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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, May 30, 2007

To Boldly Go....

Now that my rewiring is done I have to do all the projects that could wreak havoc on my floor after they are sanded. One such project is cutting an access hole into the ceiling of the extreme "cottage" bedroom so that I can insulate the attic and also run a cable to hard wire a smoke detector. This project involves removing a section of plaster, cutting and removing a few lath strips and about 3 inches of rock wool. The last time I checked it out, gravity was still working. Since this hole has to be made in the ceiling and the best place to be standing in order to make this hole is beneath it, you can guess where the plaster would be falling. Then when I wipe my face it will end up on the floor.
Here is the "Gary" sized hole that I made. Of course I just had to go up there.




Here is the mess I made making this hole. If you ever wondered what a decomposing sheep looks like, this is pretty close. (Hey look, that bathtub is STILL there!)



For all you people doing Google searches for "What does rock wool look like?" this should answer your question.
Oh this was me looking in the mirror after making the hole. The big "idiot" sign on my fore head is covered up by the "Dayton Dragons" hat. Good job I wore that mask, cough, cough!



So I ventured into the black hole in the ceiling to find new life forms and uncovered these




I wondered why the room below had a distinct odor of its very own. Based on the plastic bags used for nesting and the fact that these were above the rock wool, I would estimate their time of death as after 1954.... I suspect the little buggers that get into my third floor are descended from these guys.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Electric Slide

Years ago when I was stupid and didn't have a clue about old houses I rewired this place. The electrical inspector pointed out that I couldn't put splice boxes under the floors unless they could be accessed readily through a removable floor board. If I planned to install carpet or laminate flooring then I would have to rewire the rooms to eliminate the splice boxes. What did I know? I was only replacing what already existed and been covered over with carpet for 40 years.

I am getting ready to sand the last two floors that require sanding. This means that I have to secure floor boards that have been removed for at least 5 years! Although I plan to paint these floors I don't know if there will be any other type of covering in the future so I have rewired my rooms to eliminate the splice boxes under the floors and used the wall boxes for spicing. While I was at it I installed boxes with three way switches into the brick walls. Here are some pictures of how I do that.




The wires are fed from the attic to the space between the door frame and the brick wall via a short channel cut into the plaster. They run inside the door frame to the boxes via a channel made by removing mortar between some bricks. Although my chiseling skills are quite good after all these years I am no Michelangelo, so the boxes are held in place by wedges of wood. Now I can walk through a door on one side of each room, flick the switch, slide through the room to the door on the opposite side and flick a switch again while singing;

"Don't wanna lose it
It's electric
Boogie woogie, woogie
But you can't choose it
It's electric
Boogie woogie, woogie
But you know it's there,
Yeah here there everywhere

I've got to move,
Come let me take you on a party ride
And I'll teach you, teach you, teach you
I'll teach you the electric slide

Some say it's mystic
It's electric
Boogie woogie, woogie
You can't resist it
It's electric
Boogie woogie, woogie
You can't do without it
It's electric
Boogie woogie, woogie
Jiggle-a-mesa-cara she's a pumpin' like a matic
She's movin' like electric
She sure got the boogie"

Friday, May 25, 2007

Isn't She Lovely?

Here is what a tankless water heater looks like.


Yes it IS one of the recalled ones... They won't come out and check the switch until it is installed.
What I did learn (again) was that you can't connect a GFCI socket using 12/3 Romex and expect it to protect additional circuts beyond it when the additional hot wire is on a different circuit breaker. The returning current from the common white cable triggers the GFCI and it won't work! Unfortunately most people reading this will have no clue what I just said until they try to rewire their kitchen or basement.... Let me add that it is probably cheaper and easier to buy a GFCI circut breaker. Especially if you are using 20 Amp sockets. I wish I did!

While I was busy soldering pipe I decided to extend the air release so that it can double up as an exterior hot water line at a later date. I'm always thinking ahead.
Does the water heater work? I don't know yet because the water is still shut off. I guess I could turn the gas on and see if the meter moves any so I could find out if that leaks!

It's a Good Job I Take Pictures!

Finally having this blog has paid off. No, I still haven't made any money off it but for once it is going to save me time and money! Why? Because of this post two years ago.

When I was replacing the fill-up valve in the toilet tank (because it froze and cracked) I noticed that my cold water line behind the shower had also popped again. This is the same line that gives me grief every year because it freezes and pops. Well, two years ago I took some pictures to tell you guys who read this about my plumbing woes and to get some much needed sympathy at that time. I never posted the pictures, it was way too traumatic for me. It is because of this picture that I know exactly which marble tile I will have to bust out in order to fix this problem!



