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.

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3-D modeling the turret

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One of the many photos taken to photo-model the turret
One of the many photos taken to photo-model the turret

It is certainly awe-inspiring to be in the turret tank. Standing within inches of the massive iron object is almost surreal when you consider that it spent 140 years at the bottom of the ocean. Every bolt, dent, ding, and hole have a story to tell. But how do you study or share those stories when the artifact spends most of its time submerged in a treatment bath?

Over the past few weeks, we have been photographing every detail of the turret in hopes to make a 3-D photo-model of the object. In total, staff and volunteers took more than 1,600 photos of the turret to try to piece together models of the interior walls, exterior walls, interior ceiling, and bottom ring.

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Dry Ice Blasting: Yorktown Guns Addition

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York Town Gun before Dry Ice Blasting
York Town Gun before Dry Ice Blasting

This week we’re taking a detour from your usual Turret updates for some Dry Ice Blasting! After quite a bit of research we figured out the best settings for Dry Ice Blasting on cast iron (previously we’ve only treated wrought iron with this method) and our first application is for the treatment of a pair of British guns from The Revolutionary War.  These guns were part of the armament on transport vessels supporting General Lord Cornwallis’s British army during the Yorktown Campaign. The guns were sunk when Cornwallis ordered the transport vessels to be sunk as obstructions, to prevent the nearby French fleet from coming to the aid of General George Washington’s troops.

The guns were raised from the York River in 1934 through a joint effort by The Mariners’ Museum, National Park Service, and Newport News Shipyard, and they’ve lived happily on and off display at both Yorktown and The Mariners’ Museum. But as you can see, they need a little TLC before they can be displayed again.

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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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