Saturday, December 20, 2014


I've been slowly plugging away at restoring my upstairs double hung window sashes. The bottom sash has been moving along steadily it has been stripped, treated with borate, primed and partially painted. 

The top sash has been stripped, but I ran into a bit of an issue. The top rail of the top sash was very warped. For whatever reason, the top rail had warped up leaving a significant gap between the rail and one of the muntin.  There was approximately a 3/4" gap. The rail was, however, solidly attached to both side stiles. I can't quite figure out what caused it, but it doesn't appear as if that window ever had a sash lock on it that would have held the two sashes solidly in place.

I was thinking that I needed to apply pressure to the rail to see if I could train the wood back into place.  I treated the frame with borate and then tried to use a couple of bungee cords to pull the rail back into place.

The bungee cords didn't apply enough pressure, so I was left to find another route. I was thinking about it one day and all of a sudden I had an idea. I have a set to trailer straps for a motorcycle or ATV...and they have a ratcheting mechanism. That would work, right?!

So, I hunted down the straps and wrapped one around the window and used the ratchet to pull the wood together. It worked.

The sash has been sitting in my basement like this for a few weeks.  (There was a Christmas cookie making break in there).  It seems as if I will have to leave the sash under pressure for a while, but I'm not sure how long.  I suppose I could really leave it there until Spring. The 3M plastic that is currently covering the window is working fine.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Retro Doorbell Idea

How cool is this? If I didn't already have a restored vintage doorbell to install, I'd be all over this. I'm kind of tempted anyways.

Thanks to @RetroRenovation for the link

Saturday, December 06, 2014


Random. I had my grandfather's typewriter restored to working condition. Word has it he purchased it from a small newspaper office in southern Minnesota. I was an English major, so it seemed like a logical thing to do.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


I wrote a few weeks ago about buying and installing new, wood framed storm windows in two of my upstairs windows.  In order to keep that post relatively focused and short, I skipped over a bit of a challenge I ran into in getting the storms in.

The windows are up high, so I wanted to install the storms from the inside. I had previously restored the double hung window on one side.  That window slid up easily and I was able to maneuver the new storm out the window opening and then pull it into place on the exterior and screw it in place.

The other window was another story.  I tried sliding the bottom window sash up and it got stuck on on the many layers of old paint. So, I tried sliding the top sash down and that also got stuck. Then I couldn't move either sash up or down. Both were stuck in the middle. I pushed and pulled for a while, took a break, bargained with God, applied some paste wax in the channel, and swore. None of it helped.

I finally came to the realization that, like it or not, I was going to have to pull out the double hung window sashes before I could get the wood frame storm window into place. ...And if I had the double hung sashes out, it only made sense to restore them before replacing them in the window. Crap.

So, out they came.

I now have the double hung sashes stripped, treated with borate and primed. I have the old glass out and cleaned. Next I need to paint the interior side of the sashes and then replace the glass, putty, paint the frame exterior, replace the rope and put it all back in the window opening.

In the meantime it is cold here in Minnesota, so I have the wood frame storm window in and that 3M weatherproofing plastic on the interior. It's surprisingly wind tight.

I tried to take a lot of photos while I was pulling out the double hungs.  So, here is the photo dump. I'm not sure they are very helpful though.

It's honestly very easy but can seem a little complicated. First you pull off the interior trim (the photos below are after I pulled off the crappy trim).  Then you tilt in the bottom window sash and hold on to the rope. The end of the rope has a knot and is nestled in a little groove in the side of the window sash. You pull the window sash loose and set it aside.

You don't need to, but I then tie the rope to a paint stir stick. There is a weight on the other end of this rope in the side of the window opening. The paint stick keeps the weight from dropping down inside the wall cavity. If you know how deep the wall cavity is, it is just as easy to cut the rope and let the weight fall.

One thing I have learned though, is that you want to keep all pieces of the old rope to give you an idea of how long you need to cut the new replacement rope (or chain).

Once you have the bottom window sashes out, there is a little piece of wood that now holds the top window sash in place (and separates the two double hung sashes). It's called the "parting bead."  In order to get out the top sash, you need to pull out the parting bead. These are usually nailed in with a few brads. I use a pliers to pull it out far enough to then use a small pry bar to coax it out. They sell these pieces of wood in almost every big box store, so don't lose your mind if you end up breaking it as you pull it out.

Once the parting bead is out, you remove the top of the double hung in the same was as the bottom.

Once the sashes are out, I remove the old putty and pull out the glass and then strip the frames. I did a series of posts a while back on the details, so I'll spare you the retelling in this post.

