The Silver Swan
Day 56 - 17 November
Matthew, Miles and Karen worked extremely hard over the weekend, dissembling and reassembling the whole of the back of the Swan mechanism again so that the temporary synthetic line could be added. They have also produced a replacement set of brass backing plates.

Once the neck was fully replaced Matthew was not happy with the movement. This resulted in them taking the neck apart and washing the Museum wax off and so allowing a smoother sequence.

Today will see the final drilling and placing of the backing plates in preparation for the leafer who will be here tomorrow and Wednesday.


Day 57 - 18 November
Today we welcome gilder and frame conservator Jock Hopson, who will be oil gilding the brass backing plate with palladium leaf.

He will apply an oil size - comprising linseed oil and a drying agent - as a contact adhesive and when touch dry will apply the palladium.

Palladium, which is the same price as gold, has been chosen for its non-tarnishing properties; unlike silver it will not go black. 

The backing plate will reflect the sparkle of the newly cleaned twisted glass rods which make up the water movement.

Jock is expected to take two days to complete the work.


Day 58 - 19 November

Today will see Jock finish the palladium leafing of the reflective backing plates.

Yesterday saw the rearing of a small setback. The change in temperature in the galleries is affecting the drying time of the oil gilding. In controlled environments the normal drying time is 3 hours because it is colder in the galleries in the morning it is taking longer, whereas in the afternoon when it is a lot warmer it takes a shorter amount of time.

Another stumbling block that Jock has overcome is that the backing plates are so cold that the oil size (type of glue that sticks the palladium onto the plate) was chilling. He is using a hairdryer to warm the backing plates up to allow a smooth even surface.


Day 59 - 20 November
Yesterday Jock finished covering the reflective backing plates with palladium leafing.

This has created quite a bit of mess. Today Karen will be making sure all particles that have fallen into the mechanism and around the frame are removed.

She will also be altering the adapter plates for the new wheel attachments on the 20th century frame and attaching the final parts such as the winding handle.


Day 60 - 21 November
Yesterday Karen was able to remove all the loose palladium. The wheels for the 20th century frame were prepared ready to be fitted today.

The main part of today is going to be reinstating the 101 silver leaves which were originally on the bath tub when the swan was first designed. They are being returned to the frame where they have been since around 1972.