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Subject: Stability of waterlogged wood treated with PEG

Stability of waterlogged wood treated with PEG

From: Donny L. Hamilton <dlhamilton>
Date: Monday, August 21, 2000
To some degree I have to agree that throwing my PEG related
questions out to the DistList for discussion may well be "an
exercise in frustration", for that has been the nature of many
similar discussion.  There is a reluctance on the part of many
conservators to admit that PEG has some inherent problems. Still,
such a discussion is not futile and some good may come of it.  My
intent was to get some perspectives from conservators who had some
direct experience with PEG-treated  wood.  I know from a few
respondents who have contacted me directly, that some of what they
wanted to say, they could only say in private, which says something
in itself. It does not go over big when one says something negative
or unfavorable about major conservation projects and the related
problems with PEG.  So, I continue to request responses to the
original set of questions, for there are a number of problems
related to treating waterlogged wood with PEG and the treatments can
be improved.

I also agree with Clifford Cook that anyone seriously interested in
wood treatments should attend the ICOM-CC Wet Organic Archaeological
Materials Working Group in Stockholm.  Dr. C. Wayne Smith of the
Nautical Archaeology Program at Texas A&M University is submitting a
paper for inclusion in the Stockholm ICOM-CC on the current state of
his research.   He also attended the last meeting in France where he
delivered two papers on this research.  Of course, our being the
Nautical Archaeological Program and associated with the Institute of
Nautical Archaeology we are familiar with the major ship
conservation projects and we have undertaken a number of large
waterlogged wood conservation projects; thus the reason we are
trying to develop or improve the present treatments that are
available.  Many conservators who have PEG-treated wood do not
attend the ICOM meetings and I would like to know what their
experiences with PEG have been.  Even though tremendous advancements
have been made in recent years in PEG treatment, the chemistry of
PEG is still not completely understood, and we wanted to know of any
problems that have been encounter.  We are not against PEG
treatments, we just want to understand it more thoroughly.  So, keep
the responses flowing.

For those who are interested, they might consult

Go to the section on the conservation of the hull of the Belle,
which we will be conserving.  From that page there is a link
Archaeological Preservation Research Laboratory and the research
being conducted there.  There is also a link to a webcam that is
positioned over our wood conservation vat, which is the largest wood
conservation vat in the Americas (North or South).  When we actually
start the conservation of the Belle in early 2001 after the hull is
reassembled, we want to sure of the treatment, the final results and
the long-term stability.  So, I continue to solicit responses in
regard to PEG from all conservators with some direct experience and
especially I am interested in what the PEG is doing in treated
specimens that were treated 10, 20 or more years ago.

                  Conservation DistList Instance 14:15
                 Distributed: Thursday, August 24, 2000
                       Message Id: cdl-14-15-001
Received on Monday, 21 August, 2000

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