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Minas Tirith Forums » The Hobbit » How did the Dwarves breathe in the barrels?
Author Topic: How did the Dwarves breathe in the barrels?
The White Hand
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I'd assume that the barrels had air-holes and floated that side up, but it's hard to imagine how the Elves would ensure this while "rolling" them down the hole into the river; I'd think that they assumed that the barrels were fairly sealed for shipping, being a little drunk at the time. No matter how tough Dwarves may be, they certainly needed to breathe, and there couldn't be enough air in the barrels for 2 days.

[ 12-03-2010, 04:13 AM: Message edited by: The White Hand ]

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White Gold Wielder
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Maybe they have a high tolerance for breathing their own CO2 poisoned air.

Men can easily live for a couple days in a small sealed room, perhaps the hardy, small-statured dwarves had no trouble with lasting that long in a tiny sealed room.

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Mithrennaith
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Additionally, I can only suppose that the wood of the barrels themselves ‘breathed’, that is allowed both CO2 and oxygen to pass through (slowly) while not allowing the water to get in. And not all the barrels were waterproof, either, some dwarves arrived at Laketown a bit wet.
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The White Hand
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Or maybe the barrels were simply opened and tapped at one end, and that's plenty of ventilation.
Otherwise can a barrel not be waterproof, but hold wine?

[ 12-09-2010, 04:17 AM: Message edited by: The White Hand ]

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Madomir
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If water can get in then the wine could get out, so that doesn't work. But weren't some of the barrels for apples and such things? I don't suppose a little leakiness would ruin those.
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The White Hand
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Some of the barrels contained food, but they were all opened, obviously, since they were being returned empty. No need to seal them air-tight for that.
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Michael Martinez
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So it's, what, 10 months later? Fear not. The barrels had air-holes, according to the text.
quote:
They soon found thirteen with room enough for a dwarf in each. In fact some were too roomy, and as they climbed in the dwarves thought anxiously of the shaking and the bumping they would get inside, though Bilbo did his best to find straw and other stuff to pack them in as cosily as could be managed in a short time. At last twelve dwarves were stowed. Thorin had given a lot of trouble, and turned and twisted in his tub and grumbled like a large dog in a small kennel; while Balin, who came last, made a great fuss about his air-holes and said he was stifling, even before his lid was on. Bilbo had done what he could to close holes in the sides of the barrels, and to fix on all the lids as safely as could be managed, and now he was left alone again, running round putting the finishing touches-to the packing, and hoping against hope that his plan would come off.
No idea how they managed to put air-holes in the barrels. I guess they used a knife but that would be hard work. Maybe they used Dwarf-magic to make the holes.

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Hamfast Gamgee
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Weren't the barrels floating just above the water?
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Aiwrendel
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Some food barrels, especially those containing fruit, would need holes in them to prevent mold and rot from forming. Even the wine barrels may have had at least one hole, a bung hole, for dispensing the wine through a spout tapped into the bung just like tapping a barrel of beer. That seems more likely than opening the top and using a dipper to remove the wine which would be inefficient and take forever. But I'm thinking the Dwarves were all in food barrels with easily removable lids and not the wine barrels which were liquid-tight.

Weren’t the barrels brought upstream to the Elves by raft and then floated back downstream to the Men? An empty wooden barrel could float quite well, albeit very low in the water, if it was mostly full of water so those containing Dwarves probably looked like a normal, leaky barrels by the time they got to the Men.

Edit: My usual typos

[ 08-20-2015, 10:55 AM: Message edited by: Aiwrendel ]

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Hamfast Gamgee
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All the same they where lucky that all survived. But then luck does feature in this tale.
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The Flammifer
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Aiwrendel : Even the wine barrels may have had at least one hole, a bung hole

To bung the hole or not to bung the hole, that is the hole (or whole) question.

A bunghole is a hole bored in a liquid-tight barrel to remove contents. The hole is capped with a large cork-like object called a bung.

So when the Elves received the wine in bunged barrels they would remove the bung from the bunghole and replace the bung with a spout (Sindarin: nozzle). Would they, after joyfully dispensing with the contents, then replace the bung before chucking the barrel into the river? Well, the barrels wouldn’t sink bung or no bung, and surely the Elves wouldn’t dispose of the barrels with spouts intact – oh, no! So I assume most of the barrels floated back to Laketown were bung-less, and a very few barrels may have had their bungs haphazardly replaced into the bunghole before rolling these few bunged barrels into the river.

In summary: We must assume that most of the ‘empty’ barrels received back at Laketown were bung-less, as the barrels would float bung or no bung, and these barrels would have to be rebunged before refilling with wine, and the bung-making franchise of Laketown would be most lucrative.

Next week: An in-depth study of Cram vs Twinkies . . . []

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Snöwdog
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quote:
How did the Dwarves breathe in the barrels?
With their noses of course. Since Bilbo didn't hermetically seal each barrel, I'm sure there was some air getting in. Or they were open topped and stayed upright in the water as PJ envisioned. []
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Aiwrendel
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I reread about Bilbo's preparations and their journey. Bilbo purposely didn't use wine barrels because the tops were not removable. As the quote above explains the fruit barrels had holes hastily sealed by Bilbo but not air or water tight. All dwarves came out soaked except Kili and Fili who were "drier" than the others.

So if water could get in maybe air could move in and out to an adequate extent.

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