Retrofitting a Gas Light

Project: Bob's Shingle Style Home, Episode 22, Part 1

The library’s getting a new set of built-in bookshelves, and the alarm and phone systems are installed.  The electrician refurbishes a period light fixture for use in the kitchen and installs a new, state-of-the-art Lightolier dimmer switch system.  Ryley helps reconstruct the stairway balustrade that was disassembled for stripping.

Part 1: Retrofitting a Gas Light
Bob meets electrician Barry Driscoll, who is retrofitting an old gas light fixture to make a modern electrical one for the kitchen. Barry rewires the fixture from canopy to socket. Then Bob meets with Penny Henderson of Lightolier, who discusses the home's dimmer switch system and the benefits of controlling lighting for different scenarios. She demonstrates the lighting control Multiset for Bob.
Part 2: Reconstructing the Stair Rail and Balusters
Part 3: Installing Carpet on the Third Floor and Bathroom Tile
This project centers around the remodel of Bob Vila's own gracious Shingle Style home in Cambridge, MA. It's a house with a lot of history and beautiful architectural details, many of which were obliterated in remodels of the 50s and the 70s. On the centennial of the house's construction, Bob gets together the best talents in the business to recreate and renew it to its former glory, making some important modifications along the way that will transform this into a dream house for today.

Also from Bob's Shingle Style Home

Hi, I'm Bob Villa. Welcome home again. We're in the back yard where landscape is not quite complete. But today we're working inside.

Barry Driscol, my electrician is hooking up an antique light fixture in the kitchen, and also we are looking at dimmer controls, from Langolier that allows us to dim the lights in different parts of the kitchen.

Bob Riley is here, he's working with Jimmy Shields on restoring the staircase, putting back those ballister's.

In the master suite, we got some beautiful tile from Oregon that's already been installed in my wife's bathroom. We're gonna grout it today also were looking at some paneling.

Stick around its good to have you home again.

Bob Vila's home again.

These are milk glass shades from an old gas fixture that I've had in storage for probably 20 years and it's an unusual one because it's basically an upside down T-shape. It came from an old butlers pantry in a back bay Boston building that I converted to apartments in the early 70's.

I've had it all these years.

I've always wanted to use it were gonna put it in this kitchen.

Barry Driscol, our electrician is helping us rewire it.

Now Barry this is an unusual Fixture and you've got two points of light. What have you done already?

What we had to do is we've had to use this ball and chain and actually sleeve it through the old gas copper pipe, seeing the diameter inside is so small.

Inside this particular pipe.

Yes, we had to run a wire back from the canopy, then the canopy will be at the ceiling back to each socket. We've use this to pull through this sleeve.

Okay now, what kind of wire is this?

This is just small lamp cord.

Small regular lamp cord. Ok thats all you need.

We've marked each end with white tape to represent our neutral conductor. And our regular conductor is going to be our hot.

And the sockets themselves are probably from the early 1900's because this was a gas fixture and then it was converted to electrical use. Probably around 1910 or 1915. But these sockets that you see right here are in perfectly good condition.

What we're going to do, Bob, is we're going to put a conductor. Our neutral on the neutral side. And our hot on the hot side of the socket.


Once we secure our conductors down, we're gonna put the top of the socket back on, and push it into our light.

And that snaps shut.

Snaps tight.

And you're done. OK then,what about the rest of the route through here?

What we're gonna do with the conductors is we're gonna pull them through.

This is again the old gas pipe, which is a very very thin diameter piping.

We are gonna back it off to the left a little bit.

Why is that?

And then thread it back onto the right so that we don't pinch any conductors.


Inside of the old pipe.

And then this is basically a decorative brass sleeve that goes over the whole thing, right there?

You got it.

And so were gonna let you put it in there.

We've marked the neutrals on each end. Just so we have confusion later on when we go to hang the fixture.

OK. And then of course, the canopy will go up here. So are we ready to try hooking it up on the ceiling?

We are ready to go.

Here we go.

Okay, now the first thing is to actually attach the white metal bar. What do you call that?

This is the fixture bar.

The fixture bar to the box. And that of course bears the weight of the fixture. This probably doesn't weigh more than a couple of pounds.

OK. Now which wires go with which up there Barry?

The neutral conductor which is our white will go to both of our whites that we have marked from previously.

Okay, so both of those whites go to the white. Shorten them up, and then just put a wire nut on them, right?

Now we've made sure to shut the circuit off at the electrical panel.

Yeah . This is a separate circuit from our recessed lights which is on the ceiling.


We'll make up our neutral conductor first, which we always do to make sure there's n o load coming off the light bulbs, which would be in the fixture.

So both the neutrals from the, from the light fixture go to that one white wire.

Yes. Those are the ones we marked earlier. Once we connect our hood it will be ready to put our canopy on and lighten it right up.

O K.

We tuck the wires up, get them out of the way. Once we secure all the wires, we put the canopy right up and we are ready to go.

All right. And we're ready to put the shades on.

Thanks, Bob.

These are the original milk glass.

