02 November 2010

A Small Frustration

When I took in the hoses last week I noticed that the front sillcock was dripping.  I twisted it as far as I could, but it would not stop.  My mother mentioned that it was dripping when she was over this weekend watching my brother and I fix the blown-down fence.  I put a bucket under it until I felt like tackling it.  It was dripping so fast I had to empty the bucket several times a day (when Bertie had not already knocked it over--he loves water.)

First I went in the basement to see if there was a shut-off in the water line to the sillcock.  There was, but someone had stolen the handle to it.

So I turned off the water at the main, down at the bottom of this pipe.

You should be honored to get to see how "special" my basement is, and how up-to-date my pipes are.  (Side note--isn't that a great old kitchen table? Someday I'm going to refinish it and bring it back upstairs.)

Getting back to my story:  the sillcock continued to drip, even with the main turned off.  I did not have a spare handle for the turn-off, and it is not configured for modern handles, anyway.  I did not want to take the channellocks  to it and mess up the shaft, so replaced the bucket and went to the hardware store to see if I could find a new handle.  I wanted to replace the sillcock, too, but couldn't take it off until the shutoff was in place.

The hardware guys at Ace had never seen anything like what my shaft looked like and had no idea how to put a handle on it, because all the modern ones have a square end.  They tried to sell me one of those cheapo pot metal ones that has little clamping teeth inside with screws on the outside to engage the teeth with the rod.  I have those on my tub and they are crap, so I declined.  I bought a kit to fix my kitchen sink faucet, which was also dripping and went to another hardware store, which also is a plumbing store, hoping they had some old stock, because they are, after all, plumbers.  I found an old guy and explained my problem.  He was sympathetic, but could find nothing to fit my shaft.  He suggested I go to the salvage store.  I may still do that.

I came back home and fixed the kitchen faucet and put WD 40 on the basement shaft and the nut holding the handle on the sillcock, because I thought I could replace whatever was inside it that wasn't working anymore.  I turned on the water and put the bucket back.

Today I turned off the water again and took my channellocks to the shaft.  I was running out of options.  The WD 40 did it's job and after a while I was able to turn it enough to shut off the water to the sillcock.  The nut on the handle of the sillcock also had loosened up enough to remove it--after I spent half an hour looking through my tools for something to remove the nut with.  See, my ex bought me a complete cheapo socket set and then lost the most useful size and the tool, so all I have left is a box of unusable sockets.  Fortunately I kept his toolbox and raggedy rusty tools, and there was a socket wrench and the right-size socket!  --Note to Self--buy a new socket set.--

I got the handle off and the large nut around the shaft and found that the shaft is sealed into the unit and there are no moveable parts to remove.  You have to buy a whole new one.  This I cannot do because I do not have the tools or the strength to twist the sillcock off the wall.  I replaced everything and turned it REALLY HARD and turned the water back on.  No dripping.  OK, now I have all winter to find a new handle and convince some big burly sort to replace my sillcock.

Bertie is pissed.

25 October 2010

Problem Areas

Here are some problems I have been thinking about for 16 years, but have had the money do do anything about (or found a competent craftsman to help me!).  They are all on the least visible side of the house, which is probably why I have not done anything with them yet.

The first pic is of my kitchen windows.  When someone decided to modernize the Victorian kitchen with no built-ins they wanted the sink under the window instead of on the common wall with the bathroom (which is to the right in this picture).  To do this they chopped the upper window frames in half and added these wonderful pieces of wood and lovely storm windows in the openings.  On the inside there is a cabinet with sink and counter.  I'm afraid of what is under there after all these years--probably rotten floor boards.  The plan is to turn the kitchen back in time to around the 1930's - - - some day.  I have the stove and Hoosiers!

All this will take is a competent window craftsman to replicate the upper frame and some inside trim pieces.  Of course, the window frames need serious work, too, but I can handle that.  I would then have to build storms and install them.  I am working on a design that lets me remove the bottom pane and insert screens in summer, but not on the downstairs windows unless I find some nice window pins.  Anybody seen any that aren't just big nails?

The following are the basement windows that are just below the kitchen windows above.  The frames have been removed and the sills built up with concrete and chintzy metal framed windows put in.  The bottom one is really scary--being just two pieces of plexi.

