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View Full Version : Can antique (1940s) sink faucets be fixed??



crcurrie
07-24-2010, 08:10 PM
I'm in a bit of a bind. Bought a 1940s (American) Standard console sink at a salvage yard to renovate a bathroom needed for a room rental in our house (to earn income since I've been unemployed). Obviously, couldn't afford to spend much.

Unfortunately, the sink leaked (no surprise, right?). I didn't think it would be a big deal to repair, but the plumber I hired to do the work had the hardest time finding a drain gasket, and when he finally fixed it, a second leak opened up in back of the sink where the water line entered the spout. (See photos.)

He says it's almost impossible to fix these old sinks and he's not going to do any more disassembly, since he claims it will only cause more problems. He says I should send it away to an antique sink restoration company.

I can't afford to do that. Is this such a difficult repair, or is my plumber just not comfortable with old plumbing fixtures? The guy at the salvage yard said that a plumber who's used to working with old sinks would be able to make any necessary repairs.

I have a tenant scheduled to move in next week. Can't afford to buy a new sink. Any suggestions of what to do?? Are these gaskets impossible to find, and how would I go about finding a local plumber who can do this work? (I'm near Washington, D.C.) 1108211083

jadnashua
07-24-2010, 08:29 PM
Still not clear where it is leaking. If it is the valves, then the stems may need to be replaced, and possibly the valve seat (if it is removeable). No idea if those parts are available. If you're lucky, it could just need new washers and maybe repacking the stem.

jimbo
07-24-2010, 08:33 PM
I think it is pre-WWII , not sure. In any event, it looks like it is fixable. You will need to find out how the water line seals to the spout. You might have to remove the faucet completely, by removing the handles and trim, and probably a nut under each holds the whole thing on. Once you get it off , it should be apparent what seals the spout, and you can probably buy or make the necessary gasket. If the leak is caused by corroded or deteriorated brass parts, that will be a different story.

You may have a hard time finding a drain pop up. Worst case, just convert to a PO plug or a grid drain.

Redwood
07-24-2010, 09:19 PM
There is probably a spud where the faucet connects to the spout...

Sorry to see you going this route... Restoring ancient fixtures can get expensive and usually there was a good reason why they were torn out and sent to a salvage place... New York Replacement Parts Corp. and Alfano Plumbing Parts are 2 places you might get parts. NYRP corp will make parts in their machine shop for a price....

Personally Big Blue Box will sell a vanity and sink combo for $59 and a cheapo Price Pfister faucet for $19 is it really worth playing with this thing if you are just trying to get rent ready with limited financial resources?

Most people hate those stubby lil spouts anyway...

crcurrie
07-25-2010, 05:25 AM
Thanks for the advice, folks.

Yes, the sink is stamped with a date in 1940 -- so barely before U.S. entry into the War.

I have the drain stop; it was pulled out by the plumber while he was working on it.

Interestingly, the one problem I expected to find -- drippy faucets -- I did not have. The faucets turn off cleanly with nary a drip.

I guess it's a crap shoot as to whether it's fixable if I can get someone to take the faucet apart. I'd be willing to take that gamble, if I could find a plumber willing to do it ...

jimbo
07-25-2010, 06:06 AM
You are giving us conflicting messages.....we understand the economy and budgets and all that. Then in the next sentence you talk about a PLUMBER. Unless you have found Mother Teresa with a tool belt, you have already paid some buckos, and are thinking about shelling out more, couple of hours at ? $75 per hour ? just to see if he can fix it.

It is a nice sink, but if you are not inclined to be your own mechanic on this, there is a less expensive way to go.

hj
07-25-2010, 07:32 AM
There is an "compression" seal where the pipe enters the sink. It is compressed and expanded by tightening the "silver" nut at the sink. IF it does not seal by additional tightening, then the faucet has to be removed and a new rubber seal installed on it. Finding such a seal may, or may not, be difficult depending on its dimensions. I.d., o.d., and length will ALL be critical dimensions.

