What have you been up to back there?

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One of our more bent stanchions after dry ice cleaning

We have a fantastic corps of volunteers here at the museum. Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know some of them, particularly the Navigators, who greet visitors, offer tours, and make sure guests find their way to all of the exhibits. Whenever I see them, they never fail to ask how the conservation of the Monitor is going, or if we’ve discovered anything new, or sometimes more generally: what have you been up to back there lately?

So here’s what we’ve been up to lately. . .   Read more

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.   Read more

That’s a wrap!

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Happiness is. . .being done with installing the new anode rig!
Happiness is. . .being done with installing the new anode rig!

Well folks, we have come to the end of our turret season! Two and a half months of hot, humid, intense, occasionally slightly dangerous work culminated in the final tank filling on July 14th.

Throughout the eleven weeks of turret work the whole crew of the USS Monitor Center pulled together to accomplish something great. We removed all 21 of the remaining nutguards and nutguard fragments from the interior of the turret, a feat in and of itself. A few small artifacts were discovered in the concretion behind the nutguards. All together, including the nutguard pieces we accessioned 110 new artifacts. We also installed a brand new anode rig that will make the electrolytic reduction of the turret more efficient and should speed up salt extraction.   Read more

Week Five in the Turret

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Although the outside of the nut is degraded, the inside threads are easy to unscrew.

Hello Everyone! We’ve been busy in the turret for the last few weeks. As Kate explained in her post earlier, we are concentrating on removing the remaining nutguards. There are a total of 24 ringing the inside of the turret in various states of preservation. So far we’ve dismantled the smaller fragments and are working towards the larger, more intact ones. We chip away at the concretion behind the nutguards and along the edges until they can be lifted off. Some are still bolted in place and the bolts can be unscrewed with a wrench due to the excellent preservation of the inner thread system.

Once the nutguards are detached, we concentrate on removing the concretion that formed behind the barrier. This consists of hard iron corrosion and concretion mixed with sludgy sand and softer corrosion products. In addition to revealing more of the turret walls, we are interested in any remaining artifacts lodged behind the plates.   Read more

And now for something completely different

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Mike, Lesley and Kate hard at work in the turret.
Mike, Lesley, and Kate hard at work in the turret.

Last week I was fortunate to attend and present at the ICOM-CC WOAM 2016 Triennial Conference. ICOM-CC is the International Council of Museums Committee for Conservation, and WOAM is a working group which specializes in Wet Organic Archaeological Materials. Yes, this exists! This week long conference is only held once every three years and attracts conservators, conservation scientists, and chemists from all over the globe. I presented on research being undertaken here at The Mariners’ Museum into the use of sodium nitrite as a corrosion inhibitor in treatment solutions for waterlogged wooden artifacts that also have iron components. Part of this research will be included in the October Civil War Lecture on treating composite artifacts and why they are tricky to conserve. The presentations given at the conference ranged in topic from the in-situ preservation of shipwrecks, to improved freeze-drying techniques, to the preservation of 7th century apples. It was a fascinating week and I returned to The Mariners’ Museum enlightened and inspired! This was a great opportunity to talk about the USS Monitor conservation project on an international stage.

This week we have been working away in the turret, deconcreting nutguards. More on that next week. Stay tuned!   Read more