Sunday, August 30, 2009

A toilet, a toilet! My kingdom for a toilet!

Not much has gotten done other than stripping woodwork.

My allergies have hit and all I can seem to do is drag myself around. I'm very sensitive to allergy medicine and even though it might say 'non-drowsy' it makes me tired and lethargic.

I only took a couple of photos Friday. I'll get more when I start dealing with the wainscoting again.

Once in a while a board gets uncovered that looks really great. This turned out to be one of them.

Just a close up of the same.

Doesn't this one look rich? It should look awesome once finished.

The following day was another story...

Guess what we did for 6 hours Saturday?!

If you guessed looking at toilets you would be correct.

SWMBO started researching toilets last Wednesday night and Saturday was spent looking.

The big problem (?!) - the flushing capability. The 1.5 toilets just do not work as well as the old 3 gallon ones. Some are okay, but for the most part they suck. However, you might like to know that the ban on 3 gallon flush toilets might be overturned!

Until then, you are stuck with all sorts of weird flushing systems - Power Flush; Class 5 & Class 6 flush; High-Performance Gravity; Dual Flush; Assisted Flush; Ingenium Flush; etc. I'ts enough to drive one mad. When we had the good 'ol 3 gallon flush there was no need for all of these.

There is an entire industry surrounding the goal of providing the 'perfect' 1.5 gallon flush to replace the 3 gallon one. I use to work in the industry - if you don't believe me just go to YouTube and look at all the toilet flush demo vids.

Speaking of having been in the business...SWMBO just wouldn't take my work for anything!! We still had to spend 6 hours going form place to place looking at these porcelain icons of civilized society.

Guess what...we came home empty handed.

Well, I guess not completely empty handed, I did get all the pipe and fittings to install the thing! I told SWMBO that if she didn't make up her mind she'd get a coffee can and garden hose!

So, we are now going to try one of two things. Plan #1, we completely rehabilitate the the Kohler Wellworth 3 gallon flush I removed; or #2 we install the Kohler Memoirs toilet I have in storage for the master bath.

If I go with #1 there will be a lot of work to be done. The bowl is heavily stained. No matter how many times it gets cleaned, the stain comes back and seems to be worse. So, based on some research I think I might have found a way to clean it once and for all. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

That's all I need...another project!!!

Anyway, I'll leave you with this parting shot.

Some times I feel like this...

Well, till next time...

Larry ~

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Stripping and Toilets

Hmmm...'Stripping and Toilets'...doesn't that sound the name of a Quentin Tarantino movie?

I spent the biggest part of the day prepping woodwork (pulling nails) and stripping. I wasn't able to work on the mud since it wasn't completely dry.

So, tomorrow the mud should be sandable.

Here are the two door casings and a couple pieces of the mop board.

Do you notice anything 'funny'?

One of each piece has been stained and shellacked, the other two haven't.

What's up with that?

Makes one go "Hmmm..." doesn't it?

This is the door lintel.

Now this part is a strange one. Keep in mind the flaking - I'll get to that later.

Here's the top view of the lintel.

See anything unusual? Anything you've seen before?

The lintel was made out of a piece of the flooring!!! Can you believe it?! At least they recycled - right?

Okay, remember the flaking?

We we first noticed it all those years ago we thought it was old water damage.

Still not sure what caused the flaking, but the paint is actually on heavy paper! Not sure if it's wall paper or butcher type paper. There was a time drafts were kept away by gluing paper to boards so drafts can't come through the cracks.

I find it interesting that they were too lazy to remove the paper before painting!!

Okay, now let's get to the powder room. Hang on to your hats, I'm about to jump on my soap box.

This Saturday, SWMBO and I will be going to the big city to buy a new toilet for the powder room.

SWMBO has the one she likes and I have the one I like. That is nothing unusual, and definitely not enough to get me on my soap box. What grinds my gears is the way in which some retailers slant the product information so that a person buys the more expensive item!!

The store's literature claimes that one of these two toilets has only a 1.5 star rating. The other one has a 4 to 5 star rating. Guess which one costs the most?

