Corrosion, wear and corrosive wear; the story of lubrication systems in large technology object storage and use David Hallam, David Thurrowgood and Col Ogilvie
National Museum of Australia
My name is David Hallam; I’m currently Senior Conservator Research and Technology at the National Museum. That means that I’m in charge of our research programs and I’m also in charge of our technological conservation program. Before that I was Head of Conservation at Queensland Museum, and before that I spent 20 odd years at the Australian War Memorial and I love functional objects. I also like Volvos. Now, recently, believe it or not, I bought an early Volvo. It was a 1974 Volvo, had very little mileage on it. It had only done 180,000 kilometers since 1974. It had been well maintained. It lived at Grafton. Now for those of you who are not from Australia, Grafton’s a nice humid place. It sat for long periods between short journeys. The owner would take it out, take it for a short drive and park it in the garage again. It was always garaged and when I went to buy it I thought “Ripper - really original car!”. And then I started reading through the documentation that came with it and I went “Oooo - this is going to be interesting”. I got it ready for registration, put it through registration and started using it as my everyday car. Surprise. It failed. All of the oil seals blew. Now, many conservators will tell you that this is an example of how use is damaging. Oh, but it were so simple. I have an even older Volvo. A 36-year-old Volvo. A very, very rare Volvo that has done 288,000 miles (that’s 450,000 kilometers). It’s been used regularly. It was owned by a pushbike-riding fanatic who only used this car when he was going to go on a long trip. So it wasn’t used and then he took it on a long trip. Then he parked it back in the garage again. How many years would it take to do 450,000 kilometers in a museum maintenance program? 7800 years. Now, we’re kidding ourselves if we believe our institutions will last that long. And my car’s still going. Survival of the institutions is more likely to be the rate-limiting step to the preservation of my Volvo (in a museum) than wear. The aim of this paper is to stimulate discussion. I’m not going to give you any answers, I’m going to give you some ideas of what we think are our answers. Most museum preservation practice has not really advanced significantly since the mid 1980s as far as technological object preservation goes. In Australia, most museum practice really came from chemical processing specifications that the National Air and Space Museum in Washington was using, and basically I shifted it across in the mid 1980’s. It hasn’t been modified much since then, but really I don’t think our ideas on conservation have moved that much since then either. Working object practice in institutions is based on standard mechanical engineering workshop practice or migrated military inhibition practice. And again, it’s not really been adapted to museums and long-term use of objects. We’re still
doing things the way we would in a garage, or in steam workshop – again we really have not progressed. Our aim should be to find the rate limiting steps for maximising use and preservation. We believe that our conservation practice should be based on: – an assessment of the relative risks of wear and corrosion in the museum’s storage environment; – an assessment of the risks associated with application of a maintenance program to the collection as a whole; – the risks associated with the use of an individual object. You need an assessment of the risks associated with the application of a maintenance program to the collection as a whole. Now, it took 15 years or so to get the maintenance program for the Australian War Memorial up and running, and congratulations. Why did it fall over before? Because there were too many risks to it and what Alison’s1 done is taken administrative steps to remove those risks. It’s a...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document