Fans and Community Rally to Replace Barrel Roof at Roadside America

Crews from Bachman’s Roofing, Building & Remodeling battled winter weather to install a new fully adhered EPDM roofing system from Mule-Hide Products Co.

Crews from Bachman’s Roofing, Building & Remodeling battled winter weather to install a new fully adhered EPDM roofing system from Mule-Hide Products Co. Photos: Mule-Hide Products Co. Inc.

Lovingly and meticulously crafted over a period of more than 60 years, the 6,000-square-foot display of miniature villages at Roadside America in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania, has been featured on the HISTORY channel and in such books as “1,000 Places to See in the USA & Canada Before You Die” by Patricia Schultz and “Weird Pennsylvania” by Matt Lake. To area families, however, the museum is more than just a funky tourist attraction. It is a treasure that has been shared by four generations—one that must be passed on to future generations.

So, when the building’s nearly 65-year-old barrel roof began to fail, threatening to shutter the museum and put its gems in storage for good, the community and fans far and wide rallied. Nearly $80,000 was raised, roofing crews worked in between winter storms, and a new EPDM roofing system was installed to protect the masterpiece below.

A Life’s Work

Dubbed “The World’s Greatest Indoor Miniature Village,” the display at Roadside America is the life’s work of its sole creator, Laurence Gieringer. Fascinated by miniatures from an early age, he made the first piece in 1902 and continued expanding the collection until his death in 1963. The result is a breathtaking snapshot of American rural life spanning more than 200 years, from a frontier town with saloons and horse-drawn wagons and carriages to a 1950s Main Street with a movie theater and tail-finned Chevys. The collection includes 300 hand-built structures, 600 miniature light bulbs, 4,000 tiny figurines, 10,000 hand-made trees, working model railroads and trolleys, moving waterways, wall paintings, and replicas of such landmarks as Mount Rushmore, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and Henry Ford’s original shop in Dearborn, Mich. The twice-hourly patriotic “Night Pageant” features an illuminated Statue of Liberty and the playing of America’s national anthem and Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America.”

Originally housed in the basement of Gieringer’s childhood home and later in the carousel building of an abandoned amusement park, Roadside America moved to its current home in 1953. Still a family business, it is now owned by Gieringer’s granddaughter Dolores Heinsohn, and operated by his great-granddaughter Bettina Heinsohn and her husband Brian Hilbert.

A Preservation Mission

A carpenter by trade, Gieringer fabricated the rafters for the museum’s 80-square-foot-by-123-square-foot barrel roof

Years of water penetration had damaged the existing roof, and a complete tear-off and replacement was in order. The original rafters and roof deck were sound.

Years of water penetration had damaged the existing roof, and a complete tear-off and replacement was in order. The original rafters and roof deck were sound. Photos: Mule-Hide Products Co. Inc.

himself. In 2016—63 years later—they and the original wood plank deck were still in place. According to Carl Rost, general manager of contractor Bachman’s Roofing, Building & Remodeling Inc. of Wernersville, Pennsylvania, the hot-mop-down tar roof had been coated “20 times more than it should have been.” Time and weather had taken their toll. A severe snowstorm in January 2016 brought wind and tree damage. Consistent rain would cause leaks into the attic, with water sometimes dripping to the show floor below.

An elaborate water collection and removal system was created to protect the priceless miniatures. Buckets were placed in the exhibit and items moved whenever water started dripping to the show floor. Tarps—22-feet-by-22-feet—were hung in the attic, zig-zagging through the space to catch water and funnel it into 55-gallon barrels, which were then emptied by pumps.

Supporters Rally

While the patches and stopgap measures had done their job, they clearly were not a permanent solution. A new roof—and a major fundraising effort to pay for it—were needed.

Even with Bachman’s Roofing and the teams at roofing system manufacturer Mule-Hide Products Co. Inc. and the Reading, Pennsylvania, branch of building materials distributor ABC Supply working to keep costs as low as possible, the new roof would cost $80,000. Roadside America launched a GoFundMe.com campaign, raising nearly $19,000. Two anonymous donors contributed the remaining $60,000.

For many supporters, including Bachman’s Roofing Owner and President Eric Bachman and ABC Supply Branch Manager Jeff Smith, helping Roadside America was a matter of ensuring that a family tradition spanning four generations lives on. Their parents had brought them to the museum as children. They, in turn, took their kids, who are now sharing it with their families.

There was no question about helping Roadside America, Rost says. “Eric met with Brian and, within minutes, told him ‘We have to make this work.’”

EPDM Roofing System Selected

A 60-mil EPDM roofing system was chosen for its ease of installation on a barrel roof, its durability and its cost-effectiveness.

After the original roof system was removed, fiberboard insulation boards were fastened to the existing deck with screws and plates. The EPDM membrane was fully adhered using a fast-drying, freeze-resistant, low-VOC bonding adhesive. Photos: Mule-Hide Products Co. Inc.

The original plan was to recover the existing roof, reducing costs and, with winter weather at hand, allowing the crew to get the job done as quickly as possible. Once work began, however, the damage caused by years of water penetration was evident and the job switched to a complete tear-off and replacement.