Now, I was in the plumbing business for many, many years. My job was to buy all the stock for the warehouses and for high profile jobs. So, you could say that I do know a thing or two about toilets.

One of these two samples happens to be the best selling toilet in America. If you do a little research you will also find that this toilet consistently has a 5 star rating from consumers and plumbing professionals. The other one is lucky to have a 2.5 - 3.5 rating by the same groups. Unfortunately the big box stores say the exact opposite (even though the customer ratings on their sites say different) in the lierature they give out.

So, unfortunately, instead of educating the consumer they are just trying to earn a buck. I don't begrudge them wanting to make money but they should be un-biased in regard to the products they sell.

I'll step down off my soap box now.

Let's end this post on a brighter note.

A couple posts back I said:

The original faucet is not repairable, so the hunt is on for a replacement. The bad thing is is that it's not the standard center-to-center space.

Turns out the faucet is still made!!! It has been updated, but the faucet, as well as the corner lavatory, are still made by Kohler.

The faucet is a Kohler K-8046 and is available with either a pop-up drain or grid drain as well as four handle styles. We will be going with the grid drain and cross handles in chrome. With all these featues the number is K-8046-3A-CP.

The original drain that was with ours is no longer made so the plan is to use it instead of the grid drain (ours had a stopper). Also, ours has on overflow drain and that feature is no longer made. So, I will have to adapt the new drain to work with the overflow. Something like this lavatory overflow system should do the trick and I know how to make it.

Well, till next time...

Larry ~

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Duct Tape and Up-Dates

Is there anything Duct Tape can't do?

A few days ago SWMBO noticed the screen in the bathroom storm window had popped out. Turns out the cats would lay in the window they'd push on the screen. Eventually it just popped out. Since this is on the second story, and the patio is below it, SWMBO was worried that one of the cats might fall out while stretching during a nap.

Today I fixed it. The little, round, rubber gasket was still in place, but about 8" needed to be pushed back in. Once finished I noticed that about 1.5" of this gasket was missing on each side of the corner.

I was not able to find the spare roll of the gasket I keep on hand and then it hit me...

Duct Tape!!

I got a small length of the gray stuff and rolled it into a cigarette shape.

Using the handy little tool used to put the gasket in place allowed the Duct tape to go in easily.

I don't think it looks bad, do you?

On the house front, I think tomorrow will be my last day dealing with the drywall mud. All that's left to do is sand and then fill those little spots that seem to show up.

Here's a hint...use a flash light to to find the imperfections. It's easy to do!

Turn off any bright lighting in the work area - before you begin sanding. If you're using a hand-held light, just hold the bulb against the drywall and glide it along the walls. If you’re using the flashlight, just “skip” the light “across” the surface that you’re inspecting. You’ll be “amazed” at how well you can see the defects when you look – BEFORE YOU SAND. The defects will literally “jump-out” at you.

I've known about doing this for years, but I took the above quote from this site.

The corner where the lavatory will go.

One of the back corners.

And the closet.

Now remember, I told you that from now on no more large, panoramic, type pictures of the kitchen will be shown. However, as promised, some pictures will be up-loaded to give you an idea of how it's going.

Up for viewing is the first look at the stain on some of the woodwork.

It took quite an effort to get some halfway decent pictures. It never ceases to amaze me how much a digital camera can bleach things out and pic up what the naked eye can't seem to see. Bellow are the only pictures that turned out 'okay'.

Well, what do you think?

I think it looks rich. My mother, and SWMBO's mother, have given their seals of approval. I was really worried that SWMBO would think it was too dark. Turns out she likes it!!!

Close-up of the same spot.

The end cap that faces west.

We are also going to test the shellac on this spot.

And another close-up.

Yes, there is a little hole there at the base. The previous owner's had a telephone cable coming through it, but no phone hooked up.

At this point you can start seeing some of the flaws. Just keep this thought in the back of your mind while looking at this picture, and future ones.

Sitting too close to the stage at the ballet ruins the illusion.

Well, till next time...

Larry ~

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bon Appétit!!

I love to cook.

There, I said it.

