Monday, May 30, 2005

Weights and Measures Part 1

Ever wonder why your lot is a certain size? This may explain it. It certainly explains why all the lots around here are 33 feet wide at the front. From "Household Discoveries" dated 1909;

"Surveyors Measure.- In addition, the following table based upon Gunter's Chain, which is 4 rods or 66 feet, is employed for land surveying. An engineers chain, used by civil engineers, is 100 feet long, and consists of 100 links.

7.92 inches = 1 link
25 links = 1 rod
100 links = 1 chain
66 feet = 1 chain
4 rods = 1 chain
10 sq. chains - 160 sq. rods = 1 acre
80 chains = 1 mile
640 acres = 1 sq. mile
625 sq. links = 1 sq. pole
16 sq. poles = 1 sq. chain

The term perch or pole is sometimes used instead of square rod. The rood, 40 perches, or 1/2 acre, is found in old title deeds and surveys."

Once again I become the provider of weird and somewhat redundent information! Coming soon, I shall tell you exactly what a Firkin is......

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Just the shower pan left to tile!

I have posted pictures of my tiling adventures HERE on my May 2005 page at the original web site. Just to make it exciting I have put in before and during pictures of the bathroom. When we bought the place this room was actually a small bathroom and a kitchen for the 2nd floor apartment. The rooms were separated by a beadboard partition put up when a bathroom was installed back in the days of yore! It may not be apparent in the pictures but I still have to actually put the shower pan mosaic tile in. Deborah has changed her mind about a pattern that we have planned to use for the last three years and I have had to spend a day rearranging the pattern to one that she likes. She has also decided that she wants a frameless glass shower instead of glass between two floor-to-ceiling columns as originally planned three years ago when the bathroom project got started... I think the bathroom project is going to get expensive!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Look What I got Now!  

 "Grouter's Finger" This, along with "Roofer's Finger" and "Carpenter's Finger" from last month means I won't have any digits left by years end!



Sunday, May 22, 2005

Pouting While Grouting

Well the tile is in place in both the cottage dining room AND the master bathroom. These aren't small rooms either. The dining room required 170 sq. ft. of tile for the floor and the bathroom was about 150 sq. ft. and I still have to pick up the tile and install it in the shower pan which is 4 ft. X 9 ft. in size. I get to pick it up tomorrow and install it on Tuesday! I had to rent a tile saw for two days to make all the cuts. There were well over 100 with the diamond pattern on the floor and the marble tiles for the wall behind the shower. I now have a hell of a lot of marble coasters though! I couldn't let those strips of marble tile that I cut go to waste so I made a bunch of smaller square tiles and even some 1 inch mosaics which I got to use on the seat in the shower.

Today I grouted the dining room. If you have never done tiling, well grouting is tough on the knees, hands and fingers. My knees are now bald, my hands are shriveled and dry and the tips of my fingers are raw and missing a few layers of skin AND I still have to grout the bathroom this week! I'm not a happy camper. Time for more aspirin methinks......

Friday, May 20, 2005

"With a Rebel yell she cried more, more, more..."

Would you like MORE milk or MORE juice? 



Monday, May 16, 2005

Smiling while tiling!

Lots of tile to install this week! Started on the "cottage" dining room today after putting in quarter inch backer board yesterday. I should have the tile down by tomorrow and then I start on the bathroom floor. Then we rent a wet tile saw and I get to spend two days cutting the rest of the marble tile that goes on the shower wall (that was installed 2 years ago but got halted until the rest of the tile was purchased) as well as any floor tiles that need compound cuts. Here is the "cottage" dining room so far. The in-laws have been watching the toddler almost every day for the last month so that I can push to get a lot of work done on this place! 


Friday, May 13, 2005

Many uses of Gasoline in 1909

As previously promised, here is a description of uses for gasoline from "Household Discoveries" circa 1909.

1) To destroy ants nests by injecting into the nest
2) To clean bathtubs and washbowls in a bathroom.
3) To eliminate bed bugs by washing down the mattress with gasoline on a sponge and by washing down the beadstead with the stuff.
4) To freshen faded carpets by going over it with a broom or whisk broom moistened with gasoline.
5) To polish copper kettles by dipping a cloth in gasoline and sprinkling bath brick or pumice on it.
6) To wash delicate fabrics in such as silk or curtains.
7) To wash woollen fabrics in and goatskin rugs.
8) To wash floor coverings with to remove fleas from them.
9) To wash gloves. Wearing them on the hands, gloves can be washed in gasoline the same way as washing your hands.
10) To repell moths by soaking cloth in gasoline.
11) To remove oil stains from marble by mixing with chalk or whiting.
12) To remove paint from woodwork.
13) To clean your sewing machine.
14) To remove grease from a stove.
15) To clean upholstered furniture by saturating with gasoline and scrubbing stained areas with a brush.
16) To add to water for washing windows.

Of course I have already mentioned in an earlier post how gasoline tanks were buried next to houses and the vapor fanned into pipes for gas lighting and gas stoves.

In many of these uses gasoline can be substituted with kerosene, benzine or naptha.

Who'd of thunk it!

