One of the worst disasters in UK construction history was the collapse of the Tay Bridge in 1879 when the central spans of the cast iron structure fell into the raging waters as a passenger train steamed across it during a storm. Shockingly, one of the main causes of the accident – according to the official enquiry – was the fact that the foundry, set up on the banks of the estuary for the project, had been filling cavities in the iron with a mixture of iron filings and wax. I only mention this as a recent retail project that Plastic Surgeon was called out to in the South-west revealed that some other #repair ‘specialist’ had attempted much the same on some very visible marble cladding.
While trying to make good a large number of holes in the highly polished black marble outside the Plymouth store using wax resin wasn’t putting anybody’s life in danger, it certainly didn’t do much for the client’s blood pressure, as the repairs stood out like the proverbial sore thumb. And so we were given the go ahead to do the job properly.
Now I’ll say from the start that stone cladding with a near mirror finish is one of the most difficult surfaces to repair – and that our Finishers’ task was made more difficult by having to work at height, at night and during some very wet weather; but overall the outcome has proved to be far better than the client hoped for.
Chris Garner was one of four Finishers assigned to the work over a three week period from late August, and explained to me what was involved. He said: “The contract came about because the retailer involved had changed its signage on the outside of what is actually quite a new store, which has entrances both outside and inside of the main shopping centre. And because the previous contractor had tried to fill 250 or so holes with wax, where the signs had been moved, your eye was rather drawn to the repairs. In fact it looked a mess.
“David Craig, our area sales manager, explained what we could do to improve the appearance, and we got the go ahead to get started; which meant bringing in one of our Finishers from Bristol who has an IPAS ticket, allowing him to drive a cherry-picker.”
The Finishers had to start by digging out the wax from the different diameters of hole, and then filling them again with our two-pack Ultra Premium filler. And while the filler was pre-tinted, more pigment was applied after the area had been smoothed back. Finally the little golden coloured flecks that show in the natural stone were touched in using fine sable brushes, before the surface was protected using high gloss lacquer.
Chris Garner confirmed to me: “The work went fairly smoothly despite some very wet weather that held us up a few nights, and attracting the attention of the late night drinkers you get about in the middle of Plymouth at the weekends. It was challenging in many ways, and meant working from six in the evening when the store shut, through till 2 am; but when we’d finished the store facilities manager and the contractor we were working for were both pleased.”
So another satisfied customer, and as with virtually everything we do at Plastic Surgeon, repairing the building substrate in question proved a lot faster and cheaper than replacing the original. I’m not sure, though, that we’d want to take over anything Madame Tussaud’s had left half finished.