Skat Fountain

Monument conservation without chemicals

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, numerous renovation projects were undertaken in eastern Germany. In 1992, a long-harboured wish to restore the so-called Skat Fountain in the Thuringian town of Altenburg was finally realised. A requirement of this was a thorough clean of the monument without the use of chemicals, as stipulated by the invitation to tender. This was an exciting task for the cleaning specialists, who set to work using Kärcher technology.

Altenburg in Thuringia is the birthplace of the card game skat; playing cards are still produced here to this day. The Skat Fountain was built in 1903, based on a design by Ernst Pfeifer. It is thought to be the only stone monument in the world to be dedicated to the game of skat.

The fountain consists of two basins attached to each side of a tall plinth. A sculpture of four knaves tussling with each other sits atop the monument. The sculpture was cast from aluminium, while the gargoyles are made of bronze; the fountain itself, with the exception of the granite base, is made of Muschelkalk.

After a thorough inspection of the fountain, the cleaning work could begin. First of all, the cast aluminium figures were sprayed down using a petrol-powered HDS 1000 BE hot water high-pressure cleaner at a temperature of 60°C and 60 bar pressure. This allowed even stubborn bird droppings to be removed easily.

The Facade Clean Trailer (FCT) was then used. This machine uses an air stream to which spray agent is added in a precisely regulated dose. Adding water at the spray nozzle prevents the development of dust. The technical equipment consists of a compressor and water pump, both of which are driven by a diesel engine. The machine also features a blasting device with pressure chamber. All of the engines are stored compactly on a vehicle trailer.

This machine was used to remove encrustations on the surface of the stone which had formed from car exhaust and chimney emissions. Even the cement streaks on the basins and plinth, which were millimetres thick, could be removed. Finally, the entire fountain was rinsed once more with the high-pressure cleaner.