This Old Erie House
By Linda Martin Community Blogger
Owners of old houses have so much in common that house talk comes easy between us. Please join in the conversation as we try to fix, restore and update our old Erie houses.  Read more about this blog.
Posted: January 4th, 2011

I’m giving up my This Old Erie House blog. I’ve enjoyed sharing what I have finished in my house with you. However, I think my pace is way too slow to keep a blog interesting so I’ll just enjoy my work at a snail’s pace and not have to worry about it. I wish you all a very Happy New Year!!

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 31st, 2010

I received some more photos of Eriez stoves today. Thank you! To see all the photos click here to go to my Eriez Photo page.

These photos are from Tom Herwer. He said this first one sold at auction for $2600. It’s a beauty!

This is a 1904 Eriez.

Eriez 3-burner stove.

Eriez parlor stove.

Eriez stove and radiator.

Please send in photos of your Eriez stove. They’ll be added to the Eriez Stoves Photo page.

Posted in: antique, Appliances
Posted: December 30th, 2010

I’m one of those people that like original, historic windows, doors and just about everything else in your house. So I’m happy to spread the word about this organization. Below is a snip-it from their website linked to their website.

Posted in: windows
Posted: December 20th, 2010

I didn’t have time so far to go out and film another light show this year so I’ll re-post the one from last year. It was a terrific light show, much better in person! My geocaching group has a gps list of light shows and if I can get out and about in time, I’ll try to get a video made of the best one.


Slower connections: pause video and let it load first.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 12th, 2010

About a month ago our bathtub hot water faucet started to leak.  By the end of the month it was a dribble.  Hot water down the drain, 24/7.  We put off fixing it until we returned from California.   On Sunday we decided it had to be fixed.  So while everyone else was at the movies, out shopping for those bargains, we were on the internet  looking up instructions to fix the faucet.

I had fixed the leaky sink faucets a while back which was a pretty easy fix once you see how it is put together.  The bathtub wasn’t as easy.  I thought I was all set.  I knew what to do.

First we attempted to shut the hot water off at the hot-water heater in the basement.  It was shut off but the hot water still ran through the faucets.  Then we tried to shut the main water valve off that supplies all the water in the house.  It wasn’t going to budge. I even hit it with a hammer to try and loosen it but, no.   I was horrified to think if a pipe upstairs sprung a leak somewhere, we wouldn’t be able to shut the water off!  Well, that has to wait a while and we will have to seriously get that fixed….later.  Right now it was the hot water we needed to fix.  Since there wasn’t a turn-off valve in the wall behind the shower (which I want to have) we figured there has to be one somewhere between the hot-water heater in the basement and where the pipes head up to the second-story bathroom.  We found it.  It was frozen open.  We carefully tapped it with a hammer and tried to use leverage with a long screw driver wedged into the handle but it wasn’t going to budge.  I got the channel locks out and put all I had into it and it started to move.  My husband turned it the rest of the way off.  Then that turn-off valve faucet started to drip.  Not as bad as the faucet in the bathroom but still it was dripping. We checked the water upstairs and it was shut off.

Back upstairs, I unscrewed the screw holding the handle on the bathtub faucet and tried to remove it just like we saw on the internet.  It wasn’t going to budge, either.  I started my rant about how nothing ever goes smoothly with old houses.  Anyway, we kept trying because we just couldn’t see how anything else would be holding the handle on.  I got a large screwdriver for some leverage and started working it around the handle and it finally came off.  That handle must have been on there since 1957 which is the date the bathroom was remodeled by the former owner.

Problem.  What we were looking at with the handle removed didn’t match anything we saw on the internet.  We twisted and worked a threaded collar off to reveal a brass piece which we took off with a crescent wrench.  That revealed a valve stem that we tried to unscrew but it wouldn’t come loose no matter which way I turned it.  Turns out you just pull it out.  Excited, I held the piece in my hand.  What did we have here?  There was no rubber washer left at all, just a screw on the end.  A broken O ring fell off.  We didn’t see where it came from.

