Saturday, August 28, 2010

So Close...

Hello Everyone!

We made some major headway the past couple of days. Not as much as I had hoped for but more than expected considering the problems we encountered Thursday. I'll get to those later.

First up is the leaded glass window that needed to be removed. This was super simple considering the wood strips holding it in basically fell out with little effort.

Here it is in all it's glory.

You can kind of see where the right side bends upward.

Now I need to find someway to store it till Winter.

Look to the left of the picture and you can see how the window lays flat. The right side is bent upward by about 2 inches.

One good thing though, it bent down easily and is now flat! All I had to do was gently press it down.

If only the broken panes could be fixed this easily easily.

The gaping maul on the first landing.

Sorry the picture's so dark, but the trees are better to look at any way.

Next step was to remove the window frame.

This was a bit tricky. It's hard to explain but the window is not held in place like normal (well, normal to me anyway).

The window slides into the opening from the inside of the house. The window trim on the outside holds it in and the trim moulding on the inside locks it in place.

Basically you remove the inner moulding, tilt the window frame inside and lift out.

Before this could be done though the moulding had to be removed.

One would think that removing the moulding would be an easy thing to do - au contraire mon ami.

This is 100+ year old moulding. It is very brittle. One MUST be very delicate when dealing with it.

First you need to get rid of any paint around the area where the moulding meets the opening.

Here I used the heat gun.

The heat gun also helps the loosen the original stain as well.

Once this is done you need to get the thinnest putty knife you can find and look for the 'sweet' spot. The sweet spot is a tiny gap along the area when the two pieces of wood meet. It might be no bigger than a gnats hair, but there will be one.

Once found, very gently push the putty knife into it. DON'T hammer it in(!!!) you might run the risk of damaging the wood. It might take some effort put it will go in.

Once it's in, very carefully work it up and down in order to break the seal.

Once the seal is broken you should be able to pry the moulding up enough to get a thicker putty knife in there.

DO NOT force the moulding at this time!!! This is where most people screw up ans break the moulding. Old wood is extremely fragile and breaks easily - trust me on this one folks, we ruined enough moulding in our first house before we learned.

Once you can get a larger putty knife in between the two pieces of wood carefully pry just enough to so you can locate the nails. Once the nails are found use a small pry bar to pry the moulding at the nails' various locations.

Once the nails are for the most part out you ill need to deal with the one were the mouldings meet. You can see the spot in this picture.

Luckily I didn't have to deal with four pieces of trim, only three. If there were four you have to do something different.

Anyway, at this point don't try and pry the last nail out, just get some of it out. If you try to pry it all out you run the risk of crushing and/or splintering the mitered ends.

What you need to do is grab the moulding at the base and pull down and out at the same time. This will been the nail downward and out. look closely at the picture and you can see where the vertical piece of moulding is coming down and out out.

Once the trim moulding is removed don't try and hammer the nails out from the back. If you do, chances are you will pop a divot of wood out with it. Don't ask me why this happens but most of the time it does.

Instead, take a pair of pliers and pull the nail out from the back. This will leave the surface you see unmarred.

And here's the frame.

The frame is sideways with the bottom on the right. Note how bad the bottom is and this side was face inward.

I'll cover this in more detail in an upcoming post. We have rain coming so I need to fix the window ASAP!!!

Don't look at all the crud on the white inner sill, look at the crud where the window had sat.

There was a large amount of dirt, dead bugs, old paint, and unknown bits there. All of this helped contribute to the damage of the lower sash.

Here's all the component parts.

The moulding is on top of the glass and the nails are still in it. The thin white items are the small wood trim strips that held the glass (one is broken).

The interesting thing about the glass is the lead came, it is rounded - not flat.

This will help determine the age of the window. We'll get into this in more detail later so stay tuned.

See all that dirt?!

Remember earlier when I said we ran into problems? For starters I ended up having to run the dog to the vet. She has done something to her back and now has a bulging disk! She is doing better now but the Vet said "no activity at all for a week". This is easier said than done.

We also ran into a problem with the large scaffolding. The problem was along the lines of a Rubik's cube problem. I'm not even sure if I could explain what the problem was or how we fixed it, but it's fixed. Unfortunately it took over three hours!

So in all we only got about 4 hours of work in on the house Thursday.

By the end of work Thursday this is where we ended up.

We now have three levels of scaffolding up and have added a couple of boards to create safety rails at the top.

And here is where we ended on Friday.

