For friends and family, this is a site to see what we've gotten ourselves into and how we're doing. For people who care about Big Red, it's a chance to keep posted about what we're doing to preserve and restore her. It's also a place for people who love old houses and appreciate what they mean as much as we do. We hope you'll be pleased with the results.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

New member of the family.

The newest member of our family...his name is Winchester.
"Winnie the Pooch" for short.  He's a healthy 8mo. old
English Bulldog that we got from a very nice family who is
relocating.  He's too damn ugly not to love.
Ashley's first response when I brought him in was "My god, what
have you done."  but she's coming around.
He listens to commands pretty well, and has been
excellent on a leash for his age.  He's pretty excited to be here,
as you can see.
Our other dog, Ace, has his own feelings for the moment which he's
sharing pretty well in this photo.  They are definitely the "odd couple".

Friday, July 10, 2009

knock knock...

I had been planning to finally do an update to this blog...we have been working on lots of projects inside (Elena's bedroom, finishing the upstairs hallway floors, landscaping) and then we got a knock on the door yesterday. To keep the story short, it was a group of girls from Canton. One of them lives in a house similar to ours and she had picked up a postcard (I think from a garage sale)that reminded her of her house...but it was ours. So they drove over to Wyoming to track the house down.

We were thrilled. This image shows a tremendous amount of detail about how the house looked circa 1907. Right off some things stood out to us- the original railing on the sunroom roof was much more ornate. In fact, the wall of the sunroom was totally different. Additionally, the railing on the turret roof was in plain sight! There are window details that have changed and even more appears the paint scheme was different than it is now. There appears to be a 3rd color (or use of red) on some of the detailing! It's totally amazing how one small black and white photo with some heavy "haze" can provide so much information. We've been playing detective since we got it. Can you spot the well in back?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Captain Nemo called. He says turn it up to 11.

Or: hot water heating system has gone kerplunkity plunk.

The first few months of winter, we seemed to be in pretty good shape. The heat was working fine, although we began to notice a gurgling sound in the pipes. You see, we have baseboard hot water heat. Over about a week, the gurgling sound began to seem more pronounced. I also noticed that the tankless water heater was working round the clock to keep the water heated. What's more, the pressure seemed to be dipping....I thought that maybe we had a leak somewhere in the system, but I couldn't find it. I put some additional water and pressure in the system and hoped for the best.
It seemed to be ok for about a week and then the pressure took a nose-dive. Heat in the house began to drop.
Finally, the tankless boiler stopped firing...and that's when the fun began.
The first picture is how the system was....
It turns out that the pex connections had begun to leak in several places....including one over a foundation wall, such that it wasn't readily visible. The leaks were causing the system to constantly have to add water and then heat the new water...eventually the cycling fried the controller board on the boiler.

After a couple repair bills for people who had no idea what they were looking at, I managed to get a really awesome company called Wayne Heating out. They gave me the bad news.

1. (I knew this one, but had hoped to deal with it later in the spring) The pex connections were failing. The early plastic pex connectors have a tendency to fail under heat loads. This meant that I'd have to track down all of those connections and have them replaced. That meant cutting holes into the ceilings of the two rooms that had ceilings in the basement to locate the piping and joints. The second picture shows one of the pex connectors and the next photo shows a sample hole.

2. The system had some issues. As it was, it was going to cost a substantial amount for the controller replacement. Additionally, there is an "acid wash" that several of the companies that came out told me would need to be done for the system as it has small diameter "tubes" that can become clogged and less efficient. All three companies that came out agreed that the cost of getting the existing system ship-shape was probably better spent by upgrading to a larger system. The choices varied, but essentially they all came down to a larger tankless system capable of higher BTU output, and a recommended secondary hot water tank for domestic hot water that pulls the heat from the tankless boiler. In addition, the newer and larger systems don't require the acid wash.

So, we hired Wayne Heating to put in a Weil-Mclain system (insert Tim Allen grunts here). They agreed to do a significant part of the labor including the replacement of all the pex connectors with a brass version by the brand name of "Shark-bite" and to do a couple other things...1. add a hot and cold outdoor spigot for the driveway. 2. connect the water on the first floor bathroom sink. 3. Move one radiator from an upstairs room to the basement. 4. Install an extra baseboard from the attic into the basement. 5. Reconnect one of the baseboards in the entryway that wasn't connected to the old system.