I guess it wasn't wise to smoke on wash day......

Thursday, May 12, 2005

This weeks progress report

I have been busy this week with patching cracks in walls and ceilings, putting backer board down on the bathroom floor, picking up the floor tile for the bathroom and small dining room and today I spent some time rubbing an old oak chair down with alcohol to get the old brown "lac paint" off so that I can give it a couple of coats of shellac. I do have an interesting story though.

If you have never used "Great Stuff" before, then I can only say that it is quite useful, but you have to use up the whole can otherwise it will go to waste. "Great Stuff" is expanding foam in a can. It can be used to insulate cracks in things but I also use it to fill the gaps around electrical boxes that I have installed in plaster walls so that I can just put joint compound over it to make a smooth surface. (I saw this on an old episode of "This Old House.") No need for plaster patches or joint tape. It is really useful on ceilings when you install a light box. When it has dried you have to cut the excess off if you want the wall to be flush. I was doing this yesterday. I removed a blade from my Stanley knife (box cutter) and proceeded to cut with a sawing motion a particularly large protrusion of hardened "Great Stuff" while at the same time keeping the blade flush against the wall. Well that wasn't working so I angled the blade slightly towards the box (which has a live socket installed) and then it happened. Zzzzzzzzt! Flash! Crack! Ching! and Thud!
The last time something like this happened was when I was removing some knob and tube wiring in the basement and a piece touched the heating duct. The ching and thud were replaced with a "whoaaa sh*t!".
So lets decipher this;

Zzzzzzzzt! was the sound I heard as the blade hit the live connector whilst in contact with the edge of the metal box.
Flash! was the bright lights dancing before my eyes!
Crack! was the noise as sparks flew in my face.
Ching! was the sound that the blade made when the melted and deformed tip struck the ground and Thud! was the sound my sorry arse made when it flopped backwards in surprise and struck the floor soon after the blade.
I can't remember but there may have been a "Whoaaaa sh*t!" thrown in for good measure.

The good news is that I know the box is grounded!

Don't do this at home boys and girls.......

Be sure to tune in next week for "Frankenstein Lives...."

Monday, May 09, 2005

It isn't easy being me....

You know, it isn't easy being me. I say this all the time to which the wife adds "It isn't easy being around you." It isn't enough that I have to get the "Old Crackhouse" in shape so that we can move into it, I also have to keep up the existing home and fix a few things before I sell it. Well I got this legal notice from the City of Dayton telling me that I needed to paint my garage or tear it down at the resident house. My garage doesn't need painting, it is concrete block and I painted it 2 years ago when it did need painting and the inspector must have been on another planet at the time because I wasn't sent a legal notice. I did it because I needed to do it. The form they send out basically states that there is peeling paint about the entire structure that needs to be addressed. Well there isn't peeling paint about the entire structure, there is peeling paint and a couple of plywood patches from attempts to break in on the door. When I emailed our inspector he replied "You received a courtesy notice, which is a suggestion that you should paint the areas of the garage where the paint is peeling/deteriorated. it is not a requirement. Garages in very bad shape receive a Legal Order to paint the garage, and are required to complete the repairs. If you believe that your garage does not need to be painted, please let me know and I will re-inspect the garage and correct the error." Hey, at least he replied, even if his response was as vague as the notice. What he doesn't know is that I know my house is listed on a report of housing violations that is given to me every 3 months. I also know his boss and his bosses boss. How do I know them and get the report? Well, I am the president of our neighborhood council, an elected priority board member for our voting district AND I am on the housing and neighborhood task force committee that his two bosses attend. This committee told the City specifically that they need to get tougher on housing violations and ticket more people into compliance in order to keep property values from declining. I also know that if I don't comply by June 1st then I will get a ticket and have to pay a fine. They will only be sending one courtesy notice. I got to experience our request first hand! Last Thursday at our Priority Board meeting I was able to tell his boss that they need to be more specific on their notices though, it could have stated "Door needs attention." So, on Saturday I screwed plywood sheets over the four lower panels so that they look uniform and painted the door. If anyone out there wants to live in Dayton and be 4 blocks from the "Old Crackhouse" in a nice two storey, 1910 era Sears catalogue home that looks very 1920s let me know. I gotta sell this puppy soon! Here's pictures! Say $90,000 and I pay closing costs! What a deal!


 *2022 UPDATE

After renting to two families between 2009 and 2017 and destroyed by renter #2, I renovated the house. The inside was completely remodeled. It was rented to a friend for one year (October 2020 - October 2021) while I had to finish painting the house and garage. The house was listed on in April 2022 and sold within 14 days for $184,000.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Lead Paint Anyone?

Have you ever wondered how much lead is in old lead based paint? I know that some of you folks out there in "houseblogland" are concerned about lead paint. There's a couple in Paw Paw, Illinois that have expressed their concerns for the stuff as it falls from their ceiling into their Wheaties AND there is a couple in Eutaw, Alabama that are snorting the fumes and wallowing in the aroma as they embark on a long, tedious journey to remove some of the stuff from their woodwork.

