Bronze rails in the lantern room

John builds the bronze lantern railing so that we can have an open area and still keep the beacon secure as a US Coast Guard aid to navigation.

John builds the bronze lantern railing so that we can have an open area and still keep the beacon secure as a US Coast Guard aid to navigation.

Remember those bronze castings we made over the winter? John and John from Nelson Metal Fabrication machined them to perfection and fitted pickets and rails made up in their Portland, Maine shop.

John installs the bronze lantern railing. The solar-powered beacon is visible at top right.

John installs the bronze lantern railing. The solar-powered beacon is visible at top right.

Then they brought them out to Graves and hoisted them up the ladder and into the lantern room.

Three days later, the results are amazing.

Graves Light remains an active aid to navigation. We have to make sure that while we make as much use as we can of the lantern room, the topmost level of the tower, we have to keep the solar-powered lantern safe and free of obstructions. We also have to make sure it remains accessible to the Coast Guard for their maintenance visits.

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Discovered: Original Fresnel Lens rotation mechanism

Polishing a century of grime from one of the brackets of the original First Order Fresnel lens rotation mechanism.

Polishing a century of grime from one of the brackets of the original First Order Fresnel lens rotation mechanism.

Ever wonder how the giant First Order Fresnel lens rotated to produce that smooth, sweeping beam lf light?

The good guys at the US Coast Guard revealed the secret by sending us the old engineering drawings of parts of the original mechanism, which are still bolted to the 5th level ceiling.

Since that ceiling is being restored, we figured we’d take the mechanism down and clean it up, which we did this week at home.

Here’s how it worked: Every two hours the Keepers wound a 300-lb weight up a 50-foot tube using a hand crank. The weight was connected by a series of pulleys (pictured) and connected to a big clockwork device, which regulated the speed and drove a gear that spun the two-ton lens.

The system was converted to an electric motor long ago, but happily the Coast Guard left all the old stuff in place, which made it possible for us to tell the story.

 

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Coast Guard stops by on maintenance visit

USCG Harley

Harley of the US Coast Guard climbs the ladder to do maintenance work on the navigation aids.

The US Coast Guard stopped by Graves Light recently to do a regular maintenance visit.

Even though Graves Light is privately owned, we have a commitment with the Coast Guard to provide regular access to maintain the beacon and fog horn.

Harley and Dave of the US Coast Guard maintain the solar-powered batteries in the Graves Light watch room.

Harley and Dave of the US Coast Guard maintain the solar-powered batteries in the Graves Light watch room.

Coast Guard AToN (Aids to Navigation) crew members Harley and Dave stopped by in their red Mustang outfits to do the maintenance work on the light and fog apparatuses.

(Coast Guard Dave is not to be confused with Light House Dave, who took the pictures.)

They patiently showed us the operation of the various devices and back-up devices used to make the lighthouse operate reliably for mariners.

The first picture shows Harley climbing 20 feet up from the rocks to the dock, with our granite blockhouse, called the Oil House, in the background.

In another picture, Harley and Dave are 80 feet up in the Watch Room, and Dave is topping off the primary batteries with USCG-distilled water. The light and fog apparatuses are solar powered, and the energy is stored in the batteries.

And 100 feet up in the Lantern Room, Dave replaces burnt-out bulbs in the automatic bulb changer.

Dave of the Coast Guard maintains the lantern in the Lamp Room, 100 feet up.

Dave of the Coast Guard maintains the lantern in the Lamp Room, 100 feet up.

Thanks for the tour, Harley and Dave!

We’re glad to serve the Coast Guard any way we can.

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