Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Last Detail: A Parable for the Painting Trade

his is the essence of the painting trade, the particular miseries of a whole way of life, reduced to thirty minutes and the mechanics of a single triple track storm window.
Storms are the bane of the pinter's life anyway, since they invariably corrode and rust out and get stuck in their tracks for some reason or another. You're supposed to slide two little metal tabs, one on each side, toward each other, freeing the storm from one of its 'blind stops' . Then you lift it until the tabs click into another stop. Easy!
blind stop
 In the summer, both glass sash are up and the screen is down; in the summer you lift the screen and lower the inside glass sash, sealing out the c0ld weather, saving on heating bills, etc.
It's a gret system when it works, and it almost always does.
That brings me to today. Caretaking a large old house in this resort community means closing those storm sash every winter. This particular house has thirty-seven windows. Thirty six of them were easy. Well ... absent the usual tabs releasing and guillontining your fingers, and having to move the rusty tabs with the tip of a crewdriver, while holding the unanchored wooden house window with your head, that sort of stuff. Normal stuff.
Okay, not exactly easy.
But possible, at least and I was  grateful for that.
Still, there's always the last window, the final detail. In this case the window was located in the renovated attic bedroom. Nothing would budge. The main wooden window refused to stay open. The stepped wooden board that normally props the windows open was too short. So I grabbed some books, piled them on the sill and set the stick on my improvised platform. Now at least the window would stay open while I fiddled with the storm sash.
Here's how it's supposed to look:
 storms 2
Progress .
Ar least until one of the books slipped.
It went flying out of the window and hit the driveway in front of my car. I barely got my hands out before the window slammed down.
Breathing deeply to quell the seizure of frustration, I decided to take a closer look  at the storm window set-up. I immediately saw why the screen wouldn't go up and the glass piece wouldn't come down. Somehow the upper tab had slipped out of the groove -- the track. So it was blocking the screen and was itself immobilized. What to do?
Remove the window stops, remove the actual window sash, giving me full access to the storms. Then a little brute force, a flat bar and the will to win would salvage the situation.Of course, that would mean setting the stops back in place afterward, as well as caulking and repainting them.
Here's a diagram of the nasty little tab in question:
storms 3
 Anyway ...
I guess I'll be doing that super fun job on Sunday, since I'll be doing it for free, since it must have been me that screwed the storm sash up in the first place (I can't imagine who else to blame -- I also painted the house).
But when I got downstairs and picked up the book, I had to laugh.
I could hardly have made a more perfect choice:

Just what I needed. The only better choice might have been this one:


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