Chimney Work


All pictures are thumbnails.  You can click on any picture to get a
full sized version.
Out of the three chimneys on the Robinson-Elam
house, we were fortunate to have one almost
complete one as a guide to rebuild the other two.  
The two damaged ones were mainly suffering from
someone pulling the tops off to steal the bricks.  
Two of the chimneys had settled a couple of inches
down and out away from the house, and tilted out
about 3 to 4 inches at the shoulder.  After our
restorations, with new footings, they didn't budge a
hair through the earthquake a few years ago.  Not
only were the chimneys jacked back up to proper
height, but were shoved back into proper position
against the house before the new, massive footings
were poured.  Finished Chimneys are 43 feet tall.
We found old bricks from three different places, so we could mix colors, and come close
to the originals without having to hand make replacements. One of the three batches was
soft interior bricks, from a partial wall in the basement.  We had them re-fired to a higher
temperature, and they came out to be exact matches since they probably came out of the
same molds as the rest of the brick on this house.

Lime mortar was used from Virginia Lime Works, and they did a remarkable job of
matching the original mortar color.  ( as an update:  Virginia Lime Works went out of
business in 2012, and we have since made our own Lime Mortar, and Plaster)

Each course of the stack had to have bricks cut so the course would work out to the right
dimensions to work without having irregular head joints.  Stack courses were selected for
color, sized on the ground, and reset up on the scaffolding.  Each course for the stack
was transported up in the "suitcase"  (picture above, lower row, left). The suitcase was
also used to size each course.

The dirt used as the original fireproofing under the fireboxes, and hearths, was removed,
and filled with concrete that tied the chimneys to the house.