SMOOTH MOVES: SUGGESTIONS FOR OBJECT TRANSPORT AND STORAGE EQUIPMENT
PAUL S. STORCH
ABSTRACT—Preventive conservation includes the proper handling and transport of objects within the collecting institution. Two devices were developed at the Minnesota Historical Society for moving both small three-dimensional objects and large functional objects. The design of these devices was a collaborative project of the conservation, exhibits, and museum collection departments. Plans for the modification of an ordinary molded plastic service cart are included, enabling readers to create their own padded carts for safer transport.
TITRE—Déménagement en douceur: Suggestions pour le transport d'objets et l'équipement du magasin. RÉSUMÉ—La conservation préventive comprend le transport et le maniement correct de objets au sein des institutions qui les collectionnent. À la Société Historique du Minnesota, deux systèmes ont été spécialement conçus pout le transport d'objets tri-dimensionels de petite dimension et celui de grands objets fonctionnels. Le dessin de ces systèmes a été élaboré en collaboration avec les services de restauration, des expositions et des collections. Les plans pour la modification de chariots en plastique moulé ordinaires sont inclus dans l'article et permettront aux lecteurs de créer leur propre chariot rembourré pour un transport plus su∘r.
TITULO—Movimientos suaves: Sugerencias para transporte de piezas y equipamiento de depósitos. RESUMEN—La conservación preventiva incluye el manejo y transporte correctos de piezas dentro de la institución que colecciona. En la Sociedad Histórica de Minesota de desarrollaron dos artefactos que sirven para transportar objetos tridimensionales pequeños y objetos funcionales largos. El diseño de estos artefactos fue un proyecto conjunto de los departamentos de conservación, de exhibición y de colecciones del museo. Se incluyen planos para modificar un carro de servicio común de plástico moldeado. Esto permitirá a los lectores crear su propio carro acolchado para realizar transportes más seguros.
Much unnecessary damage to museum collections objects can be avoided with proper handling. Often, proper handling requires proper equipment. It is becoming widely recognized in the conservation profession that low-level vibrations, such as those transmitted through the vibration of hard cart wheels on a concrete floor, can cause damage to susceptible objects (CCI 1990; Marcon 1996).
Supports for large functional objects may have to be designed and constructed as an early part of the treatment scheme in order to have the object in the proper position to treat it. When large and heavy objects are properly supported and positioned, conditions are safe for both the conservator and the object. After treatment, the object can be kept on the support for movement and storage.
A full discussion of vibration and vibration mitigation methods is beyond the scope of this article. What will be discussed are two practical suggestions for devices that have been built and used at the Minnesota Historical Society for safely moving and holding objects.
2 MODIFIED SERVICE CART
The plans for vibration-mitigation alterations to a commercial molded-rubber service cart (fig. 1) were developed by Frank Paraday, a fabricator in the Exhibits Mount Shop. These carts are frequently used for moving small objects of all types and materials by the conservation and museum collections departments. As purchased, the stock wheels on the carts vibrate on all types of floors. The shocks are transmitted directly to the tray surface and into the objects, as observed visually while moving objects from collections to the conservation labs. Utilizing inexpensive materials and the steps outlined below, museum staff can effectively dampen the vibrations to negligible levels. The most significant sign of vibration mitigation, short of instrumental testing, is that the wheels themselves do not oscillate during pushing as did the smaller, harder wheels.
Modified commerical service cart for small objects transport. Drawn by Paul S. Storch, adapted from original plans by Frank Paraday
- Remove the stock casters from the cart.
- Attach Hammin Multi-purpose solid rubber casters to the 36 × 24 × ¾ in. plywood base. Use APA-approved plywood that does not contain urea-formaldehyde resin. Two casters are stationary and two are swivel. Attach the swivel casters to the cart end with the handle.
- Attach four ¾ in. plywood vertical tabs with vertical slots cut on center to the sides and ends of the base with wood screws.
- Using clear (EVA) hot-glue sticks, attach a 1 × 5 × 5 in. polyethylene foam block to each corner of the plywood base.
- Set the cart on the padded base. Drill ¼ in. diameter holes in the lower frame of the cart. Secure the padded base to the cart with 1 in. long, ¼ in. diameter lag bolts through the slotted holes in the vertical tabs. Do not overtighten.
- Line the bottom and sides of the top tray of the cart with 1⅙ in. thick Volara foam (Volara A is a crosslinked polyolefin polymeric foam; Volara E is EVA polymeric foam) with adhesive backing (acrylic).
