Now that the interior is shaping up, I wanted to get some winterizing done. The first item on the list was protecting the breaker panel for the hot tub. Granted, it really did not need protection from the weather. It was more about protecting the panel from being seen.
It certainly was not aesthetically pleasing and the PVC conduit was already getting damaged by the sun.
A few recycled fence boards made a nice doghouse for the entire assembly and I held it in place with a magnet which was attached to the inside of the wood. It just holds itself in place by latching onto the steel breaker panel. It’s kinda simplistic but it looks really good and will weather to a nice dark grey color.
The real work; however, was much higher up. The top of the pony express wall was in great need of attention. It has been decaying slowly for the last 150 years and although it wasn’t threatening to collapse, it certainly deserved some help.
The top of the wall, being open to the elements, had taken quite a pounding over the years. You can see that the mortar between the stones had just turned into gravel leaving many of the stones at the top of the wall to rely on gravity alone to keep their position. This would have been fine but I have a fear of small boulders tumbling out of the sky when I’m trying to kick back with a beer. It’s really a mood killer.
If decomposed mortar is not enough to make one nervous, frost damage should be sufficient to give everyone the willies. In the picture above, you will see that successive years of rain followed by freezing temperatures have split this stone which could eventually crumble. Another question to ask is, “what does that freezing water do inside that wall?” Well, it expands and the wall starts behaving like popcorn causing the top of the wall to puff out and eventually fall away.
Now, to avoid the eventual fate of popcorn, I am applying a mortar cap to the entire wall just like a dentist would fill a cavity. I figure that keeping the water out and holding the top stones together will make this wall last many more years than I do.
Once the cap dries, it will be difficult to see especially from the ground which is where I intend to spend most of my time anyway.
I did something similar on the three abandoned chimneys as well. Each received a porcelain floor tile mortared over the chimney opening to prevent rain from making my walls soggy during the winter months. The tiles are pretty thin but porcelain is waterproof and I doubt that anything will break them considering that there are no trees around and the hotel is the tallest building on the block.
Now, during all this, the interior has not been ignored. We now have a new pet in the saloon.
Katie named him Elky Summers and he fills a huge empty space on the wall. We were also told by a long time Dayton resident, that there was an animal head of some sort in the saloon many years ago so our addition may not be too out of place.