Saturday, June 27, 2015

Cast Iron Umbrella Stand Part 2 and the Next Project

Today I was able to spray two coats of the navy blue paint on the top of the cast iron base AND we love it.

If the weather cooperates on Saturday I might just spray one more coat on the top.  The weather forecast is for rain but who knows what it will do.

I still need to buy the bright yellow for the lettering and also spray the umbrella pole and the finial on the top of the umbrella.  Black in a satin finish will match the umbrella and not clash with the cast iron base.

In between mowing the front and back yards today we started the next project.

A 1890's cast iron garden chair.  The details are really starting to show but the blasting is going slow because the paint is thick and hard, especially those first original coats of paint.  It looks like the original color was emerald green and then it was coat after coat after coat of white.

This chair will not need any repair work.  We are going to try and salvage the original fasteners. Fingers crossed that they do not snap off.  Once R gets the paint off the fasteners we will apply a lubricant that helps dissolve the rust on the threads and this might allow us to remove them without snapping them off.

On the garden front, we have harvested our first two banana peppers.  Looks like the mulberries and wild black raspberries will be ripe in the next week or two.  Jamming!!!!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Cast Iron Sign Base turned Umbrella Stand

We are still sand blasting away and I have sand in places I shouldn't have sand ......don't ask me where.....just know it is uncomfortable.  We have 4 additional projects in the wings.

Here is the back story on the cast iron base. Waaaaaaaaaay back when R raced motorcycles he bought a cast iron sign base at an auction.  He wanted the base to make a light stand so we could have light in the pits.  Plus, he liked the cast iron base.  Well, so did someone else.  R and this elderly man went back and forth with R finally winning the base with a bid of $35.00.  The other bidder stormed off.

R brought it home and fashioned it into a light stand.  Like racing on a motorcycle at 130 mph with just a helmet and a leather suit to protect you wasn't dangerous enough,,,,,we also tried to electrocute ourselves in between races.  Look at that cord......egads.  We survived and the light base moved on to a few car races until R and later G upgraded to a real light set up.

In the meantime, it was stored away with all our other stuff until a couple of weeks ago when my mother gave us her back canvas umbrella because she was getting one of those crank out awnings for her deck.  The only problem with a free umbrella was that all of our patio tables have glass and no hole for umbrellas.  Bummer.

Then I saw it, the cast iron base, waaaaaaaaaaaaay in the corner of the barn. The idea to turn it into an umbrella stand hit me.  R was not happy when I told him about my plan.  He doesn't do change very good and that light set up was a reminder of his go fast days.  His only go 'fast' days now a days are days when he has blood work or a colonoscopy.

He hauled the base out into the light of day and I explained it again and he was not impressed.  I started taking the light pole out of the base and marveled at the fact that we didn't at least get a little tingle when we used the light.

R spent a day and a half sandblasting.  In the meantime, I went to the store.  My plan was to paint the base in it's original colors.  What colors, you ask?  Blue and bright yellow.  You see, this base is so old it pre dates SUNOCO.  The base says Property of Sun Oil Company.  I bought a spray can of bright blue and a spray can of bright yellow.

During the last little bit of sand blasting on Wednesday, R found some original blue and today he found some original yellow.  I had bought the wrong colors, so back to ACE Hardware I went to exchange them.  No problem,  I bought a spray can of navy and a can of spray primer.  I decided spray yellow wasn't going to work so I will buy a small bottle of bright yellow at Michael's and use an artist brush to highlight the lettering.

The base was originally painted navy blue, then industrial gray, then dark beige, and finally white. You can see some of the remaining navy paint around the word 'PROPERTY'.

Today after the sandblasting was finished, we hauled out the umbrella and went hmmmmmmmm. what now.  First, we unscrewed the pipe because we figured we would just buy the correct size but SURPRISE!!!! there was another smaller pipe underneath.  Geeeesh.

R then thought the umbrella would slide over the top of the pipe but the bottom of the umbrella had a plastic plug in it.  I walked away because I was starting to bum out so I went and watered some plants.  When I came back I found this.

R said when he removed the plug from the umbrella it was a perfect fit and slid right over the pipe.  It was meant to be.  The base is very heavy and not tippy at all.

I sprayed two light coats of primer on the bottom.  Once the primer was dried, I sprayed two light coats of gloss Navy Blue by Rust-oleum.  You can tell when the primer is dried by the matte finish. Once the finish is matte it is dry.  When it is shiny, it's wet.