EPDM roofing systems are common in Berks County, where Shartlesville is located. The membrane’s ease of installation on a barrel roof reinforced the choice to use it on Roadside America’s building.

“We’ve done quite a few barrel roofs and have found that EPDM works best,” Rost says.

Roofing membranes have “memories,” he explains. Rolled tightly for shipping, they want to snap back to that state when laid out on the jobsite. They must be given sufficient time to flatten out prior to installation, or wrinkling can occur. EPDM membranes “relax” much more quickly than other membranes do, particularly in the cold temperatures that the Bachman’s Roofing crew would be working in. The membrane also remains flexible in hot and cold temperatures, enabling it to be easily curved over the barrel roof’s rafters.

“We knew that EPDM would give us a fast, wrinkle-free installation,” Rost says.

EPDM also is less slippery than other membranes, points out Rob Keating, territory manager with Mule-Hide Products, helping ensure that snow will not slide off the curved roof, potentially injuring a museum guest or employee walking below. A snow rail manufactured by Alpine Snow Guards was specified and installed to alleviate previous issues with snow and ice sliding down the roof and damaging an air conditioning compressor.

A black membrane was chosen for its lower cost and because, with eastern Pennsylvania having more heating days than cooling days, it could help the museum manage its heating costs, Rost says. A 60-mil membrane was selected for its durability and long expected lifecycle, he adds, helping the museum reduce its ongoing maintenance costs and prolong the day when re-roofing would again be required.

The rafters—made of one-by-twos, one-by-fours, one-by-sixes, one-by-eights, one-by-tens and one-by-twelves to create the roof’s barrel shape—were still sound.

Fiberboard insulation boards were fastened to the existing deck boards with screws and plates. To accommodate the roof’s irregular shape and the cold temperatures, the EPDM membrane was fully adhered using a fast-drying, freeze-resistant, low-VOC bonding adhesive.

In addition to the barrel roof, the crew replaced an existing 625-square-foot low-slope section of EPDM roofing on one side of the building’s front.

Working Around Winter Weather

January and February bring snow, sleet, ice and wind to Shartlesville—certainly not ideal conditions in which to undertake a re-roofing project. Despite unfavorable weather forecasts, the Bachman’s Roofing crew began work as soon as the necessary funds had been raised and Roadside America gave the green light.

Roadside America is dubbed “The World’s Greatest Indoor Miniature Village.” On display at the museum are more than 300 hand-built structures, 600 miniature light bulbs, 4,000 tiny figurines, and 10,000 hand-made trees, as well as working model railroads and trolleys. Photos: Mule-Hide Products Co. Inc.

“The displays inside are priceless, and if they were damaged by water they couldn’t be replaced,” Rost says. “So, we said we’d work through the bad weather, taking time off as necessary.”

Work began on January 9, 2017. Thanks to some interference by Mother Nature, what normally would have been a one- or two-week job took six weeks. A crew of 10 completed the tear-off and eight professionals installed the new roofing system.

“Our crew endured,” Rost says. “One morning they called to tell me that they wouldn’t be able to work that day. I said ‘The storm went through last night. What’s the deal?’ They said that the parking lot was a sheet of ice. I had to see for myself, so I drove out there. The moment I got out of the car, I fell onto the completely iced-over parking lot.”

Given the roof’s slope, extra attention was paid to safety. Crew members worked carefully, without rushing—particularly when working along the roof’s steep edges. Everyone was harnessed while on the roof and followed all other relevant safety regulations. Rost and the firm’s safety inspector spent extra time monitoring the jobsite.

Mission Accomplished

With the re-roofing project complete, the buckets, tarps, barrels and pumps that once kept Roadside America’s miniature villages dry have been put away. A spring, a summer and an early fall have come and gone, with no leaks. The museum has been saved.

Hilbert extended thanks to those who made it possible. “Without the generous support of so many donors, this project wouldn’t have happened,” he says. “Where do you find that these days?”

Rost adds, “Now future generations can come and enjoy what four generations of our families have already enjoyed.”

TEAM

Roofing Contractor: Bachman’s Roofing, Building & Remodeling Inc., Wernersville, Pennsylvania, Bachmansroofing.com
Local Distributor: ABC Supply Co. Inc., Reading, Pennsylvania, ABCsupply.com

ROOFING MATERIALS

EPDM Membrane: Mule-Hide Products Co. Inc., Mulehide.com
Low-VOC Bonding Adhesive: Mule-Hide Products Co. Inc.
Fiberboard Insulation: Continental Materials Inc., Continentalmaterials.com
Snow Guard: Alpine Snow Guards, Alpinesnowguards.com

Firestone Acquires Silicone Roofing Systems Provider

Firestone Building Products Company LLC has announced its acquisition of Gaco Western, a provider of silicone roofing systems, waterproofing systems and spray foam insulation. The deal, which includes all assets and operations held by Gaco, closed April 3, after a definitive agreement was signed and announced earlier this year.

The acquisition allows Firestone to introduce even more options to customers with Gaco’s silicone and acrylic liquid coatings. The enhanced portfolio creates alternative solutions when full roof tear-offs and rebuilds are not feasible, and it presents contractors with products requiring less labor-intensive installation.