We are still trying to figure out why we didn't get that white patch, to the right of the big windows, done. Some of the other white patches are boards to be replaced.

Here's a better shot.

We are so close to having the west wall finished!!

Monday we will add the fourth level to the scaffolding and bet the rest of the wall finished. Once that's done we get to start on the soffit!!! Oy vey!!!

I'll leave you with the following picture.

It's a long drop to the ground....

If you look at the scaffolding in the previous picture you'll notice that the platform extends almost 3 feet on either side. I'm sitting on this part looking down.

Till next time...

Larry ~

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Get the Lead Out!!

Hello Everyone!

We are still plugging along. We did have a rain delay Tuesday but I'm not complaining, we need the rain. The yard needs to be mowed now and that will take some time - oh well.

As the title says "Get the Lead Out!!"

True, we are removing every spec of lead paint we can, but that's not what the title is alluding to.

However, speaking of lead paint...

I had my lead level checked at the Doc's the other day and finally got the results back. My lead level is elevated 2 points above normal. I don't think that's too bad considering the use of heat guns on this paint and the fact that I help my father, periodically, in his lead smelting business.

Anyway, what the title is in regard to is the old lead glass window in the first landing of the stairwell.

This is the one.

As you can see there are already two broken pieces. Also, the wood moulding holding it in is SO bad that the paint is all that's really holding it in. As I scraped the window moved.

I'm not sure it will survive the sanding process so it's got to come out.

In it's place we'll install a plain piece of glass until one of two things happen; it gets repaired or gets replaced by stained glass.

This will be an interesting project I can work on during the Winter. As Gary, over at 'This Old Crack house' says (albeit about gutters) "[it] is an art form that I am willing to learn".

I will tackle the removal tomorrow so stayed tuned.

Here's a bit more of what got done.

The triangular section of the porch roof took a total of 10+ hours and thanks to the tightness of the corner I couldn't get every spec.

You can also see that the paint around the window is, for the most part, gone as well. The Paint Shaver doesn't allow me to get right up to the trim edge so we scrape out the areas around them.

Tomorrow there should be a rather large swath of paint gone.

This is the area the father-n-law concentrated on. Again, the areas around the windows, as well as the spots where the Paint Shaver can't be used, got worked over.

Did you notice the long white line under the main window?

SWMBO asked me to leave a patch of paint so she can try her hand at the Paint Shaver (that ought to be fun).

I will leave you with the following picture it's of our 'newest' problem.

And here it is - a rather large separation point.

This is the upper most section of the porch roof where it 'should' be snug against the house. The gap is about 1/2 an inch wide at the top. It is proof positive that the porch is sagging.

With a light I looked inside the gap as best I could. Not much was seen but what was there was not good - there was a sliver of daylight coming through a crack somewhere along the part where the roof meets the house.

We will need to address this when the porch gets a face-lift.

Well, that's about it for now; I'm tired and sore and ready for some much needed sleep.

Till next time...


Monday, August 23, 2010

"Go West, Young Man"

Due to unforeseen circumstances the new scaffolding did not get used today.

However, I did try to finish scraping the fishscale at the very top of the south dormer window.

Note - I said 'try'.

It did not happen. I got some of the window scraped but not the fishscale. The ladder platform had to be moved out too close to the edge and the ladder was too 'iffy'

Have you ever watched those movies like 'Final Destination' and the characters could 'feel' something ominous about to happen? That's what it was like.

I knew that if I stayed up there any longer something bad was going to happen. Even the hair on the back of my neck was on edge.

I couldn't get off that ladder fast enough.

Instead, I heeded a paraphrased piece of advice given by Horace Greeley in 1838: "Go West, Young Man."

So I started on the west side of the house.

It doesn't look like I got very far but keep in mind the nails had to be set. I also had some mechanical problems with the shop-vac which slowed me down.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better. We plan to move the big scaffolding to the west side and add wheels. Once this is all together the clapboard should go a lot faster.

Well, that's about it for now.

Till next time...


Friday, August 20, 2010

Wingo! She-she-sshhaa...

As promised here's the info on the sweet deal from Craigslist.

Wingo! Scaffolding!!

Sorry Jan - it's not a manual man lift...

Okay, so you all might not be as excited as I am about this but believe me, it's a big deal. As you have heard me say we need something to make scraping and painting the very top of the dormers a bit more safer and easier. The only thing we could come up with was scaffolding.

