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Naval Construction and Propulsion

Catalogue number 104034

French ship Duchaffault 1867

This Bourayne class cruiser, alternatively classed as an aviso, was laid down at Cherbourg in 1867 and was launched in 1872. It was armed with six cannons and became a coal hulk in 1896. The ship was wooden hulled and we can see the closely spaced frames that made these ships so solid.

Verso : "Duchaffault 1868 Cherbourg" in pencil

25cm x 19cm Sepia print


Catalogue number 104037

French aviso Seudre 1868

Seudre was a wooden-hulled screw transport aviso built for the French Navy in Rochefort between 1868 and 1872 to become a floating pontoon in 1891. The closely-spaced frames can clearly be seen and some elements of planking are in place.

Verso:"7th April Seudre" and "Seudre Rochefort 1868" in pencil (translated from French)

23.7cm x 11.4cm Sepia print


Catalogue number 97109

Deutsche Werke shipyard Kiel

This image shows the Deutsche Werke shipyard at Kiel in 1939. Cut plates are arranged all over the shop floor, some of which have already been formed. In the centre of the image are drilling machines preparing the holes which will take the rivets. During construction, the plates will be riveted onto the frames.

Recto: "Shipbuilding hall" (translated from German, "Schiffbauhalle")

17cm x 10.3 cm Printed image


Catalogue number 24045

British destroyer World War 2

This is a photograph of the built-up frames of a British destroyer. The hull had to be strong to resist the hammering that a destroyer would get in service so the frames are close together and reinforced, destroyers were expected to ram an enemy ship if they had the chance. Some plates have been fitted to the side of the ship.

8cm x 5.4cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 38030

French battleship Suffren

This magnificent photograph taken between 1899 and 1903 shows the French battleship Suffren in the fitting out dock. Many features of fitting out can be seen. Workers are preparing the holes in the teak backing on to which the armoured plate will be bolted. A floating shear legs is lowering what looks like engine room machinery parts into the hull. At the stern, workmen are fixing the sternwalk of the Captain's quarters.

Verso: Battleship "Suffren" under construction French Navy 16,500 horsepower 24 Niclausse boilers (translated from French) in pencil.

23cm x 16.2cm Albumin print


Catalogue number 101194

USS Indiana battleship

The USS Indiana is in an advanced state here and workmen are all over the place. In the centre of the photograph, the forward breakwater is ready to be fixed to the foredeck. The two forward turret emplacements are covered over. The ship is still in the slipway and was launched in 1941.

Verso: "Work proceeds feverishly on the United States Navy's new 35,000-ton battleship, Indiana, at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Newport News, VA. The Indiana has since been launched, a valuable contribution to the United States Navy".

19.3cm x 13.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 102069

Triple expansion steam engine. 1900

HMS Duncan had two sets of four cylinder inverted triple expansion steam engines. At 18 000 hp, the Duncan class battleships were the first to steam at 19knots with steam provided by 24 Belleville boilers working at a pressure of 300lbs. These engines were huge, there were two cylinders of 33 ½ inch diameter, two of 54 ½inches and four low pressure cylinders of 63 inch diameter. The stroke of each piston was 4 feet long and the engine turned at 120 revolutions per minute. The repetitive back-and-forth movement of each piston acting on the crankshaft converts the reciprocating motion into a circular motion. Imagine each piston shooting down the cylinder under pressure and at the end of its course, the movement is reversed and the mass of the piston shoots back up the cylinder to repeat the back and forth movement! A major problem with steam engines was that with each change in direction there was a great loss of kinetic energy and the construction of the engine had to be massive to be able to support all the mechanical forces. The engines were built by the Thames Iron Works Shipbuilding and Engineering Co. Ltd.

Recto: "Engines of H.M.S. " Duncan " (1900) Model of the port set of screw engines of the four-cylinder triple expansion type for battleships. Working pressure of steam, 300lb.per sq. in.: 18,000 total I.H.P. at 120 revs. Per minute"

13.2cm x 7.3 cm Printed image


Catalogue number 105004

Building a marine steam engine.

This is an enlargement of a photograph showing several marine steam engines at different stages of construction. In the foreground, right, we can see the bedplate and the crankshaft bearings of an engine. To the left foreground and behind are two incomplete engines with the cylinder supports being set into place. In the far background is an engine in a more advanced state of construction with the cylinders in place. Some idea of the date of the photograph can be guessed from presence of the man wearing a top hat to the left of the gangway - the beginning of the 20th century?

