Monday, March 22, 2010

Five Years Later

It's hard to believe that five years have passed since I started chronicling our journey of restoring and moving into our new home. The time has seemed to pass in a blink of the eye, and yet it seems also to have been a lifetime ago. The highs have been monumental and the lows have been thankfully few and far between.

So here's to at least five more, I didn't realize the legacy we received in Bess' and Helen's writings and photos, when we acquired Foxcroft, but we will strive to continue, and to keep digging through it!

With any luck our term as the stewards of this home will be long, and at some distant point in the future some other steward will come across these words much as we continue to learn from the past.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Edge of the World?

In working on our town's 75th anniversary I came across a photo in the University of Iowa's digital library collection. It is from the Fred Kent collection and is entitled "Koser addition, Iowa City, Iowa, Nov. 15, 1929"

This photo would pre-date municipal incorporation by 6 years. The picture was taken by Mr. Kent climbing onto the top of the newly constructed Iowa football stadium's west grandstand and shooting to the west.

Foxcroft is visible in the right side of the photo along with the storybook house next door that is shown below:

Go here to see the photo in full 600 DPI glory to scroll around and look at details:

Frederick W. Kent Collection of Photographs, 1866-2000, at the University of Iowa Digital Library

(Be sure to click on the image itself when you get there to see the full image)

To give an idea of change since 1929 here is a google earth image of the same area, the letter "A" is our house, the red dot is the football stadium where the photo was taken.

In another kind of spooky "thinking about the past" conincidence, yesterday Lisa and I were enjoying our spring break by visiting an antique store in Kalona, about 15 miles south of Iowa City. As we were walking around we found a large (4" in diameter) photo button of Helen Fox, which I immediately recognized as her college graduation picture. We knew that many things had gone out of the house while Mick and Helen were still alive, but it was rather unsettling to find that!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Calling in "The Man"

It had been quiet, too quiet on the home repair front. I was working in the basement two Saturdays ago and needed to use the facilities. (Normally this is WAY more disclosure than you'd get in a normal post here, but it is essential to the plot development.) We have a toilet in the basement that gets used MAYBE once a month, so I went in there and I suddenly realized there was water dripping on my head...

The first floor bathroom is right above the basement one, and youngest daughter was taking a shower. I went up and since she had finished I started looking around for the source of the leak. My first guess was that the pan and surround of the shower needed to be recaulked because it looked pretty bad. I spent time removing the old caulk and putting in new on Sunday, and figured we'd try it out on Tuesday. The shower was put in some time in the 1980's and replaced the sunken bathtub that was original to the house. Sadly all I have to show of the original is the blueprint:

Well, we turned on the water Tuesday and there was still a leak downstairs so I knew it must be the pipes up to the shower. Last Friday being my day off I emptied the shelves in the bathroom closet and removed them. I then took out the two panels that lead to the shower pipes:

I could see where the frame and wallboard had been wet in the past and could also see why there were such drips given the size of the hole in the floor:

I turned on the water and saw it was leaking way at the top where the filler tube for the shower head went into the copper pipe. I realized I could remove the filler tube and probably just put new teflon tape on it and stop the leaking. So I removed the shower head and flange so I could get at the filler:

I got out the pipe wrench and very gently applied pressure, I was surprised at how easily it turned and the next thing I knew it was in my hands. The only problem was all the threads were still in the copper elbow. The entire pipe had just crumbled away:

Now I was stuck. I had no way to get the threads out of the elbow. I was afraid I was going to have to call in a real plumber, since I am not competent at sweating in new copper. (I thought we'd have to saw off the old pipe and sweat on new.) As I considered, I wondered if it wouldn't be better to just do it all in PEX since that is what all the new plumbing on second floor is. Either way I saw this as getting much more pricy than I wanted.

Fortunately we had a family dinner Friday night and my younger brother Tom came over. He asked what was up in the bathroom after being in there and I told him of my mishap that morning with the pipe.

Now Tom is a tool salesman and much better at most home repair than I am. He said he'd come over with his extractor set and try to see if we couldn't get the threads out.

Saturday morning he showed up with tools and went to work, finding the right extractor and tapping it into place:

Here is a view from inside the panel:

We couldn't get the thread loose so a judicious application of his torch was in order to heat and expand the joint a little. After a minute of heating Tom went back to cranking it out:

And it came loose:

Right after we finished cleaning up, Pete came by for me to troubleshoot some of his school web pages. In exchange for my help he agreed to go to the hardware store (he was on his way there next) and pick up a new filler tube. When he brought it back I taped it up:

And put the shower head back on:

So I'm happy to say I got the "the man" to come out and I didn't have to pay for a plumber. And yes, the shower works just fine.