In reality I'm a rather good chef. In hindsight I should have gone to culinary school. Since high school I had always wanted to attend culinary school, not just any school either, but Le Cordon Bleu (preferably the Paris campus). I have always wanted to get 'Le Grand Diplôme' from this institution. Now I've learned there is one in St.Louis MO. Go figure...I use to live outside of St.Louis at one time an was looking for a career change!

However, the affiliate schools (all those in the US) are supposedly not as good as the one in Paris or London. To go to the one in Paris, and get the 'Le Grand Diplôme' (IIRC it's a 9 month program) would cost about $55K and that doesn't include room and board. I'm not sure if the actual 'Le Grand Diplôme' is even offered here in the US. The school in St.Louis only awards a 'Professional Culinary Arts Certificate'.


The reason I'm bringing this up, and somewhat ranting, is that the kitchen is getting closer and closer to getting finished and I'm having major withdrawals. I have not seen my good quality kitchen crap in a long, long time. I think my body senses this.

So, about two weeks ago I decided to cook a gourmet meal for the first time in what seems like forever. Last Thursday and Friday, SWMBO was out of town so I figured her coming home was a good excuse to do it. Saturday night was the night.

I spent a long time Saturday just trying to locate our 2nd tier china (our Cordon Bleu set) as well as the linen napkins, crystal glasses and nice candle holders. I also had to clean up the breakfast nook table and chairs to keep them ready.

With everything set and ready to go this is the masterpiece I endeavored to make.

Harts of Romain salad with Pear & Raspberries - drizzled with Champagne Vinaigrette. The Salad was followed by Broiled Oysters in Champagne/Parmesan sauce. The main entree consisted of Roasted Cornish Game Hen on a bed of Pan Roasted Potatoes infused with Truffle Oil accompanied by a Tian Provençal (Zucchini & Tomato Gratin) finished off with a dessert course of fresh fruit and cheese.

Following are a few photos for you to enjoy. Actually, I'm not happy with the pictures of the food. There is an index of prefixed 'modes' for our camera and I decided to try the one labeled 'cuisine' for the first time. It bleached out the food!!!

Honestly, the food looked a lot better in real life than in the pictures. Everything had a nice color and browning - honest!!. If you don't believe me just ask SWMBO!!

This is our little tavern table given to us as a house warming present, my parents, when we moved in. They also gave us the chairs. However, the table is backwards...there is a small drawer in the front.

On the table you will find a nice French Baguette. The little ramekin holds seasoned olive oil for dipping. There are also some wedges of baby Swiss and Munster.

Serving as the centerpiece, and our dessert, is a small selection of fruit. I had wanted fresh figs but those are extremely rare to get in our area. There is a store that has them, periodically, but I wasn't able to get by pick some up because SWMBO came home early and threw a kink in the plans.

Here's the salad, but the Champagne Vinaigrette has not been added yet.

Next up is the Broiled Oysters in Champagne Parmesan sauce.

I'm REALLY disappointed in this picture. The actual dish was bubbly and nicely browned.

This was by fare SWMBO's favorite dish of the night. The sauce was extremely silky and succulent.

Let's take a quick break from the food for a second.

This is a Tangine - every home should have one. These little doohickeys are some of THE BEST cookers in the world. You will not believe how moist, and succulent, your food can be till you use one of these babies.

This is the Cornish Game Hen with Pan Roasted potatoes infused with Truffle Oil that was roasted in the Tangine.

Absolutely perfect (!) and the potatoes had a velvety, buttery, texture that was out of this world.

The Tian Provençal.

This was an excellent accompaniment to the hen and potatoes.

The caramelized Vidalia Onion that made up the bottom 'crust' of this dish imparted the perfect balance of sweetness to it.

Note that the Zucchini, towards the top of the dish, is more brown than the rest. keep this in mind for my next rant.

And there you have it all together.

Again, the camera washed out the colors, especially on the hen. On the bright side, the hen was so well roasted it just about melted on the tongue. for the rant...

Remember the comment I made in regard to the browning of the Tian?


I hate our range!!!

