Those of you who have traveled to Historic Ellicott City know it well for two main reasons. One the flooding or two the shopping downtown. What many do not know is the vast history of the granite quarriers. When you begin to drive around you will see granite structures everywhere. The town is full of a single style of dry laid retaining walls throughout the town. It is unknown at this time any of the history, who built them or dating of the walls. I believe it was a single movement when they were constructed based on the patterns and style of the wall. If you know please share.Many of these walls have failed due to improper building methods based on the tall faces without length in. Many have been removed or mortared due to the lack of understanding how to properly rebuild them. Until NOW! This video documents my findings in the removal and proper rebuild of the College Ave 2'-3' high roadside retaining wall. Originally built with Howard County Pink speckled granite. Which I believe predates the Baltimore County Blue speckled granite. Much of this original wall was rebuilt over time due to the invention of the automobile and there for running into the wall. I believe that the original road was only built for horse and buggy. As time went on the road widened. Due to the restrictions of the landscape and the current sizes of trucks and buses. Traffic flow there the tight twisty turns have caused many of the cars traveling uphill and crossing the line forcing vehicles coming down hill into the wall. Directly across the street were the townhomes site at the Boy's school is an additional small 2' high wall running the full length of the backyards. In the process of removal of the wall I found many of the face stones had been covered up with 100 years or road material such as asphalt. Some stones were buried over 17" below grade. The owners of the property were determined to preserve and restore this wonderful example of Historic Ellicott City's History. Countless phone calls, emails, years and time had been spent to bring this wall back to structurally sound condition without the need for maintatence for another 100-200 years. Ellicott City was the home of 2 granite quarries in the mid to late 1800. Many of the train bridges, churchs, street cobblestones, buildings and so much more were built from granite from Historic Ellicott City. The Baltimore County side was currently where the High gas station sites. The Howard county side quarry is back the railroad tracks from the B&O caboose. The restoration of phase 1 upper section 74' long on the College Ave took place in Fall 2019. With plans to complete the second lower section 76'+ Long in 2020-21 after receiving approval from the Historic Preservation Commission. For the walls along with the removal of 2 large trees. The Bureau of Highways Howard County DPW has been very proactive in facilitating the first Rebuild of Ellicott City's Granite Stone Walls. "Preserving America's Dry Laid Stone Structures 1 Stone At A Time." ~ Mark Jurus • Rockin Walls
Saturday, September 12, 2020
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Posted by Mark J at 12:47 PM
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Rockin Walls Training Center hosted the last of 3 rescheduled Spring workshops this July 11-12 2020. Before we start we would like to thank everyone who came out during these challenging times. A big thanks goes out to Martin Beevers from UK / Nashville TN for coming up to co-instruct with Mark Jurus. Those who we did not see we look forward to meeting you come fall.
NOTE: Before viewing we would also like to point out the following facts before judging any of the content below due to our current COVID-19 pandemic. We made sure to minimize and ask for 6 foot distance, face masks for this outdoor event were optional according to Maryland guidelines. Our group was under 10 people according to Maryland guidelines. We had 2 dedicated wash stations with water, soap, hand sanitizer pump & spray, along with a 3rd in the porta potti. Two contractor buckets for used tools along with each having spray sanitizer.
We also like to point out the short 20ft tent is the Lehnoff's Landscape Crew 4 foreman and Robert the owner (seen at far left) You will see this group in every photo shoulder to shoulder working hard to rebuild this entire section of wall from strip out to the the foundation and back up to match the other wall sections.
Under the big 30ft tent we had left to right Bob, Curt, Tyler and his brother Luke along with Instructor Martin Beevers to far right. Martin spent a great deal of time with this group while I did with the Lehnoff's crew. We also took time to check in from time to time with both groups. On these sections we had each work on a stripping out both sides down to under tie stones. Starting out with almost 6 feet of top of the wall. More or less "V" sections in order to help maintain a safe work distance from one another. Just was well at any given time if any one felt they needed a bit more distance they could easily walk to the their other side of the wall. While this is a new workshop method far different than anything currently offered. We felt it was enough for each to handle. Bob ended up doing 2 sections. With a far improved performance on his second one. All and all Rockin Walls felt this training section worked out very well in light of the current climate. We avoided any chance of rain and just put up with the high temps.
