Lighthouse Maintenance

Friday was the quarterly maintenance for Umpqua River Lighthouse. Me, Dave and a couple of the County maintenance guys spent about 4 hours dusting, sweeping, washing windows and cleaning the lens, nerve-wracking work really… The lens weighs about 2 tons but it’s also 118 years old, one a kind, worth $5 million, and fragile. From the inside of the lens it is possible to “knock out” one of the bulls-eyes, it’s been done at another lighthouse just north of here. A cleaning was being done, just as were doing, and someone on the inside bumped the bulls-eye and it fell out, crashed to the ground and a couple of the prisms broke…the lighthouse was shut down for a year and half and it cost $25,000 to replace the 2 broken prisms. So, that’s what was going through my mind as I was inside the lens washing the glass.

Cleaning the inside of the lens. The keepers would have had to do this every, single day, we do it every 3 months.
Cleaning the inside of the lens. The keepers would have had to do this every, single day, we do it every 3 months.
What a beautiful thing to have to clean!! Can't really complain.
What a beautiful thing to have to clean!! Can’t really complain.

Anyway, the most challenging part of the whole process is just jacking up the lens. There are 3 small jacks that are placed under the lens and the 3 guys slowly and carefully raised the lens. It’s so heavy that if it sat still on it’s wheels for more than a few minutes it would leave flat spots on the wheels.

Dave carefully turns the jack to lift the lens off the wheels, such concentration!
Dave carefully turns the jack to lift the lens off the wheels, such concentration!
One of the three soda can sized, 120 year old jacks. These are the originals.
One of the three soda can sized, 120 year old jacks. These are the originals.
Dave spent a few hours making the brass shine!
Dave spent a few hours making the brass shine!

Everything went great and we still managed to fit a couple of tours in before closing. It was a very productive day and the lighthouse is sparkling!

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