Friday, June 29, 2007

That Sinking Feeling

That’s the feeling I had yesterday when I drilled the holes in to the floor for the sink legs. Each leg has a small post on the bottom that needs to fit in to a hole in the floor. The wall brackets for the sink need to be mounted on to the subway tile. That means more drilling through tile.

Months back I made a plywood template I would use to make sure the holes were drilled in the right place. The legs have a double off-set, so it was not a given exactly where the holes would go. This thing didn't exactly come with instructions. Or if it did, I'm sure they were tossed out 100 years ago.

After a little figuring, I found the sweet spot, but this meant the template had two sets of holes for the legs. Then later I switched to a slightly smaller vanity top so I had to reposition everything on the template. So now both the wall brackets and legs had multiple holes on the template.

Yesterday I was just a little foggy all day. It was just one of those days that I was a little out of step with the rest of the world. I almost put-off drilling in to the tile, but I really wanted to get the sink mounted.

I drilled away and wasn’t as cautious as I normally am. After I pulled up the template I really didn’t have a good mental image of myself double checking to make sure I got the right holes. It was all kind of a blur. I had this horrible feeling I had screwed up.

In the end, I didn’t, but there was a good hour from the time I drilled the holes until I tested the fit of the sink that I just had a pit in my stomach. After months of work and planning I thought I would either end up with a crooked sink or maybe some extra holes in the tile floor and wall.

You have no idea how relieved I am to have this thing installed. Tomorrow I’ll mount the sink and hook up the plumbing.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Petch Family Visit

It almost didn’t happen. I got an email a few weeks back from the Great Grand Daughter of Thomas Petch. She said she was planning a trip up here with her father to see the old family home and they wanted to stop by for a visit. Naturally, I said yes.

I got a message on my machine Sunday of this week from the woman and she said there were some last minute changes, and the trip was almost canceled, but they were on their way. She gave me a cell phone number and said she’d call when she got in to town. I tried to call her back because I knew my schedule was going to be crazy on Monday and I wouldn’t be around. I tried the cell number and I got, “The number you have reached is not in service”. I sent an email hoping to catch them before they left.

On Monday when I got home there was another message with the same cell phone number. I tried calling it repeatedly and got the same “not in service message”. Then again on Tuesday the same thing. It was getting very frustrating.

There was no message on my machine today and I tried the cell phone several times and got the same message. I figured they had given up and we had missed each other. Then about 5:30 this evening I got a call from her. This time I was home. Whew! They stopped by only briefly on their way out of town.

I gave them a tour of the house and they had a family portrait from the late 1880s. Thomas is not in it, but Phyllis and the 3 boys are. It looks like a studio shot because the background looks to be painted. There is a mantel and a sideboard of some sort, but it looks 2 dimensional and not very sharp. Painted backgrounds were a popular thing back then.

It was a very nice visit and I learned that Thomas didn’t immigrate from England directly. Apparently, he was in the Royal Navy and went AWOL when they docked in San Francisco sometime in the 1870s. The census shows that both Phyllis and Thomas immigrated in 1878, but it shows Phyllis from Ireland and Thomas from England. That always seemed a little odd to me. They were only 17 or 18 at the time and it seemed odd that they would have met, got married, and moved here at such a young age when they were not from the same place. It’s not like they were wealthy and it was an arranged marriage.

The first child, Thomas Jr., was born in 1878, so maybe Thomas jumped ship in San Francisco for the love of a young woman. One thing led to another and the next thing you know there is a bun in the oven. Thomas steps up to the plate and does the right thing by making an honest woman out of her. The trouble is, ship’s captains of the Royal Navy are not the romantic types. No doubt there was a bounty on Thomas’ head for jumping ship. That must be why he high-tailed it up to Eureka, marrying young Phyllis in Williams, CA along the way. You can’t show up in a small town with a pregnant woman and no marriage certificate.

The plot thickens…

The Great Grand Daughter who came to visit today brought her daughter along for the visit. While we were talking about photos and such, the daughter swears she has seen vintage photo of The Petch House. I have poured over every photo archive I can find and never found a photo of the house. This would be beyond great to find something like this. There was also talk of a reel-to-reel tape of the Grand Father talking about growing up in Eureka! Could you imagine getting a copy of that!