Yay me! That means I can spend the time that I would have spent busting 4 or 5 other tiles doing something useful like banging my head against the wall.....

Oh, I forgot, phuck it! Phuck it! Phuck it! Phuck it! Phuck it!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ebay Scoop of the Decade!

There was a book published in 1875 called the "Everts Atlas of Montgomery County. Around page 139 was a two page spread and a biography about the guy who built our house as well as an engraving of our place before it was Victorianised around 1890. I have a picture of the image HERE and a transcript of the biography in case anyone is interested. Of course it doesn't tell you about him being 39 years old when he married a 15 year old and her leaving him almost 20 years later and marrying a guy 15 years her junior, but that is another story.

Anyway, I know that I have mentioned how I search Ebay every so often for stuff I like from Dayton. Well, a couple of weeks ago I was the only bidder on this




The two pages about our man Sam! I would still love to find a copy of the book but this way I won't have to rip the pages out because someone already did it for me! You know this baby is gonna get framed and hung on a wall somewhere. It's pretty big so I know just the crack it will hide!

Monday, May 14, 2007

More House Archaeology

There is still a mound of dirt (really it is ash and debris from an old coal furnace) in my back yard from great well dig of 2006. This mound is getting bigger but it isn't because I am still digging the well, which has at least another 7 feet of dirt to remove. It is because I have been working on that collapsed stairwell to the basement. Every so often things wash out of the mound. A couple of weeks ago I found this



I looked for the patent but couldn't find it. There were over 300 issued on Dec. 10, 1867 so either I missed one or it was the one that was withdrawn. It is a little bit bigger than a quarter. If anyone knows what this was used for please tell me. I will add it to the box of other old stuff of little value that we have found in this place. My other thought was to use it as jewellery for a body piercing since before long it seems that may be a requirement for residency in Dayton!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

What a deal! This must be the best place to live (besides the crack house of course) in Dayton. Which is exactly where it is. BESIDE THE CRACK HOUSE!
Our neighbor is moving and wants to sell this place. It is next door to us, I mean right next door!




So if you want a house of your own and need a neighbor who knows what it takes to fix it up (and has most of the tools) then THIS is the place for you. It is a 4 square that was built around 1915 by Leonard Volkenand who lived in our house at that time. I haven't been in it but I know they are working on it to get it up to snuff. I'm certain it will need some work though. It has 3 bedrooms and one bath. The man who owns it is elderly and is moving into a trailer out in the country where it is peaceful and he can do some fishing! How much? I would guess somewhere in the $70,000 range. If you have been reading this blog for a while then you know the value will go up. Especially after I get the back yard cleared and the front landscaped! The only real bad news is that you have me as your neighbor....

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I Do Work On The House You Know!

Besides going to book sales I actually got some work done this week. I have installed the tankless water heater but still have to hook it up. I got the vent in though. See that window above it? That is why this won't meet code. It is within 4 feet of the vent. The fact that this is a ground floor window that we will never use since we live within city limits where drug addicts would crawl through that window and steal a bottle of aspirin and a roll of toilet paper if they could doesn't seem to matter.



I need to move the water heater over to a basement window location after I tear the fire escape down and level the ground by the window. That might take a year. The reason this is vented here is because there was a huge hole in the wall at this location for what I believe was a chimney for a coal furnace. There is no point in putting in any additional holes. I have to caulk around the black sheet metal but had to allow some stucco work to dry that makes it sit flush with the limestone foundation. There were two other holes in this wall where the air conditioning units fed into the furnaces. They were quite sizable (half a brick) and plugged with lots of 1960s era caulk. I inserted some 1.5" PVC pipe to preserve a hole for a water line and one for an electric socket, then patched around them.
I also cleaned up this mess;



It now looks like this.



I can pour a concrete sidewall in increments and a then work on the other side eventually ending up with basement doors that look something like this;



Then I have to find a project for all that limestone. Maybe I'll make a trebuchet and hurl them at my bad neighbors!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Pimpin' the hood! (Again)

We have ANOTHER neighborhood yard sale arranged for this weekend. You can go to the neighborhood blog and read all about it AND look at the map of all the locations having sales.
We are about half the size of last years BUT we have another one of these planned for September. So, where ever you are, grab your Mom and come to Dayton to visit the most happening neighborhood in the city! If you're feeling extra feisty you can fix my house up for me. Don't expect to find me coz "when the plumbing gets tough, the tough go to yard sales!"

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Books Galore!

