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Author Topic: Deserted Island, Castaways, Survival  (Read 235549 times)

Gary LaPook

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Re: Deserted Island, Castaways, Survival
« Reply #60 on: March 08, 2012, 03:23:40 AM »

Quote from:  Gary LaPook
Except no plastic or wax paper was involved, it was not a solar still. Rogers and his crew improvised by burning wood torn from the airplane to boil seawater and condense fresh water. The crew was not in a life raft but in their seaplane that they landed at sea after they ran out of gas. The plane remained afloat for ten days while they made a sail from fabric torn off the plane and the crew sailed it 400 miles to Kauai. They used the water they had on board and they collected some rain water. On the seventh day they distilled seawater by burning wood for five hours and collected half a canteen full off fresh water.

(BTW, maybe it should be "potable" not "portable." )

gl

Sea Plane in 1927, AE/FN may have come accross this story and thus been able to replicate the water making.

Thanks to Erik the OP of the story :)
But the Electra wasn't made out of wood and fabric.

gl
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Deserted Island, Castaways, Survival
« Reply #61 on: March 08, 2012, 03:45:09 AM »

Quote
But the Electra wasn't made out of wood and fabric.

No its not but Buka is deffinatly made of wood and there's loads of it on Niku not to mention other species and drift wood.

Your statement is a bit daft is it not as I make no mention of burning bits of the electra (though I beleive it does have wooden fitting such as raised floor etc - may be wrong but i'm sure you'll educate me)  :P
Oh I read your prior message that they should replicate what the Navy crew did, distilling water while floating around in their plane, not after making it ashore. I already mentioned building a fire if ashore to distill water in my prior post.

gl
« Last Edit: March 08, 2012, 03:48:55 AM by Gary LaPook »
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Erik

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Re: Deserted Island, Castaways, Survival
« Reply #62 on: March 08, 2012, 05:43:53 AM »

Thanks Chris for breaking up the Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland thread...

Regarding the 1925 incident.  Yes, those guys most definetly had a portable (not potable) water still with them.

New York Times - September 12, 1925
Commander Rodgers's father, Admiral John A. Rodgers, is understood to have been lost once for a considerable period while on a polar exhibition.  That was the reason the flight commander's mother insisted that he take with him on this flight a small water still.

The point of much of this discussion revolves around several newspaper articles talking about 'water machines'.  The articles refer to it being carried (and possibly left behind) during the 2nd world flight.  Some of the articles mention human breath, some mention vapor from the ocean.  I  even found one article that called it an 'outfit'.  Either way, it is clear that the articles were mostly likely talking about something. 

It's the "something" that we are trying to figure out what it was.  It could have been a solar, chemical, fuel-powered, mechanical, whatever, etc.

« Last Edit: March 08, 2012, 05:51:56 AM by Erik »
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Erik

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Re: Deserted Island, Castaways, Survival
« Reply #63 on: March 08, 2012, 06:54:23 AM »

Below are two types of water stills. 

For simplicity, we'll call the first one a 'mechanical' water still, and the second one a 'fuel-powered' still.  If someone knows better names, chime in. 

As you can see the mechanical still is just that, where it needs to be fitted to an existing power source such as a tea kettle.  All it is, is a conical shaped device.  The fuel-powered still is much more self contained, and complex.  It only needs the operator only to find a source of heat. 

The only argument is that both of these would have been difficult to operate at sea in a life raft, as they both needed fuel and heat.  But, then again, that could be the arguement for them being left behind at Lae too.  If they weren't left behind, it sure does open other possibilites for artifacts to be found. : )

Mechanical Water Still

This mechanical type of water still is of the early 1920's vintage.  It is more likely to be representative of they type of still carried by the 1925 sea plane ditching incident mentioned above.  Fred Noonan would have most likely been familar with this kind, or at a minimum familar with the technique.  As you can see, it would be pretty easy to fabricate a conical shaped device such as this out of aluminmum skin, ect.

Fuel-powered water Still

This is a fuel-powered still, representative of the late 1930's vintage.  It is portable and only requires the operator to supply any kind of source of heat, from any type of fuel.  It is more likely to be representative of a 'water machine', and possible carried aboard the electra.


