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1st Session.

No. 143.

PRESERVATION OF TIMBER FOR THE USE OF THE NAVY.

MESSAGE

FROM THE

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,

TRANSMITTING

A communication from the Secretary of the Navy in relation to the purchase from the American Wood Preserving Company of machinery for preserving timber for the use of the Navy.

MARCH 28, 1882.-Referred to the Committee on Naval Affairs and ordered to be

printed.

To the Senate and House of Representatives :

I transmit herewith a communication from the Secretary of the Navy, with accompanying papers, on the subject of purchasing from the American Wood Preserving Company the machinery which was erected by that company at the navy-yard, Boston, under contract with the Navy Department, for the purpose of fully testing the company's process of preserving timber for use in the Navy. The attention of Congress is invited to the subject.

CHESTER A. ARTHUR. EXECUTIVE MANSION,

March 28, 1882.

NAVY DEPARTMENT,

Washington, March 23, 1882. SIR: I deem it for the interest of the public service in the Navy Department that this communication be transmitted to Congress for its consideration.

After several experiments and investigations by boards of Naval officers, one of my predecessors made a contract, a copy of which is herewith transmitted, with the American Wood Preserving Company for the preservation of timber used in the construction of vessels, or otherwise where timber is exposed to decay or the attacks of marine insects.

In accordance with this contract and its several extensions, this department has, during the last two administrations, caused the impreg. nation, according to the process mentioned in the contract, of some 400,000 cubic feet of timber, using such timber in the construction and repair of vessels.

It is obvious that if this process does preserve timber from rot and decay or from the ravages of the ship-worm, it is of almost incalculable advantage to the Navy, as the lifetime of ships with unpreserved timber is of very short duration and the necessary expenses in removing the decayed timber in repairing the vessels is in a very considerable degree equal to the expense of reparation with new timber.

The results of the process during the time it has been tested by the Navy Department appear to have been encouraging. And those results of the process, having been examined into by two several boards of Naval constructors appointed for that purpose since the contract, have been reported satisfactory. Those reports I also transmit herewith for the information of Congress.

By an equitable construction of the contract, the necessary machinery which was put into the navy-yard at Boston for carrying on the process by the company was to be purchased by the department after the continuance of the experiment for a certain time, and that purchase has been recommended by the last board that examined into the matter ; and under the orders of the department an appraisal of the fair value of the works has been made. The continuation of the preservation process has also been recommended by the present Chief of the Bureau of Construction of this department, as is shown by his letter, also herewith transmitted.

If the preservation process does what it is claimed it will do, and during the time it has been subjected to experiment by the department there is no evidence that it does not do so, but, on the contrary, strong confirmatory evidence that the process is such preservation, in view of the great benefits to be obtained from it, it would seem desirable to con tinue the preservation of wood at any reasonable expense. Therefore, it seems to be proper that the necessary outlay for this purpose should be provided by Congress. I submit, therefore, to your consideration and judgment whether you will present this matter to Congress for its investigation and action. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. HUNT,

Secretary of the Nary. The PRESIDENT.

No. 1.-REPORT OF THE CHIEF OF THE BUREAU OF CONSTRUCTION AND

REPAIR, CHIEF CONSTRUCTOR T. D. WILSON.

NAVY DEPARTMENT,
BUREAU OF CONSTRUCTION AND REPAIR,

March 6, 1882. Sır: In reply to your letter of the 4th instant, relative to the claim of the American Wood Presefving Company, at the Boston navy-nard, together with the report upon the subject made by Commodore Sicard, U. S. N. I have the honor to report that I have carefully read all the papers in connection with this claim, and, having in view the great necessity for having all the timber materials used in the construction or repair of our vessels of war put through a process that will insure greater durability, and believing that this process will effect the desired result, I have to recommend the purchase of the works at the price recommended in the report of the board under date of December 3, 1880, viz, $38,291.95. All the documents trausmitted with your letter are herewith respectfully returned. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. D. WILSON,

Chief of Bureau. Hon. W. H. HUNT,

Secretary of the Navy.

No. 2.-REPORT OF BOARD-NAVAL CONSTRUCTOR S. H. POOK AND OTHERS.

Report of board to J. W. Easby, Chief of Bureau of Construction and Repair, recommending the purchase of American Wood Preserving Company's works for $38,891.95 and continuance of the process.

Board.-Samuel H. Pook, naval constructor, U. S. N.; T. D. Wilson, naval constructor, V. S. N.; J. H. Kidder, surgeon, U. S. N. ; Philip Hichborn, naval constructor, U. S. N.; Frank L, Fernald, naval constructor, U.S. N.; George R. Boush, naval constructor, U. S. N.

UNITED STATES NAVY-YARD, Boston,

Commandant's Office, November 29, 1880. GENTLEMEN: By order of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, you are hereby appointed a board, to meet on the 30th instant, for the purpose of examining the American wood-preserving apparatus, in this yard, and to report, in duplicate, its present value and original cost. You will also examine the process of impregnation and the timber impregnated, and report its condition as to strength and durability, and state whether in your judgment it would be to the interest of the government to purchase the works and continue this process of preserving timber.

