Wright 1912 Bent End Propeller Receiving Conservation Treatment

It was an exciting day in the Archives as we welcomed Stefan Dedecek, Conservator of Paintings, Murals and Polychrome Surfaces from McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory in Oberlin, Ohio.  Stefan arrived to work on one of the treasures seen by many in our Reading Room over the years –  an original 1912 Wright “Bent End” propeller.   Mr. William H. Eicher gifted the propeller to Special Collections and Archives in December 1978.  The Bent End propeller was one of a series manufactured by the Wright Company for use on the Wright Model C standard commercial production airplane in 1912.

A Wright Model C Flyer assembled inside the Wright Company factory, 1912

A Wright Model C Flyer assembled inside the Wright Company factory, 1912 (ms1_21_3_18)

During his visit today, Stefan evaluated the propeller and proposed a treatment which includes surface cleaning and stabilizing the lifting paint. The paint is most notably lifting over the fabric on the ends of the propeller.  During production, fabric was wrapped around the ends of the propeller to reinforce the wood and prevent it from splitting during flight.  Over its life, the fabric has reacted to changes in temperature and relative humidity, causing the paint on the surface of the fabric to crack and lift off. The flakes of paint cannot be reattached, but the remaining paint can be stabilized to prevent and slow further flaking.

The Wright 1912 Bent End Propeller awaiting conservation treatment.

The Wright 1912 Bent End Propeller awaiting conservation treatment.

In order to safely transport the propeller with minimal loss, an initial stabilization was required.  Stefan applied a facing to the surface to help prevent further paint chips from detaching during the road trip back to the lab in Oberlin.

Conservator Stefan Dedecek beginning work on the 1912 Wright Bent End propeller.

Conservator Stefan Dedecek beginning work on the 1912 Wright Bent End propeller.

Stefan applying a facing to stabilize the propeller for transport.

Stefan applying a facing to stabilize the propeller for transport.

After the initial stabilization, Stefan wrapped the propeller in plastic. The staff then helped to carefully carry the propeller to his van.  Lacking a freight elevator in our building, we used the public elevators, which was a tight fit.

The propeller emerges from the Wright Brothers room.

The propeller emerges from the Wright Brothers room.

Exiting the reading room.

Exiting the reading room.

Entering the public elevators

Entering the public elevators

The propeller is taken outside for the first time in nearly 40 years.

The propeller is taken outside for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Securely positioning the propeller in the van for the ride up to Oberlin.

Securely positioning the propeller in the van for the ride up to Oberlin.

The 105 year old propeller is on its way to Oberlin, Ohio for some well deserved treatment.  It seems especially appropriate that we are sending the propeller to Oberlin, home of Oberlin College where Katharine Wright graduated in 1898.

While the 1912 propeller will be under treatment for several months, the 1905 Wright Taper Tip propeller continues to be on display in the reading room. We invite you to come in and take a photo of yourselves with the Wright Brothers under the 1905 propeller. We would love to see you!

Staff take a photo with Conservator Stefan Dedecek under the 1905 Wright Taper Tip Propeller in the Reading Room. From Left to Right: Bill Stolz, Dawne Dewey, Stefan Dedecek, Toni Vanden Bos, Chris Wydman.

Staff take a photo with Conservator Stefan Dedecek under the 1905 Wright Taper Tip Propeller in the Reading Room. From Left to Right: Bill Stolz, Dawne Dewey, Stefan Dedecek, Toni Vanden Bos, Chris Wydman.

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New and Updated Collections Available for Research, September 2017

We have new manuscript collections available for research!  Click on the links to view the complete online (PDF) finding aids.

The following new collections were recently arranged and described and are now available for research:

Additional materials were recently processed into the following existing collections, so you might want to take another look at them:

New, improved, and/or revised finding aids are now available for:

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October 2: Brett Stolle to Present “Building the NMUSAF Presidential Gallery & the History of Presidential Airlift”

The next meeting of the Huffman Prairie Aviation Historical Society will take place on Monday, October 2, at 7:00pm. All are welcome!

The program will be held at the East Interpretive Center, Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, 2380 Memorial Road (intersection of State Route 444 and Kauffman Road), Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Brett Stolle is a civilian employee of the United States Air Force currently
serving as a curator and project manager at the National Museum of the US
Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Since joining the museum in 2002,
he has been responsible for providing reference and management of the
museum’s large collection of original historical photographs and
manuscripts.  With his colleague Christina Douglass, he acts as project
manager, subject matter expert, and lead curator of the NMUSAF’s
Presidential Gallery.  Mr. Stolle received his MA in Public History and BA
in History from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and has received
professional certification as a Certified Archivist (CA) from the Academy of
Certified Archivists.

For questions about the event, please call 937-775-2092 or email archives@www.libraries.wright.edu.

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