1. Schoolhouse Floor Plan
Table of Contents
This room was originally the parlour. The original main entrance to the residential section of the building led directly into this room and the external door, limestone quoins, sill and lintel are all still intact but internally now hidden behind a plasterboard wall. It also included a significant fireplace that is currently also hidden behind the interior wall lining. The chimney for this fireplace is a significant feature in the exterior view of the building, so I feel it is somewhat incongruous that there is no fireplace visible on the inside.
the lining of walls and the ceiling with sheet plaster (1983).
the laying of wall-to-wall carpet
the closure of the external doorway (1983) and the internal doorway leading to bedroom 2 (1981)
chimney capped and bricked up
ducted oil heating installed
Replace ducted oil heating with ground-sourced HVAC ducted and hydronic heating/cooling system
Expose the original fireplace hidden behind plasterboard lining as a décor (non-operational) feature. Install a new mantle
Expose the original external door hidden behind plasterboard lining. Install new narrow french doors opening outward
Restore the original ceiling and walls, i.e. remove the 1983 ceiling and the wall sheeting
Replace floor with new including underfloor insulation
Replace oil heating duct with HVAC ducting and relocate vent
Repair and repaint walls and ceiling (either lining or original)
Install new skirting boards
Update light fittings
Old wall-to-wall carpet and floorboards
The wall-to-wall carpet and foam underlay was well past it's prime and was removed to expose the original floorboards underneath.
Most of the flooring, while solid, has gaps, paint drips, fillers and crudely cut boards from the oil heating duct installation, and needs to be replaced.
There are two chimneys on what is now the front side of the building and I want the inside to reflect that.
Exhuming the fireplace but for another purpose.
2. Probing the extents. Starting in line with the centre of the hearth using the Dremel oscillating saw to remove chunks of plasterboard. Keeping a close watch out for electrical wiring
3. Plasterboard removed to expose the furring strips. No sign of pests or wood rot. Furring strips used here are 50mm x 12mm radiata pine
4. Furring strips and skirting board cut and removed. The oscillating saw made this easy. Looks like a small combustion heater was used at some point after the fireplace was bricked up but before the room was clad with plasterboard
5. Bricks and rubble removed. The remaining bricks appear to be part of the original fireplace. They will probably be removed also. No skeletons were found but I did find the job a little spooky
Flooring and Doorway Openings
New modern flooring will be laid, consisting of structural particleboard sheet subfloors with 14 mm solid overlay floorboards. The overlay board width will match the old boards but the species will be different. As far as I can determine the original flooring is Tallowwood, which has a Janka hardness rating of around 8.6. The new flooring will have a similar or higher rating.
6. The original main entrance door to the school residence revealed after cutting out the gyproc lining.
7. View from Bed2 with particle board cut and removed. There is no gyproc lining in Bed2. The builder autographed his work and gave the date as 26th June 1981
8. The closed-off doorway from the other side (Bed1) with the gyproc lining cut and removed. Again the builder dated the gyproc lining as March 1983
9. View from the original Main Bedroom through into the Parlour and fireplace.
10. The original main entrance to the school residence, open again for the first time in thirty five years showing the alignment of four doorways through the building.
The wear from foot traffic seen here on the limestone door sill will be retained
11. Floors removed and openings revealed
The gyproc lining is attached to furring battens. The horizontal battens supporting the bottom edge of the gyproc were nailed into the floorboards and those nails needed to be cut before the floorboards could be removed without damaging the gyproc. The new sub floor sheeting will slide under the horizontal battens far enough to provide support (with some packing) but still leave the required clearance between the sheets and the walls.
All joists appear to be in excellent condition and have been retained. Apart from the mandatory levelling of the joists the opportunity was taken to install underfloor insulation, which is R2.0 batts supported by plastic strapping stapled to the joists. The joists are unevenly spaced between roughly 300mm and 450mm and not necessarily parallel, adding some fiddliness to the work. Originally the joists were simply stood on their edges with no trimmers/noggins between them nor nailed to the bottom plates to prevent twisting or tripping.
12. Insulation installed and the first sub floor sheet down. I've decided to use Green Glue tape rather than construction glue between the original hardwood joists and the particleboard sheets. The sheets will be secured using screws rather than nails. The vent location has been marked on the walls to be cut once the overlay hardwood strips are down.
13. A stitched panoramic image, which makes straight lines look wonky. The sub floor in this room is now complete. The last row of sheeting at right fitted perfectly.
Once the subfloor in the other bedroom had been completed the newly re-opened doorway between the two bedrooms needed a new jamb. I used the same method as for the Den to Lounge doorway remake. The main difference with this one is the 15mm gap to the subfloor sheeting at the bottom so that the overlay can extend under. Also, the bricks were too soft to take the screw-bolts so I had to use dyna-bolts instead before covering them over with the MDF strips.