Twice a year our county libray has huge book sales. We buy a lot of books at them. In fact we have boxes of books stored away because until we move into this place there is nowhere to put them. On Saturday I got roped into going and scored a bunch of books to add to my growing collection of other home remodelling/decorating books. Here is a picture of this weeks haul!



AND of course the ONE BOOK that I needed five years ago.....



Oh, I forgot to mention, these were 25 cents each! Looks like I'm going to be sitting on "the throne" for a long time this week!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Holy Guano Batman!

My 50 lbs. of Pigeon Poop on the balcony has nothing on this!

I read an Associated Press article today. Since I can't reproduce it without risking loosing my house I'll give you the story in my own words.

A couple from upstate New York bought a house last summer that had a few bats in the attic. They delayed getting them removed due to the fact that baby bats can't fly and the time wasn't right to have them removed. By January the smell was permeating their nostrils so they checked out the attic where they found loads of dead bats and 3,500 Lbs. of Bat Guano! Turns out that the attic was housing hundreds of bats. It cost them $25,000 to have it removed. That's $7.15 a pound! I never thought bat guano could cost more than prime rib!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Keep the Insults Coming Folks!

I love it when people decide to insult me anonymously because I get to insult them back! I received three comments on this site today, which after careful consideration I have decided to leave rather than delete. The three comments came from the same A. Nonymous who resides near Groveland Mass. and they were posted between 5:04 PM and 5:10 PM one after the other. They were linked through my profile so this miserable excuse of a person must have linked through a comment that I made on another blog. Someone must have pissed in his Wheaties this morning and I'm sure he has probably tried to crap all over someone else's houseblog as well. His various comments are as follows;

i own a flooring company and that paint can be sanded easily with the proper belts. you're wasting your time. it wouldn't take more than 2 hours to get that sanded. your a meathead. 5:10 PM

what kind of ass runs a water pipe across and along side of an electrical outlet. 5:07 PM

you need to get off the computer and do more. 5:04 PM

I shall respond to these comments.

1) YOU own a flooring company. I own a floor sander. YOU have probably sanded a whole lot of floors. I have sanded a total of 9 floors in my life and 6 of them were covered in this thick crappy lac paint that melts with friction, smells like burnt flesh and gums up my sand paper. I hate stripping paint but I also hate changing sand paper every 2 minutes for 2 hours plus the time it takes to change 60 pieces of sand paper. This blog isn't for experts like you, it is for MEAT HEADS like me who do things a certain way because it is what I chose to do, not because someone is paying me to do it and I want it done as quickly as possible. You should read some of my past posts about using shellac instead of stain and polyurethane on my floors. Then you can come up with all kinds of reasons to call me an asshole!

2) I put that electrical outlet in 6 years ago when I rewired my house. I have never used it, I will remove it in a few years when I refinish my plaster walls with lime plaster and whitewash. It is a GFCI socket so if it gets wet it will shut off. It took me five whole weeks to rewire this place and put in three-way and four-way switches in all the rooms including those with solid brick walls on four sides. Where were you 5 years ago when you could have told me how I could do it more quickly? It is not my electrical work that you should concern yourself with, it is my plumbing!

3) If you were smart enough to research my life before making this comment, you would have discovered that I am quite a busy person. I am a stay at home dad and a home school advocate. I am the president of my neighborhood association and organize two neighborhood yard sales, a summer festival, an alley sweep, a monthly newsletter and a weekly playgroup in our neighborhood of 2500 homes and 5000 residents. When I have time I am rehabbing the house which this blog describes while maintaining another that is almost 100 years old. I also travel significant distances several times a year and make a concerted effort to meet other house blog writers during these trips. For me this blog is therapeutic, for you it is a target for anonymous insults. I have nothing better to do with my time than write about my experience with a little humor so that I can help others through their own home remodelling efforts. You have nothing better to do with yours than insult the likes of me without doing any research first.

If you want to know why I do things a certain way you can ask me politely and I will answer. That is what the comment section is for. I have nothing to hide and if you scan this blog and the web pages that I have put together you can find my name, addresses, phone number and my background and other achievements. I'm man enough to stand up for myself and accept full responsibility for what I do and say. I don't cower behind the anonymity that the Internet and Comcast cable provides you. If you are so ready to insult someone you have never met, who is willing to take on every challenge associated with renovating a 4000 square foot 162 year old house that had been subdivided into 4 apartments, then I hate to think what you say about your customers after they have paid you.

Before you chose to insult others, take a look at the voids in your own life. You can't make yourself happy so I bet you try to make others miserable. If you would like to post your name and address in the comments I will be sure to send you the A. Richard Head award certificate that you have just rightfully earned!