The Willard Custom Copper Chimney and Cap Details & Photo Page

Grass Valley, California (8/07)

Updated 9 / 2013

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This copper chimney projects was for a client named Jack and Lynn Willard in Grass Valley, California, who made this 3-D looking diagram for us in his CAD program based on our Howard chimney project to fit his needs. We had just made him an 8 sided turret roof cap with a Merlin style finial and I noticed in some photos he sent us that there was bricks dislodged from his chimney. At close inspection he realized he had a wooden chimney box with a thin layer of bricks covering it and a steel pan over the top. The brick facade had broken loose after only the 25 years since the house was first built.

This was an unexpected repair and did not know what to do for a lasting solution. I showed him some recent diagrams I got from Gina Matury of a copper chimney she was having us build. He loved this idea, but preferred the look of this chess piece design we had made for the Howards. I suggested making the head larger, since I was hampered on their project, due to how close they needed to be. This way there would be a lot less chance of blowing rain getting inside and we can make the 4 vents a little larger, so there is less chance of a restriction of exhaust flow.

Most of the copper we work with is 20oz copper sheet metal, but for more strength I made this base chamber from a 4' x 8' sheet of a thicker 32oz copper sheet metal to hold the flue pipe sturdy in high wind situations. The 3 larger sides were made in a single piece of the copper sheet as seamless as possible for the best possible strength, which made the fabrication much more difficult.

Here is the flat sheet cut out, then bent to form these 3 sides of the base chamber. It is a bit scary to make sure I have thought this through just right before cutting and bending this very expensive sheet of copper. It has a 24" wide square chamber with 6" wide attachment flanges. I built this base chamber in just 2 pieces. This is designed to graduate from this square chamber to a 13" wide octagonal flue pipe.

This shows the missing fourth side that needs made, then all riveted together in the next shot.

Here it is from underneath, then with the top flange that will crest over the top of the roof. Below you see the neck attached that the octagonal flue pipe will mount over.

This inner flange with the round hole cut in it is just made with 20oz copper. It is designed to support and center the existing round flue pipe protruding out of the roof. It also will catch any rain water or condensation that may intrude inside this chimney. This flange is tapered down out towards the tall side to drain that moisture safely down the roofing.

The 3' tall octagonal flue pipe was made in a single sheet of the 20oz copper made to be 13" wide. Also, this decorative beveled ring was made in a single piece as well cut and folded into shape.

Here is the making of the decorative rings to be attached over the octagonal flue pipe.

I made this bottom ring's inner flange drop down below to add another layer of copper when the flue is riveted to the base chamber with extra long rivets adding more strength at this junction.

This larger decorative ring is much more complex. This style is fashioned after the classic clay chimney pots of old England, but a large clay chimney pot would be far too heavy to mount on the roof of his house.

I built this project to be shipped as 2 separate parts for easier installation. This is also important for vertical alignment of the flue pipe incase the base does not set on the roof perfectly level once installed. Then he will rivet them together once he has checked to make sure it is straight. Here in this photo the flue pipe is just set loosely on the attachment collar, yet it has such a nice close fit it easily supports the weight at this sideways angle without falling off.

I made this inward slope at the top of the copper flue pipe to divert rain water outside that may get blown into the chimney cap vents on a stormy day. It reduces to a larger diameter than the inside of the old chimney flue pipe, so it will not pose any restriction.

This first shot below shows the top of the flue's rain shield attached on top that matches the inside diameter of the flue pipe. This will shed any rain that might get blown into the exhaust opening out to the exterior of the flue.

Next is the complex chimney cap base getting all 16 sides formed from a single sheet of copper with the bottom and top attachment flanges. This certainly takes some very trick calculations to draw this pattern out on the flat copper to form this 3 dimensional shape.

The whole 24/12 pitch roof you see here is also made in one piece with a single seam on the back side. I have it marked for the 4 vent hoods to be attached. I made a set of cross braces inside connecting the opposing hoods for more strength.

The stainless steel spark arrest screen is mounted inside the head over the splash guard inside.

Here I am standing next to the top section to show the dimension of this unit, which is over 6' tall.

I felt the chimney cap looked like it was missing something, so I put in these liner channels inside the vents to make it look more finished and solid looking. They increase the strength as well.

I had been sending these photos to the client each night and he suggested these ramps get put in to keep birds from building nests inside these vent channels.

It would have looked better without them, but he did have a good point. At least from the ground they should not be noticeable and they will help divert the blowing rain back out of the chimney cap.

Here is the completed semi-assembled unit propped up on a platform I made for to display for these photos. It is now just a couple inches short of 10' tall

Cost for the project: $1,300 for the 65# 32oz copper flange and base
+ $1,340 for the 67# octagonal flue pipe and chimney cap
+ $450 for the crate +$175 for shipping residential w/lift-gate service
$3,265 Total delivered to California

The crate had to be 8' long X 40" wide X 3' tall. These parts are resting on thick foam cushion pads so they will not get damaged bouncing down the road to their destination.

I then roped them down so they will not move inside the crate. I could only attach the ropes to the crate base, since the client will need to lift off the top and sides of the crate up and off as a single unit. Jack can use the crate as a nice sturdy work bench in his shop if he wants.

The client requested we make this engraved plaque for his crowning jewel, so Tia got out her Dremmel tools and used up several sheets of scrap copper practicing her lettering etched in copper before she managed to get a good plaque made for this project. She is willing to do this for other projects upon request.

We had to prop this heavy crate up over our trailer to be able to just slide it into the back of the truck, since it is too long to use the lift-gate on the truck.

