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Old 7th December 2018
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Re: New homes 'crumbling due to weak mortar'

It's nothing new - Salisbury is a pretty old city which was all built on a flood plain! Which is not all bad, it gives us some good photo ops occasionally, and so far (cross fingers, touch wood, stroke rabbit's foot, chew garlic etc.) we have escaped serious damage.



There are a few houses where the cellars flood fairly regularly. The occupants just accept it as a hazard that comes with living in a nice location.

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Old 7th December 2018
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Re: New homes 'crumbling due to weak mortar'

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I don't know much about building materials, but I've always understood that mortar uses soft sand and relatively little Portland cement in order for it to be flexible - with movement the mortar yields rather than the bricks cracking. The mechanism by which the mortar yields is a mystery to me - I can't visualise it. My house is 19th Century, so I guess it's got lime mortar which is supposed to be even more flexible.

Perhaps someone can explain the manner in which mortar flexes, without crumbling.

Concrete with sharp sand, ballast and Portland cement I can understand!

Jim
At the molecular level the constituents of mortar and concrete form ionic bonds and have 5 slip planes being characteristic of ceramics. On a macro scale concrete has larger grains and fillers interlocking making a physically stronger structure. Unlike metallic bonds with 6 slip planes, ceramics will break once shear force exceeds the ionic bonding force. Impurities in the mix, which are virtually impossible to eliminate, will lead to weakening and likely fracture zones.
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Old 7th December 2018
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Re: New homes 'crumbling due to weak mortar'

My house was built in the late C17 (we think, nobody knows for sure!) and the small town I live in is close to a flood plain. The main river floods every year without fail. Crucially though, the town was built on higher ground. I have a mill stream outside my front door and it's in some spate at the moment. The Environment Agency list my postcode as being in a "medium flood risk" area so consequently getting insurance is difficult and expensive. If this house flooded, York would be washed into the North Sea a couple of days later but try telling the insurance companies that. Even the local broker says it's very difficult. When I were a lad insurance was based on local knowledge and risk assessment but not any more. If you're in the wrong postcode, tough. I think this house will still be here in another 250 years but I doubt very much if many modern ones will be! Pretty much since Thatcher, everyone wants everything at the lowest possible price and with the rise of the internet and so much "free" stuff, I wonder where it will all end.
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Re: New homes 'crumbling due to weak mortar'

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At the molecular level the constituents of mortar and concrete form ionic bonds and have 5 slip planes being characteristic of ceramics. On a macro scale concrete has larger grains and fillers interlocking making a physically stronger structure. Unlike metallic bonds with 6 slip planes, ceramics will break once shear force exceeds the ionic bonding force. Impurities in the mix, which are virtually impossible to eliminate, will lead to weakening and likely fracture zones.
Thanks Steve - I'm impressed (I hope you didn't copy and paste it from Wikipedia! ). I'll need to digest it as I'm pretty vague about "ionic Bonds".

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Old 7th December 2018
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Re: New homes 'crumbling due to weak mortar'

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My house was built in the late C17 (we think, nobody knows for sure!) and the small town I live in is close to a flood plain. The main river floods every year without fail. Crucially though, the town was built on higher ground. I have a mill stream outside my front door and it's in some spate at the moment. The Environment Agench list my postcode as being in a "medium flood risk" area so consequently getting insurance is difficult and expensive. If this house flooded, York would be washed into the North Sea a couple of days later but try telling the insurance companies that. Even the local broker says it's very difficult. When I were a lad insurance was based on local knowledge and risk assessment but not any more. If you're in the wrong postcode, tough. I think this house will still be here in another 250 years but I doubt very much if many modern ones will be! Pretty much since Thatcher, everyone wants everything at the lowest possible price and with the rise of the internet and so much "free" stuff, I wonder where it will all end.
I am sure problems started a long time before Maggie became PM. The oil crisis and other factors in the early 1970's made cost reduction fashionable in the business world. Competition from Japan from the late 1960's onwards had also encouraged British manufacturers to cut costs and quality rather than raising their game to compete with the 'yellow peril' head on.

Nothing much has changed, but modern engineering has made cost reduction (or 'value engineering' as we were told to call it) more of a science than an art form; hence the results are more predictable.

So if you ever wondered why everything starts to go wrong with your car after 100,000 miles ......

As always it comes back to British management only being interested in this quarter's bottom line.
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Old 7th December 2018
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Re: New homes 'crumbling due to weak mortar'

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It's nothing new - Salisbury is a pretty old city which was all built on a flood plain! Which is not all bad, it gives us some good photo ops occasionally, and so far (cross fingers, touch wood, stroke rabbit's foot, chew garlic etc.) we have escaped serious damage.



