Let's start of with a pic, now that the scaffolding has been moved, of the final result of the wall that was the subject of the last blog post:
I think the repointing turned out pretty well, and I learned a lot on the first wall that I was able to apply to the second wall. Primarily, I got a LOT better at understanding the timing of things and knowing how long to let the mortar on the final pass setup before working it and shaping the joints. It's a lot like grouting tile: shape joints too soon and you'll get a watery mess, wait too long and the stuff is really, really difficult to work with.
After I wrapped up that wall, and after demo'ing the porch - I have a lot of video of that, I'll get around to editing it some day - I started repointing the foundation walls the porch had been hiding for 140+ years.
The wall on the left, the lower section was Swiss cheese, an ideal situation for the mice who've been getting into the house for who knows how long. The lower left side had a couple large holes and there were a bunch more around and under the window sill of the bricked in window. That brick work isn't mine by the way, somebody bricked in what had been a basement window before I bought the place. It's horrible workmanship, but it's solid and I have enough things to deal with so it's staying just like it is (the porch will cover it up).
Anyhow, repointing the stone is both easier and more difficult than repointing brick. It's easier in that the joints are generally a lot larger than they are with the brick, which means they require more mortar, which means there's generally a longer working time. It's more difficult in that absolutely nothing is uniform, straight, flat, etc., so the repointing effort means constantly changing tools to use the one that fits the best, and constantly changing the angles at which the tools are used.
For this job, I removed the brick that had been serving as pavers, excavated down about a foot so I could make sure the fresh mortar extended below grade, raked out the old mortar, and loaded up the joints with fresh type n mortar.
I enjoy the work, but the section of wall closest to the ground...not a lot of fun. There's no good way to get mortar in some of those joints, and/or tool the joints, without laying on my stomach or side. When the ground is loaded with chunks of stone and brick and little mortar boogers, laying down is a lot like walking through a dark room and unexpectedly stepping on a pile of Legos.
In the above pic, the mortar is multi-colored because it's been curing for different lengths of time. When it's fresh it's dark grey, like the lower section of the wall on the right; over the course of a week or so it lightens up, like the upper left section of the wall on the left. Speaking of the left wall, here's a short video of pics showing the main stages of the work:
I ran through almost 2 full 60 lb. bags of mortar mix on that wall alone because a lot of the exterior, un-repointed foundation joints just turn to dust with minimal effort and when that happens, I remove as much old mortar as I can reach. The downside to this - and it's 100% the right way to do things - is that I wind up having to use a LOT of mortar, and stuffing those joints can be a time-consuming process.
I'd get a little more accomplished on the weekends but we start at least 1 Saturday or Sunday - every week - like this:
It's a couple hours out of the day, but we go pretty early and I've been doing this kinda stuff with Roscoe for every bit of the past 10+ years. I don't know how many more hikes he's got in him - we have another vet appointment, a full day event, on Thursday this week to try to figure out what's wrong with him (the vet has been hinting at some sort of inoperable liver situation) - and while it's tough seeing him trudge along at the back of the pack when for over a decade he'd walk out in front, always leading the way, fearless, strong, steady, and poised, if he's up for going, we're gonna go. The other, non-depressing side of that coin is that hikes are now 100% the Freckles show. She deserves the chance to run around and experience all the stuff Roscoe's experienced, and hopefully, learn some things from him. She's a pretty excitable little girl, and I know she likes getting the chance to stretch her legs, swim in rivers, chase deer (I wish she wouldn't do this but it's kinda entertaining), and annoy big brother.
So...sometimes the rehab work gets back-burnered a little bit from time to time.
Unfortunately, I'm going to have to pick and choose my spots carefully because I'm currently in the middle of a pretty healthy brick repointing operation, which has to be completed before I can start building the porch and if I want to avoid building the porch when there's snow on the ground, I need to get some things done quickly. I'll tell y'all all about it in the next one...