Our ca. 1880 house

Questions and answers relating to houses built in the 1800s and before.

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Re: Our ca. 1880 house

Postby MoxhamAndy on Sat Dec 29, 2012 4:23 pm

Just registered the other day, but I've enjoyed watching your progress on this house.

1898 Foursqaure in Johnstown, Pennsylvania... Restoring it a week at a time.
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Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:51 pm
Location: Johnstown, PA

Re: Our ca. 1880 house

Postby Texas_Ranger on Tue Jan 01, 2013 3:35 pm

There might be another source for the humidity. Apparently some of the old smoke and soot deposits can be hygroscopic and pull water out of the air. If this causes the soot to bleed through the brick and plaster you get nasty yellow/brown stains.

Actually I'm surprised the PO didn't try to cover the stains with aluminium kitchen foil. Seems to have been quite common around here :D Last summer I removed half a roll from a kitchen ceiling. Now I'll probably seal the old stains (actually there's only one that really bled through our fresh paint) with shellac.
The bad thing with electricity : it almost always works.

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Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 6:42 am
Location: Vienna, Austria, Europe

Re: Our ca. 1880 house

Postby nezwick on Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:20 pm

Texas, you may be onto something with your moisture migration theory. Makes sense. I also can't imagine how horribly toxic the dust is that falls out of the chimney... 140 years of soot from whoknowswhat they burned in the fireplace and whatever was connected via the thimble.

Well today I got a little work done, though even after working all day it feels like nothing at all got done.

Here's my first dilemma. This piece of trim didn't survive the drop-ceiling installation... they hacked off the top few inches. Instead of trying to splice a piece back on (which not only would have been a pain, but would have forced me to keep this trim painted once I get around to stripping the trim), I decided to just replace it.

So I removed it, and replaced it with a piece I made from a salvaged pine baseboard (from the Shippenville house). The ceiling end had a 45° angle; the wall end had a 47° angle. So the wall is out of plumb by 2°. :D OF COURSE more plaster would fall off when I was nailing on the trim. Happens every time. The plaster on this whole angled section is pretty loose, so it'll get drywalled when it decides to finally come down. For now, I guess I'll fix it.

Here's a comparison of the two trim pieces side-by-side, after I sanded the paint off of both. There is definitely a colour/texture variation, but hey what can I do. My heart pine is has an orange/red colour (and AMAZING scent when sanded) and this pine is more golden, with very little aroma. I saved the old piece of trim and hopefully I can re-use it for something later.

Next was to remove some of the ceiling plaster to square up the huge hole in preparation for patching. What a mess that made!

I actually got over half of the framing done (boards to attach the drywall) but didn't take a picture. I ran out of lumber and screws, so I'll have to pick more up tomorrow.
The McCullough/Simkins house, built 1872-1877:
Progress thread on Old House Web
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Location: Corsica, PA


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