Texas A&M working to restore cannons from the Alamo

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) - Some Texas A&M University students are getting the chance to save some important pieces of Texas history.

The Conservation Research Laboratory at the Texas A&M RELLIS Campus is helping people "Remember the Alamo."

Multiple cannons from Texas Revolution’s 1836 Battle of the Alamo are still on display at the museum in San Antonio. Now, they are making their way to college station to be conserved.

"Only seven of them were at the actual Battlefield and took part of the battle," said the Conservation Research Lab manager, Jim Jobling.

Nine in total are being restored at A&M.

"Two others were added to the collection as donations in later years and represent cannons that were similar to the ones used in the battle," said Jobling.

"I don't think they've been conserved in over 150 years," he added.

The process to restore the cannons has already started.

Graduate students are working on recording measurements to figure out where the guns came from.

"It doesn't have very many markings on it in order to identify it so we're trying to measure it to narrow down the date range," said graduate student, Lauren Shulz.

The next step after that will be putting the cannons in an electrolytic bath.

"It's a large steel vat filled with sodium hydroxide. The cannons go in and are insulated from the steel vat. We connect it up to a DC power supply and we run about a 10-volt current to the cannons. The electrons go into the iron and flow through the iron and hydrogen is evolved around the surface and this removes the paint and any chlorides and any iron oxides. It reduces the cannon back to solid iron and cleans it," explained Jobling.

The process takes a couple of weeks per cannon. They are then put through boiling rinses to remove any residual chemicals and are then blackened by a tannic acid coating. It is finished with an industrial strength black paint.

Once the process is complete, the cannons will be sent back to San Antonio.

"We'll clean these two and then once these are done they'll come to the lab to pick the cannon up and give us two more and will take the two back," said Jobling.

The students say projects like this are important to keep history alive.

"We can dig everything up, but if you don't conserve it then it's not going to last for future generations to study it," said Shulz.

The laboratory says preserving all nine cannons will take about eight months total.

The Alamo is also asking for help to raise money to restore the cannons. To donate visit: https://www.gofundme.com/alamobattlecannon.