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This Old Crack House

From log house to farmhouse. Farmhouse to townhouse. Townhouse to apartment house. Apartment house to crack house. Crack house to our house. Our house to our home.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

We interrupt this blog for a public service announcement.....

Window repair 101. Part Three

Remember this?




And This?


Well, now it looks like this...



The bondo was painted to match the water stained part of the wood using acrylic paint and then the inside of the window was given 4 coats of shellac. I didn't bother trying to mask the repair on the edges of the window since they won't be visible. The outside of the window was painted white. I don't need to waste a picture on that I'm sure we all know what white paint over "bondo" will look like!

Next, glazing! Ooooh, so exciting.....

I've finally gotten really good at this after doing some 20+ windows over the last 5 years. Besides a can of glazing putty, you need one of these;



a glaziers putty knife.

This is very important. If you try to use a regular scraper or your fingers then you will get less than quality results based on your own talent and ability. With one of these you should be able to re-glaze a large single frame window in about 30 minutes. A six paner will take longer. Of course you can cheat and buy a tube of window caulk but the stuff isn't the same as good old linseed oil based putty. Firstly, you don't get to know what it is like to have gooey putty all over your fingers. Secondly, linseed putty allows you to screw up over and over again. You just roll the stuff up and start over with no waste (except the stuff that stays on your hands). Besides rolling the putty in your hands to get it warm and loose, the key to getting a good seal is putting a small amount of putty on the wood ridge that supports the glass to provide a bed that the glass can sit on. If you look at the picture above you will see a continuous smudge of putty around this ridge. After you place the glass in the frame, you need to lock it in place with glaziers points. I prefer the modern ones with the two side "risers" that allow you to use a putty knife to push the point into the wood. If you use the old style triangle flakes then there is a very thin edge to push your blade against and a risk that you will break the glass. (I know, I have done it!) To finish off you need to place a roll of putty along the edge of the pane of glass and the frame and press it in place with your fingers or the long flat edge of the putty knife. To finish and get a good smooth bead of putty you need to draw the short flat edge across the length of the putty bead using your forefinger to apply pressure on the short edge of the putty knife. This blade needs to be at a sharp angle because you only need adequate putty to hide the glaziers points. As you draw the blade back you can use the back edge to cut the excess putty on the glass and with pressure you can utilize the inside edge of the frame to cut away the excess putty on the upper side of the original bead. The edge of the blade should be resting on this as a guide. If you draw back about 8 inches at a time and remove the excess it will be a lot easier than trying to complete a whole edge in one go. It may take two passes to get the final bead right and you can smooth out any rough spots using your finger. If you want to you can dip your finger in some paint thinner. I tend to just rub mine quickly up and down in short strokes along the putty to get a smooth edge against the glass. The sharp edge of the putty knife is useful to get perfect corners and when it comes to cleaning off the excess putty on the inside of the window as a result of pressing the glass into the putty "bed". When you are done it is also useful when removing putty from your fingers and for cleaning your finger nails....

Friday, January 27, 2006

Pergolas and more "house on the hill"

Here are some more pictures for the "Suspense" series. The pair of pergolas and sentry boxes at the apex of the infamous Y.





A picture of the "House on the Hill" from the same vantage point.


Soon I will post my opinion on the subject. Can you guess what it might be?

Suspense! The Details....

Look at the map again.




That large area in the top left corner (marked A) is 10 Wilmington Place. This is a retirement community. The structure was formerly the Southern Ohio Lunatic Asylum built in 1855 and placed on the National register in 1979. Samuel Edgar, the guy who built our house bought 8 acres of this land and donated it to the State of Ohio for this purpose in 1852. So we have a connection to this after all! The large open area in the bottom left (marked B) is Walnut Hills Park, owned by the City of Dayton. The structure that the proposed highway goes through (marked C) is a large house that sits on a hill about 30 feet above Stewart Street. The current owners of the property bought it in 1993 and plan to spend the rest of their lives there. The house was built in 1871 by a guy named Jonah Bull who bought the land from, you guessed it, Samuel Edgar. He had to sell it at sheriffs auction in 1881 because he owed creditors over $8000. The house is brick and the adjacent barn has hand hewn beams dating it to around 1830. Here is a picture of the house. Taken last year.