14. Doorway jamb completed.
Now that the doorway between this room and bedroom 2 has been reopened it is visually disturbing that the ceiling is lower (by half a metre), which really makes the room feel smaller. Bedroom 2 has [slightly] less floor area and yet feels bigger because of the higher ceiling (3156 mm or 10' 4").
So for several reasons it is becoming more and more apparent that the 1983 ceiling needs to go and the original ceiling restored. Firstly and most obviously it will remove the partial obstruction of the top part of the window that the lower ceiling required and also re-establish the room's former proportions and character. This will require either extending the wall sheeting up, or some kind of dado rail around the top of the existing lining, or complete removal of the lining and rerouting of electric cabling.
As a first step I need to get into the roof space to determine what the condition of the original ceiling is. Ok, this wasn't conclusive. After removing the insulation, vacuuming and applying a reinforcing PVA solution over the entire ceiling, the lath and keys all look good from above, with only one spot that could be secured better than it is now. I need to actually look inside the space between the two ceilings.
15. Inspection hole cut into lower ceiling.
Notice also how the top of the window is obscured.
16. Ceiling rose covering the original metal vent.
17. Ceiling and wall above the window.
18. Ceiling and wall above the external door.
Upper ceiling condition
First of all, the original ceiling looks ok. Some hairline cracks, with some of them following joist lines, which is not surprising given the work that has gone on in the roof space over the past one hundred years. A stronger light shows up the predicted undulations in the ceiling having seen the joists from above.
There are tracks of white lime dust on the upper side of the gyproc that correspond to the cracks along the lines of joists. Not a lot of dust and no dark material (image 19) so I assume the cracks are still effectively closed or possibly not full depth. A lot of assumptions there.
I also see at least four discrete dark spots (2 to 3 cm diameter) along the tracks of lime dust (images 19 and 20) where liquid has dripped through the cracks and dried to form a very thin plastic splash disk. This must be from the PVA emulsion used in the ceiling reinforcement. What else could it be? It's clearly only a very limited one-time drip event that was more recent than the lime dust deposits.
I'm looking in some detail at this because it means the reinforcement PVA emulsion has penetrated well into the plaster via cracks exactly where it needs to go. I also see runs down the wall below where I know the emulsion was sprayed. All of this tells me that the volume applied per unit area was about right and the PVA mix ratio was also about right. I'm more than happy with this confirmation of the process.
Apart from actually demolishing the original ceilings this is the only proof I'm likely to get, and is very fortunate.
19. Drip spot typical of several along dust track.
Appears to have dripped on top of the lime dust. There are two distinct drip events evident here and if I recall correctly I did spray the area above twice one or two days apart.
20. Drip spot.
I've blown the loose dust away from this spot, which has revealed dust buried within the puddle as well as a moraine of dust at the perimeter. There are also clumps of dust where splash drops have landed in the field beyond the puddle perimeter, which is evidence of the emulsion's ability to bind. I tried prying the spot up with my fingernail but could not. It's dried/cured quite hard.
I'm not sure why the spot appears dark and unexpectedly there are no visible marks on the underside of the plaster ceiling.
There is also minor cracking in the walls to be repaired. It's impossible to know whats behind the wall lining of course until it's removed. Some excavation has been done to run power cables behind the timber wall plates.
It's clear that the rooms had no cornicing at all originally. It wasn't necessary to cover gaps so, aesthetically, the residential rooms were very basic with just a metal vent lattice where the rose is now. Still, a very great improvement on the single room in a "slab" hut with dirt floor that they replaced.
Now that I've decided to remove the lower ceiling I've also committed to removing the wall lining as well and deal with whatever work needs to be done to fix the room after that.
The main concern for me is that the timber wall plates may be glued to the plaster. There were a few nails into the plaster but the wall plates were mostly supported by the furring strips on the walls.
I have no choice but to break up the gyproc sheets (drywall) but the timber is salvagable for other projects.
21. The lower ceiling in a nice neat pile.
22. Light meets the original ceiling again after 36 years.
23. Wall sheets and ceiling joists removed.
There's going to be some work to do once the furring strips and the ceiling timber wall plates have been removed.
The dark green looks like the original colour underneath and below what I believe was a picture rail. It originally covered the whole wall to the ceiling. It is quite thin so I assume it's a lime wash rather than a skim coat.
There are lots of holes around the nailing wedges.
The whole room up the the rail was wallpapered and half had been scraped off at which time, I assume, the decision was made to line the room with gyproc instead.
