Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Lock, set, mismatch.

So, things have been quiet on the home improvement front lately. I've done a couple of little touch-up jobs, like scraping away the weird grout bits that I didn't wipe off properly when i grouted the bath, but nothing really worth discussing. This week we have ambitious plans to clear and finish the dining room, but that may have to wait a couple of weeks.

What I did get done was to make the exterior cellar door secure. Warning - excessive use of parentheses follows.

The door concerned is an old, wood and plate glass door, similar to the original front door, but an obviously inferior model. It has, until now, had a rim latch with a little "lock" lever on it, and no other lock. This level of "security" was "reinforced" by a lovely old wooden screen door with a hook latch. Nothing here that would deter a casual vandal, let alone an intent burglar. Fortunately, this is a small town, and pretty safe, so it really wasn't that big of a deal. Til now.

However, I grew up in the city and have the requisite skittishness of someone who grew up with deadbolts on every door. There have been a few sleepless nights over that security hole. Then our insurance agent mentioned that having deadbolts on every entry would lower our insurance premium - so we bought new locks for every exterior door. And didn't install them. Well, okay, we installed them. One at a time, over a period of MONTHS. The new front door got one, and the back door got one, and the cellar door ... didn't.

Tangentially, we had removed the perfectly good, but ugly and unnecessary, aluminum storm windows from the formerly exterior interior windows on the now-enclosed front porch (that's quite a sentence). This gave us three entire storm windows to stick in the cellar. The only glass window in the house that had no protection from hail, or other weatherizing of any kind, was the plate glass cellar door. I had an epiphany, and decided to mount one of the spare storms over the glass panel on this door.

After installing the storm window over the glass panel (It's no prizewinner, looks wise, but I think I can pretty it up with some paint or mouldings.), I finally mounted the plain silver deadbolt we'd bought almost a year ago. That was an exercise in Making It Work - the door had been trimmed on the latch side to fit the frame, probably 80 years ago, and was almost too narrow to mount the lock without damaging the door or the glass. I ended up cutting a much smaller hole than called for by the lock's installation instructions, just large enough to fit the lock's mounting screws through, cutting the tube hole, then using my Dremel's drill saw to carve out just enough space to fit the end of the tube latch into the door. I love my Dremel.

Mounting the the strikeplate on the frame was a pain, as usual, but I managed, after only three false starts. There is now double glass and a deadbolt on the cellar door, along with its old and and ugly, but reliable, rim-mount knob set.

The dear old wooden screen door is coming off, and it will probably get replaced with the old modern storm door (also removed from the now-interior front door), for an extra layer of weather safety. We'll be refinishing the wooden screen door and mounting it on the back screen porch, probably when I get the screencloth put up on the naked screen mounting strips.

On the military front, Chris is finally processed back in. And barely in time - our savings ran out last month, we had to borrow from my mother to get by. He'd taken a leave of absence from work when he was asked to return to active duty, but we had no idea it might take six months, only one month of which was due to Chris training for his physical. Well, everything is okay now, and we're just waiting for orders.

I don't know how I'm going to face moving if we have to. We're just getting started.

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