She says she will get copies and send them to me. To be honest, I’ve been told this before. There was a woman about 3 years ago who said her family owned the house in the late 60s and early 70s. She showed up with her two daughters one day. I gave them a tour and she swore she would email me pictures. She even said they were all scanned on her computer. I never got squat.

Those would have been from the 1970s and by that time the house had already been cut up in to apartments and covered in asbestos siding. It’s no great loss, but still. They were on her freakin’ computer. I gave her the tour. I was more pissed about her laziness than not getting the photos.

So, I’m not holding my breath, but I’m really hoping fro an email with attachments someday, and maybe even a CD with some audio on it. That would be cool.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I'm guessing 4.9

Not seconds ago we just got hit with an earthquake. I always like to try and guess the strength. It should be posted soon at the USGS site.

Let's see how close I am!

Maiden Voyage of the SS HAJOCA

I got the toilet installed today, sort of. It was really a lot of work and I have one tiny, tiny leak that I can’t make go away. It’s at the transition from the flush valve to the flush tube. These are all new parts and there is a new washer in there. I took it apart and put it back together and it still leaks. I physically can’t tighten it any more. It is a fraction of a drop every 30- seconds. It could not be a smaller leak and I can’t make it stop. It’s very frustrating. I must admit though, the toilet looks great, and that is what’s important after all.

I may need to remove the tank and install a new washer tomorrow. There is also a small piece of trim that goes just under the tank, and I need to add some lead weights to the flush lever. Originally this would have had a cast iron flush valve inside and the weight would not have been an issue. With the new flush valve the lever is too heavy and the flapper won’t stay down. I just need to add some lead fishing sinkers to add a bit of weight to it. I had to do the same thing to my upstairs toilet.

Another problem was one of the slip nuts for the supply line. It’s that large brass nut at the tank. It’s a 7/8ths inch slip nut and I had to go to 3 hardware stores to find one. I also left the wax gasket in the sun too long and it fell off as I was putting the toilet on. It pretty much fell apart so that was another trip to the hardware store.

The long flush tube had to be trimmed at both ends. I was paranoid about cutting too much off, so there was a lot of trimming and testing. Very time consuming.

Also, on these old toilets there are 4 bolts that mount them to the floor. There are two at the closet flange, just like most modern toilets, and then two at the front that screw in to the floor. As we all know, my floor is the Oberon Saloon tile. I bought a $12, ¼ inch Glass/Tile drill bit. I alternated between two holes because I had a feeling the bit wouldn’t last. I was right. The thing absolutely disintegrated about half way through both tiles. I didn’t even make it a total of a half inch in and the bit literally fell apart. I then destroyed a ¼ inch masonry bit to finish the holes.

When all was said and done the bolts were too short to make it in to the sub floor. I have half inch tile and half inch cement board. It was a complete waste of time, money, and drill bits. The bolts are there, but they do absolutely nothing. I’ve going to need to drill 3/8th inch holes in the tile for the sink. That should be fun.

I also got the marble on the small cabinet. I’ve decided to do it on large one as well, but that maybe weeks away. And I broke down and moved the tub so I could re-grout the tile under there. Honestly, this bathroom may never be finished.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Trimmed Out

I managed to get a few things done during the week. I finished pretty much all of the trim work in the bathroom, which really only amounted to trimming out one window, because everything else was done. It may not sound like much, but it included making a marble window sill (I think it’s called a stool when it’s on the inside), and I had to make the apron (the part under the stool), which entailed some router work. I also made the cove trim, which goes under the stool and in front of the apron.

On top of that, the casing is more of the 1895 casing I’m reusing from the front rooms. The pieces were thick with paint, so that meant more paint stripping. I then had to paint everything after it was installed. I do one coat or primer and 2 top coats. The whole thing was surprisingly involved.

The last thing to do in the way of trim is to make the counter tops for the 2 little built-ins. I was going to go with tile, but now I’m leaning towards marble. I have enough to do the little built-in but not the big one. Judging on what I’ve paid for marble in the past, I'm thinking it’s about $100 for the one counter. I don’t need to decide right now.

The paint on all of the trim is the SW Queen Anne’s Lace. It’s a very pale green and it’s a bit of a chameleon color. When it’s up against the darker green walls it looks very nice. On the lower parts though, it tends to get washed out by the white tile on the walls and floors. When looking at the door casing from top to bottom it almost seems to change colors. Not much I can do about it.

