Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Gables, Diamonds and Staples

One of the projects I have been helping out with so far is the repair of the gable ends- there are quite a few! Unfortunately, many of them did not survive the three major quakes (Sept 10, Feb 11 and July 11) overly well. 

As the majority of the Arts Center is listed as Category I (i.e. it has outstanding national value - for the British, it is equivalent to our Grade I) in order to retain the original facade and, consequently authenticity, those stones that can be replaced in their original setting, will be. 

To do this, the stonemasons give each individual gable end a code and then as the stones are taken down each one gets an individual number:  

For example, CB3 would be the Clock Tower, gable 3 and AA2 is the Boys' high, gable 2. 

Then, when the stones are taken down, each number is written on the reverse of the respective stone and then stored on a palate.  They have a particular area the numbers have to be written on so that 6 does not become 9, etc. 

The numbers are then carved into the stone with a (very scary) cylindrical Dremel drill that is coated in diamond dust so it can with stand the strength of the original stone (basalt or bluestone, see previous post). 

Now, this drill, can drill. I was honestly scared for my fingers! It is also incredibly easy to break; the slightest bit of pressure in the wrong place and the diamond dusted bit goes flying - eye protection is a must! - unfortunately I managed to do this on my first go, but it was fixable so I was forgiven. 

After the number is carved out, it is then painted over so it can withstand the elements and be easily seen. 

Yes, that is me with my very fetching hard hat and high vis.

The palates are then stored until it is time for the stones to be replaced in-situ. In order to quake strengthen them the stones are being "stapled" to both themselves and the roof structure, so that if there is another quake they will not break forward. Hopefully. 

All of the images are courtesy of the Arts Center!

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