painting the Eiffel Tower
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  1. #1
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    Default painting the Eiffel Tower

    60 tons of paint, every 7 years (wiki)

    paintingeiffel.jpg

    -Marty-

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    Paint chip out of Eiffel Tower & detail. I spent a half day all over and around the tower Oct. 2017. If you ever have the opportunity do the same. A huge erector set.

    Construction progress photos: eiffel tower construction progress - Google Search

    Paul
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails eiffel-chipped-paint.jpg   eiffel-detail.jpg  

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    I wonder how long it takes to paint it. I've read that painting the Mackinac bridge in Michigan has never really stopped since it was built in the 50's. No idea how much paint it takes to paint it though.

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    The french will always find ways to make the job last a lifetime...Phil

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    Looks like the Eiffel Tower's steelwork was primed with the old "red lead"- basically lead oxide and linseed oil with some Japan drier. Greatest primer for outdoor steelwork, not used in the USA due to the lead content. Between the old steels seeming to have much better corrosion resistance and the red lead primer (and probably years of lead-based top-coat paints), the Eiffel Tower is unlikely to have too many corrosion issues. The places to watch on old riveted structures are the connections, as is shown in the second photo that Paul39 posted. A common occurance in these types of riveted built-up connections is known as "rust pack out". If water gets in between the various layers of steel in this type of connection and starts corrosion at the interface, it is a failure mechanism. The rust can create enough expansive force to break rivets in tension. The rivets are already stressed from the shrinkage when they cool after being driven. Add some additional tensile stress from rust pack out and rivets can fail. Since the rivets are "upset" in their holes in the steel structural members, rivets which fail in tension usually do not fall out of the connection. Visual inspection is misleading, since all rivets will appear in place. The only real way to properly inspect exposed riveted structures is to climb the steel and sound each and every rivet with a hammer. Unfortunately, in today's world, this method is not used too much. In the USA, many older bridges with countless rivets and riveted connections are not given the thorough inspection they should be getting. The method is to put the inspectors out and along the steel using a "snorkel" type of bucket truck made for bridge inspection, and to check a "representative sampling" of the connections. Whether the new generations of bridge inspectors even sound the rivets on the "representative sampling" of connections is something I wonder about. They may go with a visual inspection or possibly apply ultrasonic testing to the rivet heads, hoping to get the UT beam to go down thru the shank to the opposite head and bounce back if the rivet is sound.

    Painting the Eiffel Tower is one of those endless jobs, perhaps the stuff of urban legends. The kind of job that, when the paint crew reaches the end of the job, it's time to go back and start again. I suspect the Eiffel Tower steel is painted mainly by using brushes, with the painters scaling off any loose paint as they go along.

    Somewhere in the past, I read that Gustave Eiffel, when he designed the tower, realized he was into uncharted waters in many areas. One was dealing with winds aloft, and another area was getting workmen who would be comfortable working at the heights the tower would reach. The tower was one of the very first high steel structures, and if I recall correctly, was supposed to be only a temporary thing for some sort of trade fair or exposition.

    At the time the tower was erected, I wonder if compressed air riveting guns were in use. Obviously, as many connections as possible would be "shop riveted" using a hydraulic riveter (known as "power driving", a "C frame riveter" or a "bull riveter"). There would still be countless field riveted connections to be made in the erecting of the tower. If compressed air riveting guns were not in use, the thought of men swinging riveting hammers up on the tower is hard to imagine.

