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Ecclesiastical & Heritage World JTC Roofing Contractors Ltd

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Ecclesistical & Heritage World No.99

Ripley Castle revisited – testing the performance of a Trace-in-Metal installation four and a half years on

Ripley Castle, the Grade I listed 14th century house near Harrogate in North Yorkshire, has been the hotspot for historically significant events and to this was added the first installation of the Trace-in-Metal marking system in April 2014.

The current owner and custodian of the Castle, Sir Thomas Ingilby, Bt, contacted Trace-in-Metal with the intention to have the metal marking system installed to protect lead on his buildings. Sir Thomas, who runs the Stately Home Hotline monitoring burglaries at 2,000 historic buildings (Historic Houses Association), was keen to try this innovative technique to reduce the constant concern over lead theft owners of historic building have.

Four and a half years on, all the installations were inspected and assessed. Even after the strong fluctuations in weather this year, from the Beast from the East to the extremely hot summer, the microdots, lacquers, UV ink and the ballistically infused pellets were all intact. Lead is a soft metal which expands and contracts with changing temperatures and despite the extremes in weather conditions the components of the system has proven to be reliable and (near) indestructible.

It is also difficult to apply substances to the surface of lead, which has a tendency to repel other materials, especially in liquid form. Whilst this provides excellent waterproofing properties, applying fluids and getting them to stay in place, is problematic. The lacquers that Trace-in-Metal have developed in conjunction with an established coatings company are proving to be up to the job. The Trace-in-Metal lacquers examined at Ripley Castle are all adhering very well, with no sign of degradation or flaking. (Microdots and lacquers pictured above left)

The Uv agent that has been used in conjunction with the lacquer is also performing excellently and is as bright and vibrant as the day it was applied. It was very sunny on the roof of Ripley Castle during this examination, and difficult to photograph the reactive properties of the Uv agent, using a Uv Torch in bright sunshine. Nonetheless, it was possible to photograph this and the results are shown clearly. Similarly, the Uv ink used in applying the postcode for Ripley Castle on the roof was also highly reactive to Uv torchlight.

It was possible to examine individual microdots on the roof, using a simple optical 100x microscope. The codes on microdots could easily be read and double checked against the database entry for the Castle, which provided confirmation of the exact location of each code on the different sections of the roof.

The locations of some of the ballistically infused microdot pellets, which have a diameter less than 5mm were found and examined. All of these were found to be intact and performing very well, given the thermic qualities of both the substrate and the pellets that had been used. Each of these pellets 'weather in' to the surface of the lead, contain around 50 coded microdots and provide a covert approach to marking the lead. The life expectancy for these ‘infusions’ is 100+ years. (The lifetime of the lead).

Said Trace-in-Metal Managing Director John Minary “This has been a very worthwhile exercise and one that we have looked forward to conducting. We lab tested this system and knew that we had covered all the basis. We had the system independently tested and Police Secure by Design approved.

“Nonetheless, there can be no substitute for getting back onto a roof and seeing for yourself that this installation is as fresh as the day it was applied. This is very reassuring for us as a company. There can be little doubt that all our other installations across the country are performing as well as Ripley Castle.”

“I just want to add my thanks to Sir Thomas for his foresight in installing the system some four and a half years ago, and for allowing us once again onto the roof of his home, which continues to be protected against the scourge of lead theft”

For more information about the Trace-in-Metal roof protection system, download an information sheet here​.