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Everything breaks down eventually. In this case, Father Time teamed up with Mother Nature, to deteriorate the mortar in this section of the structure to the point of collapse.
Here is a close up look at the damage. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
After the debris and loose stones were cleared away, we had to pack the existing stone joints with mortar to stabilize them. Notice the concrete at the top of the picture from an old repair. It is likely that this was always a problem area.
Below the Surface
After stabilizing what we could, it was time to excavate and remove more unstable stones. Once we got down to stable ground, we packed the existing joints with mortar, and finally started to set some stones.
The next order of business was to build-up and stabilize the corner of the building.
You can see here just how unstable the corner was. Due to the mortar so completely breaking down, we had to remove all of the interior stones, pack the joints with mortar, and fill it all back in.
Sigh of Relief
Finally the corner was stabilized. This was important because if the corner failed, there's no telling how extensive the collapse would have been.
Only Upward From Here
At this point, all of the loose stones and debris have been removed. Now the process of re-building the wall begins!
Set It and Forget It
Reaching this point was bittersweet, because after all that work, we had to backfill and hide all of the beautiful stone.
While it was a shame to cover up all of the new stonework, it was nice not to have to work in and around a muddy pit anymore.
By this point we couldn't wait to be done. Not because we were tired of lifting heavy stones everyday, but because we were excited to finally see the finished product!
Finally, here it is! All finished and pretty. The old wall lasted 150 years. This section should last another 300.