What should have taken me a total of about 2 to 2-1/2 hours to make took well over 3-1/2!!! The electric range we have came with the house and is from the 70s. In the beginning it worked great, but over the past couple of years it's started to get worse. It's hard to regulate the burners (like most electric models) and the stove no longer cooks evenly and we are not too sure of the temps.

As most cooks will tell you "gas is where it's at".

So, we are looking at getting a gas range (keep this in mind).

I would love to get a professional grade range for home use, such as a Viking VGSC or Wolf R304, but the average price for one of those is $5K for a 30" rang. Either would have to be in Black though. While I love to cook, the price is a bit steep...but then again, if you did something to make money using it...... (thanks for the thoughts Sandy!)

Now if money, and space, was not an object I would have originally thought an AGA Classic Cooker would fit the bill. It retails for just a measly $18,553.00 and again, it would need to be in Black or Hunter Green (it is English you know).

Then I saw this bad boy...

It's the 'Château 150' from La Cornue in France. Heck, why would you let a meager $36,000 (that's the starting price) stand between you and your culinary creations!!

Anyone out there have one of these they'd like to donate to the cause? I would name the kitchen after you for this puppy!

Okay, let's get back to Earth.

You are going to start noticing less detailed posts, especially pictures, of the kitchen. We are getting close to having the kitchen back together and at an 85% completion rate. I will throw a few tidbits your way every now-n-then, but I want the big picture to be a surprise.

Okay, I hear you asking "Why just 85%?". Good question.

The floor and cabinets are going to have to wait till Spring. There's more than a couple reasons for this but the main one is the floor. I don't remember if I told you about our problem with the range and the floor, so here it goes.

Back in May a friend's son graduated from high school. It wasn't until July that we were finally able to give him the card in person. Well, when we went to get the card all we found was the envelope - the card, as well as what we were giving him inside it, was missing. We figured out that it fell behind the counter or the range. We moved the range out, but didn't find the card.

When I went to push the range back in place it wouldn't go back in. The flooring was so bad it was collapsing under the weight on the right side at the space opening. The only thing left to do was place a large, long, plank on the floor; get my 3-ton floor jack (with a board to distribute the weight of the range while lifting); jack the thing up and roll it back out. I then built a 1/2 thick plywood floor cover for the space. With this in place the stove when back in easily.

So, we now know that the floor under the range has gotten worse. In order to fix it right all the cabinets, sink and appliances will have to come out. The prep area floor will then be repaired. Since we were waiting till Spring to replace the cabinets we just figured that it would be easier to fix the floor then.

What this boils down to is that the kitchen 'should' be completed, with the exception of the floor and cabinets, before the holidays. This 85% completion will allow us to get somewhat back to normal for the Holidays.

One last thing... We have decided to hold off on painting the house till Spring (I'm holding out hope we might still get it done before November). It has been too wet to work on stripping and painting and we have read it is to be a wet Fall as well. I really do not want to get the house stripped and then have all that wood exposed to the elements. True, there is a lot exposed now, but it's less than the whole house.

Oh, one last thing. It has also been so wet that the septic tank pumper can't come and empty the tank so it can be filled in. Right now we have no idea when it will get done.

Hey - just so you know, I hope you enjoyed the food segment. I'm thinking of doing this more often. The next gourmet dish to attempt might be Caille en Sarcophage.

Well, till next time...

Larry ~

Dry, Dry, Damned Mud!!

I thought watching paint dry was pretty bad...watching mud dry is worse.

In the last post it was indicated mudding would commence on Tuesday the 18th. It did. The problem is that we have been having rain storms and muggy heat at the same time. So, what would typically be a 24 hour dry time for the mud (and believe me, my first coat is not a thick one)took about 72 hours.

I wasn't even able to mow the lawn until Friday and that took all day!! And I just remembered...I haven't weed-whacked yet. OY!!!!

So, due to other things, such as yard work and some junk sorting (also known as house cleaning), the next coat of mud will be applied Monday.

This is the mud in the powder room on the second day in the morning.

You can still see where it is damp.

The other corner.

And finally the foyer closet.

At this point we are not to have any rain for a while. So, all the sanding and mudding should be done this week.

