Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ramblings from the road

We took a day trip today and are now driving back.  Bored so I thought I would write a quick post... Over the past few days we have made significant progress on the plumbing in project. We came so close to finishing but disaster struck.  My PEX crimper tool broke when I was working on the last four connections. I was very disappointed.  My tool is a multi head tool that fits 4 PEX sizes and was purchased from Menards for 89.  Unfortunately the closest Menards is 45 minutes away but I did stop into a store today during our travels and they swapped it.
I am hoping to sneak over to the house soon and finish it all up!

Monday, December 17, 2012

PEX Tubing - New Tech in an Old House

After spending some time working on the kid's room , I finally got around to working on the kitchen again.  Over the weekend I pulled down all the old copper pipe that supplied water to the various 2nd floor bathroom fixtures.  It all has to be re-done so that the plumbing fits up in the original ceiling.  Now that the waste lines are basically done, it was time to work on the supply lines. Before I could cut it all down, I had to turn off the water and sweat some caps on the 3/4" trunk lines that come up from the basement.  This allowed me to immediately turn the water back on to the rest of the house.  I decided that I wanted to try my hand at PEX.  I figured the PEX tubing would be easier to install than copper.  I would be cheaper too.  Also, it should be more reliable than PVC.  I also liked the idea of being able to bend it around corners so that it requires fewer connections/fittings. The biggest downside with PEX is that it requires an upfront investment in tools.  For about $100 I bought a crimp tool, go/no-go gauge and tubing cutter. Not terrible I guess, but certainly more than a $10 hacksaw and $7 in PVC primer/glue.  Dad and I spent a couple hours in the home center picking out all the tools and tube and fittings for our project.
PEX manifold with 3/4" inlet and 1/2" outlets. One for hot water and one for cold.
The above manifolds also added a bit of cost to my installation.  Manifolds are not strictly needed, but are pretty spiffy.  These copper manifolds cost about $20 each and require a special mounting bracket that costs another $15.  The water is supplied from the right side and then is distributed to each fixture.  They actually sell really fancy manifolds too.  Some people install a "home run" system where every run goes all the way back to a centrally-located (larger) manifold.  These larger manifolds often feature cutoff valves for each branch.  Pretty neat idea, but not very practical in retrofit applications.
My more observant readers might have noticed that several of my manifold ports have a little 3" piece of tubing.  This little piece of tubing has a plug in the end of it.  These ports are reserved for future use. Someday we will remodel the upstairs bath, and I might decide to add more fixtures.  If so, then I can tap into this manifold and be golden.  These 6 port manifolds cost $20 while the 4 port versions cost $18, so getting the larger size was a "no-brainer" for me.

Hot and cold water to the shower.  Connected to the existing copper stubs with a copper elbow and PEX adapter.
I have completed the run to the shower (shown above) and the toilet.  Both went extremely smoothly.  It is really cool that I can make the entire run with basically no fittings.  In the shower pic above, you can see the I sweated a copper elbow+ adapter to transition from the PEX.  On the toilet, I was able to make it all the way to the toilet shutoff without any need for elbows or any other fittings.

Monday, December 3, 2012

I'm Screwed

I didn't have a lot of time to work on the house after work today because we took the kids to the local library to visit Santa and decorate their Xmas tree.   I did however find time to tackle a small job that was driving me crazy.  The side entrance door sticks. It sticks because the hinge screws are stripped so the door sags. For the past year we have struggled with it.  Whats worse is that it doesn't have a knob or lockset so we have to open it with our pinky.  A few months ago I thought I was smart and went to the workshop and grabbed a handful of 3" deck screws.  I figured that should tighten up the hinges.  WRONG.  The PO had the same idea except they had used 4" screws.  They were not doing the trick anymore either, obviously.  The solution was to pull out the old screws and plug the holes with wood dowel+glue.  I am happy to report that the hinges are tight and the door closes smooth as silk now.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Paint stripping progress