Since we really didn't want to move the big scaffolding up onto the porch roof we had to come up with something. So for the past several days I've been looking at narrow scaffolding. Everything we have found started at $200 for one set that measured about 5' tall x 5' wide x 2-1/2' deep. One set was a bit taller but more expensive. In order to get to the top of the dormers we would need at least two sets and that would cost at least $400 without tax.

So, during a break yesterday afternoon I took a gamble and looked on Craigslist. You will NOT believe what I found!!!! Not only one set of narrow scaffolding but three!! Best part - the owner only wanted $100!!!!


We lucked out and got three times the amount for half the price!!!

On top of this the scaffolding is a heavier quality than the stuff we were looking at.

With money in hand my father-n-law and I set out for a town named Kingman, about 67 miles west of us to get our treasure.

And here it is!!

Isn't it wonderful?!

It is old, and well used, but it's got many years of use still in it.

What you see here is a major bonus - the owner made a storage holder for all of it. That's the main thing in the picture. The cross-arms are behind it on the ground.

Now, on top of the scaffolding, cross-arms and a storage holder we also got wheels for it. These are not the smaller wheels you get with the typical narrow scaffolding but the big ones you use with the large scaffolding. We don't have any of these for the big set so they will be handy. Best part about these, they sell for about $50 a pop new and $30 used!

Okay, now for the down side.

The scaffolding had been stored outside for at least 3 years so it is rusty. It is also the older type that uses wing-nuts and bolts to secure the cross-arms. The wing-nuts were rusted and seized to the bolts.

Not a big deal though. I generously soaked the wing-nuts and bolts in PB Blaster and let them set while I had lunch.

About an hour later a got busy un-seizing the wing nuts. It took all afternoon, as well as a lot of elbow grease and brute force, but they are now separated. I think I might use regular bolts instead of the wing-nuts though; the wing-nuts are rather knackered.

Here it is in the storage holder waiting for use.

Hopefully we'll get to play with them this week-end.

When we are finished with the house, this stuff will come in handing for working on the ceilings in the house. The type of scaffolding was actually created for indoor use. It was made narrow in order to go through doors. We will also be able to use it in the stairwell.

When not in use with the house these things can also be used as rolling storage bins for shops. I plan to use mine for wood storage.

Some time you have a day when your wearing milk-bone underwear and the world is filled with hungry dogs. And then you have days when it's peaches and cream. Today we got our peaches and cream with a cherry on top!

Till next time...


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quick Fishscale Up-date

Hey Everyone -

Thought I'd give you all a quick up-date.

We didn't get to work on the outside of the house due to rain on Tuesday, but Wednesday and today went rather well, even though we got a late start.

The fishscale on the South dormer is over 90% done.

The only reason the rest isn't scraped is due to the ladder being separated into two pieces and the lateness of the day. Tomorrow it will get done.

Speaking of tomorrow... I snagged a sweet deal on Craigslist; a REAL SWEET deal. It will make the higher areas easier to work with. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait till tomorrow to see it - ROAD TRIP!!!

I'll leave you with this picture. Consider it something like the 'Where's Waldo' game.

Look for the fishscales that are 'darker'. Those fishscales are the ones where the Emerald Green paint soaked into the scales like a stain.

Also, we found evidence that the molding was painted the same color.

Anyway, that's about it for now.

Till next time...

Larry ~

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Hello Everyone!

We've finally had a break in the weather and have even had some rain!!! In fact, it's raining right now - that's why I'm writing this post so early.

Monday found us tackling a job that has been dreaded since day one - the fishscales.

In order to scrape these we had to come up with some sort of scaffolding system. Ladder jacks came to mind so we decided to try them.

As you all know I hate ladders. Well, this system not only utilizes one ladder but three!!!

It's an easy enough scaffolding system to use but we sill ran into problems. The main issue was that when I stood on the ladder jack platform my nose was just a couple of inches from the house. This would not work - I need more room than this to work in. Also, the system, while stable, was just a little too 'iffy' for me.

So instead we are using the platform as a tool caddy and and using the main ladders as our work platforms.

Here's the whole set-up.

My father-n-law is on the left.

While setting up the ladder jacks we did notice that it's going to be a trick to get to the moulding along the roof edge up there. With this in mind we are going to have to figure something out in order to scrape, and paint, the very top safely. SWMBO's father suggested we just lay on the roof and hang over! Instead we are going to look at assembling some light scaffolding on the roof platforms.

As we scraped the fishscale more of the deep Emerald Green paint showed up.

We do intend to paint fishscale in two different colors, but Emerald Green isn't one of those.

