Wednesday, August 27, 2014

At it Again!

Remember this from 2009?

Well, it is happening again. If you missed your chance 5 years ago, now is the time to catch up!

Gary Leitzell
For Montgomery County Commissioner

You are respectfully invited to a Pancake Breakfast at
“This Old Crack House.”

Enjoy homemade pancakes with delectable toppings.
View before/after photos of “This Old Crack House.”
Suggested donation: $15.00 per person
All proceeds and donations will go to “Friends of Gary Leitzell.”

Please RSVP or there won’t be enough pancakes for you!
(937) 253-1359 or
twitter @GaryLeitzell
Where: 114 Volkenand Ave., Dayton, OH 45410
(Across the street from Wayne Ave. Family Video)
Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Date: Sunday September 7, 2014

Paid for by Friends of Gary Leitzell
Dan Kennedy, treasurer, 525 Heiss Ave. Dayton, OH 45403

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Samuel D. Edgar Patent

I posted years ago about Charles Edgar's patents. He invented an automatic gate, an improved hay rake and a carburetor that I haven't figured what purpose it had. When he died in 1876 the carburetor patent was the only one that was purchased by a businessman. Any way, it turns out that Charles Edgar's father had a patent issued back in 1869 for this.

I think I need to make one and display it in the house.

Monday, July 21, 2014

More Roof Antics

Way back in 2001, one of the first things I had to do was replace the shingle on the roof to the kitchen. At some point in the past a tree limb had fallen on it and for a while it must have leaked as was evident by the damage done by either carpenter ants or termites  in the boards that separated the two rooms that now make up our one long kitchen. Water used to poor down the wall when it rained.
It was the first time that I had done roofing so I shingled the dip in the center of the roof near the lowest edge above the large window. After a few years, water would pool in this dip, seep under the shingle, come through the wall and drip onto the window sill. So for several years, I'll call them the "Mayor Years", there has been an array of jars and bowls on the window sill to collect the water. The furniture in front of the window had to be pulled away because the splashing water was landing on it. Here is a picture taken this week in fact.

One of the cats has knocked the wallpaper trough off several times causing bowls and jars to break.

The wife grew tired of it and demanded that I replace the roof. Well, replacing the roof is no easy task and the rest of the roof is just fine. It is a single layer of shingle on sheathing. I told her that I would put a metal roof over the shingle. I just had to figure out how to handle the sag and the flashing around the windows. On June 25th I ordered the materials needed at and on the 16th July I picked it up to start work the next day because it wasn't going to rain for several days. The first day was spent shimming the roof with some 2X6 and 2X 4 boards and placing supports under the boards where the dip in the roof is. Here is how it looked at the end of day 1.

Here you can see the situation with the dip in the roof.

The next day I figured out how to cut and install the flashing around the window sitting down without sliding off the roof and got another several panels installed. Then it began to rain. I put another panel in place and it started to rain harder. I came in out of the rain to check weather online. Rain would last an hour. Two hours later it is still raining so I went to the grocery store to buy beer. Seemed like a good use of my time. Got home, still raining. Water pouring down from the upper roof where the downspout used to be before I removed it to work on the roof was causing pooling in the dip and water was filling the array of jars and bowls on the window sill just as they had done during the "Mayor Years." Wife would be home soon. This wasn't going to look good ..... Got on roof in pouring rain to put one more panel in place so that I could wedge in the downspout, lean it to the left and have water run down the metal into the gutter instead of into the dip and into the house! Now I was a little concerned because only half the roof was done and I had used a lot of screws to put the wood boards in place and was having visions of water damage to the part of my ceiling that was not covered by metal. After 4 hours the rain stopped. It was 9:30 PM and dark outside. It was raining the next morning, too.

On day three I put down two more panels and cut two inches off my downspout to put in place but now I had to wait for the roof to dry out before finishing. I was smart enough to creat air flow channels at the edge of the roof and perforate the edge flashing but with the amount of moisture from the rain, I was better off waiting for nature to dry out my roof. It seems to have stopped leaking though. Here was the extent of the work by day 3.

Once I figured out how to deal with the flashing around the windows things moved a little faster. Especially when I realized that sitting on a rubber backed mat would stop me from sliding down the roof!

 The final product looks like this. 