The navy spray paint has a primer already added but as a precaution for both current rust and future possible rust, due to the fact that it will be out in the elements, I decided to use primer plus the paint with primer added.  I think it also helped to even out the paint coverage.  I was afraid that too many top coats would start to obscure the details that we just spent two days uncovering.

I used a 5 gallon bucket to support the base as I painted.  It worked great because it raised it up and I could get under the edge of the base.  I'm letting the bottom cure completely overnight and tomorrow I will paint the top of the base.  

R's reaction?  He said he had "no idea" what I was talking about and thought for sure "it wouldn't work."  Ye of little faith.

Can't wait to see it finished.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Sandblasting and a new kitty

Not this kind of kitty.......
but this kind.  The concrete kind.
The statue looked like this before we began our quick make over.  The kitty was given to us by someone who knows we love kitties, old stuff, and a good project.

I used a wire brush to remove the loose paint but we soon realized that we needed to haul out the portable sand blaster to remove the remaining paint.  We have two sandblasters.  One is a cabinet style that recirculates the abrasive particles.  Our cabinet blaster isn't hooked up right now but our son has one in his race shop, so we use that occasionally.  Our second blaster is portable total loss blaster. We use a tarp and can retrieve and reuse the abrasive until it becomes too fine or too contaminated. We reserve this blaster for large projects.

The abrasive that you choose depends on what is being blasted and what you are removing.  We used plain old play sand today to remove the paint off of the concrete.  Worked like a charm until the sand became too fine.  So off to Ace Hardware where I bought a bag for $4.99.

Due to recent rain storms the sand was damp when we opened the bag.  R poured it onto a large piece of cardboard and finished tidying up the kitty by hand using a utility knife to flick out the last little bits of paint.
                     Two kitties checking out the newest kitty
Sasha says..."I'm leaving before he decides to do that to me!!!"
Elvis says....."I'm leaving, too.  That doesn't look like fun"

Looks like the kitty needs a little paw and ear repair but that will have to wait until we use the concrete patching material on another project.  So for now she sits on the front porch.

While we are in the blasting mood we have decided to take care of several other projects like....

Removing the paint from 3 concrete bird baths (2 large 1 small)
Restoring an antique tire changing machine
Restoring a vintage petroleum sign base and repurpose it to hold a canvas umbrella.
Repainting a tiered fountain that we purchased at a garage sale for 15 bucks and changing from 110V      to solar
Restoring and repainting two pieces of antique (1890's) cast iron lawn furniture.  These were given to      us by a friend of my sister.

We have no idea how long it will take us to complete these projects but we will plug along and see what happens.

Friday, June 19, 2015

What do you do when the rain barrel is full

Due to the heavy rain, we have had recently, and the lack of a need to use our rain water we have found ourselves with a full barrel of rain water.

We attached a section of garden hose to the barbed fitting at the top of the barrel.  This lets the rain water flow out of the barrel when it becomes full rather than overflow the top of the barrel.  By attaching the hose, we can direct the overflow where we want it to go.  In this case, it is towards a small spruce tree and towards a downward slope away from the garden shed.

Another option would be to add a second barrel and connect the two barrels using the overflow hose from the first barrel to fill the second barrel.  This configuration would be beneficial in areas that get very little rain and have the need to harvest as much of the rain as possible.

Because we know that more rain is on the way this weekend we have flipped the diverter into the normal winter position which allows the rain water to flow out the downspout in a normal fashion. We figured that since the barrel is full and everything is thoroughly watered due to the rain, the barrel will still be full when the rain starts up this weekend thanks to the Tropical Storm that made landfall in Texas.

It took three rain storms to fill the rain barrel.  The roof on the garden shed is small compared to the roof on the barn so I can only imagine how much rain water we should be able to harvest off the barn roof. Our plan is to install 3 rain barrels, one on three of the four corners of the barn.