Saturday started off with a quick run down of the DSWA posters as suggested guidelines to follow for the next 2 days while building the walls. While the homeowner team did not have a chance to strip all the way down to foundation. Many had done so in a previous Fundamental workshop weeks before. Those who did not have the experience we took the time to show and explain foundation options based on style and stone types.
Both groups wasted no time doing there strip outs. It didn't take Robert owner of Lehnoff's to ask his team to build a chain where they simply passed the vertical cope stones out to Robert who then stacked them up in the order they came off the wall. I have to say that was a first for me to see done at any workshop.
They then moved on to setting up there string lines and building the foundation course.
Next the set there frames and string lines for the start of there build. I'm not sure who gave the order for the dirt in the foundation joints. Packing all sections of the wall with large to small stones are key to the success of any dry laid stone wall. Martin had mention in the start of the day that all dry stone walls are living. What does that mean? They are always moving from season to season.
Feather and wedging was demonstrated and performed in order to help produce new thicker tie stones for the training walls. Bluestone was choice sizing around 28"l x 11"w x 3"h (+/-). Rockin Walls training center was the first training centers in the US offering this skill at there freestanding wall workshops. One of the main reasons for doing so was the need to produce tie stones or flat caps which is more common in our region then traditional vertical copes. Its one of the, cheapest, simplest, and least dust generating methods for splitting larger stones. It is also a lot of fun for everyone.
Seen is the photo is the
The Bloch Shear stone splitter was getting a real workout from the Lehnoff's Crew. Robert is taking one of the feather and wedge tie stones and snapping it to a shorter length.
Day 2 Sunday started with a overview and questions from what we did on Saturday. On Saturday the Homeowner team stripped out and rebuild there wall sections without frames or string lines. On day 2 Sunday we set them up in order to give more guidance and show who they should be properly used. We saw a great increase in the quality and productivity as a result.
I had the Lehnoff's crew swap sides for the main reason often when teams of masons work together you can see distinct walling styles. By moving the crew around this is less likely to stand out. It also give each person a chance to solve problems coming in to a new wall section.
Robert Lehnoff was on a mission to shape a monster 6.5" stone giving it a very clean face. The only challenge was by the second lift of the wall a stone this big typically has more length then the wall can accommodate. On a freestanding wall this is best used in the first lift at the very bottom.
Luke and Tyler being brother choose to strip out a full section together. By Sunday I had them working just one section each of both sides. Not the entire section as they choose to do the day before. This is another great way to learn to work with choices of stone someone else has set.
Vertical copes going up on day 2 as many begin to wind down after a hot day. I handed was sure to hand out RX Bar's Protein Bar with Chocolate & Sea Salt. I order to help each and everyone get that last bit of energy to keep on rolling.
As the day to come to a end me and Martin took the time to walk around give some feedback then presented a slide show of each of our favorit work. Where we answered questions from the 2 days and thanked everyone for coming out. Everyone was kind enough to clean up and replalitize there stone at the end of the day. What a great weekend spent with others who love to learn the craft of Dry Laid Stone Construction.
Are you interested in Fall Workshops? Drop us a Email. Spaces will be limited to only 6 people.