To do this right I would have to have the new sills chiseled off and frames and sash made to match the other windows.  There is a lot of water that accumulates here from an adjacent downspout.  This used to be a cinder drive between the houses--the other house is not very far away, behind my board fence.

One reason nothing has been done is because the washer/dryer is right there.  The plan is/was to move the laundry to the second floor as part of an enlarged bathroom--which has not yet happened.  You know how it goes--you have to find the one thing that can be done before all the other things can be done and do it to get the ball rolling or you end up with everything torn up and an unliveable house.  I need one working bathroom at all times, so need to get the downstairs one finished first.  That is my "first project" and I need a serious kick in the pants to get that room cleared out and get to sanding the walls and then laying the tile floor.  (I have had the tiles for years, now.)

Here's what a basement window done correctly looks like.  I made a new sill, repaired the stonework, and built a screen.

Disclaimer:  The Google AdSense ads that appear on the left for replacement windows are way too numerous for me to block.  I do not endorse replacement windows when original windows are repairable.  Heck, I never endorse them!

18 October 2010

Around the House

I was without my computer for 4 days last week and had problems for two weeks before that, so I've had to re-learn how to live without that daily routine.  Fortunately the weather was just beautiful and cooperated in getting my fall painting done. (Yet again!)  It seems I paint the porches and steps every year.  It doesn't matter if I undercoat, use oil or latex, sand first, or anything.  The winter just peels the paint off every time.  That's one of the reasons I have never painted the porch floor you see Tommy sitting on below.  It still has its 108 year patina.

This is my under-porch hidey-hole for kitties. (And where raccoons go to die.)

I know those piers look bad, but they are terrible to begin with and I refuse to try to pretty them up.  Some idiot replaced the rounded-red-brick-with-granite-cap ones that were there with these abominations many years ago when they painted my brick and foundations.

I'll end this with some photos of the awesomeness that is my house.

17 October 2010

Sibley Learns to Play

Sibley, my formerly feral cat, has now learned how to play interactively with me instead of running away when I flick the snakey toy at him.  He comes when he sees me playing with one of his brothers and seems to enjoy it.  One more little victory!

26 September 2010

Finished Frame

It's done, but I'm not all that thrilled with it.  The clay I used this time shrunk by about 1/2!  I have cracks and low spots and it just doesn't look as good as it did when the clay was wet.  Live and learn.

I used a new paint, too.  Not acrylic, but a gold leaf that I had to mix up and use right away.  I thought it would give better coverage and help the new areas to blend it, but to me they still stick out.

22 September 2010

Yet Another Frame

After being excoriated by several people for not having any new posts for a while, I've come up with something. While I have been stripping paint off a mantel, it is not really blog-worthy, so here are some before and during pics of my new old frame.

You can see that is has a significant amount of missing gesso appliques.  When I bought it there was a baggie of pieces that had fallen off.  When I got home I washed the frame with a toothbrush and water and glued the pieces back on.
I needed an intact corner piece to replace the one that was mostly gone.  One of them was almost complete so I made up some of my Amazing Mold Putty and applied it.  I also made some casts of trim.

It looks really good.  I added the parts that were missing and touched up the missing trim.

It is taking longer to dry than the Paper Clay that I used before.  The store was out of Paper Clay so I had to get something else.  It is taking longer to dry and I hope it sticks as well.  It's called Super Dough.

When this is dry I will seal the clay and paint it.

03 September 2010

Catnip Hill Genealogy

As I am still unemployed I have started a website to promote myself as a Genealogist-For-Hire.  Please tell all your friends and relatives about my new service.  Here is a link to Catnip Hill Genealogy.

Thank you.

26 June 2010

What's Blooming

Sibley Update

For the fans of Sibley the (formerly) feral house cat, today he started wearing a collar and name tag like all his brothers.  He didn't try to rub it off or protest or hiss.  He was a docile gentleman.  I'm so proud of him!  He still has the glowiest eyes in the family, however.

20 June 2010

It's Daylily Time Again

Here's whats blooming around the yard today. 

I decided to try something new, being frustrated by the width of the last template of Hauser Haus. It doesn't have the vintage "feel" of the other template, however, but I did add some wood around the edges.

26 May 2010

Late Spring 2010

I haven't been doing much on the house lately because I'm concentrating on finding a job and selling things on Etsy, but took time out to take some pictures yesterday.

And here's the kitty nest.
Who's home?