Sunday, July 31, 2011

Restoring A Vintage Wood Tank

So, about a year ago I found this late 19th C wooden tank or cistern. It was removed from a Chester county house. It provided water pressure and continuous supply from the well. Soon after the house was built it was hooked up to public water and the cistern was disconnected and drained. It then sat for almost a hundred years in the dry and dark attic. It has no rot (of consequence) or bug damage. The company that made it is still in business and making classic wooden cisterns. My plan is to reassemble it and hook up modern hot tub heating and filtration to use it "Petticoat Junction " style as a hot tub.

I'm starting with the bottom. It is made up of a bunch of edge joined cedar boards that are doweled together. I've sanded the inside surface to remove a bunch of iron rust sediment and to make sure there are no spots that may cause scrapes or splinters. I also had to plane the edge of one board to get it to mate properly. It had bowed a little. It's nice and snug now. I got badly stung by bees when making this photo, it seems there is a hive in the ground near that old tree in the background. They were pretty pissed at me and made me pay for coming too close.

The hand made dowels are scored along their length and have a flat planed into them long one side. You can see how the hole was located with a pencil mark and a scored line along the grain. All of the dowels are slightly offset from each other.

You can see here that the bottom boards are bevelled twice to fit the rabbet in the staves. The fit to the staves is nice and snug. That's a split that was wedged. Also there are a few small knots that were drilled and small hand made plugs were driven in. 

This is the stencil on the side. There is also a round 'Unionmade' stamp in the wood above this. It's hard to spot. 

All of the staves are hand made, unique ( no two are alike in width) and are numbered on the inside. 

Here is one of the pieces of dunnage that it sat on. Note the original owner or installer's ? name and address in marking pencil. I'm going to use new, much more massive pressure treated material for dunnage. As I move along I'll add more updates.