Opening strategies (7/10)
Back at home I wondered about the internal structure of my find. I did not really understand why someone would use a steel tube in the first place. In the crevice the container was not exposed to strong forces but maybe to humidity. The tube was some 30 cm long. The walls were some 4 mm thick. You can drive with a tank over it without fear of damage. But it’s ends were not covered with lids so humidity could enter. Why not use a simple preservation jar?
One thing worried me. What if the tube was an unexploded bomb constructed decades ago by some youngsters interested in chemistry? What if it contains some sort of explosives, probably black powder, was sealed with some organic substance and did not went off? As a teenager I constructed similar devices though I always used paper containers, never metal, for security reasons. The last thing I wanted to do was to cut or drill a steel tube containing explosives using a sparkling or hot tool. In view of the find spot this scenario seemed unlikely but I preferred to avoid hot tools as long as possible.
At first, it seemed most likely to me that the tube contained some not too heavy jewelry or other items of interest and the ends were sealed with some organic substance. Using a screwdriver – also in view of possible contained explosives - some of this substance was removed. The removed particles can be seen on the picture above on the right side of the tube. From one side I worked myself some 4 cm into the tube without reaching anything else than this substance. A second attempt from the other side yielded the same result. A thorough examination of the removed particles revealed that this was –printed paper.
What if the paper was not used to seal the tube but was the content? Did someone hide documents? In this case I had already damaged the papers, unfortunately. The only way to get to them was to cut the tube open. Now cutting 30 cm lines through 4 mm steel was difficult with the tools I had at home. And it could be dangerous if the tube contained explosives. At that point I decided, though unwillingly, not to do anything until I had a good plan. The tube was stored in a fridge. Do not know about paper but metal does not corrode at minus 18 degrees C.
As months went by I had forgotten the tube in the fridge. Other search projects gave enough interesting tasks to do. One and a half years later I was older but no wiser and still had no great plan. But my interest rose again and now I wanted to solve the case and decided to take a risk. The only of my tools to be strong and silent enough (I live in a flat) to do the job was my stationary drilling machine. It had the additional advantage of not creating any sparkles. On both sides of the tube I drilled many holes very close to one another so they built a line. After each hole the drill was cooled with water. After cutting the remaining material between the holes the tube finally opened. I felt the same thrill as all explorers who ever opened a found container.
(C) Thorsten Straub www.metal-detecting.de 2006-2011.