Repairing leaded lights
In the traditional leaded light, separate pieces of glass are held in a framework of specially shaped lead extrusions called ‘cames’. The whole framework, called the light, is then inserted in the rebate of the window casement like a single pane of glass.
Tools needed are a glass cutter, a 6mm wood chisel, a soft brush, a putty knife, a hammer and a soldering iron.
Materials: gold-size putty cement, plumber’s black, solder, flux and wire wool. Gold size is an addition to the putty which prevents cracking and should be mixed well into the putty. Gold size accelerates drying.
Finally, fork putty into the came. This is special soft putty for leaded lights Even if only one or two pieces of glass are broken in a leaded light, it is likely that you will have to remove the whole light to replace them.
If you can repair the window in situ, do so. Leaded lights are easily distorted when removed from their frames. Where a window has bulged badly, however, take it out carefully.
Always work on the outside of a window so that any disfigurement of the cames cannot be seen from the inside.
Start by carefully cutting away the putty, avoiding damage to the outer lead cames. Remove the sprigs or oval brads-there are normally two to each edge of the frame.
Insert a wide chisel behind the light and ease it gently out of the rebate, working progressively along each of the edges in turn.
Lay the light on a flat surface and, with a knife, cut through the top of the cames, cutting diagonally into the corners to enable the edge of the lead to be prised up. Slip the blade between the lead and the glass and draw it along the came.
Repeat the process with the blade of a screwdriver until the lead is gradually lifted and bent back.
Continue until the glass is loose enough to draw out. Tap out the glass from the inside of the window. Collect the pieces and dispose of them. Clean out the grooves in the cames with a chisel, taking extra care to ensure that there is no debris left in the corners.
Brush round all the empty cames and then fill these with a soft, gold-size putty cement, pressed well down into the came. Cut the new glass carefully to size and insert this.
Support the light on a flat surface, such as a piece of, and press down the cames firmly with a putty knife, handle of a screwdriver or a wallpaper roller to ensure that they are all flat on the glass. Carefully trim off surplus putty from both sides of the glass with the putty knife.
Burnish the broken joints with an abrasive pad or medium-grade glasspaper or with fine wire wool.
The conventional way of sealing the corners is to solder them. Plumber’s black is applied beyond the corner of each joint to limit the spread of solder. Check that the surface is clean, or the solder will not adhere.
Soft soldering is carried out at temperatures of between 120°C and 240°. An electric soldering iron is the best choice. Soft soldering is a relatively low-temperature process for joints which do not have to take a lot of weight or heat.
Apply flux and place a little solder on each broken joint with a moderately hot iron. To finish the joint neatly, to match the others, rub with the soldering iron, in a circular motion.
Alternatively, you can seal the corners with plastic repair materials. Clean the joints, knife the plastic into them and allow it to set hard.
Where leaking is caused by a fault in the putty, mark the leaking points with a wax crayon during wet weather.
When the weather is dry, open the cames up slightly, and scrape out the old putty. Replace it with new and press the cames firmly back into place. Check again during wet weather.
10. November 2011 by admin
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