Conservation Research Laboratory Reports

Conserving the hull of the Belle

La Salle Shipwreck Project
Texas Historical Commission



C.F. Jordan, Inc. completed the construction of the vat
on October16, 1998.  Still remaining is the compaction of soil around the wall, so a concrete pad can be poured around the vat. 

The 8-in. PVC pipe at the end of the vat is part of a French drain to keep the ground water level around the vat down below the bottom of the vat.  The four massive concrete extension are platforms for mounting the four electric motors and gear boxes to power the cable to lift the frame with the hull of the Belle on it.
Completed vat


Left: A shot of the interior of the vat clearly demonstrating 
its size and depth. 

Revised Schedule:
The present schedule is to start constructing the lifting frame in early 1999.  Reconstrucion of the hull of the Belle is scheduled to begin in the summer of 1999. 
The lifting frame that will be placed in the bottom of the vat is in the process of being designed by Dynacom of Bryan, Texas.  It will be partially fabricated at their local plant, and the pieces will then be trucked to the Conservation Research Laboratory for the construction to be completed inside the vat.  The electric motors, gear boxes, pulleys, and lifting cables will be installed at that time on the four cantilevered concrete projections along side the vat. 

Right: the observation platform on top of an adjacent building. 
Lifting frame


The concrete slab surrounding the vat will provide easy access to the vat with a forklift or a crane. In the near future, a 6-ft. tall chainlink fence will be constructed around the wood conservation vat area.
The top of the building in the background will be used as an observation platform for visitors and for an elevated photographic stand. 

Note the cantilever platforms projecting from the sides of the vat on which the four gearboxes will be mounted to raise the frame and the hull of the Belle once it is reconstructed on the frame inside the vat. 

Observation platform

The wood conservation vat was designed and constructed by C.F. Jordan, Inc. of College Station, Texas.

CF Jordan Logo

C. F. Jordan, Inc.

Citation Information:

Donny L. Hamilton
1998, Conservation of the Hull of the Belle, Conservation Research Laboratory Research Report #7, Photo Gallery 4, World Wide Web, URL,, Nautical Archaeology Program, Texas A&M University; La Salle Shipwreck Project, Texas
Historical Commission, Austin, Texas.

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