Sunday, April 30, 2006

Putting Sugar On A Turd!

The neighborhood project continues. Slower than I desired but still plugging away. Since I had no volunteers for Saturday, I actually got some work done on my own house! Nothing exciting, stripping wood with steel wool and alcohol.

Anyway, we must get stopped 7 or 8 times while at work on the old theater building. We are all tired of having to explain that we are just fixing up the facade of the building and that it will still be boarded up when we are done. So we are now describing what we are doing as "Putting sugar on a turd" which is how one of the volunteers described the project. There seems to be considerable drug traffic in the area and quite a few drunks. So, when some crackhead or alcoholic asks what we are going to turn the building into the standard answer has become "A drug rehab center!"

I am almost done with the stucco work. Here is the building this week....

Saturday, April 29, 2006

What is a Committee?

This has been a week of committee meetings. First there was the Wayne\Wilmington\Stewart St open house on Wednesday, which wasn't a committee, but a public meeting. Then there was the "Sub committee of the Neighborhood Stratagies Task Force Committee" on Thursday afternoon that I am a part of. The topic was how to force lienholders to assume responsibility after buying a property back at sheriff sale as a result of a forclosure. Interesting meeting because it included a banker, a pair of real estate investors, a resident from the Downtown Priority Board, two members of the City Legal department, the head of Housing inspection, the County Clerk of Courts, two members from the sheriff's department and little old me.I can't say that we achieved a whole lot but did learn a few things about how the law works..
Tonight we had our neighborhood fund raising committee meeting and have set a date for a neighborhood yard sale.
Lets see, next week is Neighborhood Stratagies Task Force Committee which is about 80% city employees who won't say what is really on their minds for fear of offending someone and then a Priority Board meeting on Thursday. So, not alot getting done on the house I'm afraid. If you have ever been on a committee then you may find this amusing. My step father told me this one.

Definition of a committee;
A group of people who, as individuals can not make a decision and who, as a group, discuss reasons why they shouldn't......

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Black and White are out of site.

Well, it seems that only a few of us proud housebloggers liked the idea of prison stripes. If you ever venture out to Eureka California, look out for a guy in rhinestone covered carpenters overalls saying "Thank you, thank you very much..." That would be "Petch House Greg" AKA Elvis Petch. If you see a guy in Russelville, Arkansas dressed or undressed in chains ranting about his "Devil Queen", giving the impression of an S & M convention near by, ignore him, it's "Crazy John".
I think Aaron, Jeanne and Grace would have looked great in Prison stripes at their convention this week. You could have certainly picked them out of the crowd and I'm sure the Chicago PD would have. Oh well. You all have the web site so you can order your outfits and strait jackets individually. I think I'll dig out my copy of the "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou" soundtrack and sing along

"IIIIIIII am the maaaaaan of constant sorrowwwww, I've seeen trouuuuuuuuble all my days....."

Monday, April 24, 2006

Up His Sleeve, In His Hat, In His Coat Pocket

Weekend two of the neighborhood project!

I guess when you have volunteer labor you certainly get what you pay for. I had 15 volunteers before the project began. Nine came to the pre project meeting. Ten enthusiastic volunteers arrived on day one. All of these numbers count me as a volunteer.
Day two of the project produced 3 of us. One week later there were three again and on Sunday there were 2. My wife stepped in and did most of the lower painting that you see in the picture so our #s went up to three on Sunday. If I had two more people, the painting would have been almost complete except for the upper part. So, all you young un's out there who believe that the "World is your oyster", realize that 90% of the work is done by 10% of the people otherwise your future is going to be a clam! Fortunately, I have learned to have low expectations when it involves the work of others. That way I am rarely disappointed and easily impressed.

The good news is that there are some really dedicated people in this neighborhood. There is much drive by interest in the building. The colors were picked by just two of us making decisions by committee null and void AND..... most importantly, I am getting REALLY GOOD at doing stucco!

I think a good old Catholic style guilt trip is in order for my work force!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Houseblogger uniforms?

