DeMesa-Sanchez House - Letter (November 28, 1977) & magazine article


Material Information

DeMesa-Sanchez House - Letter (November 28, 1977) & magazine article
Series Title:
Herschel Shepard Project Files
Physical Description:
Shepard, Herschel ( donor )
Publication Date:
Physical Location:
Folder: 7704 DeMesa-Sanchez House


Spatial Coverage:
North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- St. Johns -- St. Augustine

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID:

Full Text

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IW rL bouweconomisch en -technologisch adviesbureau b.v.

Department of State,
Division of Cultural Affairs,
Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board,
P.O. Box 1987,
ST. AUGUSTINE/Florida 32084/U.S.A.
Att.Mr. Robert H. Steinbach.


ONZE REF. B1687-DK/cs.

BRIELLE, 28th November 1977.

Dear Sir,

Herewith we send you a copy of
Trade (November 1977): "Bureau
plastic age".

an article in Netherlands American
Beta, Restoration techniques in the

At the moment we are studying the market possibilities of our know-
how in U.S.A. and Canada and therefore very interested to learn your

Looking forward to your reply,

Sincerely yours,


Dick Klapwijk.

ucU 5 1977

Historic St. Augusti i
Preservation Board Research WeP

POSTBUS 151, 3230 AD BRIELLE, MAARLAND Z.Z. 23, TELEFOON 01886-553613574

Bureau Beta

Restoration Techniques in the Plastic Age

In a sort of reverse psychology it seems as if the more technical advances a
society makes, the more protective it becomes of it's past. The U.S. is a perfect
example of a country that treasures the historic symbols it has acquired in it's
relatively brief history and makes every effort to restore and maintain its
national, state and local buildings that have significance either because of age
or function. However, restoration is an extremely time and cost consuming
process especially if authenticity is preserved. Therefore, man-made mate-
rials are almost never used or considered in restoration projects.

There is no one who knows this better
than Dick Klapwijk, a Dutchman who
lives in an old house in the harbor town
of Brielle, Netherlands. The house was
built in 1586, a good 35 years before the
Pilgrim Fathers began their crossing to
the New World from the Dutch port
Delfshaven, a little farther down the
coast. It is a magnificent example of
16th century building and is situated di-
rectly on the quay where clipper ships
used to be anchored. Because of its age
the house is protected by the 'Rijks-
dienst voor de Monumentenzorg', The
Dutch National Service for Preservation
of Places and Buildings of Historic Inte-
rest. This is a department directly res-
ponsible for the protection of historic
sites and with the authority to restrict the

use and remodeling of any building un-
der its supervision to conform to the
standards of authenticity set by the sta-

Therefore, any remodeling that is car-
ried out in a protected building is super-
vised by the Rijksdienst, who in return
gives liberal subsidies for costly repairs.
Which is exactly what happened to Dick
Klapwijk. He bought the house and dis-

already varied. He had first studied
medicine and lound that although he
was fascinated by the technical aspects
of medicine, practicing really didn't ap-
peal to him. He then studied chemistry
and wound up working with polymeer
plastics as research leader for a num-
ber of companies. About ten years ago
he decided to start his own consulting
bureau, Beta Building economic and
technological advice. The idea was to
use his extensive knowledge in plastics
and the possible applications as a con-
sultant to the construction industry.

At the same time he moved into his
newly acquired old house and late in-
tervened. Faced with the possible col-
lapse of his house and with the fact that
even subsidies wouldn't begin to cover


Restoration of the Drommedarns in Fnkliuizn (Northern Holland) was also a Beta project.

covered that it was about to cave in on
top of him rot had eaten out the ends
of the enormous wooden beams that
were the supporting structure of the

He was faced with a dilemma which
altered his entire career which was

the enormous costs he approached the
problem from a technical view point.
The traditional way to restore a rotted
support beam is to saw it off at both
ends at the wall The bad part in the wall
is removed and replaced. the beam is
strengthened and again attached to the
new parts. It is time consuming, costly

N.A.T. November 1977



(about $ 1200 per beam, in a house full
of rotted beams), and the joint by the
wall always remains visible.
Dick Klapwijk reasoned that it must
be possible to restore the beam without
taking it down if the rotted part could be
replaced. The obvious solution for him
was to use an epoxy which could be
squirted into the wood, harden and re-
place the rot with a firm, strong plastic.
He began to experiment with a particu-
larly bad beam directly above his desk
in his study. While he was involved in
trying to get just the right epoxy mixture
the inspector of the Rijksdienst came
and told him that 1) it wouldn't work, 2) it
wouldn't last and 3) he wouldn't get any
subsidy. At that point he really didn't
care and proceeded with his salvation
efforts. It did work, looked like lasting
and when the inspector returned, even
got subsidy.

The inspector was not only surprised
and pleased by the result but so inter-
ested that he invited Dick to investigate
whether it might have broader applica-
tions useful for other old buildings. He
began an intensive research program,
working with the Bijksdienst, into the
best way his ideas could be developed
for use. The results of his research,
which has been carried out in testing
conditions by a number of institutes, la-
boratories and universities is the Beta
System, patented in 12 countries and
with patent pending in four more.

How does it work?
Using epoxy has several advanta-
ges. It can be easily introduced into

Here the epoxy is being poured.

