1860s Central Park Fence by Welding Works Receives National Award
as "Fence Project of the Year"
of a Connecticut company's "Yankee Ingenuity" is now
being appreciated by the thousands of people who visit and use
New York City's Central Park every day. Welding Works, Inc. of
Madison, Connecticut recently completed a brand-new fence to replicate
the one that surrounded the Central Park Reservoir from 1862 until
1926. The original ornamental fence was unique in design and construction,
unlike any fencing normally being produced today. Welding Works
was challenged to "think outside of the box" to deal
with the complexities of the project. They used reverse engineering
and investigated technologies used in the past to develop a workable
design, fabrication and installation plan.
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American Fence Association recently recognized this Welding Works
project with the organization's Fence Project of the Year Award. Welding
Works received this honor during FENCETECH'04, the Association's
annual convention and trade exhibition, held in Orlando, Florida from
February 25-27, 2004. According to the American Fence Association,
Project of the Year Award is bestowed upon the company that has demonstrated
unique workmanship and exemplary knowledge of fence installation."
ornamental fence was unique in design and construction – its
finials and ornamental unions were cast around, not fastened to,
its pickets and rails. The only mechanical fasteners used were to
join the panels to the posts. The replica would be installed on existing
coping stone and would measure approximately 8,150 feet in length
and 48 inches high (an adequate height, since the Reservoir is no
longer used to supply drinking water).
Since this project
had to be true to the original 1862 fence, no fasteners, pins or
be visible. The new panels were to be of welded construction,
and this posed one of the project's biggest challenges – developing the
manufacturing methods to cast around the weldment in a cost-effective, productive
manner. To ensure that the mold would fit snug at each union for dead-on castings,
the first step was to create precise assembly fixtures for accuracy. The weldments
needed to be ±.15 inches to guarantee that the castings would be correct.
The weld fixture held the steel posts in place with pneumatic clamps and enabled
two workers to weld at the same time.
Welding Works also formulated a plan to ensure that the castings
would match the original fence and worked hand-in-hand with
mold designer Jim Case to design a unique 3-piece mold. This
would not only ensure that sufficient iron got into the mold
and filled all the gaps, but it could also be removed without
damaging the casting. Since the iron would solidify almost
instantly, it was a challenge to get good, tight, full castings.
a sandcap pouring basin that allowed extra metal to feed the
mold to compensate for shrinkage during cooling.
over 1,400 cast iron molds were used to create 19 panel mold
assemblies and 16 post mold assemblies. Before casting the unions
on the panels, comprehensive load tests were performed to ensure
that the fence would comply with the latest code of 200 pounds
of force. It was determined that the posts could support over
900 pounds of pressure with no permanent deflection.
Works has calculated that they fabricated 1,535 fence panels, each
5 feet 6 inches long, with 26 castings per panel. Each panel was
joined by a post, for a total of 1,538 posts, each with 2 castings.
In total, the project encompassed more than 43,000 castings.
procedures were developed and tested at Welding Works before
attempting installation on site. Walter Camp, Welding Works'
Vice President, explains, "Generally, on a field installation,
you would have the opportunity to problem-solve and perfect the
procedure as you go along. With such as tight schedule, we had
to perfect the installation methods beforehand."
was completed and dedicated in December of 2003. It has been
called the "single most dramatic change to the Park in 100
years." It provides an unobstructed view of the Reservoir,
as well as of the Manhattan skyline. There have been virtually
no negative comments about the project. Christopher Nolan, the
Central Park Conservancy's Vice President for Capital Improvements,
reports, "The fence has been very well-received. It restores
the historic aesthetic of the Reservoir and changes people's
entire perception of Central Park."
President, Price van der Swaagh, refers to the Central Park Reservoir
Fence as "one of the most dramatic projects we've ever done." He
continues, "It was gratifying to be involved in such an
identifiable project in what, after 150 years, is still one of
the most famous and beautiful parks in the world."
For more information,
please contact: Walter Camp, Welding Works, Inc., 32 New Road,
Madison, CT 06443, phone: 203-245-2731, fax: 203-245-0823, email: wcamp@WeldingWorks.com.