Work being done on mine hoist building

HANCOCK – The Quincy Mine Hoist Association’s 1918 hoist building is getting a facelift, and it’s going to take a while to complete.

On the outside of the poured-concrete building, concrete is flaking – or spalling – off the surface of the structure.

Glenda Bierman, QMHA manger, said the repair of the concrete on the outside of the hoist building will be done with a $200,000 loan from the United States Department of Agriculture.

“We got a Rural Development loan to get the worst wall done,” she said.

The wall being worked on is the south side of the building, Bierman said. All of the exterior walls have some degree of spalling, as do the interior walls of the building. To repair all the walls will cost several million dollars.

Bierman said when the hoist building was constructed, it was done with new methods for the period.

“This building was cutting edge for reinforced concrete construction,” she said.

The repair of the concrete is being done by Robert E. Johnson Construction of Lake Linden, and Robert Johnson Jr. said they started removing loose concrete the second week in May, and he expects work will conclude in July.

Forms are being placed around columns on the south wall of the building, and Johnson said pouring of the concrete into those forms was expected to start at 4 p.m. Wednesday, but the pouring will have to be done in sections.

“You can pour only about 10 feet at a time,” he said.

Any more concrete would put too much pressure on the forms, Johnson said.

The forms can be removed from the columns in eight to 12 hours, Johnson said. The concrete will be 80 to 90 percent set in about 30 days. Concrete continues to cure during its lifetime.

The exposed original metal reinforcing bars will be coated with a material to slow the rusting of the bars, Johnson said.

Johnson said an engineer told him part of the reason for the spalling is the stone aggregate used in the concrete contains high levels of copper, which creates an electro-chemical reaction causing the steel reinforcing bars in the concrete to expand and push on the concrete.

The hoist building was one of the first in the country to use the poured reinforced concrete method, Johnson said. The walls of the entire building were poured, and the bricks on the outside are a facade.

The work on the south wall should be completed sometime in July, Johnson said.

Bierman said the QMHA board of directors are looking for other funding sources, including donations, to do all the concrete repair work on the building, which needs to be preserved. It houses a Nordberg steam hoist engine, which is the largest such engine left in the world.

“It’s a state of the art building that needs to be restored,” she said.

Donations to the Quincy Mine Hoist Association can be sent to 49750 U.S. Highway 41 Hancock, MI 49930. For more information about the QMHA, go online to