There are a few houses where the cellars flood fairly regularly. The occupants just accept it as a hazard that comes with living in a nice location.

John
Well the Cathedral has survived for over 1,000 years, despite only having foundations going down about 3' below ground level. How did that ever get past the Building Superintendent?
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Re: New homes 'crumbling due to weak mortar'

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Thanks Steve - I'm impressed (I hope you didn't copy and paste it from Wikipedia! ). I'll need to digest it as I'm pretty vague about "ionic Bonds".

Jim
No haha, I studied Physical Electronics and as a grounding in the first year we had to engage with material science.
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Re: New homes 'crumbling due to weak mortar'

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Well the Cathedral has survived for over 1,000 years, despite only having foundations going down about 3' below ground level. How did that ever get past the Building Superintendent?
Masonic handshakes, I suspect

The cathedral is a little bit higher than the meadows. During these floods the close very nearly flooded, but the meadows cover a huge area so once it is all covered like this it would take a huge amount of water to raise the level by another centimetre. The main road from Bristol to Southampton, the A36, passes the river just outside the city and during these floods the level was up to within about 6 inches of flooding. Since the river could drain the water at pretty much the same rate as it was arriving from the hills at this point, there wasn't too much risk. Cutting off the A36 could paralyse quite a swath of southern England.

At the moment the river is fairly clear so the water is able to drain at a reasonable rate. We recently fought off an application from Mr. Sainsbury The Dismal Grocer to build a new superstore on the flood plain. The planned construction would have kept the store dry but impeded the drainage capacity of the river, so if there were a sudden load of water it would have backed up into the city much worse.

John
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  #24  
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Re: New homes 'crumbling due to weak mortar'

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Masonic handshakes, I suspect

At the moment the river is fairly clear so the water is able to drain at a reasonable rate. We recently fought off an application from Mr. Sainsbury The Dismal Grocer to build a new superstore on the flood plain. The planned construction would have kept the store dry but impeded the drainage capacity of the river, so if there were a sudden load of water it would have backed up into the city much worse.

John
I like the idea of funny handshakes John, but think this was probably long before the Masons had become established.

(They also fell out with the Catholic church but that was much later.)

I am interested in your comments about Sainsbury's planned development. I lived near to Guildford until about thirty years ago, and that too was prone to a bit of flooding. The River Wey runs through a narrow valley at Guildford so some flooding can be expected. There were some large water meadows upstream of Guildford which absorbed a lot of water during the winter, and most of the land around the river in the (then) town centre was of fairly low value. I also vaguely remember there was a big timber yard beside the river which flooded regularly but nobody worried too much.

Then, in the 1960's Debenham's had the bright idea of building a new department store on the site of the old timber yard, but encroaching into the river itself so that cafeteria users could enjoy watching the boats and swans. To make maximum use of space the store had an underground car park, and a basement below river level.

To everyone's surprise this new 'obstruction' in the river caused massive flooding, whilst the basement and ground floor of the store regularly flooded. I presume it is still there but you really do wonder at the intelligence of developers who think they can outwit nature.
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Old 7th December 2018
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Re: New homes 'crumbling due to weak mortar'

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Well the Cathedral has survived for over 1,000 years, despite only having foundations going down about 3' below ground level. How did that ever get past the Building Superintendent?
I remember being told by the guide that it's the only example of English Perpendicular still standing - all the rest have fallen down! It's sitting on a bed of gravel that has saved it.

It's well worth going up in the tower.

Jim
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Re: New homes 'crumbling due to weak mortar'

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I am sure problems started a long time before Maggie became PM. The oil crisis and other factors in the early 1970's made cost reduction fashionable in the business world. Competition from Japan from the late 1960's onwards had also encouraged British manufacturers to cut costs and quality rather than raising their game to compete with the 'yellow peril' head on.

Nothing much has changed, but modern engineering has made cost reduction (or 'value engineering' as we were told to call it) more of a science than an art form; hence the results are more predictable.

So if you ever wondered why everything starts to go wrong with your car after 100,000 miles ......

As always it comes back to British management only being interested in this quarter's bottom line.

I agree Nigel. I recall buying a cassette recorder back in the early 70s. It was badged "Bush", a British brand with a long history, but on the back it said "Made in Japan for Rank Bush Murphy". That was the first time I'd seen an ostensibly British brand selling Japanese-made products but it became pretty much standard practice of course.