Here’s a few shots of the nearly finished trim. It was hard to get a good shot of the window because the light coming in prevented to flash from going off when I shot it straight on.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Built-Ins Are Built In

Before anything, though, I got the heater hooked up and running, because this is, after all, June in Eureka. The days are pleasant, but the nights can get a bit chilly. This bathroom is on the west side of the house, and without the use of a heater, it takes a while to warm up.

The next issue was the door. I’ve been collecting period Eastlake doors for years, and I actually have more than I need. The problem is, I only have one 30-inch door, and it is majorly funkified. This thing may be beyond repair. The best thing it’s got going for it is the fact that it’s 2 and a half inches too short for the opening. After that, things go down hill quickly. It’s cracked, has chunks missing, and big dings in it. Still, it’s a 30-inch door so I hung it anyway. I like to know that the jamb is square and true before I put the trim on. It looks like I may end up cutting down one of my many 32-inch doors for the opening.

There is a mix of primer and paint in the pictures. I hope to start with the top coats tomorrow. It went pretty smooth putting the built-ins in. At this point the plan is to do hex tile counter tops. I would like to do marble, but I don’t have enough. I have enough for the small built-in, but not the larger one.

The casing and plinth blocks are original to the house. Some of the grand entry ways were reduced in size during the 1920s apartment phase. They cut down the trim to get it to fit to the newly reduced size doorways. I had new casing made for the re-enlarged openings, and this original stuff is perfect for things like this. In fact, this entire doorway, with the jambs, casing, and plinth blocks was the opening from the foyer to the front parlor before I took it out. The corner blocks are reproductions of the originals, so this looks exactly like all of the other doorways in the house.

I am really glad this is over. Next up will be the trim for the stained glass window. I’m doing a marble sill on that, so I need to borrow a friends tile saw to cut it. I’m not sure when that’s going to happen.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Lino Find

I found it first in my house and then Amy found it in her vintage catalog. How cool is that?

Pictured above is the linoleum I found on my front stairs a little over a year ago when I removed the last of the Hi-Low Drop Cloth from the house. At the time I speculated the linoleum was from the 1920s, when the house was officially cut up in to apartments, but there was no proof.

Well, yesterday I got an email from Amy. She’s been reading the blog and when she saw the picture of the linoleum I posted, it looked familiar to her. In a freakish small-world kind of way, she just happened to have a 1929 catalog from the Orchard & Wilhelm Co of Omaha, NE, and wouldn’t you know it, my linoleum is in there! The page is titled "Armstrong's Straight Line and Embossed Inlaids-Accolac", and it comes in several different colors. Below are a few of the shots she emailed me.

The internet is a strange and wonderful thing, isn’t it?

If only you could still get patterned linoleum for $2.90 a square yard. Or really, If only you could still get patterned linoleum. Period!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Am I That Transparent?

Many of you seemed so sure I would use the gray grout instead of the white. You all seemed so positive I would scrape away the Antique White grout around the tub area and do the whole bathroom in gray grout. You all thought you were so smart, didn’t you?

Well, you were. I did the gray grout, or at least I started it. I got a late start and my grout float is toast, so I only got about 15% of the floor done. Doing the dark grout on the white tile seems to take a lot longer. I don’t remember changing the water in the bucket as often as when I did the white grout on the white subway tile.

Part of the problem is the grout float I have. As I said, it’s toast. When I did the subway tile I couldn’t find my rubber float so I went down to Ace to get another one. All the had were these cheap plastic ones with a sort of soft Styrofoam pad on them. It turns out they work very, very well, but the foam wears off quickly. They are inexpensive, so it’s no big deal to get another one.

The problem when the foam starts to wear down is that you can’t all of the excess grout off. This is compounded by the subtle unevenness in the height of the tiles. It takes forever to work at it with the sponge and it’s a real waste of grout.

So I stopped for the evening and tomorrow I’ll start back in with a new float. I think this is going to take longer than I thought. I may not finish until Saturday.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

All But Two Slivers

You can see at the left side of the door there are two half tiles that need to be installed. I need to get the door open to do that, which I can’t at the moment. I guess it was a little over 2 years ago when I re-enclosed this small area of the porch that had been opened up in the 1920s. At the time I new I was going to be doing some period style tile in here eventually. What I didn’t know at the time was that the tile would be a half-inch thick.

I had to do the last of the tile while sitting outside the backdoor. Well, after I got all of the tile in, guess what? The door wouldn’t close. It closed most of the way, but for the last few inches the outside corner dragged on the tile. I pulled up on the door as hard as I could and eventually forced it shut. I need to wait until the tile sets and then I can force it back open, and then remove the door and trim just a hair off the bottom. After that, I can then put in those last two half tiles.

I was happy with the spacing, though. I was afraid I would end up with ¾ tiles, or some other odd size at the end. I’m also happy with the fact that I don’t have a ridiculously crooked row at the door. After installing 15 linear feet of tile across the floor, the last row at the door is surprisingly straight. I would say there is less than a quarter inch difference in the width of the last tiles from one side of the door to the other. Frankly, I’m shocked.

I also got very lucky at the transition from the kitchen to the mud room. As you can see, I have all half and whole tiles up against the marble threshold. The tiles are a little crammed in to accomplish this. The grout lines go down to a hairs breadth at some places. I think it’s better than having a bunch of funky sized tiles at a very prominent focal point.

So that’s pretty much it. I hope I can start to grouting tomorrow. I need to deal with the back door first. I’ve decided I’m going to use the Antique White grout. I’m just really very tired, both physically and mentally, from dealing with the tile. I really don’t want to dig out and re-grout the area under the tub.

Above you can see what I call Reject Sill. There are little piles like this all over the place. All things considered, the loss wasn’t too bad. I opened 18 of the 20 boxes I salvaged, and I think all of the rejected tile would make up about 2 boxes. That means I was right at about 100 sq ft of tile installed.

Over all I’m very happy with the floor. It is a bit funky, I’ll admit. The uneven and tightly spaced grout lines I really like. The only thing I wish I could correct is the thickness of the tile. Given that they all aren’t exactly a half inch thick, there is a variation in the height of the tiles. It’s very subtle, but it is there.

I tried to correct for it when I noticed it as I was installing, but it was hard. During installation, I’m basically looking directly down on the tiles, and it was not always easy to spot the problem tiles. It could be an issue when sweeping the floor, but I don’t clean my bathrooms that often anyway, so it shouldn’t be an issue for me.

I’m hoping I can get some major plumbing things installed this weekend because next week I’m starting a very hectic pace in my life. I’m sure the blog is going to suffer tremendously, but I’ll be back.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

For No Apparent Reason

TOH 2147

As this weeks show opens the camera is following Hosting Unit #23 and the last of the Series 7 Norm-Bots as they hover through the project house.

Hosting Unit #23: “Well, what do you think Norm-Bot.”

Series 7 Norm-Bot: “I must say, this place is really coming together nicely. What are we going to be looking at today?”

Hosting Unit #23: “Today we’ll be talking about the bathroom installation. As you know most of the worlds water supply is so polluted it can no longer be used for anything. It’s mandatory that all water and bodily waste be collected and returned to the processing plant.”

Series 7 Norm-Bot: “That’s right, and ever since the mass executions 12 years ago for failure to comply, it’s become a real issue for any the new homeowner.”

Hosting Unit #23: “Just a few years ago, the thought of having a shower in a bathroom was unheard of. Any water that splashed on the floor could not be saved and was sure to spell brutal retribution for the homeowner.”

Series 7 Norm-Bot: “Sure, but then someone dug in to the Google archives and stumbled upon The Petch House blog. Greg Petch, as he’s come to be known, came up with an innovative way to have a claw foot tub with no shower curtain. There was a drain under the tub that collected any water that spilled over the edge.”

Hosting Unit #23: “It really was a clever solution even though those fools did not recycle the water back then”.

Series 7 Norm-Bot: “How could they know that they would be invaded by an alien race that would poison the worlds water supply in an attempt to wipe out the human race.”

Hosting Unit #23: “Well, they couldn’t, but isn’t funny that it was the planets beaming out in to space endless hours of inane TV broadcasts, which eventually irritated the aliens so much that they came here to try to destroy the planet, and here we are again beaming more crap out in to space.”

Series 7 Norm-Bot: “It is kind of funny, but anyway, what about the shower.”

Hosting Unit #23: “Well, naturally, we will be doing a Traditional Petch Installation, as it’s come to be known”

The Series 7 Norm-Bot and Hosting Unit #23 hover through the nearly completed bathroom as they go over the details of a Traditional Petch Installation. We meet back up with them at the end of the show.

