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Inert gas in a completed model's display case for preservation?


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Have any of you used an inert gas to preserve a wood ship model in a display case? I am a cabinetmaker by trade, and we often use a squirt of an inert gas such as argon to preserve varnishes, stains, laquers etc. A little bit of an inert gas that is heavier than air squirted inside of a can of finish before sealing the lid prevents oxidization, keeping a skin from forming on the finish and preventing wastage. 

 

This is my question: If I construct a display case for a ship, either out of glass or plexi, and make it airtight, and replace the air with an inert gas, will it harm the model in any way? Has this been done before? I do appreciate the "patina" older wood gets, I deal with its preservation whenever we do a restoration at work. I would just hate to see the yellowing and fading of colors changing a model I have spent hundreds of hours on making look "just so". 

 

I figure a packet of silica would help trap any moisture or humidity, and maybe some activated carbon to deal with any offgassing, or varnish fumes, that might build up from the wooden model over time. My largest concern really is pressure. If barometric pressure changes due to weather or the season, and the display case is sealed, would the pressure difference inside and outside the case make a perfect seal impossible? I can make a glass or plexi aquarium that holds water no problem, but will it prevent the transfer of oxygen? A sort of bellows constructed into the base of the display case *might* work, some flexible but impermeable material stretched and sealed over an opening that would bulge in and out in response to changes in air pressure. Not sure how reasonable that might be, but it sure would look neat!

 

Was planning on trying this out on one of my smaller ships first, but would hate to have something unfortunate happen. Definitely one of those projects that raise more and more questions the further you get into it. Thanks for your time. 

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I have thought about the same ideas.

For the gas to remain, the container would have to be

air tight.  The walls are transparent, so light can enter.

Being totally sealed, there is a possibility of an extreme

greenhouse effect and the container becoming oven-like.

There is a problem with this - even in a not  totally air tight situation.

 

Joel has it correct - vent holes for circulation for both temp and

removal of outgassed compounds.  PVA wood glue would probably

release acetic acid.

My thinking is vent openings at the top ( for temp ) and probably

also bottom for circulation.  The trick would be to keep dust out.

 

Too dry - the wood may check and split over time.

 

.The museum standards for ship models are probably intended to

preserve a model for as long as is practical - by using materials that 

last to begin with.

Edited by Jaager
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Perhaps one of the admin of the NRG should approach the curator of a large maritime museum and talk to them about ship model preservation techniques,  then write up an article for us. I would be happy to do it, but I can not represent the NRG without permission! 

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Humidity is the main enemy to models made of wood. Keeping the surrounding atmosphere at a relatively low humidity using a dehumidifier if necessary, and having vent holes in the case to allow fresh air to circulate is the best way to preserve your models. This is how museums do it.

 

Vince P.  :dancetl6:

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Maybe for ships in bottles. ;)

Actually, a ship in a bottle is what inspired me for this idea in the first place. I found over a dozen of these at a yard sale last summer, some quite large, and got the whole lot for ten bucks. Apparently they were made by the lady's late husband in the 50's and 60's and sealed with a cork and some wax. The amazing thing to me was that they looked as if they were done yesterday, no dust, no crackling of finish or fading of paints, the rigging is still tight, the flags taut and bright,  and the metalwork untarnished. In comparison, I bought a second hand lot of several partially completed wooden model kits from the 80's, and even though they were packed in boxes in someone's closet they all showed definite signs of age, including a dulled finish and a fading of the original colors of the wood. 

 

I've had a caldercraft Victory on order at my local shop for about 6 months, and it should arrive any day. When this beast is completed, I want to be able to keep the copper and paint bright, as well as the rigging unfuzzy for as long as possible. I admit to being a total gearhead and love tools and gadgets (that actually work), a working "preservation" display case would be a great piece of kit. 

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I have thought about the same ideas.

For the gas to remain, the container would have to be

air tight.  The walls are transparent, so light can enter.

