Volume 15, Number 3, Sept 1993, p.10

Update: Simon Rodia's 'Watts Towers'

by N. J. Bud Goldstone

Last winter, we had a record amount of rain in Los Angeles and its Watts district. In December 1992, through field glasses, we noticed a growing number of large cracks above the 30-foot levels in the tallest of the Watts Towers, and we knew we could wait no more to remedy the situation. The cracks were beyond our reach from ladders or stands--the towers are 99.5 ft., 97.8 ft., and 55 ft. tall. Funding restrictions do not yet permit acquisition of full-height scaffolding for permanent repairs, and we were stuck for an answer to performing temporary repairs.

At the recommendation of conservator Rosa Lowinger, we arranged to use the City of Los Angeles aerial towers on four occasions to seal about 100 cracks temporarily against penetration of rain. The work was done in December last year and in March and April this year by conservator Zuleyma Aguirre, using Jahn M90 mortar. Each crack within reach of the swinging bucket was carefully opened with a mallet and chisel. The steel reinforcement was scraped clean of rust. The crack was cleaned of old repair materials, wet with distilled water, and filled with the mortar.

N. J. Bud Goldstone, 258 S. Rexford Drive, Beverly Hills,
California 90212

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