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Investigating the Titanic model

detail of x-ray of ship model

X-ray analysis of the RMS Titanic model, bow section

The Titanic builder's model|- made to promote the legendary liner more than a century ago - has been X-rayed for the first time in moves to restore the popular Merseyside Maritime Museum exhibit.

The very latest digital technology and scanning system was used to capture 17 X-ray images. These X-rays are being studied to discover more about the construction of the model to assist with a possible future refurbishment.

conservators holding a large x-ray plate up beside the huge Titanic model

Conservators used a large x-ray plate to x-ray the model in sections

Initial discovery

We always knew the model had internal lighting and was originally exhibited with every window and port hole lit; we wanted to find out how this was done with the technology of 1911.

One discovery is that the interior of the hull is insulated to prevent the wooden hull from cracking in the heat from the light bulbs that once lit the model.

The lights themselves were removed long ago but the X-rays revealed mirrored prisms to scatter the light. We were surprised to see strips of acid etched glass tacked to the side of the hull, to soften the light.

Long term plans

The long-term plan, subject to grants being obtained, will see the model given a complete overhaul by our models conservators.

The 20 foot long Titanic model has had a chequered history, which you can read about on the Merseyside Maritime Museum website|. It was restored 30 years ago but this work is now beginning to deteriorate.

It is planned to carefully take the model apart, to restore the original wooden parts and remake some presently missing components.

Conservators will be using traditional modelling techniques that were almost lost with the advent of new materials such as resins and plastics, in order to recreate the model's stunning original appearance.

See the model

The Titanic model is on display in Titanic and Liverpool: the untold story|, on the second floor of Merseyside Maritime Museum.