Friday, November 5, 2010

Landfill bait?

Some people collect cats and dogs, and some get odder items sent their way.

This was headed to the landfill, so like the fool I am I told him to load it up and I'd take care of it.

It is an old Fischer, from sometime in the mid twenties.

It still has the ivory keys, and the action is decent.

The wood case has some neat detail but it is dry and sunburnt.

The pin block has some loose pins, and therein lies the reason he didn't want to dink with it.

Look at the legs!

And the matching stool!

Interesting lines.....

Brass furniture.

I have an oak Cable Euphona player piano ahead of this one in line, so it'll lay for a while before I get to it. More projects! Yippie.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Coming up on a year

I'll have been in here a year come Thanksgiving. Doesn't seem like it, and I sure didn't get all done that I wanted to.

I did rent a jackhammer from Armstrong.

Richard and I applied it to the back steps.

The chunks were loaded, and then hauled away.

Ready to level and put the new slab up.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Do I really need another project?

No. Clearly not.

I have wanted one of these since I was a kid. They usually either sell for some ungodly sum, or are too far away to bother with. Then, along comes Mr. Gladis, who has gotten a new hip, and didn't really need another project either. He had two of these bad boys, so we came to terms, and he sold me one and kept the other.

It's a Cutler, from 1897. The drawers all lock when the tambour is closed. It has most of the pigeon holes intact, and enough of the dividers for the ledger slots and centre racks that I can copy what isn't there. Its looks are deceiving-it is 54 inches wide and pretty deep.

The bad news is that it needs to be taken all to pieces and re-glued, and several corners are actually broken. The good news is that there isn't any veneer-it's all solid, and the broken corners are going to be a little easier to fix because of that. Plus the finish is mostly intact, and can be cleaned instead of refinished.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

...and fire was!

Last fall I borrowed a friend's fire ring, and he needed it back this week, so I had to scare another one up. The fellow the first block over from me built a beautiful patio and had a nice steel rim by the garage that he wasn't using anymore, so I got it for a fire ring. He even delivered it to my place and set it out in the yard!
The first night I was home after it came we had to try it out, so come dark we broke out the scraps and wood, and broke it in right.

Already, the neighbours and I have had three fires in it, and it will prove to be a favourite gathering spot, I think. As much wood as I have been getting rid of here lately, I am sure to have a supply well into the next decade.
Nothing is like a campfire roasted weenie or burnt marshmallow, and it is nice to have your entertainment close to home where nobody has to drive and if someone wants a little something to drink or smoke a pipe or cigarette they can do as they wish, because it's out behind the house, and nobody cares as long as we aren't making braying asses of ourselves and pestering the neighbourhood.
People sometimes forget how relaxing and fun it can be to set out of an evening with the fire going and talk, roast weenies and marshmallows, or just be.
God knows that entertainment of any sort can be dear these days, and I guess with the $20 the ring cost, and gallon of gas to cut the wood with the chain saw, and the buck and a half apiece for weenies and marshmallows, it's a damn sight cheaper than going out to a beer joint or picture.
I think that each time I used it cost me about three dollars, and that's if I cook food on it.

Even if nothing is said there is a certain fellowship to sitting about the fire and watching the distillate of a hundred 36,500 sunrises, sunsets, and everything in between.
The flames can be calming to look into. I find that I can look into them, and before I know it a good amount of time has passed. One of my college teachers used to suggest a candle flame to meditate on, so I suppose this is the same thing, on a bigger scale.
For whatever it was worth, I used to know a lady that would use a big glass or brandy snifter of clear water and a fire to summon ghosts (so she claimed.) But we won't do any of that-let the dead lie still and we all get along better!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The biggest sin *rant*

I could probably count the times I have called the sin card on one hand and still play the guitar with what was left. I'm just not that big on sin, I guess.

There is one sin that I can't stand, though. The name of the sin is waste. There is no excuse for 99.9999999991 % of it. When I think what terrible misery and poverty exists right in our own neighbourhoods and towns, and see perfectly good houses and buildings go to ruin, land go rank and weedy for lack of cultivation, or trash cans full of food that nobody could be bothered to eat it makes my blood boil. When I see our natural resources wasted and landfills filled because of consumer greed and envy, instead of wearing out or using up what we already have it really makes me want to slap some sense into people.

I understand the some waste is unavoidable, and it's going to have to happen. I may not like it, but I can understand it, and even accept it as the cost of life.

What I can't understand is how a building that is full of good timbers, mill work, and brick must all be destroyed because bureaucracy and ignorance out-rule common sense.

Our town tore down two old houses this last month. Never mind the fact that both were salvageable, if not in toto at least good portions of them were. I tried for two years to gain salvage from one of them to work on my own house, as they were the same vintage and had many of the same components. You know what stopped the whole thing? One miserable insurance agent. I offered them an absolute release of liability. Nope. I offered to hire a professional firm to get it, at my expense. Nadda. I called the demolition company. They wouldn't even call me back. Hell, I even offered to pay the city for all I took out of it.

