Saturday, May 25, 2013

Old-school Rainwater Catchment

Hello readers!
I recently started investigating the cistern on our property.  I believe it to be designed to catch rainwater from the roof gutters.  I have 4" cast-iron pipe sticking up out of the ground in a couple places around the house that obviously used to have round corrugated downspouts going into them. The top of the hole is covered in a 4" thick flat, cut stone.  I stuck a camera down in the hole and took these picks.

Notice the 3 inlets at the bottom of this photo

Brick walls looks to be in decent shape

I have read about people pumping out the water and then climbing in and cleaning them out.  Supposedly you can find all sorts of artifacts in them.... and dead animals... and lots of grime...
Maybe one day I will get around to it  I will send Celia down...
I think it would be neat to clean it out and hook up an old cistern pump like this one.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

UPDATED: Refinishing the coat hook rack.

Now that the side entrance foyer is looking good, I decided it was appropriate to start a new project.  I justified this by telling myself that this wasn't a huge project (ie kitchen remodel, roofing, etc).
I started with this:

I began by using the heat gun to remove the paint.  It appeared to only be 3 layers.  The top layer is the same tan latex as all of the trim in the house.  The bottom layer was shellac.  This is the first piece of wood I have attempted to strip that was originally shellacked instead of painted.  This made the heat gun/stripping process go MUCH faster.  I knew the wood was walnut since the backside is unpainted, but as you can see, it is turning out to be a beautiful piece.
1st pass with the heat gun done in 30 minutes.

After the heat gun, I manually scrapped the surface with my Bahco
 Here is a link to my favorite paint scrapper: Bahco 625 ~$18 @ Amazon

So far, I have only spent about 1.5 hours on this project.
As you can see I have some light colored paint in the pores of the wood.  As a next step, I plan to wipe it down with paint stripper and then lightly sand.  The finish I am planning to use is amber shellac.

What do you guys think?  I am pretty excited to see this thing hanging back up on the wall again.

Saturday May 25th 2013:
Here are a few more "in-progress" pics.  Here is what the board looked like after cleaning it with paint stripper and finish sanding

And this next picture is after two coats of amber shellac.  This was exciting because it was my first time using shellac.  I bought it in flake form from

In total a have applied 4 thin coats of shellac.  I might put one more coat on, but it is basically done.  I now need to turn my attention to the hooks themselves...

Painting in Side Entrance Foyer = Done

Celia and I wrapped up the painting project we had been working on over the past few days 1.5 years.  Below are some before/during/after pics. In these first three pics you can see us in the process of removing the old tan wallpaper.  This room was basically tan wallpaper with tan trim.  This project was just about painting the walls.  The trim/baseboards will eventually be stripped, but that will take time to get to.

Notice the old original? coat hook rack.

This is the side entrance door.  Also notice the original light fixture.

These are the back servant stairs.

Cutting in around this trim with primer and then the top coat was a PITA.

Spending extra time patching cracks/holes and sanding everything really paid off!

Ahh my pretty chandelier.  This is my pet project.  It never functioned since I owned the house so I took it down and started working on it. I finished a complete rebuild about a year ago and it was sitting in storage waiting for the day it could be hung back up.  It was actually a combination gas/electric fixture.  The center is an electric bulb and the three arms pointing towards the ceiling were gas lights.  I never could imagine actually hooking it back up to gas so I converted it all to electric.  For the purists out there, dont worry. The conversion did not require drilling the gas valves and I saved the extra bits.  I couldn't be happier with how it turned out.  A pleasant surprise was that the "vaseline glass" bits coordinate really well with the walls.  Almost like we planned it, lol.
Some of you may have noticed that I am missing a globe on the center lamp.  This would have been a round 6" vaseline glass globe.  They are really hard to find. I have been watching ebay for about a year now and haven't found the perfect one yet. 

The color we chose is called "Slightly Sour Absinthe".  It is basically a pale key lime pie color. In real life, it is a little greener than it appears here.  I especially like how it pops against the walnut stairs.  We don't really care for how it coordinates with the tan trim, but the goal is to slowly start stripping the trim anyway.

Some people raise an eyebrow when they hear I used Glidden paint.  We generally use Sherwin Williams oil and/or latex paints on our exterior projects but Glidden has been my interior latex choice for years.   This time it didn't let us down.  One-coat coverage over the Kilz primer.  Cant ask for more than that, lol.
After the painting was done, I starting working on restoring the coat rack that is shown in the first picture.  I am going to write up a separate blog post on this project....

Friday, May 17, 2013

Making progress! Roof, Side entrance foyer, and electrical

We have been plugging way lately.  Some big projects are wrapping up and some smaller projects too...

The roof over the kitchen addition is now almost fully installed.  This was a BIG project that was delayed due to rain.  Only I am crazy enough to tear the roof off right before record-setting rain.  So much rain that I am told this general area was declared a FEMA disaster zone. I am still planning a big blog post about my roofing project.

The side entrance foyer has seen a lot of work over the past couple days.  We started working on this right after we bought the house (a year and a half ago), but other projects stole our attention.  Way back then we stripped all the wallpaper and an insane amount of wallpaper paste.  We realized recently that it didnt require too much more work so we decided to finish it up.  Yesterday Celia and I patched holes in the plaster and sanded.  Today we applied a coat of Kilz primer.  Tomorrow? we will probably put on the finish coat.  We are REALLY looking forward to this because it is going to be the very first finish coat of paint in the interior of the house.  So much of our work thus far as been demo, or mechanical or structural.
SIDE NOTE: Apparently Kilz makes all sorts of primer products now.  Kilz Latex, Kilz MAX, Kilz Odorless, etc.  Something inside me told me to stick to the tried-n-true Original Kilz.
Ahh fresh, clean white primer!
Another project in the foyer was to fix some plaster.  Specifically the ceiling above the stairs had been skim-coated at some point in history but it had cracked and fallen when the upstairs toilet leaked.  I started patching it today:  
Fairly large patch (3'x3').  My 12-inch drywall knife provided a pretty nice finish.
I also had a small but important victory with the electrical.  Ever since we bought the place, the main light in the basement didnt work.  You know, the one the lights up the bottom of the stairs.  This made the basement extra creepy... Anyways, replacing the bulbs and flipping breakers didn't help so we have been just dealing with it be using a flashlight.  I got bored last weekend and decided to replace the switch, and it WORKED!.  So now we have a light in the basement.  It is the simple things in life that matter...