Glenlochan -The Beginning

Glenlochan -The Beginning
Glenlochan - The Beginning

Glenlochan Today

Glenlochan Today
Glenlochan Today

Monday, February 17, 2014


We had a new first this week, thundersnow.

Disclaimer - thundersnow has absolutely nothing to do with renovation, not in VA, not in Philly, not anywhere.  End disclaimer.

We've had so many significant snow storms this winter that I've lost count.  The last big one was a doozy though - a "long duration event" as the excited weather and news people chimed repeatedly.  Phase two of this storm, it was announced, could include thundersnow.  I thought it highly unlikely that we'd be lucky enough to experience thundersnow - especially since I hadn't even heard of this phenomenon until the dire predictions for this storm began.

But, sure enough, the snow was falling heavily as we headed to bed and just as we were drifting off to sleep, we saw a huge flash of light and a large boom of thunder.  Luckily it repeated the pattern several more times so our disbelieving minds were able to confirm that yes, we were actually experiencing thundersnow - thunder and lightning in the middle of a snowstorm - how cool is that?  I was so excited I could hardly fall asleep.

Unfortunately, no pictures to document this potentially once in a lifetime event. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Philly Post: Electric Upgrade and Weather Woes

Last week, we had the electric panel for the Philly house upgraded from an old, randomly wired 100 amp fuse box to a slick new, top of the line 200 amp circuit panel.  It looks shiny, new, sleek and effective.  Not that we've blown any fuses, not a single one, since we moved in.  These old houses all have gas appliances (by necessity - they couldn't handle electric appliances without an upgrade) so to my surprise, despite what we deemed to be a vastly under-performing electrical system in the house, we haven't had any problems.  Nonetheless, as we renovate the home, each room will be completely rewired to eliminate the old knob and tube wiring and thus, the fire risk.

Rob gave up a day of electricity while our shiny new panel was installed.

Unfortunately, we only got to enjoy it for about 8 hours before its functionality came to a screeching halt.  This is the unending winter and we had two storms last week.  The first one dumped another 12 inches of snow on us.  And the second one deposited an inch of ice, causing us and many other thousands of people to involuntarily lose power during the first night after this circuit panel was installed.  We were some of the lucky ones - we had power back in two days.  As of today, there are still people waiting for their power to be restored in the Philly area.  And the next storm is just around the corner.  I'm just not sure where this next round of snow is going to go.

Yes, we actually have to shovel our back yard for the dog - the snow is taller than she is and she's very fussy about where and how she does her business.

Safety, uninterrupted power, and warmth to everyone.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Philly Post: Wissahickon Schist

Wissahickon Schist - trying saying that five times fast!  We do love to say it and we love the stone - it's abundant in buildings in Philadelphia, and our little twin home is no exception:

Our home is not the prettiest example of this great stone and only the bottom of our house is Wissahickon Schist, the rest is brick.  Many structures are full-on Schist and they are stone delights that make me very jealous - truly amazing buildings.  We hadn't really seen this unique stone until we moved to Philly and there is a reason for that - the Wissahickon Formation is a mapped bedrock in Pennsylvania and a few contiguous states with the Wissahickon Gorge located in Fairmount Park - minutes from our home.

As beautiful as the stone is, it's not without issues - and ours are on the inside, not the outside.  Our basement walls are also Schist, held together originally by soft mortar and parged and painted over the years with a variety of cement mixtures and paints - all of which eventually begin to disintegrate due to moisture and age.  Talk about cellar woes.  Here's a few shots:

The cure?  Stripping out as much as the old coating as possible before re-parging the walls.  It's a messy, dirty process that raises an unbelievable amount of dust and dirt and creates a lot of waste.  Rob is always coated when he's done working and the rest of the house has become more dusty, despite precautions.

  Rob stripped out one small section completely and, after consulting with Limeworks, parged it first with a scratch coat, and then with the top coat (painting not yet completed):

There is a whole lot of square area left to do, so this will keep him busy for a long while.  And, on another note, before Rob could begin this long and fun process, we had to move everything out of the basement, including the old piano that we inherited from the previous owners (and that appeared to have been neglected for many, many years).  Unfortunately, after researching the make and serial number and exploring restoration and moving options, we discovered that the cost of restoration was far more than the value of the fully restored piano, so it made no sense to undertake that. It was a very cheap parlor piano from the 40's with painted wood keys and held together by a few screws.  I use past tense because it is, unfortunately, no more.  Even the cost of moving it was prohibitive - and frankly, we don't know how it ever got down there, the stairs are so narrow.  We elected to dismantle it in order to get it out without the risk of injury.  There are actually a variety of instructional videos on YouTube on how to take apart a piano - fun times if you are bored or in the market to dismantle a piano.  If you've even wondered what the insides look like, here's few shots (we'll be recycling as much as possible and we saved the column legs for a future project):

Rob was able to carry the entire piano (in pieces) out of the basement and outside all by himself.  What a guy!