No corrections yet
DONNYBROOK STONE ROYAL COMMISSION. To the Editor. Sir,-Your correspondent "Live and Learn" has evidentlymistaken the tenour of my letter when he challenges me to disprove his contention "that the colour question, whether brown or golden ('sic' In his letter), was a fatal bar to its use in that building (Supreme Court)." I am not good at conundrums, and this dark and delphic utterance has quite lewild ered me. If it will, please "Live and Learn," I am quite prepared to admit that his view of the matter is correct. I think 1 said enough in my letter re the "colour' phase to render this re-affirma tion on my part superfluous, when I re call the phrase, "that I was not disposed to dispute his position in this particular" and the bovine illustration that embel lished it. Elsewhere, too, in comment ing on Mr. Dixon's rider, I said that "the colour mare had evidently been ridden to death." So mote itbe! I see now that I was misled by the mild satire of his first letter, for, granting that the "colour" question was the crux of the whole difficulty, "Live and Learn" now seems to agree with the exception I took to the point that such,should have been the case, and that those concerned should be told that the Royal Commission was influenced by the weight of our "Chief's opinion," which, even in this respect was outweighed by the opinions o others. If opinions are evidence, where then is the weight of the evidence? "Live and Learn" kindly coirects me in my allusion to .the weathering properties of the Donnybrook freestone and the argillaccous freestone of the goldfields buildings, and I must confess that he is quite right in his corrections. The fault was mine in the loose diction used, in ap plying the swords "of a similar nature,'' from which it might.be inferred I meant that the stone was of the same "mineral ogical nature, which, as he explains, is not the case. 'But in regard to their re lative. weathering properties, it is noto rious in the case of the goldfields build ings that deterioration is very largelyand rapidly taking place, as was jdrawn at tention to some time back in your col umns, when the Kalgoorlie clock tower, in mute disgust, stopped the hands of time, and sought to gravitate in imita tion of the leaning tower of Pisa. The Donanybrookstone is far superior in wea thering properties to the goldfields stone. which varies 'considerably for different quarries, but which, at the best, if un protected will have a very short life. In all large manufacturing towns pro tective measures are found necessary for preserving the freestone in important buildings from the destructive agencies of climatic and uenvironing ixfluences, such us moisture, frost, and the air laden with smoke. carbonic acid and other acid, a' well as saline vapours. "Live and Learn" demurs to the importance I at tach to the chemical test, and instances the case of the new Parliament Houses in London. Well, it is a long cry from Westminster Hall to here, and the tran sition from the fame of the late Sir Charles Barry to his "chief" is somewhat sLdden. For conditions of unexampled severity under weathering inluences, a better case could hardly be cited to prove the value of the chemical investigation. It was in 1852 that the ornate carvings of the grand facades began to disinteg rate. the so-called preserving alppliances being then of an organic na ture of various resinous and oily substances. These "preser vatives" were in themselves the most pernicious cause of decay and unsightly discolouration, as they were most readily affected by the atmospheric influences, and attracted rather than warded off the danger. But the occasion produced the man to set much of this right before it n as altogether too late. After years of patient study in self-taught practical chemistry and mineralogy, the great in ventive genius of the famous Frederick Rarsome, of Ipawich, perfected a methol of preserving stone and other building material from the decaying hand of time. The story goes that after repeated fail ures in his search for a mortar or ce menting material to equal that known to have heen used in the most beautiful and well preserved buildings of antiquity, hlie hit upon his "eureka" by accident aid ing design. He had tried gypsum. shellac, glue. isingiass, mastic, lime mix ed with bullock's blood, etc. He tried
pounded glass mixed with sand, moulded under hydraulic pressure, and exposed the'blocks to intense heat in a furnace. These broke in pieces or vitrified in use less irregular.numps. He then put some flints and caustic soda into a Papin's di gester, such as would rank as a curiosity in these days. He tied down the old pot with wire, but fearing it would burst he flung it into a cistern, when it flew to liieces, and pave him the reward of his labours. The flints were reduced to-a syrupy consistency. which was what he was after. This dated his first patent in 1845, which was afterwards perfected in 1856,' in the celebrated artificial stone known by his name, as well as the pre servation of natural stone. In the words' of that patent, the invention consisted hi "the application in suscession of two solutions which-by mutual decomposition produce an insoluble substance, which is deposited in the substance'and'on the surface of the stone." It is on 'record that, under Sir 'Charles Barry. Ransome applied his procesi to the river front of the Houses of Parliament. Twelve years afterwards.;among other buildings, the stone work of.the museums of Trinity College.'.Dublin.. was officially reported under his process as having "proved most successful." He met with much oppos. ition, but his cubes of artificial stone, made from pulverised 'pieces of the mag. nesium limestone, used in the Houses of Parliament,. cemented by his solutions, fairly astonished the Royal Commission ers appointed to report on the decay of the natural stone. To quote from a fairly old paper at hand:-"Dr. E. Frankland, FisR.S., Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution, London, in December, 1861, tested Mr. Ransome's artificial stono, along with eight samples of the best natural freestone, for porosity, for degradation by immersion in acid solu tions, boiling, drying, and brushing.. The result placed the qualities of the artificial stone far above those of the natural samples. Mr. Adam Sedgwick, M.A., Woodwardian Professor of Geology. Cambridge, pronounced it of 'good col our, and well fitted for solid walls or deli cate architectural decorations.' The re sults of crushing tests gave Bramley Fall 'stone 5,1201b:. rortland stone 2,6301b., Ransome's stone 7,1451b. per square inch. A 4in. cube of Ransome's stone, after three month,. has. resisted crushing weight up to 63 tons." Among other public buildings in the old country, it has been used in the India offices. London Docks, St. Thomas's Hospital. the Brigh ton Aquarium, the Albert Bridge. Chel sea and numerous churches, as well as private buildings. In that the invention was the result of a chemical and mechanical discovery, "Live and.S Learn" may allow some impor tance to attach to the chemical tests for freestone, such as this State produces, when we see the iveathering influences in our departmental and public buildings going on under our very eyes. If pos terity is to be at all considered, this is surely far more important than opinions about colour, which the passing of time always shows to be either of a changeful or fugitive nature in everything around us. Besides Ransonte's process, others will doubtless suggest themselves to the ar chitectural branch, nota'oly the Saxony prcocess for "hardeninug sandstone by soaking in a solution of alkaline silicates and alumina. "which penetrate sonma inches, and impart so great a degree of hardness that the surface will bear polish ing to the apriearance of marble. If ex posed to great hunt. the surface vitrifies and may be 'coloured' at pleasure." As this is made in Germany, it ought to be good and fairly cheap. and as German Portland cement from Stettin. Pomer ania, has got a fair hold here and is beat. ing the English--brand. why not try the German mixture as well as the lager bier? Yours, etc., Yours, etc.. CIVIL ENGINEER. Poerth, May 14.