Recto: "Marine Engine Erecting Pits, Messrs. Vickers, Ltd., Barrow-in-Furness"

13.7cm x 8.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number From Notes on Naval Progress 1900

Marine steam engine, 1898

The Armstrong company at Elswick, UK built this triple expansion engine for the Chilean Navy training ship General Baquedano launched in 1898. There are two sets of cylinders, from right to left, we can see the twin high pressure cylinders then the medium and finally the twin low pressure cylinders. By a novel system of disconnecting and securing the bottom ends of the connecting and valve rods of one set of three cylinders, it was possible to drive the propeller with only one half of the engine for economy cruising. The engine drove a feathering propeller and the ship was rigged as a sailing bark. Steam was supplied by four Belleville boilers at 300lb pressure.

13.3cm x 11.4cm Printed image


Catalogue number 49003

General Baquedano

Chilean Navy training ship General Baquedano, launched 5th July 1898 and commissioned on 22nd August 1899, stopped serving as a training ship in 1935.

Verso: "Chilien Gal. Baquedano No 34" in pencil.

17.9cm x 12.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number From Notes on Naval Progress 1900

HMS Viper

In the late 1880's, the Royal Navy became aware of the increasing menace posed by the fast and light torpedo boats being developed abroad and particularly in France. It was a problem to produce powerful and rapid ships capable of catching enemy torpedo boats. The triple expansion engine had perhaps reached its limits to power a large, heavily armed torpedo boat destroyer that could overtake an enemy torpedo boat, especially in a rough sea. The first attempts to produce such a vessel were a failure. Two developments were to radically change the situation - the steam turbine and water tube boilers. The Honorable Charles Parsons, a young engineer, developed the steam turbine, an engine that turned on an axis, power being developed by high pressure steam directed on to blades fixed to the rotor. Here we see one set of turbines that were fitted in the destroyer HMS Viper, the 35-inch high pressure turbine is in the foreground and the 50-inch low pressure turbine and the small reversing turbine are in the background. Steam was provided by four Yarrow straight-tube boilers at 250lb/ to propel Viper along at an incredible 34.8 knots and without any of the vibrations associated with reciprocal steam engines.

19cm x 9.5cm Printed image


Catalogue number 101178

Schneider steam turbine

With the upper casing removed in this Schneider Le Creusot steam turbine, we can see the blades of the multiple-rotor, multiple-stage turbine. Steam enters the turbine at one end and as the steam passes over each stage of the blading, it expands as it transfers its energy to the rotor so each stage of blading is larger to capture as much energy as possible. The used steam is then run to a condenser. The drive shaft of the turbine can be seen on the left-hand side of the rotor.

Verso: "Schneider le Creusot."

10.8cm x 8.3cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 105059 & 105060

Marine turbines from John Brown &Co. Ltd.

The John Brown company of Clydebank took an early interest in marine steam turbines and became the most successful builder of battleship and cruiser engines. They engined warships for the Royal Navy as well as other Navies. The two images show turbines for a battleship. The men standing by the turbine give some idea of its size.

105059: 12.9cm x 7.2cm Printed image,

105060: 12.5cm x 7cm Printed image



Catalogue number 99084

Steam production, a Scotch boiler

A Scotch boiler was made up of a large diameter but short length cylindrical boiler shell. Corrugated fire tubes run from the boiler front to a combustion chamber at the back. The hot gases then flow back through a bank of flue tubes to the smoke box fixed to the front of the boiler and above the furnace entrance. Water surrounded the combustion box and the flue tubes. A Scotch marine boiler contained much more water than a water-tube boiler and took a longer time to raise steam. Steaming up had to be slow to avoid leaks due to the unequal expansion of the stiff boiler shell and the thinner flue tubes. Here we can see three fire tubes, corrugated to withstand thermal expansion, and the flue tubes that will vent into the smoke box.

Recto: "Façade de chaudiere du Petrolier "Melpomone" Ouvrier ajustant dans son foyer une tablette de Grienland (sic) - 21/1/23", "Front end of a boiler for the tanker "Melpomone" workman ajusting the Grienland (sic) fire grate - 21/1/23" in ink.

22.8cm x 16.1cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 99073

Water tube boilers, from a series of nine photographs taken between 1922 and 1924 at the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Gironde, Bordeaux, France.

In a water-tube boiler, the water flows through the bank of tubes and the hot gases circulate around the tubes within the boiler shell. These boilers could raise steam quicker than the Scotch boiler, they could withstand heavy forcing and they were lighter in weight. However, the complex form of the tubes and the associated expansion under heating meant that they were prone to leaks at the joint with the water drums. The high steam pressures required by the more and more powerful expansion engines could be obtained. The French Normand boilers shown in this photograph are much like the British Thornycroft and Yarrow boilers that were fitted in Royal Navy vessels. The large upper water drum from which the steam is tapped can be seen at the apex of the inverted V of the water tubes. Additional water drums are at the base of the inverted V. Behind the first boiler we can see one of the downcomers that ensured circulation of water between the upper and lower drums.

Verso: "16-6-24"

23.2cm x 17.4cm Gelatin silver print,


Catalogue number 102020

Normand boiler, Toulon Naval base.

An idea of the size of this water-tube boiler can be had by comparing the height of the men on the floating crane. This is an oil-fired boiler, see the number of furnaces, being lifted by a floating crane at the Toulon Naval base. Judging by the old cars in the background - Citroen traction avant, 2CV, an Alfa Romeo Giuliette and two Peugeot 203 - this photograph was taken in the 1950s or early 1960s.

17.1cm x 16.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 105063

Oil-fired furnace

This photograph was taken in the boiler room of an American warship and it shows four oil-fired furnaces. The fuel oil supply comes off the large pipe just above the furnaces and each burner has its own valve to regulate the flow of oil. There is a drip tray below the furnaces to catch any oil spills. The advantages of using oil instead of coal are numerous - no backbreaking work loading coal, simple replenishment in port and at sea, increased endurance and performance for the same weight of fuel, easier stowage and it requires fewer personnel in the boiler room.

11.8cm x 9.2cm Gelatin silver printi>


Catalogue number 71119

French Navy Frigate Tourville

The French frigate Tourville was commissioned in 1975 and had four superheat, multi-tubular boilers, one of which is shown here at the Lorient Naval yard. The boilers provided steam for two groups of turbines. We can see the main water drum on the upper left part of the boiler.

7.9cm x 7.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 71113

French Navy Frigate Tourville

From a series of 16 photographs concerning the construction and launching of Tourville

7.8cm x 7.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 105107

Early marine diesel engines

The Jules Verne was a French Navy submarine tender laid down in 1929 and commissioned in 1932. The two Sulzer diesel engines each with its own shaft gave the ship a speed of 16kts at 110 rpm. Some idea of the size of each cylinder can be made by comparing the size of the man standing at the top of the motor. The Compagnie de Construction Mécanique Sulzer was founded in 1918 by the French government as a joint venture to build the marine diesel engines of the Swiss Sulzer company. The factory was alongside the Seine at Saint Denis.

13cm x 8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 99084

Marine diesel engine, French Navy Frigate Protet

This V twelve cylinder diesel semi-rapid engine has a bore of 40cm and a stroke of 46cm. It ran at 520 rpm and weighed 7.2 metric tons. The two turbochargers can be seen either side of the cylinder head. This engine equipped the Commandant Rivière class dual purpose frigates of the French Navy, built in the late 50s and early 60s, and gave them a speed of 25kts. Compare the size and performance of this engine with that of the Jules Verne!

Verso: "Erecting workshop 15th March 1952 (sic)( more likely 1962)- Motor SGCM/ACB - Sloop Protet 4 SEMT-Pielstick PC12 engines, 4,000 horsepower two shafts. S.G.C.M."(translated from French)

17.6cm x 11.2cm


Catalogue number 35269

Propellers, HMS Ramillies, laid down 1913, completed 1917

The last element in the propulsion system of a warship is the propeller. This photograph shows HMS Ramillies (laid down 1913, completed 1917) in dry-dock with the keel and three of the four 3-blade screws showing. The outer screws were 9ft 3 in diameter, the inner screws 10ft, the propeller pitch (distance the propeller would theoretically move forward in one revolution) was outer screws 9ft 6in, inner screws 10ft. They turned at 300 rpm powered by Parsons turbines and Babock and Wilcox boilers for a design speed of 23 kts (full trials were never made, this class of ships going straight into war service, average speed for Ramillies is given as 20.5kts). The high pressure ahead and astern plus cruising turbines acted on the outer shafts, the low pressure ahead and astern turbines acted on the inner shafts.

Verso: "screws & rudder. Ramillies"

13.4cm x 8cm Gelatin silver print

Catalogue number 66030

US destroyer propeller

This photograph is of USS Stewart DD224 (laid down 1919, commissioned 1920) in dry-dock for overhaul at the Cavity Navy Yard, Philippines April 1940. Steam geared turbines acting on two shafts gave a speed of 35kts. We can see that the pitch of propeller is more pronounced than in Ramillies to take advantage of the greater power available from the geared turbines.

Verso: "Prop of the Stewart. In Olongapo Navy yard P.I."

5.5cm x 8.1cm Gelatin silver print