I don't have extensive experience in cleaning bricks but this is how we are doing it. That was very much the 'royal we'! It's a bit of a laborious process which starts with digging through the piles of brick and rubble to pick out the whole bricks. These are then transported by wheelbarrow to a pile next to the 'cleaning station' which is a stack of old breeze blocks covered in plastic. The bricks then have the mortar chipped and scraped off using a builders hammer or if it is really stuck on, by hammering a cold chisel and hoping that the brick doesn't break. Then the dust and remaining mortar is brushed off, the brick is graded - we have a range of brick sizes (65mm, 70mm, 75mm depth and a variety of lengths) and then the brick is stacked on the appropriate pallet. It's all very labour intensive, but the resulting rebuilt walls are all so reassuringly sturdy compared to the original buildings and of course re-using the original bricks is cheap and eco friendly. In fact we checked on the internet and reclaimed bricks cost £1 to £1.20 each so bearing in mind that approximately 6000 bricks have been cleaned so far it is a significant cost saving as long as we don't place a value on our time - our labour is free!
At last we have a building site where actual building is taking place. A flurry of activity at the beginning of the week with deliveries of blocks, sand and cement, has culminated in the first few blocks being laid. It was interesting to see how the building lines were determined with laser sites and string, but they looked as if they knew what they were doing :)
Meanwhile, the pallets of cleaned bricks are growing and the (first) pile of demolished bricks has diminished. All in all, it is great to see something happening!
Whilst the skilled work is done by the builders (see the blocks for the sub floor in the background?), we have been very fortunate to have family and friends who have volunteered to help clean bricks. Here we have Rob and Val mucking in on a very cold January day. It looks sunny on the photo but they have also had fog, cloud and rain. It's not a lot of fun cleaning bricks, but is much more bearable with company.