A Turlock based company has been awarded the prestigious task of restoring one of America’s greatest landmarks – the dome of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
The historic project, which is estimated to cost nearly $60 million, was last fully restored in 1959. The damage? More than 1,000 cracks, which range in size from several inches to three feet in length.
With more than 40 years of experience in cast-iron restoration, Turlock native and CEO of LOCK-N-STICH, Inc., Gary Reed will take on the highly-publicized dome restoration project alongside his innovative company that recently made the 2013 INC. 5000 list of America’s fastest growing companies.
LOCK-N-STITCH specializes in all aspects of repairing cracked and damaged cast iron and other cast metals, utilizing its patented technologies for repairing damaged castings through a process called metal stitching.
Constructed 150 years ago, the iconic dome is made of 8.9 million pounds of cast iron. The cast-iron shell averages 3/8-inch thick, while the structural components range from 1 1/4-inches thick or more.
During the restoration process, which is expected to take approximately two years to complete, scaffolding will envelop the dome from the skirt to the Statue of Freedom that sits atop. Installing the scaffolding alone is projected to take several months. Throughout the two year project, visitors and tourists will still be able to see Constantino Brumidi’s 1865 fresco, The Apotheosis of Washington, in the eye of the Rotunda. The 4,664 square foot painting has awed visitors for years, and continues to be one of the dome’s main attractions.
While LOCK-N-STITCH will focus on the cast-iron restoration aspect of the project, approximately 14 layers of old lead paint will also be removed through sandblasting. After the debris is collected and deposited into special containers, the work on the cast-iron can commence.
Each crack in the dome will have holes drilled along the length of the cracks so that double-hook pins, which were specifically designed for this project, can be inserted. After insertion, the pins will be tightened, drawing both sides of the crack together. The tops are then ground flush with the surface. After that, metal locks will be drilled and hammered into the metal across the crack to help strengthen the repair, and then ground flush.
After the ruts and pits are smoothed out, the surface will then be painted and caulking replaced. With a final coat of paint applied, the U.S. Capitol building dome will be fully repaired and in better shape than ever.
According to the Architect of the Capitol, most of the restoration work will occur at night and on weekends to help minimize any disruptions to both members of Congress and public visitors.
“As stewards of the Capitol for the Congress and the American people, we must conduct this critical work to save the Dome,” said Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers. “From a distance the Dome looks magnificent, thanks to the hard work of our employees. On closer look, under the paint, age and weather have taken its toll and the AOC needs to make repairs to preserve the Dome."
Following a full and open competitive bidding process, Turlock’s own LOCK-N-STITCH was chosen as the best qualified contractor for the historic job – a task that Reed said that he and all his employees are excited to do while proudly representing Turlock.