Over the Christmas break society members finally carried out some necessary remedial work on the observatory dome roof, stripping and then re-felting the door flaps.  Saul had noticed earlier in the month that the felt looked somewhat ‘dodgy’ especially on the flaps and on closer scrutiny in daylight it was clear it had deteriorated to such an extent it needed to be replaced.

Having already roughly measured up for roof felt and lathes required for the whole roof, Saul, met Andy L, Keith and Mark at the observatory on a dry but slightly chilly Saturday (Dec 29th).  Utilising some shorter ladders propped against the dome from the flat roof, Saul, Mark and Andy, took it in turns to strip the old felt right back to the wood, removing old pitch and as many felt nails as possible.  Keith, footed ladder from the ground and passed things up.  Having measured a length of felt required for a door flap, a new piece was cut, before it was passed up onto the flat roof in readiness to be torched on.  Saul used a large gas bottle and torch for this.

It was tricky (to say the least) holding the felt roll at the top of the dome doors, tacking it and then unrolling it down the door whilst torching it on in a straight line, without it running off.  It’s trickier still in a blustery wind, which seemed to spring up from nowhere.  Further felt side cheeks were required, a double felt layer over the hinged edge of the door flaps.  Saul also double felted the bottom of the door flaps to help maintain the integrity of them.

Whilst Saul and Andy finished off the first flap, Mark and Keith cut the felt strips for the second door flap.  This went on a little easier, although Mark got called away for a while and missed most of the torching.  The overlapping lathes were then attached to the door flaps to maintain the weather seal down the joint when closed.  The shape of the dome meant a few health and safety rules were stretched (or overlooked), with Saul, Andy and Mark clambering up and down the dome and Saul ‘peaking’ the dome summit on a number of occasions.

Major jobs never go according to plan, and this was no exception, but with the afternoon wearing on we finally succeeded in closing up the dome once again.  It’s a start, and there is much to do yet, but perhaps the hardest section has been tackled.  We also now have a better understanding how the remaining felt panels will be replaced and the methods used.  This will be undertaken in early April, when days are lighter and warmer.(hopefully)

Many thanks for Andy and Keith in assisting, but most of all to Saul.  Without whose knowledge and workmanship the job would not have been possible.