More! Handling History

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Discussing the mariner’s quadrant in the Age of Exploration gallery.

We had another great Handling History tour with a group from the Virginia Chapter of Sponsored Research Administrators International (SRAI) who were in town for a conference at Christopher Newport University. The group received a tour of the USS Monitor Center and then I met them to look at pieces from our fantastic collection of navigating instruments and a few other wonderful items.

In our Age of Exploration gallery we looked at some of the instruments developed as Europeans began to explore the world around them to find new sources or routes of trade. Instruments included our Mariner’s quadrant (by Jacques Canivet, Paris, circa 1760); our truly fantastic silver-coated Mariner’s astrolabe— (by Nicolao Ruffo, Portugal, 1645); Cross-staff (by Hendrick Noordyk, Netherlands, 1804; Back-staff (by Walter Henshaw, England, 1711); and our 2-Day Marine Timekeeper (by John Arnold, England, ca 1772—this instrument probably traveled with Captain James Cook on his second voyage!).  I have reproductions of many of these instruments so I was able to let the group handle them and learn how they would be used by early navigators.

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Handling History with the Collections Department

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Looking at a scrimshaw busk that may have been made by surgeon William Roderick aboard the whaling bark Adventure (ca 1847-1856).

Last week Collections Management conducted its first Handling History program for a group called the “Ridge Roadies.” This group travels around to different locations and do a lot of sightseeing in areas they visit. I spent about an hour with the group looking at some of the special objects in our collection and even let them handle a few! Afterwards they toured the Museum galleries with one of our Navigators and then enjoyed a Monitor-themed dinner. Apparently, they enjoyed their experience just as much as we enjoyed giving them the opportunity to get up close and personal with the some of the wonderful pieces in our collection.

Some of the great things we showed them were:

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Lifting the AC72

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The morning of the lift. The cradles and platforms are ready for placement.

Sorry it’s taken so long to get the final stage of the installation of the AC72 written, but the final days of the Speed and Innovation installation and the opening events took up a lot of time!

The goal was to lift the platform about 8′ and place it on columns so the exhibition could be installed underneath. Obviously we didn’t have the luxury of hanging the platform from an overhead crane like Oracle did; we had to lift the platform from underneath. One of the problems we had to work through was identifying the best lifting points. We were pretty sure we could lift at the forward crossbeam using the same lifting points Oracle used. We knew it was the prime lifting point because of photographs showing Oracle’s lifts and because there were removable plates mounted on the underside of the crossbeam that had lifting straps attached to them. We had a quick discussion with Hampton Roads Crane and Rigging and they decided we could position two forklifts under those lifting points.

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Baker Mfg. Co.’s hard wing sail (part 2)

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Since May 11th we have spent a lot of time working on the stabilization of the Baker Mfg. hydrofoil’s rigid wing sail.  We had to remove all of the adhesive that held the original canvas covering in place and make a few minor repairs to the structure.

Yesterday Paul Porter from Packaging Systems and Solutions, Inc. came and helped us apply the Clysar covering on the wing.

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Oracle Team USA’s shore team NEVER looked like this!

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I dare Oracle Team USA to don high heels and push their boat around!

The platform of USA 17 arrived on January 30th and by February 20th we had the boat assembled and the hardware in place. Chris, our exhibit production manager, had designed, and Hampton Sheet Metal had constructed the four platforms that would support the boat in the gallery. But we had one little problem—well, it wasn’t little, it was about a 6 ton problem—the platform was in the wrong position for the exhibition.

Knowing we would need to move the pieces of the platform around after they were in the gallery we purchased four 3,600lb Yardarm dollies (these are V-shaped adjustable dollies for boats). We worked with Hampton Roads Crane and Rigging to seat the hulls on the dollies as we put the hulls in the gallery (we located them under or near bulkheads to make sure they provided good support and wouldn’t damage the boat). It made moving the hulls around a breeze during the assembly process, but we weren’t sure how easy it would be to move the entire platform. So I did what I always do when I need to move a big boat—I put out an all call to the Museum staff.

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