Unfortunately the only place you can actually see the roof is from up there!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Why I Have Been Busy Part 2

There is a woman who lived across the side alley from us who is now 93 years old. She lived in her house since she was four years old. I used to visit her every so often and often sat in her living room talking about stuff. She is as sharp as a whistle and would call me every so often if she had a question. She told me some stories about Leonard and Susan Volkenand who lived in our house from 1906 to 1955. Leonard being killed by a car while crossing the street in 1937. She remembers Polly the parrot that used to shout from the porch at her. Polly died in 1936. Last August she called me and asked if I would be interested in buying her house.

The house was built in 1900 by Leonard Volkenand. He lived there with his wife and daughter for at least 4 years before moving back into our house to take care of his father. He ended up buying our house from the father's estate in 1906. The next owner of the house was the uncle of this woman. I think the uncle moved in with his first wife as early as 1905. By 1915 or so the ex wife was living 4 houses down and the new wife was in the house. The uncle and 2nd wife adopted her after her mother got sick and died around 1925. Her older brothers were raised by her father. She was rather short and frail so it was deemed best that her aunt and uncle raised her. Besides, they had no children of their own. For the next 89 years that place was her home.

The woodwork is in absolute original condition. The original shellac on the doors and trim. Most doors have their original skeleton key. The pocket doors between two rooms work and look great. The floors are wood and the staircase is unusually wide for this style of house. The wallpaper was put up in 1940 and the very small kitchen was remodeled in 1960. The basement is full of old washing equipment and canning supplies. The date on the jars of cherries on shelves down there says 1939. There were even a few small lumps of coal in a crawl space under the front room.

The place needs some work, but nowhere near as much as the Old Crack House. Bathrooms need some up dating and there are some spots of old water damage on the walls where a chimney used to extend through the roof but has since been reduced below the roof line that I intend to repair but leave the work as an obvious repair rather than remove the wallpaper. This place is truly a walk back in time. Most of her furniture predated the wallpaper.

We bought the house in October. Since I told her we didn't mind if she didn't get all of her stuff out, well, some stuff got left behind and we have to dispose of it. Much of it some old clothing and some glassware, some books and papers. There were some interesting finds in the basement and attic that I will disclose at a later date but just to be fair, after buying the house, I gave her another $800 for stuff left behind because some of the items had a value. Including the cedar casket in the attic! Here is an old photo of the house that I was given 10 years ago.

Here is what it looks like now. White is so boring don't you think?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Why I've Been Busy Part 1

It's the end of May you say! What have I been doing for 5 months? Well, lots really. Not so much work on the Old Crack House. Though I have been purging stuff that is still in boxes from the big move 5 years ago that I haven't looked at in all this time. Kind of like Christmas all over again going through those old boxes. Comments like "Oooh, I haven't seen that in years." Or "I wondered where that got to" are often heard. I got a bunch of old stuff out of the basement as well but there is still a lot more that needs to go. So here is the real story as to why I have been busy but there is more to come that you will either be thrilled with or you will think I am crazy, but that will be explained later in part 2 or even part three of this saga.

Some of you may know that I was the Mayor of Dayton for four years. Turns out that I did a good job and no one seems mad at me. I lost in the primary last year. We have non partisan primaries for local municipal seats but it turns out that the voters did not understand that and so in a primary with an independent up against two Democrats who do you think came out to vote? That is correct, mostly Democrats. We had the lowest turnout ever so I lost. That is OK though. I only spent $2,000 of my allotted budget of $10,000 and pulled 23% of the vote. The two Democrats spent $100,000 and $264,000 with the highest spender getting about 50% of the 9900 votes. She went on to spend another $250,000 to win the general election where only 16,000 people voted and 9200 were for her. So now people are getting mad because the new administration is doing silly stuff without anticipating the unintended consequences of their actions. They are not strategic thinkers beyond their own self interests and it is obvious to many.

So, it seems that people want me to stay involved so last July I pulled petitions to run as an independent for county commission. Turns out that in Ohio, independents are held to a much higher standard than party candidates. I need to get a petition signed by 1% of the number of voters in the jurisdiction that voted in the last governors election just to get on the ballot. Party candidates need just 50 signatures. I needed 1852 valid ones. By December I had 1000 signatures. I would require around 3000 to be safe. So when the weather finally broke after a bizarre winter I had to get signatures and cajole a few others into helping me. On May 5th I turned in 2881 signatures and that was more than enough to get on the ballot in November. I was certified just last week. Now I am catching up on all the stuff that got neglected. There is a lot more to the story as to why I  have been busy but you will just have to wait. The next part is house and history related. Like I said earlier, you will be thrilled or think I am crazy.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

More Stuff

For years the hallway door to the dining room looked like this.I really needed to put molding around the door frame to cover the brick. Well, finally in 2013 it happened. So this

now looks like this!

