We’ve made a start on re-roofing the larger of the two buildings on the quinta. As luck would have it, Chris has a brother who’s a roofer, and he’s come to join us and help out with replacing the roofs on both buildings since neither in their present state are watertight. Welcome Michael!
The existing roof covering comprised large irregularly-sized slabs of schist (the local slate-like stone from which everything in these hills is built), probably weighing in the region of 8 tonnes, supported on beams, rafters and purlins of sweet chestnut. Most of the schist and most of the chestnut is still sound, so we’ll be re-using it. The rotten and broken pieces will be replaced from local sources, re-using old chestnut beams taken from collapsed buildings, and schist from old mineworkings.
Work is now underway on cleaning the chestnut – stripping off the outer layers which have weathered or been eaten by insects to reveal the sound timber beneath.
We’re using an ‘ecological’ wood preservative made by a Portuguese company. So far I’ve been unable to find out exactly what’s in it – the website, like a lot of Portuguese websites, has no information at all, and the data sheet for the preservative (Xilotrata ‘VNZ 8000’) gives nothing away on that subject. It appears to contain PVA as well as whatever-it-is that’s to prevent insect attack. We’ll be following treatment with this by a coat of linseed oil on the roof timbers.