N.A.T. November 1977

wood because a chemical reaction re-
duces the viscosity of the epoxy and it
flows into every porous opening before
hardening. In order to determine the ex-

tent of the rot it is necessary to drill deep
into the wood. Special drills have had to
developed that can bore through any-
thing, including iron spikes several cen-
turies old. Once the extent of the decay
is determined careful calculations are
needed to decide how to distribute the
load for maximum strength. In order to
supply adequate support a sort of bridg-
ing effect is created by using rods -
usually fiber glass that are placed in
the beam and penetrating into the wall.
These rods are surrounded by injected
epoxy. The rod is placed far enough into
the beam so that it is anchored solidly in
the healthy part of the wood. Studies


made of completed construction show
that the epoxy seeps into every crack of
decay so that it actually forms a solid
whole again. With the rods for extra
strength it is often stronger than the ori-

It is, of course, extremely important
that the restoration be done based on
the exact stress calculations and using
the proper method and materials. This
is why Dick Klapwijk spent so much time
and effort in experimenting with various
epoxy's and methods before ending up
with the 'Beta System'.

One advantage is obvious; the
changes take place inside the construc-
tion so that the external appearance
remains unchanged. Another advan-
tage takes us back to Dick Klapwijk's
original problem the cost. The Beta
System is much cheaper than conven-
tional restoration methods. The repairs
can be made without altering the origi-

nal construction, and also without hav-
ing the mess of pulling everything apart.

An example of the sort of savings that
can be made is the City Hall in Haarlem.
The restoration of a decayed beam
layer was estimated at f 250,000 guil-
ders and 6 months time. Renofors, the
liscenced Beta System agency in the
Netherlands, completed the work in one
week for f 30,000 guilders.

Does it work?
In short the answer is yes. It has
worked in all sorts of woods and condi-
tions and has proven under all test con-
ditions to be strong and lasting. The
T.N.O., Delft, the University of Techno-
logy in Delft, Institute for Building Tech-
nique in Berlin, Germany and the De-
partment for Ancient Monuments in
London are a few of the institutions that
have investigated the Beta System.
Further more it has been used in more
than 800 buildings in Europe. It is now
regularly used by the Rijksdienst for it's
historical buildings.

Acceptence of the system by archi-
tects and other people professionally
involved in restoration projects hasn't
always been easy. To convince one
skeptic. Dick Klapwijk hung enormous
weights on a rope hung on a beam on
the roof. He was finally convinced that
the joint would hold.

Others have been persuaded to try
the system because of the ease and
safety with which old objects can be
handled. The organ in St. Jans Cath-
edral in Gouda is an example. There
was a decayed support in the structure
that Renofors repaired for f 13,000

4 .j-- --A

guilders, without affecting the organ in
the slightest. Traditional repairs were
estimated at f 750,000 guilders due to
the fact that the organ has 500 pipes
and weighs 30,000 kilos. One of the two
enormous beams supporting the struc-
ture was decayed which meant the en-
tire thing would have had to be dismant-

N.A.T. November 1977

Cther famous buildings in which the
Beta System has been used include;
Hotel des Invalides in Paris, Queen's
House and Jewel Tower in the Tower of
London. Westminster Hall in the West-
minster Palace. and Winchester Cath-

A New Career:
The result of all this activity was that
Dick Klapwijk somehow never quite got
back to modern building but has built
the Bureau Beta around the use and
applications of the Beta System.
He started by licensing dealers un-
der the name Renofors. in Western Eu-
rope to use the Beta System. He is no
longer licensing but expanding the
dealerships network to cover much of
Western Europe geographically. Dea-
lers, who are usually contractors, are
given a 3 day course in how to use the
system but a strict control is maintained
in seeing that the work is carried out
exactly in accordance to the calcula-
tions necessary for that particular con-

It has proven so successful that Beta
is now developing a quarentee with an
insurance company for restoration pro-
jects carried out in complete accor-
dance to the prescribed method.

Other Applications:
So far only historical buildings have

U.S. thought. He already has a U.S.
(and Canadian) patent.

He envisions a number of architects
and/or engineering bureaus that will be
able to do the calculations for either one
company with a nation wide distribution
(plastics manufacturer perhaps) or a
number of companies. In any case he is
fairly sure that the enormous amount of
wood construction in the U.S. means
that there is also a market potential.

Bureau Beta:
Bureau Beta is now located in the Klap-
wijk house in Brielle. He has three em-
ployees and an inspector who is con-

stantly travelling to keep an eye on var-
ious projects.

One can't help but feeling that Dick
Klapwijk is a man of great ingenuity. He
has developed and made a success of
using modern man-made epoxies for
restoring timber. He also has the daily
pleasure of being able to sit at his desk
and look at the beam above his head
that started it all ten years ago it's still
there and there is absolutely nothing to
see that would lead one to think that its
interior was filled with epoxy. Or to
quote him directly 'Ach, a joint in the
beam along the wall formed when a new
piece is joined on would have got on my
nerves anyway'.

been mentioned but in fact epoxy timber
repair can be carried out where ever
decay has set in, even in new buildings.
Many, quite ordinary farms and houses
in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ger-
many and England have been success-
fully repaired.

The U.S.:
Dick Klapwijk is actively investigating
the possibilities for bringing the Beta
System to the U.S. He estimates that
the intensive experimenting and exper-
ience gained in Europe puts Bureau
Beta about 8 years ahead of current

A restored beam in the Markiezenhof,
Bergen op Zoom (on the coast).

N.A.T. November 1977