Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pick Two

I had to chuckle after I typed the title of this post because it reminded me of the Three Stooges. Excuse me for a moment while I do the Curly shuffle.......yuk yuk yuk! Am I showing my age??

Well anyways.....I was at Harbor Freight today buying another saw blade for the multi purpose tool when I remembered that I broke my last dental pick that I use for removing bits of paint out of cracks.

Once I was at Harbor Freight, it took me several minutes to maneuver around the men that were just standing in the aisle ogling tools. I mean come on already......I like tools as much as the next tool hound but really....they acted as if they were looking at diamonds.

I finally found them, them being the picks, in aisle 5 (I had to ask). I usually get the picks that look like dental picks but these piqued my interest because of the knurled anodized part in the middle. I'll admit it...I have a thing for knurling (not curling...that's a Canadian thing) and shiny anodized bits and pieces. So these brought a twinkle to my eye and all for $3.99. Officially these are used for removing O rings but what good is a tool if it doesn't have multiple uses.My trip to Harbor Freight severely cut into my paint stripping time. It took me 4 hours to finish the top of the left hand side window and the top of the middle window.
Despite my short stature I am too tall when I stand on the ledge so I end up working in an awkward position. This resulted in many near misses between my skin and heat gun. At one point I thought I had melted my thumb nail.

R has been working outside cutting the remaining jambs and trimming out the windows while I have been stripping paint inside. He will finish up tomorrow and then start making the sill extensions for each side of the window to accommodate the wider window trim.

After that we can shingle around the french doors and windows. This will wrap up outside work until spring. This also brings R back in the house which means no more classic rock and back to listening to satellite sports talk radio. Sometimes I think I would rather listen to Rush or Glen Beck......no wait.... bring on the sports talk.....it's BCS time. Which brings me to ask....how is it that Michigan State is ranked 8th with an 11-1 record and Wisconsin is ranked 5th with an 11-1 record with Michigan State having beat Wisconsin? I like the state of Wisconsin AND their cheese but something is fishy here and I don't think it's Lake Michigan salmon.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Exposing the Details

Stripping is moving along at a steady pace in the dining room. The wood trim and the corner cabinets are made of birch with almost an 1/8th of an inch of paint. The paint is so thick that it leaves behind a thin coat of goo that sands off easily.

The trim has been a variety of colors. From what I can tell based on my scraping is that the first coat was a light yellow or cream. Then the the trim entered a green phase where it was medium green and then dark green. The paint then moved to the infamous pink era of the 50's. The last couple of coats were white.
I realized as I scraped away at the top of the cabinet was that there was incised fluting across the top. This detail was totally obscured because it was filled with layer upon layer of paint.
I need to round off the corner of my stiff putty knife to fit the groove. This should allow me to remove the paint but keep the sharp edges. I'll leave this detail until last when I have the cabinet in the other corner stripped.

This is where I stopped this evening. I need to strip the bottom of two shelves and finish the three window casings. I can then start on the cabinet in the other corner.Then I'll move on to the base board and finally sanding. The top sashes will have to wait until spring when I can remove them. If I attempt to strip them now with a heat gun, I know I will crack a pane or two because the glass is cold because it's winter.....brrrrrr.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Great Grate Find

The other day when I stopped by one of my favorite consignment stores I noticed some black cold air return grates in a plastic crate on the floor. There were a variety of sizes with some being brass and others were black.

I only have one cold air return that is in the floor and that is located upstairs in the master bedroom. So I came home and did a little measuring. I went back with measurements in hand and did a little measuring 0f the consigned grates.