I found the perfect uniform for housebloggers! You can view it HERE. I was thinking the 5th one down from the top. In the jump suit style. We could have them screen printed with "Houseblogger" on the back.

If ten people are interested we could get them for around $55 a piece with all the shipping. If 24 people are interested, it would be less!

Of course some of us might want the delux model found on THIS PAGE for $150. It would be the 4th item down on the left. Especially for those plumbing moments.

Both are ageless and would certainly be a conversation piece if you chose to wear in public!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I can see my house from here!

I went to our local county real estate page ( and looked at our tax bill and plat map for the hell-of-it. Then I started playing with the layering icon and got this!

The picture is from 2001 or earlier because the "Art Theater" (porn movie house) that used to be across the street is still there and that was demolished in February 2002. The only picture that I have of the place is this view from our roof in August 2001.

Just what I need. More house pictures!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Pulling a rabbit out of my hat......

We started the neighborhood project this weekend. Here is a picture of the building now...

It got pressure washed, scraped, tuck pointed and some stucco work done. There was a hole in the wall where a car had hit it. That got bricked up with some of those bricks I picked up last week! So, now it actually looks worse than it did a week ago..... but like they say, it has to get worse before it can get better. I emailed the housing inspector so he doesn't write a ticket for chipped paint.
If you want to know about stucco, you can read all about it HERE. It is like doing plaster work. My wrist hasn't been this sore since going blind as a teenager......

Friday, April 14, 2006

I'll Never Be Your Beast of Burden....

There is actually one thing I dread MORE than plumbing. Working on vehicles. If you recall, I let the "Beast" sit for 6 months before actually fixing the problem which cost only a few $ in the end. Well, the beast decided to act up again this week. I drove it to a property last Saturday about 5 miles away to pick up some bricks that were generously donated to us by a Houseblogs reader. He is fixing up this place and will be selling it very soon!

Any interested parties should email me so I can charge an exhorbitant referral fee. Did I mention the unique brick patio? Er I mean motorcycle storage area....

This is the furthest that the "Beast" has been driven since September last year! So, I load it up with bricks and start having trouble keeping the motor running. Regardless, I get it back and unload it, then when it was time to return for the remaining bricks, the engine would not start. I ended up running the battery down and had to charge it up over night. On Sunday I went to get the rest of the bricks because the "Beast" was being co-operative. With the thing loaded up with more bricks do you think it would start? Nooooo way!
Well, there it sat until Thursday. I changed the spark plugs, the plug cables, the distributor cap, the rotary arm and added some transmission fluid. Would it start? Yes, but then it died again!
I took the battery home and charged it up again.

Well, the only thing left to play with was the ignition coil. So I got to do that today. Guess what? That was it! I must admit, it certainly is running better! So after almost 5 years, my Ford "Beast" has cost me a grand total of $130.00 in repairs and maintainance. This little escapade being around $37.00 of that.

In future I may refer to the "Beast" as a "Rolls Canardly" (you know, like a Rolls Royce or a Rolls Bentley) because it can roll down a hill but can hardly roll back up one!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

And Now For My Next Trick.....

I won't make a great deal of progress on the "Crackhouse" this month because I have initiated another project. I have managed to get about 12 volunteers from the neighborhood to give me a hand at restoring the facade of this building;

The idea is to make this boarded up building in my neighborhood look like a 1920s movie theater and thus look less boarded up. It will also give some potential DIYers the confidence to work on their own properties since they can make all of their mistakes on this one! It will still be a boarded up building when we are done but the owner may actually do something with it since it should look a whole lot nicer!
Here is what we know about it.

The Wyoming Theater was built on the southwest corner of Wyoming Street and Gunckel Avenue in 1914 by Albert Staehlin. A baker by trade, the theater business must not have suited him, for the following year he sold the property to real estate investor Gus G. Kinzeler. Kinzeler, one-time owner of Funland Theater on Valley Street, did quite well during the decade he owned the theater. When attendance began to decline, Kinzeler sold his interest in the Wyoming to Samuel D. Crumbaugh in 1925. When the downtown Colonial Theater introduced the first all-talking, full length picture Lights of New York on September 22, 1928, it sounded the death knell for many of the remaining small, silent theaters. Without the funds to purchase the equipment needed for this new form of entertainment, the nickelodeon’s days were numbered. The Wyoming was no exception, closing its doors sometime in 1929.

