Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Old Chandelier Cleaned and Installed

Yay for Beth The Covington Historic Preservation Officer!!

Beth is a goddess. A kind hearted (a.k.a. GENEROUS!) kind of gal who knows how to make a person feel honored to be a friend.

Oh, and she gave us one of her totally fab chandeliers.

This is the solid brass chandelier pulled from her home: (She's doing a renovation of her own and the old lighting wasn't a proper match for the design of the home... and soooo.... FREE GIVEAWAY!!)

OK, it was dusty.
And Dirty.

And pretty much encased in 80 years worth of black creosote.

OK, fine, not creosote. More like a crystallized fine black crust.

I took it apart outside and started cleaning it the day we brought it home. There were 20lbs of crystals that needed dusting, but that wasn't the hard part. In fact, that was the easiest part of it all.

One I pulled the chandelier apart into the myriad brass pieces, I started polishing the stem by hand. And by toothbrush. And by sponge, and by stick and brick and hammer..... ugh. It was a lot more work than I expected.

A lot more crevices. Tiny imperceptible nooks and crannies. Using Brasso. (Oh, and DO NOT USE Tarnex. Apparently it turns brass green.)

On some of the finer crevices I actually had to drill out the black crud with a small chisel (engraving) tipped Dremel tool before polishing it. Whatever the black stuff was, it was like a thick layer of lacquer that the Brasso just can not penetrate. In every single crevice of every piece.

Using this:


After: (same piece)

From beginning to end, it took about 5 days, a lot of brass polishing wheels and small nylon Dremel brushes that NO ONE carries anymore (had to special order them from Dremel.com since everyone's going oscillating/cutter accessories and they just don't have the shelf space for polishing anymore. Grrrrr. )

This brush is also what I used after chiseling.

Once it was polished and assembled, we then had to worry about the weight.

We had a small 5 lamp light hanging from the ceiling that weighed about 5lbs. I was not sure that what we had installed in the ceiling was rated for a chandelier that weighed 40-50lbs.

We decided to go (obviously) towards overkill.

We cut out a chunk of the drywall in the ceiling to try to get a look at what we installed for the old lighting. For this reason alone, we also decided that we were going to need a 2' decorative medallion on the ceiling. (We also did not have the original chandelier cap, either). For this reason, we also needed to replace the threaded nipple from which the chandelier hangs. The one we had was no where near as long as we would need to attach to the bar, through 2 medallions, and through the screw cap that held the chain. I think it was 3" long when we were done.

After cutting the hole, we decided to play it safe and get a new spreader/hanger bar and ceiling box to rewire and support the weight of the chandelier. We got one similar to this one, but instead of needing nails or screws to attach to the ceiling joists, we got one with spikes on the that expanded by twisting the bar outward and it embedded itself into the joists.

One important note to this was that because we attached 1x3" wood slats to the bottom of the ceiling joists to smooth out the levels for the 5/8" drywall, we propped up the spreader bar on blocks of 2x4 to make better contact with the joists on each side.

Once the bar was installed (rated for up to 80 lbs) and rewired, it took both of us to hold the darn thing up close to the ceiling (in between 2 ladders) while one of us did the wiring, the other had to hold the mass and stay balanced and unmoving. And we had to install the medallions first, then connect the wiring and support cable through the medallion. What a PITA.

But in the end, it came together beautifully just in time for Thanksgiving.

The picture does not do justice. Damn it's sparkly.
Thanks, Beth. :-)


Jessica said...

Wow, what a difference! It looks beautiful.

Beth said...

Holly and Mark,

It looks beautiful and perfect in your home!!! I am so happy that you were able to use the chandelier and that you took the time and care to clean it up.

The Wife said...

Well, Beth, I figured I'd better do it right the first time, because I'm not doing all that &$$@#& &%$*@! for another 50 years. :-)

Sarah Greenman said...

Wow. Fantastic! What a find - and it looks so beautiful in your home.