The port Dahlgren gun carriage is fully disassembled!         

Posted on
Details of the bottom plates, friction plates and friction rollers. View from below and transverse section. Peterkin, 1985.

Last week Will was able to escape his desk for a few days and help take apart the last elements of the port gun carriage.

The complete braking mechanism was still in place, but by separating all of the parts  we are able to maximize the amount of salts extracted from the artifact down the road (aka: a conservator’s dream!). After studying the historic blue prints (see historic plan below), we knew that one piece was the key to this puzzle. We also knew that we would need access to both the upper- and under-side of the carriage. In order to gain access to both, Will custom welded a rig allowing the artifact to stand vertically during treatment.

   Read more

Discovery in the lab!

Posted on

I believe it has been said before on this blog and I have no doubt that it will be said again. Conservation is not a career for those who desire instant gratification in the work place. Treatment times tend to be long, especially for marine archaeological material where desalination is perhaps the most important process. That being said, every now and then there are days where discovery and success happen in an instant. Last week I was lucky enough to have one of those days.

I’m currently working on a copper alloy bicock valve that was removed from the front of the condenser.

   Read more

Quick Lab Update

Posted on

Last week, dry ice cleaning was performed on the port gun carriage’s wrought iron frame. This is the second time that this object has been cleaned with this technique. The first time was last spring and the carriage has been under electrolytic reduction since April. Speaking of electrolytic reduction (AKA “ER”), we often mention it but rarely explain the method. This is a stabilization technique that is used every day in this lab (and broadly in the field of conservation) and we can forget that it is not a simple matter… Our website has a great animation to illustrate the process, check it out here!

Last Wednesday was quite an exciting day for the team as we had fellow East Coast archaeological conservators visiting for the entire day! Nichole Doub from the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory, Johanna Rivera from the Clemson University Restoration Institute (working on  the H.L. Hunley in Charleston, SC) as well as Emily Williams from The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation were introduced to the joy that is dry ice blasting. Our project manager, Will, worked to establish the ideal parameters to clean wrought iron artifacts from the USS Monitor collection with dry ice over the last few years. During our colleagues’ visit, he shared the process that has been developed here and advised them on the procedure to follow, should they decide to invest in such a cleaning tool in the future. The day resulted in many nerdy conservation discussions regarding the original surface of artifacts, active corrosion processes and other pH related questions. Thrilling!!

   Read more

Some special events from last week

Posted on

Well, we may be done in the tank farm but that doesn’t mean that life around the lab has slowed at all. We are now back to working on individual projects. There were, however a couple of special events last week.

Rich Carlstedt came to visit and brought along his model of the Monitor’s main steam engine. This incredible model was built to a 1/16th scale and we believe it to be the most accurate model of the engine in existence. Rich probably knows more about the engine than any man alive and was happy to share this knowledge with us during a special guest lecture. He also ran the model for us, a fascinating thing to see. If you would like to see what the Monitor’s main engine would have looked like while in action, you should go and check out this YouTube video.

   Read more