Many thanks to Martin Beevers for coming up to give a hand. If you live in or close to TN check out Martin's training center. https://www.oldenglandrockwalls.com/
Posted by Mark J at 11:20 PM
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Rockin Walls Training Center hosted the second Sold Out - reschedule spring workshop June 27th. This workshop was the Flatwork Patio. Great group with the owner Robert Lehnhoff's and 4 of his lead team members along with the Pearson Brothers, Tyler and Luke. Who for the last 2 days were busy moving Luke out of NY to PA. On a Hot high 80's everyone really put in some hard work. Many thanks to all. A big thanks goes out to certified waller Adam Fisher from Baltimore helping with instructing. Adam does a great deal with Bluestone sheet stock making some amazing patios, walls, steps... check him out. https://www.pescatorestone.com/
I'd also like to thank all our sponsors, Balducci Stone Yard, PaveTech, Swanson Level, PAW Wheelbarrow, Spartan Tools, Trow & Holden Tools VT just to name those tools we used this past weekend. Rockin Walls Training Center is the only training center with "Try Before You Buy" tools. See our full line up of sponsors: http://rwtrainingcenter.blogspot.com/p/sponsors.html
We started the day off with edging options and setting patterned blue stone called squares and recs. The Lehnhoff's team jumped right in on the 3/8th angular washed stone bed.
While the Pearson brothers started out on the concrete sand bedding. No time was wasting looking for all the right sizes. After making some great progress we took a slideshow break at the request of Robert Lehnhoff's to see how Adam and I work with large sheets of bluestone to make our patios. We also had the opportunity to show off other edge examples
Later in the day Nick Balducci owner of 2 bluestone quarries in New York. Stopped by to give some great wisdom about Bluestone quarries. Everyone had the chance to ask some very good questions. Nick offered any one who would like to see more to contact Greg at Balducci Stone Yard located at Maryland Line.
Many thanks Nick for taking the time to swing over to the training site.
After lunch we jumped right into demonstrating and teaching feather and wedging. This is another great way at a low investment on tools to be able to custom split large stones for caps, curves, tie stones... Robert Lehnhoff wasted no time eagure to see just how this would stack up compared to traditional methods used such as a 14" Concrete Saw. The first straight cut was just to easy for him.
He wasted no time making a curve to see just how well it would split on a 3"thick bluestone.
SUCCESS! Next the question came up would you and or how could you dress out the drill marks? Adam and I grabbed our go to chisels and showed the quick and easy way to clean things up. Normally this is not always necessary since this is a traditional method for splitting stone.
It wasn't long before Robert was up to just one more thing! Making the R for Rockin Walls Logo. This is truly one owner who is hands on all the way! Just like they say lead by example. Now the "R" was to small and did not work out as hoped. A for effort - Robert, can't say you didn't try to push the envelope on that one.
Once finished we moved right into stand up or also called flag, irregular. Now the biggest thing about this workshop was to cover all the basics. 1 day is not enough time to cover grades, base, compacting, so many other key topics when building a patio. While we touch base we really wanted to have the hands on with all the stone. Show off all the tools we use and last but least the tricks that have worked well for me and Adam creating for our clients.
Adam showing the over top cutting and scoring method of two stones
Next he demonstrated my method of angle cutting the side for 4 reasons. 1) giving the look that it is tight to the next stone. 2) hiding the saw cut sides 3) minimizing gravel snow plowing in the joints when setting, lifting...moving 3) the ease of chiseling the edge if the stone was cut to tight that it doesn't quite fit correctly.
Then once again Robert took all the stones we had just cut and give a spin in the PAW Battery assisted wheelbarrow. No joke this thing is a game changer for moving things around a jobsite any day! These stone would have taken 3 guys/gals to move.
The end of the day everything was cleaned up except for the remains of the irregular flagstone. Everyone did a great job keeping safe distance. JC from Lehnhoff's did an amazing job following up with sanitizing all the tools all day - many thanks. We had 2 wash/sanitize stations along with 2 tool sanitize stations, and 1 spray station by the ice cold water served all day. It was a hot one but we rocked it out.
Next workshop SOLD OUT July 11-12 2020 Freestanding wall workshop with visiting instructor from UK/TN Martin Beevers.
If you like to be on the mailing list for fall workshops please contact Mark@RockinWalls.com
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
If your wondering why I have day 32 with 2 days... I got rained out halfway thru Monday. I started my day out Monday bring in 2 pallets of the large "Steppers" for my cap stones. Along with a half pallet of thin blue stone. Great for shimming up the back of the caps. Next I unloaded them all from the dump trailer with the Ditch Witch. Next it was off to setting caps. Then rain : ( So Tuesday jumped right back into it with only half to go. This week with be another short week since I have a Flat Work Workshop this Saturday at Rockin Walls Training Center.