Fortunately the wall plates are not glued to the wall but are nailed to the plaster and together at the corners and to the furring rails at the top. The furring stiles are all glued using what looks like a contact adhesive and nailed to the plaster.
To remove the furring strips I tried running up behind them with a hacksaw blade, cutting through the glue spots and the nails. This was not very successful because the skim layer of plaster at the glue spots had mostly weakened and broken away already. The strips were simply pried gently off the wall but there will be lots patching to do.
The furring strips will go to the woodshed while the joists and plates will be used in future projects.
I'll have to remove the remaining wallpaper (half the room) and then see what treatment to apply to the walls after that. This method is making quick work of removing the single layer of paper. It's also getting the bulk of the contact adhesive off once I get the furring strips down.
Wall pattern mystery
Images 24 and 25 show the wall with and without wallpaper respectively and exhibit the same ghosted design pattern (my attempted reproduction is in images 26 and 27). The pattern scales perfectly with the edges of the wallpaper so the pattern must be from it. Then how did it get onto the plaster?
The patterns look like a minimalist art deco so could date from 1910's to 1940's. The pattern could represent only an outline or partial detail of the complete wallpaper pattern and so far attempting to remove the chartreus green paint with methylated spirit reveals only the underlying paper itself.
The paper has been painted over and the pattern is visible through the paint. Scraping some of the paper off it has the texture of blotting paper.
There's also a strip with a raised texture and jagged outline that doesn't align longitudinally with the pattern but it does with the angles, seen in image 27. It goes around the room under the picture rail and may simply be a separate but complimentary design.
None of this affects how the room will ultimately be finished except to document clues to the history and lives of those who have inhabited the home. Who chose the colours and designs and what influenced their choices? It's part of the enjoyment of working on the building now.
24. The chartreus green appears to have been painted over the top of some wallpaper. There's a design under it.
25. Could be the original lime wash wall colour, where the wall paper has been scraped off. It shows the same pattern.
26. Wall pattern - repeatable.
The pattern scale is one drop width.
27. Texture change and edge shape below the picture rail.
28. Pattern repeated 3 x 3
These are not the correct colours.
There are three double GP outlets in the room all at lower wall level just above the skirting. Wiring came down through the original ceiling and down behind the gyproc lining to the first GPO beside the closed-off external door. Wiring then daisy-chained horizontally along the wall to the second GPO the other side of the window, and then ran vertically up the wall, simply draped over the top of the lower ceiling joists and then down the adjacent wall to the third GPO. All of this wiring will need to be rerouted with GPOs in new locations in the skirting itself and most likely wiring run under the floor in conduit from bedroom two which is in the same circuit.
Central room light
There is a central ceiling light with pull cord switch next to the internal door. The wiring coming down through the original ceiling will be replaced because rodents have partially eaten away the outer white insulation, leaving the coloured insulation visible, just above where it goes through the original metal vent down to the light.
There is a light fitting under the original verandah and it has been a question, where is this light's switch? From the wiring seen in the ceiling the light was disconnected at some time at a junction box in the roof space. Was there a fault somewhere that necessitated this?
As far as I can tell from visual inspection in the roofspace the light was in the same circuit as the central ceiling light which is switched via a pull cord near the internal door (wiring seen at 0:08 in the "Ceiling" video). Looking around the inter-ceiling space there were no other pull cord switches in this room. As I have just discovered, the switch wiring was chased down the wall and plastered over and goes to where an architrave switch would have been beside the exterior door. This light and switch would have been disconnected when the external door was closed off in 1983.
29. Verandah light switch wire.
It was hidden behind a furring strip.
In one respect the major repair task has been completed already with the ceiling reinforcement in the roofspace.
The green coating was applied after the fireplace mantle, window and door trim were all in place. I can see several places where it has run down behind those fixtures. The wall has been painted over three times in the past above the level of the picture rail.
After all the major patching is complete it will probably need reskimming to provide a consistent surface for painting/lime washing. In that case the paint systems around the top of the wall will first need to be removed.
There is some drummy plaster just above the fireplace. I suspect the heating and cooling from the fire has caused this.
30. Stitched panoramic view of the room stripped back to the original plaster walls and ceiling.
It looks pretty ugly now but will be much better when finished with the original proportions restored.
The major cracks are over the interior doorway to the sitting room (image 31), and also over the exterior doorway. Much of the plaster above the doors will likely be removed and redone.
The plaster over the exterior door has bulged (image 32) by half a centimetre between the picture rail and top of the door, so I'll be looking at what has caused this. There's a solid limestone lintel on the outside with some minor hairline cracks down each side but I'll be able to get a better idea when the plaster inside is gone.
31. Cracks over the internal doorway.
Cracks also run along where the ceiling and longer walls meet. This part of the ceiling is quite robust due to the lath ends running through and resting on top of the stone wall. Crown cornice will cover those cracks and it may be better to leave them open.