Wally Hays
07-25-2010, 10:38 AM
You can pick up a wall hung lav and faucet for about $ 150.00 why screw with that old crap?

ilya
07-25-2010, 02:54 PM
Those older items are often classics in their own right and can be rebuilt. To me, and this is just me, they're just as reminiscent of an era as classic cars or architectural design elements. I realize that's not why you purchased it. I've had decent success making the seals, and with fortifying the old ones w/ silicone-but you MUST let it cure for several days before turning on the pressure. That integral spout is a rarity. If you give up on it you may get a few bucks for it on Craigs list.

crcurrie
07-26-2010, 04:45 AM
Those older items are often classics in their own right and can be rebuilt. To me, and this is just me, they're just as reminiscent of an era as classic cars or architectural design elements. I realize that's not why you purchased it. I've had decent success making the seals, and with fortifying the old ones w/ silicone-but you MUST let it cure for several days before turning on the pressure. That integral spout is a rarity. If you give up on it you may get a few bucks for it on Craigs list.

What material are the seals made of? This is something I found on the HD Web site:

DANCO Rubber Packing Sheet 6 In. x 6 In. (1/16" thick)

Described as "the right packing or gasket material for any job."

I'm cognizant of HJ's admonition at the dimensions have to be exactly right.

The right plumber would know all this but others have pointed out the cost. I'm sort of hoping that if I can provide everything on a platter to my current (very cheap) plumber, he might agree to give it a shot ...

hj
07-26-2010, 06:14 AM
Sheet rubber is not the proper material. You need a tubular rubber sleeve which fits over the pipe and then "bulges" out when it is tightened to press against the inside of the hole in the sink.

Redwood
07-26-2010, 07:26 AM
It would be something similar to this in design...

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f2/Redwood39/6371132.jpg

crcurrie
07-26-2010, 07:31 AM
Thanks -- that helps me know what it looks like. Does anyone have a product name or product spec?

I'm **very** appreciative of all these replies. This is keeping me up at night, but maybe we're getting close to a workable solution that even a novice plumber like my contractor can implement ...

Redwood
07-26-2010, 08:44 AM
Thanks -- that helps me know what it looks like. Does anyone have a product name or product spec?

No in your case the repair parts probably ceased to exist half a century ago...

As is the case with many old fixtures you are winging it....
Even if you threw a bundle of money at it for a full on restoration it's only one unavailable part away from the scrap bin...

asktom
07-26-2010, 09:02 AM
You will have to ad lib the spud washer, but there is very little pressure on it. You might find a cone washer that will work, but is really a matter of taking it apart and fiddling with it. That is why it wouldn't make sense to have a plumber play with it. If you have the time and a some mechanical sense (aided, perhaps, with a dash of silicone) you should be able to solve the spud problem.

Redwood
07-26-2010, 10:00 AM
Then a week from now the old washer disintegrates and the faucet won't shut off...

Then you are searching for a stem.... Gotta find it or, it's the scrap heap...

asktom
07-26-2010, 12:53 PM
Seats and stems are available for the faucet. It is really a matter of how much you like the lav &/or if you have more time than money. If you are having a plumber put it in, change the lav. If it didn't come with the hanger, find that first. If you are willing to take the time to work on it, it should be doable.

hj
07-27-2010, 06:28 AM
The gasket will be similar to the one on an "expansion freeze plug" for a car engine. But all the dimensions have to be correct, as stated previously.

crcurrie
07-27-2010, 11:15 AM
Okay, it looks like my options, if I want to fix the sink, are becoming clearer.

I can get the exact inner and outer diameter of the old gasket, and then try to find an "expansion freeze gasket" at an auto supply store with the proper dimensions. Is that right?

