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Archive for the ‘Masonry Restoration’ Category

Our very own John Young, PROSOCO’s digital marketing manager, went on location at Topeka (Kan.) High School recently to shoot footage of the restoration of the building’s historic brick and limestone exterior.

Topeka-based Restoration & Waterproofing Contractors Inc. got the nod for the job, which showed years worth of atmospheric and biological stains as well as smoke residue from a fire a few years back. RWC Project Manager David Falley used PROSOCO’s Enviro Klean® SafRestorer to safely remove stains around the building’s intricate architectural details and give the facade a brighter, cleaner appearance.

Watch the dramatic before-and-after shots in this video:

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Liberty Memorial

The most prominent feature of Kansas City’s Liberty Memorial is arguably its 217-foot-tall tower. Photo courtesy of Structural Engineering Associates

This year marks the beginning of the centennial observance of World War I, 1914-1918. The heart of that observance stands in the heartland — at Kansas City’s Liberty Memorial, a registered National Historic Landmark and home of the officially designated World War I museum of the United States.

So to call a project to clean and restore such a monument a great undertaking is… greatly understated. And it also takes time.

One iteration of the monument’s restoration began in 2000, when subcontractor Mid Continental Restoration Co. (along with general contractor JE Dunn Construction and a bevy of architects and engineers) used PROSOCO products to clean the memorial. They installed about 13,000 cubic feet of new stone, and cleaned and replaced around 24,000 cubic feet of existing limestone.

By this time, Liberty Memorial was a well-known site to PROSOCO. Its representatives had conducted surveys on the stone and also removed graffiti in the 1980s.

So when an army of designers and contractors undertook a $1.35 million masonry restoration project in 2012 to clean and protect the mostly limestone exterior of the complex, PROSOCO was ready for the call.

If you haven’t ever visited, put the Liberty Memorial on your list the next time you’re in Kansas City. Its stunning aesthetics have been part of the town’s cityscape since its dedication by President Calvin Coolidge in 1926.

The Liberty Memorial overlooks downtown Kansas City.

The Liberty Memorial overlooks downtown Kansas City. Photo courtesy of National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial

The monument, designed by Harold Van Buren Magonigle in an Egyptian Revival architectural style on 47 acres, includes a 217-foot-tall tower, two Assyrian sphinxes, the 488-foot-by-48-foot Great Frieze on the North Wall, the Dedication Wall and many more elements constructed of limestone.

Under a design team led by Gould Evans and in conjunction with General Contractor JE Dunn Construction, two Kansas City firms — Structural Engineering Associates and Susan Richards Johnson & Associates — worked in collaboration to complete the limestone restoration. That included cleaning and sealing of the main entry, tower, General’s Wall and fountains, south entry courtyard, sphinxes, and the Great Frieze on the North Wall.

A variety of sources and types of limestones comprising the massive structure complicated the scope of the project. There was limestone old and new, buff and variegated, from different sections of quarries and varying grades. But it wasn’t too much for PROSOCO’s EnviroKlean ReKlaim (formerly known as BioKlean), ReVive (formerly known as BioWash), OH100 Consolidation Treatment, SureKlean Weather Seal Natural Stone Treatment and more.

Liberty Memorial tower

Photo courtesy of Structural Engineering Associates

Kirk Matchell, restoration project manager and associate at Structural Engineering Associates, said that PROSOCO products were specified almost exclusively in the publicly bid restoration job.

“We had worked with PROSOCO’s products for many many years,” Matchell said. “(The products) did wonderfully. They took care of all of the stain issues, and we (applied) a really good water repellent. It’s holding its color, and it’s done what we’ve asked for it to do.”

For Julie Garvey, project designer of Susan Richards Johnson & Associates, familiarity with PROSOCO’s cleaning and protective treatments played a crucial role in those products getting into the specs.

Mike Dickey of Dickey Sales LLC, a manufacturer’s sales rep for PROSOCO, had volunteered to perform a test sample for the firm, “so that we could determine the efficacy of the product… and make sure that no damage or detriment would be seen with the product on the stone in the long term,” Garvey said.

