Look who flew into the yard! It’s ol’ Gallus Gallus, the super-rooster from the Draper Libray. He brought his Polish hen and a passel of chicks and a few houses to perch on as well. This was originally comissioned back in 2005, now the Library is re-structuring the grounds and some sidewalk, curbing, parking, book drop-off; so they asked me if I could come out and remove the pieces and store them while they work the grounds. Of course they need a lot of triage, and of course there is no funding to help cover the expenses. The good thing is I can fix them up a bit, and they will have nice digs when they return. This is just the first pair (all I could fit in the truck at once), I’ll pick up the second pair tomorrow.
The first concern was the fading and corrosion from hard water from the sprinklers, dirt, and 6 years of hard Utah living without any maintenance. Once reinstalled they will all be on concrete pads and the sprinklers will be traded out for drip lines, so I set about bringing them back from the faded sorrow they had degraded to. First was a scrub down with a big floor brush and mild detergent in water (I didn’t take any picts of them til after their bath). Then I mixed in a different detergent and went back to the hard water areas with a soft brass brush hitting only the worst spots this aggressively. Next I let them bake out in the sun til good and hot, then used a sealing wax that has a bit more solvent, and really scrubbed it in with a natural bristle chip brush cut down to the ferrule. This ate away the hard water stains- if done too long it will begin to lift the patina as well so you gotta be quick and keep from going back into areas already worked.
It worked out really well. The critters have a nice maturity about their coloration, and the areas that were etched down to a dull gray picked up some color and things blended back to an even finish.
The next issue is structural for basing. The foundry welded in steel nuts and used steel allthread. The nuts were popping loose from the bronze way back in 2005 and I had to have them come back for re-do’s twice. Of the two at home, the Polish hen has only ever had two allthread connections- so it could have been pushed over really easily as only one side was anchored. The allthread came loose from the nuts easily enough. The Rooster had all four of four allthread&nuts, but I pulled one nut off at the weld with a pair of pliers. All the nuts&allthread had rust-fused so hard that I welded a bar to the end of the allthread to gain leverage to turn it. The allthread sheared at the nut rather than turn (yes I sprayed lube on them first, and even left them overnight): so I just fired up the air compressor and cut the allthread out with a small wheel. This leaves me with a dilemma: I need to weld in new stainless steel nuts for matching stainless steel allthread- this will weld with the bronze as the regular steel could not, and not corrode over time in the concrete / but / welding on the inside will create such heat at the weld that the outside patina will flare off and be replaced by heat colorations that often need sandblasting to neutralize. I will try putting a heavy wet cloth on the outside to pull heat from the weld, and the welds will be low on the houses below any important detail so touch-up should be pretty easy. Still. I’ll likely have to cut all the steel nuts out of every sculpture, grind the inside walls, and weld in stainless nuts. Big fun.