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Thread: Crane faucets from 1930 - desperate to repair....

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member KinLI's Avatar
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    Default Crane faucets from 1930 - desperate to repair....

    My elderly aunt's house was built between 1928 and 1930... took just over two years to build the house, and it has the best Crane fixtures for that day.... they don't make them like they used to.... in fact the fixtures are also in my parents' house built 1929-1930.... gorgeous white porcelain and snazzy chrome.....

    Anyway, my aunt is presently in the hospital - liver surgery - and while she is away I have turned off the main so I can address the many leaking faucets, etc. My uncle just died in March and at 91 he wasn't up to maintaining the plumbing lately.... so the leaks were winning....

    As a starting point I need to know about the valve stem I am dealing with.... I have looked on deabath and other sites but haven't been able to match them up..... the handles are all chrome with five points, not four as a cross.... the stem is as per the photo... and my real question is about the bibb washer in the end, as I need to be sure the correct washer is in there to stop the leaking at that point... I thought I read somewhere that they should be 1/2C size washers but what is in there is a 1/2 flat one, and I tried a 1/2L beveled one but then the bibb screw is too short to secure it....

    ANYONE OUT THERE -- do you know the proper size to use? Any guidance on where to get the right ones? The current washer sits below the rim and the rim itself is slightly chewed up....

    I believe they are Norwich sinks but there is only the stamped pottery works seal on the bottom that I can see... also, if anyone knows a plumber on Long Island who is a restoration guy and not a rip out - put in new plumber, please send him my way as there is a lot of work to be done here and we want to save the fixtures in this historic house if at all possible -- it is a challenge and I have heard too many people say just rip it out and put in new..... meanwhile an American Standard "new" faucet set I put in nine years ago has pitting chrome, and that sink gets used maybe once a week and is kept clean, so it has to be poorer quality chrome.... clearly I am not fan of new when there is such workmanship from bygone years....

    Oh, I also am looking for a P trap for it with the waste plug as the plug in this one sheared off.

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    Last edited by KinLI; 08-25-2013 at 01:29 PM. Reason: added P trap issue

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  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Either use a 1/2L flat washer or get a longer screw. The Creed part numbers are 415WB for the stems The seat is # 36, The washer is 5/8 flat.
    Last edited by hj; 08-25-2013 at 02:37 PM.
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  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member KinLI's Avatar
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    Hi Smooky,

    I tried deabath but my stems don't match up to what they show there..... mine are a bit different in size and configuration....

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member KinLI's Avatar
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    Hi HJ,

    As always you are the ultimate font of knowledge...., thank you!

    Thought I would also post the hot water valve stem photo that I just took a little while ago as it is different than the cold water one's washer setup.... you can see the difference in how the rubber washer is exposed and the hot water has not been leaking at all....... just the cold.....

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    DIY Senior Member wjcandee's Avatar
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    On Long Island, for fixing old stuff, you want Jim Brown at Maccarone Plumbing in Glen Cove. They do all of LI and the 5 boroughs. Jim is their resident fix it guy. Loves old houses and old plumbing. Can look at a faucet and name it. They are expensive, though, and they get their parts the same way they did 30 years ago, which costs more and takes longer. Had Jim rebuild two old faucets from the 50s. Did a great job.

    Just to add a little more color, our family home is from the early 1900s, new plumbing and electrical in the 50s. Everything is old now but oversized and built to last. Our longtime plumber appears to be getting out of the business, so we reached out to Maccarone, as everyone we know with an old home on the Gold Coast uses them (same with Dave at Brookville Electric if you need an electrician). Maccarone started in Glen Cove, and has just grown and grown over 40 years to the point that I see their trucks in my neighborhood in Manhattan all the time. They sent a very nice tech when I needed a drain snaked, but when I told them I had some old faucets that needed rebuilding, they sent Jim. The guy they sent to snake the drain told me that Jim is their go-to guy on any Old House project, because he really likes to try to fix stuff that anyone else would just rip out and replace -- which is exactly why I like him. We got into a discussion of the Briggs/Case toilets that HJ is very fond of, and Jim was explaining that they aren't hard to fix if you know what you're doing, but they are a head-scratcher even to a lot of plumbers. He thinks they are great toilets and worth fixing, even if it isn't cheap (to hire him) to do so. No question that Jim is not cheap, but he is fair and will meet or better the price that he quotes you. In my case, we came in a smidge lower than the estimate, which I very much appreciated.

    http://www.maccaroneplumbing.com/ I don't normally want to recommend folks, but I feel like I am giving back to our community in that our contributor MacPlumb once gave me a recommendation for a great sewer/drain guy on Long Island (Ranger Sewer in Suffolk), and that guy got a storm drain open for like $400 that everyone else said needed to be dug up and repiped for thousands of dollars. So I appreciate that quality work may seem expensive for what it is, but when nobody else can do it like that it ends up being a good value. Our electrician Dave was far from inexpensive when installing our standby generator, but when he drove over for free in the middle of the night once when it wouldn't transfer, he more than earned the premium price we paid for the initial install -- the man stands behind his work. Maccarone offers a similar warranty on their plumbing work.

