Desalination of the Monitor’s Turret Begins…

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After a successful season of hands on work removing concretion from the Monitor’s Turret, conservators have cleaned the tank fitted anodes for electrolytic reduction, and added 90,000 gallons of water purified by reverse osmosis.   When the electrolyte had been added, everything was ready to begin active desalination and start the process of removing the chloride salts which had accumulated in the turret over 140 years on the sea floor.  Power was switched on to the electrolytic reduction system and on September 23rd the level of chlorides was measured after 1 week at  4.5 parts per million (ppm).   This doesn’t sound like a lot at first, but this concentration of chloride in 90,000 gallons of water is equivalent to 1.5kg, or 3.3 pounds of chloride removed!  After the second week of desalination, the turret treatment solution was tested again on September 30th and had increased to 7.9 ppm, equivalent to 2.7kg or almost 6 pounds of chloride.  These first few weeks of Turret desalination are graphed below:

So far the trend is in the right direction- an increasing concentration of chlorides in the treatment solution as they are removed from the turret.  The more chlorides we can remove, the better the turret can be preserved for the future.  Stay tuned for future updates on the progress of desalinating the turret!   Read more

Monitor conservators visit northern Virginia

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Last week Eric travelled to Annandale, Virginia to talk with eighty five 4th graders at Canterbury Woods Elementary School School about conservation of the USS Monitor at The Mariners’ Museum.  The students were enthusiastic and already very knowledgeable about the Monitor, the CSS Virginia, and the Battle of Hampton Roads thanks to recent studies of Civil War history in Virginia as part of their curriculum.

The talk was a great opportunity to let the young generation and their teachers know that the Monitor is still a living part of history and is being preserved in Hampton Roads!   We hope to welcome these students, parents, and teachers to the The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, or to visit us online and see the progress of Monitor conservation through our blogs and webcams!

The Monitor’s Engine, Now A Little Less Salty…

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During the past five months the Monitor’s engine has been in electrolytic reduction treatment to reduce corrosion and remove chloride salts.   Analysis of the sodium hydroxide electrolyte solution has shown that the concentration of chloride in the tank had reached 65 ppm (parts per million), meaning that this amount of salt has been removed from the engine and gone into the solution.  This doesn’t sound like a lot until you realize that there are 26,271 gallons of solution in the tank!  Considering this volume, a concentration of 65 ppm (which equals 65 milligrams per liter) is equivalent to 6.5 kilograms or 14.3 pounds of chloride!   Each day, the Monitor’s engine is getting a little less salty- which helps a lot to keep it in good condition for the future!

Monitor Conservation lecture at The British Museum

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Last month, Eric gave a lecture on the conservation of the USS Monitor at The British Museum in London, England.  The talk was held at the Department of Conservation and Scientific Research and was well attended by staff.   This was a great opportunity to share conservation challenges and successes with our colleagues in the UK, and hear some valuable observations from British Museum scientists and conservators.  Many thanks to The British Museum for hosting the lecture!

Worthington Water Cylinder Liners

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Wednesday has been a good day for Worthington disassembly for the last couple of weeks!  Last Wednesday, Gary, Eric and Will used a hydraulic press and a new tool made from recycled aluminum to press out the brass cylinder liners and iron retaining rings from both port and starboard Worthington pumps.  

In the last Worthington post we had pushed out the water plungers from their brass cylinder liners.  This time we removed these liners in two stages: First, we pressed on the back of the liners just enough to push out the cast iron rings which held the liners in place.  Second, after removing the loose rings, we continued pressing down on the liners until they were out and free of the pump casting.    Read more