So far we have been pleased with the ease of set up, the appearance of the rain barrel, and the ease of having water available to water our plants without the need to lug a heavy garden hose all over the yard.  The only downers are the unavailability to locally purchase rain barrels and diverters and the cost.  The cost though is a one time occurrence and with proper maintenance and winter storage the barrels should last for a long time.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Front Door Done for Now

I was able to finish the threshold painting about two hours before it started raining.....yet again.  I sure hope that the fact that we have a rain barrel isn't the reason that it's been raining because we have 6 more barrels.......eek!  May have to put 'Build an Ark' on the to do list.  R still needs to rebuild the door handle/lock set and we also need to install the new V bronze weatherstripping. But first I need to buy a large box of band aids before we install the weatherstripping.  If we get through that project without one of us bleeding profusely.....I will be totally surprised.
The new cast iron door mat.
The grass is finally filling in in front of the dining room windows.  This was the area where we brought in dirt from behind the garden shed to fill in this low spot and lower the high spot by the shed.  Sometimes I think that all we do is move dirt from here to there and there to here.
We removed the shrubs and planted perennial flowers so that we can get to the windows to clean them.  The flowering shrubs were beautiful but we couldn't get to the windows and the area was too low anyways.  The sedums (Autumn Joy) will give us fall color, the Russian Sage will add some lovely blue/purple color in July/August, and finally the pink cone flowers will give us a summer full of tall sturdy pink flowers.  The best part was that I only had to buy the 3 Russian Sages which were 75% off.  The rest of the flowers were freebies from my yard.
I moved the wrought iron chair (curbside treasure) from the garden shed to the porch.  I needed something there until I find the perfect something (I'll know it when I see it).
Thursday is an appointment day for both of us.  We both have dentist appointments (different dentists) and I also have a doctor's appointment so I can see that we will get very little accomplished on Thursday.  We need to mow AGAIN!  I swear I can hear the grass growing.  Speaking of growing, we already have banana peppers that will be ready to pick next week.  Our tomato plants are covered in small maters and flowers BUT the dang wabbits keep eating my lettuce plants.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Front Door Update

Rain makes painting impossible but it makes pulling weeds a lot easier.  My fingers and fingernails look horrible.  Thanks to no shortage of weeds, I still have more to pull.  Tuesday looks like the first day that we will be able to paint again.

I was able to get one coat of paint on the threshold before it started raining.  The concrete threshold was painted when we purchased our house and it's only been this one color so we stuck with that color and was able to match it perfectly.
 The before photo shows how most of the paint was missing from the top surface.
This photo shows the first coat of threshold paint.  I also need to use my flat artist brush to cut in next to the white paint.  That will require some weird yoga position to pull that bit of painting off without getting red paint on the white paint.

You can also see the blue painter tape is missing in the second photo.  R spent the last two weeks working on patching the concrete where the porch meets the shingles.  Over the years it looks like some chunks of concrete broke away and left a low spot next to the house where rain water would flow and ultimately get into the basement.  R added the PVC trim piece before we installed the new cedar shingles. Now with the concrete replaced and slightly raised higher at the house, we no longer have rain getting into the basement.  Yippee!

It will take a year or two for the concrete patch to lighten up but we I'd rather have a dry basement.

I located the cast iron door mat.  Believe it or not, it was right where I put it.....LOL  I've already spray painted it a satin black because it came as a rusty brown.  Details details details.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

DIY Downspout Diverter Install for the Rain Barrel

Rain barrels come in all sizes and shapes so there is no one size fits all when it comes to setting them up.  The goal is to get rain water into the barrel and as long as that happens, all is good.

We live in the north which means that the rain barrel will be non operational during the cold months. Our plan is to empty the barrel and move it to the garden shed during the winter.  Make sure you do not leave rain water in the barrel during below freezing temperature months because once it freezes it will damage your barrel and the fittings.

Once the rain barrel is removed we will need to return to our regular down spout set up so we chose to install a downspout diverter.  The diverter diverts/sends the rain water to your rain barrel instead of out the end of your down spout.   Since we want to return to the original set up in the winter the diverter can simply be flipped up and the down spout will operate normally.

We found diverters offered in two materials, galvanized metal or white vinyl.  Our down spouts and gutters are white vinyl so this was our choice.  We sourced them from a company in Canada called Panon.  Shipping is steep but the product cost is low.  The metal diverters are expensive but shipping is less expensive so it really comes down to material choice.

The install required just a few tools and was pretty straight forward.

Screw driver
2 screws
Piece of fine sandpaper
Nail punch (optional)

Determine where you need to place the diverter so that the rain water will flow into the barrel.  Mark that location with the pencil.  Using the level, mark a cut line across the downspout.  Use a hacksaw to cut through the downspout. Use the fine grit sand paper to remove any burrs left by the hacksaw.