Series 7 Norm-Bot: Boy, the Traditional Petch Installation really works well. It’s hard to believe they used to do it any other way.

Hosting Unit #23: I know, and of course, in later years, Greg Petch became more known for his sexual prowess than he did for his innovative shower installations and the term “Traditional Petch Installation” took on a whole new meaning.

Series 7 Norm-Bot: It sure did. In fact, I think I’ll go home right now and treat my wife to a “Traditional Petch Installation”.

Hosting Unit #23: But wait Norm-Bot, you’re just a Series 7, you’re not human. You have no wife, and frankly, I’ve seen your schematics. Even if you had a wife you would need a serious hardware upgrade in order to give her a “Traditional Petch Installation”.

Series 7 Norm-Bot: {The head module droops slightly.} “Oh, that’s right, I’m not human. I keep forgetting.”

Suddenly it seems something’s not right with the Series 7 Norm-Bot. The camera zooms in on the face plate, and you can see a slight trickle of lubricating fluid leaking from the ocular implants. As the fluid runs down the face plate it seeps in to the now distorted mouth piece and causes short circuits on the delicate internal mechanism of the Series 7. The head begins to smoke and then bursts in to flames.

The camera pans back to Hosting Unit #23 and with the glow of Norm-Bots flames dancing off it’s shiny armored surface, Hosting Unit #23 continues, “Well, that’s our show for today folks. Join us next week when myself and a new Series 8 Norm-Bot will be looking in to the installation of the houses autonomous, self-contained kitty unit. And hopefully the new Series 8 Norm-Bot won’t be plagued with the lubricant leaks like the troubled Series 7s were.

Goodnight everybody!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Tiles In!

The bathroom anyway. I still have the little mud room. The bathroom is a little over 10X6, and the little mud room is just about 4X5. I’ve gone through 12 of the 20 boxes of tile, so I’m in very good shape. The goal is to finish up the mudroom tomorrow, then let everything sit on Wednesday, and then grout on Thursday. The grout has become a bit of an issue, but first, a picture


As for the gout, the original plan was to do a light gray grout. I used gray mortar to set the tile and I bought an un-sanded grout called “Delorian Gray”. I first grabbed it because I thought it was called “Dorian Gray”. I think that would have been a cooler name for it, but who am I.

Anyway, I was all set for Delorian Gray until I had the problems with the tile under the tub. I wasn’t happy with my grout lines so at the last minute I switched to “Antique White”. It’s very similar to the color of the tile, or, at least the color some of the tile. There are variations among the different tiles. I was worried about this as well, but I think it’s very pleasant, and actually probably better than having all uniformly white tile on the floor.

Anyway again, I now have all of the tile in the bathroom, and if I was getting a report card on my installation the teacher would probably write “Much Improved”, and I would agree. With the exception of one area, I think the rest of the bathroom came out very nice and I think it would be nice to show off my razor thin, yet asymmetrical grout lines.

Unfortunately I’ve hooked my wagon to Antique White. It seems it would be very odd to have Antique White under the tub area and Delorina Gray in the rest of the bathroom. Don’t get me wrong, the antique white is not hideous. It’s not like I have gag reflexes every time I look at it. I just think the light gray would be better.

I’m left with 2 options. One, I could just do the whole bathroom in Antique White and be done with it. The other option is to move the tub out of the way. Get a grout knife and carve away at the antique white grout, and then regrout the entire bathroom in Delorian Gray. At this point, I’m leaning so far towards option one I’m practically laying on the floor.

Option 2 would push the whole project back a few days. You might be thinking that it’s already been 6 months working on this stupid, God forsaken bathroom, what could a few days possibly matter. Well, IT’S BEEN SIX FREAKIN MONTHS WORKING ON THIS STUPID, GOD FORSAKEN BATHROOM!!!! I’M READY TO BE DONE WITH IT!!!!

I have until Thursday to decide.

A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
Oscar Wilde

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Funky See, Funky Do

These tiles started out life as “Seconds” and it’s easy to see now why they were designated as such. They are Funky with a capital “F”.

At this point I really must laugh at the fact that over a 100 years ago they were deemed second quality. They were either going to be dumped or sold at a discount someplace. Then 100 years later I chisel them off the floor and reinstall them. Many of the first quality tiles are probably still not around, and here these poor little tiles are starting a new life.

