News from the “cheese box part of the raft”

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Chekcing connection between the nutguards and teh "anode table" in the turret
Checking connections between the nutguards and the “anode table” in the turret

We have been quite busy in the turret these past weeks and are making great progress!

While Lesley, Kate and I worked inside the turret to gently deconcrete, remove the nutguards and clean behind them, Will has been fabricating custom-made anodes for said nutguards. He first welded together a large stainless steel table able to accommodate what is left of 6 nutguards. As seen in this image:

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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.

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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!

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German silverware

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After conservation treatment pictures of a spoon belonging to Samuel A. Lewis
After conservation treatment pictures of a spoon belonging to Samuel A. Lewis

This week was devoted to tours of the turret and we had outstanding visitors! Thank you all so much for your support!!

Lesley also completed the interior documentation of the nutguards before our attempt at separating them from the turret’s wall next week. There will be more blog updates on the topic in the near future.

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The moment you’ve all been waiting for. . .

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Refilling the turret tank after a week of work.
Refilling the turret tank after a week of work.

We’ve had an exciting week here at the lab. The moment we’ve all been waiting for all year has finally arrived; it’s turret season. From now until the middle of July the turret tank will be drained on a weekly basis. We will be draining it on Monday and refilling it each Friday.

This week after draining the turret tank, we completely removed the old electrolysis system. At the end of the season we will be installing a new system that will provide more coverage of the object and therefore be more efficient. This week we did a condition assessment of the turret and took photos for documentation. We’re planning on doing a lot of cleaning of both the inside and the outside of the turret this season. Cleaning will be done mechanically, using dental tools and air scribes, which are tiny pencil-sized jackhammers that run off compressed air. On the inside, we will focus our efforts around the nutguards in an attempt to remove as many of them as possible. The nutguards are metal shields that prevented the nuts attached to the bolts, holding the turret together, from ricocheting inside the turret in the event of it being struck by cannon fire. Removing them will reveal more of the turret walls and allow more salts to be extracted from the turret in the future.

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