If that isn't feasible (as, for example, if my plumber won't take the faucet apart because he's afraid more things will go wrong with it -- a reasonable concern, in my opinion), then is there a work-around?

How about these?

1. Apply epoxy putty around the existing gasket to try to seal it.

2. Mold some putty around the top of the overflow chamber, which is directly underneath the gasket, to create a catch basin for the leaking water. There is an existing weep hole at the top of the chamber, so the water would just flow down into the overflow chamber and down the drain.

I don't think I'm competent to replace the gasket, but I might be able to do the work-arounds ...

Does anyone think one or both tactics might work?

Redwood
07-27-2010, 11:34 AM
Sure rig it why not...

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f2/Redwood39/48_1196860461.jpg

Now you have the answer you were shopping for go do it!

Your tenant will love your handiwork...

Maybe the tenant will post pictures here... (http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?34053-2010-Pig-Slop-Contest-Who-found-the-worst-plumbing)

asktom
07-27-2010, 12:01 PM
If you are paying a plumber, change the lavatory. There are few plumbers out there willing to fiddle around with something like that because they will have to charge you for their time, which could be plenty, and you would probably want him to guarantee the work (work that will have an experimental side to it)... also, if something breaks taking it apart do you still pay him or do you expect free replacement? From a plumbers point of view there are way too many ways for it all to go south. If you are doing it yourself on a "rebuilding a classic car" sort of level it is one thing, paying to get it done is another.

crcurrie
07-27-2010, 07:29 PM
If you are paying a plumber, change the lavatory. There are few plumbers out there willing to fiddle around with something like that because they will have to charge you for their time, which could be plenty, and you would probably want him to guarantee the work (work that will have an experimental side to it)... also, if something breaks taking it apart do you still pay him or do you expect free replacement? From a plumbers point of view there are way too many ways for it all to go south. If you are doing it yourself on a "rebuilding a classic car" sort of level it is one thing, paying to get it done is another.

That's a good summary of the reasons why I'm thinking of jerry-rigging it myself, without taking anything apart. I would be more than happy if I could limit the leak and redirect it back into the drain system, for the price of a couple inexpensive items I could pick up at HD or an auto-supply store. But maybe that's a vain hope? I have zero experience in this area ...

crcurrie
07-27-2010, 07:45 PM
Sure rig it why not...

Now you have the answer you were shopping for go do it!

Your tenant will love your handiwork...

Maybe the tenant will post pictures here... (http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?34053-2010-Pig-Slop-Contest-Who-found-the-worst-plumbing)

Redwood, I've improved upon my original idea. How does this look?

11099

With the bendy straw, I don't need to mess with the putty twice -- the drip goes straight into the weep hole on top of the overflow channel ... ;)

Obama the Plumber
07-27-2010, 08:01 PM
I live in the DC area too, and I wouldn't touch that one either.
I'm surprised the plumber even tried.
Many times when plumbing is taken out, there's a reason.

A new faucet and wall hung lav are just not that much money. And the plumber would have had it installed the first try.

But you ask if we know how to fix that?
The last time I saw something like that, it was in the 50's, on the way to the dump.

Redwood
07-27-2010, 09:37 PM
Redwood, I've improved upon my original idea. How does this look?

11099

With the bendy straw, I don't need to mess with the putty twice -- the drip goes straight into the weep hole on top of the overflow channel ... ;)

LOL That bendy straw technology is the wave of the future!

Glad you didn't take offense to the post...

There is some humor here!