Some things I’ve learned about these tiles are a) they are not all 2-inches wide, and b) they are not all a half inch thick. These are the reasons they were deemed “Seconds”, I’m sure. Ninety nine percent of them are 2-inches wide, but many of them are not a half inch thick. I’ve been able to spot the few narrow ones (we’re talking an eighth of an inch or less off) and I use them when the grout lines start to get tight. It actually works out well

I was meticulous with the first few rows past the tub area. I laid out all of the tiles ahead of time and made sure they were good. I had to put in a half row on either side of the divider, and that took a lot of time. I used a sliver of half inch cement board to raise the quarter round a little. I’m not thrilled with contrast between the super white, glazed quarter round and the, shall we say, less than white unglazed tiles. I almost ran down to the home center to see if I could find a substitute, but decided against it. I really won’t find a match, so why bother.

Once I got past the first few rows the pace picked up, but it is still slow, meticulous work. Laying them free-hand, without the spacers is definitely the way to go. I’ve had far fewer problems than I had in the tub area. Below is a close up for John. I think it looks good. I really, really like them.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Interesting Comments & Tub’s In

I got a comment from John, the owner of DEA Bath today. It was short and to the point, but it speaks volumes.

Hi Greg;
Glad you got the last order right. Yes, we did have an idiot working the front, but he's gone. Things should be better now.
Bathroom Machineries

After I got the comment I thought back to my first encounter with the “idiot” last December. At the time, John called my house to try and figure out what was going on after I shot off an angry email. I never returned his call, but in hindsight I should have.

I’m not one to be a squeaky wheel, especially now that I have the blog, but had I known then that I would be dealing with them as much as I did over the past 6 months it would have been worth it to return the call. So, it seems John cleaned house, and I’m sure it’s for the better, and I learned a lesson. If it’s someone you plan on doing a lot of business with, let your bad experiences be known early on.

I also got a very interesting email from a member of the Petch family. This is an actual, real live Petch that can be traced right here to this house. It was from the Great Grand Daughter of Thomas and Phyllis Petch. Her father is the son of the youngest of the Petch boys.

Apparently, the grand son of Thomas Petch, the woman’s father who contacted me, is getting on in years, and the family decided to make a trip to No. California to see where it all started for the Petch Family in America. I guess after some brief Googling they found my blog and want to stop by for a visit this summer when they’re in the area. I said yes, naturally.

The best part is, they have pictures, or at least a picture. The woman mentioned she has a family picture dated 1888. That does pre-date the Petch House, but that’s fine by me. To date, I’ve not found one scrap of a picture of anything relating to the house or the family and I’ve poured over several photo archives. So, that’s pretty exciting.

And finally, the tub is in and hooked up to the drain. It fits nicely, but it is off-set one inch to the left for some reason. I planned on 4-inches on all sides. No matter, it’s in and it looks nice. Now I can start to tile the rest of the floor.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Still Life With Tile

Minor modifications had to take place before I could grout.

I did a final check on the slope after I got the tile in and it raised just slightly right at the drain. I must have had the drain a little higher than I thought. I had to chisel out some tile AND some cement to lower the area right around the drain just a little. My ¾ inch chisel will never be the same. It didn’t take too long, really. I got everything back in and the slope is good now.

I also had a minor flood when putting on the shut-off valves today. When tightening down a slightly leaking compression fitting, it is NOT “left lousy – right tighty” when turning the back nut. I new this and repeated to myself to turn the back nut to the left, but instinct took over. It had just a very, very minor drip on the valve for the toilet. It just needed less than a quarter turn to tighten it down. I turned the wrong way and the damn thing hit me in the face as it flew off the pipe. Water went every where. This precluded me from grouting right away.

I did get all of the shut-off valves on and the switches and switch plates. Everything seems to fit, but one of the push button switches is bad and will need to be replaced. They sure do look nice, but these switches are serious pieces of shit. I’ve had to return 4 or 5 of the 20 or 30 I’ve installed in the house. Also, the mounting screws are just the cheapest screws they could possibly buy. I don’t even attempt to use them anymore. The first thing I do when I get these switches is remove and throw away the mounting screws and replace them with new 6-32, flat head machine screws.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

My Final Petch House Project

Yep, this is it. The bathroom will be the last project I ever work on on The Petch House. Oh, it’s not that I don’t want to work on any other projects. It’s just that the bathroom project will never end. I’ve come to the conclusion that I will be working on the bathroom until the end of time.

