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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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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Great Gift Ideas for Old House People!

Have you ever wondered what to give the spouse as a gift? Are you tired of looking at ties and socks for him or lingerie for her? Have you recovered from the beating you took after giving her an appliance? Do those roses he gave you three months ago still smell fresh? Let's face it, gift giving is fun but shopping for that special something really sucks! After several years at Gimbels Department Store in the 1980s I learned to really hate Christmas shopping...

I no longer have a problem finding neat thoughtful gifts for the spouse. In fact I find it quite easy these days and I take my time doing it. What do I do? Well, most of my shopping is done on Ebay because the selection is far greater than going into a store. (Though I do that too.) I search under the Key words "Dayton Ohio", "Dayton Oh" and "Dayton O" and look for stuff that would be neat to have around the house. Things I look for are early calendar plates with Dayton advertisements printed on them, coffee or spice cards that we can frame and hang in the kitchen or other cool little items. For Christmas I scored 8 sterling silver souvenir spoons from the 1890s and 1900s that can be displayed on the rustic side of the house or in the parlor. The twist to that story was that although the seller was in the Chicago area, these were part of an estate that prior to 1993 was about three blocks away from the "Crack House". (You can stop humming "It's a small world after all" now...)
This week I was able to acquire an embossed cup on Ebay to add to our growing collection.

The nice thing about this is that you can find find stuff for all decades. If you like that 50s look then you can locate an old paper weight or trophy from some local company that has long since vanished. Postcards are readily available and show the transition from horse to tram to motor car if you collect images of landmark buildings. Advertising calendar plates are common before 1920.

If you start now, you might just have enough stuff by Christmas!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Your Gas Range is How Old?

I find this stuff interesting, even if some of you don't! Here is a picture of an ad I saw in an 1856 City Directory which is shelved at our local library main branch. I thought it was interesting because gas supply in Dayton became available around 1850.



So you know what I had to do? That's right! I went to the US patent office web site and started searching for the patent and here it is;




A counter top gas burner! I thought these were so 90s but it turns out that they were so 50s........ 1850s that is!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What Balls You Have!

This comment was left on my last post! This is not the kind of comment you want to leave when I am in taunting mode!

Can we get off this IKEA stuff, and get back to detailed stripping, plastering, whitewashing, plumbing, rough carpentry and painting. Pictures are allays aprecated as well

Of course it was left by A. Nonymous who hasn't figured out yet that "Sitemeter" tells me their approximate location in the world and it is only a matter of time before I can leave similar remarks on their blog. If they even have one! "Sitemeter" keeps us regular houseblog people polite.

I have had over 54,000 hits in the last 12 months and almost 100,000 page views. In all of that I have had maybe two A. Nonymous comments that have rubbed me the wrong way and I make a post about it. This will be post #3 of this nature. So thanks for the comment because you gave me something to write about!

First I shall tell you why there are no house related posts this week.

It finally snowed here in the "Gem City" and when I stopped at the "Old Crack House" today the temperature on the first floor was 38 degrees F. On the third floor the buckets that collect water coming in under the 1960s dormers that shattered the original slate roof were frozen solid. So that tells me that the the second floor where I am working is about 34 degrees F. I don't work well below 40 degrees so I am holed up doing other work that I get paid for. The fact that YOU, with your ginormous balls of steel, want me, with my normal man sized meaty balls, to work where my normal man sized meaty balls will shrivel up to not only resemble prunes but physically take on the appearence of the stones that are in those prunes, just to satisfy your blog addiction of viewing others hard at work on their homes while you sit in the comfort of your office next to a computer makes me fee sad for you. There are some 525 other house blogs out there where other hard working people with heating are showing pictures of their basements and holes in their ceilings where plaster has fallen. I suggest you go find some of their sites to drool over while I take a break from writing about working on the house. If you want pictures, Google can take care of that for you. Search under the keywords "What does an asshole look like" and right beside a picture of me will be a picture of YOU standing outside IKEA.

You may not have enjoyed the IKEA rants but many others did. This site took 384 hits on Monday and 637 page views which is almost double the norm.

Have you noticed any sponsers on my blog besides my own stuff? Right. You know what that means? I don't have to please anyone with regards to the content of this blog so if you don't like what I am posting then go away for a few days and check back in case you might have missed something. Don't think you can come waltzing over here and tell me to get back to work anonymously. It is just plain rude. Bollocks to you!

On a lighter note. Do you know why firemen have bigger balls than policemen?

They sell more tickets!

