Author Topic: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint & repairs/patches to the superstructure  (Read 25100 times)

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Offline Andrew Collier

Hi Everybody,

Heres a random one for the more technical minded! As we all know, the superstructure of QE2 is made of welded aluminium, and the hull of welded steel.

At the point where the two meet was a transition joint required to stop the two metals reacting with each other, this join was visible if you looked closely all the way down the side of the ship, does anyone have any really good close up photos that show that joint, and/or any other details about exactly how the two sections were joined, I have recently been reading about how the same job was carried out on the SS Oriana, very interesting, and now inspired to see how it was tackled on QE2!

Cheers  8)

« Last Edit: Feb 28, 2010, 05:33 PM by Rob Lightbody »
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Online Rob Lightbody

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Re: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint
« Reply #1 on: Jun 08, 2009, 09:22 AM »
This is covered in detail in Bruce Peter's recent book.  I think its also in the original Potter book and might also be on the VADS design website.

I'm curious to know - Norway had an aluminium top too didn't she?  Did she suffer from it ageing the way QE2 did?  Or did she have expansion joints making it matter less?
Passionate about QE2's service life for 37 years and creator of this website.  Worked in IT for 27 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Offline Andrew Collier

Re: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint
« Reply #2 on: Jun 08, 2009, 09:48 AM »
Agh THAT book!

I can see i'm gonna have to get a copy soon somehow!

I expect SS France/Norway would have had expansion gaps, but not sure, will have to look into it sometime....
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Online Rob Lightbody

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Re: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint
« Reply #3 on: Jun 08, 2009, 09:49 AM »
Agh THAT book!

I can see i'm gonna have to get a copy soon somehow!

Its showing up at £16.34 at the bottom of your screen just now, QE2 Story shop is calling you !
Passionate about QE2's service life for 37 years and creator of this website.  Worked in IT for 27 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Offline Andrew Collier

Re: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint
« Reply #4 on: Jun 08, 2009, 10:06 AM »
After payday, only a week to wait!!
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Online Bob C.

Re: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint
« Reply #5 on: Aug 07, 2009, 11:02 PM »
This webppage that I just found (http://www.glesga.ukpals.com/transport/qe2.htm) has what I think is a good picture of the top of the steel 1 Deck before the aluminum Quarter Deck was installed.  

Look at the 4th picture from the top (first black and white picture) which shows a group of steel workers with a shipyard foreman.  To the left of the group you will see two rows of rivet holes that the aluminum superstructure will be connected to.  Here is a look at the joint in one of Isabelle's photos (https://www.flickr.com/photos/prondis_in_kenya/3412503870/).
« Last Edit: Aug 08, 2009, 07:36 PM by Bob C. »

Offline Andrew Collier

Re: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint
« Reply #6 on: Aug 08, 2009, 05:25 PM »
Thats good research Bob, there must be some sort of joining compound between the two metals in the middle of that joint to keep them apart, on SS Oriana (Orient Line 1960) a double row of rivits was used just like we see here on QE2 and some form of epoxy resin in the middle of the joint, finished off with a 'wedge' of Araldite on top of the steel on the outside, and under the aluminium inside to seal the whole joint, looks from these photos that QE2 might have been the same, still need to get that book Rob mentions to check though.... Cheers!
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Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint
« Reply #7 on: Aug 08, 2009, 05:41 PM »
There's a good close-up here, from Carmen's Year :

https://www.flickr.com/photos/loumax/2925093634/

Ronald Warwick's book (1993 edition) devotes pages 52 to 54 to the subject. Just one quote here :

Quote
The firm of John S. Craig & co., Ltd., Glasgow, developed a flexible epoxy liquid that was applied to one of the two surfaces after an elaborate cleaning and curing process. The two metals were riveted together, and in the heating process a tight seal was formed, prohibiting contact between the two metals and the intrusion of water into the joint.

Offline Twynkle

Re: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint
« Reply #8 on: Feb 03, 2010, 09:07 PM »
About this 'join'...
As Rob mentions above, Potter and Frost (1969) p 44, 43 in 'Queen Elizabeth 2',  give a thorough description of both the supply of the aluminium, the difficulties involved in it's welding, testing of it and something about details of the join.

'If aluminium is joined directly to steel, electrolytic action is set up in the presence of moisture., eventually causing corrosion of the metal.  The two materials had therefore to be insulated from each other, particularly at the principal steel-aluminum joint just above what is now called the quarter deck, where the ship changes from steel to aluminium.'