    Anyway, good luck on your Aunt's house and let us know if there's anything else we can do to help.
    Last edited by wjcandee; 08-26-2013 at 03:05 PM.

  7. #7
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    When a washer projects like that it is either too thick or the rim of the retainer has broken off.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    DIY Senior Member asktom's Avatar
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    You don't need stems, just washers and seats.

  9. #9
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    One thing with the old stems. The washer retainer is supposed to swivel/spin freely. If it is stuck then you should get new stems.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    DIY Junior Member KinLI's Avatar
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    Default Thanks for the Maccarone referral

    I contacted Maccarone and had Jim Brown at the house for 3 hours yesterday.... developed a gameplan and did some repairs and started on others... the question of course is where to still be able to get parts..... and unfortunately for the gameplan, my aunt is close to being discharged (fortunately of course for her) and we cannot turn the water back on !!!!

    Jim was everything you described.... an absolute pleasure to have working on these dear old pieces.... I guess growing up with 1930 Crane fixtures I am quite partial to them.... and they are completely throughout my aunt's and my parents' houses. I sure would hate to put in new stuff as it would really change the charm and appeal for these historic homes....

    So please cross your fingers that he can get the parts we need.... just wish someone had a stockpile of old parts to go to in these instances....

    As for your other referrals, I am noting them down as there is a clogged outside drain that no one seems to be able to fix..... my aunt called someone three weeks ago and they said it couldn't be cleared.... and I do want to correct a bunch of electrical issues the handyman they hired two years ago created..... my father had hired the same guy to hang a storm door and the job was so bad my father stopped him and told him to never come back, and after that he was doing the electrical at my aunt's (over my protests).... and the guy would work an afternoon, ask to be paid and then disappear for three weeks.... anyway, I am off topic -- I really wanted to thank ou for the Maccarone referral and I look forward to getting the other things sorted with your other referrals... do you by any chance have a good mason for a stucco wall? Trees in Sandy demolished part of a courtyard wall at my aunt's and wall masonry is a bit different than doing patios...... Insurance wouldn't cover it as they said tree damageison ly covered if it hits the house.....

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    DIY Senior Member wjcandee's Avatar
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    I am so delighted that the referral was helpful!

    If you want to try to get that drain open, Dan at Ranger Sewer 631-368-0901. Interesting cat, exceedingly-competent and really works hard to try to fix the problem.

    Dave at Brookville Electric is 516-759-9121. They are almost never there to answer that office phone, so I just leave a message and he gets back to me at the end of the day or the next morning. I have his cell but I'm not sure that it's for public consumption. There is Dave, Sr., and Dave, Jr, and they have a number of guys that work for them, all of whom are exceptionally-polite and very competent. I think some of them are nephews, cousins, etc., and they are always a pleasure to deal with. Dave seems regularly to get large contracts (installing all the external and parking lot lighting at my country club, for example, or putting in an enormous standby generator at another club in the area), but then there he is at our house, rewiring a bulb socket in the hall closet and putting a GFI outlet in the bathroom, and never makes us feel like that is somehow not worth his time to be doing; quite the contrary, when I mentioned that I could probably DIY some of the simple stuff, he said, "Why? Just call me and we'll come right over."

    The only thing that is too bad about Maccarone is that they seem only to want to get their parts from the local supply channels that they have used forever, whereas it seems like some of these parts are readily-available online with quick shipping; you might ask them to check given the time constraints that you have. Heck, even the Lowe's web site has Dial-Eze stems (although perhaps not your exact ones) and some other old Crane stuff, but my impression is that Maccarone will have someone drive to the South Shore to go get the parts from Their Supplier when they "come in" in two weeks. In a world where I can get almost anything delivered overnight for $3.99 with Prime, it just seems like they are missing out by doing it that way. OTOH, they are a very-successful company, so what do I know?

    Let me put my thinking cap on as to a mason. I have a brick post that I need to have repaired after an ambulance backed into it, and I think I have a guy but I will let you know once I have worked with him.

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