Friday, February 29, 2008

An Old Tour of Our First Floor!

Way back in January 2002 I took a movie tour of the first floor of the "Crack House" and posted it to our web page at the time. Since then, for some reason, I took the links out of the web page and the files were removed from the computer because they took up too much space. It turns out that I left them loaded on my FTP space at AOL under an account that I never use and just recently (like yesterday) downloaded the files to the PC that we bought in 2006 that has oodles more drive space and have linked to from here for your viewing pleasure!

Living Room

Dining Room


I took a movie tour through the first floor on Thursday to show you how the rooms currently look so you can see the transformation that has been my nightmare. You will have to wait to view those though because we still have dial-up and the files are going to take forever to upload to my FTP space on AOL because they are quite large!

So, to make you happy while you wait I have posted this joke that was sent to me by a friend who generally tells really bad jokes. Maybe it will make some people think before they vote in future.

While walking down the street one day a US senator is tragically hit by a truck and

His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

"Welcome to heaven," says St. Peter. "Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so
we're not sure what to do with you."

"No problem, just let me in," says the man.

"Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity."

"Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven," says the senator.

"I'm sorry, but we have our rules."

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him.

Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people.

They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and champagne.

Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly guy who as a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises...

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him.

"Now it's time to visit heaven."

So, 24 hours pass with the senator joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.

"Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity."

The senator reflects for a minute, then he answers: "Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell."

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.

Now the doors of the elevator open and he's in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage.

He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above.

The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder.

"I don't understand," stammers the senator. "Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?"

The devil looks at him, smiles and says, "Yesterday we were campaigning...

Today you voted."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Back to Patching Holes

The "cottage" living room floor has been abused in the past. It had been abused by electricians and by HVAC contractors. The floor had 7 holes where socket boxes were once located and four holes for heating vents. The room is 16' X 15' in area. I have been busy this weekend reducing the number of holes in the floor and have finally got good at patching the holes. Buying a router was a step in the right direction also and actually using it was another. I patched up the floor so that we will end up with four floor boxes around the room and two colossal vent holes were patched also. The whole trick to patching these holes is to actually make them look like they were done by somebody else a long, long time ago. Well, that's my opinion anyway. That way they don't stand out too much. I am fortunate to have a lot of old wood to use and I was very fortunate to have a short plank of ash from one of the floors that I could use to patch some of the holes. I was also smart enough to save a bag of sawdust from one of our floor sandings to use as a filler. I mix it with linseed oil and push it into the gaps between floor boards before applying shellac or polyurethane to the floors. In this case I used it to fill the narrow gaps around the edges of the patches.
Any way. Here are some pictures.

This one is right in front of a doorway to the dining room.

This was one of three within 4 feet of each other. Don't ask me why.

This was a large vent hole. One board is ash, the narrow one (if you can actually see it) is pine.

This last one troubled me for a long time, which is why the floor wasn't patched sooner. It was a vent hole cut across several boards. No matter how much I would have tried to hide this it would'nt have worked. I don't have any wide planks of ash to patch it with and to attempt a patch with multiple boards running parallel with the floor boards would have made an obvious patch job look bad. One thought was to patch it with a nicely painted board with a stencil pattern on it and some molding around the edge to frame it nicely. The thought here was to actually draw attention to the flaw and make it pretty but that would have created a ridge where the "frame" would lie. Besides, we will most likely stick a piece of furniture over it so it would be covered anyway. In the end I found a piece of old pine that had been painted on one side. The paint was difficult to remove so I flipped the board over to reveal the unpainted side, sanded it and then cut the edges to conform with the irregularities in the vent hole rather then try to cut the vent hole square. I filled any gaps with my sawdust putty mixture, applied two coats of shellac and now I have to go buy a quart of polyurethane (because that is something I don't have lying around this place), to put over the patches because this is one of our polyurethaned floors. So, you guys all know that I patched these holes but if you saw them yourself you might just say that I am too young to have made these patches! Right, that'll be the day ....

