The Devil Queen

How my wife and I sold our souls to the Queen Anne Victorian we tried to save.

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Location: Crow Mountain, Arkansas, United States

Synopsis: This is a cautionary tale. A seriously disturbed couple find the charming, old ruin of a Queen Anne Victorian in Russellville, Arkansas, and buy it for $1.00. They tore the roof off, cut it in half, and had it moved to some land they owned sixteen miles away because they didn't know any better. Since then, they have hired and fired contractors, had all of their tools stolen, re-wired, re-plumbed, insulated, and essentially rebuilt the entire house. Their only problem is that after four years it still isn't finished. Now they are tired, broke, and wonder what in the hell it is they've done to themselves. And, it's haunted.
(Last updated on April 3, 2008)

Press: Russellville Courier Article - December 2003, HGTV website article, AP story - October 2006, and Victorian Homes Magazine - February 2008 (link coming soon).
Art: From time to time, I receive requests for my art. If you would like to look at more of my art, go to The Failed Artist. If you would like to buy my art, email me. I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Iron Maiden

Cast iron bathtubs. Just the name itself is enough to make your back ache.

Four years ago, my wife traded someone for a cast iron, claw foot bathtub. Since that time, it has lurked in our carport. Those of you with an eye for detail and a mathematical bent will have noticed that I said, "four years ago." You will also remember that we've had the Devil Queen for three years. This means we acquired the tub before we bought the Queen.

That's right, we're those kind of people, compulsive hoarders. We didn't even have an idea how or if we'd ever use the damn thing. My wife always wanted one, so there it was.

I took some pictures of the beast, but our camera vanished. I'm hoping that my son didn't find it. He got his grandmother's cell phone once and we didn't find it for 9 months.

We needed to set the tub in place so we could position the brass supply lines. They don't bend any, so it had to be perfect. Jack was kind enough to help move the monster. Instead of lifting it into the truck, we stood it on end so the top lip of the tub rested on the open tailgate. We then picked up the other end, lifted it, and pushed the tub (upside down) into the truck. This way we didn't have to support the tub's entire weight ourselves. It was surprisingly easy.

Getting it into the Queen was much harder since there are no front steps. We didn't drop it on anyone's toes or testicles, so I rate it as a successful undertaking. Once we set up the drain and supply lines we get to haul the tub out of the Queen, refinished the tub, and then haul it back in after we refinish the floor. I can't wait.

I'd never had a good look at the underside of the tub before. Printed on the bottom of the tub was " American Standard Sanitary Co." and "6-17-29." I'm guessing that the string of numbers is the patent date or production date. Anyone know for sure? Maybe it’s a model number? If it's a date, it means the style (if not the tub) is about 25 years older than I thought.

As with all things, there are high and low end tubs. I'm guessing that our tub is an Everyman's claw foot tub. It's about five feet long with a white enamel finish in the tub. The outside of the tub was originally bare metal. Someone painted the metal white (only the sides, not the bottom) along the way. The paint looks awful, it's chipping and flaking off.

We're planning to strip off the paint, prime the tub's exterior (metal primer), and paint it. We're going for a hammered copper look, but we'll see how it turns out. After that we'll seal it to protect it from water and chipping.

I'm nervous about refinishing the tub. It is uncharted territory for me. It's going in the master bathroom, so I'll be looking at it every day if I screw it up. Any tips?

6 Comments:

Blogger Kristin said...

We have a clawfoot tub sitting out in the storage shed. Ours is a workin' man's tub, too. Definitely not fancy schmancy, though I haven't got a look at the underside yet (and may never). Hmm, maybe I should get a mirror and look underneath.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Patricia W said...

I thought the 5 ft. clawfoot I brought from Texas was heavy until I moved the 'heaviest cast iron tub I've ever tried to lift' out of the Folksy Lady. It was original to the house and was styled like a clawfoot although it had no clawfeet and two sides were 'squared' to fit snugly into a corner. I'm not joking, it had to have weighed a good half-ton. I had to hire two junk haulers to take it away. It took three adults and a bottle jack just to lift up one side so that it could be rolled onto a dolly. From there it was slid down boards out of the side door and there it sat (for 6 weeks) until it was taken away. Now when I lift a normal clawfoot it seems like a piece of cake.

The numbers are definitely the DOB of the tub. The one I got from my aunt was mfg. in 1916. I'll have to get a mirror and check out the DOB of the clawfoot upstairs.

Both of mine are everyday clawfooted tubs, nothing special but man are they nice to take a bath in. :)

3:39 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

I have a six and a half footer in my bathroom that I use everyday. The thing weighs a freakin’ ton. I don’t think it has been moved more than 3 feet since the day it was installed more than 100 years ago. I also have an 1932 American Standard sink in the kitchen and a 1926 American Standard toilet. I think it is very cool how they put dates on everything. I still remember that the toilet is dated “June 11, 1926”. It has seen a lot of..well…it’s seen a lot over the years.

8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you planning to use Rustoleum's hammered finish enamel? Perhaps you're going for a more complicated finish than this, but FWIW, I recently used the black hammered finish enamel to repaint an exterior railing.

The paint expert at our local hardware store (I definitely trust their insight) told me to remove the rust with a wire brush drill attachment and then prime any exposed surfaces with a clean metal primer. Rusted metal primer doesn't get as good of a grip (but obviously, if you're dealing with heavily rusted metal, is a good solution; if it's just a tiny bit of rust, stick with clean metal).

I followed after initially with spray paint but when I ran out, got a can of the paint and finished the project with that. I think brushing on the paint resulted in a better finish (more "hammered" looking), thicker paint application, and was certainly much easier (especially outdoors with the wind blowing). I also repainted our old, rusting mailbox (without the benefit of any cleaning up beyond a quick wipe, let alone primer) and was very happy with the result; I couldn't spot any brushstrokes at all in the finish.

Best of luck with the project!

8:16 AM  
Blogger John said...

We're thinking about using the Rustoleum for the tub's exterior. I'm glad too hear it turned out well for you.

Thanks for the tips, they're greatly appreciated.

11:24 AM  
Blogger lexuh said...

Have you taken the plunge on this one yet? I'm eyeing my 66" cast iron clawfoot as I type with the intention of sending it off for a professional refinishing job (it was sloppily redone in the 80's and now looks the the surface of a leprotic albino sea creature).

My current dilemna is how the blazes I'm going to get it out of the house. I'm thinking of renting one of those motorized walking handtrucks. Any experience with those?

Oh, and I checked my clawfoot's nativity when I bought the house years ago -- original to the house, 1911.

6:14 PM  

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