We drove up Peach Street to Lowes.  We didn’t find a part that was exactly like ours but it looked really, really close.  We bought it and one for the cold side of the faucet while we were at it and returned home.  We learned at the store that you’d use a different part for the hot than you would the cold because of the way the handle turns.  We also bought some silicone to replace the stuff I had to dig out around the pipe coming out of the wall to keep water from leaking into the wall. After replacing the part into the hot side of the faucet we discovered it stuck out a little too far because the handle wouldn’t fit on far enough to let us get the screw threaded back on. The stem where the handle fits on has a different amount of those tiny threads on it than the handle had.  It would have worked if it wasn’t for that. We drove back to the store and returned it. We then went to Home Depot and they didn’t have one like ours, either. We also checked the internet before we left and couldn’t find one.   Even though I wanted to replace the whole worn piece , which is apparently a dinosaur, we had no choice but to replace the O-ring and washers.  I bought a box of assorted O-rings, a box of assorted flat washers and just in case, a box of beveled washers that looked the size that would fit.  Back home we went.

I unscrewed the screw on the end of the stem valve and dug out the tiny partial bit of rubber that was there and replaced it with the beveled washer, beveled side up. I stretched a little O-ring around the stem in a groove on the stem. It went back together perfectly. However, when we took this apart there was another larger O ring that we don’t know where it came from.  So for good measure I just added another one around the outside of the stem before I put it back.  At some point when we do the cold-water side of the faucet maybe we will see how it is suppose to be put together.

We turned the faucet back on in the basement and the bathtub faucet no longer leaked.

We still have a small drip in the basement on the hot-water shut-off valve that feeds the second story, we have a shut-off valve at the hot-water heater that doesn’t completely shut off the water and we have a main water valve that is frozen open but the bathtub leak is fixed!  I’m thinking I should take a plumbing course (online?) so I can learn to solder new shut-off valves in our house. I would love those lever kind instead of the round handles with stem valves and washers.  We were lucky no pipe broke while we tried to open or shut the valves with such force or we’d have been in real trouble. We did save a lot not having to have a plumber come out and now we know how to fix the bathtub faucet which will make it easier next time.  We’ll do the cold-water side of the faucet when we get the main shut-off valve fixed. And then there is all the valves on the radiators that won’t turn…..

Posted in: plumbing
Posted: December 3rd, 2010

I have a spot on my wall that needs filling with some kind of artwork.  I have my race-horse statue trophy that my horse earned 30 years ago  on the antique ice chest that also has a reproduction bronze-colored arts and crafts lamp on it.  I need something copper, brass or bronze on the wall to set it off.  My room is decorated in the craftsman-style but I have that one small area that I want to be my horse area.  I’ve never lost my love of horses.  I wanted my sister’s horse-head copper or copper-plated picture that I fell in love with more than 30 years ago.  I only saw it once.  But I loved it.  It belonged to her late husband’s grandparents that raced quarter horses in the 30s, 40s and 50s in the Los Angeles area and had many winners.  I emailed her and made a substantial offer for it if she still had it.  Her daughter that lives near her had it in storage.  It has been in storage since before the family moved to WA about 15 years ago and my sister passed it on to her and it never made it out of a storage box.

The daughter agreed to sell it to me but the frame on the picture was broken and the copper was very dirty.  I told her NOT to clean it at all.  I wanted the patina still on it.

Then my sister emailed me saying she saw a picture on eBay exactly like the one I was buying from them and so far it was selling for 99 cents.  What!!???  I already made a big offer for theirs.  I looked at it on eBay and I was a little stunned because I actually didn’t like the one on eBay.  It wasn’t what I thought I remembered and I remembered it being much larger.  How was I going to back out of this now? I wouldn’t though I’m sure they would have understood especially if one was going so cheap on eBay.  I was a bit bummed.  Maybe it looked better in person.

