Clean up: basement progress

Normally, Sunday is our day of rest. No unnecessary work is done.

Unfortunately, cleaning the basement has crossed over into the “necessary work” category. Part of the challenge is finding a time to do it when the girls and I are all physically up to it. We need to get it safe enough to use as a cat maternity ward, and we may already be too late for Butterscotch. I haven’t seen her all day today.

We got a huge amount of progress done, and there is still much to do. We’re not even doing much sorting. Though there were some things that very obviously needed to go straight to the junk pile, most went to be stored in the barn. Including…

… lots of motors. In the photo is 5 of the 6 small motors we cleared out. There are more, larger motors that still need to be moved. I will be trying to keep them all together in the barn. I have no idea what their state or status is, but my brother might now.

Of course, we also found all sorts of interesting things. Including this blast from the past for me!

Yeah. That’s a “throwing star”. One of my boyfriends in high school made it for me in shop class. It used to be nice and shiny, and boy could that thing sink keep into a wooden door!

We also found a panel of chain mail. I don’t know if it’s a front or back panel, but it was clearly meant for a very small person. I have no idea who in my family would have gotten themselves some chain mail!

Manual hair clippers! This was a cool and unexpected find! They were well protected in their box, thankfully. The massive towing chain and hook it’s leaning on is another unexpected find. 😀

A light bulb for a type of light I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere, yet.

(Thanks, 53Old, for your comments about this. This is a Made in Canada, 3AU6 vacuum pentode tube, most likely from one of the many TVs we acquired when my parents bought some property many years ago. There was an old shed that had at least a dozen old TVs in there, some of which had their solid wood cabinets converted into shelves we are using now.)

We also found some stuff I was really excited about. They are going to be quite useful!

A couple of modern planers, and a clamp. A bit of clean up, and I hope to get good use out of these.

I was more excited to find this.

A small vice with a table clamp. We have a larger vice in the shed we keep our lawn mowers in that I’ve already found useful, but it’s the type that gets affixed permanently to a surface. I was already thinking of seeing if I could find a smaller one with a clamp at one of the local hardware stores, and now I don’t have to!

We found lots of other things, too, that I didn’t get pictures of.

Here is how the basement looked, after we hauled some stuff out and called it a day.

All the rubber boots still in the shelves will need to be thrown out. They’re so old, they’re brittle.

Hmmm… Three table legs got taken to the barn. I wonder if that round table top is the table they belonged to?

At one point, the floor in the foreground was full of stuff that got hauled out. The shopping cart is full of old wood, picture frames and frame glass that needs to be removed with care. The cardboard box partially visible on the bottom right has broken glass in it.

The sheet of pink rigid insulation was brought down for something you’ll see in another photo. Some of this stuff will stay, while others will be hauled to the barn. The broom is leaning in my mother’s old sewing machine. That’s a keeper, for sure!

Quite a lot got cleaned out of the “bar”. Still lots more to get rid of. It’s still cleaner than it has been, in decades! We’ll need to get into it with a vacuum cleaner and crevice tool, to get rid of the very old mouse droppings and bits of broken glass.

There are still a few bottles to move out, but most of them have already been set aside into the old basement.

Eventually, we will go through these. The ones we want to keep, including for future bottle bricks, will be thoroughly cleaned. Unfortunately, a few of the old wine bottles we dug up still have liquid in them. *shudder* The rest will go to the landfill for recycling. There are a few bottles we found that might actually be collector items, too.

The rigid insulation is now covering an opening (formerly a window, I think) into the old basement. The main focus for here was to 1) make sure that opening stays covered and 2) there is no gap any future exploring kittens can fall into in the back.

The bottom cupboards of this shelf has lots of old paint cans in it. From the smell when I looked inside, there is at least one that is leaking.

The shelf itself is in pretty terrible shape, and I’d love to replace it some day.

Some day.

The other old shelf is in slightly better shape. At some point, I want to set up that drill press in an easily accessible location, and test it out.

Hopefully, we didn’t overdo it today, and will be able to continue tomorrow. Once we have it safe, and access to the old basement is blocked to cats, we’ll be able to set up a cozy area for kitties. I’m just hoping that, if Butterscotch has already had a litter, we can find them and bring them inside. It’s way too early for kittens, and their chances of survival are not that good right now. 😦

Lots of work to do before we get to that point, though!

The Re-Farmer

Shelving it

During our trip to the city, I was able to pick up a couple of cheap plastic utility shelves for the old basement. Due to lack of space with all our other shopping, I ended up getting one at Costco and one at Walmart. They were the same size and type, but different brands.

Today, I wanted to start setting them up and grabbed the one from Walmart.