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Gary LaPook

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Re: Deserted Island, Castaways, Survival
« Reply #64 on: March 08, 2012, 09:34:34 AM »

Below are two types of water stills. 

For simplicity, we'll call the first one a 'mechanical' water still, and the second one a 'fuel-powered' still.  If someone knows better names, chime in. 

As you can see the mechanical still is just that, where it needs to be fitted to an existing power source such as a tea kettle.  All it is, is a conical shaped device.  The fuel-powered still is much more self contained, and complex.  It only needs the operator only to find a source of heat. 

The only argument is that both of these would have been difficult to operate at sea in a life raft, as they both needed fuel and heat.  But, then again, that could be the arguement for them being left behind at Lae too.  If they weren't left behind, it sure does open other possibilites for artifacts to be found. : )

Mechanical Water Still

This mechanical type of water still is of the early 1920's vintage.  It is more likely to be representative of they type of still carried by the 1925 sea plane ditching incident mentioned above. Fred Noonan would have most likely been familar with this kind, or at a minimum familar with the technique. As you can see, it would be pretty easy to fabricate a conical shaped device such as this out of aluminmum skin, ect.

Fuel-powered water Still

This is a fuel-powered still, representative of the late 1930's vintage.  It is portable and only requires the operator to supply any kind of source of heat, from any type of fuel.  It is more likely to be representative of a 'water machine', and possible carried aboard the electra.
Cool, Eric, thanks for finding those. I especially like the one you can put over a tea kettle. I do wonder about your statement, however, "Fred Noonan would have most likely been familiar with this kind", were these tea kettle devices found in every home, right next to the hand pump in the kitchen?  ;) Were these devices actually produced? Can you find them in old Sears Catalogs? What market were they designed for? Can you find them now on Ebay? As to whether Noonan might have been able to construct a wood or gasoline powered still see my prior post.

gl

https://tighar.org/smf/index.php/topic,592.msg10873.html#msg10873
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Harry Howe, Jr.

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Re: Deserted Island, Castaways, Survival
« Reply #65 on: March 08, 2012, 10:27:00 AM »


As to an initial source of wood, I believe there was a wooden "platform" atop the cabin fuel tanks which could have been dismantled and used.  Look at the Luke Field inventory and you will see that they had a hand axe a hammer, chisel. etc., enough tools to do the job.

With a little thought and effort they prolly would have figgered a way to loosen a gas line and collect an excellent "fire starter".  They were not completely bereft (sp?) of things to use.
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Harry Howe, Jr.

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Re: Deserted Island, Castaways, Survival
« Reply #66 on: March 08, 2012, 10:55:07 AM »


"FN may have had knowledge from his sea faring days on ah hoc survival skills."

FN was a certified Sea Captain, having cut his teeth on sailing ships, he was a certified pilot, and an expert navigator.  There is no doubt in my mind that in his long career at sea that he was very familiar with survival techniques of the period.  He wasn't a dunderhead.

Question is, was he so badly hurt in the landing that his capabilities were compomised?
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Erik

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Re: Deserted Island, Castaways, Survival
« Reply #67 on: March 08, 2012, 02:33:52 PM »

Cool, Eric, thanks for finding those. I especially like the one you can put over a tea kettle. I do wonder about your statement, however, "Fred Noonan would have most likely been familiar with this kind", were these tea kettle devices found in every home, right next to the hand pump in the kitchen? 
gl

Yes.  I asked my great-grandmother before she passed away a few years ago.  She confirmed that there was a tea kettle water still in every home.  Not only that, she knew FN and saw one in his house.

All joking aside, seriously though....

At some point we gotta stop gnawing-at-the-bone with 'double-checking', on top of 'double-checking', on top of 'double-checking', and go with a likliehood of something being available or not. 

There are patents, backed up with newspaper reports, backed up by first-hand quotations, backed up by common sense, backed up by our own observations of the real-world.  In other words, if I can make a water still in my own backyard today, anyone could have made one back then too.  That's in itself is good enough for me to be conviced that one is possible to have existed back then. 

