Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Finned Tube Radiators

At some point in time, the previous home owners did a major renovation.

And by "major renovation", I mean:

  1. Drop ceiling in the living room and dining room
  2. Drop ceiling in the kitchen (although not the hideous metal track w/ 2x4 tiles style, it is still dropped and re-framed ceiling with large sheetrock "tiles")
  3. New wallpaper.  Everywhere.
The year was 1977.

Although I am not 100% sure, I believe they also removed the giant cast iron radiators downstairs at the same time.  The radiators have been replaced with crappy finned-tube lines covered in 'elegant' metal casings.  The house has been gently weeping every since.

Dated photo: this wall and finned tube case no longer exist

There is some decent evidence that the geniuses that took the radiators out actually had a good struggle moving the radiators the entire way

SCRATCH, SCRATCH, SCRATCH...  Hey thanks guys.  Why don't just pour some gasoline and drop a match on the way out; it might get the job done faster.

Ever since I removed radiator cases to build a new wall, I have been trying to brainstorm how to make these terrible finned tube lines look half decent.  It only seems natural that I should build some sort of decorative wood case around them, and blend them into the mouldings.  This is going to be tricky since I intend to built some shelves in the one corner where the finned tube wraps around.

Here are a few ideas from the world wide web:

Someone makes these in metal, but something similar could be mimicked with wood.  A little to ornate.

Too hard

This has potential

Same. Nice accent, not too much work

A little too simple

It turns out that not too many people do this, as examples are minimal.  I understand that wood is not the best choice, but we have a small house and these radiators are not too small.  The wood should heat up quickly, which will leave the hot air to choose the path of least resistance via free convection soon after.  Although I don't know a ton about finned tube radiators, I went Ph.D. level with heat transfer, and I also designed and optimized large-scale finned tube radiators (for true radiation, not convection) for vessels in Low Earth Orbit.  Thus, I think I can probably make something happen here in my house.

Anyway, I still have a ways to go on the design of the shelves.  Thanks for being patient with me and please stay tuned as I begin tearing up the downstairs.  (I pushed the destruction of the house until after the holidays!).  Its about to get interesting.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Leveling the ceiling downstairs

Its about that time:

1. Set up the laser
2. Get the firring strips
3. Get the shims
4. Grab a nail gun
5. Get a couple coils of romex
6. Get a pile of sheetrock

Add those all together and you get:

"ho, ho, ho"

There's only one thing worse then getting a stocking full of coal...  A stocking full of sheetrock dust!!!

What's that I hear? Is the ghost of Xmas future upon us...??

"ho, ho, *cough* *cough* freakin-ho"
--Occupy Sheetrockers Local 655321

Let's do this holiday season right... the same as last year!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Moving in

Since we have been living in the bedroom for a couple weeks now, I suppose its time to post some final photos.

This was the spoiler photo from Drizzlecane Sandy
This is now the only ceiling that isn't either a) half down or b) falling down

Bed: final

Random view: final

Built-in wall shelves: final

Don't judge me on these books.  Twas the night before appraisal , so grabbed what ever was lying around the house. 
To be honest, I have no idea where any of our real books are.  Next time, I will build the shelves taller than 10", they are not text book worthy.

The crown in this room separates the men from the boys.

Wedding gift.  I guess these are called curtain tie-backs?

Keeping the decor vintage.  I will defer all questions to my interior designer

The foreman is obviously pleased.  She has only left this bed like twice in the last two weeks. 

Who can blame her? The rest of the house sucks.  Dorothy only leaves this room occasionally as well.  I guess I did something right!

It's fun to share my miseryjoy and receive all the words of encouragement on this weblog. Thanks for all who have stuck with me on this leg of my house journey.  Remember: its not about the destination, its about the journey.  I chant that mantra to myself every day as I make the journey up the staircase, into the only nice destination in our house: the new master bedroom.

Although this sounds like an epilogue, I am certainly not signing off for good... Today I conclude Chapter 1.  Luckily, I have about ten other open chapters elsewhere at the homestead!

Please stay tuned as I start my next project:


Monday, November 19, 2012

Putting this project to bed

As you guys know from my previous grumblings weblog posts, the day before the appraisal was an epic scramble.

