A short time ago, in a laboratory quite nearby . . .

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Last weekend I finally went to see the new Star Wars movie, I know it’s been out since December I don’t always go to see movies when they’re brand new… Anyways, it was a good movie and I enjoyed it. But when I came back to work on Tuesday and started cleaning one of the gate valves from one of the Worthington pumps all I can think is how, if you turn it a certain way, it looks like a TIE fighter! It’s a very nice copper alloy valve and it’s going to look great when it’s finished. I’m not the only one making this parallel, you can see for yourself:

 

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Discovery in the lab!

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I believe it has been said before on this blog and I have no doubt that it will be said again. Conservation is not a career for those who desire instant gratification in the work place. Treatment times tend to be long, especially for marine archaeological material where desalination is perhaps the most important process. That being said, every now and then there are days where discovery and success happen in an instant. Last week I was lucky enough to have one of those days.

I’m currently working on a copper alloy bicock valve that was removed from the front of the condenser.

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News from the Tank Farm

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Turret stanchions waiting for their turned to be cleaned.

Work has been progressing nicely out in the Tank Farm. After a week in Tank 1 with the copper alloy artifacts, we refilled the tank with fresh solution, covered it back up with a tarp and moved into Tank 6. Tank 6 and 5 (which we were into this week) hold wrought iron artifacts. They all received a through cleaned via dry ice blasting, which is rapidly becoming one of my new favorite things.

One of the most exciting things about dry ice blasting these artifacts is that removing concretion often reveals previously hidden features. This has been the case for two artifacts in the last two weeks. The first was one of the stanchions off of the turret.

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Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, into the tanks we go. . .

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Out in the tank farm deconcreting copper alloy objects.
Out in the tank farm deconcreting copper alloy objects.

This week the time had come to get back into some of our larger tanks, and so tank farm season began. We were last out in the tank farm in the summer of 2014, how time flies! This summer we will be dry ice blasting all of the wrought iron artifacts that live in tank farm.

We spent this week in Tank 1, which holds copper alloy artifacts. All of the copper alloy objects, mostly pipes, were taken out the tank, examined, weighed (this helps with desalination calculations), given a brief round of flame deconcretion. By the end of week all the artifacts were back in the tank, snug as a bug in a rug, and with a freshly prepared solution.

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We need your help!

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Interior of the USS <em>Monitor</em>'s turret showing the gun carriages in situ.
Interior of the USS Monitor’s turret showing the gun carriages in situ.

The Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) is running their Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts program again this year. We have nominated the Dahlgren gun carriages. We’ve written quite a bit about the treatment of these composite artifacts in the past (see this post, this post and this postamong others). Being composed of wood, iron, and copper alloy parts renders them one of the most complex objects to conserve in the USS Monitor collection. All of these materials require individual incompatible treatments causing conservators headaches to develop new strategies for their care. Now we need your help to get them onto the top ten Endangered Artifacts list that will promote our conservation efforts. Please go vote at www.vatop10artifacts.org. The public is invited to cast their votes from August 1 to 31. VAM will announce the honorees on September 27th.

We’ll be back with more conservation adventures soon. Now, go vote!

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