Materials Performance

SEP 2018

Materials Performance is the world's most widely circulated magazine dedicated to corrosion prevention and control. MP provides information about the latest corrosion control technologies and practical applications for every industry and environment.

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From the Archives Tulsa's Time Capsule Car Succumbs to Corrosion Gretchen A. J A cobson, M A n AG in G e ditor This article was originally published in the August 2007 issue of MP. Fifty years of interment in a concrete vault took their toll on a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere when groundwater found a way in. S ince 1937, when the term "time capsule" was first adopted in preparation for a 5,000-year burial of historic items at the 1939 New York World's Fair, other cit- ies and organizations have com- piled their own time capsules of documents, films, and mementos of the current time period that are then buried for people of the future to excavate and learn from. On June 15, 1957, in celebration of its Golden Jubilee Week semi- centennial, the City of Tulsa, Oklahoma, buried an entire car. S P E C I A L F E AT U R E Deemed by event chairman Lewis Roberts Sr. to be "an advanced product of American industry ingenuity with the kind of lasting appeal that will still be in style 50 years from now," the gold and white 1957 Plymouth Belvedere Sport Coupe featured whitewall tires, a V-8 engine, and high tailfins trimmed in chrome. What the vehicle did not have at that time—nor did other cars of the era—was a system of corrosion resis- tance incorporated into the design. "The cars made during the 1950s did not have much in the way of corrosion protection built into them," says NACE International Fellow Herb Townsend, a longtime expert in automobile cor- rosion. "Car bodies were just made of ordinary cold-rolled steel, protected by simple phosphate pretreatments, and spray painted on the exterior surfaces only. That level of corrosion protection was good enough for exposure to the at- mosphere for the few years of a car's life before the engine and transmission went, and the car was scrapped." To protect the 1957 two-door hard- top coupe during its five decades un- derground, the Plymouth was encased in a plastic covering with rust-resistant preservatives and then lowered into a concrete vault located in front of the Tulsa County Courthouse. The vehicle's trunk had been loaded with 10 gallons of leaded gasoline, three quarts of oil, and a case of Schlitz beer, and the glove compartment held the contents of a woman's purse. An accompanying sealed With flat tires, collapsed suspension, and ruined structure, the unearthed Plymouth Belvedere was corroded inside and out. Photo by Bryan Campbell. MATERIALS PERFORMANCE: VOL. 57, NO. 9 SEPTEMBER 2018 A17

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