There, the WCT crew carefully leveled the gear on wood blocks. For a few minutes they enjoyed their success and then they re-wet the dry wood surfaces of the gear and covered it with a tarp. This will help to prevent the wood from splitting or warping as it slowly dries out.
What’s next? Cooney says that the gear can be maintained as is until experts can be brought in to recommend techniques to preserve it. For instance, the cast iron gear teeth are covered with a concrete-like mixture of sand and gravel. “It is desirable to remove at least some of that so we can see what the gear teeth actually looked like,” Cooney said.
Baudendistel added, “This is a significant find.”
Several other experts who were consulted confirm the materials (cast iron gear sections attached to a wood rim) and the design (90-degree bracing instead of standard spokes) used in this gear are very unusual.
Both the Indiana Canal Society and a historical mill association in Kentucky have expressed interest in publishing articles about this discovery.
As more information is gathered on this unusual find, it will be posted on the Web site www.whitewatercanaltrail.com.