Monday, January 22, 2007

My Final Taunt (for now....)

I dedicate this post to House-blogging's most famous self proclaimed IKEA-phobe, Chris at the Emery Restoration.

I haven't had this much fun since the hamster died!

I did a little Googling and found some interesting sites. The first one is from IKEA itself. Here is YOUR store! You NEVER have to hang your head in shame there ever again! It appears that you can buy from them online and save on time, gas, impulse buying and meatball induced flatulence! Though in a few short years I'm sure you may want the meatballs to fuel your vehicle or make you "regular"....

You wouldn't want to leave home without this. Reminds me of those other big box retailers!

Then I found that someone actually did write a song about IKEA.

There is this website for the creative IKEA fan.

And finally, just when I thought this was an annual pilgrimage for us....

So, love it or hate it, they are here for at least a generation. It is not what you can do for IKEA but what IKEA can do for you that is the real challenge.

For the record, I am not a huge fan of their particle board creations either but some of their products actually work for us. I will always promote auctions for acquiring furniture, dinnerware, tools and rugs. IKEA is ideal for furnishing apartments, loft living spaces and for young people with a modern taste who want practical furniture at low cost. If you are looking for a piece of furniture that you can paint to suit your decor, IKEA is the place to buy it. Some of their lighting is "Kewl" but I wouldn't want it. Besides a sore back and tired feet we have acquired stainless steel kitchen items, unique affordable sinks and faucets, a pine storage system for some of Elizabeth's toys, a $33 burgundy colored computer desk, some garden items and a bunch of coat hooks from IKEA. The stuff is neither great, nor is it crap. It is purely practical and has saved me countless hours of looking for the "ideal item" that I may never find or be able to afford.

Now I shall go scan the other houseblogs to see who else I can taunt - I see that John is having dreams about me stripping......

A Pre-emptive Strike

I know that I'm not immune to the pox infested blanket as it gets passed from one house-blog to another but I feel quite honored to have been missed in the tag game that has been going around (I assume I was missed because I didn't see my blog tagged but then again, I can't read every blog either). In order to prevent the spread of unwanted scabs I have decided to act first. Vaccinate myself, so to speak. Then I will not have to feel guilty about spreading the love. All those people out there looking for victims can be mad at themselves for missing me and I help stop the thing in it's tracks! Since this is an inoculation of a less deadly strain I won't tell you five things, I'll tell you six, then you can all leave me alone the next time it passes through.

1) Speaking of blankets and scabs, I have NEVER had an STD. I probably deserved a few in my time but never had one.

2) I spent 12 years living in England where I got a free education and a free degree in geology which I never used.

3) The result of #2 was a warped sense of humor and a quick wit. I pay for both daily because my 3 year old has developed the same.

4) I have low expectations when dealing with the ability of others. That way I am easily impressed and rarely disappointed.

5) I didn't know a thing about fixing houses in 2001 when we bought this place. If I did we could have saved ourselves a whole lot of money by not buying it!

6) My mother and ex-wife read this blog..... now that is scary.


This is a special service announcement for Chris Emery. If you haven't heard, I am taunting him. So in case you have stopped listening, this one's for you!



Friday, January 19, 2007

I can't resist the Taunt!

If you are reading this then you MUST click over to the "Emery Restoration" and read Chris's Hypocrit post. While you are there please, please, please copy and paste the chorus of the song below in the comments to show your support for his new found shopping paradise! Tell him Gary sent you!


Young man, there's no need to feel down.
I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground.
I said, young man, 'cause you're in a new town
There's no need to be unhappy.

Young man, there's a place you can go.
I said, young man, when you're short on your dough.
You can stay there, and I'm sure you will find
Many ways to have a good time.

It's fun to shop at I-K-E-A
It's fun to shop at I-K-E-A

They have everything for you men to enjoy,
You can hang out with all the boys ...

It's fun to shop at I-K-E-A
It's fun to shop at I-K-E-A

You can get yourself cleaned, you can have a good meal,
You can do whatever you feel ...

Young man, are you listening to me?
I said, young man, what do you want to be?
I said, young man, you can make real your dreams.
But you got to know this one thing!

No man does it all by himself.
I said, young man, put your pride on the shelf,
And just go there, to I-K-E-A
I'm sure they can help you today.

It's fun to shop at I-K-E-A
It's fun to shop at I-K-E-A

They have everything for you men to enjoy,
You can hang out with all the boys ...

It's fun to shop at I-K-E-A
It's fun to shop at I-K-E-A

You can get yourself cleaned, you can have a good meal,
You can do whatever you feel ...