The owners had no idea this plan existed. They do now, though and have since May 2005 when I informed them. Should they choose to sell the house, well, they can't. They would have to disclose that this plan exists to a new buyer and it is not likely you would buy a home if there was a possibility that it would be seized from you in a few years. In order to save the house it was nominated and qualifies for the National Register and will be placed on it soon. For those who don't know, this eliminates the possibility of eminent domain being invoked by the city or the State. Only the federal government or the property owner can do anything to this property.
Construction at this intersection is scheduled to begin in 2009. Under normal circumstances the plans and proposals are to be presented in 2007 for public scrutiny. If the owners of this property were not made aware of this plan before then it may not have made the National Register.

So, take the land from the old State Hospital site you might say! Well, at the apex of the Y is a structure consisting of a pair of sentry boxes and a pair of pergolas that used to sit along both sides of an entry road.

This is also on the National Register! Looks like we have a bottleneck starting to appear, doesn't it?

More details; the population of the city has gone down considerably in the last ten years while that of the region has remained constant. Note, it is not increasing. In fact it is slowly decreasing. New development is going on in counties surrounding us but jobs are not being created in the city. Newest developement will be in the Northwest and not the Southeast where we are.

Traffic counts indicate 25,000 cars a day travel Wayne Avenue. I assume that means 12,500 each way. Not all of those vehicles pass this intersection. There were counter strips placed all around this junction 2 weeks ago so I'm sure the city is getting their number counts up to date.

More facts; residents on the one way part of Stewart Street don't want two-way traffic because they won't be able to park their cars on the street.

Coming out of the city there are 5 traffic lights along a 1 mile stretch of Wayne Ave before you get to this junction. This junction would make 6 lights. Three of those six traffic lights are in the area shown by the map, at Anderson and Wayne, Stewart and Wayne and Wayne and Wilmington.During peak times left turns from Wayne to Wilmington and Wayne to Wayne are awkward but traffic keeps moving.

Any questions? I will post a picture of the pergolas later. So check back!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Suspense! The plan.....

There are two players in this plan. The City of Dayton and the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission. The facts:
Project sponsor: City of Dayton
Project Name: Wayne and Wilmington Intersection Improvements
Project Location: Intersection of Wilmington Ave, Wayne Ave and Stewart Street
Project Description: Realign Stewart Street with Wayne Avenue and convert to two-way, widen Wayne Avenue and Wilmington Avenue to 5 lanes.

Someone has had their eye on this intersection for a long time. They would probably like to get home 5 minutes sooner due to congestion on Wayne Avenue at rush hour. Work on this junction was ranked #6 on a list of 12 priorities for a 30 year plan.
The junction is unique. It is a Y on a main route into the city. The fact is, it has been this way for over 100 years. It has been here since 1850 and Stewart Street (formerly Union Street) appears on the 1918 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps in its present curved shape.
In the 1980s some of the side streets and the part of Stewart Street from Kratochwill to Wayne Ave were turned into one way streets.
There have been several meetings over the years to design a proposal for this junction but nothing acceptable was ever produced. So, in order to guarantee that work could be done on this intersection an application for $1.32 million in federal funds was submitted to the State of Ohio in 2004 with the following plan. This plan was devised sometime around 1964 when Dayton and Kettering were hot beds of employment in the region. Obviously this junction was considered a problem then and nothing has ever been done. The dark lines indicate the proposed changes. If you are familiar with this intersection then you know what this plan proposes. If you aren't, and that would be the majority of readers, you will have to wait for the next installment for more information!

