27 January, 2009

Happiness is a Working Toilet

For Jean, who requested (demanded) a new post.

It took us one year and three hours to get our antique toilet in the basement working again. I'm not sure why some house projects manage to get done immediately, while others languish for months on end. Our Standard Low Tank Toilet project dragged on forever.

A nifty relic from our house's early origins, the toilet sits in a corner of the basement in its own little room. It's legendary on our block. At the block party, several neighbors laughingly asked about it. The previous resident had hosted a movie night in the basement for the dads on the block, and everyone remembered the "scary toilet." And I have to admit, it was a bit of a scary little room--dark, spider-infested--and the toilet was pretty unsanitary-looking, with an ancient wooden seat that had hosted untold generations of residents. *Shudder*

We took the toilet apart, I'm embarrassed to admit, a year ago this week with the intention of evaluating its functionality and giving it a thorough cleaning. All gun ho, we tore into it, deeming it repairable.

And then it sat there in pieces. For months on end, we'd trip over the box of parts, cursing it and promising to get to it "this week." We bought a nifty new toilet seat back in April or so, and made a trip out to the amazing Clark Devon Hardware in June for replacement parts. I even proclaimed on the blog then that we'd have the toilet working in "a day or two." Ha! A few months ago, we tore out the old drywall, got rid of the spiders, and scrubbed the room down with disinfectant.

But still the tank parts sat in a box, gathering dust.

Other house projects got in the way over the year, more pressing matters like leaky roofs, leaky basements, broken heating systems, and random tenant issues.

But finally, finally, we found time to work on it this month. And when we did, it took all of three hours to put the toilet back together again. I cleaned the heck out of the porcelain, preserving the old Standard label, and polished the metal bits:

Ted did the actual repair and re-assembly. DEA Bathroom Machineries was very helpful for this; they have an online repair guide for old toilets, with illustrations. This is what the system more or less looks like: Tank Diagram.

Anyway, one of these days (*cough, cough* years) we'll finish this room with tile and fresh drywall. But for now, the toilet itself is very clean and very usable--even if the only wall we have to block the view at present is a temporary folding one, since I tore the old one out.

Please enjoy the following video, which is music to my ears. The toilet repair project has been one of the most satisfying of all. It's so much nicer having to walk only ten feet from my office, rather than down the length of the basement, up the stairs, and into the unit above.

Now, instead of our galvanized shop sink, we just need a vintage Standard sink to match! We had found one in an alley nearby, but it wasn't quite what we were looking for, and it found a new home with Denise at The Bungalow Chronicles. Be sure to visit her and check out the installation!


Karen Anne said...

Congrats :-)

My least favorite cleaning thing, a toilet.

modernemama said...

very satisfying

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

Nice! It's so good to have a working toilet. Thank you for posting a link to the diagram of the operations - I now see that I'm supposed to have a wire where someone previously cobbled togethere a few bits of chain with some safety pins.

Oh, and I'm not sure whether it's a "Standard" or not (can't find a manufacturer's label anywhere on it), but I'm convinced that this is the epitome of laundry sink perfection. Of course, the porcelain (yes, porcelain, not cast iron!) forces you to keep it clean, unlike the concrete slab sinks that can get truly dirty without anyone batting an eye.

Joanne said...

Oh, Christopher, I'm in love with your sink.

Jean Martha said...

Yay!!! Well, if you ever get to NY there are two salvage places here that are literally overflowing with vintage sinks...