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Subject: Watts Towers

Watts Towers

From: N.J. Bud Goldstone <budgoldstone<-a>
Date: Tuesday, March 15, 2005
National Historic Landmark that we can't stop from cracking after 50
years! All else is failing. Want to add your guess?

We are in search of revolutionary materials "Eurekeum" or
"Miraculum" or by any other name, so please respond if you know
where some is available and how to apply it to the Watts Towers!

Since 1959 many "experts" (AIC Fellows and Professional Associates
and members, registered structural engineers, MGM set designers,
conservation consultants, curators, 'beat' 1960s artists and I) have
spent almost $6M of private, state and City funds. We have all
failed to find the elusive "magic" material to bond successfully the
raw materials used to create the Watts Towers of Simon Rodia
(1879-1965) on 107th Street in Los Angeles! Check out the web site
<URL:> to see the sculptures.

Inside a too-thin, cement mortar covering that bonds the assemblage
together are:

    a.  reinforcements of 1 to 2 1/4 inch structural steel
        shapes--about 1/4 inch thick (angles, 'T' sections, pipes,
        Rodia's 1928 red Hudson auto axle that he used after he
        disassembled and then buried his car behind the site when he
        found the LAPD was after him in 1930 for using a fire-engine
        siren on the car to get to work in Long Beach on time,

    b.  wire mesh (chicken wire) wrapped tightly by hand around the
        reinforcements and tied with wire ties.

    c.  California art pottery shards, milk of magnesia bottle
        seashells grinding wheels and more, placed by his own hands
        into the wet cement mortar covers.

Rodia's 1921 to 1948 Portland cement is hand-mixed with a fine, dry

The problem is cracks (fissures, spalls, failures,
de-consolidations, whatever). Trials have failed with repairs using
a cement mortar slightly weaker than Rodia's: Jahn conservation
mortars M70, M90 and others, SikaDur, and more since 1979. Work done
by the State of California, City of Los Angeles and private
consultants has all cracked regularly and often. Major "repairs"
were done in 1960-1969; 1979-1985; 1987-1994 (Northridge
Earthquake); 1995-2001 and 2001-2005. In each period there have been
hundreds if not thousands of cracks and new cracks in original Rodia
cement and in repairs of every material used to date.

Send in your recommendation. Unsigned messages are welcome.
*Anybody?*  We do not pay for recommendations.

    Bud Goldstone
    6719 West 86th Place #2
    Westchester, CA 90045

N. J. Bud Goldstone
Art conservation engineer and author

                  Conservation DistList Instance 18:44
                 Distributed: Wednesday, March 16, 2005
                       Message Id: cdl-18-44-021
Received on Tuesday, 15 March, 2005

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