Being high with acid

Now that all the brick work is finally complete on our tin shed has its brick veneer walls, I was able to get stuck into scraping, fettling and acid washing the tall Southern wall with the big arch window.

We used our ancient, but extremely solid old steel scaffolding that I bought 5th hand 40 years ago, from a guy who bought it from another guy who bought it from someone else, all owner builders all along the way. Each person bought the scaffolding frames, built their house and then sold them on to the next owner builder. I bought them originally to build our house, but then kept them, breaking the cycle. However, I did rent them out to other owner builders and professional builders over the years, even lent them to our close friends, anyone who needed them to do a job requiring scaffolding.

We built up a 3 level scaffold to get to the very top of the gable wall. Then I worked in reverse with the brick cleaning, working my way down again. As each level of scaffolding allowed me to get to the necessary part of the wall for the though scraping off of the spatter and dags of mortar. It wasn’t too hard a job to clean and acid wash all the bricks at each level.

I’ve never been particularly comfortable working at heights on scaffold or on very tall ladders. But I get used to it over time and find my builders legs. The first few hours are a bit shaky, but by the end of the first day I’m good to go and the second day up there seems somehow ‘normal’! We built a safety rail around the top, It’s not particularly robust, but just seeing it there gives me confidence somehow, even though I don’t go near the edge at all. Working with acid isn’t good at any height, even on the ground, but at height, it adds a certain tinge of danger that keeps me on my toes.

I concentrate on scrubbing the bricks clean and not getting any acid splashed on me. The brick surface with any lime mortar on it foams up and fizzes as the acid does it’s job of neutralising the lime, then a good fresh water rinse to wash off the residue and the brick work looks heaps better and the brick colours become brighter. As these are all thrice used sand stocks, there is a lot of both lime mortar and old lime wash paint on them. It takes 2 goes to get them reasonable. I don’t want them to look brand new, just a little brighter and less limey.

I was able to dismantle the scaffolding bit by bit, layer by layer, as I worked my way down the wall,. Finally, with all three levels of the scaffolding removed, we were able to get an uninterrupted view of the finished wall in all it’s impressive glory for the first time.

It’s better than I imagined when I drew the plans 12 months ago.

Something positive and creative emerging, kicking and screaming, by shear hard graft and determination, from this unmitigated disaster of a fire.