120-ton Wrought Iron Beauty


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Good morning to all our readers. We’ve been very busy in the Batten Conservation Complex inside the USS Monitor Center over the past few weeks preparing to drain USS Monitor‘s 90,000-gallon revolving gun turret treatment tank for assessment.

Well guess what? The tank is now drained and Monitor‘s gun turret is visible in the open air for the first time in over three years. The excitement in the lab is palpable, and we have an ambitious two-week (July 27 – August 7) work window within the lab.

Monitor Turret out of alkaline solution
USS Monitor‘s revolving gun turret, July 27, 2015, as viewed from a work platform inside the conservation lab. Image courtesy of Jonathon Gruenke, Daily Press

We have already received a few e-mails from the general public asking us to post pictures of our work this week. I can promise you that we will be going that.  But in the meantime, I’d like to share some links to the latest media stories, including pictures and videos.

Monitor Turret in view
View of USS Monitor‘s gun turret from the visitor viewing windows inside the USS Monitor Center. Image courtesy of Adrin Snyder, Daily Press

The Daily Press (Mark St. John Erickson, Adrin Snyder, and Jonathon Gruenke) spent a few hours with us in the lab while we drained the turret tank. Mark wrote a great story and Adrin and Jonathon produced some amazing images and video, including a time-lapse video of the tank draining. Very impressive work.

The Richmond Times Dispatch (Alexa Welch Edlund) also visited the lab yesterday. Alexa posted a photo series and there is a video and interview with USS Monitor Foundation director John Quarstein on their website. I had trouble pulling a link for the video, but simply scroll down their web page and you’ll see the video.

Happy Conservator
Kate’s reaction is priceless after she opens the watertight door to the turret treatment tank and sees Monitor‘s gun turret in the open air for the first time since she was hired. Tina is also there to share the moment. Image courtesy of Jonathon Gruenke, Daily Press.

These links are a great place to start to learn more about what is happening inside the USS Monitor Center at The Mariners’ Museum. But even better would be for you to plan a visit to the museum between now and midday August 7 to see for yourself what all this great historical fuss is about! I promise you will not be disappointed.

4 thoughts on “120-ton Wrought Iron Beauty”

    1. John, good morning. Thanks for your question. Those PVC stanchions and plastic-mesh-coated wires (the “ropes”) are part of our electrolytic reduction setup. Essentially, the wires are anodes and the PVC stanchions merely support the anodes. We will be creating a new blog post by the end of the week that goes into greater detail to answer your question. Thanks for your interest!

  1. I surmise that all of the concretions have been removed from the turret and that the process of removing the salt accumulation in the metal is well under way. When will this process end so that the turret can be righted and put on display.

    1. Hi David! Our apologies for the late reply. We have indeed removed a significant amount of concretion, but there is still quite a bit of work to perform in the next couple of years. We originally estimated around 20 years for full desalination and treatment, but that is meant to be a flexible number. The condition and desalination rate for each object is different. Keeping the electrolytic reduction process stable when the tank is filled is a critical part of the process. We hope to make a lot of progress with the turret in the next two years. Stay tuned for news about a different technology we will be using in the near future!