The theater remained vacant for several years. In the 1930’s John Schaub bought the property and opened a restaurant. The "Silver Slippers". Over the next few decades, the building switched owners, but not the type of business it was used for, remaining a restaurant and tavern. It was "Kelly's Bar" for many years and boasted being the first bar to have a colored television in the 1940s. It was finally closed in 1983. Records seem to indicate that it has been vacant ever since.

Work begins this weekend and will continue for at least two more weekends. The work is all paint, stucco, tuck pointing and wood stripping with more paint, stucco and tuck pointing than wood stripping. The best case scenario is the place looks restored at a cost of around $300 and property values around it go up a couple of grand each and the owner makes a donation to our neighborhood association. The worst case scenario is the building gets a face lift, property values go up a few grand each, we do another fund raiser to re-coup our $300 and I got 12 people together from the neighborhood to have a good time who may actually learn something about repairing buildings. So, regardless of the outcome, the neighborhood benefits.
The owner is willing to sell this building in case anyone is interested in an old nickleodeon movie theater. I understand that the inside is in bad shape and the roof needs some work.I will know more about it this weekend when we start the work. He paid $35,000 for it in 2003 and has done little to it since then. If anyone is truely interested you can email me and I can put you in touch with the owner. From the perspective of the president of our neighborhood association (which is me), I am concerned with how the building looks from the street. The inside and the roof are not my problem. That being said, if I wasn't engulfed with the "Crackhouse", I may have taken this one on as a hobby.......

Wait and see what we do with it. Based on the plans, I think you will be impressed! Maybe it will inspire all you budding neighborhood activist types to do something about a blighted property in your "hood" instead of complaining to the city about it! Here in Dayton you can complain all you want, nothing will get done. In our neighborhood, we are on our own and have to take it upon ourselves to preserve our quality of life. After all, it is "us", the residents, who are responsible for our own community, not the city or county governments.
So, as I get down from my soap box, if you ever saw the movie "Zulu", there is a line in that movie that sums this up nicely. When the young private is in the makeshift jail cell for doing something wrong and he is aware that there are thousands of impi warriors headed for the supply depot and things are looking really bad, he asks the sergeant "Why us sarge?" The sergeant replies with something like "Because were 'ere lad! There's nobody else, just us."

Why am I taking this on? Because I'm here and plan to be for the next 30 years. Always remember too, no matter where you go, there you are.......

Friday, April 07, 2006

Carriage Hill Farm

We have a park near us Called Carriage Hill Metro Park. The theme is an 1880s farm and it has been restored to look like one. I take Elizabeth there quite often to see the animals since admission is FREE. Walking around the buildings, there is always something new that I notice. I won't describe any of the details but have posted pictures here of the outside and some of the inside rooms. You aren't permitted upstairs or in the basement where the really exciting quirks would be. The only thing that I think is wrong is the white walls in every room. I'm sure some would have had wallpaper and others would have been painted dark colors. Of course, unless you actually did some major renovation on a Victorian house, you wouldn't know that. The brick structure in the back of the house with the farm bell on it is a summer kitchen and a pump house. The red wood structure beside it is a wood shed.

