HistoriCorps Project – July, 2015
On-site Product Training with HistoriCorps
When you’re in the business of selling high-performance epoxy products for professional restoration projects, product demonstrations are a regular occurrence. However- the opportunity I had last week to demonstrate our products to one of the HistoriCorps field crews was anything but “regular”.
The HistoriCorps organization is a not-for-profit preservation initiative that utilizes unique partnerships in order to save and sustain historic places for public benefit. Their projects are undertaken by a small field staff with a heavy reliance on volunteer participation in order to complete their projects in the allotted time frame, typically on a very tight budget.
I was introduced to the organization by an Abatron customer, Bob Jackson, who has volunteered on two HistoriCorps projects. Upon returning from his first trip, he immediately recognized how our products would be valuable tools for the HistoriCorps groups. Necessary wood repairs and concrete repairs are commonplace for the types of sites that the group works on. Bob put me in touch with Rebecca Curry, the Volunteer and Communications Manager for HistoriCorps, and she coordinated a product demonstration and a few hours of volunteer epoxy repair work at one of their current projects.
I was invited to visit the jobsite at Mather-Klauer Lodge which is located on Grand Island in Lake Superior, just off the coast of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The island has been managed by the United States Forest Service as part of the Hiawatha National Forest since it was purchased as a recreation area in 1990. The lodge itself was built in 1901 and was used as a shelter for hunters during a period where a majority of the island was used as a game preserve owned by William Gwinn Mather. The lodge now serves as a museum on the island and also hosts archeological field schools.
The scope of the Mather-Klauer Lodge project included:
- Removing and replacing sill logs
- Cleaning and repointing the stone foundation
- Rehabilitating windows and dormers
- Repairing deteriorated brick chimney stacks
- Replacing missing balustrades on the porch
I arrived at Grand Island on Wednesday morning of the second week of a 4 week project. After the short ferry ride to the island, I was met by Denis Moran, the project supervisor. He escorted me to the lodge and introduced me to Jon Williams, the crew leader, and the rest of the volunteer staff. It was a small, but very enthusiastic group that was eager to learn the process and the capabilities of our wood repair products, LiquidWood® and WoodEpox®.
Before my presentation I was graciously given full access to the box of bug spray in the supply trailer. Without it, I would have been absolutely consumed by the swarms of mosquitoes on the island. I give everyone involved in the project a lot of credit for dealing with the harsh work conditions.
Aside from the bugs, the product demonstration went smoothly. I showed the crew the benefits of using LiquidWood to solidify soft, spongy wood without the need to remove and cut out the areas that can effectively be consolidated. The structural nature of LiquidWood impressed the HitoriCorps audience and we discussed how we could immediately utilize the product on some of the Mather-Klauer Lodge sill logs.
I also introduced the crew to WoodEpox, a light-weight epoxy wood filler which replaces missing sections of wood. After demonstrating the workability and easy application methods for WoodEpox, the volunteers retrieved several window sashes that required both consolidation with LiquidWood and some patching with WoodEpox.
Immediately after the demonstration, the crew and I got to work! A few of the volunteers returned to their posts, replacing the missing balustrades on the porch and staining the wooden shakes on the lodge’s dormers. A couple of the other volunteers joined me in working on the window repairs and the damaged sill logs. The window repairs were relatively small patches, but by making them we were able to salvage the original sashes and prevent the need to make entirely new window parts.
The most impressive repair we worked on was the artistic application of WoodEpox to the south-facing damaged sill log. There was one area in particular that was missing a fair amount of wood, and matching the color of the surrounding logs was a concern. After applying LiquidWood, we mixed a combination of colored powdered pigments into the WoodEpox, and then “broom finised” the repair before the epoxy cured. By doing this we were able to create a patch that is virtually invisible to the unsuspecting eye.
This was by-far one of the most enjoyable and rewarding product presentations I’ve ever been a part of. I was able to learn a great deal about the history of the job site and it was inspiring to work with the volunteers that were donating their time and efforts in order to preserve a place that would otherwise be without the funding for proper maintenance.
To see the rest of the pictures I took, visit the ABATRON FACEBOOK page.
The tinted and brushed WoodEpox blends in to the original log.
For information on volunteering or donating to the HistoriCorps group, visit http://historicorps.org/volunteer/.
If you have further questions about the capabilities of Abatron’s wood repair products, please call 800-445-1754.