22 February 2007


I have noticed our renovation activity hibernating, for lack of a better word, during deep winter. We've got kids in the house, stuff going on (besides an unfinished dining room), it's "seal your house like a ziploc" weather and that means no painting, no powertools, no sanding.

It's frustrating. The most we have been able to do is decrapulate the living areas of the house, and I'm going nuts. Well, okay, I did put up drapes and make a lampshade, but that's girly stuff and I need to wield power tools, sand something, or whip out the paint.

Imagine my relief that we had some false spring today. I crawled out of my cave, scratched my back on a tree, and got to work on the sun porch (the office-to-be). I got to use a Very Small Power Tool - Dremel tools make a satisfying motor-noise, even if it is in the soprano section of the power tool choir. I've now altered all the fake mullions on the modern Andersen casements to look at least sort-of Arts & Crafts. They are now divided into four small square "panes" over one big "pane," and I cannot express how much better it already looks from the road.

I also removed the last two interior storm windows (put up before the porch was enclosed), so we can use the windows to move air through the house from the sunporch. I feel vindicated.

Back to the cave.

05 February 2007


Ah, a box of research materials arrived today. The other should arrive tomorrow. So far, no love, but I'm sure I'll be popular with the local historical societies if I share these.

I'm going to go roll in my books now. Detailed reviews once I've pawed them all - I'll let you know what they tell me about this place.

04 February 2007

What a difference a latch makes!

We posted a couple weeks ago about ordering a new latch for FX's room, so we didn't need to use bungee cords to keep his door closed anymore. We received it Tuesday and installed it Wednesday. What was the delay? Since I didn't post about this before - we had our Very First Houseguests (waves to C and C all the way in California) and have spent the last couple of days recovering- I'm posting now. Please forgive me, dust covered and paint spotted readers.

A little bit of related news before getting to the mechanical focus of the day: We also ordered a can of Craftsman Furniture Polish and a roll of low-friction tape. The furniture polish is nice, but most of our wood is so very far past only needing polish that it's not a cure-all. We really need to suck it up and refinish our furniture. Works great on the moldings, though. The low-friction tape, however, has made our old and battered bombe front chest of drawers work like a dream, which it never did before. Getting clothes in the morning was like an episode of Ultimate Fighting Championships, and now it's not.

I also made some drapes for the living room, and made a kid-kitchen in our corner cabinet, but the batteries in the camera are dead, so that's another day's news.

Now to the main event:

The latch works great. It makes FX's door actually function as a door should. It even came with all the hardware we might need, though we didn't need anything except the latch and the screws (we also got 2 spare strikeplates and their screws). That said, there are few caveats for anyone else looking to replace a 1910's latch-only assembly. They are:
  1. It's a little bit smaller. Lengthwise. Just enough (perhaps a sixteenth of an inch?) to make the spindle not line up with its original hole.
  2. This causes power tools to come out during an install. When one has to enlarge a hole to allow the spindle to move (we could get it through, once the faceplates were off the door, but it didn't move), it's time for Mr. drill.
  3. This also causes the faceplates to need moving over, so they line up with the new hole. Another job for Mr. Drill.

All in all, the job took about 3x as long, but that's maybe half an hour, considering that a direct parts swap would have taken 10 minutes. I should not neglect to mention that I put the latch in backwards after I'd gotten everything set, and had to pull the knob, the spindle, and the latch and put it all back the right way. And, really, I was prepared for potential difficulties, since repro parts rarely fit exactly like the originals. But, oh, that would have been nice...

The end of the story is that our 4 year old now has a door that works, for his birthday. That would be the other reason for a delay in reporting - we threw a birthday party for him. At Pizza Hut. No, the dining room really isn't ready for six four year olds to be throwing cake in it. It may never be, even if we do eventually get it painted.