Turbinia - RC Groups
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Apr 28, 2005, 02:20 PM
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Tony Oliver's Avatar


Yesterday, I went to the new Discovery Museum in Newcastle upon Tyne here in the UK. In particular, I wanted to take some pics of the newly restored Turbinia. About 100ft long and skinny as a rake! She is an historic vessel in that she was the first steam-turbine ship. Built in 1894, she reached speeds of 39mph which astonished and worried the navy at the time, as they had dismissed any suggestion of the new engine being of any use.

The ship was then sent racing around the huge Spithead Naval Review of the year where all the latest (and until then fastest) warships were lined up for the annual display of the Royal Navy. The Admiralty were enraged and sent their boats out to intercept, but of course they were unable to catch Turbinia.

I've had this on my 'must build' list for years - 1960 to be precise, as that was the first time I saw her.

Here are a few pics which may encourage others to have a go too. A quick search brings up quite a few enthusiastic sites.

In the pics, the screw arrangements are what is most eye-catching - three shafts, each with three props! the rudder is offset.

The next set of pics will be of the scale model - rubber powered - built to check the layout.
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Apr 28, 2005, 02:26 PM
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Tony Oliver's Avatar

Turbinia model

How's this for a power supply?

There had been a group of sticky-fingered schoolchildren pawing the showcase just before I took the pics so my apologies for the less than clear pics in some of them.
Apr 28, 2005, 03:02 PM
Useful Idiot
That doesn't look like contest grade Pirelli rubber. The hull shape of the full size version seems almost too traditional for that sort of speed and those tandem props just couldn't have worked that well. Anyway, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and 39 mph must have worried the Whitehall sailors
Apr 28, 2005, 03:27 PM
Tinkerer in Training
RGinCanada's Avatar
Those triple shaft/triple tandem screws are AWESOME!!!. They may not have been overly efficeint but holy snappin' do they look wicked

I wonder if they increase in pitch as you move fore to aft?

What scale are you planning on working in? Of course, you'll be powering this with a scale steam turbine, right
Apr 28, 2005, 08:47 PM
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That looks like a very interesting subject for a model Tony! 39MPH is quite remarkable for that time! Hopefully you have worked this one to the top of your list since 1960!
Apr 28, 2005, 09:58 PM
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Turbina under way

My Father (Charles) asked me to post this as he is unable to right now. He thought you might like a photo of "Turbinia" under way. He's somewhat of an ocean liner buff, having crossed extensively on the Atlantic run while traveling with my grandparents in his youth.

He asked me to mention that after the initial run across the fleet at Spithead, Parsons turned around and invited Thomas and Bruce Ismay (who controlled White Star Lines and were in attendence that day) to take a ride. Obviously, they were sold. (Bruce Ismay, by then chairman of White Star is the infamous male passenger who escaped the "Titanic" allegedly dressed as a woman - untrue - although he did exit in a lifeboat early in the process and was held to account for it in the inquiries that followed).

Cunard's "Mauretania" and "Lusitania" were the first of the new class of super liners to benefit from turbine technology followed by the "Aquitania" although turbines were installed in several smaller ships first, two were experimental destroyers built under license from Parsons for the Royal Navy. Two smaller liners were built by Cunard, one powered conventionally and the other with turbines, for comparison. At the end of the year, the turbine powered ship averaged a full knot faster with slightly less coal consumption.

Building during the same period were White Star's trio, the "Olympic," "Titanic," and "Britanic." He said you probably knew all that but to toss it in anyway.

Last edited by cpaxson; Apr 29, 2005 at 01:40 PM.
Apr 28, 2005, 10:14 PM
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Opps.... correction

corrected above, sorry
Last edited by cpaxson; Apr 28, 2005 at 10:40 PM.
Apr 28, 2005, 10:33 PM
Registered User
Brian, please let your father know that we miss his contributions to this forum and look forward to reading more from him here soon!

Those photos are amazing! the hull form certainly didn't look like it could plane! Ahhh, power!
Apr 29, 2005, 04:48 AM
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Tony Oliver's Avatar
Thanks for adding that, Brian. I hoped the post would generate some interest but that is superb.

I'll post some further pics of the props/shafts (plus some of the others that were tested) later today when I have some time. The odd thing is I didn't take any pics along the boat from above, other than of detail. What an omission!

As to how high up the list - well up! the next boat I think. Not turbine unfortunately but I've a brushless with a 5.2:1 gearbox which should power a 3 to 4ft model well. Should sound good too (2800 rpm/volt at 12 volts+....)
Apr 30, 2005, 04:49 AM
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Tony Oliver's Avatar

Turbinia - props used

Here are some pics of the props/shaft setup
Apr 30, 2005, 04:50 AM
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Tony Oliver's Avatar

Turbinia - tests

...and some tested.
Apr 30, 2005, 10:23 AM
Grumpa Tom
Kmot's Avatar
This ship is unbelievably cool. And to realize it's over 100 years old just totally blows my mind!
Apr 30, 2005, 06:05 PM
no wings any more, just dust!
Ghost 2501's Avatar
and when turbinia shot through the fleet at the grand review infront of HM Queen Victoria, he was almost arrested, however Queen Victoria was impressed by the craft and wanted a second run past!
Apr 30, 2005, 06:37 PM
Registered User
The reason why Turbinia has so many propellers is to over come cavitation. Charles Parson decided to have three shafts and on each shaft, three propellers because he did not have as much power as he thought he would have when he tested Turbinia and he knew Turbinia was capable of greater speeds. As a propeller revolves, each blade develops lift in the manner of an airplane wing. When a blade revolves at high speed an area of low pressure develops on its back surface (usually toward the tip), much like the incipient stall of an aircraft wing. At excessive speed or loading, the low-pressure area may spread across the entire blade, forming tiny bubbles of water vapor and a consequent loss of thrust and onset of propeller vibration are experienced.
Apr 30, 2005, 08:44 PM
no wings any more, just dust!
Ghost 2501's Avatar
couldnt parsons have used larger blades or propellers with more blades????

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