We continued working along the back (north-facing) side of the property, building the walls back up to first floor level, so that we could set the “poutrelles” in position to prepare the first floor for the concrete slab. The passageway between the courtyard and the garden had some ugly concrete blocks supporting a decrepit bit of wood acting as a lintel for all the stone above it. So all this came down and we replaced it with a new cut stone arch. In the large image below left, the future gîte area fills the right-hand side of the photo, and the north-facing facade of the main house ( to the east of this passageway) fills the left-hand side of the photo.
Not a lot left to say—the poor old climbing rose on the right of the image has survived all the abuse that came with being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It has wonderful deep blood-red blooms in early summer so we hope it now thrives in its new setting.
Once I had all the arch stones mortared in place, I ran an oak timber on the inside behind the arch to finish spanning the opening. Further dry stone was then added in courses as usual. I wanted two or three shallow courses of stone above the arch to reach the final height.
The image on the left below was taken from the old balcony and the image to the right is a good illustration of ‘the Double’ – one line of face stones to the outside, and a second to the inside, with the middle filled with smaller locking stones.
And the view from the front……………….almost finished. I’ll need to find a solvent or some other method for removing the painted numbers on each of the arch stones. The farmer I bought the arch from had marked each stone as he’d demolished it. Essential maybe, but now, 10 years on, maybe not so easy to get rid of.
The arch stones comprised 16 cut stones, 3 large stones with cut rebates to one side, 4 large stones to the other side ( the ‘second’ stone was actually 2 stones) and then the curved upper section forming the arch itself numbered 9 smaller stones. As mentioned in the previous posts, the crane was used to position the more massive side stones, but I was able to lift and place these smaller arch pieces directly off the scaffolding. I used a little lime mortar, allowing around 12mm for the joins when I measured and cut the formwork.
I left the formwork in place for a few days but in theory, it can be removed earlier if necessary, once the lime mortar has gone off sufficiently—though it is probably safest to leave it 24 hours at the least.
It may be worth stressing again here that should there be any chance of frost, then delay using any work involving mortar. There are preparatory additives available to guard against the mortar freezing before it has fully cured—but they are relatively expensive and not 100% foolproof. If you are forced to take a chance on the weather, then at least find some good insulating cover for the next few nights.
MAKING THE FORMWORK FOR THE ARCH
At odd times over the year, I continued building up the main wall until the time came to sort out the other side of the Archway in order to put the arch stones in place. They’d been lying around for years—lost count of how many times I’d already moved them! I’d roughly measured the span as they lay on the gravel, but now had to position them exactly so that the exact span could be measured and the formwork constructed.
The original entrance way was wider than the width of the new arch, so I extended the wall on the house side by about a metre, setting in the new postbox as I went. Here I did use a little lime mortar in forming the stone housing around the metal box.
I used OSB (Oriented strand board) to make the form for the arch. After laying out the individual stones in their correct position, the board was jigsawed to shape, a second identical piece cut, and then the two ‘halves’ nailed together with noggin spacers.