“Combining the best of two brands, Firestone and Gaco, represents an opportunity for growth and long-term value as we aim to create new levels of service and innovation in our industries,” says Tim Dunn, president of Firestone Building Products, Bridgestone Americas Inc. “Operations will conduct business as usual across all teams as we begin bringing our portfolios, employees, best practices and distribution platforms together to continue serving as a total solutions provider for our collective customers.”

In addition to expanding Firestone’s roofing product portfolio with silicone polyurethanes, epoxies and acrylic liquid coatings, the deal offers new positions in commercial and residential sectors with decking and waterproofing products that protect pedestrian surfaces, concrete, metal and plywood, and open- and closed-cell foam products which protect and insulate buildings.

Gaco products will continue to be sold under the Gaco brand and will continue to be made at a state-of-the-art manufacturing, research and development facility in Waukesha, Wis.

Financial details of the transaction are not being disclosed.

SES Foam Wall Insulation Products Use Honeywell’s Low Global-Warming Material

Honeywell has announced that SES Foam has transitioned to Honeywell’s low global-warming-potential (GWP) material for wall insulation, with roofing systems to follow.

SES has introduced a 2.0 closed-cell spray polyurethane foam (ccSPF) formulated with Honeywell’s Solstice Liquid Blowing Agent (LBA) for use in wall insulation applications. SES joins a list of companies that have switched from hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) foam blowing agents such as HFC-365mfc and HFC-245fa to Solstice LBA in ccSPF systems, well ahead of environmental regulations calling for a phaseout of HFCs due to their high GWPs. More than 190 countries recently agreed to an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that would phase down the use of HFCs beginning in 2019.

Solstice LBA, which is based on next-generation hydrofluoro-olefin (HFO) technology, complies with changing regulatory requirements aimed at reducing climate impact, while also providing improved foam performance compared to HFCs. Blowing agents are an important ingredient in closed-cell foam, allowing it to expand and enabling its insulating performance.

“SES is proud of its commitment to sustainable solutions and innovation,” said Charles Valentine, chief operating officer, SES Foam. “Having built our open-cell foam business around sucrose-based technology, we believe that adopting Honeywell’s Solstice LBA in our closed-cell foam aligns with our customers and environmental focus. Our expertise is unique in that many of our staff are former spray foam contractors, so they have insight into customers’ needs, and can provide the support and products they require to succeed.”

“Honeywell is committed to helping industry leaders like SES create solutions such as using Solstice LBA in its closed-cell foam,” said Laura Reinhard, global business manager for spray foam, Honeywell. “Not only does Solstice LBA provide SES with an environmental solution, it has helped their 2.0 product formulation deliver foam performance.”  

Solstice LBA has a low global-warming-potential of 1, which is 99.9 percent lower than HFCs and equal to carbon dioxide. It is nonflammable (ASTM E-681) and is not a volatile organic compound per the EPA. Solstice LBA is listed under the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program. In Europe, it is not listed in the Annex I of F-Gas regulation and thus not considered an F-Gas. It is also registered under the European Union’s REACH program.
 
Solstice LBA is used in a variety of rigid foam insulation applications, including spray foam insulation, residential and commercial refrigeration equipment, and insulated metal panels, as well as flexible foam applications, such as molded and slabstock foam, and integral skin. Visit the website for more information on Solstice LBA.

Firestone Building Products Recognizes Firms With 2016 Partner in Quality Award

Firestone Building Products Co. LLC recognizes 133 firms with the 2016 Partner in Quality Award. The sought-after annual award honors Firestone Building Products Red Shield Licensed Roofing Contractors for their high-level craftsmanship and quality-focused skill set required to achieve superior roofing installations.

Firestone Building Products Red Shield Licensed Roofing Contractors are required to complete extensive product installation training. They must also meet Quality Incidence Rating (QIR) criteria. QIR measures each contractor’s performance based on the number of warranty repair incidences per million square feet.

As a testament to their expertise, Partner in Quality Award winners’ projects are backed by the Firestone Building Products Red Shield Warranty. Depending on the commercial roofing system, terms of the warranty can range from five years to 30 years. To qualify, winners must:
•Install a minimum of eight warranted roofs in 2014 and 2015, and four warranted roofs per year for each of the prior three years
•Maintain at least 1 million square feet of Firestone Building Products roofs under warranty
•Achieve an annual Firestone Building Products QIR of 1.0 or less

Winners are also able to participate in the Firestone Building Products Community Service Program, which makes them eligible for a $1,000 annual credit to donate labor and materials for roofing projects in their respective communities.

“At Firestone Building Products, we hold our valued partners to a high standard,” said Tim Dunn, president of Firestone Building Products. “The Partner in Quality Award is reserved for those who achieve the highest levels of roofing quality. We certainly recognize what it means to go above and beyond and look forward each year to honoring these talented, hardworking contractors with the praise they deserve.”

Please visit the Firestone Building Products website for a complete listing of Partner in Quality Award winners: http://firestonebpco.com/content/uploads/2016/05/2016-Partner-in-Quality-Program-Winners.pdf