June 5, 2013
Weathered men vs. stone and concrete
It felt pretty manly for a mild-mannered college professor to pick up a Hilte power hammer and start pounding away at the concrete and stone where the building and sidewalk have been fighting each other.
But after seven hours of scraping and hammering away — by hand, Hilte, chisel and crowbar — with a cold rain beating at my bald head, I knew that the prehistoric stone in this 113-year-old building would be the enduring element in this battle.
Still, by the end of the day, stone mason Joe Whetter, his helper Adrian Suchan and I had accomplished what we set out to do: We gave the Stone Bank a little breathing room by cutting back the sidewalk enough to insert a rubberized expansion joint. No longer will the sidewalk be cracking the building’s foundation and letting in water as they both go through the freeze-thaw cycle that almost never ends in Bottineau. The whole key to the Stone Bank Project is making the building water-tight again. Whetter dismantled the back 20 feet of the building, stone by stone, because a leaky roof and shallow foundation had made it start to crumble. We put a new, super-insulated roof on the front 60 feet of the building, and we’ll extend that to the back this year once Whetter and contractor Fred Kainz construct a deep, solid foundation and rebuild the back walls.
But meanwhile, while they wait for the rains to subside so they can finish pouring the foundation, we went to work on the nagging base problem — so we don’t end up with a water-tight roof and stone walls, only to have the concrete sidewalk undermine the building’s foundation. The result: “Score” one for the team of Whetter, Suchan and your aching-armed Stone Bank guest blogger.
— By Mike Dorsher, Stone Bank advisory board member and webmaster
P.S. For a more comprehensive slideshow on the Stone Bank Project, visit our all-new home page at http://www.StoneBank.org