Keeping you in Suspense

In case you didn't know, I am the president of our neighborhood council. I am also an elected representative of our local Priority Board which basically gives citizen participation in local government. Well, I have a burning issue that needs to be made public. It involves deceipt, $1.9 million in funding, historical landmarks, waste of public money and the potential abuse of eminent domain. It is scheduled to happen in my neighborhood in 2009. I am in the process of trying to thwart it. We have a public meeting scheduled for February 23rd with the City Planners. It should be an interesting song and dance routine since they have been called out with egg on their face!
I will post the facts shortly, just as soon as I feel that I can present them in an un-biased manner. In the meantime, you must all be kept in suspense! Nothing like a good "Cliffhanger" to add excitement to your day!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Picassos Farm

Picassos Farm by Elizabeth age 34 months.
Felt on felt.

Some days I feel like this!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Resurrecting the Beast!



This is the beast!

It died in September 2005 when it locked in reverse and wouldn't go into any other gear. It has sat on the pad that used to be our garage since then. At an odd angle but not quite protruding into the alley. It looks much like an abandoned vehicle. I ripped out the steering column and cut all the wiring back in October but the toll from mosquitos was too great and the project was abandoned until a suitable weather day AND the fact that I have to be in the right mood to work on it. That day was Monday. The event was prompted by the fact that the insurance is due on the vehicle and the plates need to be renewed in March. I was not willing to spend a whole lot of time or money on this thing.

That being said, I must admit that this was probably the BEST motor vehicle purchase I have ever made. I paid $300 for the beast in 2001. It has cost me a total of $87 in repairs since then and $40 of that was a new battery! It is a 1975 Ford Econoline 150 van. The sliding side door won't work and I don't have a key to lock the doors, but what do you expect for $300? The dashboard is ripped out so there is no radio. It has yet to be stolen, though I know that it occassionally gets a good going through once in a while because I often drive off and find the passenger door swings open. It is exempt from emmissions testing and does 12 miles to the gallon but hauls home remodel supplies and auction purchases like nobodys business. I need it to last about 12 more months so that I can buy the brick and tile flue liners that I need to fix a few of our chimneys with as well as any drywall or big items that a car is no good for.

Well, I took a look at the beast on Monday afternoon when it was 50 degrees outside. For some reason, I looked under the vehicle. I saw the problem right away. After I removed the big dead weed that was stuck to the underbelly of the beast it dawned on me that that was the likely culprit. The rod that connects the gear change lever on the steering column to the transmission had been disconnected from the mechanism on the gear box. What is needed? A wire clip! Cost? Less than $1 except I probably have to buy a pack of assorted ones for $3. So, I spliced the wires together, taped them up with electrical tape and put the steering column back together and put the beast in park. It started up just fine! After the white smoke cleared and I could see the vehicle again I realized that the left turn signal won't stop blinking.......

Can he fix it? YES HE CAN!
So, that's another $400 in insurance and registration fees the beast will cost us this year......

Monday, January 16, 2006

Silly Blogger

Well, for over a week "Blogger" has failed to email me when people post comments to this blog. So if my responses are somewhat delayed, this is the main reason. Sometime in the near future I will get a barrage of email sent to me from google which AOL will syphon off to a spam folder possibly delaying my receipt of said email even longer. That coupled with the fact that I am still using a circa 1995 486 with a pentium 120 with a petty 40 mb RAM and a dial up connection with a 56k modem it is amazing that I get any email before the system locks up on me! I wonder if I had a faster PC if I could get the house finished sooner......

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Window Repair 101. Part Two.

Now that the linseed oil has done its work I am ready to fill the gaping hole on the bottom of one window and re-build the corner of another. The latter window had been removed from the dining room at some point and used as a window in a basement partition. It had a corner removed so that it could accomodate some copper plumbing pipe.