DrunkPlumber
07-29-2010, 12:16 PM
Yes, it can be repaired. Faucet appears to be either American Standard or Briggs. Parts should be available, they are here in Cincy. Also, if you remove the handles and escuthions from the front of the faucet you will have access to bonnet nuts that hold the faucet on. Remove these anf the faucet will come out the rear of the sink. Then loosen the nut on the rear of the spout slightly. Buy some sheet rubber and cut a washer to fit SNUGGLY over the spout nipple and slighty larger than the nut. Apply putty on the washer. Re-install faucet and tighten front bonnet nuts, then, snug spout nut from the rear. Re-install escuthions and handles. Ready to go. HIC!!

ilya
07-31-2010, 03:07 AM
I have had good success with rubber hose that fits tightly-so it bulges when tightened. If you are lucky enough to have a local small hardware store you can probably buy it by the foot. You'd probably find the wall brackets there, too. I tell my clients up front if I need to make a part, that I can't guarantee it, and I'll do my best for them. If I fail, I offer a small refund. Out of a half-dozen failures, only one person took me up on the refund and they've all had me out to do other work ( not always plumbing however). Yesterday I scheduled a woman who'd been told her wallhung toilet from the 20's was not repairable and was junk. I have three sets of the needed parts in my van, one component of which someone has pictured above as an example of an older style seal. The appreciation of clients like her is very satisfying, and is a big part of why I'm in the trades.Forget Home Depot-they're never any help for this kind of thing. Kissler is one source that your hoped-for neighborhood hardware store may get you parts from. If we were in the same town I'd give it a whirl for ya!

Redwood
07-31-2010, 03:58 PM
I can't afford to do that. Is this such a difficult repair, or is my plumber just not comfortable with old plumbing fixtures? The guy at the salvage yard said that a plumber who's used to working with old sinks would be able to make any necessary repairs.

I have a tenant scheduled to move in next week. Can't afford to buy a new sink. Any suggestions of what to do?? Are these gaskets impossible to find, and how would I go about finding a local plumber who can do this work? (I'm near Washington, D.C.) 1108211083

I hope you got it fixed.
It's been 8 days since your original post and I figure that if you were charging $500/mo you have already lost $131.52 in rent money if it's not finished...

That sink and new faucet at lowes suddenly seems cheap at $78 doesn't it...

crcurrie
07-31-2010, 04:59 PM
Redwood, yes, I did get it fixed -- and I have you and your photo on the Pig Slop Forum to thank!

It didn't cost me $131.52 (my tenant doesn't arrive 'til tomorrow); it didn't even set me back $78.

It cost me $5 for a tube of Jen-Weld epoxy putty, $50 for my plumber to reinstall the sink after the fix, and ... a spare bendy straw from my kids' cupboard ... :p

11131

As you'll note, it's triple-fault redundant. If putty doesn't fully seal, then water escapes through bendy straw and into overflow channel via weep hole at top. If water escapes bendy-straw drain, then putty rim around top of channel collects water and it drains into overflow channel.

I WIN THE 2010 PIG SLOP CONTEST!! :cool:

More seriously, though, I do appreciate everyone's comments and suggestions. If I'd had more time, I would have pursued the rubber hose gasket strategy.

So far, though, the fix seems to be working. Of course, it's only been about eight hours ...

Have a great weekend!

Redwood
08-01-2010, 10:19 AM
That's Awesome!

You get the Seal of Approval

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f2/Redwood39/handymanseal.jpg

Now about that cross-connection from the drain to the spout....
Hope nobody gets sick from it...

crcurrie
08-01-2010, 07:35 PM
Now about that cross-connection from the drain to the spout....
Hope nobody gets sick from it...

Uh-oh ... get's sick how? You mean sewer gases coming up from the drain?

I doubt too much is going to get into the water flow from the drain -- the gas has to navigate up the straw and through the old gasket. I would guess that any gas that gets past the trap would take the path of least resistance and escape through the outer perimeter of the weep hole, or actually, would just go straight out the drain at the bottom of the sink basin ...

The "Water Weld" putty is supposed to be safe for potable water ...

