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More machinery uncovered in rear of sub


Friday, March 23, 2001

Of The Post and Courier staff


     Scientists excavating the Hunley on Thursday found more machinery in the aftmost part of the Confederate submarine's crew compartment.
     Bob Neyland, the project manager, said they are beginning to see the patterns of more machinery near the rear bulkhead, but they can't yet tell what it is.
     "It will be interesting to see if they have reduction gears on the hand crank," Neyland said. "That may be what we're seeing, but we're not sure."
     At least one Civil War-era submarine built by Union forces had reduction gears, like on a 10-speed bicycle, to make hand-cranking easier. The Hunley was powered by eight of nine crew members turning a hand crank for the propeller. The submarine submerged by opening a valve to let water into its ballast tank. Pumps were used to blow the water out.
     Chief archaeologist Maria Jacobsen crawled into a tiny space between the sediment and the hull's ceiling on Thursday to begin the arduous job of excavating the forward part of the crew compartment, where commander George Dixon would have operated the sub's dive planes, rudder and forward ballast tank controls. That is where scientists hope to find many of the submarine's instruments, including compasses and a depth gauge.
     The task is not getting any easier, though. The archaeologists have discovered machinery riveted to the hull plate that holds the sub's snorkel box, squashing any hopes of taking the plate off for easier access.
     Neyland said that for now at least, they will continue to excavate in a space about a third the size of the area the crew had to work in.
     Scientists also are working on the remains of a crewman found earlier this week. They will not do further excavation on human remains until they have better access.

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