Tibetan Water River Horse XL: Romance Rear Thigh

MPF Conservation assessed the Jantzen Beach Carousel in 2018, and subsequently treated three horses and several decorative objects from the carousel.

This page is about the carousel restoration treatment for “Tibetan Water River Horse XL” (hereafter called Tibetan) from the Jantzen Beach Carousel, and shows treatment on the Romance Rear Thigh break.

Note: Throughout MPFC may switch from flash to non-flash images,
because we are trying to show the best image of the treatment.

Romance Rear Thigh

Videos to recap the processes are located at the bottom of this page.

Tibetan’s Romance Rear Thigh had critical structural issues which demanded thoughtful restoration because of the thigh’s ongoing drift inward, or toward the back side of the opposite rear leg). This threatened to eventually split away from his rump.

When the paint was removed from his thigh, the reason for the looseness and drift became clear. A copper clad strip of tin had been nailed over the original thigh-to-torso joint in order to mitigate ongoing shrinkage and rot which had been brought on by decades of water seeping into the joint during cleaning procedures and improperly sealed paint.

The cladding was an attempt to secure the drifting joint but multiple fractured nailings and the migration of metal oxides combined with the rotting wood, turning it into something akin to petrified wood.

Cladding being removed tells us so much about the application process, above.

The nail repair exacerbated the damage discussed below, shown right,

Above, the paint removed on the inner thigh exposed the original, now shrunken, joining shoulders, including stress fractures because of the leg’s inward drift.

Shrinkage, substrate atrophy, damaging nail repairs and gaps exposed after excavation, above.

Poor repairs and petrified surface wood, substrate shrinkage, and extensive warping is seen along Tibetan’s thigh-to-rump connection.

An assortment of nails was used!

The split wood substrate in Tibetan’s upper thigh was caused by the tight line of deeply penetrating box nails which had held the cladding in place, but unfortunately, put the leg in jeopardy of falling off.

Mitchell began the first portion of the reparation process by drilling out all the broken nails buried within Tibetan’s thigh in order to be able to fully fill the splintering holes with wood picks and consolidates.

Mitchell cleaned the joinery gaps and substrate splits of the accumulations of debris deposited from rusted hardware, decomposed wood cells and environmental grit using a polished grinding bit, dental spatula, nylon brush and high suction vacuum.

The lighting behind the thigh after debris removal allowed Mitchell to clearly see the extent of shrinkage and separation of the thigh from the rump. This light position was directed from Tibetan’s belly outward, making it clear just how close Tibetan came to losing his rear leg.

After the nail holes were thoroughly cleaned, Mitchell filled the holes with several sizes of hard wood picks with gap-filling glue, images one-three, above.

These were allowed to cure for 24 hours, and then trimmed flat to the thigh surface using a Japanese saw, image four above. Left, the remnants of picks were sanded smooth.

Mitchell recorded a video about the process.

Right, MPFC mixed microcyrstalline balloons with ®Rhoplex to create a structural gap filler.

Above, shims were tested for fit before using the ®Rhoplex mixture; once satisfied, Mitchell placed the shims and used ®Rhoplex around and behind them for additional strength.

Gap-filling glue was used in the upper split to secure it. Everything was allowed to cure overnight.

The shims and spines were trimmed using various tools: Japanese saw, mortising chisel, small hand plane and finally, sanding.

Above and below, repaired Romance Rear Thigh joinery (and incidentally, Tibetan’s Tail).

We did not paint Tibetan yet because many more repairs need to be completed.

However, we topped the fresh tulip poplar with several coats of 1lb clear shellac to seal the varnish and minimize shrinkage during the gesso and paint process to come.

Romance Rear Thigh Video

Below, two more pages that discuss other repairs: