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Building a House - the Slating and Plumbing


Although Paul could have returned to the Lyceum at Paris in June, Madame de Gandelau insisted upon her son remaining at home during the summer. She was afraid of typhus. Anxiety, moreover, was felt respecting the tran quillity of the great city which had been so cruelly tried and injured. A tutor in the neighbourhood - a man of more learning than is usually possessed by those modest substitutes for the highest class of educators - came there fore every day to read with Paul for an hour or two, that he might not forget his Latin; and the rest of his time was devoted to superintending the works, which were visibly advancing. The walls were built, the floor-joists fixed, and they were beginning to raise the timber-work of the roofs; and though there were no longer so many details to be given to the workmen, the surveillance had to be more minute, especially as Eugene would not allow anything to escape observation, and insisted upon having an account of everything. Sometimes, when Paul returned from the works, Eugene would ask him if he had seen such or such a part. If Paul hesitated, he would say to him,"Well, my dear fellow, you must go back and see that, and bring me an account of it - not to morrow, mind, but directly."And Paul would have to mount his pony again. So in order to avoid these goings and comings, which seemed to him at least monotonous, he had acquired the habit of not returning till he had examined in detail all the points respecting which his cousin could possibly question him. It was especially to the chain-rods that he had directed Paul's attention. He would ask him repeatedly how the claw ends were bedded; and if the explanations did not agree, Paul had to return to the works, and not leave them till he had seen with his own eyes that things had been done according to order. Besides this, Eugene visited the works three times a week with Paul, and instructions were given to the builders in his presence. The former always took care to make his clerk of works repeat these instruc tions to him, to be certain that they were understood.

The gutters, the discharge of the rain-water, and the roofing now required attention.

"Country builders generally manage roofing but indif ferently,"said Eugene,"and especially the plumber's work. We shall therefore have to be specially careful about this important part of our undertaking; for a house badly roofed is in the same condition as a man incom pletely or badly clothed. Both contract incurable maladies.

We have no good roof-plumbers here, and must make up our minds to send for some from Paris. That will cost us a little more; but it will be a saving in the end, for we shall avoid incessant repairs and irreparable bungling. As for the slating, we will fasten it with hooks.

"Slates are commonly fastened on deal battens, by means of nails; but to drive these nails into the laths the slate must have two holes made in it, since each is secured by two nails. With the force of the wind the slates shake about, make the holes larger, and ultimately slip of the head of the nails; then they fall. To replace a single slate several must be removed, and the last must necessarily be pierced below the over-lap, that is, in the uncovered part of the slate. With hooks we avoid these disadvantages, and anyone can repair the roof. These hooks are made of copper, which allows them to be opened and closed many times without breaking them. Moreover, the slate, being held down at its bottom end, cannot rattle with the wind, and nothing can displace it. In the ordinary mode of (French) slating there are - one over the other - three thicknesses of slate. The exposed part being 4 inches - the slate is then I 3i inches long. The laths are nailed on the rafters 4 inches apart from centre to centre (Fig. 6o). Thus at A you see the position of the laths and that of each slate. The hooks lie upon the under slate, in the interval between the intermediate slates, and clip the lower end of the outer slate. At B I show you, in section half full size, the lath, C, nailed upon the rafters, and the hook, whose point is driven into the lath, with its return, E, clipping the exposed end of the slate. So much for the plain parts of the roof; and now for the returns - the hips and valleys. Where these occur, as the slates are not flexible, we must make use of lead or zinc; the first of these metals is much the best, and is less liable to crack and to oxidize. We shall cover the hips with short lengths of lead bent to the form, nailed, and worked in with the courses of slate. In the valleys we shall lay a sheet of lead, on which at either side the slates will lie.

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slate, paul, slates, nails and hooks