They also recommended that instead of having the whole first floor set of baseboards in one big "loop" that we break that loop into two. This allowed them to set up a much larger feed pipe to the two loops and substantially increase the amount of hot water going through the loops. What does that mean? It means that the back room off of the kitchen and the kitchen are both now as warm as the rest of the house.

The last picture is of the new system.

They were very busy, but managed to get us worked in and had the system put in and all my extras taken care of in just under 3 days. We rented a hotel room for a couple of those, and we toughed it out for a few days with cold water. You haven't lived until you've taken a shower or two with water that is about 40 degrees. Good times, good times.

This may put an extension on how fast we get around to painting the exterior this summer....but that's ok.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Elena's Birthday Party

Elena had her first birthday in the house!
The downside was that we about froze everyone to death. We also had a little girl get her finger scraped up in a door...and I had a really bad cold and wanted to be in bed...but other than that it was great.

The cold came from a couple culprits...1. It's a good idea to make sure you don't have any windows partially open when the temperature is about 12. Also, if you replace batteries on the heat control, make sure you've turned the heat on. Otherwise your house will be about 58 degrees and your guests teeth will be chattering.

Also, there seems to be a rule that if 4 or more girls get in a group (it only takes 2 boys) then somebody is going to get hurt. One little girl accidentally shut a door on another little girl's finger...fortunately it wasn't broken or in need of much more than a princess band-aid.

As for my cold...I was a pretty worthless host. I had spent all morning in bed, and pretty much spent the party thinking about being back in it.

Fortunately, Elena had a great time. She really likes playing with other kids and really enjoyed the games and toys. We're pretty happy that she's willing to share most of the time.
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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Little shop of Christmas Horror

Haven't gotten anything done on the house these last couple weeks. Putting up Halloween and then moving on to the Christmas decorations has kept things moving. Something I should have anticipated, but didn't was that it wouldn't matter if I have my workshop set up...I'd end up having some things to make as Christmas approaches.

First up: Elena is getting ready for her first Kindergarten play. I offered (or was it Ashley offered?) to help out with a set prop. It's the "street sign" for Candy Cane Lane. It's made from 3" pvc, a dowel rod...a couple wood balls and a plastic oversized christmas ornament...oh and then the carved sign of course. It stands about 6' tall. It's mounted in a Christmas tree stand and is relatively light. It shouldn't be too much trouble to move around. Which is in direct opposition to the machine that made it.

I like to think of each sign as preperation for trim work I'll have to duplicate next summer. I hope to have more updates on the house soon. Seriously. No really. I mean it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Up and away

Our first Halloween in Big Red is over. Elena's first costume (a bat) didn't make it through our halloween party. In all the excitement, the ears got broken and the costume lost a few pieces. The excitement, of course, being a sugar fueled mob of children running about the yard and through the house like a band of Hell's Angels at a pig roast...not that we mind.

Her last minute choice for trick or treating was Supergirl. She tried very hard to get me to dress up as Superman, but I refused. I couldn't subject the world to seeing me in blue tights. I'm sure the neighbors already have concerns about the eccentric fellow who moved into that nice red house. Squeezing my body into spandex would just confirm their worst fears.

We knew we'd probably have a lot of trick-or-treaters, but WOW. Our house seemed to become a central location to park and a prime place to visit. Many neighbors we hadn't met came by to introduce themselves and to let us know they liked the decorations. More than one told us how nice it was to see the house so alive and lit up. Men, in particular, wanted to know how we did the "magic mirror" in the large window on the porch.

The most common comment was "So...what do you plan to do for Christmas?"
Now we have to figure that out.

I plan to get back to our regular programming next post with some updated pictures inside the house and a discussion about water leaks that occur before a party. Ugh.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Viva Halloween

Because of the volume of children in our immediate neighborhood...I've decorated the house in a "halloween meets las-vegas" style. Plenty of bright lights to go with the spooky decorations.
Generally speaking I think it's fun. Based on the number of cars that have slowed down to look..then drove around the block and looked again, it seems to be a hit.
The only thing we leave on after about 9:30 p.m. are the two items in the attic....the underlit face, and the blacklight ghost on the side.

In other news...the area beside the garage (in the alley) is cleaned up. One big dumpster of rubble later and the pop-up camper and my little trailer are stowed back there and off the drive-way.
It looks much better.

This week is going to be filled with cleaning and last minute decorating. The party is next Saturday. We temporarily pulled up the plastic on the floors and have hidden all the paint, tools and other renovation material that we've become so used to living with in the house. By Halloween, that will all be back and we'll be working on Elena's room.