    I visited Paris with my parents in 1965, and we did go up on the tower as far as the public was allowed, using the elevators. 1965 was a good time to see Europe. It had not gotten ridiculously over-run with tourists, no terrorist acts were occurring, and my parents figured the trip using a book called "Europe on 5 dollars a day". We travelled 2nd class on trains, took busses, and had a wonderful family vacation. Somewhere along the line, my mother read about taking a "Tour of the Sewer" in Paris. The tour was of a storm sewer rather than a sanitary sewer. The entry for the tour occurred at a manhole (what else) in the middle of a street, allegedly on the spot where Marie Antoinette was guillotined. Sewer workers wearing high leather boots and dressed in blue work clothes arrived with carbide lamps and opened the manhole and put up a traffic barrier. We went down a flight of stone stairs, apparently hewn out of limestone. At the base of the stair was what amounted to a canal, with two footways alongside it. The sewer was a horse-shoe shaped tunnel, with the two narrow footways above the water level. In the channel there was a steel barge about 30 feet long moored there. One elderly sewer worker got up on the stern end of the barge and took the tiller. He turned on two big sealed beam lamps powered with a storage battery, which really helped see things down there. His cohorts undid the mooring lines and took hold of them, holding the barge back from being swept along too fast- and into the River Seine. The oldtimer at the tiller began to spiel in French, which my parents knew enough of to translate for us. Mainly, he was showing us where branches of the sewer entered the main branch we were on, and telling us about activities of the French resistance in WWII using the sewers for their operations, and how SS men disappeared via the sewer. The carbide lamps were hissing away, throwing their light, the sealed beam lamps seemed to be piercing a mist or fog, and the roar of water got louder as the steel barge neared the River Seine. Soon enough, the sewer crew snubbed off the lines to bitts set in the stone work. End of the tour. The crew was not going to haul a barge load or people back against the current in the sewer. We came up via another manhole, having no idea where in Paris we were. My parents figured it out soon enough and we got on with our exploration of Paris. We stayed in a pension (Hotel du Nil, 10 Rue le Helder). My parents made us kids memorize where we were staying in case we got separated, and 55 years later, I can still recite the pension's name and address. My father was a WWII US Army veteran, and he had been in Paris after the liberation. He had been wounded and was evacuated to a hospital in Paris, where he underwent an operation to try to fuse his right ankle and repair some damage to his right shoulder. Dad remembered walking around Paris with a cane. He also remembered being billeted with civilians in Soissons (sp ?) and had fond memories of time spent with various French families. In 1965, it seemed like we could walk into museums without waiting on any lines, let alone any security measures. My mother used to say we were fortunate in seeing Europe while it was still "unspoiled".

    We left Paris to go to Nice using a fast night train called "le Mistral". In 1965, the French National Railways was still running plenty of steam locomotives. When we got to the Gare du Nord, it seemed most of Paris was at the station, probably the national vacation time and the time French Army reserve units went on maneuvers. It seemed like anything that could roll was at the station, including numerous steam locomotives. My folks taught me how to ask to get up in an engine cab in French, translating steam locomotive into "horse of iron" if I remember right. I was allowed to get up in the cab of a French steam locomotive for a few minutes. We had arrived at the station early, so checked our baggage. Dad and Mom then took us to a "Brasserie" (if I spelled it right) across a side street from the station. It was a workingman's kind of bar. We ordered sandwiches, and although I was not even 15, Dad bought me a beer. About that same time, an older French railwayman came into the barroom. He had a prosthetic leg which looked like something he or his friends had made in the railway shops- turned from aluminum bar stock, kind of like a table leg with some ornamental design to it and a big hard rubber puck at the bottom end of it. He wore the usual blue work clothes and a lantern hung off his belt. A woman who was quite obviously "a lady of the evening" was at the bar and evidently knew the old railroader. She got them both a drink and they went to the juke box. She punched a record of a "Chanteuse" singing and the old railroader put his arm around her waist. Prosthetic leg and lantern, he was dancing with the lady and holding a drink in his hand. I had my beer, and felt like I was about 10 feet tall, drinking with Dad and the French railroaders and all else. We saw the Louvre, went to a number of sites including Versailles, but I think my experience with the French railroaders was the highlight of my time in Paris. That night, we boarded the Mistral and got in a sleeping compartment which we shared with a French couple. The Mistral left the station, and I remember seeing a woman living along the tracks turning the blower on a small forge to grill her family's supper. The Mistral soon was highballing. I could not fall to sleep, and quickly realized we were passing numerous freights and local trains, many with steam locomotives, that had gone onto sidings to let the Mistral highball through. I got up and walked to the end of the coach we were in, and found the access door had an upper half which could be opened independently of the bottom half (which would have likely dropped the deckplate out from under me and opened the "trap" with the access steps). I opened the top half of the entry door and hung out, looking into the cabs of steam locomotives as we roared past, and seeing endless trains of dead steam locomotives heading as scrap to the Ruhr, in Germany. There were destination signs on those trains of dead locomotives, and from time to time, I was able to make them out. I have no idea how long I was looking out the entry door at the sidetracked trains and night landscape. Mom came padding down the corridor and found me, asking what I was up to. I told her. She told me about living on the farm when she was a girl, and how the sound of steam locomotive whistles used to carry far on winter nights, so she'd hear it while laying in bed. She told me how the whistles told her of a world beyond the farm and how she had dreamed of seeing more of it. So, Mom and I stood there for another long while with the wind blasting at us through the opened door and me looking at sidetracked steam locomotives in the night. Mom made it to 100 years of age, had her wits about her to the end, and used to fondly recall that experience on Le Mistral with me. I could not tell you too much else about our trip to Paris, but then, a kid with his head wrapped around machinery and locomotives was not going to pay much attention to great works of art or department stores, and I was too young to go to the Follies (something my old man spoke of).

