Filling the Turret Tank: an epic saga in six parts

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The outside auxiliary tanks can hold the turret’s solution while we work or be used to build up new water. The middle “small” tank is where the skeg beam and hull plates are housed.

Turret Season is officially over! Last week we changed the solution in the turret tank and hooked it back up to its electrolytic reduction (ER) system. This is a long and exhausting process which takes about a week to complete. Let’s look at the steps involved in readying the turret for the off-season.

Thursday, A week out:   Read more

Newport News Shipbuilding to the rescue OR the “de-canistering” of little Francois (swivel gun)

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Swivel gun, Depot Central de l’Artillerie, 1826

Some of you might remember my post of September 22 where I discussed the discovery that one of the swivel guns we had pulled for the Gallery Crawl appeared to be loaded. Well, I can now happily report that it was not loaded but it did have SOMETHING jammed inside of it (and no, it wasn’t a beer can, although I will admit to having one of those stuck inside a 4-pound mid-18th century British cannon).  We did have a brief scare in early October when we sent a sample of material from the touchhole to William & Mary and it tested positive for the elements of gun powder. Thankfully we now know that it was just the remnants of gun powder from the touchhole and not a fully loaded cannon—which I guess I should have expected.

Shortly after the Gallery Crawl we contacted Newport News Shipbuilding and they graciously agreed to help us by x-raying the cannon (you might remember that ours wasn’t strong enough to see through the barrel while NNSBD’s machine can penetrate steel up to 20 inches thick). This isn’t the first time NNSBD has pitched in to help the Museum. Over the last 20 years or so they have periodically used their linear accelerator, high energy X-ray machine (Linitron) to x-ray objects recovered from the USS Monitor.   Read more

Lt. Warre’s Huangpu River (Pt. 4)

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Panorama of the Huangpu River, Shanghai, China, 1846-1847

Let’s get back to Lt. Warre’s watercolor!

He starts panel number five by stating that the American flag you can see at the left is the temporary location of the American Consulate and that it is actually sitting on “British ground.” The location of its permanent home is down in panel 7 on “the right bank of a small river…leading to Souchowfoo”. I think the river is the Wusong (also called Suzhou) and that “Souchowfoo” is actually Suzhou—at least that’s the closest spot I can figure fits his phonetic spelling of the place name! [I did check to see if the “S” was an “F” because there was a place called “Fouchowfoo” (Fuzhou) but the shape of Warre’s letters is pretty specific and luckily he gave me an “F” and “S” to make the comparison—you can thank graduate school for the paleography training!]   Read more