Sunday, February 21, 2016

Professional Trade Ignorance "Old Timer"

Jericho Rd, Kingsville, MD

The definition of Ignorance is the lack of knowledge. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. I beg to differ. I believe that it is so valuable to continue to learn every day. After all we never stop learning. This is why I blog, why I go to workshops, why I love what I do. I love stone!

"Old Timer" is what my waller friends and I call someone who knows it all. Set in there way and there is nothing new anyone can teach them. No interest whatsoever to further themselves or team in their trade = Have a narrow mind and really don't have a clue what they are doing when it comes to PROPER Construction.  This explains where there ignorance comes in. An Old timer can be a stonemason or even a landscape company who builds with natural stone. Without using fundamental principles of proper building methods. 

What are these?
Four Basic Principles
1) Length running into the wall

2) Cover the joints
3) Pack from the inside
4) Lay stones level

These can be found on the The Stone Trust VT USA website. A Testing/Training Center for Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain DSWA UK

Related Blog: Master Craftsman Principles Dec 1994

So now you understand some key rules. Let start with this little story. Once upon a time Feb 2016 I was headed to look at a newly restored covered bridge on Jericho Road, Kingsville MD. When low and behold I spotted this dry laid stone wall. Of Course I had to back up - stop get out and double check to make sure it was dry. Come on that's just what I do!!! I'm crazy in love.... Next it was photograph time along with inspecting a few questionable stones. It was clear that something just wasn't right with the building methods to rebuild this wall. After hitting Google Earth I inspected the old wall - it was clear that it may have also failed since it was not properly built. By using proper methods a structure could last over 100 years. I then drove up to the house to ask a bit more about the repair. Happily the homeowner had just pulled up when I was knocking on the door. They had mentioned that the repaired was a year ago. By Old ????? $????! Mason??? in Baldwin. 

From a quick homeowner description this was how I interpreted the repaired. The drain pipe is there so I'm guessing they may have used geogrid and aggregate from the description. What I could tell from the front of the wall looking in, it seemed as if only rubble was placed behind the face stones. So hard to say what's behind that. This is how they build a Paver Wall illustrated above. Not a dry laid stone wall. As seen below. 

Dry laid is two walls or stone from the front wall back to earth bank. This helps tie it in. Also a key element missing is Tie Stones. It is suggested on dry laid stone walls over 30" Ties be placed halfway up. A Tie stone ties the two walls together front and back. Supporting the upper structure as it settles over time. 

Related Blog: How To - Tie Rocks / Through - Stones (mar 2012)
Master Craftsman Through Stones Summer 2007 (dec 2011)

This is my drawing of a proper built wall spec'd for Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum 2016 historical repair - BID. 

I was so excited about this project I googled the wet mason who kindly answered my call. I asked him if he did a lot of dry laid stone work. He said we do all kinds of masonry. Ok so that really didn't answer my question did it?  I had informed him that I was a Marylands only dual certified mason with a dedicated training center.  I asked if he had ever considered taking a workshop? He of course informed me that certification was bologie. That he had been doing masonry for over 30 years and learning from other masons. "That I sounded younger then him - there for clearly there was nothing I could possible teach him!" Now thats IGNORANCE. We never stop learning do we?. I of course told him he did great work but if he realized what I was asking doesn't make sense.  That I would want to teach other local masons what what I've learned - Which might be considered a competitor in my trade. Why would I do this? I'm passionate about sharing with others. Hence the reason for this blog. Plenty of pie for everyone. His reply was "your calling me, your not my competitor". Wow- so I thanked him for his time. He of course hung up : (  

I had a similar conversation when I reached out to a large landscape company T?? in Monkton who told me that they had been building walls for 40 years. I was more then welcome to stop by with my resume and drop off some photos. All I wanted to do was meet with them to share my knowledge. (photos showed the same building method as above WRONG - interlocking paver design) I of course said I'm not looking for a job. I just wanted to help you. I guess that was a shocker. Why was I so taken back? Because every waller in my trade helps eachother. Thats what we do. We share and critique. In order to help us learn to be better.  To make smarter choices so we may grow. 

After a near death experience in 2007. It became clear how valuable our time is on earth. How important it is to share what we can with others. 

I'm going to share what is wrong with this wall structurally.  This wall at some point will fail! Like the original one did. Now you have watch the video seen the drawing and read the words on what is proper. Principles taught by training organizations such as the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain DSWA UK and the Dry Stone Conservancy DSC USA. 

Keys notes to understand what I'm about to share. 
- YELLOW Lines - Are Vertical running joints. 1 over 2 - 2 over 1. Typically not more. 

- HIGHLIGHTED YELLOW is Pinning/ Chinks / Or small stones. 
• Pinning is when you use a small stone to hold up a larger one. Pinning is best used in the wall but not on the front of the wall. Front pinning might be the solution to a front stone. The likelihood of a front pin falling out is very likely over time. Or it may just be crushed by the stone it's holding up. Pinning from the sides or in the back is common practice as needed to support a stone. 

• Chinking is the most common issue with this wall - Every stone in a wall should have a job. A chink is nothing more than just a stone that visually fills a hole but can be removed easily with no effort. Chinked stones will fall out since they have nothing holding them in. 

Related Blog: Pinning & Chinks (jan 2011)

• Small stones used in the front of wall,  Are not a good choice to be a structural support long term most likely helping to cause the wall to fail. Due the fact that they are holding up larger stones above them.  I would only use stones of this size as packing stone in the middle of the wall. 

- RED lines are what I believe are Traced stones "Tracers". This is when a stone is laid with the longest face out. Think of a Brick what is the longest face. Now if you take that same brick and place the length into the wall it will now be structurally correct (for a dry laid stone construction). A traced wall is more likely to simply fall over since the weight of the wall is outside instead of the mass sitting in the middle. 

Related Blog: Definition: Tracing, Stone - no, no (feb 2012)

- BLUE is what is called a shinner. This is when someone takes a stone and places it vertical. Over time the stone could separate because the grain is exposed to the elements. In these photos only one shows up. 


This group of photos are the same as below except this is the left side. Below is the right side. The drainage pipe should be the reference. 

Dry laid stone walls are free draining and flexible. So why would you need a drainage pipe?

This section was also a repaired section. If you look at the google earth link on the very first photo of the blog. You can view this original section bulging out. Clearly also because it doesn't have a back wall support. 

Moral of the story? 

Don't hire anyone certified / non certified without looking at there work. You should now be able to make the right choice when hiring a DRY LAID STONE MASON. Opposed to someone who claims they have 30 years experience..... A picture's worth 1000 words they say. 

To understand more read this short book with EXAMPLES of Wrong and Right: StoneWork, Standard & Common Faults

Monday, February 8, 2016