Civil War Lecture on Dry Ice Blasting this Saturday!

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Laurie dry icing at the tank farm
Laurie dry icing at the tank farm

Do you love reading about the details of our conservation treatments? Are you dying to hear more about dry ice blasting? Are you going to be in the Hampton Roads area this weekend? If so you may want to consider your Saturday afternoon already booked!

Please join us this Saturday, September 10th from 2:30-3:30 for the Civil War Lecture:  Keeping it Cool! We will be discussing dry ice cleaning at the USS Monitor Center, explaining how dry ice cleaning works, including the details of our research and testing procedure. You’ll also hear about upcoming research being undertaken with dry ice, and how this new research will speed up the treatment of the USS Monitor objects.

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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.

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The Many Uses of X-rays

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The glass tube which could contain mercury.

Earlier this year we conducted a survey of all the small metal objects waiting to be conserved. We assessed the condition of each, took a photo, and changed solutions. We also slated some objects for x-radiography.

There are three reasons these particular objects were singled out. First is to determine the condition of the object. When artifacts are submerged in seawater they are covered in a cement-like aggregate called concretion. This is a mixture of metal corrosion products, sediment, and sea life, including mollusk and corals. Concretions can be a thin hard shell scattered across a surface or entirely encase a group of objects in an amorphous lump.  By x-raying these concretions we can:

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Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, into the tanks we go. . .

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Out in the tank farm deconcreting copper alloy objects.
Out in the tank farm deconcreting copper alloy objects.

This week the time had come to get back into some of our larger tanks, and so tank farm season began. We were last out in the tank farm in the summer of 2014, how time flies! This summer we will be dry ice blasting all of the wrought iron artifacts that live in tank farm.

We spent this week in Tank 1, which holds copper alloy artifacts. All of the copper alloy objects, mostly pipes, were taken out the tank, examined, weighed (this helps with desalination calculations), given a brief round of flame deconcretion. By the end of week all the artifacts were back in the tank, snug as a bug in a rug, and with a freshly prepared solution.

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Conservator on Deck

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Meet the conservators and collections team!
Meet our conservators and collections team!

This August is a great time to visit the Mariners’ Museum and Park! Not only is admission one dollar, but we also have lots of amazing tours and talks going on throughout the entire museum. Come meet the staff of the Monitor Center and learn more about the history, archaeology, and conservation of the ship. Every weekday from 2-3 pm, one of our staff will be on the observation deck overlooking the wet lab. This is a fantastic chance to ask questions and learn more about what we do in the labs. Check out the museum website for all the information you need to plan your day!

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