Launched in 1854, the Constellation was the last all-sail ship designed and built for the US Navy. Its missions were many, including freeing slaves from Africa, relieving famine in Ireland, transporting art across the Atlantic, and providing a training base for US sailors.

Through ongoing applications of Tim-bor, a highly water-soluble borate product created by Rio Tinto Borates, its maritime history won’t soon be forgotten.

The environmentally friendly wood preservative, also called spray dry, protects against wood-rotting organisms such as fungi, beetles and termites — all while remaining nontoxic to humans and other mammals. That means a truly safe experience for the ship’s 100,000 visitors annually.

“People are excited about this,” said lead shipwright Tim Fowler, a Baltimore native, of the preservation efforts. Fowler has worked on the Constellation since 1997 and began using Tim-bor in 1999, after receiving donated product from Rio Tinto Borates.

He and Joan Murphy, also a shipwright, spray a Tim-bor solution on the ship’s 200-foot by 50-foot spar deck three days per week using a barrel, pump and garden hose. The repeated exposure ensures saturation.

Stopping the rot

Stopping the rot

Borates provide safe, affordable, and long-lasting protection against wood-destroying pests and decay.

Borates provide safe, affordable, and long-lasting protection against wood-destroying pests and decay.

They are used in a range of wood products found around the home and in local infrastructure such as siding, windows and doors, furniture, telephone poles and railroad cross-ties. Borates are also used as a fungicide and preservative in paints and coatings, as a fungicide in polymers and rubber, and as a biocide in plastic and rubber.

For decades, borate-treated wood has been successfully used to combat the highly destructive Formosan subterranean termite in New Zealand and the US.

Borates interfere with termites' metabolic pathways when ingested through feeding or grooming, effectively killing them. Surviving termites avoid the protected wood products.

Find out more at our 20 Mule Team Borax website.

“Any place I think I need it, I use it,” said Fowler, who added he also sprinkles Tim-bor powder into cavities on the ship, and uses it in a semi-liquid form, as slurry, to leach into areas of rotted wood. “It gives me peace of mind that I’m doing something proactive in stopping the rot.”

Others in the business of preserving historical ships have also relied on Tim-bor. Rio Tinto Borates has sent product to crews committed to the preservation of the Wapama, a historic steam schooner launched in 1915, and the USS Cairo, a 153-year-old Civil War city-class gunboat.

“We’ve built a lot of long-term relationships,” said Mark Manning, the company’s director of Market Development, Biocides and Agriculture. “It’s nice to help with the communities and keep historic artefacts around for another 100 years.”

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Tim-bor, a highly water-soluble borate product, has been used on the USS Constellation since 1999.

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Tim-bor solution is sprayed on the ship’s spar deck three days per week using a barrel, pump and garden hose.

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The USS Constellation’s missions included freeing would-be slaves from Africa, relieving famine in Ireland, and transporting art across the Atlantic.