The basement stairs are steep with narrow treads, so I tried sliding it down the stairs in front of me. Like an idiot. This set of shelves were held together with nothing but a single strap (the Costco shelves were shrink wrapped). One of the shelves came loose form the others, and the next thing I knew, I was balancing precariously at the top of the stairs, one shelf in my hand, the rest almost at the bottom of the stairs, no way to close the door behind me, and a sudden crowd of cats wanting to check out the sudden stream of blue language.

Thankfully, my husband was able to rescue me. All I really needed was for him to keep the cats away and close the door.

I look forward to when the basements are safe enough that we don’t have to worry about them getting down there.

I decided the other shelf could wait until I was done with this one.

Both of these are 5 shelves tall. I was pretty sure they wouldn’t fit at that height.

I was right.

Even if that support was all the way in (I had to use the flat side of a hammer to get the others in), it would still be too tall.

Which is fine. Four shelves is good enough.

I focused on replacing the sorter shelf, with its many glass jars, first, since it was the most unstable.

A perfect fit! Except…

My apologies for the out of focus picture, but you can see how much space is under the leg, when I leveled the shelf.

So I needed to put something thin under the front legs, while still staying away from wood or metal. What did we have that I could use?

I started looking around in the new part basement when I remembered the stack of old floor tiles I’d moved from the bottom of one of the shelves while cleaning up.


Nice and stable, too. The other leg ended up needing a couple more tiles than this one.

That floor is remarkably uneven!

It didn’t make sense to put all those filthy jars back into the nice new shelf, so I made use of the old laundry sink.

In between soaking and washing batches of jars, I got my husband to bring over the other shelf.

Which was much, much easier to get down the stairs. Amazing what a difference a bit of shrink wrap can make!

Once I got it open, however, and starting looking between the shelves for the parts and pieces, something seemed… off. There seemed to be an awful lot of supports in there. And what was that, stuck under one of the shelves? That’s an odd shape…

So, according to the part list, there should have been 4 top caps, 4 legs, 16 support poles, 5 shelves and 3 wall brackets.

There were 5 shelves, 20 support poles, no top caps, no legs, no wall brackets, and 2… whatever those things are in the picture. I think they’re legs from a completely different style of shelf.

Well, I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I may not have legs, but I still have bricks!

I also used more of those tiles to level the shelf at the front.

I found an email address on the information sheet for this company’s customer service department, so I’ll email them about the parts issue later. This Costco one was a tiny bit more expensive (worth it, just for the shrink wrap!), but also seems to be a higher quality, too. I want to get more of these, and would get more Costco ones, if I had to choose, but not if they’re all messed up like this! 😀

Here is a before and after.

Cleaning the jars gave me a chance to look for chips, and I did end up taking out about 5 large canning jars and another 4 or 5 quart sized ones. Some of the ones I kept did have teeny chips I could just barely feel, but these will never be used for food again, so I was okay with keeping them. The ones with larger chips have the potential to cut someone, so I will probably find a way to use them for something else, where it won’t be an issue. Like bottle bricks.

As we start going through the collection of bottles in the new part basement, we’ll add more to the ones being set aside here, for potential use as bottle bricks. There are also lots more jars in the old kitchen that will come down here, so more of these shelves will be needed just for those.

The wooden shelves will be moved into the new part basement and put into use there, since we don’t have to worry about the wood getting wet in there.

A nice little bit of progress down there for the day. 🙂 I’m quite happy with it!

The Re-Farmer

Clean Up: old basement progress

I was able to get a few more hours working on the old basement today.

Honestly, I should probably be using those hours doing housework, but that’s depressing. 😀 Cleaning the basement may be really gross at times, but once it’s done, it’ll stay done for a very long time.

It’s a psychological thing. 😀

Today, I finally got to the water damaged shelf.

The containers at the bottom, with odds and ends in them, simply got moved to the other basement, to join the other stuff there we’ll need to sort through and figure out what to do with. That big plant pot will hopefully be big enough to transplant our umbrella tree into. I just have to find a drip tray for it, though the umbrella tree will likely spend the summer outside again, so I’ve got time for that.

Through the shelf, peaking from behind the chimney that used to be hooked up to the old wood burning furnace, is a really big baking pan. Too big to fit in the oven, so I don’t know why it’s here. I later cleaned it up and set it aside. I’ll be using it as a tray for when we start seeds indoors.

Dismantling the shelf was certainly interesting. Just look at the size of those nails! (In case you can’t make them out, they’re about 4 inches long, and those were what held the shelves to the sides.) For part of it, I ended up using a big flat head screwdriver to pry pieces apart. I had thought that some of the boards might be salvageable, but… nope. This will all go to the burn pile.

That shopping cart came in handy. 😀

Yay! It’s done!

