Fixing tops to stone gate piers

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Hi

Had two piers built a while back in big chunky sandstone either side of our gates (about 1.8m high, with very flat tops). Took me ages to find, but have now got two perfect limestone pier caps, which are massively heavy ... about 80kg I should think ... and which will fit neatly on top.

Is it ok just to sit these on top ... ? These gates are in a very out of the way place (ie. no pedestrians anywhere near) ... and I just can't see them moving unless you were really really intent on it!

Or is making up a cement & lime mix so easy that we might as well do that as well?

Sorry - very simple question - but hope someone can put me straight. Some local stone mason is talking about 1/2 a day's work to put them up, and it just seems crazy to me, but maybe I'm missing something!
 
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So what's the technique for bonding a big stone on to the top of a pier? Isn't it as simple as laying a bed of mortar down and then resting the stone on top? Ok - I know it'll take 4 of us to heave it up there ... but am I missing something?!
 

SFK

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GrinAndBearIt,
I have done this as a DIYer recently (or rather twice as there were two piers) putting two 80kg blocks on top of a 1.6m pier.
I my piers I had rebar going from foundations to very top to stop idiots trying to push them over. As I had about 5cm of rebar sticking proud of the top of the pier, I did consider drilling a large hole in the bottom of the pier caps which woudl then drop onto the rebar to stop any sideways movement. But decided not to for fear cracking pier caps during drilling, and the extra height and skill I would need to move the peir caps into position. Also decided that having them only on the mortar bed meant that if they got knocked (by say a skip) then they 'might' simply rotate/slide rather than crack against the re-bar.

So my recommendation (from my very limited experience).
You need five people. Four to lift each corner one to guide and check for issues, watch everyones feet and guide everyone.
It is best if you make a platform (I used stud wood) next to the Pier that is say at 4feet. Then lift cap from ground onto platform (lifting in a sort of underhand manner) and then easier to have rest and then lift overhand up to head height, walk forward around pier and lower cap.
I put a normal strength/thickness mortar bed onto the pier before moving and lowering cap on top of pier.
Then I had some angled wood chocks (wood triangles) that I pushed into the gap between the pier and the pier cap to adjust the level of the cap so it was dead flat (pushing some more mortar in where I had raised it off slightly). I left these in and removed the next day filling small holes they left with mortar.
I also considered Hiring a "Contractors Lift" (Nice video here: http://www.tvehireandsales.co.uk/CL...t_ID=164&ProductType_ID=11&ProductCat_TypeID=) but my surrounding ground was not suitable so never tried it.

The biggest issue for me were raising it to head height in controlled manner as if one person slips i would have had 80kg dropping from 4ft onto someone!! As yours is even taller would suggest a scaffolding platform on each side for you to stand on. So move cap onto a platform, then you all stand on raised platform, and then lift from there (making sure platforms are weight rated).

Note that it only took 10min for the 5 of us to lift the two pier caps in place, BUT it did take me much longer to set everything up such as the middle platform, clear the found, mix the mortar and adjust the flatness and rotation of the cap afterwards. So half a day sounds about right.

So far I have not had anyone try and nick them, and no-one has tried to push them off so I have had no need for other attaching methods.

SFK
 
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Superb ... thank you! Some great pointers there ... don't think my site is suitable either for the hoist, plus you'd probably still need 4 people to heave it off the cradle, so I'll stick to fully manual like you. But I've got some platform kit, that's a very good idea, much less fraught. I see it's possible to buy ready mixed bags of lime mortar, which I think I'll use. Final question ... am a complete novice on working with 'muck' ... how thick do you make the bed? I imagine between 15-20mm, but perhaps you'll tell me otherwise ...
 

SFK

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Glad to help. Sorry I am no expect either, for mortar I just tend to read instructions on back of packet!
I made mortar bed the same thickness (perhaps a mm thicker in case any came out when I twisted the cap to bed) as the thickness between my bricks so they matched. I made the mortar slightly wetter than normal as I wanted a bit of flow when I put the cap on (allowing it to flatten out the high points).
 
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Thanks again - you've inspired me to finish this job on my own (well +3 mates etc). Pictures to follow in a few weeks ....
 

SFK

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My pleasure.
Why lime mortar? rather than cement mortar? [And this is perhaps where you want to stop reading because it hurts my head]
And when you say Lime Mortar do you mean Hydraulic Lime & Sand, or Non Hydraulic Lime and Sand, or are you just talking about sticking a handful of Lime into Cement and Sand mix?
I ask because if your piers were put together using 1:5 Cement Mortar you could just go down to wickes and buy 1 bag of cement for £5.50 and 5 bags of building sand for £1.89each so it would be cheap (£15) and you would have more than enough for other projects (or spare if you go wrong, or take back bags of sand you don't use).
However if you are wanting to use Hydraulic Lime & Sand, or Non Hydraulic Lime and Sand to match what is already there, here is a good site that explains the differences and they will even colour match (I have used them once).
http://www.lime-mortars.co.uk/lime-mortar?gclid=CPGa_ZDa6ccCFUI_GwodWFwBYg
SKK
 
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It's just to match what's been used below them ... but I have no idea what particular type has been used, and to be honest I was hoping that not too much would show anyway. But that will be a useful site ... thanks again!
 

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