And now the inside.
The middle room;

The Kitchen;

The front room, which has been partitioned off to make a first floor bedroom;

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Shellac Attack

I've been going through withdrawal symptoms. Its been a few weeks since I put shellac on anything. The dining room windows got a good coat of aniline tinted shellac so they look like dark walnut. I put shellac on the base of the $5 sausage stuffer and some even went on my sash locks.
The effect of shellac on old wood is predictable. It makes the wood look finished, but still old. New wood is more challenging because in the hands of a "normal" DIYer it will look newly finished. My problem is that I'm not normal and I don't want the look of new wood if I can help it.
While venting about my plumbing, I went off on a tangent that was not expected at this time. Having already cleaned two door frames I didn't want to rub alcohol on the wood molding in the parlor because I couldn't wash the goop off my hands. So I became creative and prepared the wood for two thresholds. One threshold would be more like a 2 inch step due to the difference in floor height between two rooms after laying tile. The other threshold is wide, long and awkward. It separates the dining room and kitchen and since it needs to be at least 10" wide and over 4 feet long I was going to have to be super creative.
The step threshold was simple enough to make. I used an old 1890s 2 X 4 that cleaned up and sanded quite nicely. The uneven surface adds to the rustic appearance of the two rooms it separates. Three coats of some tinted shellac and here it is;

The large threshold was made from 5 oak floor boards left over from the upstairs hallway. The edge strips had to be cut on the table saw and then planed at an angle so that they rise up from the floor at a shallow angle. They haven't been installed yet and the edges have to be cut flush with the baseboards that have yet to be installed but here is a picture to give you an idea of what it looks like. Of course your favorite little "munchkin" had to be in the picture!

I used some slightly tinted amber shellac. I only have one color of aniline dye, walnut. I added a little to darken the color of the amber shellac. After 5 thin coats over the natural oak boards it produced this.

The original cut offs of the oak flooring are also in this picture for comparison.

So, throw away the stains and urethanes, they can't make oak look like this!
To put this into context using modern materials, it would be like adding raw umber pigment to urethane varnish to create a topical type stain. Urethane would take 3 days due to drying time, shellac took 3 hours. You know, three years ago I didn't know what shellac was!

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Bane of My Existence!

I hate plumbing!
Plumbing makes me angry.
When I'm angry I drink beer.
When I drink beer, I fall asleep.
When I fall asleep, nothing gets done.
I hate plumbing.....

I spent Sunday afternoon lying on my side next to the toilet. No, it wasn't the beer! This years after winter plumbing problems happened to occur in the access panel behind the toilet. However, to fix the problem, I had to remove the baseboard molding and cut the toilet feed pipe.
It is amazing how clever on becomes when problems occur. After last years fiasco, I didn't nail the baseboard in place, I just caulked it in. So removal was quite simple. This time around I attached male and female cpvc fittings to the toilet feed that is hidden behind the baseboard. If this problem occurs again, I just unscrew the toilet fitting and pull it away with the baseboard instead of having to ever cut it again!

So, I fixed the pipes, then went and opened a bottle of beer, took a sip and went down to the basement to flip the water lever on the main supply line. I took a deep breath....
After the initial rush of water, there was silence....

I run upstairs, take a sip of beer, open the shut off valves behind the toilet. Rush of water sound, then silence. I take a sip of beer. Then another sip. I open the toilet valve and listen as the toilet tank fills with water... phew!

I take a sip of beer, turn on the water to the side showers. Now I am wet! More beer is needed. Then I turn on the water to the main shower head. There is water spewing from the handle..... PHUCK IT!

I pulled the shower escutcheon apart to access the cartridge assembly unit where the plastic cap had a hairline crack in it. You can't just replace this part can you? Oh, no! You have to replace the whole phuckin' cartridge..... PHUCK IT!
I thought for a moment about the fact that I can now flush the toilet and wash my hands at least. Then I finished my beer and went home!

Lowest cost to replace the cartridge (Delta part # RP32104)... $57.00....... PHUCK IT!

So, thinking like a plumber, I will try some pvc cement and a clamp on the cracked piece first.

Later I will show you what I was able to accomplish on Saturday while stewing over the plumbing problem..... it involved wood, a table saw, a plane, a palm sander and, you guessed it..... SHELLAC!

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Phuck it! Phuck it! Phuck it! Phuck it! Phuck it! Phuck it!

Phuck it! Phuck it! Phuck it! Phuck it! Phuck it! Phuck it!