The sample, conducted a full year before construction began, tested 10-year-old Indiana limestone that had been experiencing severe discoloration due to mildew and staining. On the right-hand side of the sample (pictured), the control was power-washed with warm water. The left side of the sample was cleaned with ReKlaim, followed by an application of EnviroKlean Revive (formerly known as BioWash). On the lower half of the left side, a consolidant (OH100) and PROSOCO’s SureKlean Limestone & Masonry Afterwash was applied to demonstrate that “the product would not discolor or darken the stone in any way.” Garvey and others from the firm, including Project Architect Angie Gaebler, watched the three sections as they were left exposed to the elements for a full year.

Test panel at Liberty Memorial

The test panel at Liberty Memorial included the control panel (right), which was power-washed, and the left-side panel, which was treated with PROSOCO’s ReKlaim and ReVive cleaners. They were found to safely remove biological and atmospheric staining on the limestone. Photo courtesy of Susan Richards Johnson & Associates

A year later, Garvey said they “saw significant improvement in the overall appearance of the stone, it was not discolored, and the area was remaining clean longer. There were no detrimental effects of the water repellent or cleaning treatments, and we approved those for the Liberty Memorial.”

Construction started in 2012 and was completed late last year, but the work of everyone involved didn’t go unnoticed. The restoration of the memorial’s Wall of Dedication earned a 2012 Preservation Award in the conservation category from Historic Kansas City, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the city’s buildings of “historical, cultural or architectural significance.” This wall commemorates the five allied leaders — Lt. Gen. Baron Jacques of Belgium; Admiral Earl Beatty of Great Britain; Gen. Armando Diaz of Italy; Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France; and Gen. John Pershing of the U.S. — who attended the memorial’s groundbreaking ceremony in 1921.

In addition, the overall masonry repairs of the memorial garnered an award of merit from the International Concrete Repair Institute in the historic category.

But it didn’t take international awards for the project’s architects to take pride in the finished product. “It was a labor of love,” Garvey of Susan Richards Johnson & Associates said. “We’re truly honored to have been part of such a significant historic property here in town.”

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Restoration & Waterproofing Contractors, Topeka, are cleaning Topeka High School, a three-story Gothic building opened in 1931, with Enviro Klean SafRestorer.  -- Stephen Falls photo

Restoration & Waterproofing Contractors, Topeka, are cleaning Topeka High School, a three-story Gothic building opened in 1931, with Enviro Klean SafRestorer. — Stephen Falls photo

Built for $1.75 million and opened Sept. 17, 1931, Topeka High School, Topeka, Kan., is arguably one of the most beautiful high school buildings anywhere.

Ever.

With its 165-foot bell tower containing a working 18-note Deagan Chime System, stained glass windows, and limestone and masonry exterior, Topeka High School looks more like a church or cathedral than a high school.

A closer look, however, shows that time and environment have begun to take their toll.

“The building was due for a general cleaning,” says David L. Falley, project manager with Restoration & Waterproofing Contractors, Topeka. “It’s got mostly atmospheric and biological staining on the limestone, severe in places. There’s also some smoke residue on the back of the building from a fire a few years ago.

“It’s not as dirty as it could be, considering the last major work on it was 30 years ago.”

PROSOCO’s Enviro Klean SafRestorer got the nod to remove the black stains and give the building an overall cleaner, brighter appearance. While decades of embedded staining called for a cleaner with horsepower, SafRestorer is designed to safely clean around architectural metals and other sensitive surfaces.

David said the high school’s metal-framed stained glass windows were one reason he chose SafRestorer.

“And it’s effective,” he said. “I’ve used SafRestorer on other projects and gotten good results.

These merlons atop the bell tower of Topeka High School show, left to right, uncleaned, pressure-washed with hot water only, and cleaned with SafRestorer and hot water. --Stephen Falls photo

These merlons atop the bell tower of Topeka High School show, left to right, uncleaned, pressure-washed with hot water only, and cleaned with SafRestorer and hot water. –Stephen Falls photo

The Restoration and Waterproofing contractors crew, led by Foreman Steven Balser, began work at the end of June. They’re aiming at completion by mid-August, before the students return.