Slide the diverter onto the downspout.  We then reattached the bottom portion of the downspout that we cut off.  You may or may not need to shorten your down spout. It all depends on how close to the ground you downspout was initially.  Our downspout was about 16 inches above ground level so we had plenty of room and didn't need to shorten our down spout.

Next use the level to make sure that your down spout with the installed diverter is straight.  Mark the location for the screws using a pencil or in our case we used a nail punch because it gives a nice little starter hole for the wood screw we were using to attach to the wood shingles.

Install the screws or whatever fasteners you chose based on the material you are attaching your down spout to.  Your diverter is now installed.

But appears that our diverter is too short or our barrel is too fat (I'm not fat shaming my barrel but just stating a fact).  Now what?  I thought we could add a short piece of down spout but that didn't work.  I then remembered that we had purchased one of those down spout flipper things that you use to lift your downspout to mow.  We cut a section off the end and slid it under the flipper part of the diverter.  The diverter is held in place by the flipper part and now extends over the rain barrel.

We needed to extend the flipper part because during very light rain or after a rain storm when the roof is still shedding rain or when the gutters are slowly emptying the output is minimal and the droplets would fall off the end and down the side of the barrel or down the side of the shed and onto the ground possibly making for a damp basement (this is our pump house and has a basement).

When fall comes we will remove the added piece, put it into the empty barrel along with the attached hoses, store the barrel, and flip the diverter up and the gutter downspout system is back to it's pre rain barrel format.

Our philosophy is to keep things simple.  We have found that when something is too elaborate or time consuming we just will not keep up with it despite our best intentions.  Even with the hiccup this hasn't been too difficult.

Next up.....what about when the barrel is full of water and it is still raining cats and dogs? 

New House Numbers

We really did not need these house numbers above the door but when I saw them last year I just had to have them.  I found them on Etsy while searching for vintage house numbers.  I wanted forged iron numbers with a hammered finish but these cast iron numbers came up in the search.

The seller was sold out of the 1's so I had to wait 6 months before they became available.  The casting was rough so I needed to use my pencil air grinder to remove the excess flash and to smooth the seams before I repainted them in a satin black.  True vintage cast iron will never have visible seams, grind marks, and excess flash.  Vintage cast iron items are usually works of art considering the processes available back when they were cast.

Each number is held in place with a small tapered head wood screw.  So 4 screws, easy peasey, right? Wrong.  Determining the spacing between odd shaped numbers is difficult.  I first found the center of the top of the door and marked that spot with a piece of blue painter's tape marked with an X on the center point.

The first number that I installed was the second 9.  I eyed what I thought looked like nice spacing. You know...not too close and not too far apart....but just right.  I then made sure I had exactly the same amount of space above and below the number.  At that point, I used the nail punch to make my indent in the wood so I could start the screw.  Because I used the nail punch and these were wood screws the screw went right in without any fight.

The next number was the first 1.  I measures the same distance from the center mark as the 9 and made sure that the top and bottom spacing was correct.  I then asked R what he thought.  He didn't like it.  The 9's and the 1's are different widths.  The 9's are wider.

So I climbed down off the ladder and looked for myself while R held the number in place.  I agreed it looked wrong.  R moved the number to where he thought it looked good and I agreed.  We now had the two center numbers installed and it only took 45 minutes.  Thank heavens the next two numbers went faster because we could just measure the distance we the already installed 9 and 1 to get the spacing for the other 9 and 1.

When all was said and done I measured the space on the left side and the right side of the house numbers and I was shocked that there was only 3/32nds of an inch difference.  My husband always says "close enough for the girls I date." when something is good enough and I agree.  BTW if you are wondering, the window is not centered on the door.  Our guess is that an adjustment was made to the width of the door and they took it all off one side.  We never noticed it until now so we are not going to dwell on it.  We have bigger fish to fry.
Speaking of goofy things R says.  I like to make lists.  He is an early riser and I sleep late because I am up late (making lists...just really).  I always put more to do's on my list than I think I or we can accomplish and then just transfer the undone items to the next day's list.

Lately I have been leaving the list out for R in the morning.  He says "it's not fair because it is like you're awake when you are still sleeping."  LOL That's the plan,

I also planted 6 buttercrunch and 6 Romaine lettuce plants and with that, the garden is officially completely planted.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about installing the diverter for the rain barrel.  I need to let my blood pressure go back down first.