Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Finally! It is up!

Why can’t I just go down to the home center and buy a light fixture like everyone else? There must be some genetic abnormality that prevents me from doing this. I can picture the obstetricians office 100 years from now…

Mr. and Mrs. Smith I afraid your unborn child has the dreaded old house gene, also known as “The Petch House Gene”. We can treat it now in the uterus with gene therapy. If we don’t he will be forced to live a complicated life sweating over details that others could care less about. What is your decision?

The nervous parents-to-be look at each other, not knowing what to do.

Would that then mean that the world would be deprived of this in the future? Only time will tell.

Of course, if it were simply a matter of hanging the fixture it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But no, it is not that simple. It never is. With other fixtures and plaster medallions I was able to do test runs with making sure that the pipe the fixture hangs from does not stick out of the medallion too far. Because I couldn’t hang this one myself, and because of the whole scaffolding thing, I had to measure as best I could and hope for the best.

Well, “The Best” is not what happened this time. Long story long, the pipe stuck out an inch too far and the ceiling cup on the fixture wouldn’t cover it. If I unscrewed the pipe and tried to get a shorter pipe screwed in, the nut up in the ceiling might slip out of place and I’m screwed.

At lunch I went to the hardware store to get a new pipe cut that was 1-inch shorter than the one I bought on Saturday. The whole time I’m trying to come up with contingency plans if I can’t get the new pipe in. No plans came to mind, but plenty of excuses did.

“No, no! This is how they did it some times. They would just have a medallion with no fixture”

“The bulbs were too hard to change so I just took the fixture down”

“A light fixture up there!?! Of course, why didn’t I think of that!”

“No, I was planning on selling the house now anyway. The screw up on the medallion had nothing to do with it”

And wouldn’t you know I’m still not done screwing with it. The lower electrical box is 3.5 inches in diameter and the cup slides over it perfectly. The cross bar that the fixture screws in to is 4-inches wide and the cup won’t go completely over it. So I need to grind down a quarter inch on either side of the cross bar so it will completely hide the shims that sit in-between the metal box and the medallion. In the picture above the shims are covered in electrical tape to ensure they don't move. Trust me, it is noticeable the way it is now.

It never ends.


Shane and Casey said...

Love the humor. Light looks amazing! :)

St. Blogwen said...

Why a new pipe rather than hacking the extra inch off the first one? (Ignorant question is ignorant.) Too much danger of tool slippage?

Your stairhall fixture project is coming along great, really. Thanks for the updates.

Kate H.

Greg said...

The short answer: pipe thread

The long answer: pipe thread is pipe thread.

The interesting thing about light fixtures is that even today the thread on light fixture assembly parts is pretty much the same thread that is on modern gas fittings. This goes all the way back to when lighting switched from gas to electric.

In my case, if I simply sawed off the pipe I would loose the threads that were on the end. The pipe threads. I didn't just need to go from 12-inch pipe to 11-inches I needed to have the pipe threads on the end.

Pipe thread is very specific. It is a graduated thread that gets tighter as it rises. Machine threads are specific but there is variation - 8-32, 16-32, etc - and they are the same no matter how long the thread rises. Wood threads can be just about anything.

I needed and 11-inch pipe with pipe threads.

Sean said...

I feel your pain - I once spent an extra week routing the BACK of some reproduction trim I had made to make sure that it matched the original perfectly -

Greg said...


Yes, it sounds like you have the defective gene as well.

St. Blogwen said...

Ah. I had a feeling that threading might be involved. Did the replacement work?

Kathy H.

Greg said...

Yes, it did. See tonight's post (not posted as of this writing) for the final shot with the chandelier.