And let's try one of these nice, large format bulbs which go very, very nicely with this design.

And we are ready to switch it on.

Ok Bob we are all set , to the honest.

All right. Oh, thats beautiful. That's great.

All right next we're going to talk about dimmers .

Now let's meet Penny Henderson our lighting consultant from Lightolier. Hi.

Hi Bob. Nice to see you .

Nice to see you. And we really needed your help because as in many re-modelings the architect here has specified well over a dozen points of light throughout the kitchen ceiling in all the different areas. And your job is to help us figure out how to control them.

Yes it is Bob. And you do really need lighting control since the same way that you wouldn't buy stereo without a volume control on it you shouldn't have a nice lighting design without having good lighting controls.

Right. And what kind of what control system have we put in?

We have here a system called multi-set.

It operates with a variety of individual law backs dimmers that are remotely located in your pantry.


And then we have these key pads onto which I've programmed some light levels for the activities that are going to happen in this space.

And the keypads can be, we have several of the keypads throughout the room right?

Yes you do, you have one at each of the entrances so that you have convenient ways to turn the lights on.

So how many different options do we have?

This keypad gives you five selections plus off.

And how have you laid it out in here?

I've programed these for the activities that happen in the space. This top button is your bright , general ambient light level that you would use most days when a lot of the family is working in the kitchen.

Everything's on .

Everything's on, pretty full.

Then what?

On this next button I programmed a light level just for cooking. It brings the lights down over the dining area and leaves the lights high over the workspace so that the person home alone is cooking with plenty of light.

Now once you've finished cooking what do you press?

As soon as you finish cooking you press the next button and that takes you to a dining scene That brings lights up over the table, and around the beautiful cabinetry, and brings the light level down over the work area, so that even if you leave your pots and pans out there, it's dark , and no one looks at it.

And then what?

The next light level is just for clean up. It brings the lights up over the sink.


And the last light is your milk and cookies run. It gives you enough light to get into the kitchen without stumbling over anything late at night.

That's my favorite one. Yeah.

Sure is.

Thanks for your help.

You're very welcome.

OK. We've got to break for some messages, and when we come back were gonna be working on the Ballister's in the stair case with Reilly. Stick around. Now one of the most intricate parts of the demolition of this house involved , taking the staircase apart and taking all of these balusters and hand rails and having them dipped and stripped and now they are repainted and Bob Reilly is here to help us get it all back together.

Hi Bob.

Not an easy job.

No, it is not, but its not that difficult either.

Well, the difficult thing was cutting these up. These handrails were bolted through.

They were through bolted.

We took it off with a reciprocating saw.


And we are going to put them together with screws now.


And when there's new up holes and is four inches deep, what I had to do.

And it's hollow.

Hollow, right. So I had to drill some holes on this side here, so that, we'll allow our screws to get through.

So actually, this is kind of a 2 minute job. If you could just set a mark.

Ok. All right. Now repeat the process on the other newer post here, right?


What kind drill is that?

This is a, the basic is a 3 inch bit.


The Forester bit?

It's a yeah.

There you go.

And what I've got here is a hole cutter right there.


That correspond in size right?

Right, so when we're done, we can fill these holes and which we really don't have to worry about here because it gonna be painted. But if.

But basicaly it's a hole cutter.


And a plug cutter so that you can plug them up after you have driven the screw in.

OK, so how is that? Does that look centered?

That is centered.


Sounds good.


Ok. So now are you going to plug those up?

Yeah. Put a little glue on them.

This, as you were saying, it's not that important to use the same wood if it is painted. But if we were having used, using natural wood, you want to match it up.

We'll let that set and come back and sand it.

Ok. Now Riley, some would say that this is backwards. How are we going to get the spindles in here, the balusters into the pre-cut holes in the floor and in the bottom of the rail?

Right. Well, what we've done is cut the dowels down so we have just basically three sixteenths of an inch or so, on the bottom.

And the actual hole So much deeper that that.

I see it's that all we need the security.


And we cut it so that we
can get it up, get the top up in there into the slot of the rally.

I mean just pull it down.

And that's it,

and I want to cool that in.

And you want to drop a bit of glue into each one of these holes.


OK. Yes. Right.

That's going to hold it.

Keep on, keep it over.

On this side, with Jim Shields who's working on a similar problem but Jim these all involved curve as well as an angle how you putting the men here?

Well just slimming among these came originally putting in same order they came.

That's the most important thing.

When we removed all of these, we took them out in order.

We put numbers on each spindle so that when they went to the strippers they had a number engraved into the top of each one. so clearly the most important element is having them fall back into the exact location.

They fit in only about, barely an eighth of an inch.

So here we do have to

give it a couple of tacks.

Toughest one to fit.


There you go.


Yes this is one of the prettiest details in the whole house I think.

And that looks real good Riley.


Couple more to go. We gotta break for some messages.

When we come back , we're going to be seaming a carpet.

