Montauk Point Lighthouse Museum & Gift Shop

TOWER RESTORATION

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For the first time in its two hundred year history, the Montauk Point Lighthouse Tower will undergo a major restoration. This project began in early March '98, and will be completed in the Fall of '98. An area of approximately fifty feet will be cordoned off to the public while the structure is undergoing its facelift. Minimal interruption will take place for visitors at the museum while this restoration takes place. The firm contracted to do the restoration on the tower is International Chimney Corp., headquartered in Buffalo, New York. The project will be supervised by Joe Jakubik from International Chimney. He has supervised and managed such projects as; restoration of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, relocation of the Southeast Lighthouse, Block Island, Rhode Island, restoration of the Brandywine Shoal Lighthouse, Cape May', New Jersey, and Boiler House Chimney Replication at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C.

REASONS FOR THE RESTORATION

In the early spring of 1997, an inspection of the tower, which included a video taping of the structure, revealed several bulges in the brickwork, water runoff coming off the brickwork, which could cause droppage, as well as several loose bricks. The study also revealed severe corrosion to the metal under the deck at the top of the tower.

Masonry repairs will include identifying the reason for the bulges in the brickwork and repairing them. A lime rich mortar will be used in making the repairs. The lime rich mortar will provide for greater flexibility. Metal repairs will involve the latest technology, such as the use of a needle gun to remove as much corrosion as possible. A special type of paint will be used, the paint will be the latest high tech type of paint. It can be used in temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The paint will be coated with a urethane finish, and an interesting feature of the paint is the higher the humidity, the faster it will set, which is perfect for the conditions that prevail out at the Lighthouse. If needed a new titanium based epoxy putty known as Belzona will be used to fill in open metal. This new type of filler is virtually indestructible. International Chimney is one of the best, if not the best Chimney and lighthouse restoration corporation in the world.

The tower restoration is the Montauk Point Lighthouse Museum's first step into the twenty first century. Update: May 4th, 1999

THE SECOND MILLENNIUM BEGINS AT
2000 MONTAUK HIGHWAY

A new "Beaming Beacon" guides the way . The Montauk Point Lighthouse tower has received its first major exterior restoration in two hundred years. Through the vigilance of the Montauk Point Lighthouse Museum Committee, of the Montauk Historical Society and the expertise of the contracting firm of International Chimney, Inc., this monumental project was completed on April 16, 1999. The Lighthouse Museum Committee's mission is to "protect, preserve and develop this national historic landmark" as we move into the new millennium.

The first phase of this three phase exterior tower restoration project began on March 16,1998. During the first phase of the restoration, all of the metal decking was repaired and restored. The supports that held up the deck revealed a severe deterioration to the main supports that held up the main deck. The corrosion over the years reduced these supports to almost tooth picks. Needless to say, the identification of and repairing of these problems were done just in time. The decking was secured with the addition of new brackets and a cable support. The total cost for the first phase of the restoration was $196,000.

Phase two of the restoration project focused on the exterior of the lighthouse tower, particularly on the bulges and the major cracks. The main cause for the cracks on the tower were caused mainly by the freeze thaw conditions over the last two hundred years. In addition to this, there was a breakdown of the mortar support that held the sandstone blocks in place. Several of the bulges were caused by the mortar breakdown pushing the sandstone blocks outward. Phase one and the first part of phase two were completed on May 20, 1998. International Chimney, Inc. demobilized and the museum and lighthouse tower opened for the 1998 summer season.

On September 15,1998 International Chimney, Inc. returned to the Montauk Point Lighthouse to resume phase two of the restoration project. The work began at ground level and continued up the exterior of the tower, where several courses of blocks were removed to investigate the condition of the rubble. Evidence revealed that the rubble behind the main wall of the tower was in very good condition, and a new fill in the form of elasticized concrete that would have been pumped between the main and inner wall would not have to be implemented as was first thought. The sandstone blocks with severe cracks were mortared with a lime rich mortar, which is very close to the original mortar that was first used in the construction of the Montauk Point Lighthouse back in 1796 . The balance of the sandstone blocks were repointed with the same lime rich mortar. Any sandstone blocks that were found to be hollow, causing the face of the stone to come loose were drilled and filled with an epoxy type of glue that filled and bonded the blocks. On December 16, 1998 all of the tower stone work was officially completed.

In order to accomplish a tight seal and bonding of the sandstone tower blocks, it required that the tower have all of the old paint removed from the exterior. By removing the old paint, any new paint would bond more securely and last for a much longer period of time. In order to accomplish this, it would be imperative to find a strong solution that would be power applied to the exterior of the tower to remove the old paint, and yet not cause any abrasive damage to the original soft sandstone blocks. The product that was chosen was baking soda. On December 4, 1998 a test of the baking soda blast process was implemented, and the results were excellent. The old paint and fungus could be easily removed.

On January 4, 1999, the International Chimney crew returned and focused their direction on the soda blasting of the exterior tower and working on phase three, the interior restoration on parts of the tower. The crew balanced their schedule to work indoors when the weather was bad and on the exterior when the weather cooperated. The interior work included repair and restoration of the portholes, restoration of the brass windows, repairing and repointing the cracks that were visible throughout the tower, in addition all the parget above all the windows was restored. Cracks in the riser of the steps in the ships ladder leading up to the lantern room were repaired with Belzona, a titanium epoxy that was used on the galley deck repairs. In addition, the north chimney of the museum was completely restored and capped. All of the flashing around the three other chimneys were repaired to correct the interior leaks. There are two tower windows facing west, that are currently boarded closed. These boarded windows will be replaced with two new solid brass windows. The new windows will historically match the original tower windows. The installation of these windows will take place this summer.

When the soda blast process of the exterior tower was completed, the tower was power washed and left to dry completely. When this was completed, the exterior of the lighthouse tower received two coats of Modac paint.This paint was used on the exterior of the Barnegat and Cape May Lighthouses, both located on the New Jersey Shore. In order to determine how well this paint performed, Tom Ambrosio, Executive Director of the Montauk Point Lighthouse Museum contacted both the Barnegat and Cape May Lighthouses. The Barnegat Lighthouse had the Modac paint applied five years ago and went through the same process of soda blasting the tower before applying the paint. An inspection revealed that the paint was as good as when it was first applied and should probably last another five years. Cape May Lighthouse, had similar findings. This was evidence enough to proceed with the Modac paint system on the Montauk Point Lighthouse.

The brown band around the center of the Montauk Point Lighthouse is a navigational day mark. The day mark was changed to the historically correct reddish brown color with the new exterior tower painting. The Montauk Point Lighthouse Tower Restoration Project's total cost exceeded $500,000. The Lighthouse Committee extends a special thank you to everyone who so generously contributed and supported the Montauk Point Lighthouse Tower Restoration.

Future maintenance will require a visual inspection every two to three years to make certain that the stone and mortar joints are sealed and that there are no new cracks in the sandstone.This type of maintenance will prevent the type of problems that occurred in the past two hundred years, and will preserve this national historic landmark for future generations.


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