32. Bulge in the plaster over the external doorway.
To adjust for the 1983 wall lining, a deeper stool (a carpentry term for the interior window sill - to differentiate it from the exterior window sill) and deeper jamb extensions were added over the top of the originals, which are still there to be restored.
The original stool had it's nose trimmed off back to the level of the gyproc sheeting so one of my first tasks will be to add and shape a new nose piece.
On the outside, the verandah panel lining comes down low enough to cross in front of the window opening a little (top left in image 33). This is a detail that is unfinished and it would be nice to fix it.
All of the exterior paint (frame and sash) had crazed long before I got to it. This will be fixed when I strip it all off before repainting.
As usual the window box frame was wedged under the timber lintel but both wedges were loose.
I made a weather barrier (image 34) for the window in bedroom two that I could use for all the window openings, and the exterior doorways (with a little adaptation). During that previous use, bats with their echo navigation were able to pick out the openings formed by the corrugations and so this time I've added seal strips.
Observations as the window was disassembled:
Parting beads: both are pine and were cut too short as though the measurement forgot to account for the mitre at the top. One came out complete but the other came out in pieces. Both will be replaced with cedar of the same age as the windows.
Access panels: the right-hand panel and the surrounding jamb are badly damaged from previous removals. A new panel will be made and some of the jamb will be replaced as well. The opposite jamb may also be partially replaced to repair damage.
Sash: the upper sash was effectively painted shut but not nailed this time. One of it's cords had broken, which is not a problem as all will be renewed as a matter of course. Noting the weights: two x 9lbs (lower sash) and two x 8lbs (upper sash).
Glazing: there are no cracked panes and the muntins and glazing fillets look good.
33. Window with extra deep stool and jamb extensions removed, exposing the originals.
34. Weather barrier installed.
The white seal strips were added to keep bats out.
35. Heat stripped stool and jamb extensions.
The original finish was shellac over natural cedar.
36. Damaged weights access panel and surrounding jamb.
This carnage is avoidable.
37. Beads, sash and access panels removed.
Shows the result of painting with sash in situ.
Removing the access panels
Image 36 shows the carnage from previous episodes of removing the access panel. In these windows there is only one access panel each side and the parting bead runs down the middle of it (image 37). The panel comes out bottom-first so all that is required after the paint has been cut through to separate all four sides of the panel from the jamb is to drill a hole through the bottom of the beading channel near the bottom of the panel and gently hook it out. I used an Allen key (6mm). The hole will be hidden by the parting bead in normal operation.
Restoring the stool
What was left of the original stool was cut back further just enough to remove the horn at one end and clean up the other end where the horn had broken off. The offcut will not be wasted, it's a nice piece of 35 x 1200 x 12 mm.
To make the new nose piece, two strips were cut from a length of original 1879 cedar skirting board and glued up back-to-back to form a single 40mm x 45mm x 1400mm piece (image 38) that was then dressed all round on the table saw. It was deliberately made several mm oversize for that purpose. Final size will be closer to 36mm x 40mm x 1360mm.
Dados were routed along the meeting faces of the stool and the new nose to take a full-length maple spline before both parts were glued and clamped together (image 39). The upper and lower faces of the nose piece at this stage are a little proud of the corresponding faces on the stool, to allow them to be planed down.
After that the horns were cut to their correct size and the nose was shaped. It's more of an eliptical profile than a full bullnose and after deliberating for a couple of days I ended up doing it by hand using my Stanley #4 plane. I switched to the belt sander on the cross-grain ends after the plane tore a chunk out of the edge (image 40).
38. Making the new nose piece.
39. Fixing the new nose piece to the old stool.
40. Stool horn cut to size and shaped.
41. Sample of original nose profile.
42. Finished nose profile.
Making and fitting the stool apron cove moulding
The original cove moulding wasn't any standard dimensions that I can buy off the shelf locally. It is 40x30mm. I've drawn it up in image 43, as it would be if cut from a minimally sized flat stick. I calculated the angles for the bevels as 37° and 53°.
The bedroom two original is a "plain" moulding, i.e. cut from a solid 40x30mm rectangular section, and the ends are simply shaped to look like they've been mitred.
If I want to make it from matching cedar then I'd prefer to make it from flat stick as a "sprung" moulding to conserve my old cedar stock. I have a length of old architrave that will do.
I would also need to actually mitre the ends.
To cut the 39mm wide x 6mm deep cove I can use my table saw.
43. Cove moulding from a flat stick.
After dressing down the architrave I was left with the nominally 20mm thick profile in image 44 and there was no need to reduce it further just to comply with the drawing. The extra thickness compared to the drawing gives wider contact faces, which is an advantage. The missing corner left over from the architrave profile would have been removed anyway for the cove profile.