As for me, I have been around lead since I was a small boy. I've painted lead soldiers for 30 years, shot .75 calibre lead balls from a matchlock musket and stripped so much lead paint from woodwork I can't remember how much... I can't remember how.... I can't remember.... (hold on, isn't memory loss a sign of lead poisoning?)

Well, we are often reminded about the hazards of lead paint. Especially when there are children in a house where old paint is chipping or flaking off. Lead paint that is intact is not a real hazard. It becomes a problem when it is removed, sanded or flakes off a surface because it can be ingested in dust form. While flipping through the pages of my book called "Household Discoveries" published in 1909, I found some recipes for paint.....

The basic recipe is this;

One hundred pounds of pure white lead; 4 to 5 gallons of pure raw linseed oil; half a gallon of pure turpentine; 1 pint of pure turpentine japan.

Primer coats have more linseed oil, flat paint finishes have more turpentine and turpentine japan is a drying agent that speeds up the evaporation of linseed oil.
However "white lead" is actually a mixture of lead oxide and charcoal. Other recipes include using zinc oxide, chalk, whiting, lime or road dust as fillers. Color tints may also contain white lead, red lead and lead chromate. As a rule, the book states divide the number of square feet of the surface to be painted by 18. The resulting number is the number of pounds of pure ground white lead needed to give three coats.
So if your walls have had three different color layers of paint applied in the past then you could have 100 lbs. of lead oxide in one room! That is a lot of lead! If you do strip it and put the flakes in a garbage bag at least you will now know why the bag is so heavy.

For more information about the hazards of lead in the home, go to:

Wait until I tell what else gasoline was used for in 1909. I'll save that for a later post.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Ghost Story

We have a ghost story! "It was a dark and stormy night...."  



Everyone seemed to enjoy last weeks story about Minerva so I thought that I would tell you this story. I don't make this stuff up you know... Here is our ghost story as written in 1936 by Carl Hirschman who married Marguerette Volkenand in our living room in 1917. His information would have come directly from her father, Leonard Volkenand who bought the house from his father's estate in 1904. About the big house itself clustered several scary stories. It's former owner, Sam Edgar, was said to have been rich,-was known to be eccentric. Rumor had it that much of his wealth had been secreted about the premises. After his death, his relatives delved into every nook and corner, ripping up floors, sounding partitions, digging up the cellar floors, etc., spurred on, they declared, by midnight visits from Edgar's ghost. In sepulchral tones the apparition had repeatedly urged his favorite daughter to continue the search for the wealth he had forgotten, ere he died, to disclose to her. Whether said ghost really appeared this scribe doubteth, yea exceedingly. But many witnesses related in his hearing how the neighbors lurked in the bushes at night to learn what they could about buried treasures. Once indeed the reporters from the city newspapers joined the crowd and planned to interview Sam Edgar if and when he appeared. All that the Volkenands know about it is that when they took possession they found evidence of the treasure hunters in loosened floors and pierced walls and upturned cellar earth. Even after they had moved in they had to lock doors and windows against intruders who insisted on continuing the search. So annoying was it all that Marguerette's father got friends to help keep guard over the place until Grandpa Herman Volkenand, the owner, could move in from the farm with his numerous progeny-an army large enough to rout uninvited visitors, living or dead. But of the treasure, not one mite has been discovered, or, at least, announced. The story of the "treasure" was confirmed by a descendant of Samuel Edgar before being shown this story. The family still believes that cash and stock certificates are stashed away on the property. When the house was updated between 1887 and 1890 a primitive alarm system was installed that indicated whether doors or windows were open.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Everything is all white!

I was looking through the pages of some books about interior design in order to get an idea of a color to paint the living room. We had an idea in mind when we bought the house, I wanted the room to be a "stone pink" color which would be a slightly gray/pink drab color, but in my infinite wisdom decided to wait until the wood was done to see what effect that would have on the room.
It is good that we waited because any shade of pink would look weird against the wood.

As I flipped through the pages of the three or four books that I have I am noticing that NONE of the woodwork in any of these pictures is actually looking like wood! It is all painted white. This of course is great for the decorator because it allows any color to be used to paint the walls and some of the rooms look fantastic, but it doesn't help me at all!

The living room looks very "federal" even though it is really Greek revival. The molding is very simple but massive. Those planks around the windows and doors are 9 inches wide. If we go with Greek revival wall colors then we are limited to pale green, gray, pale blue, gray, lilac, gray, beige, gray, white and of course another shade or three of gray. I don't want too much green throughout the house but we are limited to colors that look good with darker woodwork. A shade of green may be our only choice. We have that grey marble fireplace to take into consideration too.

We plan on painting the parlor gold and having a gold floral wallpaper below a chair rail but that may change after that wood is finished. The dining room was going to be green but I think that idea has been put on hold. The wood molding can be anything we want in that room because all the original stuff was removed and currently there isn't any. I have to make it all myself from new planks and will style it off the living room molding since it is so simple. The accent color in that room is black which is in the fireplace mantle and the curtains we have. I guess we should wait until I put the fireplace in and the curtains up before we decide on a color.

Oh decisions, decisions...... I think we will paint all second floor woodwork white, it is so much easier that way!