Old Schoolhouse Exterior Renovation
1. The old schoolhouse circa 2000
Table of Contents
The masonry pointing needs repair in the weather facing walls. The wall that was originally the front of the building has always been protected by a verandah and I'm guessing is the original pointing and ribboning. It is worn and chipped in places but generally in good condition.
2. South-west wall - December 2012
The east wall has been repaired decades ago and is still in good condition because it is now protected under a verandah and used a harder mortar mix. The very defined ribboning of the south wall has not been reproduced here although it has been attempted, and I'd like to fix that somehow. It may be worth trying a mortar stain as explored already with the extension transformation.
The west and north walls need to be fully repaired and I'm planning on doing that myself. It's a skilled job so I'll need to do a lot of further research and get some practise first. The two original bluestone toilet out-houses are candidates for this.
3. Someone has written a name in pencil in the mortar ribboning.
This point-work has always been protected by a covered verandah so I think it could be original. The name appears to be "Baxter" followed by some unidentifiable letters that could be a "W" or an "A", and while there may be no connection at all, Mr. James J. Baxter (teacher) and his family resided from 1882 until 1900.
Gutters and downpipes
These need to be replaced - end of story.
Need to be repainted. I haven't seen any signs where repairs are needed but may become evident when old gutters are removed.
About half the windows need major repairs and all need attention if they are to be brought back to original. The worst painted and sealed shut many years ago. The other half all have their upper sash nailed and painted shut but will be usable for some time with just some stripping back, minor repair and a new coat of paint.
I'd like to keep the original multi paned style with the original glass panes with their distortions and imperfections to retain the character. Several panes have been replaced in the past.
I decided to start with the windows under the verandah. They are in fair condition and not too exposed so I can take my time while I learn the skills. They are being done as each room is done, so the first was the classroom window followed by the second bedroom window.
All of the windows on this south-west wall have had the upper sash nailed and painted shut, so they will all be restored back to fully double hung with new latches and lifters. The complete descriptions of the work is contained in the following pages:
There are two exterior doors, one is operational, the other has been closed off by the gyprock lining in what is now a bedroom (originally the parlour).
I want to open up the second (old residence entrance) door and replace both doors with new narrow French doors swinging outwards against the stone reveal so that they don't take up any floor or wall space.
Both the original residence rear (nee kitchen) and front (nee parlour) entrance doors are almost completed, solid merbau hardwood in a lockrail style. The front entrance doors are double glazed. The rear entrance door became fully internal when the breezeway was enclosed to become the main entrance hall.
4. A refurbished window.
5. Disused original residence entrance door.
6. Original residence entrance replaced by narrow French doors.
7. Front doors closed
8. Front doors open
9. Hall doors closed
10. Hall doors open
Starting point and vision
The floor is plain concrete. The original south verandah has wood panel lining under the corrugated iron roof. The east verandah is unlined. Posts are more or less equally spaced all round and mounted in steel stirrups embedded in the concrete floor.
The posts have been repainted already and one with evidence of rot at the base was replaced as part of the extension exterior transformation.
I want to repaint the south verandah lining and fascias. The tongued wood panel lining expands and contracts with the humidity and heat and was last repainted when the gaps were closed. As the gaps expand the latex paint stretches across the gaps in strings. I want to cut and scrape those strings and spray repaint when the gaps are open and the tongues are exposed so that it looks right in all seasons.
I'd like to tile the floor, preferably in a Victorian style pattern.
I'd like to relocate (re-space) several of the east verandah posts to align them with architectural features such as doors and windows. Currently their positioning is simply equidistant and dissociated from the buildings lines.
The lighting is practical but is uneven and underdone on the south-east side. The one light over the original schoolhouse verandah (south-west) is not working (it was disconnected when the residence entrance doorway was sealed off internally in 1983). The switch for this light was in the parlour entrance architrave. Reconnection would include a new ceiling pull switch.
I'd also like to build some low walls between the posts to further engage the verandah with the building.
11. Proposed changes to the verandah
12. Proposed changes to the verandah
The verandah posts have been repainted and one post with rot at the base has been replaced.
The framing in and around the skylights in the south verandah roof have been repainted.
I've started minor repairs and painting of those windows in reasonable condition mainly to freshen the appearance and see how the colour looks.
The uneven and sparse lighting has been updated to more strategically highlight the bluestone wall and limestone quoins on the south-east (main entrance) side. The existing three lights have been replaced by seven lights evenly spaced, including one at each end, mounted just around each corner. At night the verandah now feels more like an outside room and a much more comfortable environment even on chilly evenings.
The south-west verandah is still to be done. It's a little trickier to avoid having verandah lights glaring in through bedroom windows. Not difficult but needs a plan for wiring and switch locations as well.