Being my first attempt at this process it took a very long time, and it turned out that the cove shaping itself was the last but easiest step. The angles for the flat sides were the difficult part. My table saw can only do 90° or 45° cuts. I used my trimmer router's tiltable base to do the first two 37° faces and then realised it can only tilt in the range +45°/-30° and would not therefore do the 53° complementary angle that I needed. I considered using a 45° bevel bit (tilted 8°) but decided against it. I ran the piece through the table saw as best I could at 90° to the two previously angled faces.
The finished moulding is not perfect but will do (image 45).
44. Architrave partially trimmed to size.
45. Finished cove moulding.
The angle and offset for the cove-shaping table-saw fence setup (image 46) was derived by running test pieces over until the correct offset, width and depth were achieved. I used the sanding pad as a push pad/gripper block for safety.
46. Cove shaping setup.
Image 47 shows the finished apron fixed to the stool. I used brads and no glue in case I need to separate it again in future. The cove needs a little more sanding to remove more of the kerf marks from the table saw blade.
Without thinking I ran the moulding to 30mm from the ends of the horns whereas the original would have gone closer to where the radius of the nose starts, maintaining the same setback as along the front of the stool. However, looking at image 48, I prefer the accidental version because the transition from the inward cove to outward nose curvature is tangential and looks "right" to me.
47. Cove apron attached and mitred
48. Temporarily back in place, the finished stool with apron.
Restoring the weights access panels and the box frame
At least one panel (image 49) needs to be remade and the surrounding frame restored to remove the gouging from previous maintenance. Rather than use an epoxy filler I want to try the more traditional method of rabbetting around the opening and laying in cedar strips. This is another skill-building opportunity.
First, I removed the complete window frame from the wall - a simple matter of removing the wedges that were holding it in place - to make it easier to work on and to see what
49. Utterly disfigured weights access.
the opening in the wall looks like without it. It looks very neat after cleaning away the dust and debri (image 50).
There has been some significant shrinkage perpendicular to the grain in the timber lintels and nailing blocks. The blocks are also a little loose and will be packed or wedged tight again, probably by driving a few screws into the gap at the top of the block.
In the workshop the frame will get a thorough going over (image 51).
50. Bare window opening.
51. Window frame removed to the "workshop".
The RH access panel itself (image 49) was missing the top lap entirely after the parting bead was removed (the piece missing out of the top was past damage only weakly glued back in place). So the panel was cut right back to the depth of the bead channel to remove all damage to the visible face. Then, using small scrap pieces from my 1879 cedar stock, I cut and glued two strips to what remained (image 52). The gap separating the two strips forms the bead channel. The ends of the top and bottom laps are bevelled 10° to match the opening. The critical faces of the new parts were left proud to allow them to be dressed down to fit nicely (images 53).
52. Access panel reconstruction.
I routed out the damaged edges of the jamb around the opening, but rather than fill with a single piece then cut most of it out, I've laid in six individually cut pieces to fit together around the opening either side of the bead channel (images 53).
53. Restoration of the RH weights access panel and jamb.
I wanted to use offcuts to conserve my 1879 cedar stock but separate pieces also made it much easier to do the bevels at top and bottom of the opening. I ensured that all inlay pieces stood proud of the jamb so that they could be dressed flush.
An exterior grade glue (cross-linked PVA) was used because of the potential for getting wet.
The LH access panel and jamb were visibly significantly less damaged, however, the panel had been broken and glued back together (image 54), and so I decided to make a new panel entirely, a single piece of cedar.
As for the jamb inlay rabbets, not as deep this time (images 55).
54. Crack through the LH access panel.
55. Restoration of the LH weights access panel and jamb.
The inlays and the panel were all in place and planed together whereas the RH restore was done in two stages.
Repaired the major areas of gouging and broken edges along the rest of the left and right parting bead channels also using inlayed cedar pieces (images 56).
Undercoat and first oil gloss coat completed on the trim components (image 57) and the frame. The oil paint had been stored in a cold location and was a little stiff to apply although I didn't realise why at first, but luckily the work area and components were warm, which soon relaxed the paint enough to produce a good finish.
56. Bead channel inlays.
57. Stool and jamb extensions painted.
The sash are in good condition, including the glazing where little or no work is required. They will be heat stripped, sanded and painted as for previous windows, and new hardware fitted. The meeting rails are about 2mm different in level and a timber strip had been attached to the outer face of the lower sash lower rail for draft prevention and will be removed.
