S.S. United States: Looking to the Future

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William Francis Gibbs
William Francis Gibbs, designer of the steamship United States, stands in front of the ship at a Hudson River Pier in New York. Mr. Gibbs wears his trademark fedora hat.From the Library collections.

I left you in my last post with the purchase of the S.S. United States by the SS United States Conservancy in the summer of 2010.  The Conservancy had saved the historic vessel from the scrapyard, but what do they plan to do with the ship?

The donations from the “Save Our Ship” campaign allowed the Conservancy to purchase the ship and to pay the costs of keeping the vessel as it is today.  However, like so many of the United States‘ previous owners, the Conservancy has big plans for the record-setting ocean liner.   Read more

S.S. United States: Where it Stands

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SS United States
From the Library's collections, the SS United States in 1992, docked at the coal piers at Newport News Point

As Jay discussed in a previous post, The Port of Call blog would like to begin a conversation about the famous S.S. United States, a ship with a fabled history that was built right here in Newport News.  As a current history major and future Museum Studies student,  I am very passionate about the conservation of any piece of American history.  But as a resident of Newport News for the last four years and a student at Christopher Newport University, I am especially devoted to preserving a historic ship as closely tied to this community as the S.S. United States.

So what is the current state of the United States?  After being removed from service in 1969, the United States passed through a number of hands, each with their own plans for resurrection or reconstruction that were all quickly shelved.  In 1996, United States was towed to its current location on the Delaware River, just outside of downtown Philadelphia.   Read more

Shifting Weight with the Engine

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This past week the 30,000 gallon tank containing Monitor’s steam engine was drained for a key milestone in the conservation of this unique artifact. The purpose for the tank drain was the installation of a new support system under the engine that will enable the eventual disassembly of  the object.  Up to this week, the engine which weighs approximately 25 tons, had been suspended off the ground from a massive I-bean supported on large steel posts. In the images below, you can see the engine before and after recent deconcretion efforts suspended from the I-beam.  

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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

Save USS Monitor’s Revolving Gun Turret

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This is our 100th post, and it’s an important one!  The Virginia Collections Initiative in conjunction with the Virginia Association of Museums is once again generating its list of “Virginia’s Top Ten Endangered Artifacts”. 

http://www.vatop10artifacts.org/   Read more