Oaktoberfest (Sort of…) and a Toast

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Gary with his hard-earned trophy.

A few years ago, one of our former conservators Elsa posted about the successful effort to disassemble the port gun carriage excavated from inside USS Monitor‘s gun turret. And last summer, Kate added a post about long-term efforts to stabilize the wooden internal components from the carriage.

One of my favorite pictures from the earlier posts shows former staff guru Gary hoisting an oak gun carriage side from the Wet Lab’s overhead crane for documentation and photography. Here it is in case you missed it:   Read more

Dry Ice Blasting

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This post is coming out a little later than I wanted it to, but we have had a very busy few weeks here in the lab. We had some outdoor projects to finish before the weather turned cold. Some of our activities in the last few weeks have included assembling and installing a new anode rig in the tank holding the pieces we used to test the dry ice blasting, winterizing the tank farm and having adventures in the skeg tank. The skeg tank adventures will get their own post after Thanksgiving, today I want to tell you about dry ice blasting.

We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to try out a SDI Select 60 dry ice blaster from Cold Jet. The set up for this machine is not overly complicated. You hook it up to an air compressor; load the hopper with either dry ice pellets or blocks, in our case we found that pellets worked better, the block or pellets are pressed into an auger that shaves them and then the shaved pieces are fired down a hose and out a nozzle held by an operator. The system set up is not so different from other abrasive cleaning methods, but the unique thing about dry ice blasting is that there is no aggregate left at the end to clean up. If you are doing abrasive cleaning using glass beads, sand, ground walnut shell or any other medium you will have to clean bits of that medium off of your object when you’re done. You get to skip this step with dry ice blasting since your medium just sublimates away.   Read more

Shifting Weight with the Engine

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This past week the 30,000 gallon tank containing Monitor’s steam engine was drained for a key milestone in the conservation of this unique artifact. The purpose for the tank drain was the installation of a new support system under the engine that will enable the eventual disassembly of  the object.  Up to this week, the engine which weighs approximately 25 tons, had been suspended off the ground from a massive I-bean supported on large steel posts. In the images below, you can see the engine before and after recent deconcretion efforts suspended from the I-beam.  

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National Treasure

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As concretion removal on the turret has continued, a host of new finds have been discovered!!! The focus of concretion removal has shifted around a bit during the last several weeks (look at previous blog posts). We began work with the documentation and removal of the roof stanchions, which then moved to the excavation of concretion between the roof rails and beams, and currently to the removal of corrosion and concretion in and around the nutguards.

The following images show the variety of discoveries we found during the excavations.   Read more

Completely Floored

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Last week, treatment began on a large fragment of cast iron flooring from  Monitor‘s engine room. The fragment was discovered in situ during large scale deconcretion efforts on the engine in December 2010.  In the images below, you can see the fragment in place on the engine being supported with straps while concretion was removed to separate it from the engine bed.

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