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masonry lingo


kurt
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The following (in quotes) is a bit of boilerplate that I re-wrote for a building I'm working on. I'm in a brain fog state; does this make sense to the brethren? (Understand, this is going to a bunch of condo folks that don't know squat. IOW, is it dumbproof?)

"This building was designed & constructed w/relatively soft mortars w/high lime content; the mortars were “softâ€

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Try this Kurt:

"This building was designed & constructed with lime mortar which is considerably softer and more permeable than the mortars used today containing Portland cement. Lime mortar tends to refill small cracks that may occur due to settlement. It also was compatible with the permeability of the bricks so moisture was absorbed and evaporated equally from both materials. This system permitted potentially damaging moisture to easily exit the building.

Almost all modern “tuck-pointingâ€

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You know, that's not bad. I forgot about the "self healing" nature of the older lime mortars.

Also, the description of spalling edges is better than what I had.

Sometimes my brain just don't work the way it should.

Thanks much....

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Good recommendations. Sometimes I just ramble on too much; I should take out the part about gullible building owners, or at minimum, soften it up a bit. "Unsuspecting" sounds much better. Just so's you all know, portions of this were taken from DeGruchy's site; he's my hero, and understands this stuff better than just about anyone.

This is for a transition study, and is just a tiny part of a 25+ page document that pretty much is all about the masonry; since it will likely end up as a court document, I want it to be pretty damn bulletproof, so any additional comments are welcome.

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There are some unbelievable masonry building here in Richmond and in Washington, DC. Actually, if you've ever been to the Pro-ASHI seminars there is some incredibly intricate and ornate multi-story buildings in Pittsburgh, PA. I saw one there that had a cornice that corbeled out probably three feet into arches about five or six feet tall. Truly amazing stuff. It kinda made you jittery walking the sidewalk under it.

At any rate, I've been flying around on weekends seeing America for about three years and Chicago's on the list... (Travelocity.com last minute deals. Flight room and car for unbelievable prices. You just have to be ready to GO... Went to Atlanta for two night room, flight and car $306.00 In fact, I went to Inspection world and NAHI's convention back to back 5 nights in a hotel, car and round trip flight... $600.00 Ya can't beat it!)

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Ditto, ditto and ditto, but I'd add that your text is too long. "KISS". Less licks = more communication... I've communicated the same stuff here in the Boston area with 1 third the text. On a lot of old buildings, you can usually find various 'vintages' of repointing. A comparison series of photos "see photos in addendum" tends to 'get them there'. Many times in Boston (Back Bay/S. End) I'll have one building shoddily done right next to a good one. The comparison photos do the trick.

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I agree that it's a lot of words to say pretty basic stuff, but you have to remember who I'm talking to; approx. 60 members of the condo homeowner's association, 4 attorneys, approx. 6 contractors, 2 representatives of the mgt. company, & misc. peripheral parties. Everyone has a different question, many of them tangential or peripheral to the point. If you read through that several times, you will see that it answers lots of those goofy questions that HOA's always ask. In addition to the above, there's about 12 pages of specific defects and another 40+ photos.

This isn't a home inspection; it's a HOA transition study. Totally different animal. Having done several dozen, I know what questions are coming down the pike; lots and lots of folks asking all sorts of tangential questions, and because I charge a lot for these things, they expect lots of answers & verbiage. That's what they get.

When I do a home inspection, I explain everything that I said above in a 4 sentence paragraph.

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I find your description very interesting and informative. No rocket science, just simple facts. For the group you're addressing, reading it will probably be more meaningful than any oral presentation.

I prefer the changes Mike suggested...a bit easier to read, and I agree not to word it in a way that will embarrass anyone.

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I like Mike's version better also. The tone is much improved over my original.

And Kibbel, you are so lucky to have this guy in your area; I live in a masonry city of 4+ million people and I only know 2 guys that even begin to understand this stuff.

This has all been very helpful; thanks everyone for all the input.

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Kurt,

I was just checking out DeGruchy's web site. I'm glad to see someone else really adamant about the proper way to restore masonry.

I performed my first masonry restoration project in Bluemont, Virginia to the exact same standards DuGrouchy spells out. I worked with the Chemists at the Lab of the Riverton Corporation in Front Royal, Virginia to develop the mortar used on that project. The night before I would begin repointing, I would soak the area I was going to repoint in the morning so that it would not dry my mortar too quickly. I used mortar mixed to the consistency of a damp stone mortar so it would not smear badly. At the end of each day I would mist the work before leaving. Within a few weeks I was contacted and asked to consider a restoration in Georgetown (Washington, DC) and Annapolis, MD. That was 23 years ago (1983) I truly wish there were more like DeGruchy out there. You have no idea how much it bugs me every time I have to do a home inspection and watch an alleged mason working on the home next door destroy it.

The techniques that I used (and DeGruchy describes) I had read in a book back in the late 70's I believe. Some of my understanding came from a very old retired ceramics engineer and brick plant owner.

Unfortunately, even when I was a mason back in the 70's and 80's, "Masonry" to 95% of the trade was all about a "paycheck" and nothing more. To me, the paycheck was a given. Masonry was to a fascination, an obsession and an art. Before I left that trade I could have walked onto any site and performed any masonry task that was before me with no further instruction necessary. I was able to make my own jack arches by hand with a brick hammer. I would actually use a radius line secured within the window opening so that every edge of each brick pointed to true center (simple compass work; engineering science). Most masons would try to put in arched chimney rakes by hand and they'd look like it, a mess! Again, I'd use a radius line with two knots tied in it, one knot for the cutting edge of the face brick and one knot for the top edge of the brick rolling over the rake (again, simple compass work that insures perfection every time). I loved the trade and learned and read all that I could about it. In the end, there were guys that had been masons for two and three times longer than I had that did not know a 10th of what I did simply because they had no interest. They lived by the old saying, "Brick, block and four o'clock."

So much of the art, science and skill of masonry is truly lost. I had the good fortune to have take engineering science in college which was very useful in masonry. I used to lay wagers with fellow masons that I could create 90 degree angles with the aid of two common sticks that would equal or surpass anything they could produce with a carpenters angle or a folding rule with the aid of the 3'; 4'; 5' triangle layout method. (It was simple compass work learned in engineering science.) I made a lot of pocket money doing that trick. I would double check foundations for true square through triangulation and most masons would look at me and go "huh?" They had no clue how I figured out what the third leg of the triangle should be!? But the point is, these were skills that any Mason of decades before would have been familiar with and used regularly. They understood math and geometry!

At any rate, it was good to see Mr. DeGruchy's site.

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Originally posted by kurt

I don't remember him(?).... I guess that says what I think of him, although I may have missed his presentations entirely.

What's his gig?

He's either an engineer or an artchitect and he designs masonry repairs on large commercial buildings in greater Chicago. He has some pretty amazing slides of the projects he's worked on and he's a great presenter. I think he also teaches at one of the Universities near you. If you ever get the chance to see him present, you should go. You're bound to learn something, and the slides are pretty cool.

Jimmy

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