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Corrosion Control

Because Bermuda was an ideal place where rust was a major factor, experiments were setup at the Cooper's Island Tracking Station to control corrosion.

Phillip Welch

Phil Welch, a machinist by trade, commented: "Every week Beldwin Smith would go up and treat the samples. Starting out I was with the USB team at that time. Herb Gall came to Bermuda through the courtesy of the Nasa program. He was referred to as the specialist in corrosion. As far as I know there were other areas and sites that he was involved in, with samples dealing with the corrosion control and this was for the benefit of preserving what they had. . .antennas in particular. Herb spent about six weeks setting up the experiments and was dealing with some paint manufacturers in the States. Much of the info that he had in writing I did'nt have any of that. But listening to him on the subject, I found it very interesting because I had been involved in metal before in my trade. (It was Jan 27th 1941 when I first started my apprenticeship) so this was very interesting to Herb Gall. Samples were sent from the paint manufacturers however, I never was privileged to see in writing from him what the results were observing the samples. Believe it or not 'Rustoleum', an inexpensive product for rust control, was very good for Bermuda at that time. But for myself I used to order for the USB antenna, Dupont products. I found it was more expensive but was of better quality. I had no opposition there! While there, my work entailed about eighteen months and during that time a fellow came in, I can't remember his name, and surveyed the antenna. At that time he requested that Bermuda would need another USB antenna because of corrosion. But my corrosion control on the existing antenna made it unnecessary for it to be replaced. It passed with flying colors continually! Some of the products I used was actually zinc metal in a fine powder form with binding materials, that was the foundation. It was often sprayed on and you could paint it with a brush as well. Maintainence used a type previous to the one I ordered. In fact I found one there that they tried, you mixed the two ingredients but it was unsucessful. It was a zinc but it was not done that well. The one I ordered came from Massachusetts. It was a zinc paint where you actually put metal on metal, and as long as it was sandblasted to a good surface (no rust) it was like you were putting a chrome on a metal. The DLM that went around from site to site began to used that same sort of stuff. For Bermuda it solved the rust problem. We had success! That was straight success for us."

This was a proud moment in the career of Phil Welch, a Bermudian, whose job title was mechanical engineer.

Some of the highlights of Phil Welch's illustrious career are as follows:

  • 4 August 1950 'Mr Welch's efficiency rating was that of "Very Good" Charles V. Turner, Public Works Foreman, U.S. Naval Station Bermuda
  • 4th April, 1966 "A natural engineer of his calibre is rare", A.J. Payton General Manager, Bermuda Machine & Casting Co. Ltd
  • 23rd April 1968,"I have utmost respect for his abilities and feel that he applies sound judgment whenever required"K.A. Hill Unified S-Band Supervisor NASA Apollo Station , Bermuda
  • 2nd November 1970 " Phil Welch, the Facilities Foreman carried out this alignment in a particular proficient manner and it is our feeling that a note of this should be included in his personal records." G.F.Smith, Facilities Supervisor and T. Taddei, Lead Antenna Maintenance Mechanic
  • May 24, 1974 awardeded the "Silver Snoopy" Certificates of Appreciation signed by the Apollo 17 Commander for the "Bermuda Facilities Maintainence Group."
  • Feb 26 1975 "I have no hesitation in recommending Mr Welch to any employer for whom he can apply his skills" Wylie M. McMillan, Station Director, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • 26 May 1978, Subject"Superior Response" with reference to Phil Welch's solving a severe RFI problem."I find this attitude very commendable" F. N. Bowen Bendix Field Engineering"

Beldwin Smith

From Beldwin Smith's perspective, the following comments were offered:"My role in the corrosion farm...there were timber racks that were built, the carpenter's shop we built those, and we also put them in a place what we called 'the corrosion farm'. There was an officer from overseas who was named Herbert Gall who set it all up and monitored the station. He was very meticulous, militaristically so, and there were three people who had worked with him that didn't work out. One of them was off sick or on holiday and I was asked to fill in. I got on fabulously well with him (Herbert) that he requested that I monitor the corrosion farm once he left Bermuda. Now at the corrosion farm there were several samples.We had a section called the paint farm and various paints were applied to these samples to see how they would stand up to the sun's ultra violet rays, the chalking of the painting and' whatnot'. We had a list going from zero to ten ratings that you would give and after perfecting how to operate that list, frequently I would monitor that system putting in the necessary information. It was then sent overseas to Mr Gall. Also, there were metals copper and brass, stainless steel and 'whatnot' that would be bolted together to see if any electrolysis would form and whether the two metals could actually be used together. The bolt was the catalyst at times! It was always best to use a stainless steel bolt in our corrosive atmosphere. But other bolts were tried eg. iron, brass and 'whatnot' We also discovered that dust and particles which were on the samples that had travelled all the way, blown by the wind currents, from Africa. It was quite interesting and also when the grounds would be maintained we would ask the grounds keeper to take special care. We didn't want objects flying all over the place to damage the samples. I found it to be very exciting and rewarding job and would recommend that anyone who was afforded the opportunity to work in a similar capacity I would endorse it one hundred percent!"