Friday, March 31, 2006



Winter is over, right? I turned the water on at the "Crack House".


Walking in Her Daddy's Shoes

Those are big shoes to fill.....

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

How Old is Old?

Deborah and I had a discussion at the dinner table a couple of days ago. It was a debate really, I guess. There were three questions that we were trying to figure an answer to. The answers to these questions could change philosophical thinking as we know it. It could shape the future of all organized religions and end political careers. It could question the accuracy of radio carbon dating and even change the the age of YOUR house. History could change in an instant! So, the answer is now placed in your hands... But certainly ponder this....

Here are the three questions:

1) Which comes first? "In the beginning" or "Once upon a time"?

2) Which is older? "In the days of yore" or "In the olden days"?

3) When did "Way back when", "It must've been yonks" and "Ages ago" start?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Putting on Weight...

If you read my post about my sash windows being heavier than the sash weights due to the fact that modern glass is thicker that old 1840s glass then you would know that every time I unlock the sash lock on my dining room windows, the upper sash drops faster than you can blink.
Well, I think I have solved the problem. I placed a kitchen scale under the upper sash to see how much force it excerts and found that it was about 2 to 3 lbs. So my window is at least 2 lbs heavier than my weights.

Today I made extra weights to attach to my existing ones. Not everyone will be able to do this because they don't have loads of pewter in their basement like I do.
I bought what we have come to refer to as House #1 from a friend of mine who used to manufacture little toy soldiers. He moved to England but left a bunch of 2 lb pewter discs in a drawer in the basement. I suspect that the discs are comprised of the slag that gets skimmed off the top of the molten metal in the melting pot before it gets poured into a "spin caster" and dumped into a shallow metal container. I never did anything with these discs, I figured one day I would use them as door stops.
About two weeks ago I threw one into a small tin can and melted it on the stove.

So I had the raw material for increasing my sash weights but no mold. I made a stop at the "Crack House" today and grabbed an extra sash weight (I have several lying around) and a bag of play sand that has been sitting in the ugly green van since 2002. After wetting the sand and pressing the end of the cast iron weight into it to make an impression of comparable dimensions, I was able to pour pewter into these molds to produce little 1 lb blocks.

With a little bit of ingenuity, I held a metal rod at the center of the mold as I poured the molten metal and produced these. (A little blurry, I know).

So, if liquid nails won't hold them to the bottom of the existing weights, I can tie them on or thread the cord through them so that they rest on top of the weights.
I can probably install them this weekend!

As for my own weight gain. You know, I weighed 135 lbs in 1982 and was the kind of guy people would kick sand at. 24 years later I weigh 150 lbs and people still kick sand in my face! Not this week though. Must be the chili. Every bean has a voice......

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Feeling Bad About Your Renovation?

Are you depressed? Has the bottom fallen out of your world?

Try our Walnut Hills neighborhood Turbo Chili and have the world fall out of your bottom!
We call it "Turbo Chili" because it comes out faster than it goes in!
It WILL burn you twice!

We participated in a Chili cookoff on Monday. Our neighborhood was challenged by a neighboring one. We answered the challenge. Of the 4 entries, three were from our neighborhood.

I've been paying for it all week though and haven't even thought about working on the house!
I think we need better ventilation.......

Monday, March 20, 2006


Well, it looks like that day has finally arrived when we can all start working on our houses once again! That groundhog predicted this day would come and it has! Unfortunately we have a WINTER weather advisory here so spring came and went last week.
That's OK. Elizabeth is already excited about the idea of April showers.....

Friday, March 17, 2006


Well, I found one! It is a perfect fit. No filing or grinding. OK, so it cost 10X what I paid for the first one, but it is complete. At 10 times the cost it is STILL a bargain considering that you only find something like this once in 5 years! It arrived intact also! So, the old one that was just a little too big will be put up on Ebay in the next week or so.

What am I on about?
This of course!

Here was the old one I found in December

Then there was the batch of twelve 1860s sash locks I got. I only needed five of them so I guess some of them will wind up on Ebay also!. Here is one of them

Then there were the six 3-way dimmer switches for $30 including shipping. All of which have been installed already.

This has all been too good to be true. Something bad will happen. I'll bet when I turn my water on next month there is a leak due to a burst pipe! Probably behind the shower.....

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sash Replacement 101 continued....

Where did I leave off? Oh, yes. Here is a picture of a double hung window that I found. You may find it useful.

Now, in order to thread a new cord you must first have a way to get it to slide down into the weight box. If the old cord is present and intact, then this is easy. You tape the new cord to the old and then cut the knot and pull it down to the weights before removing the weight and removing the old cord completely. I wasn't so lucky. I needed a sophisticated piece of equipment. Here it is in this picture.