My niece found the picture in storage and sent a couple of photos to me.  I was so relieved.  It was very pretty. (See photos below) It was also not the same as the one my sister thought it was on eBay (she hadn’t seen it in so many years she forgot what it looked like.) The detail is amazing and I’m very happy now regardless of what it may be worth.  It is just what I wanted. I have to find a frame for it when I get it, which probably won’t be until after New Years.

I spent quite a number of hours trying to research who made this picture because my niece said there was no signature on it.  I thought it is Philip Di Napoli but now I found out that Gladys Brown also made some large Bas relief artwork. It may not be from either of them. It does remind me of a Saddlebred horse in parade gear.  Bridle has a frentera.  If anyone is a collector of metal horses and has an opinion on what mine is, I’d appreciate you commenting.  One thing I have noticed spending all that time researching these type of items, metal horses and horse heads, is there are a lot of cheap knock-offs even back in the vintage years just like there are of the pottery collectibles.  They have little or no detail from all the times they have made molds from molds and each time it loses detail and loses the graceful original form and detail.  When you come across a really good one, like the first ones these artists put out, they are expensive. You are most likely not going to find a really good one cheap. Not many will escape the collectors’ eyes.


Posted in: antique
Posted: November 30th, 2010

I’ve ordered a lot of shellac flakes, buttons, seedlac in the past but the place I used to get it from went out of business a while back and now there are new people running it.  The prices aren’t low like they used to be so I didn’t buy from them.

I checked some of the woodworkers forums to see where they buy from.  After checking the different recommended websites I chose  Shellac Shack from the state of Oregon.  They had the cheapest I could find for 5 lbs of the dewaxed garnet shellac flakes. The problem is they can’t take bulk orders over the internet. I guess their website wasn’t set up for the discount on bulk.   I had to call them and make the order.  Pretty old fashioned, right?!!  I don’t feel comfortable giving information over the phone. On the internet you use those shopping carts that have security locks so you feel more confident (and I always check the shopping cart has the lock icon on the browser.)  But before I ordered I checked the reviews by doing searches and people had only good things to say so I hope everything turns out OK, if not I’ll surely let you know.  He seemed really nice and he said he hadn’t gone to the post office so he’d send it today. That’s service!  Until my shellac comes, I’m pretty much at a stand still for finishing the woodwork trim. That’s OK because I have plenty of laundry and cleaning to do.***UPDATE:  I ordered the shellac on Tuesday and got the shellac late this afternoon, Thursday!!  That’s fast from Oregon to Pennsylavania!  Good job United States Postal Service and Shellac Shack.  The shellac came in 1 lb packages which is good.  When I bought bulk elsewhere all 5 lbs came in one big bag.  It will stay fresher this way.  Also the shellac flakes are pretty fine textured.  Only one bag has a hard clump of shellac in it.  I always get some clumps no matter who I have bought from and a hammer will break it up easily.  I’m very happy. I want to also note that I sent a flat-rate Priority box from Erie, PA to my son in Washington state on Monday and he got it Wednesday morning.  Wow, the postal service seems on top of things this year.

Posted in: finishes
Posted: November 26th, 2010

I have two Limbert Rocking Chairs that I bought more than 20 years ago from my sister who was having a moving sale back in California.  I didn’t know they were Limberts and I didn’t even know who or what Limbert was at the time.  I knew they were old, a little beat up and oak.  I bought them for $6 each which is what my brother-in-law had on the sale label.  I thought they were crazy selling them.  They belonged to my brother-in-law’s grandparents from back in the early 1900s.  At least if I bought them they would stay in the family.

Years later I saw a chair almost like mine in an antique store and the clerk pointed out that it had a hot-iron brand under the arm showing it was a Limbert chair.  I checked mine when I got home and they also had the same brand under the arm.

At some point mine had been reupholstered and no longer had leather seats.  The faux leather has ripped over the years but the chairs were still usable. I fell in love with these chairs and they have moved everytime I moved.  I had to refinish one because of damage to the finish during a move (I know it hurt the value but I’m never selling them.)