That extension cord plugged into the outlet goes up through the floor, and into the master bedroom, along with a TV cable. There’s no longer a TV there, but the extension cord still comes in handy!

When we’re finally able to renovate, this chimney is what I want to have removed and replaced with a dumbwaiter. 🙂 That will make it so much easier to move things from floor to floor!

With the space opened up, I though I might set up a table here. Some time ago, I’d noticed a sturdy looking wooden table top leaning against the wall just on the other side of the opening to the new part basement. No sign of any legs, though. While I was clearing things in the new basement, I found – along with the hand pump and other things I uncovered – a set of legs that looked like they might belong to this table top.

So I brought them over.

They were, of course, extremely dusty, so I gave all the pieces a good cleaning. This table is clearly home made. I’m thinking it may have been made by my late brother. He did have a wood lathe and could have turned those legs himself.


The holes the legs were meant to fit into had crud in them. Only one of them was clear. These two were the worst. I was able to scrape most of the glue and residue out with a utility knife, but that was it for now.

So the legs were definitely made for this table, and the ends would normally have fit into the openings. With all the crud in there, they wouldn’t go all the way in.

I decided to set it up, anyway, in a different area.

I lured my daughter away from some commission work to give me a hand in setting it up on bricks, to protect from any future flooding. (The water on the floor was from the still wet table top and legs.)

I just had to set up my mother’s “thou shalt not steal” sign. Too funny!

Once it was set up, I hammered the table top down, using a piece of scrap wood to protect the surface, to try and get those legs into the openings as much as possible. They barely moved! Which meant that this is a very, very wobbly table.

Just to be on the safe side, because I KNOW I’ll forget and lean on it or something, I made up a warning sign. 😀

After this, I was able to start working on the other side of the basement.

There isn’t a lot that has been added to the space, but it’s big stuff, so it’s filling up fast!

The remains of a wooden chair got pulled apart (the legs were already falling off!) and added to the shopping cart with the rotten shelf pieces. The garden hose we’d used to help clear the access pipe to the septic tank got rolled up into a 5 gallon bucket I’d found, so it’s all nice and neat and tucked away. In one of the pictures, you can see some hoses behind what looks like black pool noodles. Those are old aquarium hoses. I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to use them again, since I’ve not been able to find a source to replace a broken hose connector for the filter of our big aquarium. Still, just in case, I cleaned them up, then found another bucket I could roll them up into. I even found a lid to keep the dust off them.

Here is how it looks now. When shifting the broken hot water tank, to move out the box the new one came in, I discovered there was still water in it that had started to drain. So that got moved over the drain trough next to the old hot water tank we replaced shortly after moving here. The next time I work down here, it will be to dismantle at least that one tank, as it’s way too heavy to haul up the stairs as it is. The newer broken tank is pretty light, so it might be easier to take it outside as is. I still want to dismantle it. I would really love to see if I can tell why it broke after only about 2 years.

There is still stuff that needs to be sorted through, but that is for another time. Of course, there are always odd finds. There were so many buckets of various sizes, but only one had a lid on it. Given what I’ve been finding elsewhere, I feared it might have something else for the special disposal pile.

Nope. Just this.

No clue what these are for, but I assume they were cut to size and kept protected in the bucket for a reason, so I’m leaving them until I can ask my brother if he knows what they’re for. There were a few other little things that joined the collection of rotted wood in the shopping cart, and one thing that was definitely a keeper. The temporary grave marker used for my late brother until the memorial stone was installed a year later. It’s just a simple board cut into a cross at the top, with my brother’s name and dates engraved on a little brass plate. It’s got some moisture damage on it, but that’s likely from the year it spent outside than any damage here in the basement. My oldest brother made it, and I definitely don’t want to loose track of it.

I’m rather pleased with the progress made today.

Hhhmmm. I suddenly can’t remember if I turned one of the lights off. One last trip to the basement, and I’m done for the next while! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Clean Up: old basement progress, and finding things

I was able to get a bit more progress in the old part basement yesterday, and it’s the sort of progress that actually feels like things are finally moving forward!

Stuff got put back for a change!

Okay, so it’s really all temporary, but still…

The first thing I wanted to work on was getting the now dry shelves back against the wall. My plan was to put both on one side of the centre pillar, instead of one on each side, like it was before.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

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Clean Up: old part basement. Mopping and scrubbing

Today, I was finally able to continue working on cleaning up the old part basement.

For those who are new to visiting this blog (Welcome! Thanks for popping by!), click here to read about what happened, and you can see the clean up progress here, here, here and here. (All links will open new tabs, so you won’t lose your place! 🙂 )

I’ve really been kinda dreading what I need to work on next, which is to start putting back some of the things I had to move out during cleanup, and try and figure out what to keep, what to store elsewhere, and what needs to be disposed of. Hopefully, I won’t be finding any more hidden “poison for tree” containers hidden somewhere!