If you don't want to take my word for it, perhaps Commander John S. Rodgers mother's word will do.  She insisted that he take along a small water still.  That was 1925. 
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Harry Howe, Jr.

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Re: Deserted Island, Castaways, Survival
« Reply #68 on: March 08, 2012, 06:04:28 PM »


Erik
Great find!  Settles it for ne.  There indeed were "water machines" available in 1937, AE.FN prolly had one.  Why they discarded it somewhere between Miami and Lae, as Paul Mantz said they dgid, is beyond me.
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Deserted Island, Castaways, Survival
« Reply #69 on: March 08, 2012, 11:08:41 PM »


There are patents, backed up with newspaper reports, backed up by first-hand quotations, backed up by common sense, backed up by our own observations of the real-world.  In other words, if I can make a water still in my own backyard today, anyone could have made one back then too.  That's in itself is good enough for me to be conviced that one is possible to have existed back then. 

If you don't want to take my word for it, perhaps Commander John S. Rodgers mother's word will do.  She insisted that he take along a small water still.  That was 1925.

I agree with you that on the seashore they would have been able to improvise a desalination still, as I wrote before:

"On the sea shore they could make a crude still out a piece of aluminum to make a pot to boil seawater and another piece to hold over the pot to collect fresh water condensation. If they were on Gardner then it would appear that they could last virtually indefinitely, finding or making the needed amount of water and with unlimited crab cakes to eat."

And maybe we have been talking past each other a bit. When I have been talking about solar stills I have specifically been concerned with stills designed to be used in a life raft at sea, which was the concern of our military in WW2 and, reasonably, the concern of Earhart's for her long over water flights because on land there are many other ways to secure water that do not require a special solar still device. It seems much more likely that any concern by Earhart and her advisers about securing water in an emergency was related to the life raft situation and not to the desert situation since her flight was over the sea much more than it was over deserts.

 Also, not mentioned in the Luke field inventory.

A couple of patent application drawings does provide very convincing evidence that the objects described were ever manufactured, if you do further patent research you will find diagrams of flying saucers too. Rogers' mother had to convince him to bring some type of desalination still with him, possibly home made by Rogers' dad since they were obviously not standard Navy issue or else Mom wouldn't have had to make him carry one. Such a still had a purpose on a float plane (but I have never heard of any other instance of one being on a float plane, commercial or Navy, have you?) but it is hard to see why one, if they were even available, would be carried in a land plane flying over the ocean since the only time one would be useful would be after an emergency landing on the seashore and of no use for the much more probable emergency ditching far from the nearest shore. If they existed then, why were they not carried by WW2 aircraft? Nor would they serve any purpose in a desert or in a jungle or in a forest or on a savannah. And the second one illustrated looks heavy and bulky too.

It is also hard to see any purpose for one for common domestic use around the house, nobody builds a house where there is no ready fresh water supply. Any shown in old Sears or Wards catalogs? Even the settlers on Gardner relied on wells. Distilling seawater to make fresh water is an expensive way to obtain drinking water. You either need to buy the fuel or spend a lot of time harvesting wood. There are some places where it is necessary to desalinate seawater but the modern municipal plants are large and much more sophisticated by operating under a vacuum to lower the boiling point of the seawater so that less of the expensive energy must be used and they wouldn't be used now if there was a less expensive source of fresh water. There have even been proposals to tow super large icebergs from the Antarctic to Saudi Arabia because that would be a less expensive source of fresh water than distilling  seawater.

So the only possible niche I can see for such a device would be for use on sailboats in case of running out of water while becalmed far from shore. I have been a sailor for fifty years, subscribed to many sailing publications, have marine catalogs going back a long way, have an extensive library on sailing and dealing with on the sea emergencies and there has never been any mention of such stills in sailing books or magazines. If they were available in the 1930's they would have continued in use until something better came along. The first time emergency desalination comes up is after the development of reverse osmosis machines in the 1980's. This was a big development with a lot of buzz in the sailing community but there were no stories of how this new device would replace the balky, heavy existing stills.