I watched them tear this place down, and there were two by eights twenty feet long. Broken to slivers.
Fancy newel post and stairwell. Totaled.
Claw foot tub and matching fixtures. Smashed.
five year old 200 amp meter base and disconnect. Deliberately destroyed.

Sad thing is, if the town had sold and donated what was any good off of those two houses, it would have paid for twenty to fifty per cent of the demolition costs. It would also have dropped the bulk dump fees by that much at least, and brought them in some liquid cash at the same time!

I know this will sound mean, and maybe it is, but I am glad it did cost them.....this is one case where there is a tangible show of what waste costs.

*End of rant*

Friday, May 7, 2010

2nd Annual Bungalow Blog Tour

Looks like I am on the tour this year! I am ashamed to let respectable people in the house, as big a mess as it is right now. Here's a few assorted goodies that stick out. Here is the messy parlor. It used to be two rooms, but the floor settled and the book case doors wouldn't stay closed so she took them out. The watchmakers' bench came from the old Elgin factory. It was in use sometime before 1888, because the dial room foreman put his name on it then. The Pachinko machine was in my Mom's folks' house when I was a baby-the picture behind the glass is me playing it when I was just able to stand on a chair to reach it.

The glass fronted hutch to the right was my great grand parents'. It was falling to pieces on the back porch of their farm, and my dad had it redone once, and my uncle Greg and aunt Bri gave it to me. They sort of gave it to me out of the blue one day, and I am glad of having it-it's a nice heirloom. It is perfect for player piano rolls. The big coffee pot came from my cousin's, and it is from before 1900.

The ceiling lamp was traded me for some Hammond organ tubes and a repair, and some little odds and ends where I used to teach. I am frankly surprised he doesn't try and get it back, but if he does he can pound sand. I rewired the thing and straightened it out, and mad it usable.

The back bedroom makes a good office. It is the larger of the two bedrooms, and has the stairs to the attic, and very good lighting. There are three windows and the one is the right height to put my library table underneath, like it was made to order. There are nice book cases, and the stairwell walls are beadboard. It looks like an old lawyers' office! The floor has a linoleum rug that has been down since Methuselah did the two step. It isn't going anywhere until it has to, and then only grudgingly.

The hallway is the only room besides the WC that has no wallpaper. It isn't getting any. None. The only thing it's getting is a different light and the walls painted. The hound likes it because he can lay there and see all parts of the house from where he is. There is an old disused trap door to the attic there too, and I may put a stained glass "skylight" that gives into the attic in the frame at some appropriate time. Four doors open into the hall, so it's like grand central. A little natural light from above might be a good thing. If I find a big enough register It may be a good place for an attic fan plenum, because I already have stairs to the attic.

Speaking of things hound, he likes the front bedroom. Here he is, on MY bed. In MY coat. With his snout on MY blanket. You know why dogs are so cute? Because it's the good Lord's way of making sure they can get away with half the tricks they pull!

Part two to follow!

Thanks to Stucco House for including my little house in this year's tour.

Previous house is Bungalow '23.

Next stop: Northland Stories.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Neighbors and such

Lots going on! Been finishing up the plumbing and the tin is in for the roof on the red shed.

I hear people tell about their awful neighbors, and it makes me glad that I live where I do.

My neighbor to the south is a very accomplished gardener, and she came over and helped shape up some of the plants around the place, and gave me a whole thing of strawberries. They cut a few trees back this week, and I was lucky enough to get a half cord of firewood-silver birch and some sort of pine. It'll be very welcome in the fire ring, I can tell you that!

The house north of me is empty, and needs much work before it is ever livable, but the owner is a nice lady (from whom I bought my own house) and she keeps the outside neat and clean. Past that is a very pleasant lady that doesn't say much, and a fellow that helped me re-plumb and put a furnace and water heater in this place.

Pictures and that to follow.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


One of the good things about having a big family is the variety in what they eat! Here's a good one (Just don't do like I done and burn the apples):

Fat Man's Sweet Ham Loaf.

2.5 lbs ham loaf (Fareway's is best)
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
3 eggs
dash of Worcestershire Sauce
16 oz can of either diced or crushed pineapple
1 big Granny Smith Apple.
Small handful of cloves.

In a small bowl, moisten the bread crumbs just enough to make them damp through and through. Mix with the eggs and Worcestershire sauce.

Put the ham loaf in a large mixing bowl and separate by hand. Slowly mix in the egg and bread, and then the pineapple, juice and all. Gently work the mixture by hand, until a nice smooth loaf is made. Spread it into a greased casserole pan, and place the cloves over the top at pretty even intervals. Cut the apple either into thin wedges or fine spirals and garnish over the top, and bake in a moderately hot oven for about an hour, until the ham is a lively pink colour.

Serves 6-8.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Odds and ends

The furnace had a hiccup this week and the pipes froze. *)(&^()*&! Not too big a deal though, the neighbor caught it and called me, and we fixed it pretty cheap.