Being totally sealed, there is a possibility of an extreme

greenhouse effect and the container becoming oven-like.

There is a problem with this - even in a not  totally air tight situation.

 

Joel has it correct - vent holes for circulation for both temp and

removal of outgassed compounds.  PVA wood glue would probably

release acetic acid.

My thinking is vent openings at the top ( for temp ) and probably

also bottom for circulation.  The trick would be to keep dust out.

 

Too dry - the wood may check and split over time.

 

.The museum standards for ship models are probably intended to

preserve a model for as long as is practical - by using materials that 

last to begin with.

yup, and Uv light can play havoc with wood colors, especially cherry, my favorite. Was thinking of using a Uv blocking film on any sides of the case exposed to natural light, have seen them in use, inexpensive and almost invisible when applied properly. 

 

Humidity and the wood moving and cracking over time are a great concern to me. Just in the last few days, the outside temp has fluctuated from between -17 with very very low humidity to today's reading of +6 and 98% humidity. I see now I would probably have to include a humidity meter and thermometer in a sealed display case, with something to keep the moisture content of the wood at about 6%. 35-65% humidity is best for antique furniture, so I would really have to keep on eye on this for the first few months. Imagine coming home from work and seeing your display case covered with condensation, on the inside!

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Oh, and just to show how far I like to go when I get an idea in my head. This is what happened when I thought that there was not enough light in my building area. The copper pipe rig hanging from the ceiling alone provides close to 8000 lumens of "warm" LED light, and can be raised and lowered by a series of pullys. 

 

"If something is worth doing, it is worth overdoing"

post-26713-0-06417400-1482612318_thumb.jpg

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If you turn all those lights on at once, A, go outside and watch the meter go round and round and B, make sure you put on sunscreen.

Hah, the sunscreen might be a good idea. Power's no prob, with the newfangled ultra-efficient bulbs they have now, and no heat.

 

Gotta say, at night it does annoy the hell out of the dog tho....

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With your Victory case ,you may want to have a custom cabinet with a base that has some sort of environmental control unit in it.

be careful of drawing down the psi inside or you'll collapse the case. You will probably want to use LED lighting to reduce heat, but heat may build if the case is sealed . Better do a Google search on artifact preservation.  

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It may not be a significant level of energy with LED lighting or florescent either, but

the way greenhouse effect works is that  some visible energy photons will degrade

to IR when they strike something inside the chamber and the transparent material at

visible will reflect IR and keep it inside.  Granted, most will stay in the visible spectrum

and reflect back out. - We would be able to see what was inside otherwise. - But while

a UV filter may protect against the chemical reactions that UV produces, I doubt that

it would negate a heat build up in an efficiently sealed chamber.

 

With your room lighting, the lack of heat with LED even given your high light level, shows

just how inefficient and IR heavy incandescent lighting is.  However, given where you

live, there may be parts of the year where you might miss having a little extra IR.

 

When I was using  300 W of bulbs to heat a homemade kiln 24/7, I did have a measurable 

increase in my electric bill.

Our philosophy seems to be in tune, I also have a tendency to over engineer my designs.

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Hope your bear gets to feeling better, looks very unhappy. Reminds me of the way all those Canadians rushing the docks looked when we tied up while coming back from a summer of fishing in Alaska. In 1965, British Columbia suffered from the great beer strike and were out of suds, every boat traveling through from Alaska was checked for beer, maybe some of your family have talked about that disaster.

 Enough BS, like your shop setup and think you have asked a good question that needs some more discussion. A bellows would take care of gas expansion and contraction, the out gassing could be minimized by the passage of time before sealing, UV light can be turned by glass coatings and unless the internal lighting was 24-7s would be insignificant. There are some old models out there that have survived well, don't know if you could improve on that, finding out what materials were used in the model and the environment it was in would allow duplication, perhaps that is the best route.

jud

Merry Christmas

Edited by jud
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