So even though we agree that they could have found a way to set up a desalinization still on the shore of Gardner I am still unconvinced that such stills were commercially available.

Also, Eric, you have not answered my question as to what information you relied on for your statement that chemical desalting kits were available specifically in 1940 and possibly earlier.

gl
« Last Edit: March 08, 2012, 11:52:19 PM by Gary LaPook »
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Erik

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Re: Deserted Island, Castaways, Survival
« Reply #70 on: March 09, 2012, 07:56:00 AM »

And maybe we have been talking past each other a bit.
Perhaps.  The original discussion was whether or not the collection of newspaper articles references to a 'water machine' had any credibility.  There were essentially two varieties of these articles.  Some of the articles refer to the machine as vaporizing water from the ocean, and some of the articles refer to the machine as vaporiziing from human breath. 

During the course of our research we have been able to determine different types of water distilling devices ranging from the mid-1920's through the mid-1940's.  It's unclear exactly which type of device the newspaper articles were talking about in 1937.  On the other hand, it's pretty clear that some type of device was available.  We just don't know exactly which type they were likely to have had.

A couple of patent application drawings does provide very convincing evidence that the objects described were ever manufactured, if you do further patent research you will find diagrams of flying saucers too.
That's why we are establishing a pattern of evidence to help back up the credibility of all the sources of information (including the drawings).

So even though we agree that they could have found a way to set up a desalinization still on the shore of Gardner I am still unconvinced that such stills were commercially available.
Because they weren't commerically availble doesn't mean they weren't available at all.  Perhaps they were using an experimental home-grown device.

Also, Eric, you have not answered my question as to what information you relied on for your statement that chemical desalting kits were available specifically in 1940 and possibly earlier.
I made some reasonable assumptions when making that statement.  Since water stills were available in the mid-20's, Permutit's chemical research patents from the early-30's, other breakthroughs in the mid-30's, and commerically available products in the early-40's.  It would make sense that some type of chemical (even if in a prototype form) was likely to have existed in the late-30's. 
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Harry Howe, Jr.

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Re: Deserted Island, Castaways, Survival
« Reply #71 on: March 09, 2012, 12:50:18 PM »


Perhaps we should consider the possibility that, having landed and given up on the Itasca "rescuers" after a few days, say by Monday 7/5/37, and losing the aircraft and its contents prolly on Wednesday 7/7/37, they would realize two things: 1. They were going to die there OR 2; They had to figger out a way to get off the Island and paddle,sail to the nearest place that might be inhabited.  The classic conundrum for a Castaway. Thoughts?
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Heath Smith

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Re: Deserted Island, Castaways, Survival
« Reply #72 on: March 09, 2012, 06:52:25 PM »

Harry,

If it were me, on day two, if there was even a remote possibility of losing the plane due to surf and storm, I would have moved anything and everything I could from the plane to shore. Perhaps there would be wire to rig together a raft.

Another mission would be to gather combustible materials, in a giant pile, waiting for the first opportunity to light a massive fire at the fire sight of a passing ship.

Lastly, as I understand it, there were lifeboats on shore from the Norwich City on the island. Although some have said that it would be an impossible task and you would die of exhaustion in the attempt to move them, I probably would have taken my chances and made the attempt over the next days and weeks. I would rather die trying then sitting on an island waiting to die. Perhaps with a bit of digging and using logs are rollers you could manage to get one of these lifeboats to the shore. Were these shore boats all accounted for months after they went missing?
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Harry Howe, Jr.

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Re: Deserted Island, Castaways, Survival
« Reply #73 on: March 09, 2012, 07:50:00 PM »


Heath
Yes, and with respect to the NC life boat.  The Luke Inventory showed at least one, maybe two (I'll have to look again) tail wheel assemblys which could have been used to fasten somehow to the life boat to make it easier to move to water. on a gerry-rigged cradle of sorts on wheels.
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Harry Howe, Jr.

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Re: Deserted Island, Castaways, Survival
« Reply #74 on: March 09, 2012, 07:54:38 PM »


With respect to tying down the plane, the Luke Inventory listed items like tie down rope, tie down rods, tie down arrows (anchors?).
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