Lucky me! I found one that was the correct size. Now I can replace that ugly floor grate with a great looking black grate and all for 13 bucks!While I was digging around on the floor looking for the correct size grate I found these mixed in with some old rusty hand tools. There were six wall brackets for hanging plants in this style and.....
four in this style.
These little gems cost me a whopping $2.40 each!
I'm partial to the second style. I have 3 hanging Roseville pots that I think will look great in the sun room hanging from these brackets. Oh oh...I have four brackets and three hanging Roseville pots. Note to self.....buy another piece of Roseville.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rebate for Prestone Products

Currently at Meijer you can purchase a Prestone 3 pk that includes 2 gallons of antifreeze + 1 gallon of windshield deicer fluid for $20.98. But the real kicker is the rebate form that the cash register will print out for $14.00 making the total cost for 2 gallons of antifreeze and 1 gallon of windshield solvent only $6.98.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's the Little Details

It's the little details that make the difference. It is also what slows the process of restoration. The number one question that I am asked is "why is it taking so long?" This is a perfect example of why this restoration is taking so long.

Even though we installed the french door last winter we still needed to finish the small details to finally call this project done. Small details such as the key hole escutcheons and door knob rosettes.

This small detail took months because I was unable to find the perfect one or should I say 2 (front and back of door). I could have bought new but they just were not 'right'. The new ones I looked at were plated and light weight which just would not look right. After months of scouring eBay I found a lot of four solid brass oval shaped keyhole escutcheons.

The lock set in the door is for a skeleton key and the lock set works perfectly. I disassembled the lock set last year because I needed to flip the latch over to accommodate the lock set being on the left side instead of the right side. I oiled all the moving parts and reassembled.

So today because the temperature outside was 37 degrees with a wind chill of 15 degrees R decided to finish the door while I continued stripping the paint off the trim in the dining room. First off, R installed the rosettes or escutcheon plates that are between the glass door knobs and the door. I thought I had picked out the correct ones but R called me over to say that either we needed different knobs or different rosettes because these were not matching up well.

So into my boxes and boxes of hardware I went looking for my bags of glass door knobs and rosettes. I found the correct match up and went back to my heat gun and paint chips. An hour later R called me over to look at the final results.Not only do the rosettes and escutcheons look fabulous and correct but the door latches smoothly and perfectly with a distinctive click. No jiggling the knob or rattle or looseness in the door. It was perfect.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sun Room Exterior Update

Today we were able to trim out the doors. Not much else was done because we wanted to watch the end of the NASCAR race on TV. It also doesn't help when it gets dark at 5PM on a sunny day much less a cloudy day like today. It seemed like night at 3PM.
While R was cutting boards I ran to my favorite consignment shop in Fenton. Lo and behold despite the fact that it is no longer summer, I am still finding wrought iron furniture to buy.
I thought they (4) were rather unique and for 10 bucks a piece I thought "what the heck!" If I don't use them I can always sell them and get my money backl

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Henry Ford's Fair Lane Estate & Wreath Making

I just want to say, ahead of time, that I am sorry my camera takes such lousy photos because Fair Lane is just beautiful.

The wreath making class was great. It was also wonderful to finally meet Yvonne, a fellow blogger and her friend Diane.

My wreath making skills are not stellar but my bow came out pretty. I promised you photos of the wreath making but I was so wrapped up in wire and foliage that I forgot to photograph the process. I promise.... I will do this when I make wreaths with my sister when she returns from the great white northern peninsula.

But while you wait for wreath making photographs, please visit Yvonne's Etsy shop. She has made some FAB-U-LOUS wreaths out of vintage glass ornaments. I can't wait to try my hand at this process. I fore see hot glue burns in my future.

Yvonne's Etsy shop with vintage ornament wreaths.
So instead of wreath making, I will walk you through the areas of Fair Lane that were open to us on Saturday.

Walk this way....This is the the front of Fair Lane, as you walk up the driveway. Originally, Ford spoke with Frank Lloyd Wright about designing Fair Lane. Wright eloped soon after the meeting and the design was taken over by Marion Mahoney Griffin, a student of Wright. Design was to follow the Prairie School of Design but soon became too extravagant. Griffin was replaced soon after construction started with another firm. The design changed to a mixture of English castle and Wright-Midwestern prairie features which I think makes it so very interesting and unique.The home is made of limestone blocks. This photo shows the front door that leads into the foyer.
This terrace is to the right of the entry.
Here we are in the living room, which I thought was smaller than I would have imagined for a home this size.
A Christmas tree currently decorated in the living room and situated in front of a painted carved wood insert to the left of the fireplace.
Isn't that a clever way to decorate an unused fireplace?
The formal dining room at Fair Lane.
The home also had an indoor swimming pool that was filled in and is now used as a restaurant. In it's day it had heated marble benches......can you imagine on a cold winter day going into the pool area and sitting on a warm marble bench? Ahhhh.....to have unlimited funds.