In any case, thanks for the Handyman seal. I shared that with my neighbors at a potluck this evening and they were in disbelief. They think, with some justification, that I need to call an electrician just to change a light bulb. ;-)

asktom
08-02-2010, 06:08 AM
Did you drill a hole into the overflow? If not, it seems more likely it is a vent hole put there so the lav wouldn't blow up in the kiln when they fired it.

crcurrie
08-02-2010, 06:11 AM
Did you drill a hole into the overflow? If not, it seems more likely it is a vent hole put there so the lav wouldn't blow up in the kiln when they fired it.

The hole was there already (and was also on an identical sink at the salvage yard that was manufactured two years previously, in 1938). I was thinking it was there to allow air to escape if the sink basin was overflowing into the channel, but I guess it wouldn't really be needed for that purpose. Thanks for explaining it.

Redwood
08-02-2010, 06:22 AM
Uh-oh ... get's sick how? You mean sewer gases coming up from the drain?

I doubt too much is going to get into the water flow from the drain -- the gas has to navigate up the straw and through the old gasket. I would guess that any gas that gets past the trap would take the path of least resistance and escape through the outer perimeter of the weep hole, or actually, would just go straight out the drain at the bottom of the sink basin ...

The "Water Weld" putty is supposed to be safe for potable water ...

In any case, thanks for the Handyman seal. I shared that with my neighbors at a potluck this evening and they were in disbelief. They think, with some justification, that I need to call an electrician just to change a light bulb. ;-)

It probably wouldn't be bad if there was an air gap but the tube makes a direct connection from the drain to the spout...

Funky things grow in drains, even in overflows perhaps more so because of the lack of flow through there to flush things out.

I don't believe it is a problem for sewer gases because the p-trap should stop that. Carry on your doing a marvelous job....

asktom
08-02-2010, 10:58 AM
I think your flex-straw just directs a possible leak into a void in the lav and not into the drain. I can't see a lav designed so that if the drain stopped up water would leak out the hole onto the floor before it reached the top, I would consider that an engineering flaw, not a feature. I certainly have never seen such. The good news is the water is not connected to the drain. The bad news is that if you get a drip you have created a stinky reservoir.

Redwood
08-02-2010, 11:50 AM
No it is in fact a hole in the top of the sink overflow that the tube was set into...

http://www.terrylove.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=11082&d=1280027305

http://www.terrylove.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=11083&d=1280027317

http://www.terrylove.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=11131&d=1280620433

asktom
08-02-2010, 11:58 AM
Huh, must be above the flood level. I stand corrected. Well, it won't stink. Might not be the best drinking, though.

Wally Hays
08-02-2010, 03:26 PM
Has this all been some sort of a grand spoof?

Please, someone tell me that that bendy straw and putty are a joke............. Or should I add that picture to my vast collection ( over 4000 and going strong ) of truly amazing plumbing things. :)

Redwood
08-02-2010, 03:31 PM
Has this all been some sort of a grand spoof?

Please, someone tell me that that bendy straw and putty are a joke............. Or should I add that picture to my vast collection ( over 4000 and going strong ) of truly amazing plumbing things. :)

Wally this is the real deal...

Pig Slop Plumbing at its best!

Wally Hays
08-02-2010, 04:10 PM
A bendy straw.... for real?

crcurrie
08-02-2010, 06:01 PM
Indeed it is!

I agree with Redwood that 99% of being smart is knowing what you're dumb at.

I just haven't mastered that last 1% -- not doing stuff that you know you're dumb at! ;)

Wally Hays
08-02-2010, 06:27 PM
well I don't mean to be insulting but you can't use a bendy straw and putty. You know that you can pick up a new wall hung lav with faucet for under a hundred bucks right?

crcurrie
08-02-2010, 07:33 PM
Well, I'm sure at some point there's going to be a spectacular failure and when it happens I promise to take pictures and post them here.

If you're lucky, they'll include a shot of my new tenant, a 6-foot-tall former NCAA All-American women's basketball player, sopping wet, braining me with the leftovers of the sink ...

But, so far, it's 48 hours and counting of a blissfully dry bathroom floor ... :)