X-rays machines, lasers, used to restore the world’s only remaining wooden whaling ship

Mike Schuler
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August 18, 2010

Historians at the Mystic Seaport Museum are turning to advanced new technologies in order to restore the world’s last remaining wooden whaling vessel, the Charles W. Morgan. The whaleship, built in 1841, has been on display at the Connecticut museum for nearly 60 years and, for the first time, is being retrofitted to once again sail on the highseas.  The New York Times has the details on the technology used in the restoration:

To learn as much as possible about the old ship and ensure its successful restoration, the specialists here are turning to the art and science of imaging.

They are deploying lasers and portable X-ray machines, laptops and forensic specialists, cameras and recorders, historians and graphic artists to tease out hidden details of the ship’s construction and condition. The project, begun in 2008, is producing a revealing portrait. It shows the exact placement and status of many thousands of planks, ribs, beams, nails, reinforcing pins, wooden pegs and other vital parts of the Morgan, giving shipwrights a high-tech guide for the rebuilding of the historic vessel.

In a more sweeping assessment, specialists have sent laser beams racing across the Morgan, inside and out, seeking to record inconspicuous details and form a digital archive of exact measurements. The laser scans can track details as small as an eighth of an inch and have swept the entire ship across its 114-foot length and 28-foot width — once a cramped home to a crew of 35.

The scans have produced “millions of points of information” and a wealth of three-dimensional images, said Kane Borden, research coordinator of the restoration. “The results are pretty spectacular to look at.” Keep Reading

[Image credit: Harry R. Feldman, Inc. via New York Times]

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