Vintage lighting porn. This ceiling light fixture was in the walkway leading to the swimming pool/restaurant area. Look at the star fish ornamentation in the center of the shade.
I love this 'rad' radiator cover in the sun room over looking the Rouge River.
Hardware porn.
This inferior photograph is of the massive carved fireplace in the music room where the wreath making class was held.
Henry Ford's estate is truly unique. It will soon undergo a massive restoration and will be closed for several years. Also, ownership of Fair Lane is reverting back to the Ford family from U of M Dearborn. It will be very interesting to see how Fair Lane changes after the restoration. I'm guessing they will remove paint from all the currently painted wood and return it to the original stain color.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Update and Vehicle Maintenance Tip

Tomorrow is the wreath making class. I will try my best to document the whole process so that you can also make a wreath. Note to self......take extra batteries for camera.

In my last post, I meant to remind everyone who lives in the colder regions of this great land that now is the time to replace those old windshield wiper blades. It is so much easier to change the blades in a semi warm garage than outside of an auto parts store in the freezing rain or snow.

FYI I have found over the years that going cheap on blades is not worth it. Snow, ice, and rain can do a number on cheap blades. I have had the best luck with the double bladed wipers made out of silicone.

Before buying your blades do these two things. First, look in your owners manual for the correct size. Sometimes the two windshield blades can be two different sizes with the larger on the driver's side. Second check online for rebates. Windshield wiper blades frequently have rebates. Some of the larger auto parts stores will have the rebate forms but if your favorite store does not, you can always download the form.

Do not throw out the old blades. *Put them in your trunk for an emergency. I cannot tell you how many times I have broken a wiper blade on my way to work. That usually happens during an ice storm or in deep slush when a semi tractor trailer blows by me doing 80 mph and swamps my windshield with a ton of frozen slush.

While I am talking about wiper blades I might as well mention the wiper motor. Never pay to have this replaced. It is a 2 bolt and one connector job. My friend priced out a dealer motor and install for her Corvette. The bad news was over $250. I talked her into doing the job herself. She bought a ** re-manufactured (re-man slang) motor from one of the local big auto parts store for less than 40 bucks. Twenty minutes later.......swap was complete and her wallet wasn't empty.

* Keep a box in your trunk with your old belts, old wipers, quart of oil, and windshield solvent.
** Keep your receipt because most re mans have a 30-60 or 90 day warranty but you must have all paperwork.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Work Progresses Slowly on the Sun Room

R has been slowly cutting the jambs down on the sun room. Cutting them is a slow process but the new tool seems to be working perfectly.

Today he worked on getting the threshold to fit properly and it is now installed but not permanently, we will wait until spring to secure it to the concrete floor.I have been stripping vintage storm doors (4), vintage exterior french doors (2), and have started stripping wood trim, corner cabinets (2), and bay window ledge in the dining room. This wood has never been stained or varnished so the stripping is going a little slower than it did in the living room.

The last three weeks have been busy with a Taste of Home Cooking School with my sister, B, and my cousin Judy, Sprints on Dirt Banquet at FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek, and the Flint Institute of Arts Holiday Art Fair. To sum it up..... I didn't win anything at the cooking school for the third cooking school in a row, I was up $135 at the casino and lost all that plus an additional 40 bucks, and I dropped $280 at the art fair.

G's hardware. Rookie of the Year and 6th overall in points. Not too shabby.The crew just before hitting the slots and black jack table. Left to right, Gibby, B, G, R, and Mike.
This Saturday I am going to the Henry Ford's estate, Fairlane, in Dearborn Michigan to learn how to make evergreen wreaths. I will be joining Yvonne, a fellow blogger and her friend for a morning of cedar smelling fun!!! With the luck I have been having I will just be thankful if my wreath is remotely round.

