By Shane Winser
Last updated 2011-02-17
The ship required three million rivets, each an inch thick, all driven by hand by 200 rivet gangs. Each riveting squad had five members - two riveters, one 'holder-on' and two boys ('bash-boys' - one to heat the rivets, the other to insert them into the hole).
While the outer skin was being riveted, the 'holder-on' and his boy were often passing whole days or weeks in the confined space between the hulls, with little light other than that from a candle, and enduring the deafening thunder of 400 riveters' hammers, twelve hours a day, six days a week.
Working on the site was dangerous, and during construction several workers fell to their deaths. One workboy fell head-first from the structure, and was impaled on a standing iron bar. 'After he was dead, his body quivered for some time' said a witness. Another casualty was a visitor, who, 'in prying about, was bending over the head of a pile, when the monkey came down, flattening his head'.
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