A Book of bluesy Sundays

Today, we continued working on the back southwest corner of 118 Henry Street. Albeit, more or less on the ground and certainly not on the roof.

The exterior kitchen wall with window has always been in pretty rough shape. This backside of the house gets all the rough weather in spring and fall with little benefit of sun to dry things out. The foundation sill is in pretty bad shape (warning: this link is not for the home remodeling faint of heart), the clapboards were all rotten under the alum siding, and the window trim was so soft and spongy, it broke apart under disassembly.

Here’s the wall at it’s complete demolition with new tar paper:

Worst rot since the front porch roof

I’ve covered the bottom of the wall with pressure treated plywood until we get to fixing the damaged sill. The good news is that the wall is pretty small and is fully supported on both sides. Settling of the wall is virtually non-existent. Water damage, on the other hand…

Primarily because of it’s massive thickness, the window sill was salvageable with some wood hardener and epoxy repair. Every other bit of the exterior window frame trim had to be replaced.

Left side of the repaired window sill


Another view of the repair

Besides replacing all the existing exterior wood on the wall, we’re also building a small “roof” over the window to further protect it from weather damage.


Spring forward

I’m taking a few days off work, working on the outside of 118 Henry Street. Today was spent on the roof in the west bedroom reverse dormer, continuing replacement of the clapboards and trim on the exterior walls.

Because all the angles, sides, and walls of an old house are neither plumb nor square, I’ve had to develop a technique for doing things like the clapboard replacement. E.g., on a modern house with wood siding, you can be assured that all the boards between a window frame and the corner of the house are going to all be the same length, within an 1/8″ or so. Not so on an old house. In this same type of area on an old house, the clapboards may vary in length up to 3/4″ or a whole inch from the bottom to the top of the wall.

In preparation for installing the boards, I cut as many boards as needed to the longest length dimension in the area to be covered. Then, I pre-drill the nail holes to prevent the boards from splitting. Finally, I make a jig out of scrap lumber to use as a spacer for the overlap.  In the case of the west bedroom dormer, all of this prep work is done on the ground.

The tools I take up to the roof (in addition to the normal hammer, etc.) are: a small level, a small roofing square, the caulk gun, and, the secret weapon, a small battery operated circular saw. Each clapboard is visually registered against the bounding trim and marked to length by eye. The roofing square is used to draw a square line and the circular saw makes the small cut to fit the piece to the space.

Here are some pix from the west dormer:

Before with stylish alum siding

Original (rotted) clapboards and wall sheathing

New roof, new insulation, new…you get the picture

The clapboards on the wall with the window were on top of the diagonal sheathing in the previous picture. However on the triangular left side wall, the clapboards were originally fastened directly to the 2×4 framing with no sheathing at all. Needless to say, beaucoup air and water infiltration.

Not done but looking a lot better

Special shout out to Ed W.

Ed, hope all is going well. Don’t worry about getting up on the scaffolding for a while. (Ed’s at home recovering from hip replacement surgery.)

This is Ed’s old house.

16 Tons…

This weekend was our birthday remembrance weekend at 118 Henry Street. Today is Carole’s birthday and next Thursday is my and my twins birthday. Yesterday evening, Ben, the male member of my twins, came to visit. We spent a good part of the evening going thru several dozen of my hundreds of photographs made from the thousands of negatives I’ve shot over the years. We also took out all the old schoolwork I’d saved from when Ben, Liz and Will were in grade school. Lots of memories and laughs for all.

Carole is really about the gardening in the spring so I got her some gift cards with which to buy some plants. She was off to the stores most of the day and returned with a very southern, traditional pink dogwood tree. DeShawn and I planted it in the front yard near our property line with the Bell’s next door.

Skulls and all

Yesterday, DeShawn told his uncle Ben, “I (DeShawn) used to be a Goth.”

While Carole was away spending her birthday lucre, I worked on the west bedroom exterior wall, above DeShawn’s bedroom. No really good pictures but what we’re doing is replacing all the clapboards. This side of the house gets beaten up by the spring and fall storms so much of the exterior wood was rotted and/or split to pieces. All of the clapboards will be replaced and about half of all the trim.

Progress on the exterior walls created by the new roof is paused for lack of a router table insert. I bought the router bit to make the trim molding but the router table needs a much bigger (3″) hole for the bit to center properly.

Here’s a pic of the soffits and fascias in progress:

More to come