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    I was in the Gare du Nord in the early 90s. I was waiting for a train for a few hours, and went up into the restaurant in the station. I had one of the most elegant and delicious meals I've ever had, at a fair price.

    My next trip on a train was in the US. They had a vending machine with week old sandwiches.

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    Found some info on the painting. Article says it is not steel, but puddled iron, and that painting takes 18 months, done by hand with brushes.

    Painting and color of the Eiffel Tower - OFFICIAL Website



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    A friend used to work for the Hydro in Ontario and told me that when they paint the big high tension towers, they wear oven mitts, dipped into stainless steel paint, and simply glop it all over as they climb.

    I lifted a one gallon can and it is very heavy!

    McMaster-Carr

    I have to wonder how many years they over-engineer the structure to be, such as the the Eiffel tower, to add 45 tons every seven years.
    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by JST View Post
    Found some info on the painting. Article says it is not steel, but puddled iron, and that painting takes 18 months, done by hand with brushes.

    Painting and color of the Eiffel Tower - OFFICIAL Website


    That is very interesting. But the painting contractor sign in the picture sure sounds (at least to me) like a Brit outfit although the address is Paris.

    Dale

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    What a memory Joe. Fantastic. I have to get over to Paris someday and see all this. I've heard they also have a creepy catacomb tour. A friend of mine went on the tour and said it was really cool, if you like endlass stacks of bones!
    Eiffel also designed the Hidalgo Market in Guanajuato Mexico. I've been in it and from the outside you can see his stamp on the design.


    Guanajuato Mexico Guide





    gustave eiffel market building in guanajuato mexico - Google Search

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    Before the tower Eiffel did bridges: EIFFEL BRIDGES - Google Search

    Paul

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    I used to work on the movable bridges in Chicago. Back in the old days they told me they used to sand blast the bridges and let the spent sand fall in the river. Now they gift wrap it and use a vacuum system, least that's what it looks like. Depending on the degree of sand blasting and painting the bridge would have to be re balanced. We had an Ironworker test very high for led levels in his blood. Was determined that when they used a torch to cut the old iron out they were vaporizing the red lead and tallow primer from way back in the day. The engineers typically left the bridges slightly nose heavy so in the event of a power failure the bridge could be lowered via gravity and the mechanical machinery brakes were used to slow the speed on the way down. I'll never forget the one painting contractor they hired. We were following the sail boats from bridge to bridge in case there was an issue. We got to one bridge that was being painted. "Gus" the Greek guy running the painting crew for the contractor was told the bridge would be raised and he in turn told his crew. So the the warning bells start ringing, traffic gates go down, centerlocks are pulled and the bridge starts to move. One of the painters is spraying near the machinery stops painting and takes a step back. "Gus" yells at him, "HEY I SAID THE BRIDGE IS GOING UP I DIDN'T TELL YOU TO STOP PAINTING."

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    The RR bridge in the fore ground is the former FEC bridge ,opened in 1923 financed by Henry Flagler.It was the first rr bridge across the northern St Johns.The Acosta behind it opened a year earlier and was replaced around 1990.

