And we’re off. . .

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Hannah taking the photos she needs to create the 3D model.

Our spring/summer season is off to a busy start. The week before going into the engine tank, we were in the condenser tank. No cleaning or disassembly took place. This draining was to perform maintenance and examine the artifact. We removed and scrubbed the anode and changed the reference electrodes. The condenser itself is in great shape. See photos below. It is now happily back under electrolytic reduction in a brand new sodium hydroxide solution.

Hannah took a ton of photos and using photogrammetry software was able to create a 3D model of the condenser. It looks fantastic. You can check it out here.   Read more

An Oldie, But a Goodie

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Engine Forward
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 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.   Read more

Into the Condenser Tank – Final Week

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Condenser with support

Following a break in the action that included Will going off to the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) annual conference to give a great presentation on the Worthington Pump casting project, we were back in the condenser tank for one final week of excitement. Will finished up the injection pump supports and they were installed after some minor de-concretion work. Our shiny new anode rig went into place without any trouble at all. We spent half a day up and down ladders, placing new reference electrodes and ensuring that all of the wiring was as it should be. The tank was also thoroughly scrubbed.

Then came the morning we had been waiting for. Everything was in place inside the tank, it was time to add the new sodium hydroxide solution. This action proved once again that the scale of the Monitor project is bit different than anything I have previously encountered, as we added thirteen 50lbs bags of sodium hydroxide pellets to the purified water pumped into the condenser tank. Yes, 650lbs is a lot and a greater quantity of chemical than I have ever previously handled at one time. The filling of the tank marked the end of our work on the condenser for now, and caused a great feeling of satisfaction within the lab.   Read more

Into the Condenser Tank – Week 2

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The second week in the condenser tank was no less exciting than the first, but involved a very different set of activities. It is important to understand that while the cleaning and disassembly of artifacts is a big part of what we do, there is a lot more that goes into the care and keeping of our large tanks.

Most of Will’s week was dedicated to constructing new supports that will go under the injection pumps on the forward and aft sides of the condenser. These supports will keep the injection pumps in place and assist in removing the pumps the next time we are in the condenser tank.   Read more

Into the Condenser Tank – Week 1

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Last week got off to a great start as we drained the condenser tank for the first time in two years. This was the second draining of a tank since I arrived at The Mariners’ Museum and I was looking forward to getting back into one of the “big” tanks.

After draining, rinsing, and disassembling the anode rig, it was time for during treatment photographs and a brief condition assessment. The time in electrolysis has been good for the condenser; all of the iron surfaces are black with no active corrosion in sight. Taking the during treatment photos was a bit tricky seeing as we were maneuvering around inside of a steel tank that still had four inches of water in the bottom and a trench along one side.  First rule of using electronics in the tank: whatever you do, don’t drop the equipment. The pictures turned out really well, as you can see in the images below. Keep in mind that the entire assemblage in upside down.   Read more