This year the wife wanted thresholds in the doorways. She got tired of looking at the "Greatstuff" filled gaps in the floor between the doors entering the dining room. So I went to the basement to seek out some old pieces of wood that were wide enough to make thresholds. Here are the results


Amazing what you can do in 30 minutes with a plane and a piece of wood. Of course the shellac added a few hours to the process but now I have thresholds! So, how is the house coming along? Slowly, very slowly ....

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Crap in My Back Yard (Long Overdue Update)

Do some of you remember back in April 2008 when I wrote a post about these two houses across the alley from me?

Remember how I said I was so mad that I was going to run for mayor? Well, that happened and I won. Made some significant changes here in Dayton, too. I even made the national news a few times and I'm still news in Eastern Europe because of the "Welcome Dayton" initiative to embrace immigrants and facilitate their success in America.

Well, I told you in June 2012 what happened to those properties and that we were going to acquire them. Eventually we were able to get them. It took almost a year because I would not accept the deeds for the two lots until they were showing on the tax record as being vacant lots. Otherwise I have to pay taxes for a developed lot and taxes are collected a year in arrears.

The view from my kitchen window now looks like this.

Now, before you go out and start buying up vacant lots around where you live, let me tell you that you have no idea how big a city lot really is until you have to cut the grass! We have acquired some more property on our block as well but that is another, way more interesting tale to tell. You will just have to wait for the details. Now in order to fix some of the faux pas associated with these property transfers I am going to have to run for county commission this year. So guess what I am doing? That is whole story waiting to be written too. The process is skewed to the two party system. Winning that would reduce my house blogging ability again but to get some time back I see a riding mower in my future ......

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Late Summer Project.

Several years ago, right after buying this place, I had to rebuild the front porch and balcony because it was collapsing. So I reused some old porch flooring that we salvaged and got the edges painted but never got around to sealing the wood properly. It looked pretty good at the time but ten years later some of the boards were warped or rotting out so it was time to address the porch properly.

Here are some rotten boards on the edge of the deck and below you can see that I had to remove a section of the ceiling because it had rotted out.

This became my late summer project. I wanted to get the lower porch restored before Halloween. I bought pressure treated tongue and groove porch floor boards and a piece of pressure treated plywood to replace the ceiling section that I removed. Also bought a combination of pressure treated lumber and cedar boards to do some extra trimming. I also had to get the heat gun out to strip the layers of paint from the ceiling.

The flooring started to be replaced after stripping all the paint. You can see that below.

Then the plywood got cut and some cedar boards were used to fix the ceiling.

 Posts and rails were painted and then installed after the porch floor was painted.

Now it looks like this. Still some major painting to do but the upper level is ready to fix in the spring time. I just bought a ceiling fan for that upper level as well. It has only been waiting 12 years to have one installed!

Now while all this was going on I got sidetracked a little and started to strip the wood around the main door. to the right of the porch. In 2010, after tearing the porch off of that side of the house it looked like this.

A friend of mine gave me a bunch of old trim years ago that was taking up space in my basement. I decided to use two sections of it to put above the door. You can see by the beige paint that originally there was something there. After a little bit of painting, the front door currently looks like this.

With being mayor and all, this process took about 8 weeks. So, now I am free from those chains it looks like I will be busy this year getting a lot more work done on the house!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Let There Be Light

I have always wanted beaded shades for our dining room chandelier. After a while I realized that if I wanted beaded shades, then I was going to have to make them myself. So I bought a whole bunch of glass beads and eventually sat down to make some shades. I need four. I made two so far. Each one took the better part of a day to make. I am not completely happy with them. I like the colors but I would like them to be two to four inches longer. Here is one for you to look at.

When I have four days to spend making these I will be happy to let you know! They definitely add a cool dimension to exposed bulb fixtures!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I'm Baaaaaaaaaack!

Hey everybody, guess what? I am no longer the mayor so I have some freedom back for a short while. That means that I can do some long overdue updates. I can fill you all in on some of the changes in the "hood" since 2005 and my new project that has a direct connection to this one! Just have to get out and take some pictures for you all to enjoy. Stay tuned, you don't want to miss out on this!