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:
If you happen to find yourself in Hampton Roads tomorrow (Saturday May 10), stop by The Mariners’ Museum for the May edition of the 2014 Civil War Lecture Series. Conservator Will Hoffman will be giving a presentation on a multi-year project to create a working replica of a bilge pumps from the USS Monitor. The presentation will take place in the newly renovated Explorers Theatre at 1 pm. The lecture is free with admission to the museum.
The act of moving USS Monitor artifacts during conservation or onto exhibit at The Mariners’ Museum often isn’t very simple. Factors like an artifact’s size, weight, fragility, and material composition must be considered before any move occurs in order to avoid damaging these precious artifacts. Minimizing movement during treatment and exhibition is critical to the overall health and long-term survivability of fragile artifacts. Often times the Monitor Conservation team spends days or even weeks planning and prepping for a move that may take no more than a few seconds or minutes. Better safe than sorry!
We use a variety of gear and equipment including overhead cranes, lifting straps and cables, shackles, chain hoists, lifting platforms, come-a-longs, pneumatic tires, dollies, forklifts, and good old-fashioned sweat and elbow grease. But sometimes even the best equipment and planning is no match for 140-years of exposure to a corrosive ocean environment. As a result, many of these treasured artifacts from USS Monitor are too unstable after deconcretion and conservation to move out of the exhibit.
It occurred to me that most of our recent posts have been about exciting individual events, and while these are very interesting perhaps you would also like to hear about day-to-day adventures in the lab. However, as I have said before, there really is no such thing as a ‘normal’ day at the Monitor Center. So let me tell you about my week:
Currently I am working on cleaning the wooden components of a block, which would have been part of a pulley system. This particular block came out of the turret and may have been used as part of the system to maneuver the guns. So I spent all day Monday using the ultrasonic cleaner, much like the one in your dentist’s office, to remove the concretion from these pieces of wood.
Wednesday has been a good day for Worthington disassembly for the last couple of weeks! Last Wednesday, Gary, Eric and Will used a hydraulic press and a new tool made from recycled aluminum to press out the brass cylinder liners and iron retaining rings from both port and starboard Worthington pumps.
In the last Worthington post we had pushed out the water plungers from their brass cylinder liners. This time we removed these liners in two stages: First, we pressed on the back of the liners just enough to push out the cast iron rings which held the liners in place. Second, after removing the loose rings, we continued pressing down on the liners until they were out and free of the pump casting.