After some serious butt dragging I finally started installing The Oberon Saloon tile. Honestly, I never thought I would write that. One of the reasons for the butt dragging is because of one of my personality traits. I’ve been here before many times. This weekend I was at that point of no return on the tile installation. Once I started there was the chance it wouldn’t turn out well, so in my warped mind, if I never start, then I’ll never screw up. There’s that, and my whole attitude is in the crapper this week.

Well, I sort of pushed through that mental barrier and started this morning. Actually, it was more like this afternoon when I started. Anyway, it was very slow going at first. I’m doing the shower area first, and I will finish it with grout before I move on to the rest of the bathroom. Once the shower area is done I can move the tub in to that area and get it off the floor of the rest of the bathroom.

I started by laying one row of tile along the back wall to see about spacing. I was very close to having no partial tiles on the first row. I then laid two rows in mortar. After I laid the tiles in mortar though, it wasn’t as close as in my test run. I had to quickly try and nudge all of the tiles to make up a half inch near the wall. It didn’t work as well as I hoped, and some of the gaps between the tiles are wider than others.

I almost pulled it all up and started over but I decided not to. You won’t see any of this because it will be behind the tub. As I moved out away from the wall I’m able to slowly fix the problems with the first two rows.

I found one-sixteenth inch spacers at a tile store, so I started using them for this installation. I started and then I stopped. They are really time consuming to put in. There are 6-sides to each tile, and putting in all of the spacers really slows down the process. After 3 and a half rows I just started doing it by eye. I’m able to move faster and the results are the same.

I think that’s probably how they were put in originally. The original installation had an organic property to it. The tiles weren’t all evenly and perfectly spaced. I recall that when I was pulling up the tile, I thought the installation looked a bit amateurish in places. Now I see why. Even with the spacers, it’s hard to keep everything lined up perfectly. It’s hard to explain why. Maybe there is a little too much mortar in places and it prevents you from getting the tile in close, or it could be something else. It’s very odd.

Because I’m creating a giant honeycomb, subtle variations in the grout lines can get magnified over several rows. Just as quickly the variations disappear, or sort of move over and end up someplace else.

Definitely, the first two rows being a little wacky has caused problems in later rows. The good news is, I’ll get a second chance to start over. There will be a divider of quarter-round between the tub and the rest of the bathroom. I will pay closer attention to that first row once I’m on the bathroom side of the divide. The tub area is good practice.

This is all I have to show for my retched self.

Friday, June 01, 2007

A Petch House Miracle

The package arrived from DEA Bath today - 4 days after I ordered it - and they got the order right! It’s almost unbelievable. To make this even more special is the fact that when I called them their web site was down and I had to have them talk me through picking out one of the items.

I needed an inch and a quarter drain assembly for the antique sink. There are several drains to chose from in all different sizes and configurations. If the site had been up and running I would have probably been asked to select one based on the crude pictures and vague descriptions on the site. Because the site was down he had to ask questions and talk me through the selection process. In other words, actual customer service. Quick, somebody ship a load of parkas to hell.

So I think the solution here is obvious when dealing with these guys. When you call, if you have questions about which part is the correct one, tell them you can’t bring up their site, and force them to help you make a selection through a process of Q&A. It’s fiendishly clever, I know.

One of the items I ordered was the spray on repair for the tub. I mentioned the other day how there was some discoloration under the faucet. At first I speculated that it might be rust, but I also guessed that it could just be the enamel has worn away. That appears to be the case, because it looks like I’m showing cast iron. If that’s the case, all of the cleanser and grunt work in the world won’t make it go away.

The stuff I bought from DEA Bath is called Surface Repair by Multi-Tech Products. The color is “Plumbing White” and it is specifically for enamel repair on bathtubs, sinks, countertops, stoves, etc. I’m not sure that I would use this for large repair projects, but for what I have, I think it’s the best way to go.

I was going to apply it today, but if the truth be told, I’m in a really shitty mood {Has anyone else noticed the increased rise in the level of profanity on this site lately?}. My entire life seems to be in flux at the moment. There is really a lot going on, some of it good and some of it bad. The house has taken a back-seat, and for anyone who has read this blog for any length of time, you know that is most unusual.

Change is good though. It forces me to look at things differently. The more change that occurs, the more I look at myself, and the more I reevaluate my place in the world. This is going to be a very interesting summer. I don’t know right now whether that is good or bad.