After heat stripping the paint off both sides of the rails and stiles I noticed that all the rails were slightly bowed (all convex on the exterior side). Laying a straight edge along the concave side the gap was about 2mm at the centre. I doubt it was from the heat stripping, but how can it be fixed?
One woodworking web page describes a method of soaking the timber on the concave side to restore the original shape. Another method also soaks the timber but on the convex side while the timber is clamped straight, relying on what is called "compression setting" to permanently fix the shape. I'm going to try the first technique.
I did not want to submerge the sash, preferring to selectively soak just the rails that were bowed.
I started with the lower sash bottom rail, folding a towel to width and length and soaking it before laying it along the concave side of the rail (image 58). After 12 hours I lifted the still soaking (thanks to cold weather) towel off and was able to scrape some residual coating off which had turned to mush, then with a scalpel I cut light incisions along the rail with the grain about 5mm apart to aid penetration because I wasn't sure if there was still an impenetrable coating there.
58. Straightening a bowed sash rail by soaking.
Moisture seen in the tenon (image 59) confirms penetration.
It's hard to see from images 60 and 61 but after three days the rail is straighter - confirmed with the straight edge. Clamping has not been used, the sash is simply laying flat. This result suggests the bow is caused by unusually high and uneven longitudinal shrinkage as the wood dried, and there are several reasons why it can occur, all related to conditions of the tree and the specific location within from which the piece was sourced.
59. Moisture visible in the tenon.
60. Start of soaking - bowing evident.
61. After soaking three days - straighter.
62. Lower sash, bottom rail mid point - almost no gap after soaking/PVA complete. But will it stay that way?
Once the timber has recovered its shape and while the timber is still wet to aid permeation the method calls for saturation with a diluted PVA solution to fix the shape permanently.
Because I don't think soaking the towel in diluted PVA will work all that well I will instead apply a thick even coat of full strength PVA glue to the rail leaving a border to keep it centralised. Then the towel soaked in plain water will be laid along the rail as before, covering the PVA. This will dilute the PVA while hopefully keeping the PVA from curing as it permeates the timber.
Unfortunately after 24 hours drying out the rail has reverted to its original bow. The problem has to be in the way I've applied the PVA step to fix the shape.
63. Top sash, top rail bow.
The bowing is much easier to see in image 63 of the top sash. The concavity at the mid point of the rail can be seen in image 64, which is 2 to 3mm.
After 24 hours of saturation the rail has straightened. Now I'm brushing on diluted PVA frequently to keep it wet, and I've clamped the ends to a straight backing mainly to see if that helps as the rail dries out.
64. Top sash, top rail gap to straight edge.
Cox Bros Crookwell
As with the previously refurbished lounge and bedroom two windows, I was expecting the supplier to have labeled the bundle of window components as destined for the contractor. I was disappointed when it wasn't to be found on the back of one of the jambs, but it was there, this time, on the underside of the stool.
I also found it written on the box frame, which would have been delivered as a complete assembly.
65. The now familiar labeling with the name of the building contractor.
I was never totally happy with this, my first ever, subfloor. It was a little springy and not perfectly flat. I felt I was walking downhill in places. I was learning and had reused the original joists without any additional work apart from leveling them as best I could. So I decided this was the time to fix it properly, i.e. while I'm reworking the whole room. I'd deliberately chosen not to glue the sheets to the joists, so that I could lift them again if necessary.
Because the screws had gone into old very hard timber not all of them came out easily. About ten screws had to have their heads ground out before I could lift the sheets.
66. Starting to remove the floor sheets.
Once the sheets, the insulation batts and supporting straps were gone and the trimmers were removed, the old joists could be moved aside. That was the time to rake and remove any debris that would make the already tight crawl space even more difficult to work in. All up about two average barrow loads was removed.
The new joists are 45x150x3600mm LVL, which on their own would be slightly undersized for the span but are more than adequate when sistered. Bolts and construction adhesive were used to bond the new and old joists together. Wherever the sag was small enough to allow it, the old joists were inverted before sistering (seen in images 67 without visible green tape).
67. Joists sistered, realigned and leveled.
I wanted to ensure I had at least one true 450mm c2c joist spacing each side of the duct so that I could accommodate a floor hatch, or possibly two if necessary. Because of the more or less fixed construction around the hearth every other spacing had to be less than 450mm, so I arranged those smaller spacings where I felt the additional stiffness would work best. The original joists where also not parallel, so I fixed this. The obvious exception is visible at centre of image 67a, where the new joist could not be sistered as usual if it was going to run parallel. I also arranged the joists to re-use most of the previous sheeting with minimal cutting, but I'll still need another 1200mm x 900mm sheet, which will cost around AU$25. I can't reuse the old green accoustic tape seen in image 67 so another roll was ordered. I need 1.5 rolls (45m) for this room. All up this reworking has cost a little over AU$500 for materials.