It is a weighted cord. In this case it is a weighted piece of speaker wire. As you can see, I used the brace for a ceiling fixture for the weight. (Well, it was the heaviest thing I could find without going into the basement!) The pulley on the right is the 1845 pulley. The one on the left is the 1900 equivalent in much thinner, pressed steel.
So, in this case, I placed my new sash cord through the pulley and taped it to the end of the speaker wire. I fed the weight through one of these holes

and pulled it out of the access opening near the bottom of the window. I continued pulling until the new sash cord came through. I then pressed the pulley in place and screwed it in position. This cord was then tied to the weight outside of the access hole and the weight replaced into the weight box. At the same time I tugged the cord to lift the weight so that it could spin freely removing any twists in the cord.
Then, standing on a step ladder, I pulled on the cord until the weight was lifted off the base of the weight box and rubbed my now blackend finger on the cord at the top of the pulley to mark it. This is where I need to tie my knot. I cut the cord about 3 inches below this mark and then pulled on the sash cord lifting the weight so as to make a knot that will insert into the knot hole on the side of the sash window. Upon releasing the cord, the knot should be large enough that it will not slip through the pulley and the weight should be suspended about 1 inch off the floor of the weight box.

Now repeat 3 more times for the one window.

The fun part is about to begin. To install the upper sash, you have to pull the sash cords one at a time and insert the knot into the knot hole at the side of the window without dropping the window on the floor! Once achieved, you have to wiggle the window into its sash run and make sure that it moves without sticking. If it sticks you can spray the run with silicon lubricant or do what I do, which is rub the sash run with a bar of soap!
Then you replace, or in my case cut and replace with new, partition (blind stop) molding and repeat with the lower sash. When done, you put the inside stop in place and go have a drink!

You can run into a problem with an older house, as we have. The weight of new glass is greater than the weight of old thin glass. Our upper sash tends to drop on its own because the 6 lb weights on each side aren't heavy enough to support the weight of the window and the lower sash doesn't stay up on its own because the one large pane weighs more than the original 6 pane configuration that would have been original to the window. When I figure out what I am going to do to resolve this I'll let you all know. I could run the sash cord through a bunch of washers above the weights but that's alot of washers. I could keep an eye out for heavier weights too. The 1909 book of everything says to drill holes in the sash run and use corks as stops to prevent the window from coming down.
Here is where the windows stand right now. I still have to put in new inside stop to prevent the lower sash from swinging out.

This evening, in a mere two hours, I was able to get the sash locks and lifts installed on these two windows and I replaced four 3-way switches with dimmer switches. The rooms now have ambiance! No more glaring lights!

The sash locks are cool. I got a bunch of circa 1860 locks on ebay last week. I'll post a picture of them when and if the BIG EBAY ACQUISITION arrives. Which I'm sure everyone wants to see. Stay tuned boys and girls.....

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sash Replacement 101

This will appear to be overly simplified but you have to realize that I have already stripped my windows and I am at the point where I am putting them back in. I will use my dining room windows for explaining this project because those are the ones described in my windows 101 posts. The windows have all been finished and completely re-glazed. The frames have been sanded and primed with Kilz but require some wood sill replacement since they were butchered back in the 1960s. They still need to be faux finished like the interior sides of the windows using aniline tinted shellac over beige paint. I am trying to get to the point where the beige paint is applied. This means that I had to replace the sash cords in both windows and rip some new blind stop on the table saw in order to get to that point. I was also missing 4 sash pulleys from one window and was able to scrounge some turn of the century (20th) pressed steel pulleys which I decided to use for the upper sashes in both windows since they would be the least visible. The original 1845 pulleys would accomodate the lower sashes of each window since they were visible upon inspection by a purist!
I scored about 100 feet of cotton braided sash cord a few years ago for $3 at an antique mall and used most of it up on the three living room windows. I didn't have enough to do both dining room windows so I decided to use cotton on the lower sashes and nylon on the upper sashes. I can always replace the nylon if I score some more braided cotton in the future which I hope to do because I need about 50 feet for the two parlor windows. You will never see the nylon unless I were to lower the upper sashes.
All my pulleys were removed stripped of paint and oiled to ensure smooth operation and NO squeaks. The access panels on each side of the windows were removed to gain access to the weight boxes and the weights. (Note. In order to access these you must remove the blind stop partition between the two sashes.) The weights were removed and wiped of 160 years of black crud, mostly on my pants (did I mention I'm really a slob?) and the old cords removed. Some of these cords were likely the original 1845 sisal twisted cord. Now, in order to thread a new cord .... oh crap! Is that the time? Sorry folks you will have to wait. It is after 1AM and I turned into a pumpkin an hour ago!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Painting Windows Quick and Easy!