Today as I was dusting the furniture the duster snagged on the seat of the chair.  NOOOOOoooooooo!!  The spring has broken on the chair and poked through.
You can use chairs that have upholstery damage but you can’t use the chair with a spring sticking up to catch on your clothes or skin.  The seats on these chairs have to fit perfectly inside the framework of the chair.  I don’t believe I’ll be able to fix a spring.  I can reupholster regular chairs but maybe not something specialized like these.

Now I have to see what it would cost to reupholster and fix something like this.  Leather is out of our price range right now so maybe some kind of needle-point tapestry-like material would be nice.  Maybe even faux leather again.  Just really disappointed that this happened because I love sitting in the chair and the timing is bad with Christmas right around the corner. Maybe there is a book or video out there that can show me how to do it.  Who knows, maybe I’ll learn how to fix springs and find my calling. If anyone has reupholstered something like this, please comment on the difficulty of fixing the springs.

Posted in: antique, furniture
Posted: November 24th, 2010

I have been away with my husband visiting my dad in California this past week.  It was a great time to visit before things get crazy with the holidays.  The airports were not busy yet and we made it through without pat-downs at the security check points at the airports.  Both airports we used to check in coming and going (Erie and Sacramento) didn’t have scanners and all we had to do was walk through the usual metal detectors.  All that worry for nothing for me.

While I was at my dad’s house I noticed his heating thermostat.  It looked almost identical to ours that I replaced with a programmable last month.  I thought ours was probably vintage or antique.  I asked my brother who installed the thermostat in my dad’s house how old the thermostat was.  It was new when he installed it less than 8 years ago.  The style looks old to me. Perhaps some people like the old style?

Also, I thought I would mention a purchase I made a few months ago that I forgot to blog about.  I ordered a 50-ft hose from the internet for my Kirby vacuum.  It isn’t a Kirby brand but has attachments that fit different hose connections.  With my hardwood floors refinished I don’t like dragging the vacuum across it all the time and possibly scratching it.  I also don’t like hauling my vacuum on the stairs and with cats it works better to vacuum than to just swiffer.  I do come back and swiffer for any leftover hair. The 50-ft hose does lose some of the suction (from friction of the air in the hose that long) but still has a good suction.  I can place my vacuum and do all of my stairs and hardwood floors in the living room and dining room without moving the vacuum.  I love it! Maybe not as good as a central vacuum system but still great.

Posted in: Appliances
Posted: November 10th, 2010

I followed the instructions on the video I posted in my previous post and it really was that simple to remove that cap from the Swiffer WetJet bottle.  I didn’t need to break off the little prongs that stick out (recommended on a link I gave in my previous post) because when it was heated and I turned  the cap it bent them down enough that I can screw the lid back on and remove it without having to reheat it in boiling water.

So, now I need to make the solution that is recommended on the Waterlox website (Waterlox is an tung oil-based floor finish.) I’m using the vinegar and water so I don’t have to over pay for their pricey cleaner.  The instructions said: “A damp mop with a maximum mixture of 1 – 2 oz. of white vinegar to 2 gallons of warm water”

The WetJet bottle looks to be close to a quart. I’ll use the 2 ounces per 2 gallon suggestion and reduce it down to quart size.  One ounce per one gallon.  One fluid ounce is 6 teaspoons.   So that is 6 tsp per gallon.  Divide by 4 (qts per gallon) and you get 1 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar per quart of water (the max amount of vinegar they say to use or less.)  Vinegar is one of the cheapest things to buy and you use so little you can imagine how much money you will save not buying the Swiffer WetJet bottles.

Waterlox says you can use Murphy’s Oil Soap but says it leaves a residue that dulls the finish somewhat and that would have to be removed whenever you want to recoat the floor with more Waterlox in the future.  That might be a good way to dull a finish down that you think is too shiny.  Just a thought.

I’m glad to be able to refill the bottles.  Now if there was a cheaper pad that goes with the Swiffer WetJet.