Saturday, February 26, 2011

1884 Pegs and Cotton Top Trees

It's been an odd week around here. On the one hand, we had a Craigslist deal go sour, and we ended up losing money and time in the "deal," but learned a very good lesson (or two) in the process.  On the other hand, an eBay transaction in which I sold an electric guitar, only to have the buyer suffer buyer's remorse and request a refund, ended well enough, with the guitar being returned in the same, excellent condition in which it was shipped, and the buyer refunded.  I learned a lesson on that one too.... NO big ticket items for me on eBay... it is NOT worth the frustration.  I'm looking forward to GIVING the guitar to my friend and fellow guitarist in the choir... I know he will play it for years to come and thoroughly enjoy it!

1992 Les Paul Studio Electric Guitar
Meanwhile, we've made some progress on the old farm house, though the more we work, the more work we find.  Still, I am happy we are progressing. Despite the crazy weather, including brush fires last weekend that burned over 1000 acres in Gloucester, and took the home of a friend, we have managed to actually get some of the rotted beams replaced and some of the leveling started.  Of course, this means we have to continue tearing off the wall coverings to see what lies beneath.
Cutting an inspection hole in the ceiling
Performing rotten-beam-to-ladder gymnastics
and "sticking the landing!"
Peeking between the ceiling and second story floor
This renovating process is an interesting one, to be sure.  I've lost count of how many times we have stood there, scratching our heads, and asking ourselves, "what is holding up the house?  what is holding up the stairs? what is holding up the wall?"  We have decided that it is either "old man Jordan" (the original owner of the house), or it is the most recent owner's crazy wiring..... it looks as if he was seriously trying to hold the house together with electrical wiring.  There are wires that go everywhere and lead to nowhere!

And, what exactly is supporting those stairs???
Welcome, please jump in!
This is what was under the floor tile at the front door!

Now, that is one healthy looking foundation, yes?
Nevertheless, our contractor has put in a bunch of new piers to replace those that are crumbling, and added some where piers were completely missing. He has started the slow process of jacking up the house, replacing the beams as needed in order to have something strong enough to support the weight.

Nice beam, huh?
Removing rotten wood
Jacking, after introducing new wood
New beam supporting old wall
Original peg in beam
Umm. is that tinfoil plumbing???
It is amazing to me that this house is still standing, given the state of the beams.  However, it has been neat to find some of the original pegs...yes, pegs, not nails, that were used in the original construction. These pegs were hand made, and actually look to be in better shape than the beams they held together.

Front Room... new piers in place, compaction soil added
Do you see the peg in the beam?
Here is the peg, after removal
And today, though the morning began with heavy rains, the sun came out and warmed up the day.  Of course, then the wind picked up and trees fell across the roads, and tarps ripped from their tethers.... still, the blue sky and the gigantic clouds were beautiful.  If I didn't know better, I'd think it was already March!

Interesting sky

"Cotton top" tree


Gorges Smythe said...

I swear the only thing that holds up some old houses is habit!

aswesow said...

Wow! I think Gorges may be right!
It feels good to give something like that guitar to some one who will appreciate it. I know it's pretty valuable, but how often do we get the chance to give something like that? Cash on the other hand comes and goes all the time, right?

Sharon said...

Glad you got the guitar back in same condition! You could have been SO scammed. It has gotten so a person has no idea if anyone has any integrity or not.

That looks like so much work and as you move along, you find more work. Any idea when you will be finished?

I hope you have a good weekend and can work to your hearts content.

Louise said...

Those beams are kind of scary. I can't imagine why the house is still standing so I guess that Gorges must be right. That house is going to be practically all new by the time you're through.

Judy's Corner said...

I believe you are correct for there is no other good reason this house is still standing!

Today, we got another part of rotten beam replaced and the house is starting to get more level.

Judy's Corner said...

I'm much happier giving the guitar to an incredibly talented musician and friend than selling it to some guitar reseller on eBay!

Judy's Corner said...

Me too, Sharon! I was sweating it the whole time. When the UPS guy arrived with it, I had him wait while I opened the box and checked in out!

Trust me, this house IS a lot of work.... and to think, when we were making the purchase, our realtor told us, "some people would move right in." Ummm yeah, and when they put their furniture in place, they'd have to make sure everything balanced each other out...or the floors would have caved in!

Judy's Corner said...


The house will have a lot of "new" when are are done, but we are keeping all of the "old" that is structurally sound.... It is an interesting project, but not for the faint of heart!

Nekkid Chicken said...


Holey Moley, I think I would agree with Gorges. Those beams did not know they were tired nor crumbling. Amazing construction decades ago. I am so glad you got the guitar back; perhaps you have an angel looking over you now since, the owner was so much trouble on Earth. (weird thought but, it popped in my head)

After you use your large machines; do your arms feel like JELLO? LOL Mine do each time I man the husky tiller. So much so, I can barely help Zephyr button his clothes. :O) Mal

Chris said...

Love the pinned beams! But jeez this is way more than a "project"! My hat is off to you and Joe; you are amazing!!