Along with cleaning the exterior, they’re tuckpointing where masonry joints have deteriorated due to time and weather. The repairs are minimal, David says.

“The building is in good condition overall,” he says. “It’s got good workmanship and has weathered well.”

He added that it’s a good idea to have cleaning and repairs done before deterioration becomes severe.

Despite the building’s minimal problems, cleaning it still presents challenges, David says. The famous Kansas winds can twirl the hanging basket on the crane, used to reach areas inaccessible by scaffold. It’s stabilized by people holding lines on the roof or ground, David said.

And the hanging scaffold, though secure, can sway in the Kansas breeze.

“You get a 7 to 10 mile-per-hour breeze up there, you’d think it was 50,” David says. “Keeping your knees flexed helps. But when the wind kicks up higher than 10 or 15 miles per hour, it’s time to get off.”

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Coastal Masonry and Contracting used Sure Klean Restoration Cleaner and  Sure Klean 600 to help clean and repair the masonry exterior of this late-19th Century Army barracks. It's soon to become a luxury hotel on Great Diamond Island, Maine.

Coastal Masonry and Contracting used Sure Klean Restoration Cleaner and Sure Klean 600 to help clean and repair the masonry exterior of this late-19th Century Army barracks. It’s soon to become a luxury hotel on Great Diamond Island, Maine.

Working what looks to be a great story.

Portland Builders, Portland, Maine is the general contractor converting a crumbling late-19th Century Army barracks into a luxury 44-unit hotel on Great Diamond Island in Maine’s Casco Bay.

The architect is Archetype Architects, Portland. Coastal Masonry and Contracting, Georgetown, is the mason contractor using PROSOCO products to clean the building’s walls.

Craig Wetmore, York Manufacturing took these great photos and alerted us to the project.

The barracks/hotel is part of Fort McKinley, built between 1891 and 1907 to defend Portland Harbor during the Spanish-American War. The Army retired the fort in 1945.

It’s now known as Diamond Cove and is mostly private property. Many of its buildings have been restored to become homes for some of the island’s 77-or-so year-round residents. A former storehouse is now the 5-star Diamond’s Edge Restaurant.

The barracks, however, remained untouched except by the heavy hands of time, and unoccupied, says Josh Cushman, Portland Builders, except for raccoons.

How bad was it?

This abandoned Army barracks on Great Diamond Island, Maine is being restored into a 44-unit luxury hotel. It's going to take some PROSOCO products, though.

How bad was it? “People said we’d be better off tearing it down,” says Josh Cushman, Portland Builders.

“It had trees growing out of it, says Josh Cushman, Portland Builders. “The wood floors were demolished. One major wall was collapsed. People said we’d be better off tearing it down.”

But if these photos show anything, they show the resiliency of masonry, particularly in the hands of accomplished construction professionals — especially professionals using PROSOCO products, natch. Here, builders used Sure Klean Restoration Cleaner to remove the grit and grime of the ages so that repairs could be made.

Then Sure Klean 600 masonry cleaner removed excess mortar from the walls following those repairs.

The deteriorated state of the building isn’t the only challenge the builders are facing. Great Diamond Island has no road access so everything — people, equipment, products — all must arrive by boat.

“We use a big landing craft and drive the trucks on and off,” Josh said.

The Fort McKinley Historic District is listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places. The hotel is being restored to meet Federal historic standards, Josh said.

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A brief rain shower wetted our back deck yesterday evening, shortly before the beginning of cleaning operations.

A brief rain shower wetted our back deck yesterday evening, shortly before the beginning of cleaning operations.

My lovely spouse, Karen, and I decided it was that time — back deck must be cleaned.

It hadn’t been cleaned for — well, awhile. When we bought the vintage-70’s house in 2002 the deck was there — a weathered platform of some indeterminate gray lumber, which I coated with something to make it look less weathered and indeterminate.

