Sunday, October 07, 2007

An Accomplishment

I actually got some work done this weekend, more than I thought, in fact. The main goal was to get the beadboard up in the little mudroom. While that didn’t happen in its entirety, I got a lot of sort of periphery things done that lead to the start of the beadboard installation.

At the last minute I decided I wanted an exterior light for the backdoor. This door didn’t exist a few years ago and I never put a light outside for it. It will give light for the porch, of course, but it will also add extra light for the tenants who park near this door. There is a motion detecting security light near this area, but it’s a little further away from the street than it should be.

I went down to Ace to buy the light and I found a boxed set of two exterior porch lights. The second one will go at the other back door. Right now that door has a motion detecting security light that has never worked right. I have screwed with that thing a dozen times over the past 2 years and no matter what I do it seems to stay on 24/7. It just a piece of crap.

While I was at Ace I found that they carry the retro looking cloth (Rayon) covered lamp cord. The ceiling fixture that is going in the mudroom is a small 1910ish fixture with an original Holophane shade. Because it has a few links of chain I wanted some nice cord. I looked on and they wanted $1.99 a foot, plus shipping. At Ace it was .49 cents a foot. Much better. So I rewired the light and its ready to go.

In order to add the backdoor exterior light and I had to run some new wire, naturally, but I also ended up moving the location of the switch. The ceiling fixture that is in this mudroom was originally…well, not originally…..originally it was an interior light, then they moved some walls and it was an exterior light, then I put the wall back and it became an interior light again. At any rate, when I rewired the house 4 years ago I just rewired the switch where it was. Now, 4 years later, that is not the best spot, so I moved the switch so it is next to the new backdoor.

This required me to go under the house.

After I finished the bathroom plumbing I vowed i would not go under the house for 12 months. Well, I broke my vow. Today I was crawling in the dirt and cat poop and it seem like yesterday. It wasn’t the end of the world, really. This spot is very near an access hatch, so I only had to go maybe 10 feet under the house. In the end, the switch was moved and I now have an exterior light for the door. It was worth it.

While I was under there, I had nothing better to do, so I checked on the plumbing for the new bathroom. I never went under the house to inspect the new drains – and more importantly, the new bathtub floor drain – for leaks. I’m happy to report that everything was dry as a bone. I’m very relieved because if something had been leaking there was no way I was going to work on it until next year. As it is, I can shower, flush, and shave with confidence now.

Also….finally back to the beadboard….I prepped all of the beadboard for installation. These were 9.5 foot pieces of beadboard salvaged from the scullery. I remember when I removed it I measured carefully to see if it was enough to do the mudroom. At the time I said it was, but in reality it wasn’t even close. I mean, there was enough, in a very technical sense, but a lot of it was in such bad shape, in reality, it would never be enough.

I’ve worked with a lot of salvaged wood that was a little beat up, but to say this was “a little beat up” is like saying George W. Bush is “a little clueless”. This stuff was really, really beat up. The good boards were in good shape, but the bad stuff was beyond hope. The room it came from started out life as a scullery. Think mop buckets and piles of coal.

Then in about 1915 Mrs. Petch turned the home in to boarding house and the scullery was opened up in to the butler’s pantry and dining room to create her apartment. She may have been running a boarding house at this point, but she was hardly a savage. Beadboard in a living area just would not do. No, she covered the beadboard with wallpaper. This was the kind that was glued to cheesecloth and the tacked to the walls. Some pieces had many, many tacks still in the wood.

Then back in the 50s the real wood beadboard was covered with wood grained sheetrock. Those people were rocket scientists, weren’t they. So this meant more holes. Oh, the 50s. It was a terrible time for old houses. It worked out ok because all of the nails for both the wallpaper and for the sheetrock seemed to mostly end up on the same pieces. Add to that the fact that the back wall of the scullery was pushed out one foot. This meant that all of the beadboard on back wall and part of the two side walls had been removed and reattached.

Now fast forward 90 or so years and I pry if off again. Its amazing it wasn’t just a pile of splinters. Well, actually, in some respects, that’s what it was. I spent yesterday gleaning the good pieces out. I puttied all of the holes and sanded it down. The best part about was the lack of paint. Because it was papered over so many years ago it was spared the gallons and gallons of paint that was sloshed over so much of the wood work in this house.

Today I got two walls done. They were the most challenging walls, so I should finish up tomorrow or the next day. Some sections above and below the window are pieces of beadboard not from the scullery. This means they are soaked in layer after layer of paint that will need to come off. Its only a short run, so it should go quickly. After that I guess I can start to trim it out. More on that later.

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