Tuesday, April 22, 2014


I haven't taken much in the way of photos over the past week, so I'll dig back a month into the archives for today's offering. I've mentioned my affliction/affection for antique plumbing before, and this sink was my most recent acquisition.

The sink that came with the house was an early, but somewhat plain pedestal sink that was badly rusted out.

Although I had intended to restore it, the truth is I can replace it with another antique sink much more cheaply - if it were original I'll shell out the cash, but I doubt it is. To fulfill our 203k obligations we had to make this bathroom operational, so we picked up another vintage pedestal sink with working taps on Freecycle to serve in the interim. Those taps had started to fail, and the bad refinishing job on the sink (not our doing) was only getting worse, so when I saw this sink for $50 on craigslist I jumped on it. Of course it wasn't the sink I was interested in, it was those lovely nickel taps...

The sink is an antique barber's sink, that upper middle nozzle is for a hand sprayer attachment which we don't have. Thankfully, tightening those threads shut off the water flow, although it still makes an awful whistling noise we have yet to remedy. Although the sink itself is rather plain Jane (and will likely get replaced when we decide to have the faucet replated), the soap dish is supremely awesome in that it has an integral drain that connects to the main drain. Very cool... Of course simply hooking it up would have been too simple, naturally it leaked from every conceivable spot - I almost wish I had a picture of the waterworks, but you'll just have to imagine the mess on your own. Since there is really no good tutorial on repairing these (let alone picture of the process), I'll bite the bullet and do my best to describe what we did. The article that guided us initially can be found in this Old House Journal Article - it provides the terminology that you'll need to tell your friends what you did with your weekend, you're welcome.

Remove the handle by unscrewing the screw on the end of it (yours may have a cap that needs to be popped off), then use a wrapped wrench to remove the nut.

Take pictures of what you find, usually a decayed washer and/or packing if there have been previous repair attempts.

Put the handle back on and gently wiggle/unscrew as though you were turning on the faucet to loosen the stem. Once it is able to go past the normal on position it should come out easily - this was the hardest part - looking at it you'd have sworn this was all one piece. We used pb blaster and a needle to break up and remove the grime.

Once we got the stem out we cleaned everything, and tracked down the appropriate washers/screws. Skip the big box stores and go directly to a plumbing supply if you have a truly old faucet like we did.

Place the new washer after thoroughly cleaning off the old gunk (tweezers, q-tips, whatever it takes)
Screw in either the original screw if it was in good condition, or a new brass screw

Coat the stem and threads in the lube, this will make the handle easy to turn.

Use the handle to screw the stem back into the seat
Neatly wrap the packing

Use thread dope and carefully place the nut over the packing, then fully tighten.
After the last nut has been tightened, reinstall the handle, making sure it's positioned in it's desired off positioned before screwing it back in.

If there are any other leaking connections unscrew and pack/use thread dope as necessary.

Smile, you're done. Take an "after" picture that doesn't show the item in question...


  1. Impressive. That 's old school plumbing, no easy sealed replacement cartridges there. Great work!

    1. Thanks John. At least we never have to worry about a company going out of business or no longer carrying the right parts I suppose!


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