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 To the Ends of the Earth 
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One further comment about the third episode:

I thought that the part of the story-line in this episode was superior to the first two. The drama of the ice field, the repair of the masts, etc. was a better focus than suicide, injuries, and Talbot's major character flaws, IMHO.

However, I am still puzzled at what exactly they did to repair the foremast. I guess I need to read that section of the book to get more information.

Don


Mon Nov 06, 2006 1:13 pm
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This is my interpretatation:

Hot iron expands, but when it cools, it contracts. They apparently drove hot iron spikes into the base of the mast, along with hot iron hoops around it, When the iron cooled under the application of seawater, the mast and base pulled itself together as the iron shrank. The problem was, the hot iron started a fire deep within the wood which smouldered for weeks, as such fires do, deprived of oxygen. Sommers said the base of the mast felt hot, signifying there was some fire there, deep within. The fire finally broke out into the air, and when it had access to oxygen, burst into sudden flame.

I loved the series, and especially the last episode, but still don't know why Sommers refused to leave the burning vessel. Has anyone read the books or have a theory they could advance?

Thanks!

-clash

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Mon Nov 06, 2006 1:54 pm
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Spoilers below!

clash wrote:
... They apparently drove hot iron spikes into the base of the mast, along with hot iron hoops around it, When the iron cooled under the application of seawater, the mast and base pulled itself together as the iron shrank.
clash, I visualized something similar. What was causing me concern was the fact that iron spikes (large nails) would shrink when cooled and then become loose. I looked at the book this morning. The actual repair discussed in the book is different. No hoops, no spikes, no damage to the mast at all. The crack was to the "shoe" that the foremast rested in. The "shoe" was a massive wooden block mounted to the keelson with a large hole for the mast. This "shoe" was 6 feet cubed and had a crack allowing the mast to move. They drilled holes completely through the wooden shoe and put iron plates on two sides (which had matching holes). The plates were not heated. Through the holes they put hot rods which had been threaded on both ends. They put nuts on the rod's ends and tightened them. Later, as the rods contracted, the crack in the shoe was pulled together. Pretty neat. I wonder where Golding got his idea. I wonder if this was ever attempted in a real ship? I would have tried unheated rods first, just using the threads to pull the plates together. Another solution would have been to put metal shims between both plates and the shoe. Later, the bottom and side opening of this space created by the shims could have been caulked. Water could have been poured into the top opening on one side and it would have exited from the other side, cooling the rods and preventing any heat to remain. Or, more simply, once the crack was stablized with cold rods and nuts, wooden wedges could have been pounded into the shoe and mast opening, thus preventing any movement. Of course, my solution would have prevented an exciting event in Golding's book and he certainly would not have wanted that. :D

clash wrote:
... but still don't know why Summers refused to leave the burning vessel. Has anyone read the books or have a theory they could advance?
In the book, Summers did not refuse to leave the ship. He just ran out of time. "Pandora" had been moored next to the sheer hulk and a gunpowder barge. Earlier, they had pulled the foremast and it was lying on the deck of the sheer hulk. When the "Pandora" caught fire (missing mast somehow allows oxygen to reach the holes in the shoe, maybe?), Summers cut the mooring lines to allow the ship to separate from the gunpowder barge and hulk. He spent time moving about the ship, trying to help the ship move to safety, cutting the anchor cable, and periodically ringing the ship’s bell to alert the smaller vessels in the harbor. In the book, Talbot assumes that Summers might not be able to swim and goes to his rescue. Talbot never talks to Summers, never meets him on deck, never hears him say that the hot rods from the repair caused the fire. When the deck collapses, Talbot leaves the ship but Summers is never seen again.

Don


Last edited by timoneer on Thu Nov 09, 2006 7:03 pm, edited 4 times in total.



Mon Nov 06, 2006 8:42 pm
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Why do bad things always happen to characters I like? :(

Talbot was definitely growing as a person. I didn't like the fact that he was still snooty to Lt. Summers, even though he considered him to be a friend.

The encounter with the ice reminded me of Riou and the Guardian.

As Don said, it would be interesting to find out if any ships actually tried that particular method of steadying the foremast.

