Monday, 8 December 2014

Delays, delays

Running a complex conservation project can be quite a challenge. Fund raising is the most obvious headache; it isn't possible in advance to identify everything you'll need to spend money on, nor indeed how much. As many people know, embarking on such a venture is a bit like starting to swim without knowing where land is.
Another difficulty is dealing with delays and minor set-backs. In the end they don't amount to much but it can be very hard to put up with them nonetheless. At the moment we are suffering a significant delay to our programme due to the slow conveyancing of the new building into which Peggy will be installed for conservation. Conveyancing is the legal process of passing a building from seller to buyer.
As a result of the delays in conveyancing, we will have to take evasive action on site to protect Peggy from the predicted high tides in January and February 2015. Fortunately, since the museum is closed to the public at the moment, we can install as many unsightly flood defences we want. Also, because we have excavated the dock outside the cellar, we can now ensure the cellar threshold is properly sealed.


We have no choice but to sit out the Spring tides. If we can, we will try to get Peggy out in February, but our January window is now firmly shut.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Archaeological conservation

In the new gallery at the Nautical Museum that we are building, we'll be telling the story of George Quayle, his life and times, as well as that of Peggy and her conservation.
We hope to show some of the weird and wonderful stuff that was excavated from George's dock earlier this year. We can't hope to show all of it, and a lot is very fragile.
One of the most interesting finds was a small cast iron box inside which was a real muddle of things - the kind of stuff you might find in your dad's shed - some large washers, musket balls, a small canon ball, a hook, nuts and bolts, the mechanism of a flintlock pistol, scraps of lead, a key, a door knob, etc.. Most of these objects, as well as the box itself, are made of iron.
If we were to dry these things out and put them on display, it wouldn't be long before the sea salt inside them began to rust them to bits. That's why they have been stored in tanks of sea water since they were found. Now we have to try to draw out the salt, which should make looking after them much easier.
To 'de-salinate' the objects I am soaking them in a warm bath of sodium hydroxide and sodium sulphite. This process will take a couple of months, after which I can slowly dry them ready for display.

Flintlock pistol mechanism


Assorted washers

Final preparations for lift-off

We are making the final preparations for lifting Peggy from her 200 year-old resting place. In this photograph of Geoff's work-bench you can see laid out the drawings and components for the mechanism we'll now be using to roll her out. We've had to alter our plans pretty radically since the discovery of the dock outside Peggy's cellar, but it doesn't pay to be too precious about the details .....

White nylon rollers, axles and threaded rod, alongside assorted tools and drawings, this morning 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

A new beginning for the Nautical Museum in Castletown

We are currently on hold with Peggy pending completion on her new home. Meanwhile we have not been idle!
The Nautical Museum without Peggy, for the duration of conservation works, is beginning to take shape. Today we began the process of clearing one of the galleries, installed in 1967, in which we plan to present a display centred on George Quayle, Peggy, her conservation and our plans for the future of George's boat house and stables.
The first object to come out is this 19th century ship's tender, which is quite a rarity in its own right, albeit overshadowed by it's larger neighbour.



Builder Stan Rsyack makes a large hole in the museum wall....



The tender is up-ended in a wooden support frame...




... and is then loaded into a waiting van.

The little tender is due to be conserved alongside Peggy in the new conservation facility.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

UK Maritime Heritage Forum

This week I have been attending a meeting of the UK Maritime Heritage Forum in Belfast. The meeting was held over two days in the engine room of the SS Nomadic, one of the original tenders used by the White Star Line to ferry passengers to their Olympic class liners, the most famous of which, of course, was RMS Titanic.

SS Nomadic

The UKMHF brought together around 60 curators and allied professionals to to share news and experience. There were some very interesting presentations, and I particularly enjoyed hearing about the exemplary work of Rhian Tritton and Joanna Thomas of the SS Great Britain Trust at the new Brunel Institute in Bristol.

To put concern for Peggy into perspective we were treated to an excellent walking tour led by Colin Cobb that took in HMS Caroline, last survivor of the Battle of Jutland, and the awe-inspiring Thompson Dock where Titanic was fitted-out.

HMS Caroline

Members of the UKMHF standing at the head of the Thompson (Titanic) Dock

The walking tours are run by Titanic's Dock and Pump House and they are very well worth taking.

Titanic Belfast from the bridge of SS Nomadic

Day two offered us the opportunity to visit Titanic Belfast, pictured above and quiz the team that run it. It's truly very impressive and obviously worth seeing.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Keeping it together...

This week another example of the accelerating pace of losses from Peggy. This section of the starboard rubbing strake fell off during Friday night. We have had several similar losses this year. We can expect many more of these because the nails holding the boat together have been completely consumed by rust...

James holds the latest lost piece of Peggy

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Scaffold going in

Here is a picture of the unfinished scaffold platform that will soon be bearing the weight of Peggy.