After levelling using the bedroom two floor as the reference through the connecting doorway the replaced sheets will be approximately 1cm higher than previously, which works a little better for the external door sill transition.
The electrical outlets and wiring will also be redone underfloor while the floor is up. This will eliminate all wiring runs above skirting level in this room, making it a little safer as well.
The ducting will be raised and suspended where it is parallel to the joists, particularly at the bottom of image 67a (top of image 67c), to allow air to flow more freely across the crawl-space.
The finished floor looks little different to the first version. Images 68 show the finished subfloor with two hatches and the odd coloured extra piece that I needed after trimming some pieces (the original piece from that corner was just too short to fit the realigned joists). It appears the supplier has changed their process as I couldn't get sheets of the same appearance. It doesn't matter because they'll be hidden.
Also shown is the ventilation register box poking through it's cutout. I've decided to do the cutouts now rather than wait until the overlay is down.
68. Subloor 2.0 completed
Then there is just the internal doorway landing to reconstruct. I'm replacing the original sill piece with a new one made from an original tallowood floorboard, not because the old one is well worn, which I would've preferred to keep, but because I want a wider board. It will sit directly on the 60mm wide LVL shown in images 69. The subfloor sheeting needs to sit on framing 12mm lower (sheet plus overlay plus glue less sill thicknesses = 19 + 14 + 1 - 22 = 12mm).
The 60x150mm LVL is an offcut from the new bedroom two joists and the framing is reused radiata pine from the demolished ceiling joists (image 22).
69. Internal doorway landing.
Starting by opening up the cracks and removing drummy areas and any gypsum plaster patching around the three doorways.
The bulging plaster over the verandah doorway may be quite old and possibly resulted from pulling the picture rail off the wall. Total collapse appears to have been avoided by replacing the original lime plaster covering the timber lintel with a strip of cement plaster applied over a grid of tacks hammered into the lintel (images 70). This appears to have been done prior to the grass-green paint.
The light and power wiring chased down the wall from the ceiling has also been removed.
70. Removing bulging plaster over the external door.
71. External (verandah) doorway
Removing loose mortar left a couple of large and deep voids, which will be filled with stone pinnings to reduce the volume of new mortar that goes in and thereby minimise shrinkage that could lead to cracks in the future.
72. Bedroom two doorway
Just a little dubbing out needed along the top of the lintel mainly.
73. Sitting room doorway
A large deep void above the centreline of the door had been filled with mortar and may have contributed to the vertical crack above it. It will be filled with stone pinnings and mortar during dubbing out.
To provide a key, 6 x 6mm wire mesh was stapled to each lintel using the original raised chisel cuts to provide standoff of a couple of millimetres. I'm relying on the timber not shrinking any further than it had already over the past 140 years.
A week earlier I'd mixed 120ltrs of 3:1 sand plus lime putty and stored it in 20ltr pails, 60ltrs of which also had fibres added as a trial batch. Now, after pouring off the excess water used to cover the mix in the pails, the consistency was still homogeneous and good for throwing onto the stone and timber/mesh substrates before trowelling.
74. External (verandah) doorway.
75. Bedroom two doorway.
76. Sitting room doorway.
After a week with initial regular dampening and then allowed to dry out, the scratch coats took a lot of water before they appeared ready to take another coat.
The straightening coat has been completed on all patches but the sitting room doorway patch (images 76) needed a second scratch coat due to the thickness of the original plaster. The window patch also required a second scratch coat applied. The cracks and chases that I'd opened up have been filled.
I've decided not to restore the picture rails and therefore not restore the nailing plugs. I've filled the holes with mortar and pinnings leaving any remaining plugs and will skim a finish coat over. Later I'll install a modern gallery hanging system in all rooms.
There appear to be three layers of paint on the upper section of the walls. Two layers of water based paint, white over chartreuse, which scraped off easily together using a sharp carbide wall stripping blade. The chartreuse had been applied over a beige sand colour layer that could be linseed oil based causing the water based paint to not bind well. I could heat strip the oil based layer but it was much easier and cleaner to brush on a stripper (in this case Dumond SmartStrip) in a thin coat then scrape off after an hour. I had to repeat this all over to get a gummy residue off which could have been some kind of clear sealer primer.
The green layer covers the walls entirely and there is a stensiled black painted frieze under the oil layer extending about 200mm down from the ceiling.
A final going over with steel wool and a mild solvent should clean the residue off.
78. The original frieze continues around the room.
The green layer is milk paint
Milk paint uses casein as the binder so to test this I need something that dissolves casein. Modern paint strippers don't work on milk paint and have had no effect on this paint, which is the first clue. So I mixed up a milk paint stripper recipe which does soften this paint, so it is reasonably confirmed to be milk paint on the walls and ceiling.