If you ever have the urge to paint windows, don't waste any time putting masking tape around the glass to prevent paint from getting on it. You will only be disappointed with the result. Paint will always seep under the tape or you won't remove the tape soon enough and will pull all the paint of with the tape. Paint them like this:

Then go buy one of these:

It's a widget. You score the paint where it meets the glazing putty and then scrape it off. Of course it helps if the the paint is dry.

I have been replacing sash cords all week when I get a chance. It can be a bit time consuming since I have none that work and have to pull out all the weights and re-thread all the pulleys. I got the three living room windows done last week and the two dining room windows done this weekend. If anyone is interested, I can explain the process of sash replacement. If no-one is interested, well maybe I'll do it any way!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Mid Life Crisis?

Someone once told me that when an American man reaches middle age, he buys a sports car and looks for a younger woman. When an Englishman reaches middle age, he renovates his house. Well I have the best of both worlds! As I approach "middle age" (whatever that is) the first card I get in the mail to remind me is this!

Think of all the money I would save if I spent a whole lot!

Does this mean that I should buy a workshop and finish what I started years ago?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Abducted by Aliens

A funny thing happened today. My blogs went down for three hours this morning. I can't figure what happened. I noticed that the last access was someone in Korea at 10:03 AM then nothing. I couldn't even access the thing myself. I was denied access even through Blogger! went down too and were out for even longer.
Now I have to figure out where the three hours went and whether I took an anal probe! Where was Elizabeth during all this? She was protecting herself with the enamel plated steel probe guard. Well, it looks like her dads potty training is sinking in.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Wazzup in the Hood?

Anyone interested in an old home near the "Crack House? This one went up for sale in the last week. The picture was taken last summer.

It has a F.S.B.O. sign in the front yard.

What can I tell you about it? Well, it is on the National Register as the S.N. Brown home (though it isn't the one he lived in). It is brick, 2 story Italianate. Built around 1875 as an add on to an older existing home which I believe to have been the residence of one Augustus George (who married the older sister of the guy who built our house). The old part of the house has to be from the 1830s and is now the kitchen. It needs some work but not a whole lot from what I can tell. The massive Eastlake woodwork has all been stripped and needs shellac. The interior walls were heavily textured before 1920 making the walls look like the sides of a cave. I don't like it but it was likely a trend back then. I know it has at least one marble fireplace like ours. It is on a commercial strip so it can be either a residence or a business and the basement was once a bakery I believe. The address is 1633 Wayne Ave Dayton, Ohio 45410 and you can check it on the public tax records HERE.

I expect they want around $200,000 for it. If anyone is seriously interested let me know and I will drive by and get the phone number to call. It is directly across the street from the S&M Funeral Home. The good news is it is 4 blocks from me. The bad news is, it is 4 blocks from me!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...

You're bloody heavy! Please don't fall!

I got tired of moving this mirror from room to room. It must weigh 40 lbs. I think it will be staying here for a long while. The walnut buffet will go against this wall, below the mirror of course!
We must have at least 5 large mirrors. We also have 5 floor lamps. I wonder if it means anything?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Whacky Neighbor Stories

We have some whacky neighbors. They are whacky in a good way. He's the guy who runs out with a camera and takes photos of the prostitutes at the pay phone across the street. He is the radical conservative of the block, if you can have such a thing. She keeps him in check but they are both whacky. These people are the pop culture product that was once the 1970s and 1980s. When they do something it is generally at the extreme end of their options. Case in point, here is a picture from down the street. I have identified their house for you but I suspect you could spot it by yourself.

They haven't done the trim yet so it will look better soon! These people are converting their dining room into a Tiki Bar and have pasted old record album covers over the ceiling of one of their rooms. They use hub caps as wall decoration. Deborah and I found a huge plastic "Burger King" sign that someone put out in the trash. Basically it was one side of the huge ones that light up on the pole that identifies a location. We gave it to these people because it was, well, so "them". I think he hung it on the wall at the top of the stairs and stuck a light behind it.

Here is how they dress at parties.

They have some whacky ideas and have set up a website to promote such. The title of the URL speaks for itself! Check them out and see if you think they are whacky too!

We have discussed the possibility of buying some other houses in the neighborhood and fixing them up together. I'm beginning to wonder about it though. I mean, when I see a white wall, I wonder what they see.....