Stick around. We're up here on the third floor and, our interior designers chose a carpeting that almost imitates the look of a sisal, but it's actually nylon, and the idea here is that we've got high traffic areas for teenagers, I've got two of them. They're going to be visiting, they're going to be having parties up here.

But anyhow, lets meet Chris Flynn from Pulsifer Kingston Company, here in Boston.

Hi, Bob. How are you?

How are you Chris?

Excellent, thanks.

Pulsifer Kingston is one of the oldest carpet installers in America, I believe?

Yeah. It's the oldest in Boston, I know that.

Yeah. And what you've got here is, well what kind of carpet is this?

Well, this is a tight, low level loop carpet, made of nylon.

Nylon, right.

It should hold up really well in a high traffic area like this. I think the color will hide the dirt really nice.


And, its woven, so what I'm trying to do is open up the rows. It's a loop pile as opposed to a cut pile.

A cut pile is a more plush carpet, and when you are putting a seam together with a normal plush like that, it's a different deal.

It's a different deal. You can use a straight edge. It's not imperative that you get in between the rows.

But here, with this kind of a fiber, a loop, it's a continuous kind of loop, right? .

Exactly. its one loop for each row and the rows are straight so we like to put the seam right down the row. That would be your best, best bet for the seam. So, what I'm doing with my screwdriver is, I've marked where I want the seam to be. I'm opening up the yarns then I'm gonna take my push knife, and slide that right down the row I've just pushed. That will give me a nice straight edge and it will be right where the carpet was made to seam as opposed to cutting across any yarns.

Know what? Let me just open this up. There you go.



Now that's the ideal spot for a seam.

Now, before we go any further we have to do the same thing on the other side right?

Yep, you'll notice this actually there's two different rows, there's a high row and a low?


Obviously you wanna make sure you're on the right one
e OK. Do the same thing over here.

And now the next step would be, we need to treat these edges. Because it's such a high traffic area. You don't want to run into any of this.

You don't want to have any loose.

Yeah that will just seal everything up super nice.

And what do you use to seal it?

We use a latex, it's actually called seam sealer, that's what it was designed for. End of this.

There you go.

Copper cuts nice on a row. And we just apply just a thin bead of this.

To the edges.

Right along the edge.

OK. Now that that's dried, what's the next step?

Now we're ready to put the silicone heat seam tape underneath the seam.

Now this is the stuff that smells funny, right?

Yep, actually this is a good product that's supposed to be real environmentally friendly.

Oh good.

Finished with that off, we'll tuck it right under there. OK, now I'm just gonna have to ask you to step off for a minute, so I can.


Get this piece in position.

We put that half way underneath it.

Kick it up to.

Right, bring it up nice and butt.

Kind of make a dry run of making natural seam.

Just to make sure everything lines up nice.

There is the a couple of small blows to the carpet but we can certainly work those out.


And already two actually start seaming.

Now, this is the relatively dangerous part because you got, you got a very hot iron there.

OK, this tape melts pretty quickly, and once this is cooled, you will not be able to pull it apart all

we like to do is give it a cup of seconds so that tape to melt

How hot is that iron?

Degrees wise, I don't know, but hot enough that you wouldn't want to touch this.

Yeah, its hotter than your standard iron.

Absolutely. Absolutely. And, now you can see how that tape's melted nicely.


I push it, the length of the iron. And I just want to take this and work it right into it. This carpet seems up really nicely. What I also like to do once I get a little ways is put some weight on it.

To keep it.

to lay it flat, make sure the glue presses into the back of the rug. For that I just use my tool bag and put it on a scrap of carpet.

That's a nice touch.

Well, I wouldn't want to get your new rug dirty.

We'll just continue this procedure down the length of the seam.

Sure. And you can still feel
it 's hot but you can't see the same.

Now on this side you have got actually start kicking it before you can put it on the tag.

Now that the seem is cooled down a little, I can take my stretch.


Using my knee pickup, and I should get my weight off of there.

Thanks a lot. Chris We're going to break for some messages. Don't go away.

Now were checking in with Eddy Sawisko from easy masonry who is doing yet another tile installation for me and what kind of ground was putting in this bath room Eddy?

This is a sanded low ground just mixed with water no additives.

But, its specially made from floors and the sand is already in it.

But the color choice is perfect, because this is a tile that
is almost a variegated pinky salmon color.

There is a a lot of variety to it, and when you lay the field tiles, you can really see it.

But what really. sold this and my wife especially fell in love with this tile is all the special little animals.

They're made out of the Pacific Northwest by a group of artists and you can see the heron's against all the cattails and some of these relief tiles. And then, lots of special accent tiles like the turtle and the snap, what do you call it, the dragonfly and the little bunny rabbit, and even the wind blowing across the top and a little free.

And we found them of course at Country Floors in New York. Where else?

Beautiful job, Eddie.

Hey, we're running out of time. I hope you can join me next week.

We're going be in this area of the house putting some special finishes in the master bedroom walls . Paneling the closet.

And outside, we'll be doing the front yard landscaping.

Till then, I'm Bob Vila. It's good to have you home again.



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