13. New lights.
One of the old lights can be seen still mounted.
14. The south-east verandah now fully lit by seven 4W (470 lumen) LED 2700°K "warm white" bulbs.
The roof skin is double-overlapped galvanized corrugated iron ("Lysaght ORB Galvanized Tinned" sheets) which appears to have many more years left in it, with some minor maintenance. The roof has been painted at least twice. The trademarks are visible on the underside but are mirror images, i.e. reversed as seen in image 8.
Spennermann in his analysis of another building where sheets were found with similar marks asserts this is not from stacking while wet, because there is no smudging, so he then assumes it was an intentional way of marking "seconds", or faulty sheets, which were sold at a lower price. This needs much more elaboration which is not provided in the report.
Having my own examples and need-to-know I have to dispute this.
15. Lysaght ORB Galvanized Tinned roof sheets.
This is not a reversed photo. I believe this is the result of stacking while the ink is still wet, i.e. where the ink is thicker at the outlines.
As to dating the sheets, I believe this trademark was only applied to sheets produced in England, which puts the date at pre 1924 according to the Spennermann report. There are no date or works indicators in this trademark, just as there are no date indicators in any trademarks that I have found anywhere in the building, including later additions such as the ventilation system.
But the real question is, are these sheets original 1879?
Even though steel sheets were becoming more common by the 1880's wrought iron sheets were still being produced into the 1900's. Wrought iron is less susceptable to corrosion than steel. The lack of evidence of corrosion in the schoolhouse roof and the fact that these sheets are imported suggests these sheets are wrought iron. So I believe they are original 1879 sheets that have been well maintained by repainting. They would have been painted originally and have certainly been repainted. There are clues that they were probably last repainted in the 1980s.
If they are secondary sheets then they have lasted at least 100 years and most probably 140 years and outlasted many a roof whose owner paid full price.
[By the way, I've just noticed the clever continuity in the trademarks "ORB" and "ColORBond", the modern successor in corrugated steel sheeting from Bluescope (was Lysaght Australia).]
As for the supporting structure, from inside the roof space the timbers look sound with no sign of rot or whiteants.
All flashing is lead and looks original but shows signs of physical wear and tear in places. Should be easily repaired.
There are some chips and cracks in the render. The collars could use some minor repairs and two of the chimneys need to be properly capped. One had a square of cement sheet over the top held down by a brick and the other a square of particle board I think with a brick on top.
The lounge/classroom chimney was re-flaunched when the open fireplace was converted to a wood burner insert and it's flue was installed.
Invasion of the killer bees
In Spring 2017 a colony of bees decided to establish a hive inside the top of the chimney of the original 1880s kitchen. I actually found a large number of dead bees in the room where this fireplace is, all piled up on the window sill. They had found their way through the hole that the pot belly stove pipe (previously removed) entered the chimney through the closure plate. Once in the room they obviously were unable to find their way back.
I estimated they could have started the hive up to a month before and so there should be minimal damage. Nevertheless, they could not be allowed to stay and advice from local apiarists that I contacted, who would normally collect the bees, was to kill the hive and then call a chimney sweeper. This was understandable because to remove the bees properly without harm, according to one article I read, takes up to six weeks and a lot of time and effort on the part of the apiarist.
I already had permethrin (ant and wasp dust) and all I needed was a way to get it into the hive without getting stung. I was attacked and stung by a hive when I was a child and did not want a repeat of the experience.
So I took a long length of pvc electrical conduit, which is reasonably stiff and light, inserted the air jet attachment connected to my air compressor, taped it up to seal it, and drilled a hole a few centimetres up from there through the side of the conduit, into which I could squeeze a lethal charge of the dust. Once charged the far end of the conduit was raised to the entrance of the hive (a gap in the bricks around the top of the chimney), the charging hole was then covered and a blast of air injected.
Sadly, white dust-covered bees started raining down all around and enough dust was left inside the hive to kill any bees as they returned. By the end of the day there was no more activity.
Eighteen months later and I've decided it's time to cap that chimney permanently to prevent a recurrence of mass apiscide. I will do the other uncapped chimney also while I'm up there.
16. Cement sheet chimney cover with honeycomb remnants - upside down.
Several honeycombs have detached and fallen down the chimney but the hive was only small and did not do any damage. Had I known this was the location and entent of the hive I might have convinced an apiarist to collect it.
17. The game of planks and ladders.
18. Fabricating the capping.
This is one 90 x 90 cm sheet of aluminium cut and folded.
19. Capping installed.
20. Coating the underside of the cap with bituminous paint.
No basis for this other than it may make it a little harder for condensation to form.
21. New chimney cappings - the two on the right.
They will keep the weather out and discourage insects looking for lodgings. If they work I will probably replace the galvanised iron cap on the left, for uniformity in appearance.