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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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Saturday, September 22, 2007

To Cap it Off

This week I made a "floating chimney cap" to cover the opening of the chimney. I made a wood frame with scrap wood and placed it on a piece of insulating foam on the front porch. I wrapped some thin packing styrene around the base of a clay tile chimney liner and placed it at the center and proceeded to make some concrete using perlite and portland cement so that it is light in weight. The thing "floats" because it is not bonded to the chimney so it will expand and contract without cracking. The gaps are filled with fire proof caulk and it will be attached to the chimney with lime morter which is softer than the concrete. There is a slight slope from the center to the outside edges to allow water to run off the surface.



When I was done with the light weight mix I mixed some all purpose sand with portland cement in a 1:1 ratio and troweled that over the top surface. Once I put the thing in place I will trowel a similar mix on the exposed edges.




I will leave the thing in the frame until it is in place. I used a light weight mix because I have to get this thing out of this dormer window on the third floor and along that box gutter



To here



and it is a lot easier when the thing weighs 20 lbs instead of 100 lbs! You can see I already put a stainless steel cap on the chimney. This was to stop the rain from coming down the chimney. We used to get very little water in the fireplace because the brick sucked up all the water. Now, with a stainless steel liner it all enters the fireplace.

I am still waiting for our big bags of vermiculite to arrive so that I can pour that down the chimney to insulate the liner. In the meantime I installed our old time door bell and actually ran old style telephone wire that I salvaged from the house to service it. The old style wire is thicker than modern telephone wire. This cable has 4 wires not two so I will be able to add a second bell to the circuit if I need to at a later date. The bell works great but may not be loud enough to be heard throughout the entire house. We know the house is old (1845) and the ringer is old (1892)but the actual door bell displays neanderthal qualities! I think I'll call it "Sparky"!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

For Whom the Bell Tolls.

I got an 1892 iron box electric bell on Ebay this week to use for a doorbell ringer. I didn't like any of the modern chimes or the way they looked, so I opted once again for that old timey stuff.



This thing arrived and I tested it using the transformer that controls my thermostat to the furnace and after hearing it work I mounted it on one of those wood bases that you can buy at a craft supply shop. (I just happened to have a few lying around, stained and varnished of course.) I wiped it with a little linseed oil to make it shine and screwed a hinged loop to the back so that I can hang the thing on a nail or a picture hook. I can use some of that old cloth covered copper wire from the primitive alarm system that I pulled out of the floor for effect as I wire this baby up!

Here is an old catalogue page of a similar bell.



I plan to place it in the hall on the second floor but if it isn't loud enough I might just have to buy two or three more and place them in strategic locations throughout the house! I wonder what the cats are going to think about this.......

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Different Class of Lowes

We were in Dublin, Ohio on Friday and had to make a right turn and turn around at an intersection in order to get back to where we had to go. Deborah asked a question that is always answered with a "Yes".

"Do we need anything at Lowes?"

To which I answered "I need ANOTHER bucket of joint compound."

So we pulled into the Lowes parking lot and I had to take these two pictures.



The front of the store. In Dublin you are Irish 365 days a year so I'm guessing the trademark "Lowes blue" is a banned color.

This is a picture of the eco-friendly cart return station that took me 5 minutes to find. I was looking for the traditional metal corral effect that we have in Dayton.



Once you enter the front door though everything looks the same. To my surprise the bucket o'joint compound was a good 50 cents cheaper than the Dayton variety. I guess it pays to have class. This seems to be one of those high development towns with lots of new buildings popping up all over the place. I guess the population just keeps dub'lin!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The End of an Era!

I can honestly say that after some 70 + years, the "Old Crack House" no longer has ANY rough textured walls and only two moderately textured ceilings (which I did to hide a few imperfections that I was too lazy to eliminate at the time). I have one less hole in the wall too! This was how it used to look;



One down, four to go!
Here is the rest of the room now with walls that are almost done;





Of course the ceiling still looks like crap and I guess you could say it has some texture!!!

Monday, September 10, 2007

A question I may be able to answer!

I got this comment yesterday fron "Alex" on my window repair post from last year.

I realise the trail has gone cold but can you help with a formula for making trowelling mastic to seal the space between a sash window frame and the stonework including under the sill? I recall the main ingredients are (sharp?) sand and linseed oil (boiled?) but don`t know the proportions or if any other ingredient is involved. The shops here only want to sell silicone cartridges and suchlike so your help would be appreciated.

Here is what I can tell you. From the 1909 Household Hints and Discoveries book I have;
Under the index "Putty" I found this.

Hardwood floor filler- The best filler consists of ground quartz mixed with linseed oil about as thick as white lead paint. The particles of quartz are angular and adhere to the grain of the wood.

and this;

After the priming coat is thouroughly dry, putty up all nail holes, dents, cracks and other defects in the surface with pure linseed oil putty composed of equal parts of white lead and whiting. Nearly all the putty sold at present is made of other oils than linseed (chiefly products of petroleum) and ground cliffstone sand. The use of such putty is the explanation of the yellow nail holes and cracks so often marring what is otherwise good work.
The addition of 1 part of powdered litharge to 5 parts each of white lead and whiting in the composition of the white lead putty above specified is permissible, and where convenient, advised.
The addition of the litharge assists in the drying and hardening of the putty.


Your other options would be to mix some lime plaster using sand and masons lime at about 2 parts sand to 1 part lime and using a tuck pointing tool to push into the gap. If the gaps are deep you can plug them with fabric, newspaper or fiberglass insulation. Another option is to use a can of expanding foam insulation to fill the space, cut away the excess and then use joint compound, lime putty or painters caulk to smooth over the surface. If your walls are stone and you don't want a messy junction at the seam, use masking tape on the stone to get a straight crisp line. You may also be able to apply a thin strip of additional molding to hide the gap.

I would be inclined to use the expanding foam and painters caulk myself because it insulates and seals without the threat of cracking later. My next option would be plaster and then painters caulk to smooth and seal the surface. Painters caulk is acrylic based and will smooth nicely with your finger or a damp cloth or sponge. I don't know anyone who inspects the edges of windows to see if the filler is authentic to the age of the house, especially after it has been painted or coated with shellac!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Smooth as a Baby's Bum

In my spare time I smooth out walls. I have done so many like this that I don't need to sand much anymore. I know I have stated in the past that I detest textured walls and ceilings and I have found that the easiest way to smooth out textured walls is to apply joint compound to them. Remember this wall?



Well as of last night it looked like this



Remember this wall too?



Well, it currently looks like this.



What does it take to do this? A strong arm, 4 days and about 4 buckets of joint compound per room. Is it worth it? That depends on whether you detest textured walls as much as I do!