From: Jack Willard <jack_willard@hotmail.c*m>
Subject: Chimney Received
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2007


David,
Sorry about that phone call re: The Shipper. It turns out that it was a good thing I took the day off yesterday to be home when the shipment arrived. They sent it on a tractor-trailer and there was no way they could deliver it to the house. A bobtail truck is no problem. But there is no way to turn around a tractor-trailer. There was no other choice than to have it taken to Kilroy's Towing where my wife Lynn works. Kent Kilroy was nice enough to bring it back to our shop building in his open pickup truck.

I had the top off the crate in a very few minutes with the Makita impact driver. Your right, I love that tool. Lifted the top off by myself, no sweat. Well, actually there was a lot of sweat. But that was because it was very hot yesterday.

WOW! That's some incredible workmanship David! The top box is like unbelievable. I have no idea how you managed to get the 24:12 roof point so perfect. That whole top box would impress anyone that looked at it! I hope you took some more pictures during the interior construction, showing the cross-bracing at the top of the exterior hoods. Geez, I almost don't want to put it up on the roof, and instead keep it inside the Parlor as an artistic sculpture! It's a good thing I have the boom lift. No one will believe me unless I take them for a lift ride to see it for themselves up close!

Am I to understand that the protective plastic covering has already been removed on the base unit? That would actually be nice. There is no way I wouldn't remove the plastic on either unit prior to lifting them up onto the roof. It would be so stupid to try doing that on the rooftop afterwards.

I'm going to need to spend some good time considering how to grab the base and suspend it from the lift basket in order to drop it into place. A rope across underneath the rooftop ridge bend flashing is the only place I see to support it. Then another rope or two somehow from under the bottom flange to rotate it to vertical, so I can drop it straight down over the flue pipe. Don't worry. I'll figure it out. And how to get a bead of caulk under the flashing flanges sounds like a challenge. I may only be able to lay a bead around the outside edge, after screwing the base unit down.

I told Lynn last night that she is going to need to go up in the lift basket with me. This sure seems like a two person job. Plus, she can sure get much better pictures from up there close. Guess I'll need to give her a quick lesson on how to operate the basket controls.


This installation will be an adventure for both of us.

Jack Willard

Date: Tue, 4 Sep 2007

David,
The chimney is all up on the roof and installed. It looks so gorgeous up there that I can't describe it.

Installing the base unit was really easy. Friday afternoon, I got Lynn to help me carry it from the shop building down to the boom lift next to the house and hold it steady while I ran a rope up under the ridgeline flashing flange and tied it off to two 2 x 6 boards that I had attached to the lift basket like a forklift. Then, I had a rope attached to the bottom flange to hold the base up at the right angle. That was all it took.

With the boom lift, it was easy to maneuver and slip the base over and down the existing flue pipe. It just dropped right into place. The fit was perfect with the wooden frame that I had installed around the roof opening to level it with the existing roofing. Line it up slightly and screw it down to the roof. Done.

Saturday, I spent about three hours peeling off all of the protective plastic from the octagon stack and top box unit. And, I made a two piece plywood shelf with an octagon hole to attach to the forklift like boards on the lift basket to support it during the lift to the rooftop. Everything was ready for the next morning. My backyard side neighbor Pat was going to help me then.

You can see him in the lift basket picture, right after we had set the unit ready for the roof lift. I maneuvered the lift up into place over the base unit and dropped the top unit down on top of it. That turned out edge on the bottom of the octagon stack made it pretty easy to line them up. I decided to take your suggestion and turn the stack 45 degrees so the vent hoods were not parallel to the house. It really does look better that way.

I had real trouble drilling the first couple of holes for the alignment nails, until my neighbor Pat pointed out that the drill bit was not even sharp. He had to leave at that point to go direct a helper to do some work at his place. After I got a good drill bit, everything went quick. I had all of the 32 holes drilled and the copper rivets installed in short order. Then, I took a number of pictures. Pat came back over and was surprised to see that it was all done.

He was thoroughly impressed with the chimney and said that it looked so... good from his house! We got to talking and he said that his girlfriend also has a newer Victorian style house (5,000 sf') on property that she had built and has been working on for like 20 years. I thought we were the only ones with anything like that! Now, Pat is thinking that he may just have to get a copper cupola to put on his chimney top! This 'eye candy' is so addictive! Don't be surprised if he contacts you when he's ready! LOL

Sunday afternoon, I stuffed some of that copper woven scrubbing pad material up under the base flashing flange at the ridgeline to give me some backing for a caulk seal and then ran a bead along both sides of the base. It's all done now. I took the wooden rooftop work platform down and blew off the roof area with a leaf blower. Then I took a bunch of pictures from different angles for you, trying to get the copper turret top and finial into the shots as well.

I'm sending you all of the install pictures in a zip file. Pick through them and use whichever you like on your website. When I can get around to it, I will update my house website as well.

When I am finished painting the outside of the house, maybe next year (I hope), don't be surprised if I get back with you to make a cap for the fireplace chimney as well. The previous owner's homemade cap is a POS and I'm sure that I will want to replace it at some point.

Working with you on the copper turret cap and the copper chimney has been such a pleasure. You have not heard the last from me! LOL

White Light to you,
Jack Willard

Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2013

David is so much more than a great craftsman. I must describe his work as art. He made a beautiful rooftop turret first and I was quite impressed. Then he made me a rather large, and unbelievably gorgeous, copper chimney. I seriously did consider not installing the big chimney, and instead displaying it as an art sculpture in my Parlor. I did install it of course and it really set off that Victorian house I had.

David Rich has been a real pleasure to work with on four occasions now. He has my highest recommendations.

Jack Willard

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