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Given the weight of the frame and the fact that the plinth walls had been filled up with cement, with a cast cement up against them which contributed to the decay of the frame, the plinth was removed to facilitate the installation of the sole plate from the underside.





This traditional plinth was laid by Chris of Lawrence Masonry, using hotlime mixed in our pan on the back of the tractor. The stones were reinstated along with some new big stones which were missing, to take the weight of the frame. The largest of the stones were placed under each of the posts.




The final stonework will be pointed up once the weight of the frame is fully released onto the plinth




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A flitch repair certainly has its place within the armoury of conserving of a historic timber frame. The flitch in principle allows a greater retention of of historic material and is a mostly hidden repair, whereas a carpentry solution (if strong enough), would equate a high loss and a very obvious repair.



Flitch beam manufactured to match template


In this instance the flitch plate repair allowed one of the original timbers to remain in situ, in its primary location, maintaining its chamfers and stops whilst providing the structural integrity to the frame and floor. It is logical to think that if the timber was replaced or repaired then this would be adequate, but due to the large amount of timber notching, removal of structural elements the flitch is doing much more than the original timber.



This chamfer detail is an exact copy of the tower in Stokesay Castle

A flitch plate repair can be carried out in several ways, but is essentially it is a steel beam sandwiched between two slices of timber and bolted in position to provide extra strength and reducing the timbers deflection. Or in the case of this flitch, a T section of steel with mounting feet either end.


The moulded timber in question which was down for repair was ruptured at about 1/3 span of the beam, a scarf repair would have lost 1/3 of the timber plus a minimum of 2.5D (depending on the scarf) which would not have been acceptable, nor met the loading requirements needed for the building or the floor above. The new stainless steel plate spans from wall to wall through the beam so, as well as picking up the floor load, it also serves to tie the two walls together. Something the original timber was not doing!



Cutting the flitch rebate with a modified chainsaw


Reinforcing the beam with a hidden stainless steel T section allowed us to meet these structural requirements along with saving the maximum amount of historic material, yes the timber was cut along its back, but from the underside on show the timber remains historic with the tell tale signs of reinforcement through diamond pellets above the bolt holes.




Lowering the flitch into position


The old moulded beam in the play room can now breath a big sigh of relief now this steel is in place and hopefully admired for many years to come. This flitch was the easy one, we have another to do twice the size soon, watch this space!





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Peter Ward of Heritage House has been involved with the Orleton Manor project from the offset, helping the client put together the team that is expertly repairing the building. Here is a video of Pete, talking about his involvement with the project as well as some of the problems which you are likely to find in a historic building such as this one!






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