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Tue Nov 07, 2006 2:33 am
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timoneer wrote:
Spoilers below!
clash, I visualized something similar. What was causing me concern was the fact that iron spikes (large nails) would shrink when cooled and then become loose. I looked at the book this morning. The actual repair discussed in the book is different. No hoops, no spikes, no damage to the mast at all. The crack was to the "shoe" that the foremast rested in. The "shoe" was a massive wooden block mounted to the keelson with a large hole for the mast. This "shoe" was 6 feet cubed and had a crack allowing the mast to move. They drilled holes completely through the wooden shoe and put iron plates on two sides (which had matching holes). The plates were not heated. Through the holes they put hot rods which had been threaded on both ends. They put nuts on the rod's ends and tightened them. Later, as the rods contracted, the crack in the shoe was pulled together. Pretty neat. I wonder where Fielding got his idea. I wonder if this was ever attempted in a real ship?


The film showed the shoe to have been split, but they only talked about the mast itself, which threw me a bit. I doubt this hot threaded rod method could have been used for real. The heat required would have totally distorted the threads so that the nuts would not have fitted, even with the wide tolerances they needed to use in those days. Heating the nuts wouldn't work because they would expand both inside and out, shrinking the threads. My dad was a mechanical engineer, and I worked with him for ten years, designing and drafting components and machinery. He was particularly expert at screw threads of various type, so I've a more than passing aquaintance with them myself.

timoneer wrote:
I would have tried unheated rods first, just using the threads to pull the plates together. Another solution would have been to put metal shims between both plates and the shoe. Later, the bottom and side opening of this space created by the shims could have been caulked. Water could have been poured into the top opening on one side and it would have exited from the other side, cooling the rods and preventing any heat to remain. Or, more simply, once the crack was stablized with cold rods and nuts, wooden wedges could have been pounded into the shoe and mast opening, thus preventing any movement. Of course, my solution would have prevented an exciting event in Fielding's book and he certainly would not have wanted that. :D


I would have tried the unheated rods first myself - or perhaps a tourniquet. You can get a prodigious amount of force in a tourniquet. As you say, a wedge or fid would have tightened the mast in once the shoe itself was fixed.

timoneer wrote:
In the book, Summers did not refuse to leave the ship. He just ran out of time. "Pandora" had been moored next to the sheer hulk and a gunpowder barge. Earlier, they had pulled the foremast and it was lying on the deck of the sheer hulk. When the "Pandora" caught fire (missing mast somehow allows oxygen to reach the holes in the shoe, maybe?), Summers cut the mooring lines to allow the ship to separate from the gunpowder barge and hulk. He spent time moving about the ship, trying to help the ship move to safety, cutting the anchor cable, and periodically ringing the ship’s bell to alert the smaller vessels in the harbor. In the book, Talbot assumes that Summers might not be able to swim and goes to his rescue. Talbot never talks to Summers, never meets him on deck, never hears him say that the hot rods from the repair caused the fire. When the deck collapses, Talbot leaves the ship but Summers is never seen again.


Don[/quote]

Ah! Thank you, Don! That makes much more sense. In the film, he seemed to be off his rocker. :D

-clash

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Tue Nov 07, 2006 5:18 pm
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clash wrote:
I doubt this hot threaded rod method could have been used for real. The heat required would have totally distorted the threads so that the nuts would not have fitted, even with the wide tolerances they needed to use in those days. Heating the nuts wouldn't work because they would expand both inside and out, shrinking the threads.
If they heated the threads and nuts, I would agree that it is unlikely to work for the reasons you gave. However, I was a manufacturing engineer for many years, experienced with all kinds of mechanical fasteners, so I would surmise that the threaded ends and the nuts were not heated fully -- just the center of the rods, which were over six feet long. If the heating process were done quickly enough and the rods promptly inserted before the threads or nuts became too distorted, it "might" be done. The threaded ends could even been wrapped in water soaked cloths, creating what is called today a "heat sink," while the center was heated. This would have reduced any distortion of the threads.

I say "might" have worked since I have never read of this type of repair. That would be the definitive answer -- if an actual account of this type of repair can be located. I certainly will be on the lookout for something like this. Of course, seaching the Internet for "shoe repair" might return a few billion hits -- not very helpful. :D

I even thought of trying to contact the author but Sir William Golding died in 1993.

Don


Tue Nov 07, 2006 6:44 pm
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Post Re: To the Ends of the Earth
I recently got a DVD of this series. I was looking for it for a long time. I guess the popularity of Benedict Cumberbatch helps!

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