Been spending a couple hours each evening working on paint stripping.  Well most evenings.  Today Celia and I cleaned out the pond since all the leaves are now off the trees.  Here is an updated picture of the door I have been working on:

As I make progress, I am getting excited about the the finish coat.  Ill will be nice to finish something. I have been researching shellac which has been quite a learning experience.  Along these lines, I found someone selling old windows on Craigslist (cheap) and I plan reuse the wavy glass from them.  I find it funny how at every turn in this project I have to learn something new.  Now it is glass cutting, lol.  I also ordered some Sarco Glazing Putty (Type M) for the glass.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

When blogging isn't enough, make a video!

Made my first Youtube video!  It is a howto on how to strip paint from old hinges.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

More paint scraping

Today my time was mostly spent with the family.  We went to a close friend's wedding reception.  Afterwards, I was able to get a couple hours of work done on the house.  As you can see I am starting to remove paint from around the door.  I snapped this picture because I finished removing most of the paint from the transom window.  I couldn't resist hanging it back up in the frame to see how it looked. This is probably the first time this window has moved freely in a LONG time. I cant wait to have working transoms!

QUESTION:  I discovered that the window glass is set with glazing putty.  Not too surprising, I guess. My question is what color I should paint the putty?  All the trim will eventually be shellaced, so I am unsure if I should paint the glazing putty white, or if I should paint it a brownish/tan color to blend in with the wood color.  Thoughts?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Stripping Down

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving.  We sure did.  We also have been using the long weekend to work on the house.  We have been a little burnt out again on the kitchen so we have been focusing our efforts of the kid's room.

I removed all of the carpet in the room.  I did it myself and it went quite smoothly.  I used the technique that I perfected when removing the carpet in the dining room several months ago.  I pulled the carpet up 3 foot at a time, cut the backing, and then rolled it up into little bundles.  Each bundle was tied with twine which will make it easy to put it out for trash day. Under the carpet (1993 vintage) was a layer of Masonite.  I pulled up a piece of it to take a peek at the original 1x5 pine plank floor underneath.  From the small section I looked at it looked in pretty good condition.  We strongly considered ripping out all the Masonite and restoring the floor.  Instead, Celia talked me into keeping carpet in this room.  It will be the kids room and wall-to-wall carpet will be a little more comfortable for them.  I am excited to try restoring the original floors in some of the other 2nd story rooms though...

Notice all the staples?  The perimeter of the Masonite is stapled every 2 inches.

We also finished demo on a false wall that concealed an old radiator pipe that ran from the basement to the attic.  Once the wall was down, I sawzalled the pipe and removed it.  Here is the wallpaper we found trapped inside the little wall.

Celia and I also attacked the molding in this room.  If you remember, this molding is all pine.  It has been covered in lots of paint over the years.  The original coat was a faux wood graining called faux bois, which  I blogged about last year. The molding in this room is quite nice.  Lots of bumps and ridges, and curves.  I am going to make sure my next house has the plainest, squarest molding possible because picking paint out of all the grooves REALLY SUCKS!

Mostly stripped.  This shot was taken after Celia worked with a dental pick type scraper to remove the bits of paint in the ribbed area.

Some of our friends and family have questioned our decision to strip all this molding since it is "just pine".  I understand that staining today's modern pine wood is usually not done because of its' inferior qualities regarding grain and stain absorption.  However, I have seen pictures of old-growth pine  that have finished up beautifully.
Examples from around the internet:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hardwood Floor Patch

In my last post, I mentioned that one of my jobs was to patch a rotten spot in the floor.  Over many years, a heating radiator had leaked.  The new floor material was salvaged from the adjacent kitchen so I am confident that it will blend in nicely when we get around to refinishing the floor.  Here are the before and after photos:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Weekend Update

This weekend was unseasonably warm for Illinois.  The temp was 72 on Saturday!!!  Dad, Celia, and I took advantage of the weather and got lots of the little stuff marked off my list:

  • Rebuilt the master bath toilet.
  • Patched a rotten spot in the hardwood floors where an old radiator leaked for many years. (Actually quite a big job!)
  • Drywalled a bit of the kitchen
  • Mowed the yard
  • Fixed the electronic eye that was preventing one of the garage doors openers from functioning
  • Prepared the snow blower for winter
  • Moved a set of pocket doors from the garage to inside the house (see pic below).
  • Demolished the walls going into the laundry room.  It used to have ugly 80's pocket doors and the wall needed to be re-framed.
  • Cleaned the gutters on the garage
This pair of pocket doors was found in the garage when we bought the house. Someone spent lots of time stripping them so they need a few very minor repairs and then will be ready for stain.   Here, Celia is bushing off all the webs and spiders from this massive 36" x 9'4" door.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wiring and Plumbing

This weekend, we have been working on the kitchen's plumbing and wiring.  My father-in-law is starting to build our base cabinets so I needed to get moving on the wiring.  We already had 2 20amp circuits feeding the kitchen outlets so I just made a few tweaks to make sure the under-cabinet lighting and range hood will have power.  We also ran a new 50amp circuit that will serve to power the oven.  The range we chose is dual fuel so I needed a 240v circuit for the ovens and then the cooktop will be gas.
As for plumbing, you might remember that the old drop ceiling in the kitchen hid all of the plumbing from the master bath upstairs.  Now that ceiling is gone, I have to relocate all of the supply and drain lines. I successfully raised the shower drain up into the original ceiling joists.   I took care to maintain the  pitch on the drain line and I am very happy with the results.  Next up is the toilet.  I went to Lowes and bought all the PVC pieces so that I can perform the same procedure.

Add gas line to power the dual-fuel range
Add cold-water line for the pot-filler
Relocate tub and sink drain lines
Relocate tub, shower, sink and toilet supply lines.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Old House Photo

Today our house was featured in a community event about historical houses.  It was really neat to learn more about all of the other old houses on our block.  Several really cool things happened:

a. I got to talk to a former house owner named Dee Zaborac.  She owned the house for about three years in 1976.
b. I got to talk to a women that used to sing at our house while it was a funeral parlor.  She described to us how the different rooms were setup and how the music would flow through the whole lower level of the house.

c. I got to see an old photo of the front of our house.  Well, just a corner of it.  Finding old photos is like hitting the jackpot for us old house nuts.  I could never have dreamed how this porch would have looked originally. Now I have to add "Rebuild front porch/side porch" to my to-do list.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pergola and kitchen floor work continues.

We have had a pretty busy summer schedule but are managing to make continual progress in our projects. The kitchen floor is slowly being pulled up. The process is painstaking because we have to be very careful not to split the wood. The pergola is coming along too. That project expanded in scope because we decided to fully strip the deck and also add porch-style spindles. Celia has now painted all of the spindles and I have fabricated the bottom rail. Next is to do some joinery on the handrail sections I purchased.
It's kind of funny that even though I am sooooo overwhelmed with work, I still find myself planning my next projects.  I can't wait to start restoring my new back doors and stained glass window. I have also started to try to convince Celia to let me buy a scaffolding tower :-)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Christmas in May - The new back doors arrived

Well, the freight truck with my doors and window arrived today.  It was a bit of a fiasco to unload the 500lb double-length pallet from the truck.  I am so excited.  I think these 104" doors are going to be a great addition to the house.  As with everything, its going to be another project.  The doors have a few? rough spots...

a. Fill deadbolt hole
b. Fill surface lock hole
c. Fix minor rail/stile separation
d. Fill holes/nicks and prime/paint.
e. Replace 1 pane of glass
f. Repair stile damage around lockset area

Below are the pictures of the uncrating.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

EXTRA, EXTRA, Read All About It - 1938 Newspaper Found Under the Floor

Celia and I spent the weekend pulling up floorboards in the kitchen. It seems like every project in the house turns out to be a monumental task, but with each task, we make cool discoveries that make it just so much fun (Celia disagrees with me on this)!
This time, in an area of floor that was obviously cut and patched when some work was done, we found several pages of the Chicago Daily News from Saturday April 30 1938. The newspaper was being used a a shim to level the floor.