Curiously, there seems to be no mention of Araldite (epoxy resin) in their text. The other day I came across the reference to Araldite in the join - will find again, and post here!
QE2 had been waiting alongside in Dubai for nearly 12 years.  Please restore her Lifeboats and Tenders to where they truly belong - she looks naked without them - please spare her this ignominy.

Offline Jeff Taylor

Re: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint
« Reply #9 on: Feb 03, 2010, 10:46 PM »
It would be interesting to know how they handled that transition on the United States--despite her obvious woes she's nearly 60 years old and I've never heard of problems with the aluminum superstructure.

Online skilly56

Re: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint
« Reply #10 on: Feb 04, 2010, 08:16 AM »
Aha, another lovely technical subject to get involved in! The steel-to-aluminium transition joint.

I'm not sure exactly how QE2's insulation procedure was carried out between the dis-similar materials at the joint, but as the years went by, continual modification (one easy example being the addition of pipework for services to and from the 'penthouse suites' that were added later on in her life) must be adding up to help defeat the insulation barrier that the steel-aluminium joint was trying to provide. The electrical insulation barrier was intended to prevent or reduce the galvanic action (ie, eddy currents & voltages that cause corrosion and metal wastage) that is normally set up between dissimilar metals (eg, the steel & the aluminium).
In 2003 I spent a year as QA manager in a shipyard that manufactured superyachts (or tried to - they never ever got it right!), often with high-strength steel hulls and alloy superstructures. The 'Bang Stick' strips we used to insulate the steel from the alloy were manufactured in Belgium by using explosives to bond a strip of alloy to a strip of steel. By totally bonding the grain structure of the two materials, electrical galvanic action was greatly reduced between the two materials. Until some silly twerp would ignore the instructions on the build drawings and install a pipe incorrectly (or use a pipe of the wrong material), thus giving an electrical path which would totally defeat the insulating properties of the 'Bang Stick'. Or incorrectly weld in a new access ladder and totally negate the "Bang Stick by giving a new path to the electrolosis.
I have inserted a link below for those who are interested - it shows all the areas in which explosively bonded materials are now used to build modern ships.

http://www.dynamicmaterials.com/data/brochures/1.%20SNAME%20paper%202-04.pdf

Cheers

Skilly

Offline Twynkle

Re: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint
« Reply #11 on: Feb 04, 2010, 09:01 AM »
That's really interesting, Skilly!

Potter and Frost covered the subject of aluminium and welding - comprehensively. There's much about the need to cover each area as the welding was done, in order to keep it free of moisture - they make an oblique reference to the climate!
But I can't find any ref. to the sticky stuff!

I had wondered about the possibility of problems to do with the weight of additional structures stressing the join - not just in connection with the 'penthouse suites' but what about the the funnel as well?
Not knowing, yet, what this was / is now made from - did the same joint-work become necessary?
Similarly - would this be how the mast is 'stuck' on?
(I remember sticking formica onto wood and 'metal' - with Araldite, in the '60's. Highly inflammable and effective sticky stuff!)

Cheers, and thanks too!!

Rosie
« Last Edit: Feb 04, 2010, 10:06 AM by Twynkle »
QE2 had been waiting alongside in Dubai for nearly 12 years.  Please restore her Lifeboats and Tenders to where they truly belong - she looks naked without them - please spare her this ignominy.

Online Rob Lightbody

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Re: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint
« Reply #12 on: Feb 04, 2010, 09:38 AM »
It would be interesting to know how they handled that transition on the United States--despite her obvious woes she's nearly 60 years old and I've never heard of problems with the aluminum superstructure.

Most of QE2's problems with the aluminium are to do with the fact that the ship does not have expansion joints, and the aluminium was intended to bend and flex along with the steel.  Bruce Peter's book covers this in depth.  The steel hull is deliberately weaker higher up to allow this to happen.  It was this flexing that has caused all the problems.  For the mega-refit in the 80s, they considered retro-fitting them to ease the problems.

SSUS's hull and superstructure have also led a leisurely life compared to the 800+ express transatlantic crossings that QE2 has had to endure!  I bet QE2's aluminium would be in much better condition if she'd spent most of her time at the dockside.
Passionate about QE2's service life for 37 years and creator of this website.  Worked in IT for 27 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Online skilly56

Re: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint
« Reply #13 on: Feb 04, 2010, 10:11 AM »
Gotcha Rob,

I didn't know there were no expansion joints in her hull, so the biggest problem would probably be that, with the coefficient of expansion for the aluminium being much greater than for steel, and the stresses have nowhere to dissipate. I wonder what crevice cracking and fractures do exist under all that paint?

Painting the hull black would increase the heat (ie, expansion) in the steel, and painting the superstructure white would help to keep the expansion of the aluminium down, but there would still have been considerable stress.

