Jim Woodward and his wife took a small detour during their 2012 summer vacation, to Santa Barbara County in Southern California. Jim was asked by the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (SBMM) for his input -- as a lighthouse lampist and one of the leading experts on historic lenses in the U.S. -- on the move of the first-order lens from California’s Point Conception Lighthouse to the SBMM, with the added possibility that Jim would be awarded the job of the lens move. A small group comprised of the Woodwards, members of the U.S. Coast Guard, and a contingent from the SBMM made the trek to Point Conception to see the lens up close and personal.
Upon arriving, everybody walked down the 157 steps (no small task) to the lighthouse. While we took in the wonderful view of the Pacific Ocean and the coastline, the lighthouse door was unlocked and we ventured in. We marveled at the extremely good condition of the interior with its wood paneling and ornate fixtures. While we all got the chance to see the lens and sight-see the surrounding area, Mr. Woodward got to work of inspecting, photographing, measuring, and taking notes on the lens.
Later, after his completion of the inspection, Jim Woodward shared his observations:
“The most important things I needed to know were the general condition of the lens, how well it has stood time, how much repair it might need before you even try to take it out, and whether or not the pedestal can be easily removed or removed in a more difficult manner, depending on the structure of the lighthouse. The lens is in surprisingly great condition. I’m shocked how good it is, I know it needs some restoration work, but nothing terrible. And based on the structure of the lighthouse, the pedestal is removable without excessive labor. It’s a beautiful 16-panel first-order lens.”
“The ideal is to be able to do everything inside the tower. If I can, I will. It’s much safer for the lens and all of its pieces, (and) the pedestal pieces, to bring it down inside the tower to the ground, and move it from there. If I have to, there are a couple of larger pedestal pieces that may need to be removed further up the tower, out either a window or a wall panel. And if that has to be done that way, I don’t mind, because I’m not going to break the ironwork doing it. The structure of the tower, I think, will lend itself very well to removing the whole thing on the inside. Dismantling the glass part of the lens will be three days. The pedestal is probably another three days. And getting it out to the very top is probably another week. If I have to rate the difficulty (of) the lens work itself, it’s maybe an 8 on a scale of 10, 10 being the most difficult. As far as getting it up to the parking lot, that’s a 10 on a scale of 10. Definitely, there is cleaning work (to be done on the lens), of course. A few chips, but surprisingly, for the age of that lens, there are very few chips. I did not find a piece of glass that was completely broken through. There are no missing pieces of glass; it’s just, just incredible. So the worst I’ve seen on that lens is chips, and there’s one piece that has a crack in the glass but it’s not a through crack. It’s golden. It’s just gonna be a great project -- hope we get it!”
As we huffed and puffed, paused to rest, huffed and puffed again, (and paused to rest again), going back up those 157 steps, I tried to imagine what it was like getting the materials down the slope and up into the lantern for the lighthouse lens, and what a task it will be to now do it in the reverse!
It is estimated that the project will cost about $250,000, which must be raised by the museum to proceed. Major supporters’ names will be recognized in the exhibit area. Interested parties may contact museum Executive Director Greg Gorga at (805) 962-8404, ext. 103, or by email at email@example.com.
Oh, by the way, Jim did get the job.
This story appeared in the
Jan/Feb 2013 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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