While we're on the fishscale here's a picture of the typical repairs needed.

Fortunately there isn't a lot of fishscale missing. A major bonus for us, that will make this job easier, is that we found the original templates used to make them. This'll be covered in another post.

I'll leave you with the following pictures. SWMBO thought it would be interesting if I took some pictures from the top of the ladder, so here they are.

Till next time...

Larry ~

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Scrape or Die

Hello Everyone -

If you recall from the last post I was finishing up the fascia section between columns 2 & 3. I also predicted it would take another week to finish the rest of the fascia.

Friday went as planed and I was able to get the section finished right up to where the curve starts.

Then the schedule went to hell in a hand basket. Saturday and Sunday were so hot we bagged it and did some other things around the house that needed done. Not really a big deal since I try to keep a slower pace on the week-ends. Then Sunday night I remembered that I needed to go into the big city the next day; so Monday was a wash as well.

Then Tuesday started off with high heat warnings.

Today was our third consecutive day this week with high heat warnings with a heat index of 110+.

I was bound and determined NOT to keep all of this preventing me from finishing the fascia.

During the past three days I have been working on the curve and the southern facing fascia. These are the areas that have absolutely no shade - period.

All I could think of was the desert columns from the movie 'March or Die' (hence the title).

This is one of my all time favorite movies and as a Kid I would often pretend I was in the French Foreign Legion. There was even a time, right after I got the boot from the Army, I seriously consider joining the FFL as a training officer. SWMBO threatened to do bodily harm if I did.

Anyway, in the movie one must literally 'March or Die'; the column would not wait for you. If you fell out, chances are you would die.

The scene I thought about most showed one of the Legionnaires falling out. The following is not that scene but it does get the point across

Basically, the past few days have been my personal battle of wills against the house and the elements.

And yes, I did have a wet sun shield attached to my hat.

On with the pictures....

Tuesday was spent on the main part of the curve and here it is finished.

As alluded to in the last post we found a possible problem.

And here it is.

Notice the nasty crack? That's just the tip of the ice-berg.

What doesn't show up well in any of the pictures I've taken is that the extreme right side edge of the curve is now a very shallow 'S'. In other words this part of the lower fascia is getting crushed.

Turns out that what can be seen is only about 1/4 of an inch thick!! It is not as thick as the straight runs.

The weight, and sagging, has caused several cracks along the fascia as well.

Our first instinct was to replace it. On further thought however, we will wait to do this until we replace the porch columns. We need to raise this section in order to do what we want to do and chances are the repair would be damaged when we do this. Besides, it's been there for 100+ years, what's another year or two?

Here's another one of the bigger cracks.

For those of you interested you can see six nail heads (one is in the crack). There are nail sets like this spaced out about every foot. Before using the Paint Shaver I had to set every single one of these, as well as all the other nails!

Let's back track a bit and look at the spot where the rot was removed.

Here it is.

What we need to look closely at is the three elements that make up the crown moulding of the upper fascia.

First you have the lower base - the fascia; then you have the crown topped off with the upper base.

Normally these three parts converge to form the triangle. For some reason this moulding doesn't.

Lets have a closer look.

The section outlined in Blue is the primary base, the fascia. The green is the crown and the Red is the top base.

Note the gap in the spot where the Blue and Red should meet. This would be okay if both pieces were attached to something solid and stable but these aren't. The Blue is attached to the core or the fascia so its okay. What concerns me is that the Red part appears to be attached to nothing put the original shake shingles! This is neither solid nor stable!!

For the life of me I have yet to figure out how they attached the top base - there are no nails going through it up into the shingles. So this leads me to believe that there HAS to be stabilization blocks along the primary base. So far I haven't found any yet. This should be interesting.

This is as far as I got Wednesday.

I know it doesn't look like a lot but it took over six ours to do this.

The long, flat, section doesn't take any time at all using the Paint Shaver, once the nails are set (this can take a while).

What eats up the time and energy is the moulding! You can see the thin strip I left to be finished today.

In this close up you can see the moulding but the contours are not all that obvious.

The white part is 'cove' and I had to switch from using a regular scraper to a special contoured one.

On top of this you can only heat, and scrape, a strip about 1" x 2" at a time.

Here's where I spent my day today - all 7 hours - in direct sun light with a heat index of 110+.

Like the title says: "Scrape or Die".

And now it's finished - for the most part.

The underside of the fascia needs to be done as well as the west side. The west side will get done when we start on the main west wall; hopefully this will be next week.