A copy of the contract for preserving timber, dated February 8, 1877, is herewith inclosed for your information. Very respectfully,

GEO. M. RANSOM,

Commandant. Naval Constructor Samuel H. Pook, U. S. N. Naval Constructor THEODORE D. WILSON, U. S. N. Surgeon JEROME H. KIDDER, U. S. N. Naval Constructor Philip HICHBORN, U.S. N. Naval Constructor FRANK L. FERNALD, U.S. N. Naval Constructor GEORGE R. BOUSH, U. S. N.

UNITED STATES Navy-YARD, BOSTON,

December 3, 1880. Sir: In obedience to the order of Commodore Geo. M. Ransom, U. S. N., of November 29, herewith appended, we convened as a board at the navy-yard, Boston, for the purpose of examining the American wood-preserving apparatus, and to report its present value and original cost ; also to examine this process of impregnation, and the tiinber already impregnated, and report its condition as to strength and durability, and to state whether in our judgment it would be for the interest of the government to purchase the works and continue this process of preserving timber.

In answer to the above, we have the honor to state that from numerous comparative tests made by the board on the strength of timber, no essential difference has been found between that impregnated and that unimpregnated.

A sufficient time has not elaspsed to make an accurate statement of the durability of this timber. This in our opinion can be best ascertained upon the examination of the condition of the ships which this treated timber has been applied, when they shall have made one or more cruises.

In order to obtain the original cost of these works, we called on Mr. James H. Young, the agent of the company, who furnished us the information required, with the original bills showing the actual cost of the works. A list of the same is appended to this report.

It will appear from these statements and bills that the total cost of the works amounts to $38,891.95.

From a personal inspection of the works, we would report that its present value would not reduce the above amount more than two per cent of the original cost.

With the information furnished the board by the answer to the question given to Surgeon Kidder, herewith appended, and the condition of the wood used in shipbuilding, the fastenings in the bottom being of copper, we are of the opinion that no bad ettects to the fastenings would come where the sea-water or saline salt would injure them.

Having in view the necessity of a preserving process for wood in all government work, until a better method has been discovered, we would recommend the continu

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ance of this process, and the purchase of these works, in order that the government may have the full control of them. Very respectfully, your obedient servants,

SAM'L H. POOK,
Naval Constructor, U. S. N.

T. D. WILSON,
Naval Constructor, U. S. N.
J. H. KIDDER,

Surgeon, Ú, s. v.
PHILIP HICHBORN,
Naval Constructor, U. S. N.

F. L. FERNALD, Naval Constructor, U. S. N.

GEO. R. BOUSH,

Naval Constructor, U.S. N. J. W. EASBY, Chief of Bureau of Construction and Repair, Navy Department, Washington, D. C. UNITED STATES Navy-YARD, Boston,

December 4, 1880. Forwarded by

GEO. M. RANSOM,

Commandant. QUESTIONS. 1st. Does the specimens submitted to you appear to be thoroughly impregnated!

2d. Are you of the opinion that it contains any substance which would be liable to injure any iron fastenings if used in the construction of vessels ?

3. What is your opinion as to the relative value, as a material to be used in the construction of ships, in this process, of the sulphate of copper and the sulphate of zinc?

1st. Two specimens were submitted to me December 2 for examination, being transverse sections of timber, which had been subjected to the Thilmany process for preserving timber from dry rot, under the supervision of the board. The sections were sawed from about the middle of the timbers, one of which was yellow pine, the other white oak.

The specimens would be thoroughly impregnated, as I understand the claim of the patentees, if both sulphate of barium and chloride of copper, the salts resulting from the process, should be found to be present in the most interior parts of the timber oper

Through the courtesy of Professor Ordway, of the Massachusetts Institute of Tech nology, I have been enabled to make to-day a preliminary examination of a fragment of wood taken from the center of each specimen, with the following results :

A. The specimen of yellow pine contains copper, probably as sulphate, in sufficient quantity to give a decided reaction.

B. The specimen of white oak also contains copper, but in quantity so minute as to give a barely perceptible reaction.

Neither specimen contains any trace of barium, either by actual analysis in the wetway, by blow-pipe analysis, or by microscopic examination. A microscopic specimen. cut one and a quarter inches from the center of the white-oak log, is presented herewith.

The test was as severe as could well be made, the specimens having been taken from those parts of the logs most distant from the exterior, and so far as the copper salt is concerned was successful; the barium salt, however, did not penetrate to the interior of the log.

20. Chloride of copper, which is found at the same time and place as barium snl. phate, is likely, in my opinion, to be injurious to any iron with which it may come in contact, if moistened with an acid liquid, or with one containing salts in solution, such as sea-water. The effect of such contact will be deposition of metallic copper upon the iron, and a loss of a proportionate quantity of iron, which will enter into a combination with the chlorine of the copper salt. Slow corrosion will result in the same manner as corrosion of the iron plates would follow an attempt to sheath iron vessels with copper.

3d. It is my opinion that the sulphate of zinc offers some advantages over sulphate of copper, in such a process as that under consideration.

A. Sulphate of zinc will produce precisely the same amount of barium sulphate as sulphate of copper.

B. It is less expensive,
C. It is not, so far as I know, likely to injure iron.

ated upon.

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