November 2007


When we moved in, there was no shower. Highly inconvenient. So we hunted for a hand-held shower that goes over the tub spout. Found one. It actually worked well for the couple bucks it cost. We got bolder and mounted it to the wall. Now we had a shower for very short people.

I spotted a “Converto-Shower” in an old house parts catalog. Basically it’s a tub spout with a long pipe leading to the shower. I suppose it’s the same as an ordinary shower, but the vertical pipe is outside the wall, and no major plumbing has to be redone. I thought about ordering it, but I am cheap, and didn’t want to risk the cash on something that might not work as well as it sounds.

One lucky day at the architectural salvage store, I found a really old version of this item, from the Chicago Faucet Company. It had just arrived that morning. Ten bucks and I was out the door with my prize!

All that had to be done was: remove the old tub spout, install the new one, attach the vertical pipe to the new spout, and screw the top support into the wall. Easier said than done.

The old spout was incredibly difficult to remove. It did turn counter-clockwise like the pictures in my handy repair book, but it took two people to get it to move at all. This picture’s after the old spout was taken off. Nasty!

The new spout did twist right on, after applying teflon tape to the threads to prevent leaks.

However, the problems really started when I tried to get the vertical pipe to attach to the “new” spout. The vertical pipe rests on a thick washer-type thing that sits in the spout, to keep it level and prevent leaks. It looked like a press-in fitting or something. Anyway, I got everything hooked up, but when I turned on the water, it leaked badly. Turns out the washer-thing was chipped in half, so the pipe wouldn’t be flush with the opening. I improvised a fix by using a big washer and some crazy glue to rebuild the broken part. If that failed, I had some of that metal plumber putty stuff (the kind that claims to be able to bond even underwater).

But the crazy-glue fix did work. There’s a minor leak, coming from the diverter lever, but we can live with that. Attached the thing to the wall, put on a fancy-looking yet cheap showerhead on, and voila! A shower! (The whole project took about 8 hours or so, including two trips to the hardware store for parts).

One reason for not updating the site in a a while… our new baby showed up! Little Vivian arrived on Halloween, a healthy 7 pounds. Everyone’s doing fine, but we’re all tired.

Sorry trick-or-treaters — I bought candy to leave outside in a bowl, but in the commotion of the day’s events, I forgot to leave it outside. We’ll make it up to y’all next year!

Though I should have been keeping current with the progress, I haven’t so now I’m playing catch-up.

We hired a local electrician to upgrade our service from 60 to 100 amps. That portion of the work went fairly well. But the house still needed rewiring to take advantage of the upgrade.

The electrician started on one of the bedrooms, so when the baby arrived that room should have been done. Unfortunately, it wasn’t, and it seemed to be taking an inordinately long time for a simple bedroom rewire.

Finally though, that room got done. We decided that the kitchen needed to be the next room done. First, since we couldn’t run the microwave without fear of popping fuses or overloading the poor wires. Second, since after I tried changing a light bulb for the kitchen overhead light, the light sparked and stopped working. Here’s my “fix” for that problem, to the right. And third, the refrigerator (brand new) weirdly started turning on and off. So did one of our phone’s handsets. Both were plugged into the same outlet (only one of two in the kitchen).
The first day of the kitchen rewire went slow but steady, and I helped knock out some holes in the wall for new outlets. I had hoped progress would be quicker though. Since our guy only works on the weekend for us, I decided to prepare all the outlet holes required, find the right spots to drill through the basement ands walls for the wiring, and run some wire. The electrician sure was surprised when he came out next, and the kitchen and breakfast nook are just about finished! Only the lights have to be done, which is fine because I have no desire to walk in the unfloored attic (where the knobs and tubes are not logically laid out at all unlike in the basement). Especially nice that most of the kitchen’s done, right before Thanksgiving.

Tool tip: the Bosch 14.4V compact/brute tough line of drills got excellent reviews from a consumer magazine, and good reviews on amazon.com as well. That’s what I ended up buying, and it’s done a great job at drilling through the studs/floor in the basement (which are apparently made of petrified wood).

I haven’t posted since September. Shame on me. Let me come up with some excuses!
Moving into the new place was more work than I thought.
I had to rid the basement of spiders and cobwebs. It was overrun. That took many hours with my new best friend, the Shop-Vac.
Once we moved in, we had to figure out how to get on the internet (since we’re in the middle of nowhere). No more fast cable modem for us. At the moment we’re on terribly slow dial-up, but hope to upgrade to some kind of satellite or wireless service if funds allow.
Working full-time (over the already mentioned, frustratingly slow dial-up) and trying to keep up with the repairs, and getting ready for an addition to the family didn’t leave much time for writing. I’m sure other people could balance it all better, but I like to sleep!