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Traditional Roofing Magazine - Issue #7

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Lord Härringtón's

Château Woda Nymphée


The Olde World has come to Texas!

And yet another owner-builder has installed a beautiful slate roof that would be the envy of any professional roofing contractor. Lord Harrington’s elegant slate and copper roof on the Chateau Woda Nymphee, near Fort Worth, Texas, was a four man job: “One Englishman, one Yankee, one boom lift, and the Slate Roof Bible.”

Lord Harrington, an artist, fine-art photographer, and architect, designed the roof himself, or as he describes it, “I designed it as we went, sort of as Antonio Gaudi did with his architecture, in a sort of synthetic organic manor. That and plenty of Johnny Walker Scotch whisky as fortification.”

Chateau Woda Nymphee means “water nymph” in a Baltic tongue and was named in honor of Lord Harrington’s wife. It took months to install the roof. “How long did it take me and how long should it have taken are two different things entirely. I worked upon it with one man and one machine at a time. I believe it took 4-5 months. We kept having problems with rented boom lifts breaking and leaving us down for over a week at a time here and there, and with my schedule. I eventually bought an eighty-five foot snorkel lift, and told the rental place to stick their rubbish….”

An aluminum lion, air-bushed with Emron paint, perches on a brick pedestal at the peak of the roof, designed from the family coat of arms. The finial on the “Witches Crowne” turret is also made of aluminium, with a 2 inch steel bolt running through a series of centre compression rings and bolted inside the turret. This powder-coated adornment was machined at a local sheet metal shop to drawings and specifications provided by Harrington. The turret is covered in 16 ounce copper panels installed in a diamond pattern. An ornate, stainless steel Eagle spreads its wings over the Witches Crowne. The eagle is fabricated by international sculptor Bernie Jestrabek-Hart of Caldwell, Idaho, from drawings supplied by Harrington.

The roof was made up of about 60 squares of Vermont 1/4 inch slate intrically designed in patterns of purples, greens and reds. Twenty-ounce copper was used to make the valleys, ridges and eaves. The ridges were nailed and screwed with stainless steel screws. The finials are copper and stainless steel, lag bolted into place with stainless steel lag bolts.

The slate is installed with a 3 inch headlap and 3 inch sidelaps, although Harrington admits, “On the very top third of the south side we got off course a bit and the headlap may approximate 2 1/2 inches to 2 inches on a few courses.” The roof pitch is 24/12 on the main body of the building, so 2 inches of headlap should work nicely anyway. The slating nails were 1 3/4 inch to 2 inch copper.

Harrington confesses that, “There is an occasional piece of copper showing on the side lap (particularly on those slates we dragon-scaled). This is due to the slate side laps being very close to 2 inches or 2 1/2 inches and I not wanting go down and get another damn slate that should work better. It was twenty-seven degrees Fahrenheit, with the wind blowing 25 miles per hour and we were 65 feet in the air on a boom lift!”

The roof sheathing is 3/4 inch tongue and groove plywood, glued, screwed and nailed with galvanized ring shank nails. This decking material was “recommended and ‘preferred’ by the slate quarry themselves. I know your opinion and I agree, yet that’s the way they directed me. Due to ignorance on my part, I listened to them. I had not read your book [The Slate Roof Bible] as yet.” [Editor’s note: We strongly recommend solid lumber boards underneath slate roofing, not laminated or glued wood materials.]

90 lb. roll roofing with a galvanized comb and tarred seams were used as underlayment. “I knew this project would take an unknown amount of time to finish due to the heights and it being we are two bands of merry men.”

The first crew was Rodney, Lord Härringtón (at large), Billy Ray Hart of Ohio, Johnny Walker of Scotland, and Snorkel lift of Deutschland. The second crew consisted of Rodney, Lord Härringtón (at large), Ryan Sparks of England, Johnny Walker of Scotland, and Snorkel lift of Deutschland.

Obviously, those Scots sure know how to lay slate!

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