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Bride of Frankenstein

I learned a long time ago that if I have a unique idea that involves constructing something that I should make two. One for me and one to sell. This concept was applied when I made the steampunk ceiling light for the powder room. Our ceiling in that room is quite low so our light is a mere 10 inches long from top to bottom.
I installed the thing this week and put in a carbon filament bulb so that the glow is easy on the eyes. Here is a picture.

I made a second fixture which I just put on ebay to see if there is an interest in this type of thing. This second fixture is 23 inches long and has the addition of a black wooden ball to make it a little more interesting. If it sells, great. I hope it covers the cost of all the parts for both lights. If it doesn't sell then I'll make another one from some more of the old copper plumbing pipe that I pulled out of the basement and put the pair of them in our second floor hallway. I may make some table lamps and wall lights to sell also if there seems to be a market for this kind of thing.
So with that all said, I present you with the "Bride of Frankenstein."

Isn't she a beauty?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My Latest Creation

Wha-ha-ha-ha-ha! (Maniacal laughter)

Egor delivered my box of back ordered parts today. I have been eagerly awaiting for these since December. I was finally able to assemble my wonderful creation for illuminating the mad scientists powder room. All I have to do is install it and add a light bulb. This thing cost me about $25 to make. $15 of that being for the glass shade and $5 for the shade holder. You know, it would be really cool if I could do this with one of those plasma balls that shoots electric bolts to the edge of the glass globe ...... hmmmmm?

Wha-ha-ha-ha-ha! (More maniacal laughter)

Monday, February 11, 2008

After 120 Years, Another First!

For the first time in what must have been 120 years (since the 1888-90 remodel), all the doors in the master bedroom actually close AND latch! When we bought this place, none of the doors would close. The assumption was that the layers of paint were way too thick to permit the doors to close. After stripping and finishing the doors, using the original hinges in their original locations and hanging the doors, they still would not close.
I had to plane and sand a little off the top just to get them all to close. I then rubbed bar soap on the top of the doors to prevent sticking and on these two shellacked doors I had to raise the strike plates slightly in order to get the doors to latch shut. I can't believe these doors never closed properly. I guess the Volkenand family didn't mind the doors not closing and after 1954 this was the front room of a second floor apartment adjoining the hall and a kitchen so closing doors wasn't important either.

This is the closet door. It wasn't worth the time it was taking to get the paint stripped off it. The top three coats came off easily with a heat gun so I left the original layer intact and sanded the surface before painting it. This is the same closet that took me 5 hours to wire in a switch and a light so that no cable is visible. I hate to think what an electrician would have charged to put a light in this closet. Of course it would likely have required the use of exterior metal track to put the wires in and not having to pull up any floor boards which is no fun at all!.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Got Crack?

It's annoying, no, it's really annoying when you spend all kinds of time in the summer repairing, then smoothing out your walls and ceiling, painting them with primer, insulating the attic and then, only then, when the weather gets cold, they crack up like hell! It looks like a plate tectonics map on my wall! Don't even mention the ceiling. The cracks are all hairline cracks. That is the only good thing. That and the fact that we haven't painted the walls with anything other than white primer. These cracks could have always been in the original wall and are now appearing because the weather got cold. On the other hand, since the attic is now insulated they may be forming because the air flow pattern of the room has changed for the first time in 163 years and the house is pissed off. Anyway, I already fixed them and it seems to be working. (I had to do something between coats of paint on a closet door.)Years ago I saw something on "Good Morning America" or something like it about fixing cracks in walls. One solution was to fill the cracks with latex caulk. I have done that before but these cracks are way too fine to fill with caulk. So I did the next thing that I remembered. I found the bucket of white exterior latex paint that I had stashed away in basement and, using a 1" brush, painted over all the cracks with three coats of paint. I made sure to fill the cracks with paint if it was possible. The theory behind this is that as the walls expand and contract the latex paint will stretch over the cracks and they shouldn't reappear through the paint. Of course when I came back to put the second or third coats on I would always find a few more cracks and I bet if I looked again today there would be even more. I would post a picture but with all that white it would be like trying to spot a white cat in a snow storm. Oh well. The way I see it the house is just living up to its name!