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Oaktoberfest (Sort of…) and a Toast

A few years ago, one of our former conservators Elsa posted about the successful effort to disassemble the port gun carriage excavated from inside USS Monitor‘s gun turret. And last summer, Kate added a post about long-term efforts to stabilize the wooden internal components from the carriage.

One of my favorite pictures from the earlier posts shows former staff guru Gary hoisting an oak gun carriage side from the Wet Lab’s overhead crane for documentation and photography. Here it is in case you missed it:

Gary with his hard-earned trophy.

Kate is back at it again. She is in the midst of efforts to perform further mechanical cleaning of the oak sides in preparation for the removal of iron bolts that run through the wood. The bolts firmly hold together the massive oak timbers that form a large portion of each gun carriage. Here is a series of X-rays we produced that show the iron bolts overlaid on a copy of the original plans for the gun carriages:

Composite digital image of an oak gun carriage side.

Unfortunately the wrought iron bolts and oak timbers are highly incompatible when it comes to our ongoing treatment method and these components must be separated for individual treatment followed by reassembly.

This morning Kate hoisted an oak gun carriage side from its desalination tank in preparation for a round of deconcretion and mechanical cleaning. I climbed the ladder above the treatment tank and took a series of pictures of Kate using the overhead crane to move the oak timbers to a treatment platform in another area of the Wet Lab. And yes, that is indeed a remote control for our overhead crane. Pretty cool, right?!

Kate lowering the remote-controlled 5-ton crane hoist.
Kate rigging the hoist to the oak gun carriage side support platform.
Kate slowly lifting the oak gun carriage side above its stainless steel treatment tank.
Kate sizing up her next move with the crane. She’s in the zone.
Kate with the oak gun carriage side fully removed from its treatment tank.

The last picture is my favorite. Kate is an extremely positive and pleasant person at all times. But she made it quite clear without saying a single word that I needed to put down my silly camera, get out of her way, and find something useful to do!

So please join me in a toast on this “Oaktoberfest” in July to celebrate all the honest, industrious, no-nonsense marine archaeological conservators past, present, and future who have and will make a difference in the long-term fate of the amazing collection of artifacts recovered from USS Monitor!

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