If you remember, I stated that I hat to mud and tape ceilings. I really hate it when it is a butt joint. Since there is one big butt joint down the center of the powder room ceiling (length wise) I might skim coat the thing like the kitchen walls. In fact, the whole powder room might get this treatment - it would help give the walls the same feel and texture as the kitchen walls.

Speaking of the kitchen...

I'm getting ready to write-up a new post dealing with the kitchen, but it will have a different bent to it. Be sure to watch for it!

Well, till next time...

Larry ~

Monday, August 17, 2009

Slimmed...or Should I Say 'Gooed'

MAN!! I'm so tired, and sore, I almost forgot this update.

Today the sewer pipe, and gray water pipe, that went to the powder room came out.

It took most of the day - that was a real surprise.

The way the sewer pipe was placed in the floor joists made it really hard to get to. There were water pipes, a gas line and live power lines in the way. It was not fun using a steel tool, that was difficult to maneuver, in the same spot that we still have live knob-n-tube lines.

Not to mention the shear force it took to hoist the cutter and turn it - remember those itty bitty handles?


This is the main junction where all the sewer lines converge and empty into the main line going outside.

I forgot to get a 'before' picture. However, if you look real close you can see where the pipe has been cut.

All that extra power line you see is live, and not a problem. We are getting ready for a new breaker box and we want to make sure we have enough line to work with.

Did any of you notice the cream colored block between the pipe and the wall? That is part of the original wood trim. Not sure where it came from though - probably from the main bath. All of the original wood trim in that room is gone.

This is where the line separates into the line to the toilet and the line to the lavatory. The smaller galvanized pipe branching to the right is the one to the lavatory.

Here's where I got slimmed...or should I say 'gooed'.

Do you see the nail to the right on the joist? That's the spot where I cut the galvanized pipe with the sawzall. About half way through the pipe a black, slimy goo started to ooze out. It reminded me of crude oil. Not a lot came out, but enough for me to notice.

I got gooed when I cut the main Tee, not the galvanized pipe. The cut end of the galvanized pipe (the part still attached to the Tee) twisted downward while cutting the pipe going to the left of the Tee. All of a sudden a black, slimy plug popped out and stagnate gray water - with additives - drenched me.

Note there are no pictures of it - there is a reasons for that - it was too disgusting and I didn't want to get it on the camera.

Did you see the knob-n-tube? That is the last piece of original wiring in the lower part of the house and yes, it is live. This is where it got dicey using the steel cutter and the sawzall.

And here is the beast of a tool getting ready to do it's job.

The part that goes up over the pipe had to be detached from the main part. While that part hangs down I would have to hold the main part in one hand and thread the two bolts through the holes where it attaches. I hope that description made sense!! You can see the bolts in the picture.

You then turn that little handle to move the other two cutting wheels on the main body up towards the pipe.

As you tighten the handle your suppose to move the main body to the right and left in order to score the pipe. The water line to the right made this extremely hard to do. There were even a couple of spots that couldn't be cut because of it.

If your lucky the pipe will 'snap' along the score line and the pipe will break. You can see the break in this picture.

There were a couple of spots where it didn't break, but the cutter wheels tore holes in the pipe.

And here is the first break.

Note how thin the pipe is. Evidently this indicates that it is an older version of CI pipe.

And here is the break at the Tee.

Now the first section could be removed.

That's the new, shiny, cap.

Eventually the new sewer pipe will be attached here.

The shiny stuff that looks like a leak on the other pipe is not a leak. It's some sort of compound that had been used to patch a leak years ago. The run-off just dried shiny.

You NEVER know what might turn up in our house.... (evil laugh).

This is the original lead boot that connected to the toilet.

The force I had to use to cut the CI pipe caused the boot to twist and pop out.

This is the main part of the pipe.

This section could not be cut into pieces due to the cramped location of it. So, it had to be slid out in one piece.

Note the wire holding it - it eventually broke and the pipe crashed to the ground. Luckily nothing was broken except a piece of molding, but it wasn't original to the house.