Young man, I was once in your shoes.
I said, I was down and out with the blues.
I felt no man cared if I were alive.
I felt the whole world was so tight ...

That's when someone came up to me,
And said, young man, take a walk up the street.
There's a place there called I-K-E-A
They can start you back on your way.

It's fun to shop at I-K-E-A
It's fun to shop at I-K-E-A

They have everything for you men to enjoy,
You can hang out with all the boys ...

I-K-E-A ... you'll find it at I-K-E-A

Young man, young man, there's no need to feel down.
Young man, young man, get yourself off the ground.

I-K-E-A ... you'll find it at I-K-E-A

Young man, young man, there's no need to feel down.
Young man, young man, get yourself off the ground.

I-K-E-A ... you'll find it at I-K-E-A

Young man, young man, are you listening to me?
Young man, young man, what do you wanna be?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Farm House Sex and Other Great Stuff!

Deborah got me a new "Book of Everything" from Lee Valley. This coupled with my 1909 book of Household Discoveries will make me an "Expert" on old forgotten technology! We all know that an "Ex" is something that has been used up or worn out and a "Spurt" is a drip under pressure....

I can't find a recipe for "Farmhouse Sex" in either book but for some reason Google sends people searching for the ingredients to my site. Here is a good one though;

To Freshen Marble

Mix a bullocks gall with 4 ounces of soap lees and 2 ounces of turpentine, add pipe clay and make it into a paste. Apply it to the marble, and let it remain 24 hours: rub it off, and if not clean, repeat it till it is.


This leaves me with some questions and comments;
After 5 attempts, should I repeat? Should I actually use this, I can see someone saying "You've got a lot of gall using that stuff on your beautiful marble fireplace!"

I guess you shouldn't try this when daylight savings time begins, eh?

Friday, January 12, 2007

A Nagging Question

"Gary, what do you use to fill holes, gouges, et al, since you refinish? Thanks! "

I use wood putty where I think it is needed. I use Bondo for large holes. For these doors I used wood putty from the container. After a couple of coats of amber shellac I painted over the light areas with a brown acrylic paint that was slightly darker than the wood was turning. Any paint that remained in dents got the paint treatment too. Basically I am trying to mask the light spots so that they don't draw the eye to them. I then applied another couple of coats of shellac and now the filled areas aren't that noticable.

Here are the finished doors;






Here is a close up of where the door knob hole was filled with Bondo. The hole was from a rim lock door knob and is above and right of the key hole which I am using for a thumb latch lock (which is what was used on this door in our house);



Here it is without the flash going off and how it looks in real light. The oxidation from the position of the rim lock looks worse than my repair. When the thumb latch lock is installed your eyes won't even notice the discoleration because the lock will draw the attention since it is unusual.



This is a close up of the two panel door to show how the finish is with a few dings and scrapes after shellac has been applied.



When you own a house that is this old you have to accept that the woodwork can never be perfect and will look some what distressed. My skill with a paint brush is the result of hobby related painting and so I am quite good at creating the illusion of a door that is in better condition than it really is! These doors are upstairs on the rustic side of the house and won't be seen by many people. Besides, I only know one person who will inspect doors and molding and notice the flaws on a room and that is me. I already know where the flaws are and I'm not talking!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Use it Once. Wear it Twice!

That's my slogan for "Flax For Men". I washed last weeks work clothes and put some of them on again this week. You wouldn't know it by the smell. The dirt is gone but the smell still lingers. (Hey, that's another slogan!) We put the eew in Pee. (There's another!)

How about this one

"Flax For Men" the cologne for the celibate.

Or The perfect gift for a bachelor life!

Anyway, it makes a decent furniture polish and has saved me a ton of money on tack cloths this week!

"Flax For Men" for that polished look......
"Flax For Men" for the dusty guy......

And what does Elizabeth have to say about "Flax For Men"? In her own words;

"Daddy, pee-eew. You stink."

Novice Plumber?

Are you a Novice Plumber? Could plumbing be in your future? Do you need some practice?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then I have the appropriate site for you to practice on!

Don't let plumbing be the bane of your existence. Practice early and practice often. Let your kids practice too and I'll bet they will be better than you in less than 30 minutes!

I was not paid to promote this site. My wife told me I needed to practice and this would be a good place to start!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

More Wazzup in the Hood....

Hey, do you remember this post about the fancy italianate house in our neighborhood? Well the owners decided not to sell it. Instead they have opened a business there and have a web page. In fact, they are supposed to be doing some work on the landscaping this spring to make the place super appealing.

