Brucemore Mansion


Technical Specialty Systems
1115 Wenig Road N.E. Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402
Phone: 319-363-9035

"The Structure Savers"
Leading the way in Masonry and Concrete Restoration

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                                      Before                                                                      After                                    

Project:   2007                      
Brucemore Mansion Narrative 

Work Description:

Masonry restoration exterior section of wall 

South Elevation at East end by dining room, approximately 20 feet wide by 35 feet tall.


110’  JLG Lift for tuckpointing and scaffolding for the column and stone lintel installation.

Brick Column in Center of Window Installation:

Install 3/8” inch thick steel plate on window sill to support column and install 12 ½” wide by 16” deep column to match coursing of existing bricks.

Removal of Existing Concrete Lintel for new stone replacement:

Install shores and chip concrete lintel to determine internal structure materials used to support brick above, and also to determine the depth needed for new stone. We discovered a large existing steel I beam supporting 2 brick widths along side a wood beam supporting 1 brick width.  The outer face brick width was supported by the concrete lintel. Total thickness of wall was 19” or 4 Brick widths with a 1” space between bricks. We installed expansion anchors through a 4”x4”x1/2” steel angle and installed shores to support the outer face of brick above concrete lintel. The concrete lintel could now be removed. We used grinders and small air jack hammers to remove concrete lintel 5”  deep and cut new stone 4 ½ “ thick for installation.

New Stone Installation:

Set new self-supporting rock face Indiana limestone arch onto new brick column and temporary wood lintel support. Tuckpoint all stone joints and fill in brick to match coursing of existing brick above new stone with type N mortar mix. Remove steel 4”x4”x1/2” angle, shores, and replaced damaged bricks from anchor bolts. Remove temporary wood lintel and shores.

Removal of Existing Mortar in Joints:

Removal of mortar was slower than normal because of the very narrow joint size. The joints ranged in width from 1\32” to 1\8” inch. We used hand scraping tools, and small dremel tools with very thin 545 dremel diamond blades for removal of the very thin joints. Existing mortar was a ½” depth bead of mortar around the entire edge of the brick. We tried to stay around ¼” deep for removal, some areas the entire ½” depth of existing mortar was removed or non-existent because of deterioration. The wider joints we were able to use a small 4” electric grinder with 4”x 1/16” abrasive blades. The face of the brick is very soft and porous. The abrasive blades worked well for areas with soft mortar.

Brick Removal:

We removed random cracked and mismatched bricks with hammer chisels and hammer drills with masonry bits.


Clean all joints to prepare for tuckpointing with water and compressed air.

The smallest trowels made for tuckpointing are ¼” so we ground down  ¼” Marshalltown pointing trowels to 1/8” for installation of the mortar. Tuckpointing was much slower than normal because of the very small joints and we had to be very careful not to smear excess mortar on to the brick. We filled joints ¼” to ½” inches deep.

Testing of existing mortar was determined to be type N  which we used for this project. We had to use very fine black colored silica sand for this project, because of the very fine joints. With type N mix you have to use black sand or the finish color will be gray. The mix was proportioned as follows.

ASTM C270, Type N for Brick Masonry

Type N Mix: 1 Part Portland Cement, 1 Part Hydrated Lime, and 6 Parts Sand.

  1. Sand.  Estes’PermaColor Quartz Granules Retained BC Fine Black 30-140
  1. Portland.  Holcim Type 1 Cement Meets All Type ll ASTM-C150 Specifications by Virtue Of the C3A Not to Exceed 8%.
  1. Lime.  Western Miracle Type S Pressure Hydrated Non Air-entrained. Complies With A.S.T.M. C-207 Type “S “.
  1. Mortar Color. SGS Black  Mortar Color ASTM C-979.

Brick washing

Sure Klean Vana Trol manufactured by Prosoco mixed 10 parts water to 1 part Vana Trol.


Beginning Total Bricks on site                        645--2 5/16”   +  1145--2 3/8”  =    1920

Total Bricks used on window column                 120--2 5/16”   +  120--2 3/8”   =    (240)

Total Bricks used above window stone                50--2  5/16”   +                     =        (50)

Total Bricks used random and mismatched          60--2 5/16”   +   8--2 3/8”    =      (120)

Total Bricks remaining on site, approximately   415--2 5/16”  +   945-- 2 3/8”  =   1380


Ray Larson

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