OY!! The paint color used on the ceiling in the basement looks dreadful in this picture. Guess digital cameras do see things in a different way than the human eye. In person the color looks like Mahogany and not as reddish.

And there you have it - the sewer line to the powder room toilet.

That smaller pipe is the fitting that made the 90 degree turn up to the lavatory.

You might notice that the galvanized pipe is not there. It is still in the basement, on the floor. It is going to have to be cut into pieces in order to go out the door. I was just too hot, tired and gooey to cut it up today. Besides, I want to make sure I get the part that says 'Belle Plaine' cut out neatly.

Tomorrow, lawn mowing and mudding. It rained most of the week-end and today so I wasn't able to mow.

Well, till next time...

Larry ~

Friday, August 14, 2009

We're Famous - Well Kind of....

This is a little belated, but what the hay!!

Last month I received an e-mail from Taylen over at CalFinder.

Turns out we made their "10 DIY Blogs on Our Recommended List".

Isn't that cool or what?!

Till next time...

Larry ~

All Day in the Closet

I spent all day in the foyer closet - not fun in this heat and humidity. Did I ever tell you all that the house doesn't have central heat and air? We do have a window unit in the bedroom though.

This is by far the smallest place in the house that you can enter. Guess I should consider myself lucky not to be claustrophobic.

Like normal, before putting the drywall up I noticed a few prep details that had not been done. So, these little details took a few extra hours out of the day.

In order to attach the drywall, without removing the door jamb, an extra stud had to be installed on the inner right side.

BTW - due to the plaster keys sticking out of the lath, the stud (in fact all the new studs) had to be ripped in order to fit.

The base of the same stud.

On the left inner side I needed to add another one to compensate for a stud that did not come out flush with the old lath.

Go figure...I turn my back and the inner wall gets vandalized!

This was my fault - I should never have left the sharpi with a blond.

SWMBO thought it might soften me up to move the light switch in the powder room to another wall!!! That ain't going to happen. Once this house kills me her new man can do it.

This is going to be the best looking part of the drywall in the closet. Even the hole for the light fixture turned out great!

In case your wondering, the 'X' marks the spot where the coat rail might go.

Here is where it starts to get ugly.

The wall to the right is made up of scraps. Since it is an inner wall, and I was extremely low on drywall, I used the left over 3/8ths from the ceiling as well as some left over from another project.

The scratched/dented spots won't be a problem to fix.

I almost didn't show this picture - it's just too embarrassing. But I told myself that if this blog was to be done I would show the good, the bad, and the ugly. Here we have two of the three.

This piece of drywall started out as a single sheet, however, it wouldn't make the bend in the door way. There just wasn't enough inner space to get it in there and make the turn. So, the drywall had to be cut in half.

Looks like a I had a four martini lunch doesn't it?

I was just too tired, and frustrated, to go back out to the garage and get the drywall ruler. So I free handed it. Looks like something Frankenstein would love doesn't it?

On the bright side, it is just a closet and it IS fixable.

On the powder room front...

I used some plant stands to place the lavatory in the corner. Can you believe that it came up to the line?!

Sure looks tiny doesn't it?

Just another angle.

Once it gets installed it will actually be attached to the wall and sitting on a stand. You'll just have to wait and see what we have in mind.

In case your wondering...the marks on the lavatory are actually on masking tape. I'm getting ready to send some pictures of the lavatory to a plumbing specialist. The marks are showing the inch, and half inch, marks.

The original faucet is not repairable, so the hunt is on for a replacement. The bad thing is is that it's not the standard center-to-center space.

Hey!! Remember yesterday when I mentioned people leaving their marks? I found one!!

Not sure if this mark was meant to be here or was already on a piece of wood they decided to use.

Anyway, the mark says 'Days', I think. For some reason it rings a bell, guess I need to check the historical records.

Have you ever wondered what all the lath from two small rooms looks like?

To give you an idea, the burn pit is right at 8' x 10'.

This'll get torched if it doesn't rain this week-end (it's suppose to though).

And here's a parting shot for you.

Any of you know what it is?

I'll give you a hint...

It'll be used during the next step in the demolition process.

Well, till next time...

Larry ~