The first thing I did today was move the blower fan to a different area, so I could do a bit more clean up in the last section I had worked on.

The photo on the left is how it looked when I last worked in this section. There was still a lot of dust and dirt in the area, but trying to sweep it did more to kick the dust into the air than get rid of it.

In the process, I discovered a light fixture hidden between two furnace ducts! I had to have seen it before, but simply forgot it existed. It’s very well hidden! (As an aside, I had my phone on one of the ducts near where I was working, held in place by the magnetic case, playing music. I later found out the girls could hear my music on the second floor, through the vents!)

There are so many odd little lights around this old basement. This half of the basement alone has one of two lights that turn on with the switch at the top of the stairs, one that has its own switch at the side closer to the new part basement, and one above the septic pump that has no switch. It is screwed in and out to turn it on and off. Now I find the light with the pull chain between the ducts, so that’s 4 lights on this side of the stairs. On the other side of the stairs is the other light that’s turned on by the switch at the top of the stairs, a light with a pull chain above the sump and well pumps, and another with its own light switch closer to the furnaces.

That’s a total of 7 lights in one little basement!

Anyhow. Where was I? Oh, yes. Cleaning.

I was even able to wash this section of wall a bit. The other walls were too crumbly, and the best I could do was sweep them gently, but this wall is solid. Since this wall is part of the original basement, but became an internal wall after the new part was added, it tells me that the crumbing of the exterior basement walls is probably due to all sorts of moisture from the soil around it.

Waterproof sealants probably didn’t exist when this basement was built.

As for the clean up today, this time I didn’t even try to use the mop bucket, and just set up in the laundry sink. That water got so black! Even after changing the water several time and rinsing the floor several times, it was still really filthy.

We’re not going to be able to use this mop anywhere else in the house anymore. 😀 No amount of washing and rinsing of the mop will get it clean enough!

Once the floor was washed and rinsed as best I could, I set up the blower, then turned my attention to the two shelves we will be able to reuse.

I started by washing and scrubbing the shorter one.

I gave it a good scrubbing – after first removing the nails that were used to attach it to the pillar it was next to, originally – then flipped it upside down to do the bottoms of the shelves. You can see the water damage on the “legs” of the shelf, even though it was raised off the floor by bricks.

When this shelf was scrubbed and rinsed (and I took advantage of all that soapy water to mop that section of floor again), I dragged out the taller shelf.

It needed some nails removed before I could start cleaning it, too.

This one has less water damage on its bottom, but was a lot dirtier. The section of wall it was next to is crumbling a lot more than where the shorter shelf was set up. At least this shelf is a lot sturdier, which made it easier to scrub.

Once they were done, I set them up where the blower is aimed, on bricks to keep the air circulating.

Though we will be using these shelves, because we need to, it will be temporary. When we are able to, we’ll pick up some plastic utility shelves to use instead. No wood. No metal. Not for this area!

Once we figure out what goes where of the stuff that got moved out of the shelves, we plan to use them to store bottles. We’ve got a stack of bottles from hard apple cider that we’ve been accumulating over the past two years that will be used as bottle bricks when we do our cordwood practise building. There are also lots of other bottles and jars all over the place, and as we clean those up, we will set aside the one we want to use at bottle bricks as well, so we’ll have other colours as well as ones with no colour at all. The outdoor bathroom we’re planning to make as our first practice building is not going to have any windows in it. Bottle bricks will be used, instead, so all light while maintaining privacy. Whichever wall ends up facing south the most, will have the most bottle bricks with no colour in them for maximum sunlight.

Storing these in the old basement will also mean we’ll have access to water, and the old laundry sink that has turned out to be so very handy. The bottles and jars will need to be cleaned and sterilized before they can be made into bricks.

Little by little, it’s getting organized!

All of this took only about an hour, and it feels like I should have done more, but everything needs to dry before I can continue. Hopefully, I’ll get a bit more progress in tomorrow.

Now, before I forget again, I’m going to go back into the basement and get the dehumidifier that’s down there running.

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: old basement. It begins!

Photo heavy post ahead! 🙂

Today, I started cleaning up in the old part basement. Since I would have to move things to clean under them anyhow, I decided it was time to finally do the proper clean up I was intending to do, later in the year.

I started in the half of the basement near the septic pump, since that’s where the biggest mess was. Slowly, I’ll work my way over to the other half, where the tanks, well- and sump-pumps are, as well as the space that used to hold firewood. There are now two broken hot water tanks stored on that side, so while there’s less there to clean up, it’s got the big stuff.

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