That’s the redwoodish looking coating that’s on there now. It’s actually held up pretty well since I put that most recent coat on a few years ago.

But everything outside gets dirty and must be cleaned.

Grime accumulated where we had doormats.

Grime accumulated where we had doormats.

We got heavy accumulations of muck around the doormats and flower pots, but the whole thing looked dull and dingy.

It was a job for Enviro Klean 2010 All Surface Cleaner.

PROSOCO created this amazing cleaner in the late 90’s specifically for restoration cleaning of the interior Kasota limestone of Union Station, Kansas City, Mo. The venerable train station had been abandoned nearly a decade before restoration cleaning by Mid-Continental Restoration, Fort Scott, Kan., in 1998.

And I thought my deck was a project -- Mid-Continental Restoration, Fort Scott, Kan., cleaned 116,000 square feet of Kasota limestone inside Union Station with what is now Enviro Klean 2010 All Surface Cleaner.

And I thought my deck was a project — Mid-Continental Restoration, Fort Scott, Kan., cleaned 116,000 square feet of Kasota limestone inside Union Station with what is now Enviro Klean 2010 All Surface Cleaner.

The Mid-Continental Restoration crews needed something powerful enough to wipe out decades worth of soot from trains, and the tobacco smoke of millions of passengers, along with water stains from a leaky roof, and accumulated grime from 10 years of neglect.

But it had to be gentle enough not to harm the sensitive, though beautiful limestone walls blanketed beneath the dirty coating.

Originally labeled “1922 Hard Surface Cleaner,” (1922 was the test formula number) PROSOCO’s custom creation took on the moniker “2010 All Surface Cleaner” after people started using it to clean, well, everything. All Surface Cleaner uses no harsh acids, caustics or solvents, which can damage sensitive surfaces, yet has most of their cleaning power.

Its secret is “chelating” agents, or “chelants.” These are molecules that chemically latch onto contaminant molecules and suspend them in solution to be rinsed away. Chelants are small enough to go into microscopic surface pores to grab soaked-in or ground-in contaminants that larger detergent molecules can’t reach.

“Chela” comes from Latin, and means “claw.” The tweezer-like ability of 2010 All Surface Cleaner to grab hard-to-nab contaminants isn’t limited to hard surfaces, either. I’ve seen fellow-employees use 2010 All Surface Cleaner to pull ink stains out of clothing.

That’s not to put down detergents, though. In addition to the chelating agents, 2010 All Surface Cleaner has a blend of detergents effective against a wide range of grease and grime. It’s really like the Swiss Army knife of cleaners — including the tweezers.

Enviro Klean 2010 All Surface Cleaner removed brown nicotine staining caused by nine decades of tobacco  smoke from the white Colorado marble interior of the Cuyahoga County Courthouse, Cleveland.

Enviro Klean 2010 All Surface Cleaner removed brown nicotine staining caused by nine decades of tobacco smoke from the white Colorado marble interior of the Cuyahoga County Courthouse, Cleveland.

Since I first wrote about 2010 All Surface Cleaner at Union Station, I’ve seen it used everywhere. It cleaned new-construction grit and grime off the precast concrete exterior of the newly built W Luxury Hotel in downtown Dallas, and interior marble at the Cuyahoga County Courthouse in Cleveland.

And let’s not forget my back deck.

Cleaning was easy. First I wet the deck with the pressure washer at about 300 psi. I hoped I’d blow the gunk off just with that, but it was too ground-in. I diluted 2010 All Surface Cleaner one part cleaner to three parts water in a plastic spray bottle, and sprayed down half the deck. I spread it around and sudsed it up with some light scrubbing with a long-handled scrub-brush. I let the cleaner “dwell” for a few minutes. Then I rinsed it off with the pressure washer.

Then I did the other half of the deck the same way.

The hardest part was winding up the hose from the pressure washer to the wand when I was finished. We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t make a hose for an electric pressure-washer that won’t kink and snarl.