More nasty on the way-look at the ring around the moon. It's been pretty bitter here of late.

Have a picture of the door. I'm not too sure what occasioned it, but have one anyway. It's the one from the dining room outside, that gets used the most.

Here's a tip: Turn the key a half-turn before you go to bed at night-it keeps someone from using a key outside, and makes sure it's in there handy in case of a fire.

While we're at it, here's the kitchen. It's a mess because I am fixing clocks there until the red shed is ready. It's a small but bright room. It'll be nice to eat breakfast by those big windows.With the table pushed up to the windows (where it belongs) there's plenty of room in there. Also, the table is good work space, being as there is zero counter area.

The ceiling is shot to hell. I think I am going to do what did with hers-it looks pretty nice, and I already have the furring strips for a tile ceiling, it's just that the tiles themselves are what my insurance agent calls "Totally depreciated.

Thought I'd snap a few of the old water heater-it's a Ruud and been down there since the year dot. I think it's a little newer than the cookstove, but not by a whole hell of a lot-it's one of the first automatics. The boiler capacity is 20 Gallons, and it was originally set up to burn skelgas.

This thing actually fired up when I tried it, but I didn't have any idea of running the thing for keeps! Almost 500 later I have a new water heater that works like a champ, so I can't complain.

Monday, January 11, 2010

It all balances out.

The folks over at The Octagon House had a post recently about an old scale they found in their attic, which very well could have belonged to the granddaddy of all the P. O.'s. Being the nosy creature that I am, I spent a couple hours sort of giving it (and the player piano) the go-over. It's sure a neat feeling, to have a tangible link to the past like that! I've always had a weakness for old mechanical odds and ends, and thought I'd take a moment to share this.

The proper term for such an animal is actually a balance, because it has no provision for directly measuring, without the use of a set of weights. I used to use it to weigh gold and diamonds and so forth when I had the shop, and hated to sell it off when I closed up shop, although a few people wanted it.

It was made by the William Ainsworth Company, who began making balance during the gold rush days and continued until well into the 20th century. William Ainsworth was a watchmaker, who was often called upon to repair the delicate assay balances of the day, and eventually began manufacturing his own. They were an interesting parallel to watches of that era, in that they were also mass-produced and yet still maintained a degree of quality unrivaled since then. The metal cabinet and and lack of fancy finishing technique is indicative of the period between the world wars. Nothing is added to the balance that does not serve a purpose, and the thing still looks elegant. There are a lot of "little touches" like the counter weights that hold the front door up, like an old double hung window; and the feet that all screw in and out to level the base.

Because it is mass produced and not in the wooden cabinet and so forth, it is nowhere near as valuable as some of the other balances on the market today, and also sold for less new. Still, at $186 in 1942, the thing would cost almost $2,500 to buy today!

The weights are all packed in their own little places in a hard case. There are two sets with this one-the old set and the newer. Both sets are gold plated brass whole weights, and inert metal fractional weights (the silver looking ones.) Both are quality sets, and are pretty accurate for most work.

The old set is metric, and still has the traceable certification yet. This meant that they had been compared with a known set of weights directly traceable to the the master standard, and the difference noted so that it could be taken into account when the weights were used. This set was initially the second to the top of the line set that Ainsworth sold.

The newer set has metric, but also has a pharmaceutical set, with grains, pennyweights, and scruples. Let it never be said I have no scruples! The little forceps are there because you aren't supposed to touch the weights with your bare hands because the oil from them will cause tarnish or corrosion, which alters the weight.

This balance is one of two I own, and sets on top of the safe at the boss' store. The other is the next model cheaper than this one, and stays at home.

Anyway, there's anther oddball item, which I seem to have no trouble coming up with (I wonder why?)


Thursday, January 7, 2010

I'm ready for my close up.

Here are some pictures of the old Tappan cook stove that came with the house. If you want to learn about Tappan stoves, go and visit . The folks that run it also have , which details the work done on a bungalow in the cities.

This is the manifold where the oven valve and pyrometer knob are located. Since it hasn't any standing pilot, it has to be lighted by hand each time the oven is used. You set the temperature, strike a match, and touch it to the touch hole in the front of the oven. Then you push the valve in a little and turn it as far counter clockwise as it'll go. In short order, it'll light, and sucks the fire right off the end of the match!
Once it reaches its temperature, it is very accurate, because it can't relight itself so it has to mantain constant temperature.

This is the top of the cook surface, with the work light and oven vent. The handle to the right on top of the backsplash turns on the light. I am not too sure that switch is original. Most of the wiring in this stove was replaced sometime in the fifties. The cord is the next thing to get it. This one has the "hood ornament" under the light.

Here is the close up of the model and serial numbers. Smarter people than I have sort of figured out that this stove was made in a cooperative venture with a company called Philgas, who made Skelgas appliances at one time.

There is also a Ruud water heater that has been down there since time began, that was a Skelgas deal before the PPO had it converted.

Here is the plate that shows the knob positions, along with the closeups of the (dirty) knobs.