All I know is I'm hot and tired and have drank enough water to float an aircraft carrier. At least I won this battle of wills though.

Till next time...


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Still Scraping Along

Finally!!!! Today we dropped below the three digit mark!!!

SWMBO even took the day off and we got about six hours of scraping in.

Believe it or not your not having a bad trip, this is me and yes that is a tie-dye shirt!

I'm using the Paint Shaver Pro. This handy tool sure saves us time. Unfortunately the moulding makes up for the saved time due to hand scraping.

Do you see the section between the 2nd & 3rd columns to the right? This is all we got done today, along with about two feet to the right of column two.

At this rate it will take another week to get the rest of the porch soffit done.

Take a close look at the picture and you'll see a red arrow pointing to a red circle. Inside that circle is a hole that goes all the way through the soffit and it's been somewhat of a mystery.

Here's a better view of the 'mystery hole'.

Like I said, we're not sure what it is exactly but we're about 90% sure it's an opening for the original gas line that went into the house. On the other side of the soffit you can see a paint scar, along the porch ceiling, that goes from this hole to one in the ceiling where it meets the east wall.

If it is where the gas pipe came in then this is the first time I've seen it enter a building this way.

Oh well.

Before I forget, we found a potential 'problem' we weren't expecting. I'll find out more about it tomorrow.

Till next time...

Larry ~

Monday, August 2, 2010

Dirt and Columns

Heya Everyone!!

How's the heat going? We are in the low triple digits still with a heat index between 110 & 112. We even had a major heat advisory issued for us this morning!

Today was also a sucky day to be doing what my father and I did today - dirt moving.

If you remember, about this time last year we had our sewer line re-done and hocked up to the city sewer. Since then we have had a large pile of dirt, and a few other little piles we hadn't gotten to, in the west yard. Today we worked on them.

Yes, we are nut - doing this type of work on a day like this. At least we started fairly early and were finished about noon.

My father drove the tractor and I used the hoe, rake and shovel to help level as well as cleaned the junk debris that was in the dirt.

For those of you who know me I'm a HUGE history buff. One of my favorite periods to study is Ancient Mesopotamia - specifically Sumeria and Assyria. I also enjoy studying about Ancient Egypt as well as Rome.

Today however my mind drifted to Sumerian farmers. Perhaps it was the heat and the dirt but my mind kept going back to them.

While playing in the dirt, with the heat beating down, I couldn't help but think of those ancient farmers toiling in the dirt in one of the most harsh areas of the world.

My father worked in the tobacco fields and cotton fields of Georgia when he was a kid in the '30s and '40s. The method of farming they used was not much different than what the Sumerians used. Dad even remembers using mules to pull the plows.

And here we are today with air-conditioned tractors and combines!!

Anyway, here are the pictures for you.

This is dad with his 50s tractor and yes, that is the original high-loader.

The pile that was left over from the sewer main hook-up is almost gone.

And here he is taking care of the scar from when we tried to fix the septic system a few years ago.

Now that we have given the sewer trench almost a year to settle we can fill the depression with the dirt.

Here's where the new line connected to the house.

To the right, and the biggest reason for smoothing the dirt here, is where a landscaping experiment took place. Let's just say it's better we not talk about it.

Looking West along the new sewer line trench.

Looking South along the line of the original septic system repair.

And here is the area where the contractor removed the last of the foundation from the building we had to tear down.

Now we have nice, flat, spots. It will make mowing a lot easier!!

As an afternoon project I tackled something interesting - a porch column.

Remember a couple of posts back when I said we needed to plan in case the porch could not be re-done next Summer? Well, I spruced up one of the columns so SWMBO would get an idea of what I want to do.

The new columns will be similar to the experimental one and will give us an idea of the 'over all' look.

This is one of the columns as they are now.

Not to whoopee looking is it? At least this is one of the 'better' ones.

Here is the new, enhanced version.

It is missing the quarter round for the base as well as the crown-moulding for the top. I thought I had a stick of quarter round but was mistaken and the crown-moulding will be attached the closer we get to painting (I don't want to scrape around it).

Hopefully you all think it looks 'okay', I think SWMBO is not too sure. She thinks the top doesn't look quit right but it will look better once the moulding is attached. All-in-all it looks better than what's on the porch now!

Base close up - not yet finished.

And the top.

I do need to add a second, support piece, for the crown-moulding, but this will have to wait till I'm done scraping.

Well, that's about it for today.

Let me know what you think of the column.

Till next time...

Larry ~