Frederick M. Hueston, PhD  

Stone Care Consultant 

What a beautiful Florida morning, and it was also hot and humid. Keep in mind it was nearing December and my friends up North were probably winterizing their homes.

All I could do was smile since I would rather be sweating than freezing. I was half tempted to put up a post on my Facebook page to let them all know. Yes, that’s right, this old man has a Facebook  page (facebook.com/stonedetective). Go ahead and like me, I dare ya!

I was just about to walk out the door when my phone rang. “Stone Detective, here,” I said in a cheerful voice. I heard nothing and keep saying, “Hello? Hello?” 

Finally there was a harsh sounding male voice on the other end. He had a heavy Southern accent. “Hi, Mr. Stone Detective, my name is John and I have a client who’s had a problem with the stone coping on his swimming pool.” 

Apparently the coping around the edge was falling into the pool. “Can you come take a look at it and see if you can figure out why?”  

I asked him if this was going to be a lawsuit and he told me in his harsh voice that it would all depend on my findings.  

Great, I thought. I hate when I have to point the finger at someone but it’s all part of the job. “I could take a look at it this afternoon,” I said. I got the address and headed out the door to my favorite greasy spoon for a cup of jo and some breakfast.

I finished breakfast and my chat with the locals, got into the ole Woody and headed down the road. It was a two-hour drive to a town in the middle of nowhere. I couldn’t help but wonder who would be living out there and that the pool must have been your typical backyard pool. There was nothing out there but  farms and cattle and some old farmhouses.  I turned on the radio and tuned into some Sinatra and just enjoyed the ride. 

I pulled up to a dirt road that had one of those ranch-type signs hanging from a gateway. This must be the place, I thought, but I didn’t see any homes. 

I pulled in and drove–it seemed a good two miles. Up ahead I could see this enormous home, or should I say mansion. 

Wow, I thought, I can’t wait to find out what this guy does for a living and why he lives all the way out here in no-man’s land.  

I pulled up to the front of the house and noticed several really fancy cars parked in the drive. There was a Bentley, a Mercedes and a Jag. My ole Woody really looked out of place. 

I walked up to the front door and rang the doorbell. The doorbell sounded like a cow mooing. I kid you not, it mooed.   

A lady, dressed in a maids uniform, answered the door. She said, “You must be the Stone Detective. Follow me, please.” We walked through a home that was decorated like the old West. There were cattle skulls all over the place and paintings of cowboys and indians, and one especially big portrait of John Wayne.  

She opened the back door and there was this enormous swimming pool. The pool was larger than some of the pools at a hotel resort. There were three gentleman standing there talking. One of them came up to me and introduced himself as John. There was no mistaking that harsh voice. It was the attorney I talked with on the phone earlier that morning. He introduced me to the other two men: the home owner and the general contractor.

He pointed to the coping that ran all the way around the pool. It was a travertine with a triple lamination. Numerous laminations were missing and were sitting at the bottom of the pool. I suspected right away what the problem was. 

I stayed there for several minutes listening to the owner complain. I asked if I could do some onsite testing. They told me to do what I needed to do.  

I laid on my stomach and reached in the pool to an area where the coping hadn’t fallen off yet. I took my knife out and tapped on the lamination and it fell off right in my hand! I removed the piece and took it over to a chair and sat down. 

I then took my knife out and scraped the glue. “Bingo,” I said out loud. They ran over to me and asked, “What is it?” 

I said, “It’s simple. A polyester glue was used, which will not hold up to the exposure of UV rays or water. What should have been used was an epoxy adhesive.” 

The attorney thanked me and said that was just the ammo they needed to go after the pool contractor. He asked me if I could be available for a deposition later on. I told him yes, and off I went. Another case solved. By the way, the owner was a cattle rancher. Guess there must really be some money in cattle.

The Stone Detective is a fictional character created by Fred Hueston, written to be entertaining and educational. He has written over 33 books on stone and tile installations, fabrication and restoration and also serves as an expert for many legal cases across the world. You can send any email comments to him at