I just watched the 'Queen's Conversation' on your Facebook - broadband here is Sssooo slow I had to hit the play button then go away for 15 minutes while it downloaded, but she still has a good voice.

Cheers

Skilly
« Last Edit: Feb 10, 2010, 01:58 AM by skilly56 »

Online Peter Mugridge

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Re: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint
« Reply #14 on: Feb 04, 2010, 10:17 AM »
There is also the problem that salt water really corrodes aluminium quite quickly, and the upper parts - especially in winter North Atlantic conditions - are going to spend a great deal of their time in a salt spray environment.

I am wondering if the obviously instensive paint maintenance required to keep the aluminium sealed in had, over time, any effect on the joint itself?  Is the paint a special formula to reduce any possible conductive bridging effects, for example?



Of interest, aluminum / steel combinations are used in some railway traction current live rails - the Waterloo and City Line, for example, has a steel conductor rail which is mounted directly on an aluminium base.  As in, the top half of the rail is steel and the lower half is aluminium.
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Offline pete cain

Re: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint
« Reply #15 on: Feb 04, 2010, 07:58 PM »
Peter, I was witness to many QE2 deckhands 'painting' the Aluminium during the  let's call it dark hours, all they (seemed) to do was have a can of what appeared to be clear fluid  (in the tin) ,roller it around the affected area , & hey presto it came out white, no prep involved, I might add the same proceedure was applied to steel  handrails & etc, is that why all older ladies have layers & layers of 'clag'?. As a postcript to the transition joint   problems , well poor old QE2 as well as ORIANA (the leader in these in retrospect problems) were constructed over years & years in the open, no such luxury as covered construction halls  in them days , so, I guess condensation did have an affect. ( bet the shipwright got a friendly welder to warm the affected area  before Araldite was applied)
« Last Edit: Feb 04, 2010, 08:07 PM by pete cain »

Offline highlander0108

Re: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint
« Reply #16 on: Feb 10, 2010, 01:39 AM »
There is also the problem that salt water really corrodes aluminium quite quickly, and the upper parts - especially in winter North Atlantic conditions - are going to spend a great deal of their time in a salt spray environment.

Actually, salt water does not corrode aluminum like you might think.  It oxidizes when left exposed and forms a protective coating.  There are alot of aluminum boats, particularily in the Pacific Northwest, in service with absolutely no paint whatsoever.  The problems arise with dissimilar metals, crevice corrosion, and electrolysis.  Here is a better explanation I found from a naval architect.
http://www.kastenmarine.com/aluminum.htm
It was clear that the aluminum plating on the boat deck was flexing, as it was designed to, as witnessed to all the patches at the stress points of windows, even with the corners rounded to minimize the built up stress.  In fact, I even saw cracks in several of the patches and repairs made over previous repairs. 
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Offline Twynkle

Re: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint
« Reply #17 on: Feb 26, 2010, 08:12 PM »
Apologies for the grainy images -
it was surprising to note that the base of the windows are set just inches above joint

https://www.flickr.com/photos/watch_keeper/4389887995/sizes/l/in/photostream/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/watch_keeper/4389887989/sizes/l/

QE2 had been waiting alongside in Dubai for nearly 12 years.  Please restore her Lifeboats and Tenders to where they truly belong - she looks naked without them - please spare her this ignominy.

Offline holynougat

Re: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint
« Reply #18 on: Feb 26, 2010, 08:29 PM »
The ship carried a deck carpenter who was a certified Lloyds welder until she finished the transatlantic runs. (Welding aluminium is very difficult)

The Aluminium was very prone to cracking in bad weather and the superstructure is covered like a patch work quilt with doubling plate over welded cracks.

The steel hull however is built like nothing else and I never recall any problems with structural cracking in the hull, unlike modern cruise ships which crack all over the place

If they had chopped everything off above deck 2 with a gas axe then they could have rebuilt on the old hull and the ship would probably have lasted longer than a brand new one!




Offline highlander0108

Re: Steel/Aluminium Transition Joint
« Reply #19 on: Feb 27, 2010, 01:26 AM »
Apologies for the grainy images -
it was surprising to note that the base of the windows are set just inches above joint

https://www.flickr.com/photos/watch_keeper/4389887995/sizes/l/in/photostream/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/watch_keeper/4389887989/sizes/l/



Rosie, are these your photos?  I have tried to view, but I get a message that these photos are private.
"There will never be another one like her" QE2's last Master Ian McNaught
My Blog:  http://qe2-prideoftheclyde.blogspot.com/