The deck looked good, though, and Karen seemed impressed. She pointed out that the deck looked as good as when I’d first coated it.

I’m thinking that’s got to be worth some husband-points.

How many?

How about 2010, hon?

Everything old is new again, thanks to Enviro Klean 2010 All Surface Cleaner.

Everything old is new again, thanks to Enviro Klean 2010 All Surface Cleaner.

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POWERHOUSE

The Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity, Kansas City, Mo.

Photos courtesy JE Dunn

Once housing the power plant for nearby Union Station in Kansas City, Mo., this 1914 Jarvis Hunt-designed building is now the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity, and houses the Kansas City Ballet. photo courtesy JE Dunn

Once housing the power plant for nearby Union Station in Kansas City, Mo., this 1914 Jarvis Hunt-designed building is now the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity, and houses the Kansas City Ballet.

It was a powerhouse then.

It’s a powerhouse now.

For nearly 60 years this 1914 Jarvis Hunt-designed coal-fired power plant supplied steam-generated electricity to Union Station, once the second-biggest train station in the U.S.

Now the 60,000 square-foot Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity helps power the Kansas City arts community as home to the Kansas City Ballet and K.C. Ballet School.

Space formerly used for cranes and boilers turned out to be well-suited to the needs of a dance studio.

Space formerly used for cranes and boilers turned out to be well-suited to the needs of a dance studio.

In between, the powerhouse stood vacant and abandoned for nearly 40 years. It went through an epic restoration 2009-2011 designed by Kansas City, Mo., architectural firm BNIM and executed by general contractor JE Dunn, also headquartered in Kansas City.

In 2012, the project garnered six awards for restoration, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “National Preservation Honor Award.” That’s on top of four previous honors in 2011.

Next year, the power house turns 100.

The job of overseeing the transformation of the interior and exterior masonry from decaying shell to elegant envelope fell to the project’s masonry foreman Pete Johnson.

“To be honest, when I first saw it, I thought ‘we’re going to fix this?’ To me it looked like it should be taken down.”

Union Station Power House facility,front entrance, shortly before restoration begins, 2009. JE Dunn photo

Union Station Power House facility, front entrance, shortly before restoration begins, 2009.

Mr. Johnson soon changed his mind as he got a closer look at the century-old 22-inch thick masonry walls.

“I have no idea how they accomplished some of the things they did, given the means they had at their disposal back then,” he said. “They built a structure that could stand for a century. And that’s with being abandoned for 40 years.”

Despite the craftsmanship, the masonry fabric still needed serious attention, Mr. Johnson said.

That attention began with tuckpointing the walls, including grinding out the joints three-quarters of an inch deep and pressure-rinsing before installing the mortar.

“We let the mortar set up a day or two,” Mr. Johnson said. “Then we cleaned with (Sure Klean®) 600.”

Though made for new masonry construction, 600 removes excess mortar from tuckpointed historic masonry as well. It also dissolved most of the accumulated contaminants that had darkened the brick.

The cream-colored terra cotta trim also needed work, Mr. Johnson said. The decades had turned it completely black in places, particularly along the bottom edges of the trim.

The terra cotta trim was particularly dirty along its bottom edges.

The terra cotta trim was particularly dirty along its bottom edges.

The likely cause, he said was smoke from trains and furnaces, and the years of neglect.

What was certain was that the first specialized cleaner they tried barely affected the dark coating. But the next one, PROSOCO’s Sure Klean® Restoration Cleaner worked “like magic.”

“We sprayed it on, let it sit for minute or two, scrubbed it a little and rinsed it off. It was like night to day the way that black came off the terra cotta.”

Efflorescence also proved a challenge, Mr. Johnson said, at least until the powerhouse got its new roof. Water from frequent rains falling into the open cavities evaporated out through the brick face, leaving efflorescence’s trademark powdery white deposits.

The efflorescence showed up mostly on the South side and Southwest corner of the building, Mr. Johnson said. The JE Dunn crew spot-cleaned it with Sure Klean® Vana Trol, another PROSOCO new masonry cleaner made for addressing efflorescence and metallic staining as well as removing excess mortar and other common job site contaminants.