The first step was to cut some wood so that it could be used to fill the bulk of each area to be repaired. I cut some pieces on our antiquated table saw and put them in place. Since I don't have clamps I used a screw to hold the one piece on the corner after gluing it. I could have probably got the wood to be a perfect fit but I am much better with a paint brush than a table saw so it didn't have to be perfect. Bondo would do the rest! Here are the "Before Bondo" pictures.









Bondo is a two part epoxy used for auto body repairs. I have used it on numerous occassions to repair woodwork around this place. It hardens very quickly, within 20 minutes and it can be sanded after it hardens. When you mix it, it is quite runny. Not like putty at all. So you have to apply it to your surface in several layers in order to get a smooth finish, sanding between each application. The first application can be quite thick but don't even try to make it smooth. Here is a picture of the rotted edge after the first application of Bondo.




This was then sanded with a palm sander and 100 grit paper. It sands easily and quickly. When it was sanded flush with the wood there were a few dips in the surface and at the edges. A second batch of putty was mixed and applied with a putty knife over the depressions. With each application you need less and less Bondo. The end result was this after 4 applications and sandings.








Once these are painted or faux finished and covered with shellac you would never notice the repair unless you were to strip the window again. How likely is that?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Man or Mouse? Squeak up!

Ok, I have heard of Incendiary Pigs before but not Incendiary Mice!

For those who didn't know, on a couple of occassions the Romans used pigs to scare elephants in battle. They noticed that elephants were afraid of the noise squealing pigs make. The first time they used them, against Pyrrus around 275 BC they just sent them running at the enemy. The second time they used them, they covered them in tar and set them on fire before they sent them running at the enemy to ensure that there would be much wailing and gnashing of teeth. The squeal was in fact the secret weapon, not the fire. Fire ensured that the pigs would squeal. After this, the Macedonians boarded their elephants with pigs so they would be used to the noise.

A couple of nights ago THIS story was on the news. In my warped and twisted mind I found it amusing. I know I won't be burning any sacrificial Easter squirrels any time soon. In this instance, the fire was more effective than the squeak. After this, people will no longer set fire to live mice near their homes. They will use the tried and true method of their fathers and their fathers before them and flush them down the toilet!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Window Repair 101. Part 1

If you have an old house and feel that the windows are so bad that they have to be replaced then think again. No matter how bad they look. We replaced the windows on our second floor when we bought the "Crackhouse" because most of them had no glass. We paid something like $6000 for 7 windows and after watching the guys install them and realizing that you can custom order your own windows at Lowes for 20% of what we were charged it was decided that we would NEVER do that again! Replacement windows do cut down on the noise and heat loss though. Our first floor windows were too tall for replacements. This particular outfit couldn't make them long enough and even suggested we reduce the size of the opening to make a sale. Needless to say we decided to salvage what we had. I have four windows left to refinish. I have been able to strip two of them this week and remove the glass.
Todays mission was to get them ready for painting but there is some work involved when you are dealing with wood that looks like this;




and you have big chunks missing like this.





These are bad, but they are also fixable. First you have to get the wood stripped of paint. I won't go into this process because it has been covered many times on this and other house blogs but if you don't already have one, go and buy a heat gun. Preferably one with a variable temperature dial because wood this bad will catch fire!
Once the paint has been stripped and the glazing putty removed you need to sand the wood. For this project I used a palm sander with 60 grit and then 100 grit paper. One of the windows will have a shellac finish on the inside and so, after sanding, the inward facing surface was rubbed with coarse steel wool and alcohol to loosen any flakes of paint left after the sanding and re-amalgamate any original shellac on the wood (what little remained in this case).

The next stage is the important one. It is also quite simple. Mix some boiled linseed oil with an equal amount of turpentine or paint thinner and brush it over the wood. Where the wood is dry it will suck up the linseed oil like a sponge and may take two or three more applications. When done, let the wood dry over night and repeat the process until no more linseed oil is being absorbed by the wood.