On the agenda in the coming weeks is a trip to Detroit Architectural Warehouse and the Detroit Eastern Market in Detroit. I have been working on my list of items that we need here at The Gear such as wood storm windows, 2 sashes, 2 vintage toilets, and miscellaneous small hardware items. Of course at the Eastern Market I will be on the outlook for cheeses and spices.

Working outside has slowed right down to only days when the sun is shining. R has put the blade on the riding lawnmower in preparation for the snow that will come. We have found that it is much more pleasant to put the blade on ahead of time rather than waiting until you have 8 inches of blowing snow to plow.

I am trying to be positive and hope that we get a minimal amount of snow. I do not like snow, sleet, or slush. My days of building snowmen are behind me and I see no redeeming quality for snow except on two days Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. All other days can remain snow free and I would be happy happy happy.

Cold temperatures I can tolerate..... if it is sunny outside. I find that day after day of gray skies are the worst part of winter. So keep your fingers crossed for a winter of sunny skies.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

French Doors are Installed

The doors are installed and we are totally pleased with how they have changed the feel of the room. The ugly solid doors blocked the view of the yard. We now have a view on three of the four sides.
Tomorrow we start cutting down the jambs so that we can trim the door and windows. We also need to trim the threshold just a tad so that it fits.

Disregard that ugly door knob. We needed to install something so we could lock the doors. I am debating on whether or not to install wood storm doors. If I do then I will just install a plain black round door knob lock set because the wood storm doors will interfere with seeing it. I can then buy a black thumb latch door handle that matches the other door lock sets in the house.
Here's a 'before' shot so you can remember all the ugliness.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

New Tool Update & Vehicle Maintenance Tip

The multifunction tool (oscillating saw) I mentioned in my previous post is now on sale at Harbor Freight when you use the coupon from the sales ad in Sunday's newspaper.Now is the perfect time to test drive this tool. We have not had the chance to use our tool yet. This past week was filed with doctor appointments, rain, Taste of Home cooking school, plus R has been busy helping G with a daily driver project.

While you are at Harbor Freight you might as well use that 20% coupon to buy some sanding pads or additional saw blades for your new tool. Of course don't forget to use the coupon for the free flash light. I know these go fast so don't dilly dally if you are going to get in on this deal.
Also on the next page of the sales ad is a coupon for a heat gun for $8.99. I bought this same heat gun at Harbor Freight last week for $7.99 using a coupon. The way I see it is that you can never have too many heat guns. I am forever dropping them off ladders. Plus, I really liked the feel of this heat gun. It was lightweight but still had sufficient power. I also own an expensive Milwaukee brand heat gun and it is far too heavy to use for more than 10 minutes.
I DID use a coupon for 25% off at my local consignment shop, even though I didn't use a coupon to buy my oscillating saw. While running errands the other day I decided to stop in at Second Act Consignment in downtown Grand Blanc.

This lovely black wooden tray called my name.Unfortunately, in my haste to use my coupon and score a good deal...I locked my keys in my car. I was so embarrassed. The local Grand Blanc police used a jimmy to unlock my door and I was soon on my way......on my way to my local Ace Hardware to get a spare key to put in my wallet.

Which reminds me......if you use your car door lock remote exclusively and never use your key the lock may freeze up. This especially happens to the driver's door in vehicles driven in colder climates. The driver's side door is subjected to extra salt and road debris during the winter months whenever you pass oncoming traffic. Think about all the slush that hits your door when you pass oncoming traffic when the roads are slush covered (which is 50% of the winter here in Michigan).

Make sure you spray a lock lubricant into the lock. Or spray your key with WD 40 or a 3 in 1 oil and then insert the key into the door lock. Lock and unlock the door several times and repeat the spraying of the key several times. Remember to do all your locks. Harbor Freight might have spray lubricants and you could use your 20% off coupon.

My 2003 Tracker driver side door lock is froze but the vehicle has 300k miles on it so I am not surprised. My rear entry door lock to the cargo area is still functional and will allow me access if I my remote did not work.