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Some of you who have been around for a while may recall the station I built back in 2004



It was made of Jigstones with a copper roof and the construction log is in the archives.

After about 4 years most of which was outside winter and summer, it was time to do some maintenance. I want to share some of my experience with you.

First off the building has withstood the onslaught of winter snows and summer rains fairly well but ...

Jigstones made from anchor cement will absorb water and will in time disintegrate if they are not kept sealed. Anchor cement is easier on the molds than the harsher but more permanent concrete - Richard Weatherby has indicated he casts Jigstones from a non gypsum based material that does not destroy the molds. If Richard sees this, perhaps he will post his experiences here as well.

The station is composed of about 1700 Jigstone pieces. The bottom course was initially bedded in silicone and the stones are given a coat of silicone masonry sealant each year. The vast majority of the stones continue to be just as hard as placed originally showing the viability of that construction and maintenance regime. However, the lower course along the front right corner of the station had softened and two stones high on one wall also showed signs of deterioration. Both areas are due to water absorption - the wall problem caused by a drip from the roof during hard rains and the base course softnening due to damage this past winter (more on that in a moment). I repaired both areas by trowelling on patching cement which when cured stands up to water.

The plywood base of the station, painted to simulate concrete for the platforms, has survived remarkably well. There is no sign of any structural damage - I do give it a light sanding and fresh coat of paint each summer.

The windows have stood up perfectly as have the clocks. I have had to re silicone the flashing where the main roof meets the clock tower but otherwise this part of the structure has worked well.

The copper roof has been a moderate success ... it was originally constructed of plywood over rafters, sheathed with styrene and sealed with auto body filler, then sheathed again with copper foil, the joints covered with copper strakes. It has done the job of keeping out rain, bugs and squirrels/mice from the inside.

Last winter, in our record snowfall, a privacy screen inadvertently acted as a snowfence building a drift about 8 feet high on the benchwork just to the right of the station. That benchwork eventually collapsed under the weight of the ice and snow causing the station to fall back against the wall of the shed storing the tractors. This movement shook a few of the copper roof strakes loose but caused no further damage. One of the strakes that loosened was on the clock tower roof and its movement allowed water to enter a seam in the copper foil leading to a delamination of the copper foil in a small area. No water seems to have entered through the styrene sealed with auto body filler. I reglued the delaminated foil with construction adhesive and used the same on the loosened copper strakes - I have no idea if it will hold.

The same winter snows that collapsed the benchwork also left pools of water trapped in ice on the station platform. I am certain that this standing water caused the detorioration to the base course of Jigstones requiring the repairs I made today.

In summary. buildings for outside will need to be well made to age gracefully without a lot of maintenance. Roofs need a wide overhang and must be waterproof ... it helps to keep building off the ground to avoid the constant spattering of dirt from rain. Jigstones should be either cast from a non gypsum material or, if anchor cement is used, then care must be taken to keep the lower course out of standing water, keep drips from the roof off the walls and apply annual coatings of masonry sealant.

Regards ... Doug
 

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For having endured four years of exposure, I'd say you did an excellent job of construction. Even a 1:1 home is going to need some work after that period of time. I think many of us overlook the necessity of a wide eve overhang.

I bring all of my buildings inside each winter, although I'm not sure where I'm going to find the space for the Front street modules.

The trestle and the line poles so far have required the most maintenance. I put a light coat of creosote on them each winter. The poles are fairly easy; the trestle is a bear, and so far, I haven't had any success in trying to spray the stuff on. It's redwood, so probably doesn't need the added protection, but it covers up the green "stuff" that nature is putting on the lower parts of the bents.
 

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Do the clocks still run?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The clocks still work though I rarely run them. The batteries run down easily, more easily it seems to me than inside and require replacement about every 6-8 weeks if run continuously. There doesnt seem to be much need to know the time - especially on all four faces.

Regards .. Doug
 

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It's been that long since you built that?/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/w00t.gif My how time Flys. I still looks great.
 

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Posted By John J on 07/29/2008 6:00 PM
... I still looks great.




Yes John, you still look great ;-) Doug, nice writeup. It's always good to hear what folks are doing maintenance wise - mostly folks just report on what's new.
 

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Doug;

Your station is a CLASSIC example of a GREAT Jigstone structure. Yes, I have had some tragic results of deterioration from my early castings. On the other hand the castings I made using different cement products on the Precision Products sheets are still out there after 10 years of being outside in snow, ice, and rain. (Garden Railways, June 2000.) I was going to post the deterioration of my barn, but I didn’t want it to be construed as a rant or “bashing” of the Jigstone product.

I want to make it absolutely clear that the fault of deterioration is not in the molds that are sold as the by Jigstone. The problem IS the “so called” anchoring cement. This is a BAD term created by some marketing department and brings with it an implied warranty of fitness for use intended. Several years ago I questioned one of the major manufactures, which was selling an interior (anchoring cement) product to the big box stores. This anchoring cement indicated that it required a sealer in order to be used in areas subject to water or moisture, e.g. exterior use. This sealer wasn’t sold at the big box stores. I questioned the liability of someone using it for an exterior railing. Suddenly, it seemed that some big box stores no longer sold this product.

As you may be aware, cement shrinks as it cures. This is sometimes referred to as “creep.” When it comes to grouting or anchoring, there is a need to offset this shrinkage by creating a form of expansion. This is why they call some grouts “non-shrink” type. This is why many companies add gypsum. They may also contain chlorides, nitrates, sulfides, and sulfates. The problem is gypsum, re-hydrates after it is dry when it gets wet again or re-absorbs moisture. This is what causes the deterioration.

Thus, I have come to rely on more “professional” products known as “non-shrink grout,” for structural purposes. Meeting ASTM (formally known as American Society for Testing and Materials) C-1107, Standard Specification for Packaged Dry, Hydraulic Cement Grout (Non-Shrink). Some of the brand names are Bonsal American/ ProSpec/ Sakrete/ Old Castle F-77; Quikrete Precision Grout; or Degaussa/ Sonneborn. Most of these grouts have a compressive strength in excess of 6,000 pounds per square inch or better at 28 days. The standard only requires 5,000 psi. Grade B, post hardening would be preferred if a “grade” is indicate.

Pardon me for getting carried away by the cement technology. The frustration of the deterioration caused me to move on to other media. The real subject in this topic is maintenance. The maintenance which I performed in the past was to extract the building from the ground and replace the crumbled Jigstones with new ones…. then eventually just let the building crumble to its death. Most of the deterioration was at or below grade as you point out. I have calculated that my barn, at 1:24 scale, lasted 240 years, under ice age, desert, and monsoon conditions.

I will make a separate post on “The Death of a Building.” The other buildings require some minor maintenance such as touch-up of flaking rust or fastening of loose pieces. Since I have now moved through my heavy metal artistic period and am now in my wood and splinter period things may suffer greater deterioration. So, to avoid maintenance, I am now throwing tarps over my concrete structure (a 7 stall roundhouse) and may consider building boxes over some building during bad weather and wet leaves.

I have sprayed clear acrylic matte sealer on the wood and nothing on my rusty soda can structures.

If any one wants more info or specifics, please don’t hesitate to ask. Remember how long it took to build it and then you begin to want to protect it.
 

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A beautiful structure. I would have a struggle leaving it outside in the elements.
 
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