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elf
03-06-2010, 02:33 PM
How do I clean these bricks? I want to use them, not just any bricks, for a specific non-construction purpose. Can I get the old mortar off without the bricks coming apart?

Donn
03-06-2010, 02:43 PM
A right angle grinder with a 40 grit flap wheel should make short work of it.

Paul Girouard
03-06-2010, 02:47 PM
What bricks?

Maybe chip it off, thats mainly how people clean old bricks. With a masons hammer.


http://www.ted-kyte.com/3D/Pictures/Masons%20Hammer.jpg

If it's old 'flaky'/ soft mortar, like Donn said, a grinder or belt sander might take it off. So it depends on other factors, those factors change what might work best.


.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
03-06-2010, 03:15 PM
How do I clean these bricks? I want to use them, not just any bricks, for a specific non-construction purpose. Can I get the old mortar off without the bricks coming apart?

These? where are the pictures?

Depends on the nature of the mortar, and the nature of the bricks - sometimes a few whacks with the edge of a trowel will do the job - but frost-damaged bricks and you're toast.

Phillip Allen
03-06-2010, 04:22 PM
send me a pic of several...

shamus
03-06-2010, 06:51 PM
I once cleaned a lot of handmade convict era bricks by judicious use of the edge of the trowel as outlined by PI Stazzer Newt. There's a bit of a knack to it which you soon get. I've encountered other bricks which wouldn't clean with this method- probably depends on the mix of the mortar.

Phillip Allen
03-06-2010, 06:53 PM
it depends a great deal on the nature of the mortar...

oznabrag
03-06-2010, 07:00 PM
it depends a great deal on the nature of the mortar...

Yes indeedy.

Some mortars you can get off with a stern look, others...well you're better off using them for fill.

Michael D. Storey
03-06-2010, 07:02 PM
just soak em in diluted muriatic acid. Then dump it in your neighbor's pool

MiddleAgesMan
03-06-2010, 08:50 PM
Cleaning old bricks was a Savannah tradition a few years back. "Savannah Greys" were the rage (old solid bricks salvaged from demolitions) and someone had to remove a lot of mortar. The guys I saw doing it just whacked at the motor-brick interface with the sharp end of one of those mason's hammers. On non-solid bricks it's much more difficult.

Paul Girouard
03-06-2010, 08:53 PM
the motor-brick interface



Ya-All got motors on yer bricks down yonder? She-zam!! Who'd a thunk:D

Harbormaster
03-06-2010, 09:06 PM
'Pends on how old the bricks and mortar are. Though one can still make a "soft" mortar these days, for the most part if it was laid before the second world war, they will be easier to clean then after. Give it a knock with a hammer, soft mortar and it'll peel away from the brick, hard mortar is tougher, it'll be nearly impossible to get it off, and not worth the labor. Newer bricks are also tougher and tend to be redder, older are often a little orange.

Good Luck.

elf
03-06-2010, 09:45 PM
Well, these bricks come from the path to the guest cottage that belonged to a friend of mine who spent the last 14 years of her life trying to beat breast cancer. So I'm kinda willing to put out some effort to clean them up. But since the family cottage was built sometime in the 1730s and moved to the big acre where my friend grew up sometime in the mid-1800's, I have a hunch these bricks are pre-both World Wars.

They've been outdoors largely in the dirt for lo those many years.

My goal is to use them for the edging around my veggie garden.

Will the mortar be easier to get off if the bricks soak for a summer outdoors in a big pan, for instance?

WX
03-07-2010, 01:08 AM
4lb hammer and a bolster chisel works well, sometimes a few wacks with a hammer is sufficient.

http://img.tradeindia.com/fp/0/023/834.jpg

Harbormaster
03-07-2010, 06:35 AM
elf,
In places where's there's winter frost, it isn't normal to lay bricks on the ground with mortar, so it may even be easier than we think it is. It may just be hardened sand?

Peerie Maa
03-07-2010, 06:51 AM
Well, these bricks come from the path to the guest cottage that belonged to a friend of mine who spent the last 14 years of her life trying to beat breast cancer. So I'm kinda willing to put out some effort to clean them up. But since the family cottage was built sometime in the 1730s and moved to the big acre where my friend grew up sometime in the mid-1800's, I have a hunch these bricks are pre-both World Wars.



So, do you think that these bricks were part of the 1730's cottage, that were used for path edging when it was rebuilt C1850. If that is so, why not just relay them as they are, the mortar has been as much a part of the path used by your friend as have the bricks themselves.
Harbourmaster is correct, any mortar will be from the 1730's, not from when the path was laid in the mid 1800's.

elf
03-07-2010, 07:23 AM
Yes, it is curious that the bricks have mortar when I found them as a path to the outbuilding. But my friend's father was an inveterate packrat, and it's quite likely that he found some bricks somewhere and brought them home to make this path. He did leave another small barn completely stuffed with newspapers...

But when I hit the mortar with a hammer, if it comes off at all it's either as sand mixed with tiny stones, or as a slab or chip of sand mixed with tiny stones. However I can chip away at the stuff for 10 minutes before any but fine sand comes off, and there are few cracks between the brick and the mortar.

Syed
03-07-2010, 09:15 AM
http://www.concretecutter.net/full-images/724086.jpg

Phillip Allen
03-07-2010, 09:21 AM
clean what you can and set the rest aside 'till you find someone with a bricksaw.

if you can take a metal point (edge of chisle) and scrape the mortar down to the brick then is is likely old lime mortar and worth the effort. if scratching doesn't produce much effect then it may be more modern mortar and it'll need to be sawn off

forget the acid stuff as it is very slow and not gonna be worth the effort...for it to work the brick must be scrubbed, soaked, scrubbed, soaked and so on for a long time

you might be able to rent a saw but I don't reccomend it as it is dangerous and requires developed skill

Phillip Allen
03-07-2010, 09:23 AM
http://www.concretecutter.net/full-images/724086.jpg

too heavy for me and certainly for Emily...it needs a table saw (masonry type)

Mrleft8
03-07-2010, 09:38 AM
Soda blasting might work.....

Phillip Allen
03-07-2010, 10:07 AM
Soda blasting might work.....

too complicated just to save a few fifty cent bricks

elf
03-07-2010, 10:19 AM
So, do you think that these bricks were part of the 1730's cottage, that were used for path edging when it was rebuilt C1850. If that is so, why not just relay them as they are, the mortar has been as much a part of the path used by your friend as have the bricks themselves.
Harbourmaster is correct, any mortar will be from the 1730's, not from when the path was laid in the mid 1800's.

You know, that's a very interesting question, now that I think about it. The main house had a fire, and its internal chimney had to be completely rebuilt, but not the 3 fireplaces which were on it. I suppose it's possible the bricks came from the old chimney, which probably was added to the house at some point between the early 19th C and the early 20th C.

Phillip Allen
03-07-2010, 10:42 AM
regardless of where the bricks came from, if you have hard mortar on them then they have been reused with modern stuff...the age you suggest would mean very soft mortar. If It's not soft then they have been reused...simple

BrianW
03-07-2010, 10:47 AM
Bring'em to Leftys house late June. :)

Hwyl
03-07-2010, 11:49 AM
Stuff others have missed.

Wear safety goggles and gloves, even I would and I'm foolhardy/stupid.

Water, if anything, will make it harder.

Harbormaster
03-07-2010, 12:01 PM
Okay enough, we need pictures.