In this image you can see in the forefront the 3 large steppers right below the Ditch Witch. So nice to have the left wall done. Caps next on the right. I started building the caps at the steps using this as my target height. Then started building/setting caps towards the house.
Tuesday being a full tool day I gathered just about everything I needed to get started. The vacuum is for collecting the dust. The generator helps run the 7" grinder (on top), the Zip Level keeps me in check, the green bucket has all my walling tools, white bucket is all the electrical piping tools, the milk crate is the water system for the gas saw on the other side, 1 1/2 pvc pipe for electrical low voltage a metal square, 14" gas saw and of course the handy PAW Battery Assisted Wheelbarrow. Great for helping bring everything back up the hill to the job trailer at the end of the day.
Monday this was where I had left off.
I started the day finding my first cap stone. The splitter looked like the best cutting option for this stone. Much quicker with less mess and noise then the 14' cut off saw with water. So far I've had about 75% success with snapping the caps. When they have a bedding plane down the middle I choose to cut them with the gas saw. This avoids breaking into several unexpected pieces. You never can predict the true outcome of shaping a stone. This stone looked very solid so I felt I was safe. It snapped in the splitter just as I had hoped. SUCCESS to start the day.
Once I placed it I realized I needed to get good side to side contact. I ran the gas saw between the last to caps on the joint in order to get a tighter fit.
Now time for my TRACING CAPS WITH A SHARPIE... I like to use plastic drop cloth to make templates. I started with was a large sheet which I cut down. Then I place it on the stone and trace the with a sharpie. Next I cut the plastic to product my template. My plan was to make this stone the corner cap at the end by house. Having the template will allow me to place it on the wall and see just how it will fit. With out every moving the stone to the wall before hand.
I set the template on the wall at corner. I then marked on the plastic where I would need to cut the stone in order to make it fit in the corner of the house. Seen above
All cut - placed on the wall with plastic pvc rollers to slide it around for inspection for proper fit.
I then placed a few of my wooden wedges under to help level up the cap stone. Then checked everything with a 6ft level to the existing set cap to left. Once again building lever from the steps to the house. I choose to set this corner wall cap next because I find it easier to fill the gap between the caps. Then save it for last. If I didn't have a house in the way I would have built in one direction. Setting the last cap as as seen in the corner.
Next it was time for 2 low voltage pipes one which runs under cap by the wall next to the brick. The other will be set in the corner incase I choose to do a uplight in the corner. Lighting up the brick wall.
Next I cut another piece of plastic for a template of this stone. The main reason was to see if this would overhang on each existing cap. The reason for this is so I can saw cut it on the wall. With the plan to drop it straight down once cut. Little easier said than done ofcourse.
I then set boards on the inside of the existing caps. This helped me to keep the middle to be cap above the existing caps set.
I was thinking the mini would be the best way to place it on top of the boards. It worked just fine.
After clearing a bath I found it was easier to come in with the Ditch Witch. Lift it up and out to make any changes as needed.
The only thing remaining is building up underneath front and back of last set cap. Along with dropping one more pvc pipe in the middle of the joint. The wall will have the ability for three under cap lighting if necessary. This will be Wednesday's first task. All the little stuff takes time. Just like all the low voltage pipes for sleeve when it comes to running the wire it will be a breeze to fish everything right into place. Hard to add it later once your done the project. Even if you never plan to put lighting in. Someone might later so why not just add them?!
Next up the right side. This will make a total of over 20 ft of wall. I'll have to check total coverage of caps. What I did fail to mention is this wall is a seating wall around the lower 500 sq ft bluestone patio. The overall height is 28"h off the patio. Little by little Rockin' It Out - One stone at a time.
Posted by Mark J at 12:38 AM