On The Tools – brick cleaning, day 6

The weather has turned cooler now with a southerly change coming through yesterday. We were out there cleaning bricks again today and we managed to put in 3 hours from 6.30 to 9.30 simply because it is not too hot. We got over 150 bricks done, plus a number of broken bricks, shorter ones, skinny ones, plus the usual halves and quarters.

We have now cleaned up to around 1,000 bricks in all categories. I have separate piles for 1/4’s, 1/2’s, 3/4’s. Then other piles for bricks that were cut to special tapered shape for use over the window arches. There is a whole category of smaller bricks that we excavated from the footings of the old Mittagong Railway Station. These make up about 10% of the total. I stack them separately, because 33 years ago when we were building our extensions onto the Old School building here in Balmoral, The brick layers would often call out for me to find a taper brick, or a small brick, to fit a particular spot in the bond.

The long original pile of bricks that used to continue all along our drive way, is now significantly shorter. We keep moving the bench up to the pile and then, the next day, the pile has receded back further again, as we clean the bricks and stack them at the other end of the driveway. This stack advances, as the old stack recedes.

You can see where we started on the brick pile on the far right of this picture after the red wheel barrow, there is a patch of green grass surrounded by a ring of white lime mortar. This was where the bench was when we started. When I start again, later today, we will move the bench again up closer to the brick pile.

The cleaned brick pile is looking very healthy.

We are so far ahead of my hoped for estimate of 100 bricks a day for 33 days. Getting close to 1000 bricks in 6 days. We are wearing our way through the stock of Scutch combs.

It’s a small but significant measure of our progress.

The other big achievement of yesterday, was the completion of the big arched window. I had the glass delivered just before Xmas, when the glass shop closed for Xmas break. Unfortunately, I had miss-measures one sheet, very slightly over size. It was one of the triangular sheets at the very top. I thought about trying to cut the curved arch end back by 10mm., but decided against it. The glass shop didn’t open again till yesterday, having had 6 weeks off. So I rushed down to Mittagong and got them to cut 1cm. off the curve for me and then brought it home and fitted it.

The window is now complete. An intermittent job that has taken me 11 weeks, but 6 of them waiting for the glass. I’m quite pleased with it, and in particular the fact that I could do it all myself for about $1,000. A massive saving on the cost of having one made. I’m lucky that I have all the skills necessary to be able to do this detailed work for myself. There is a local factory that makes custom made steel framed windows for architects. I was told that the window would be in the region of $20 to 25,000 to have specially commissioned.

I can finally take the scaffolding down now.

I’m really looking forward to seeing this wall bricked up!