Once the roof was on, keeping water out of the walls, the efflorescence stopped showing up, Mr. Johnson said.

The crew began repairs and cleaning on the rectangular building’s long North side, then moved to the West (front entrance) elevation, then to the South and East.

They worked in top-to-bottom drops about 72 feet across, Mr. Johnson said. The cleaning crew followed the repair crew section-by-section all around the building.

Mr. Johnson’s crews applied the 600 to the brick and the Restoration Cleaner to the terra cotta the traditional way — with bucket and brush.

Though the cleaners can be sprayed, Mr. Johnson didn’t want to take any chances with wind-drift because of the building’s historic windows and the proximity of traffic.

JE Dunn cleaned the masonry via the traditional bucket-and-brush method  to protect these painstakingly replicated historic wood windows. Note the bottom edges of the terra cotta trim, now free of its black soiling.

JE Dunn cleaned the masonry via the traditional bucket-and-brush method to protect these painstakingly replicated historic wood windows. Note the bottom edges of the terra cotta trim, now free of its black soiling.

Interior masonry walls also needed cleaning and repair, Mr. Johnson said, though the bigger challenge inside, he said, was working with and around the other trades as they hustled to meet their own goals.

“They were pouring new concrete floors, putting in the stairwells and elevator shafts, hanging sheetrock, anything you can imagine, all while we were trying to wash the building.

“Communication was essential,” he said.

A 15-foot tree sprouting from the bricks of the powerhouse’s chimney presented an unusual challenge.

“There were several trees growing up on the roof,” Mr. Johnson said. “But that was the biggest one.”

The tree’s root, about 50-feet long, had wrapped all around the chimney under the brick. Mr. Johnson’s crew got it out, but had to rebuild most of the chimney, which was set to be converted into a skylight.

The cleaned, repaired powerhouse then got an application of Sure Klean® Weather Seal Siloxane PD, pre-diluted water repellent.

The water-based treatment penetrates the microscopic masonry pores and bonds to the substrate, imparting water repellency from beneath the surface.

Because it’s a penetrating treatment, it doesn’t change the appearance or texture of the masonry. Siloxane PD is also “breathable” — it lets moisture evaporate out of the masonry, while blocking penetration of liquid water.

Interior masonry needed cleaning and repair as well, though the bigger challenge was getting it done in concert with other trades.

Interior masonry needed cleaning and repair as well, though the bigger challenge was getting it done in concert with other trades.

The JE Dunn crews applied the Siloxane PD with bucket and brush just as they did the cleaners.

By project’s end, the team had removed and replaced 17,500 bricks, 268 pieces of terra cotta, and 158,000 linear feet of mortar joints. They cleaned and sealed 134,000 square feet of brick and terra cotta.*

Mr. Johnson said he found the project more challenging than most of the new construction projects he works on.

“This was literally a dirty job,” Mr. Johnson said. “There was dust everywhere all the time. We went through a lot of trial and error, from deciding on the right masonry cleaners to figuring out the best way to shore up walls for cutting new windows and doors.

“We pulled weeds on the roof. That’s not something masons do every day,” Mr. Johnson said. “But every time I drive past that building and remember what it looked like the day we started, I feel tremendous satisfaction.”
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*Figures from Power: The Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity,” published by BNIM and the Kansas City Ballet

BNIM's design transformed the former powerhouse chimney into a skylight on the catwalk along the building's second level.

BNIM’s design and JE Dunn’s execution transformed the former powerhouse chimney into a skylight on the catwalk along the building’s second level.

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Grand Central Terminal, New York City, turns 100 years old Feb. 13, 2013, and still looks pretty good in this shot from 2007. photo courtesy of MTA/Metro North Railway

Grand Central Terminal, New York City, turns 100 years old Feb. 2, 2013, and still looks pretty good in this shot from 2007. photo courtesy of MTA/Metro North Railway

Happy hundredth birthday, Grand Central Terminal.

