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Brick Bonding Patterns

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Brick Bonding Patterns
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, April 13, 2002 10:23 AM
Most all the brick-built model buildings I see in layout photos show walls of row upon row of bricks laid in 'stretcher' (that is, longest face exposed to air) pattern, regardless of the supposed age of the building. Is that really true of North American buildings of all eras? On my side of the Atlantic, it is found only on post-1950 construction or on older buildings where the brick is a non-load-bearing decorative skin.

Photos I've studied of older real buildings in Boston show some with a variant of 'Garden Wall' bond, six or seven rows of headers then a row of 'headers' (the narrow face exposed to air).

I'm particularly interested in what would be prototypical for late 19th century/early 20th for industrial buildings in New England for an intended layout. Any personal knowledge, references, photos etc will be very welcome - I'm not in a position to trot off and see for myself!
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Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, April 13, 2002 10:28 AM
Oops! An error in my mention of Boston buildings. It should be six or seven rows of 'stretchers' then a row of 'headers'. Sorry, folks.
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Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, April 13, 2002 10:18 PM
If I uderstand your question correctly, You want to know if the header rows were common around the 1900's and the answer is yes. I'm not exactly sure when they figuresd out that this adds strength to the walls, But they have been doing this since the late 1800's in Cleveland Ohio, And Boston has been around longer than Clev. .....Jamie
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Posted by BR60103 on Sunday, April 14, 2002 9:13 PM
Hey Gringo!
The brick work in North America works out about the same as elsewhere. The style may be slightly different (I haven't actually looked at any recently) but the construction problems are the same. Current brickwork is almost entirely brick veneer and laid in stretcher bond. Model manufacturers probably don't have the budget to put in full brick detail since only a dozen of us would really notice.

I asked a friend's brother who is a bricklayer about various bonds that I'd heard about. He said that they had been covered in his schooling but since he never used them, he couldn't remember the datials anymore.

David

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Posted by BR60103 on Sunday, April 14, 2002 9:17 PM
James:
I left this out of my first reply. What is happenning with the header rows is that structural brick walls are made more than one brick thick. The headers join two layers of brick together. Not sure how many layers actually make up a wall -- need to watch some historic building being torn down.
Lots of different patterns because different ideas and maybe just to vary the look.

David

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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, April 18, 2002 2:30 PM
Many thanks, James and David, for your responses. In Britain, this little matter has exercised q
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, April 18, 2002 2:30 PM
Many thanks, James and David, for your responses. In Britain, this little matter has exercised q
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, April 18, 2002 2:30 PM
Many thanks, James and David, for your responses. In Britain, this little matter has exercised q
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, April 18, 2002 2:30 PM
Many thanks, James and David, for your responses. In Britain, this little matter has exercised q
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, April 18, 2002 2:30 PM
Many thanks, James and David, for your responses. In Britain, this little matter has exercised q
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, April 18, 2002 2:30 PM
Many thanks, James and David, for your responses. In Britain, this little matter has exercised q
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, April 18, 2002 2:55 PM
Oh dear, it's being one of those days! Not sure how/why my first attempt at this suddenly cut-off then got posted several times. I'm starting over.

Thanks once again for your responses. The matter of brick bonds regularly crops up in the British rail model press, mainly when some new kit appears with stretcher bond walling, when the prototype is from a pre-stretcher era. Most of the British railway companies in the 19/20th centuries built their structures in 'English Bond', where rows of all stretchers and all headers alternate. This is a very strong bond, also about the most difficult to lay well. Most other brick buildings in Britain in this same period were made in 'Flemish Bond', where each row consists of alternate headers and stretchers, staggered so that a header in one row is in the middle of the stretcher in both the row above and that below. Cheaper structures were done in '#Garden Wall', where you get several rows of stretchers (usually three or five), then a row of headers. As most walls are two bricks thick, as Dave says, the headers, being placed crosswise, tie the two 'skins' together and the wall has good load-bearing properties.
Since the 1950s/60s and the concept of cavity walling for insulation, domestic buildings, small factories, etc. have had a non-load-bearing outer skin of all stretcher brickwork. Brick has also come back into favour as a purely decorative outer cladding for steel and concrete buildings, again it is just all stretcher. I am aware, as you have mentioned, that all-stretcher is the contemporary US norm too.
Since these distinctive brick bonds are an important factor in good prototype modelling for many UK modellers, and I'm part of that culture and enjoy modelling buildings as much as trains, I've simply been trying to discover what was the norm, particularly in New England from, say, 1850-1960. I wondered how prototypical those Boston buildings were - the pictures were taken in the mid-1960s and the buildings obviously had been around some years.
I know many North American modellers are sticklers for accuracy, period detail, etc., but sight of all those stretcher walls on kit-built/bashed buildings on period-set layouts in 'Model Railroader' and elsewhere had me wondering if the kits themselves lived up to the ideal.
I'll keep on looking for prototype references in books and magazines, but if anyone else on the forum has any hard details or thoughts I'll be pleased to hear.
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Posted by BR60103 on Friday, April 19, 2002 12:21 PM
I just had a lunchtime walk around the oldest bit of downtown Toronto.
The oldest building I found (1833) and some others around it were in Flemish bond.
I think I saw one in English bond. (Is my short term memory going already?)
There are a lot in Garden Wall -- varying between 3 and 5 courses of stretchers between the headers. There is one 1950s or 60s building where the lowest wall is done this way. The newer the building, the more courses between headers.
There are quite a lot of what I thought were old buildings with stretcher walls.

