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An Oldie, But a Goodie

This week we’ve been very fortunate to spend some quality time with one of our oldest and dearest friends: USS Monitor‘s vibrating side lever steam engine. Much like our favorite ironclad, this salty lady is over 150 years old but keeps looking better every year.

We took the following pictures on Monday. Please remember that the engine currently sits upside down in the treatment tank.

Monitor’s main steam engine is perched on its treatment rig within the 35,000-gallon treatment tank. The valve chests are visible on the lower left and lower right, reversing gear eccentrics are positioned dead center and top, and the engine’s cast iron support bed spans the entire top portion of this picture.
This view is taken aft, looking forward. Again, the engine is upside down. Note the massive nine-inch diameter wrought iron propeller shaft extending from the rear of the engine. Believe it or not, another 20-feet of propulsion shaft and packing seal extended from this nub before connection to the cast iron propeller.
Here’s a view of the port side of Monitor’s engine. Simply massive. Note the heavily corroded and almost wood-grain appearance of the wrought iron components. And that odd looking appendage extending on the upper left side of the picture was connected to the ship’s steam condenser.
Here she is from the starboard vantage. Dealing with the huge yet fragile main cylinder will be one of our most challenging aspects of this particular multi-decade conservation process.
This picture shows the original bottom of USS Monitor’s engine support bed. This massive casting supported the engine and rested above a series of wrought iron cross-braces or supports. Note the two similar round holes in the engine bed. Navy divers created these in order to effectively secure the engine to its custom-built recovery rig prior to removal from the ocean in 2001.

USS Monitor‘s main steam engine treatment tank will be drained through approximately mid-day Friday, June 19. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see the heart of the famed Union ironclad once again. She may be old, but we’re breathing new life into her at The Mariners’ Museum.

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