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Subject: Canvas covered rubber diving suit

Canvas covered rubber diving suit

From: Sue Warren <swarren<-a>
Date: Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Rose Smart <rsmart [at] therooms__ca> writes

>I am preparing a 40 to 50 year old 12 bolt ventilated diving suit
>for exhibit later this year.  As I gather is fairly standard, the
>suit is rubber sandwiched between cotton twill canvas, with a copper
>helmet which bolts through a rubber yoke at neck to form a
>watertight seal. The rubber is still flexible and showing no serious
>damage or deterioration yet.  The main problem is the wear, tearing
>and staining of the canvas cover, which has torn along seams,
>frayed, and peeled back, with associated losses and distortions
>along tears.  I'd like to clean the canvas as well as I can,
>realign the flaps, and reattach them.

The Canada Science and Technology Museum has a diving suit of
similar age and construction, which has been on display and loan
several times.  The rubber on our suit is quite stiff, though the
suit has been padded out with ethafoam since the early 1990s, so
that it retains most of its shape. Wear of the cotton covering is
most severe on the gloves and feet, where the rubber is also
cracking and crumbling. This was consolidated in 1999, using Beva
371 mixed into a liquid form, and tinted black (to match the rubber)
where it was applied directly onto the friable rubber surface.
Untinted Beva was used to lay down the fraying cotton fibres, and
this was then secured in place with a warm tacking iron. The
consolidation is still sound today, and the Beva remains secure and
flexible.  The suit was displayed and stored on a panel covered with
unbleached cotton and it was interesting to note that when the suit
was moved, a reddish ghostly outline remained on the cotton, no
doubt from the sulphur in the rubber.

Sue Warren
Conservator
Canada Science and Technology Museum
1867 St. Laurent Blvd.
PO Box 9724
Ottawa Terminal
Ottawa, Ontario K1G 5A3


                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 21:61
                  Distributed: Saturday, May 17, 2008
                       Message Id: cdl-21-61-010
                                  ***
Received on Tuesday, 13 May, 2008

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