Linseed oil is a hardening oil that leaves a resinous hard coating when it drys. This helps seal the wood and renders it water resistant. It leaves the dull grey colored wood looking like this;




Next you need to fill those shrinkage cracks on the exterior of the window and you don't want to use something that will shrink or crack as the wood expands and contracts with heat or cold. Splits or cracks on the interior will be filled with colored wood putty at a later date when the wood has cured but in the meantime I have filled the the exterior splits and cracks with window glazing putty which will never fully harden and will allow the wood to expand. Since the putty is linseed oil based I went ahead and did this today after the first application of linseed oil to the wood.



I hope this helps some of you out there reading this. It may even save you a ton of money!
This ends todays lesson, except that linseed oil comes from flax seed. Flax is used to make linen. Make sense now, eh?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Victorian Graffitti

Throughout our remodelling efforts we have found graffitti, newspapers, old worthless items and puzzles to the past. One of the earliest examples of graffitti found was this brick on the main chimney. It marks a time when this section of the chimney was actually outside the roof and not under it. There are two bricks on this chimney that are signed by this guy. The dates are different, about a week apart and we speculate that this guy was charged with the task of painting "mortar" lines over the brick red colored paint.




The next interesting piece of graffitti was found in May 2003 while scraping a wall in the bathroom. It turned up this pencilled profile on the plaster wall.




It is signed Marguerette Volkenand and would have been done sometime around 1910.


The last piece of interesting graffitti was found carved into one of our window lintel stones in April 2004 and would date around 1865.




These two (Minnie and George) were married in 1867. In fact, here are some photos of them in later years.






Minnie liked to carve her name in things. I remember sanding the name out of the window sill in Elizabeths bedroom. I didn't think much of it at the time. In fact, I thought it was more modern in origin until I found this and realized that Minnie was Marianna Edgars nickname and she used it on her marriage license.
This stuff has all been posted to my regular website over the years as it was discovered. So why am I posting it here? Two reasons;

1) It is about time I found some more

2) I haven't been doing any work on the house due to cold weather and I am feeling really guilty about not having anything blog worthy to post!

Maybe if I get bored I will photograph some of the old items we have found and post them here for laughs and giggles!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

In 1909 The Bathroom.

This may answer some questions for people with turn of the century homes!

From Household Discoveries 1909

"Bathrooms are no longer a novelty in small towns and farmhouses. But it must be understood that to enjoy these in winter, requires almost of necessity a range or furnace. Pipes in kitchens may be kept warm by stoves, and bathrooms adjoining the kitchen may be warmed by leaving the door open between or the bathroom may be over the kitchen, and a drum or stovepipe arranged so as to heat the pipes in the bathroom. But it is usually better to not have running water in the bathroom in winter until a furnace is put in. It pays, however, to partition off a bathroom near the kitchen and put in a bath tub, if there is running water or a hand pump in the bathroom, with drain pipes to carry away waste- even if it is necessary to carry cold water to the tub from the kitchen sink and hot water from the stove in pails.
A good bath tub is not a luxury, but a necessity to comfort, cleanliness and health. If the bathroom is near the kitchen, the tub can be filled by bringing hot and cold water in pails; and if the tub is elevated slightly, the water can be drawn off in pails and carried to the drain after the bath; or, if a tub is used that does not have a faucet for drainage, the waste water can easily be removed by using a small piece of rubber tube as a siphon, or by a dipper and a large bath sponge. Every household should be provided with a full sized tub, even if it is only of tin. Portable rubber tubs which can be folded and put away when not in use are also obtainable. But a cast iron tub is preferable and not too expensive.
The entire cost of plumbing for a bathroom, including supply pipe, hot water pipe and all necessary fixtures, provided you have water supply in the house, will not exceed $150. This sum can be reduced by doing some of the work yourself.Even if there is no furnace, the bathroom can be used from early spring to late fall, and especially through the summer season, when it is above all essential to health and comfort. Every family should make the necessary sacrifices to put in and enjoy this great convenience."