Gateway (VIII)

I was back at the MFA today to see if I might be able to pull the metal shoes off of their concrete bases. The weather was outstanding, if a tad warm.

About an hour of shoveling in – call me ‘digger’ – and I was able to cut off one of the angle brackets on the side of one column:

During this process I discovered some interesting things. I had presumed that the threaded studs you see sticking out from the concrete were continuous through the concrete and came out the other side, bolted at each end to squeeze together each angle bracket around the concrete column. Such was not the case – there are in fact independent threaded rods on each side of the column. And they weren’t anchored very well, as a few of the nuts got stuck while being unscrewed under moderate pressure and the threaded rods actually started turning inside the concrete, but turning only, not unscrewing out. It was as if they were simply threaded rods cast into the concrete and weren’t proper ‘j’ or ‘L’ shape anchor bolts. The turning studs meant the nuts could not be unscrewed any further and necessitated the use of an angle grinder with cut-off wheel in cramped quarters to cut the nuts off in a slice ’em dice ’em manner until they could be removed from the studs. Tedious.

You can also see another discovery in the above photo – the irrigation water line and low voltage electrical piping in the trench. I was surprised that the irrigation water feed was polyethelene tubing, not PVC or copper, and they used doubled band clamps under ground to fasten the pipes at a tee fitting. I did irrigation work for about 5 years in the 1980’s in Whistler, B.C., so I know a little bit about it. I always associated polyethelene pipe with the lowest-cost systems and the company I worked for never used it. Construction practices do vary in different regions of course.

Sadly, removing the angle bracket revealed that the central steel pad atop the concrete column, on top of which the ‘shoes’ are welded, is incorporated into the concrete directly. That means that the concrete column will need to be cut to remove the metal, so, well, the removal process could have been simpler, but it wasn’t to be.

The angle brackets indicated that there had been some mix-up originally with the threaded stud center locations:

Four stud locations in the concrete and six holes in the bracket. I wonder what happened there? I have no idea if the brackets were fabricated in Japan and brought over, or site-fabricated, or made by a local Boston company and delivered to site. There certainly looks to have been a little bit of on-site welding.

The threaded studs were set in kind of wonkily, and at different depths:

Again, no idea what accounts for the inconsistent setting of those bolts.

Two hours later and I had all the angle brackets removed from both columns on this side:

On the main post column, one side was missing a mounting stud altogether:

There are a couple of stubbed out pipes down by the side of the column – not sure what there are intended for, or where the other ends of the pipes are located. There are no as-builts, so such things are unexpected discoveries and nothing more.

I’ll tackle the other side of main post and side support later this week.

I took some measurements of the post spacing on center, and the offsets of the main posts from the side of the concrete fence walls, and found that the entire gate was 1/2″ off centered towards one of the walls. Visually minor of course, but seems like they weren’t fussing the installation too much. A half inch is a fairly large amount to be off in measurement. I would expect 1/4″ at worst and really no reason that they couldn’t have been close to dead center.

I also just noticed that the rear post shoes were located oddly in respect to the paving stones around the gate. Here you can see  the curious thing:

On the left side of the picture you can see the wide main paving stones and on the right you can see the narrower (and thicker) border stones. I find it surprising that the paving work would have been arranged so that the post shoe was partway into the boundary stone.

It seems to me that the entire pad of paving around the gate needs to be shifted rearward by about 1/2 the width of the main paving stones, or another course of large paving stones added out on the backside of the gate. Japanese craftspeople are normally very fastidious about such things as evenly spacing and centering flagstone patterns, ceiling grids, etc., so that every thing fits very tidily. It would be considered a disaster, for example, to lay out the floor tiles in a bathroom and have to be cutting some short here and there to fit them in – it would suggest that the room size was planned without consideration for a fixed-dimension repetitive element such as a floor tile. The above placement looks like a goof up to me, or at least an area that wasn’t planned especially well. I’ll see if I can persuade the people who will be re-laying the flagstone for the entire garden to make some minor changes, but I am not optimistic I will succeed. They may not be open to such changes.

I’ll be back to site in a couple of days to continue the process of shoe removal and cut a bit of the concrete, all being well. Thanks for dropping by the Carpentry Way. On to post 9

4 Replies to “Gateway (VIII)”

  1. Chris

    The archaeologist often has difficulty determining how the artifacts of a long vanished culture were actually used.


  2. Tom,

    my minor in college was archaeology funny enough. It's always interesting to see what lays under the surface of a thing, though I find the digging hard on my body these days.


  3. Chris

    As l understand it (subject always to correction) the Japanese room is designed from the inside out, starting with the mats or tile. The round-eyes start with a rectangular foot-print and design from the outside in, squeezing rooms and closets and hallways into that rectangle, leaving odd dusty cormers through-out. The odd corners in a Japanese house seem to be on the outside. Since you live inside, it makes sense to have the inside logical and orderly.


  4. I think, on the Japanese side, it is a natural development stemming from design based around the tatami mat module- any square or rectangle therefore becomes a modular form and spaces shaped around it, with a similar view to a seamless fit.


Anything to add?

error: Content is protected !!
%d bloggers like this: