Skin Repair For Miss Liberty

Published by National Association of Corrosion Engineers

Abstract of Skin Repair for Miss Liberty
By† Joseph Fiebiger

The preponderance of areas which required restorative work were areas which had been thinned in the hammering process. There is nothing to suggest that deterioration in the areas of the nose, eyes, lip, curls, left shoulder, neck and fabric folds was initiated by severe corrosion. These were “deeply drawn” elements which called for a vast migration of material. This is evidenced via a thickness of .065” at the bridge of the nose, thinned progressively until fracture at the tip was at .012”.

Curiously and yet logically, these thinned areas were usually set downward, becoming vessels in which water would pool. Despite “weep” holes which were fashioned through the years to permit water to escape, water was entrapped by dirt and rust from armature bars. This combination caused the decay in these thin areas. One should note that in nominally thick areas (.093” to .060”) which were set downward, there was no major corrosion.

Negative impressions of these areas were indexed to the Statue and allowed for a pure representation of the original male, in plaster. The plaster was then used to prepare negative “doming” blocks using a combination of epoxy and polyurethane. Copper was hammered in these negative forms. Where the call for deep migration was mandated the elements were fashioned in sections. This allowed for hammering to the side of the “dome” and excluded thinning. The sections were welded together using a combination of gasses and de-oxidized copper which assure an invisible joint. This joint is invisible when polished and is invisible when patinated.

New elements were joined to the Statue via the implementation of an astragal which had been hammered to the same shape as the element. The astragal is common to both sides of the joint. The new element was cut 1/32” larger, each side, 1/16” too large for the opening. These edges and those of the afflicted areas were then “upset.” The new element was laid in place, the full meeting border being raised. The element and skin were riveted to the astragal and the raised area was gently hammered down. This created a nearly invisible joint. Curiously, without thermal motion, the joint would remain invisible, yet due to thermal motion a slight “hairline” does develop.

All restored areas were patinated using various recipes. These recipes had been tested on a test “farm” which had been set on the scaffolding.