You might not remember us from here in the nation’s heartland. But in 1980, when you were a mere 67 years old, our crew here at PROSOCO in Kansas helped to give you your first-ever exterior cleaning. You needed it too. Sixty seven years in the industrial Northeast, amid the coal-burning factories, and later, the automotive traffic, did a job on your beautiful cream-colored limestone.

A black mantle of atmospheric soiling and staining covers Grand Central Terminal after 67 years without an exterior cleaning in the industrial Northeast. PROSOCO photo

A black mantle of atmospheric soiling and staining covers Grand Central Terminal after 67 years without an exterior cleaning in the industrial Northeast. PROSOCO photo

Horn Waterproofing Corporation, Long Island, was set to do the actual cleaning. But nothing’s ever that simple. You see, after 67 years, all that black carbon soiling hadn’t just piled up on your walls — up to three-quarters of an inch thick in places, according to PROSOCO Vice President John Bourne who was there and remembers you well — it had sunk into your stone fabric.

That’s the difference between soiling and staining. Soiling stays on the stone. Staining comes from contaminants that have soaked in over the decades.

Horn Waterproofing could’ve blasted it off with high-pressure water and harsh chemicals. Unfortunately, that would’ve damaged your limestone walls, and all the beautiful carved ornamentation on your upper reaches. So the architect, Hardy-Holtzman and Pfeiffer asked PROSOCO for input on cleaning methods and materials.

After several months and 28 field tests, PROSOCO developed the way to get you clean.

It wasn’t easy. John remembers how they did a handful of cleaning tests, all of which turned out beautifully — until 24 hours later, when brown stains developed in the middle of the cleaned test panels.

Gerry Boyer, the son of PROSOCO’s founder Al Boyer, and father of PROSOCO’s current President David Boyer, came out to have a look. Gerry is one of the nation’s pioneers of restoration cleaning.

Armed with PROSOCO products and procedures, HORN Waterproofing does battle with the black coating of carbon soiling and staining on Grand Central Terminal, 1980. PROSOCO photo

Armed with PROSOCO products and procedures, HORN Waterproofing does battle with the black coating of carbon soiling and staining on Grand Central Terminal, 1980. PROSOCO photo

The diagnosis was an inadequate rinsing of cleaning residues from the stone. In addition, alkalinity from the non-acidic cleaner required better neutralization.

To fix it, Gerry worked with the company’s laboratory crew to retool PROSOCO’s limestone cleaner. They made it thinner, so it could rinse off more easily, as well as go in after the staining more effectively. They made it less alkaline so it could stay on the stone longer, and use a less aggressive acidic neutralizing agent.

Sure Klean T-556, made just for you, Grand Central, worked so well that it became the starting point for creating the most advanced system ever for cleaning limestone buildings — Sure Klean 766 Limestone PreWash and Sure Klean Limestone & Masonry Afterwash.

Many an historic building has profited, Grand Central, thanks to what you taught PROSOCO about cleaning limestone.

Sure Klean T-556 worked so well at Grand Central Terminal, as these cleaned columns can attest, that it became the genesis of PROSOCO's new standard for restoration cleaning of limestone claddings. PROSOCO photo

Sure Klean T-556 worked so well at Grand Central Terminal, as these cleaned columns can attest, that it became the genesis of PROSOCO’s new standard for restoration cleaning of limestone claddings. PROSOCO photo

Getting all the different groups involved to agree on exactly how clean you should be was almost as hard as figuring how to clean you, John recalls. Some believed a light patina of atmospheric staining belonged on you as part of your history.

There was the architect, the NYC Landmarks Commission, the Municipal Art Society, the Historical Society, the railroad — even Donald Trump was involved. It’s not commonly known, John says, but Donald donated the money to do the cleaning.

John and Gerry met Donald during the project, but only briefly. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who was actively involved with the Municipal Art Society also visited you, Grand Central. But the paths of John, Gerry and Jackie never crossed.