--David

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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, April 19, 2002 2:25 PM
Thanks for this, Dave. I'm beginning to think that bricklaying practices in northern USA owe more historically to Greater Europe than to Britain, but it looks as tho Toronto at least has a stronger British influence.

Those Boston buildings I mentioned have six or even seven stretcher courses between each header course, yet appear to date from early 1900s.

It's an interesting detail topic to me (if not to many others). I've gone cross-eyed poring over black-and-white photos of background buildings in pictures of New York, New Jersey and points north-east, in travel and history books in my local library. I'll keep on looking. Thought I might find an article or two in old model magazines, but the trawl I made of the Trains.com on-line index yielded very little (and nothing New England related).

Know just what you mean about the memory. I turned 60 last year and even before that had realised my memory banks weren't hanging-on to things like they did 20 or 30 years back.

My ID is an anagram of my surname. Call me Richard if you wish.
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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, April 19, 2002 2:25 PM
Thanks for this, Dave. I'm beginning to think that bricklaying practices in northern USA owe more historically to Greater Europe than to Britain, but it looks as tho Toronto at least has a stronger British influence.

Those Boston buildings I mentioned have six or even seven stretcher courses between each header course, yet appear to date from early 1900s.

It's an interesting detail topic to me (if not to many others). I've gone cross-eyed poring over black-and-white photos of background buildings in pictures of New York, New Jersey and points north-east, in travel and history books in my local library. I'll keep on looking. Thought I might find an article or two in old model magazines, but the trawl I made of the Trains.com on-line index yielded very little (and nothing New England related).

Know just what you mean about the memory. I turned 60 last year and even before that had realised my memory banks weren't hanging-on to things like they did 20 or 30 years back.

My ID is an anagram of my surname. Call me Richard if you wish.
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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, April 19, 2002 6:59 PM
I've been reading your posts about brick patterns with some interest as I've worked in a number of architects' offices and had access to a book called "Architecturral Graphic Standards," which is published under the auspices of the American Association of Architects.
The oldest editions I saw were from the 1930s, and they illustrated various bond patterns and briefly explained the uses for each.
What I recall is this:
American masonry walls are built on 8-inch moudular sizes. Three courses of brick are 8 inches high, and each brick is 4 inches deep and 8 inches long.
As discussed earlier, the header courses are used to tie layers of brick together.
Around the 1900s or so, concrete masonry units, also known as cinder block, came into use as backing for a wall with a brick finish.
CMU are 8x8x16 inches.
Brick walls can be extremely thick. Two layers of brick would be adequate for about a 6-foot tall wall in the garden. At least three layers would be needed for a load-bearing wall of a one-story building.
The tallest load-bearing masonry building in the U.S. is in Chicago, the Monadonak (guess on spelling) building. It dates from the early skyscraper years and is a brick building. From the street one can see the taper of the wall outward at the ground floor, mostly as a design detail, and I remember being told that the ground-floor walls were several feet thick.
I don't remember how tall it was, but at least 10 stories and not more than 20, I would imagine.
As your other sources pointed out, more frequent header courses make for a stronger wall, and as you've noticed, the older, industrial buildings would have a mostly running bond with as few header courses as possible, and buildings that were trying to show off a little would have fancier brickwork.
It is also common to have plain brickwork on the sides and rear of buildings that were not facing the street as an economic measure.
Unless you're building a particular structure, brickwork in most of the U.S. is probably very similar, and readily available brick sheet could be used.
If I can uncover any links to brick associations or the AIA, I'll post them.
Eric
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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, April 21, 2002 7:13 PM
Eric, thank you very much for these notes, which I have found very helpful.
By chance, the Monadanok (I'm guessing at the spelling, too) featured in a Briti***V programme about building styles shown here only a couple of months ago. It is very Art Deco, and as you note (and the programme made some point of showing us), the walls at ground level are indeed several feet thick, reducing with each floor and as the load decreases. The ground floor had to yield as much area to brick as to working space, so it is not a very 'efficient' building.
The cinder block inner skin did not seem to take much hold here until well after World War II, which I guess explains our continued use of old-established interlocking bond patterns until quite recent times. If the majority of North American 'brick' buildings, even older ones, are all-stretcher or stretcher with an occasional header row and the cinder block inner skin is common, then presumably there is a steel girder structure behind the facade and this is doing almost all the load-bearing.
Thanks again for your contribution, which has certainly advanced my knowledge. By the way, the standard British brick is more or less identical in dimensions to its US counterpart - so it seems I can happily use brick sheets, both printed and moulded, that are available over here.
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Posted by BR60103 on Sunday, April 21, 2002 7:26 PM
Richard:
When I was out this weekend, I saw a fairly new building that had an interlocking brick pattern in the walls. I didn't manage to go back and see what it was, but I think it was one of those buildings that the electric company puts up to camouflage their transformer stations, which would mean a self supporting wall with no frame behind it.
I looked in a hobby shop and found that all the buildings seemed to have plain brick patterns. Walthers supplies a large plastic sheet of bricks that has a header row and 5 stretcher rows pattern, so somebody has gone out and looked at buildings.
(I think I must have got all my brick information from the same model railway magazines that you see.)
David

--David

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