GREAT MOMENTS: Reset-Trip-Reset-Hold....Trip! - Fine Homebuilding

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Great Moments in Building History

Great Moments in Building History


GREAT MOMENTS: Reset-Trip-Reset-Hold....Trip!

comments (0) August 21st, 2010 in Blogs
chartersubscribertimes4 David McWethy, member

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BY DAVID McWETHY


We had not lived in the house I’d built for us more than a few weeks when I was awakened at 2:30 by a sharp elbow-jab from my wife, immediately followed by a decisively-whispered “Get up! There’s a noise of something coming from the bathroom!”

Quite possibly the last thing I would have voluntarily done right then was trade the cozy warmth of the bed for the knowledge of what made a hissing sound that was much like a rather significant leak in an air hose.  But even in my somnambulistic state it only took my steel-trap mind a minute or so to recall that there weren’t any compressed-air lines in the upstairs Master Bath; and that to get to the source of the sound,  whatever creature was causing the noise would have had to walk (slither? NO! Don’t go there....) past us, while we were soundly sleeping in our bed. 

Since the cause of the noise evidently meant us no harm (or it had poor night vision) I was content to leave well enough alone—with me (and, of course, my darling wife) amply protected by the magical powers of ducking under the covers if the situation worsened.  At least ‘til dawn’s early light (and after we had been left with ne’er a hair disturbed).  What was the worst thing that could happen if we paused to reflect before acting?  Oh, that’s right: Whatever it was, it could leave the toilet seat up.

Meanwhile, painful experience had taught me that, at dark-thirty, the silence from my wife did not mean that she had gone back to sleep:  It meant that she was coldly and methodically calculating the angle of declination, range, and trajectory for the next elbow jab—which would not be a shot in the dark, but a bomb-right-down-the-chimney, like the famous some-say-staged video.  Except the target for the second—lethal—jab wouldn’t be a chimney.  It would be my nearest vulnerable soft spot.

So not taking time to find my house slippers in the dark,  I ever-so-quietly tip-toed toward the quite distinct sound of compressed air.  Until my bare feet on the carpet became bare-feet-on-WET-carpet.

Crouched in preparation for flight, when I snapped on the lights (giving no thought to the wisdom of hand on light switch/feet standing on wet carpet), the mystery of the hissing (that involved neither compressed air nor anything slithering) was solved:

During the early stages of the plan-as-you-go construction of the house I had come across an antique claw-and-ball-foot, high sided, enamel or whatever on cast iron bathtub in perfect condition for only $75 and obstacles be damned, that 400-pound bathtub was GOING to be in the (upstairs) Master Bath.

And so it eventually was, due to the efforts of six men and two cases of beer (each; plus curses I hadn’t heard since high school) getting it up the spiral staircase.  I would have provided physical assistance, but had encountered “a hitch in my get-along” the day before, so could only provide moral support.

But it just fit and it was the perfect center of attention for that room.  Even its sides were the exactly-right height for my wife to place her posterior on while “doing” her nails or plucking toe-hair after the bath.  (We’re divorced now, so I can say anything I want).

And therein lay the problem:  Each time she sat on the side of this cast-iron tub, with its four golden feet resting on thick carpet, her weight would cause one side of the tub to be pushed into the carpet slightly more than was the other side.  And because the whole house-building project had been a learning experience (such as “Don’t connect rigid bronze water lines to an incrementally-moving-back-and-forth bath tub) I learned what happens when you did:  Eventually one of them (5/8”, fed with 60 p.s.i. water, no skimping on OUR house, no sir!) suffered enough metal fatigue to split and in an amazingly short time three out of four sheetrock walls and carpet clear out into the hallway were drenched!

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