All the groups eventually agreed you should be cleaned to reflect the vision of your original 1913 design team, headed by Alfred T. Fellheimer, which is to say — as clean as they could get you.

Restoration cleaning takes a lot of water. You have to soak the surface down before applying the cleaner. After the cleaner has done its job of breaking the bond between soiling, staining and stone, you rinse it all away with more water.

So it didn’t help that the city had a water-shortage that year, and the water to pre-wet and rinse you had to be trucked in.

Along with the cleaner developed specially for you, Grand Central, Gerry and John also came up with a special way to pre-wet and rinse you to ensure no harm to your historic limestone exterior and ornaments. Soaker hoses wetted your stone for three to four hours at a time for a thorough but gentler pre-wetting than the usual pressure-wash.

They found specialized high-pressure steam jennies generating a relatively gentle 350 psi, but putting out 3-4 gallons of water per minute in steam, compared to the standard one-gallon. It’s the amount of water that dictates the effectiveness of the rinse, not the psi — another fact that’s not commonly known.

In the end, all the time, trouble and testing paid off, as PROSOCO methods and materials helped free Grand Central Terminal from 67 years of atmospheric soiling and staining. Interesting note on the MetLife Building in the background -- according to Wikipedia, a 1987 poll conducted by periodical "New York"  revealed the MetLife tower to be the building New Yorkers would most like to see demolished. PROSOCO photo

In the end, all the time, trouble and testing paid off, as PROSOCO methods and materials helped free Grand Central Terminal from 67 years of atmospheric soiling and staining. Interesting note on the MetLife Building in the background — according to Wikipedia, a 1987 poll conducted by periodical “New York” revealed the MetLife tower to be the building New Yorkers would most like to see demolished. PROSOCO photo

In the end, all the time, trouble and tests paid off. Using PROSOCO’s product and procedures, Horn Waterproofing safely stripped away the clinging black mantle. The work restored you to the beautiful and iconic Beaux Arts palace you were always meant to be.

With an end to coal-burning factories, and cleaner auto-emissions, that awful black coating hasn’t recurred.

Since then PROSOCO has returned for occasional exterior spot cleanings and work on your splendid interior marble walls, though nothing as dramatic as that original 1980 project.

Happy birthday, Grand Central Terminal — 100 years old tomorrow. What could be grander than that? And should you ever need us again during your next hundred years, PROSOCO will be there.

In honor of Grand Central Terminal’s 100th birthday, the Metro Transit Authority/Metro North Railway shares these terrific glimpses of the iconic building.

The famous Tiffany clock crowns Grand Central Terminal.

The famous Tiffany clock crowns Grand Central Terminal.

Ticket windows attract customers in the Grand Concourse.

Ticket windows attract customers in the Grand Concourse.

The famous Zodiac ceiling of the Grand Concourse actually shows a mirror image of the constellations. The Vanderbilt family offered the explanation that it's the view God has, looking down from Heaven.

The famous Zodiac ceiling of the Grand Concourse actually shows a mirror image of the constellations. The Vanderbilt family offered the explanation that it’s the view God has, looking down from Heaven.

Patrons enjoy the casual atmosphere at Grand Central Terminal's famous Oyster Bar Restaurant.

Patrons enjoy the casual atmosphere at Grand Central Terminal’s famous Oyster Bar Restaurant.

Commuters hurry for their trains during the morning rush hour at Grand Central Terminal.

Commuters hurry for their trains during the morning rush hour at Grand Central Terminal.

Now rented out for events, stately Vanderbilt Hall just off the Main Concourse once served as a waiting room for arrivals and departures.

Now rented out for events, stately Vanderbilt Hall just off the Main Concourse once served as a waiting room for arrivals and departures.

Passengers hurry for trains in the tunnels below the terminal in this photo titled "Whispering."

Passengers hurry for trains in the tunnels below the terminal in this photo titled “Whispering.”

Happy hundredth, Grand Central Terminal. PROSOCO will always remember.

Happy hundredth, Grand Central Terminal. PROSOCO will always remember.

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