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Busy Bees

Apologies followers; we have not been really present on the blog lately.

We have been really busy though, and not only because of the Holidays!

Eric is now spending half of each year in Cardiff where he is bravely starting a PhD (about… chlorides in iron!). As a result, he is only part time with us now, which… renders the lab a little emptier and the load of work higher here… but he’ll be back before we know it!

Since December, we have been juggling several activities, all related to tidying things up for the famous, the fabulous, sesquicentennial of the Battle of Hampton Roads. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Museum’s program yet, check it out there (and save the date!!):

We started the New Year by draining the starboard XI-inch Dahlgren gun tank to perform general cleaning of the cast iron beauty and maintenance of its anodes and electrodes. We also explored the bore with a fiberoptic SeeSnake donated by RIDGID Tools to assess the inside condition and discuss and test possible cleaning techniques. There is still about 2 inches of concretion inside the gun refraining chlorides from being released.

The engraving made in the Washington Navy Yard during the fall of 1862 during Monitor’s overhaul is looking really good now:

And here is an overall picture of the gun:

This maintenance session also allowed the removal of more copper alloy elements of the gun. The sight bar and its support as well as the starboard trunnion cap were safely taken apart. Below the trunnion cap, the engraving “1859”, date of the gun manufacture, was intact. No pictures were taken because there is not enough room between the tank and the trunnion to take photos.

Before working on the port Dahlgren we have been finishing the cleaning and coating of a 10-foot section of Monitor’s propeller shaft. This tree-looking piece of wrought iron will be a new introduction in the galleries for the weekend of the Battle of Hampton Roads! The shaft weights 1,900 pounds and is approximately 9” in diameter. The first picture is the propeller shaft after cleaning and the second shot is Will applying a protection layer while defying gravity.

At last, other smaller objects are also seeing the light at the end of the conservation tunnel. The wooden rammer is in the freeze-dryer, the PEG solution of the sponge is increasing in concentration, and an apothecary glass jar (with unidentified white content) will eventually be displayed at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, NC.

Stay tuned, we should be working on the port Dahlgren gun in a couple weeks (check out our live cameras).

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