Now, what you may not know, is that the night before that day, I actually had to build that bed!  I had already assembled the headboard and footboard, but I still had to put it all together.  Basically, I just joined the side rails (1 x 8s) with pocket screws.  I did have to prime and paint first.

Just because the pictures are so fun, let's re-live that Thursday evening (a work night) where I stayed up until 3am building a bed.

The lighting on these photos are a little dull.  It's because it's.. well... around 3am on Thursday!

First, I pulled up two courses of rosin paper and another course of 15# tar paper which I used to cover the floor.  After pulling down a hundred-year-old plaster ceiling (9 ft high) and dropping my nail puller about a hundred times, this was a real moment of truth.  Will the floors still be decent??

Not quite the shine that Mr. Clean's bald head refects

After doing a hands-and-knees scrub job with some Murphy's oil soap

Is Murphy's oil good or  bad for waxed floors?  The internet says a little of both.  Honestly, my floors can't do much worse in some areas of the house... so I guess I don't really care

Headboard wall, glamour shot

Dirty, but still decent.

Radiator cabinet

You'd think I wouldn't eat off these, but I have.  When they were much dirtier than this!

West wall, "elevation" type view

North wall, "elevation" type view 

I know some of those photos are a bit boring, but its the one opportunity to take some shots with out the place cluttered with furniture.  In our case (when all your furniture is trash picked or found), the room actually looks best like this.  Trust me, we know.

Puttin' it all together.

Should I try to squeeze another clamp on here?

Starting to look like something...

Either I'm winning  you over on this idea with this picture; or I've lost you completely.

Antiqued post. I just put this one in to annoy you, loyal reader

I'll be honest.  I felt like death after this night.  Thank goodness the next night was even worse!  But these are the type of memories that will last a lifetime.  And, to be fair, the bed is awesome.  It was worth it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bed Assembly

Recapping with some older photos, for your viewing pleasure.

After I painted these posts, I gave them an antique look
Painted and ready to go!

Kreg jig is probably the most amazing invention since the bicycle.

Shop grade woodworking table

Aka: my floor

Footboard: this things are heavy as hell.  It can almost out-balance my track stand

Headboard, seated visually in place


As you can see, I muffed up a bit on the right side.  I had sanded off some of the last coat of paint from the door (it was loose).  Underneath, it was stained a dark cherry color.  It looks fine when exposed in small chunks (antique-style).  However, when an entire side was brown, I had to do something.  I hit it with some primer.  I don't know, I'm hoping it disappears when the room all comes together.

Now, that I've told you guys, I'm sure it won't!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Cover-Up

I live in the US of A, so I've witnessed a fair share of crucial cover-ups.  So naturally, I had to lean on my heritage a bit when the appraiser came in the house on Saturday. You see, not everything in the house is exactly "appraisal ready".  Especially when it comes to the re-wiring (which is currently in progress).  

Just what every appraiser wants to see

I spent two days blitzing the property to try to hide some of my electrical 'works in progress'.  I thought I had an intimate relationship with misery, but our relationship has now reached a new level.  Quite possibly, it was one of the longest and hardest two days of my life.

However, the results were remarkable  And, I "passed".  Phew!

I now join the ranks of some of the most prolific cover-ups in recent history.  Please observe my peers in the following photo montage:

And now, introducing my contribution to the all-time great cover-ups list:

(... drum roll...)

This switch, and a few other switches and fixtures, were covered in order to give the appearance of complete wiring

About ten minutes before the above photo was taken, the switch area looked like this:

A romex squid of hot wires
Yes, my friends, that is not a real switch.  Even though I surrendered a few nights sleep to complete this task everywhere on the site, I pulled off a quintessential David Copperfield moment: the illusion of a decent house.

Umm, my card was actually the Ace of Spades. Sorry dude.

I could post every instance of fake switches and fixtures I assembled, but I think you get the gist.  Also, some words of wisdom: squeezing a 12/3 and 12/2 wires into a tiny holes all over your house is not exactly an easy feat.

Special thanks to my sister and friend Mat for helping me move and clean up on Friday night.

Bonus points for whoever can name all the photos in the montage