August 06, 2012

Ding Dong Dumb Dumbs

An old door bell, not the type that has a crank handle that you twist to ring a bell, but a somewhat newer style, newer from the 1940's, that has a clock and chime tubes that are actually struck by little hammers, sounded like a fun idea. A few months back, in preparation for the eventual arrival of the door chime, meaning when funds allowed, we had removed the trim around the exterior of the front door, drilled a very long and slender hole to the basement, and wired a doorbell button, which sometime in the future a guest would be able to push "to ring the bell". All good so far.

The Nu-Tone Jefferson was the bell we had in mind

On we have carried and continued to work inside the house. Room after room was insulated and dry-walled, wood work resurfaced and reinstalled, layers of veneer plaster applied to the walls, and woodwork filled, primed and sanded, ready for finish paint. The center hall was the last of the ground floor to be done and it looked beautiful even without its final trim paint and we moved on to the second story. Finally the day came that a Nu-Tone Jefferson door chime was listed for sale that was somewhat affordable, and although in terrible condition we knew we could rebuild and refinish it. Unfortunately I failed to photograph the process but suffice it to say that we both spent hours and hours reworking it to make it pretty and functional.

We were finally ready to hang the doorbell and await the first visitor who would push the button.

News Flash
It would appear that upon entering the center hall with the restored door chime ready to hang, the boys of 227 North Street made a horrible discovery... The finished walls of the hall did not have any electric wiring in place for the chime. It has been disclosed that in their haste to plaster and complete the hall, these two fine gentlemen forgot to install the electrics for the bell.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program...

It's true. We had completely forgotten the door bell wire that lay forlornly in the basement below our feet. Chasing a wire through an insulated wall can sometimes be an impossible task. We were lucky that there was a penetration through the sill plate inside the wall, leading down to the basement fairly close to where the chime would hang. It was just reachable with small hands, by removing an electric plug in the office, on the other side of the wall from the bell, and Phillip wiggled his hand inside the wall. But no amount of wire fishing would get through the insulation. Slowly the hole that the wire would go through,that would end up behind the chime mechanism, grew larger and larger, and insulation was pulled out of the wall through that hole one small wisp at a time. Phillip meanwhile was doing the same thing in the office by pulling the lower wall insulation out through the small plug opening in the baseboard. After struggling for hours the wall cavity was finally clear and the wire slid right down. Phillip was able to reach inside the wall, through the office plug opening and feed the wire down through the penetration in the sill plate into the basement. Moments later we had power and the bell would chime. Now we just need a visitor.

Insulation all over the place and an ugly black hole in the wall

but the magic wire was finally in place

All of that insulation came out of that small hole in the baseboard

Hanging proudly. Not everyone's cup of tea but it is fun when it chimes

In the ongoing effort to empty out at least one of our storage spaces we also continue to work on closets. After completing the master bedroom closet, we turned our attention to the linen closet, or the service closet as I now call it. A place to put sheets and towels, pillows and blankets, brooms and vacuums, and also the new home of those nasty tangles of wires, the modem, the router, music system hard drive and network box. We learned a lot about the closet system we are using while building our first closet in the master bedroom and we have become much more sufficient at using it. The linen/service closet is a much simpler design with a single unit across the end wall. We knew we had to build it inside the closet space itself and that of course proposed a problem. In order to assemble it properly one of us would have to be on the backside of it during construction. In true Edgar Allan Poe style, as in the Cask of Amontillado, Phillip would be walled in behind the new cabinet. But we got smart and built the cabinet eighteen inches shorter than the ceiling so that we could lift it into the air and he could climb out under it.

All fine and dandy, until it became to heavy to lift...

Only when I climbed the step ladder could I see just his hands

This is a shot taken before we realized we could not lift the cabinet.

We made a fleeting attempt to pass the step ladder over the cabinet so he could climb out, but it was simply to big and would not even clear the top. I grabbed a couple of two by fours and sawed one at 36 inches and one at 24 inches. I put a screw into each one and onto the screw I tied a long length of string. The two by fours were passed over the top of the cabinet and leaned upright against the wall. Phillip braced himself and used the two by fours as precarious steps so that he could climb up and over the top, pulling the two by fours out behind him by their strings.

Over the top and down the front, he was finally free

Not as glamorous as the Master bedroom but very serviceable

Someday when I have lots of free time, maybe I will add some trim to dress it up

So our work weekend came to a close with a number of blunders and unforeseen obstacles. The closet proposed some issues and and if we ever take on a house like this again we would definitely spend some time designing closets from the very beginning so that we would have a very clear vision of where cables and wiring are to be. 

Of course if you simply forget to install them all is for naught.


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