I'm very impressed by how rebust this paint coating is on lime plaster. It doesn't appear to have deteriorated in the 140 years it's been on except at the top of the wall directly above the fireplace where it was possible, with some effort, to scrape it off with a sharp carbide paint scraper. Everywhere else I made no impression on it at all.
Finish coat patching
The spots where the finish coat broke away as the lining battens were removed have had their initial patching done using a 1:1 lime putty and fine sand mix. Generally this has gone ok but steel trowelling to get a smooth finish to match the rest of the wall was difficult with small areas. I can get it flush but the new plaster is still too rough because the wall prevents the trowel from applying the right action to the plaster to smooth it. I've scraped back these patches and applied some much finer plaster (3:1 old hopefully carbonated dry lime (chalk), to lime putty), which works well for very shallow depths, e.g. where I only need to smooth over a rough surface, filling pores. In fact this works so well that the texture is identical to the touch with no perceptible change when transitioning from wall to patch to wall again. I've applied the same fine plaster to deeper patches of about 1mm and I will get crazing in these cases, which disappears if I wet and trowel smooth again, provided I don't leave it too long (several hours).
I used the same fine plaster as the finish coat on the large re plastering patches over the doors and window. These areas were a lot harder to get right and I had to keep the trowel and plaster quite wet during finishing, literally spray and trowel, spray and trowel. If the plaster or trowel weren't wet enough the trowel would tend to suck the plaster off the wall at the low angle used.
All the wall patching is now done. A big general cleanup is all that's needed, which will be after the ceiling is done.
79. Finish coat patching
80. Finished patching.
The cleanup will start in a few weeks to let the finish plaster carbonate enough to wet without being affected.
The ceiling is not flat but there is no sagging due to plaster coming away from laths or laths coming away from joists. The major cracks, which are only hairline, appear to be due to joists bowing over time. There are some cracks where there is a slight height difference on either side (approximately 0.1mm), small enough to sand level.
The plaster is very hard so opening up the cracks to patch them is difficult using a sharp blade. I may try a dremel or small saw or grinder, but it is important with hairline cracks to not go deep. I don't want to needlessly cut through the hair fibres still bridging the crack, so I'll be trying to just cut a shallow channel to fill and then sand level.
The ceiling has the same green milk paint as the walls so the original room was very dark, although, with the right furnishings and decor could have looked quite elegant. It was later painted over with the same oil paint and colour as on the upper walls, then later with a water based flat white paint. The existing paint layers are in good condition, i.e. not flaking etc. I'm not considering stripping it back at this stage although it does appear to strip with a sharp carbide scaper blade a little easier than did the walls, right back to the milk paint layer, without using chemicals or heat, but it is still tough going.
81. Ceiling cracks sanded to remove ridges and dissimilar levels.
The rough patching done around the fireplace by previous owners needed to be fixed now that the fireplace has been opened up and will either be visible or tiled over. It was easy to slap on a flattening coat using my regular render mix. It's so easy having it in buckets ready to go anytime I need some. But the finish coat was the first time I've used a mix proportioned for that coat.
Usually a finish coat is around 1:1 fine sand to lime putty and for me the quickest way to get that was to add lime putty to some of my ready mixed flattening coat mix.
One measure of putty to two measures of render gave me a 6:5 sand to putty mix. That is, 1 measure of render consists of 1 measure of sand + 1/3 measure of putty filling the voids, therefore I had 6/3 (sand) to 2/3 (putty) plus the additional 3/3 (putty) which gave me 6/3 to 5/3 or 6:5. I could have gone 3 of render to 2 of putty to get 9/3 of sand to 3/3 of putty plus the additional 6/3 putty, or 9/3 to 9/3 (1:1).
Using the ready mixed render has the advantage that it requires much less mixing time after the putty is added.
After trowelling the finish coat on it was relatively uneven, so a sponge float was used to even out and flatten the surface. The sponge picks up render from high areas and deposits it in lower areas, but it also raises sand grains to the surface, producing a gritty texture. In this case this was not the desired finish so it was then steel trowelled to push the grit back into and smooth the render. I used the swimming pool trowel to avoid creating ridges in the surface.
External (verandah) door
The door will be replaced, so the primary interest is in the frame and whether it's viable or not to service the new outward swinging french doors I have in mind.
It would have been nice to have fanlights over the external doorways, especially to go with the french doors and also fix the internal visual height disparity with the top of the window, but the depth of the exterior limestone lintels preclude adding them. I could hang some artwork above the door, or I could experiment with adding a header with frieze etc. but the design would be tricky if I want to completely remove the disparity.