3 WINDMILL HEAD SUPPORT
This section describes a mobile support stand that was designed and built for a specific object. However, the principles can be applied to similar large, heavy machinery. A Waupon Self-Regulating Windmill head was conserved and reassembled in the John and Martha Daniels Objects Conservation Laboratory. To facilitate the attachment of the wooden vanes to a metal shaft, an angle iron frame and vertical support (fig. 2) were constructed in conjunction with Exhibits Department fabricators. Four swivel casters were attached. A swiveling double-clamp support for the horizontal frame of the windmill was attached to the top of the vertical support (fig. 3). The clamp can be fixed in any position by tightening the set screw through the exterior tab. If necessary, the interior of the clamp and other contact points can be lined with Volara A or E foam for protective padding. The basic design of this stand can be modified slightly for other types and shapes of objects. Figures 4 and 5 show the actual object in the stand in the staging area prior to full reassembly and installation.
Windmill head mobile support stand. Designed and fabricated by Jay Erickson, Exhibits Department. Photograph by Eric Mortenson, Conservation Department
Detail of swivel clamp support for windmill head horizontal frame. Photograph by Eric Mortenon, Conservation Department
The author with the windmill head being supoorted by the stand. Photograph by Tom Amble, Exhibits Department
Detail of windmill head in swivel clamp. The new bolt heads have not been impainted. Photograph by Paul S. Storch
It is hoped that the preceding examples will be helpful guides for designing and constructing storage support and transport equipment. A minimal investment in time and materials can go a long way in preventing unnecessary damage to collections. All of the departments at the Minnesota Historical Society that are responsible for moving objects in the building now have these modified carts or are in the process of retrofitting older carts. Part of the acquisitions process for large functional objects at the historical society is planning and building storage mounts that are ready when the object comes into storage. Although this degree of preparation may not always be logistically possible, adding the materials and time costs into the overall cost of acquiring the object gives a more realistic economic picture and will ultimately save time, money, and possibly the object.
SOURCES OF MATERIALSDuramold plastic commercial service cart, 24 × 36 in. Catalog No. # 5Z089
Grainger, 115 State St., St. Paul, Minn. 55107, (612) 292-0311Hammin Multi-Purpose casters, cushioned rubber wheels. Catalog 100, catalog no. 2502T78 (rigid); 2877T31 (2502T74).
McMaster-Carr Supply Co., P.O. Box 4355, Chicago, Ill. 60680-4355, (630) 833-0300APA plywood
Available from local lumberyards
Latvian birch is one type that is glued with phenol-formaldehyde resin. Check with the supplier for a definite identification before purchase.Thermogrip EVA hot-glue sticks. Catalog no. 31923201, Black and Decker, Inc.
Available from local hardware suppliersPolyethylene foam blocks
Available from local plastics and foam suppliersVolara EVA foam sheeting with acrylic adhesive backing, 54 in. wide, 3/16 in. thick. Catalog 100, catalog no. 8722K63
McMaster-Carr Supply Co., P. O. Box 4355, Chicago, Ill. 60680-4355, (630) 833-0300
The author would like to thank Frank Paraday and Jay Erikson, MHS Exhibits Department, for the cart and windmill mount designs, respectively; as well as Miranda Martin and Jessica Johnson for their kind encouragement to publish this article in the JAIC.
Marcon, P. J.1996. Mitigating the effects of shock and vibration. Paper presented at the presession, American Institute for Conservation, 24th Annual Meeting, Norfolk, Virginia. Washington, D.C.: American Institute for Conservation.
Marcon, P. J., and T. J. K.Strang. 1990. Cushion design using the CCI Cushion Design Calculator and PadCAD. CCI Notes. Ottawa: Canadian Conservation Institute. Draft, 1–2.
PAUL S. STORCH received a B.A. in anthropology and archaeology from Case Western Reserve University in 1978 and an M.A. in anthropology and museum studies with a concentration in archaeological and ethnographic conservation from the George Washington University in 1982. He has worked as an associate conservator of objects at the Materials Conservation Laboratory, Texas Memorial Museum, Austin, and as chief conservator of the South Carolina State Museum, Columbia, where he helped to develop the first conservation program. He is currently the objects conservator and objects lab section head at the Minnesota History Center (MHC), Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul. Besides treatment of the museum and historic sites collections, he is engaged with testing manufactured materials prior to use and with the ongoing electronic environmental data logging of the MHC and several historic sites around the state. He is a Professional Associate of AIC, a past Objects Specialty Group chair, and the editor/publisher of Leather Conservation News. Address: John and Martha Daniels Objects Conservation Laboratory, Minnesota Historical Society, 345 Kellogg Blvd. W., St. Paul, Minn. 55102–1906.