 3 pounds 15 shillings.  Mr Booth (of R Booth and Son, engineers, Greyville), who effected the repair, as being the removal of a suction pipe from one of the auxiliary feed pipes, from what is known as the Weirs pump to the heater, which raises the temperature of the condensed water preparatory to its being fed again into the boilers."
Compound steam engine with copper steam pipes

"The job was quite a small one, and was needed owing to a fracture which having occurred in the pipe - a copper one - due to a flaw in the metal. This took place some time before the steamer's arrival in Durban, on the voyage from Australia."

It is clear from this extract that the Waratah's pipes integral to the steam transfer system were copper and not steel. The copper was alleged to have been flawed and susceptible to fracture. This in itself if it occurred could potentially have caused a catastrophic breakdown.

If there were indeed steel pipes connected with the steam system, these would have been prone to corrosion due to residual moisture. The Waratah was only a year old and it is unlikely that steel pipes would by that stage have manifested significant effects of corrosion.

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