    Last year I passed under it on my sons boat and it was a rusty mess.I can only remember it being repainted about 10 years ago.The water is quite brackish about as far up as the river porpoises go.I would think that as expensive as it would be to replace that painting would be a regular deal.

    A friend worked on the controls a few years ago before CSX repowered it.He told me it had two original Westinghouse 250hp wound rotor motors and one 50hp reduction geared motor for backup.He said the worst part of the job was getting through all the pigeon shit on it.

    I took that photo from the hospital I was in the morning after an op.Must have been the drugs but when I saw the boat first thing came to mind was "Milacron must have upgraded and moved to Jax",Was on PM the night before!Alas then I realized it was only the KISMET.

    There was an osprey with a needle fish flying in front of the window but wasn't quick enough to get him in the shot,however I got the train the two first bridges across the river and the KISMET.

    There are a couple of camera buffs at work and I'm going to get them to blow it up for me.20171210_155025.jpg

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    In case anyone is interested in the KISMET. kismet yacht - Bing video
    I got the FEC bridge info wrong,it replaced a single track swing bridge that opened in 1890.

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    KISMET is for sale. KISMET Yacht For Sale | KISMET Yacht | Moran Yacht & Ship

    Kismet (yacht) - Wikipedia Worth beyond 200M. Rental 1.2M/week.

    Joe in NH

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe in NH View Post
    KISMET is for sale. KISMET Yacht For Sale | KISMET Yacht | Moran Yacht & Ship

    Kismet (yacht) - Wikipedia Worth beyond 200M. Rental 1.2M/week.

    Joe in NH
    How about a partnership. I'm in for about 2 ten thousandths.



    Sent from my Nokia 7.1 using Tapatalk

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    Joe Michaels - I always look forward to reading your posts, no matter what topic. Even if it's not something I'm particularly interested in, you make it so.They are always well-written, and since you are writing about things you have personally experienced, I never question the accuracy. Thank you!

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    When did they stop using lead primer and paint in the US? I have some bridge iron that has orange primer and silver paint, I think the bridge was new in 1955.
    Is this coating dangerous? I have enough health problems without making it worse.

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    True Temper:

    Red Lead primer was in use in the USA probably up until the time the whole campaign to eliminate lead from paint and gasoline took effect.Maybe as late as the late 1970's.

    The coating is dangerous if you breathe it in or absorb it thru your skin. IOW, if you start grinding on old structural steel with red-lead primer, you get an airborne dust and can breathe it in or get it on your skin for absorbtion that way. Similarly, if you get to cutting old structural steel with a torch, you really get a strong does of it into your body via these same routes.

    Near our house, there is an ancient steel truss bridge. It spans the Esopus Creek, a major tributary into the Ashokan Reservoir which is part of the Catskill water supply system to NY City. The old bridge is to be demolished as part of a flood control project. The bridge has had a temporary decking suspended below the bottom chords of the trusses, and is now in a temporary enclosure for the lead abatement prior to the demolition. This is the extreme in dealing with the old red-lead primer on structural steel.

    If you have some old bridge iron and want to use it, get a respirator with appropriate filters for working around lead, and try to work outdoors. No ideas how much bridge iron you have and what you intend to do with it. Wearing a Tyvek coverall with a hood, and wearing nitrile gloves taped to the cuffs of the sleeves is not a bad idea either. As noted by gmach in his post, working on structural steel with red-lead primer will get into a person's body if precautions are not taken. Nowadays, when an older bridge is being worked on, it is often "cocooned" and a system for recovering spent abrasive from blasting, as well as filtering the air coming thru that cocoon with HEPA filters is put in place.

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    Joe, I had at one time a quarter mile of 3 1/2’x 4 1/2’ angle railing. I have used up half on various projects. I also got some of the main beam, it has some good 1/2” plate in the web, 30” wide or so. The flanges are 1” thick haven’t found much to do with them. It’s nice to have some good junk around.
    I am pretty careful around any thing that make dust I have sinus and allergy problems.


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