OK. I normally don’t do house calls. Not to actually fix anything anyway. We go out all of the time to look at lawns and plants with problems. Every once in a while though, something interesting comes up that I can’t pass by; especially if it is for a nice customer and presents a challenge.
One of our customers has a limestone fountain ( 30 – 40) years old that was broken in three pieces. She had purchased it on a trip to Florence (Italy, not Alabama as I thought at first) and the cost to replace the bowl was prohibitive. I don’t remember if it was hit by a tree or frozen. She asked me if I could find someone to fix it. I asked everybody I could think of but they all just sort of smiled and slowly shook their head no, in a way that just screamed “ARE YOU STUPID. THAT CANT BE FIXED.” Not a good sign.
There were several problems:
1. Nobody was willing to try to fix it since a good long term result was doubtful.
2. The fountain was about 4 feet in diameter and made of carved limestone. It was heavy. The limestone was also soft. Pins and anchors would tend to pull out.
3. The fountain sat in the center of a 12 ft circular pond that was about 4 feet deep.
So I decided I would try to fix it. Smart.
Note to Mr. Mountain Brook Business license inspector: This was done as a fun project to help a nice customer. No costs of material, fees, delivery or labor were charged.
Mr Business license inspector and I have met before.
So anyway I decided to fix this fountain.
I guess at this point it becomes obvious why I am not in the handyman business. I had great intentions. I went and got the broken fountain pieces to test glues. I ordered a book on working with stones. Then I put the pieces of the fountain in the back room of the store for a year. I thought about it from time to time. Especially in the middle of the night as I sat bolt upright thinking of all the things I had put off. Fortunately, she was very patient.
Finally, when I got the courage to face her again I decided to get serious about this project. I called one of the local stone companies and convinced the owner to tell me how he would fix it if he were dumb enough to try. He suggested this super duper high strength epoxy made especially for bonding limestone. It cost $50.00 a quart. I thought hmm, this must be some good stuff. So I ordered it.
When it came in, I decided to do a trial run with the pieces before we went to the actual site. I very carefully mixed in the hardener and applied it, clamped the pieces together and waited. When I took them apart they immediately separated leaving a thin sheet of the epoxy glue. Not so Good. “Moisture”, said the manufacturer. Not a complete impossibility since it had been under water for forty years.
So I was back at square one. I am really beginning to worry. All of my ideas have failed and even though the customer was patient there is a little edge to her voice now when she calls to see, “how it’s coming.”
What am I going to do. I have to glue 3 heavy things together that have been soaked in water. That is when I looked at the shelf of Gorilla Glue in the paint department. I hopefully read the instructions. Stone okay. Moisture not a problem. Sounds good. But could a 5 dollar bottle of glue really fix this fountain when my high tech special order epoxy failed. I decided one way or the other I was going to glue that thing together. It might last a minute or a day but I was going to get it done.
The first problem was how to get to the fountain. I got a 2×12 pressure treated board 15 feet long from one of my buddies with a lumber yard. We attached two 2×4 peices to the bottom of it for support. This made a good walkboard. We still were pretty tight but at least we could get to the fountain without getting wet.
The next problem was how to clamp the pieces together once we applied the glue. The outside of the bowl was irregular and I couldn’t think of anything to use to hold it in place. We finally decided to use a ratcheting strap placed around the center of the fountain to pull everything together. We applied the glue, tightened the clamp and stood back. Everything was holding.
The only thing I didn’t take into account was the fact that Gorilla Glue expands as it dries. I should have brought plastic sheeting to put under the fountain but I didn’t. We got a few drops in the pond. If you look to the left of the Lilly Pads you can see a film on top of the water. I got a spoon and dipped out as much as I could while she was distracted. To my knowlege no plants or fish were affected.
So I left with high hopes that everything would hold. The next few days I would anxiously call to see if everything was still together. We did this late last summer and so far it is still holding.
So if you have a tough gluing job I can recommend Gorilla Glue.
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