The famous old hi-fi company H J Leak & Co were bought out by Rank as well. At the time their Stereo 30 amplifier was judged one of the best available but after the takeover it was replaced by the Delta 30. The story at the time was that Rank designers took as many of the parts as they could out of the Stereo 30 without damaging the sound too much! I think it was about that time that the phrase "built-in obsolescence" came into common usage, when companies started to realise that if they made products that lasted too long they'd eventually go out of business. I still blame Thatcher though .
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Old 7th December 2018
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Re: New homes 'crumbling due to weak mortar'

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I remember being told by the guide that it's the only example of English Perpendicular still standing - all the rest have fallen down! It's sitting on a bed of gravel that has saved it.

It's well worth going up in the tower.

Jim
That is interesting information Jim. In truth many of these old building have fallen down and been rebuilt several times over the centuries, and of course have been enlarged or altered. Some, such as Carlisle have ended up being much smaller than they were owing to a whole nave falling down.

Given our lack of engineering knowledge at that time it is remarkable that so many old churches and cathedrals in particular are still standing. And to think they did all this without mobile phones or the internet.

It is all down to faith you see.

I would love to climb the tower of Salisbury, but I wouldn't want to be the person who has to change the light bulb on the top of that spire. I don't mind heights but I really don't trust long ladders!

My son and I were lucky enough to have a 'lock in' at Salisbury for a few hours one evening after Evensong, with nothing but a pile of organ music for entertainment.

I have to say it was quite a surreal experience, and the organ there is one of the finest in the country, originally being a Father Willis from the company's Liverpool works.
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Re: New homes 'crumbling due to weak mortar'

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I agree Nigel. I recall buying a cassette recorder back in the early 70s. It was badged "Bush", a British brand with a long history, but on the back it said "Made in Japan for Rank Bush Murphy". That was the first time I'd seen an ostensibly British brand selling Japanese-made products but it became pretty much standard practice of course.

The famous old hi-fi company H J Leak & Co were bought out by Rank as well. At the time their Stereo 30 amplifier was judged one of the best available but after the takeover it was replaced by the Delta 30. The story at the time was that Rank designers took as many of the parts as they could out of the Stereo 30 without damaging the sound too much! I think it was about that time that the phrase "built-in obsolescence" came into common usage, when companies started to realise that if they made products that lasted too long they'd eventually go out of business. I still blame Thatcher though .
I remember Leak well. So many of these great brands were destroyed by ill-informed cost cutting and bad management. Quad survived in private ownership for a good while longer, but is now owned by the Chinese IAG Group along with Wharfedale and a few others that I have forgotten.

Philips was one of the biggest HiFi manufacturers in Europe and had some good (if under-rated) products. It seems impossible now but Philips and Sony co-invented the Compact Disk player in the late 1970's, but Philips ended up selling re-badged Marantz CD players built in Japan, or perhaps it was the other way around.
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Re: New homes 'crumbling due to weak mortar'

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I would love to climb the tower of Salisbury, but I wouldn't want to be the person who has to change the light bulb on the top of that spire. I don't mind heights but I really don't trust long ladders.
ISTRC that was mentioned - the Clerk of Works does it! You can get up to the parapet just below the spire. Much of the stonework was eroded by the weather and I was quite leery of leaning on it. I didn't want to have to shout BELOW if it gave way!

Within the spire itself are what's left of the scaffolding and a winch that was used during building. There are massive basalt pillars taking much of the weight of the tower. They're bowed inwards!

On the floor, directly under the pinnacle of the spire is a brass plate with the word 'Center' - the American spelling! This was put there before Dr Johnson produced his dictionary and the spelling of words often differed.

I think it was on a Winchester Cathedral tour that it was pointed out that some of the timbers within the roof space had odd holes and cutaways in them. We were told that they were from recycled ship's timbers, which were often used.

When I visit cathedrals I always try to see if there are tours to the 'hidden corners'!

Jim
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Re: New homes 'crumbling due to weak mortar'

Yes, Wharfedale made some pretty good speakers back in the day. They also introduced the first "hi-fi" cassette deck in the UK market but it was made in Japan by Nakamichi. Actually just about every "hi-fi" cassette deck was made by Nakamichi including the one I bought with the old Goodmans name on it. It was a very good machine. Wharfedale were also owned by Rank for some time and if Wiki is to be believed the brand was owned by Argos in recent years!

When I was a student in Leeds I was in the market for some new speakers and a friend and I went to the local hi-fi dealer to listen to a few. My friend took his own along too for comparison purposes. They were an obscure Japanese brand and didn't sound very good - the salesman scoffed at them and scornfully described them as "a bit Wharfedaley" .

I had an early Marantz CD player, a CD-84 if I remember rightly. Marantz were owned by Philips at one time and I think my CD-84 had a Philips transport. Eventually it refused to play any discs and remains in the attic until such time as it becomes valuable again .

Another friend has a Quad 33-405-FM3 system and swears by it!
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