I am plugging this so they get a bunch of hits off this site which might prompt them to finish all the links on their site so you might get to see what the place looks like inside! When they have their page finished then maybe I'll add it to my list of Dayton links to the right of the main blog page and put it on my neighborhood web page.... hint, hint!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The "New" Scent For Renovators!

Hey Dudes and Dudettes! Do you want to attract members of the opposite sex? Do you want to attract someone worth their weight in refinished wood? Would you like a scent that tells someone what YOU are all about? I have found it! The one thing that tells everybody that you are serious about your home renovation. Put a small amount of this on and you will turn heads at Lowes or Home Depot. Put a drop or two on your clothes and you can stink up a room for a week. It's the tell all musk for men or "perfume de maison" for women, the ultimate renovation scent for the androgynous. It just needs a catchy name for marketing something like "Flax for Men" or "Raw Linen" for women. I can make it for about $7.00 a gallon. With a little alcohol and some ambergis I could jack up the price to equal that of some designer scent! Wanna try some? Just mix a little boiled linseed oil with some paint thinner for the Eau de Toilet version. Skip the paint thinner for the perfume version. Just add garlic and you could have a bus seat all to yourself! Nothing says renovation junkie like the scent of linseed oil.

At the house you can see that I am getting those doors shellaked. After mixing up a batch of "Flax for Men" of course and brushing it over the doors and then managing to get it all over my hands when I flipped the doors over and all over my sweatshirt when I wiped my hands off!


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Now I Am REALLY Confused

The north east wing of the house has always intrigued me. We affectionately call it the "Cottage". It wasn't always the two storey structure that it is today. We know that the right side of the building was built at the same time as the main house and was two storeys. The balcony is also an original feature. What has me confused is the left side. We have a description of it being the 4 walls of some pioneers brick home but this probably isn't accurate. The basement foundation is odd and the floor boards were very worn and of a different wood than the main house. The back door leading to the basement is very old and indicitive of the 1820s or 1830s cross pattern that was used at that time. I have speculated that this part of the house was Sam Edgar's bachelor home after his father "sold" him 40 acres of farmland plus another 80 acres a mile up the road on Christmas Eve in 1832 for $2000. I suspect the original house was a wood frame hut about 16' X 16' in dimension and the floor was about 18" lower than it is today. After the main house and adjoining room were built out of brick, I suspect they tore down the frame structure and built a brick one storey extension. The floor and foundation were raised to accomodate the extra dirt that was dug out when the foundation of the new house was excavated. I know it was one storey because you can see it when you look at the wall from outside.



The original paint was whitewash and has held to the brick very well. The upper part was added later and never got the whitewash treatment.

Here is the earliest image we have of the house.



In this image from 1874-1875 it appears that the upper level is present. If you extend the balconey floor back it hits the wall where the rooms separate and the chimney isn't visible in the picture and it would be if the second floor wasn't there otherwise the picture would depict the single storey extension. (This image is very accurate by the way. I was able to determine from it that the windows in the main house were extended downwards before actually stripping the paint off them and determining that that really was the case! The image also indicates two basement windows that are no longer visible from the outside but are very apparent from the basement itself.)

Then there is this brick we found on the main chimney dated November 1875.



I assumed that the house was painted red in 1875 or at least all the mortar lines were put on so that it appeared as unpainted brick. That was until this weekends stripping extravaganza!

I have stripped the two doors, the two windows, the baseboards and about two thirds of the floor in the smaller of the two rooms. I am working my way into the next room and removed some of the molding from around the door because I am going to run some electical wire for a 3-way switch behind the frame. Well, when you remove molding in this place it comes with a proportional chunk of wall plaster in it's wake.



Those red bricks with white mortar lines that you see are painted and the white area below is white wash. As you get closer to the floor the bricks are unfinished. If I remove more plaster I could easily reveal the original roof line but I don't think I want the extra work of plastering the wall. What would have been really cool is finding evidence that the door was originally a window. That would almost verify that this picture was of our house. At least now we know it was white at one time! There is never a dull moment here at the "Crack House."

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

This year I resolve to.......

Not smack my fingers with a hammer, not get aniline dye on my face, not get grouters finger, not suffer any plumbing woes, not get arrested while taking Elizabeth shopping, not electricute myself, not to buy any more sausage stuffers, get rid of the world's heaviest bath tub once and for all .... AND to ACTUALLY move into the place!