This was easily the window in the worst overall condition in my house (more on this in my next post). That said, once it is fully restored it should look virtually new.

interior trim has been removed.

So, the top window frame should be able to slide down and the bottom frame slide up. Here the top one came down about 4 inches and then got stuck.

The end of the rope nestled in the little groove.

The painters painted in the top double hung frame channel. Ugh.

You can see a little panel cut. Once you pry off that little door, the weight is behind there.

Here is the parting bead coming out.

The parting bead is now gone and you can see the empty groove where it once was.

Here is my new storm window in, with the double hung out.


Where the old hardware was.


I don't paint the sides of the window frame. I paint the inside and outside faces and the top and bottom, but not sides.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


I'm a city girl. I'm accustomed to falling asleep to the sound of cars driving by with stereos blasting, people talking, wind blowing, planes flying overhead (damn you MSP) and the occasional siren in the distance.

So, I found myself a bit surprised at just how much my new storm windows deaden the noise.

For the past couple of weeks now, I have laid awake in bed at night listening to the sound of my heart beat. And nothing else.

It has taken some getting used to. On the third night of new storms, I actually had to get up and turn on my air purifier just to get some noise to fall asleep to. I've also been having super vivid dreams.

I'm slowly getting used to it and have started to limit my use of the air purifier. It's crazy how one small change can have such an effect.

Let's hope those same qualities that are stopping the noise, will also have a huge impact on my heating bill. I suspect they will.

Friday, October 10, 2014


So, I had the upstairs old storm windows down. What to do next?

I have some wood storms and screen sets that are original to my house. I change those out seasonally.

I have three new wood storms and screen sets in my upstairs dormer that I change out seasonally.

I have two new wood storms in the front of my house that I leave in year round.

I have two vintage screens salvaged from a neighbor who was preparing to toss them that are currently in windows while I decide what I want to do there.

And I have looked at the Marvin combination storms.

I waffled on what to do for a while, but cold weather is coming so I knew I had to make a decision.  I knew I did not want to change out those second floor storms, so a traditional set of wood storms and screens was out.  I refused to put in a new metal storm window; it had to be wood. I was also hoping for the option to have full screen in the summer not that my restored double hung sashes open both on the top and bottom.

There is a shop locally that I knew made wood framed storms with a combination window inset. So, I decided to pay them a visit.

The storms they make are quite expensive, but pretty impressive. The owner even showed me how to remove the top glass panel and replace it with a screen insert leaving the storm with a full screen for summer use. I swooned a little.

I bit the bullet and bought two of them. They came primed, so all I had to do was paint them and install.

I love them.

Reminder of what I started with.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Why I Panic

Here is the reason why I panic anytime a smaller house goes up for sale near me.

Notice the scale of these houses compared to those surrounding it. What I wasn't able to capture in the photos is that these houses run solidly all the way back on the lot. There is virtually no yard. Any light their neighbors once had shining through windows or in their back yard is gone once one of these goes up.

I suppose I should be relived that these developers have finally figured out this neighborhood is 1920 (bungalows and tudors) and they have moved on from their fake Victorians to at least the right era of design.

Again, who buys this?

Fake craftsman. Towers over the rest of the block. I wish I could have taken this photo straight on.

There are two tear down replacement houses side by side here on the right. This photo doesn't really capture their footprint. This entire block is overshadowed by these houses. They run all the way back on the lot. It makes me laugh a little because they are mere feet from each other. I suspect their windows look directly in each other.

The two tear down houses you see dwarf two smaller vintage houses that have the misfortune of being located between them. You can't hardly see the smaller engulfed houses because these new houses are pulled closer to the curb to get more footage back.

Fake craftsman in all of it's vinyl glory.

A box. Totally devoid of any style. Pure square footage.

Catch the house to the left - the little green one there. It's about the same size as the house down the block from me that I was worried about. The one on the right is just a little larger. I also love these developers' idea of "craftsman".

A side view. They build them to cover ever inch of the lot solid back to the alley.

As this one was completed, the adorable, little, vintage house next door to it put up a "for sale" sign (just off the photo to the right). The house that was torn down to put up this plain jane was an cute two story with a double dormer.

My nomination for the ugliest tear down replacement house. And what is up with that pine? It is currently for sale. Any takers?

By far one of the worst example. This picture doesn't do justice to the disproportion. If you look down this block sideways all you can see if the roof of this house and trees. The garage is equally monstrous.
Or why not just add a second floor? Tudor? What tudor?

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