Headlines include:

  • Roosevelt Hits Holding Firms
  • Britain Wont Fight To Save Czechoslovakia
  • Federal Agents Hold Two As Counterfeiters
  • Swing a Good-Looking Purse if You Would Be Really Well-Dressed

It is so strange to see articles about Nazi's/Hitler, President Roosevelt, etc.

We also found a piece of cardboard (also acting a shim) that had a shipping label the Peoria Casket Co to the Sedgwick Funeral Home.  Really cool stuff!  We have long known that our house operated as a funeral home for about 40 years.  1938 would have been the very early years of the business.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

New Old Stuff

I just placed an order for a "new old" set of double entry doors and a stained glass window.  Both will be going in our new kitchen. Celia and I combed the local salvage shops and the Internet and finally found the perfect pieces.  My bank account is a lot lighter, but I think it will be worth it!  They are being shipped from the east coast and should be here sometime next week. Cant wait!
We also just found matching reclaimed oak floor which will allow us to finish our kitchen floor.  I sure hope the work to save the original flooring and combine it with the reclaimed flooring works out like I plan.

More to follow...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Replicating Moldings

My goal is to make this kitchen feel like it flows with the rest of the house.  One of my [b][i]major[/i][/b] projects will be replicating all of this old woodwork.  I am not a master craftsmen by any means, but it gives me an excuse to buy all sorts of new tools  :D
My question is what type of wood stock I should start with?  From what i can tell, most of the trim in the house is 120 year old pine.  Everything is painted right now, but we plan to strip it all eventually (even if it was originally meant to be painted, I think that the pine will look fine stained by today's standards).  The two staircases in the house are walnut...
With all this in mind, should I be trying to find antique reclaimed lumber to mill my trim from or should I just do the kitchen in new white oak, etc?

Picture of the door/window trim:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My New Toy - The Floor Sander

Hi All! Progress on the kitchen is still happening.  My father-in-law is starting work on the cabinets soon so Celia and I are trying to get some of the other stuff done.  We have now removed all of the ceramic tile and the 1/2 plywood subfloor.  Under that is more subfloor in the addition portion of the room and sheet vinyl over the original wood floors on the original portion.  I removed all of the sheet vinyl last week, so all that is remaining is the stubborn glue layer.  We have a gray colored glue/mastic (as opposed to the black mastic that many old house have).  We have yet to find a good way to remove it.  What we have tried so far:
Manual scraping, heat gun+scraping, wallpaper steamer, Goo-Gone type remover,  paint stripper, and Clean-Strip Adhesive/Mastic Remover.
Next up is the drum sander.   Yep, that's right!  I bought a drum sander today. I figure that I will be sanding floors for years to come so buying the equipment will be cheaper in the long run.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Slave to the Pond

Celia and I did some more work on the pond today. Well, Celia mostly.

Here is a picture of her straining the muck by hand with a colander!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Working on the Pond

Our yard features a rather large koi pond, complete if waterfall.  It was one of the things that Celia fell in love with when we first saw the house. Unfortunately, it has been neglected for a number of years.  Lately we have been getting a little burnt out working on the kitchen so we decided to start working on the pond this weekend.  What a chore!  The pond has about 2 foot of standing water in it.  The water was so clogged with fallen leaves that the leaves on top never got wet.  There was literally 4 inches of rotting leaf material floating in the top of the water.   As we started dredging a rake across the bottom, there is another several inches of sediment.  Here are some pics of us working on the pond.

This is all of the leaves that were in the pond!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

More Kitchen Pics

Pictures are worth a thousand words so below are some more pics of our kitchen in various stages of demolition:

Signatures of previous owners:
Greg Derry, Susie Derry, Jenny Derry, Kim Derry