A Titanic task: Motor specialists Haynes produce a manual for the ‘unsinkable ship’

By Ray Massey
26th March 2011

Every bolt and rivet: Motor specialists Haynes have produced a manual for the Titanic

If only they’d had this book when the Titanic hit the ice-berg… who knows how it might have all turned out?

Nearly a century after the ill-fated luxury liner sank on its maiden voyage to the depths of the freezing the North Atlantic, those masters of the motorists’ car manual at Haynes have diversified into a fascinating new area with the ‘RMS Titanic Owners’ Workshop Manual 1909-12 (Olympic Class).’

The 160-page hardback tome covers both the technical specifications of the superlative steam ship and the all too human tragedy which befell the passengers and crew after the ship’s owners and captain tempted fate too far – and lost.

Details range from the making and fitting of its three giant propellers to the furnishing of the luxury state rooms, and from the creation of its three vast anchor to the choice and fitting of rivets – many of which failed.

A whole chapter is devoted to the intricate design of lifeboats – of which there were sadly and scandalously far too few.

The new and ‘missing’ manual has been published exactly a year ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking in April 1912.

And who knows, with lessons learned since the tragedy and the location of the wreck, this fascinating technical tome might just might have made a difference.

The book includes hundreds of photographs and illustrations showing how the ill-fated ocean liner was designed, built, launched, fitted out and operated – from launching the lifeboats to repairing a rivet, firing up the vast boiler furnaces, and running the giant refrigerator to produce ice for the champagne of the super-rich.

In its day, the Titanic’s scale was simply epic as it sacrificed speed in favour of size, luxury and space on the North Atlantic passenger route.


Length: 882ft

Breadth 92ft 6 ins

Keel to navigating bridge: 104ft

Keel to top of funnels: 175 ft

Masts: 2

Max Speed – 24 knots

Weight: 46,328 tons

Anchors: 5 : including a monster 15.5 tonner

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Rivets used: estimated 3 million

Cost to build: £2million

Capacity: 3,300 passengers.

Passengers actual: 1,320

Crew: 900

Funnels: 4

Life-boats: 20

Power: steam

Boilers: 29

Furnaces: 159

Fuel: coal

Propellers: 3

Engines: 3

Special features: 15 watertight bulkheads

Stretching 882ft long with a 104ft navigating bridge sitting 104ft above the keel, weighing 46,328 tons, and capable of carrying 3,300 passengers. Yet this Leviathan, which then cost £2million to build, had only 20 full-sized life-boats capable of carrying 65 passengers each.

Cutaways and technical illustrations show key machinery and equipment, including features such as the Titanic’s 15 watertight bulkheads that were supposed to make her ‘practically unsinkable’ even when holed.

But they didn’t extend high enough. So the water went over the top and into the next compartment, dragging the ship down. Illustrations also include fatigue cracks in Titanic’s sister ship Olympic – at exactly the point where Titanic broke in two.

A spokeswoman for Haynes said: ‘Most people know us for our car owners’ workshop manuals.

‘But as the centenary of the Titanic’s loss approaches, we thought it fitting that the world’s most famous passenger ship should finally gets the Haynes treatment.

‘We wanted to take people right in to the heart of the ship – behind every nut, bolt and rivet.’

Titanic was the second of the Olympic Class liners.

She wasn’t revolutionary in design, but was remarkable for her size, say the authors: ‘It reveals everything from the opulence of the first class accommodation that made her the talk of Edwardian Britain, to the squalor of the engine rooms, where 48 firemen stoked the fires at any one time. ‘

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