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Bodie Island First-Order Lens Undergoing Restoration
nformation by Kim Fahlen, Lighthouse Lamp Shop, Inc.

If you’ve been by the Bodie Island Lighthouse in Nags Head recently, you must have noticed the empty lantern room. The first-order Fresnel lens was removed during October ’09 by lens curators of the Lighthouse Lamp Shop. Nearly two weeks of preparation were required before any actual lens removal happened. The central dioptric (refracting) panels were the first to come away followed by the lower catadioptric panels ("cats" refract and reflect) and finally the upper cats. At right, manhandling these upper cats takes four men with a rigged line to carry much of the weight--the larger, upper cats weight about 150 pounds. What followed is the most difficult part of all maneuvers: getting the upper catadioptric panels from the lens room to the lantern level below. There are all sorts of obstacles made of metal that can cause severe damage to the crown-glass prisms being moved: the lens frame guides, doorknobs iron railings. But, the entire lens was disassembled, moved, wrapped, crated, and lowered to ground level by its own weight (below) without incidence. The lens panels were then transported to a site where Outer Banks Lighthouse Society volunteers unpacked, cleaned, wrapped, and re-crated the panels for storage with the help and supervision of the Lighthouse Lamp Shop crew. Conservator Joe Cocking earned his certification as a Professional Associate by the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) in 2007. Both he and partner Nick Johnston are retired USCG.

Two Bodie Island projects involve several phases which are expected to take at least 18 months.  Repairs include:

  • The 344 glass prisms will be removed from the tower for cleaning;
  • The metal catadioptric panels that hold the prisms and the metal pedestal that supports the lens will be cleaned and restored in place;
  • Strengthening the support of 10 flights of the lighthouse’s spiral staircase and replacement of 21 cracked stair treads;
  • Removal of lead paint and repainting the lighthouse interior;
  • Replacing electrical lines, conduit, interior lights and lightning protection;
  • Installing a fire detection and suppression system.

Volunteers Work to Restore Lens


4di-janice-vol-lens5Volunteers 16hilh-vol-5-judy

Don't Be Alarmed! Below: This haunting shot shows the empty lantern room and might be disturbing to some.
The lens is out being restored, packed safely on NPS grounds, and will be re-assembled after tower restoration is
complete. The conservators of Lighthouse Lamp Shop will again utilize OBLHS volunteers to give the panels of prisms
another cleaning and the lens will be put back together in reverse in the lantern room. It will then be turned back on at
lesser intensity and OBLHS will be responsible for keeping it cleaned.

bilh-darkened photo courtesy of Kim Fahlen, Lighthouse Lamp Shop

See Photo Presentation

This Site Last Updated: Sunday January 24, 2010 6:01 PM