Friday, July 15, 2011

The only titles I can think of will attract every perv who Googles.

Lately I've been posting pictures of my daily projects on my Facebook page but today's daily project actually took 4 days and deserves a little more attention even though I didn't make anything, remake anything, decorate anything, or organize anything. I basically just cleaned it but that's not the part that took 4 days. It took 4 days to unscrew 2 screws.

This is the item that Jayson and I both have been fighting with for the past few days. It is a beautiful old metal headboard that a friend gave to me. I think it's cast aluminum but I'm not sure. It weighs a ton but won't hold a magnet so it's not iron. I absolutely love it but will likely never use it as a headboard so I wanted to remove it from the frame. 


The headboard was attached to the frame with several heavy screws. Most of them were missing and of the few that were left Jayson was able to remove all but the last 2.

On day 1 of our unscrewing adventure I soaked both of the screws in a rust remover. This did next to nothing. That evening I went after them with a hammer and chisel. My thinking was that anything that rusty was probably weakened by corrosion and I could just beat them into submission. I was wrong.

On day 2 I went after the screws full force. Me and my friend Google came up with a few ideas I hadn't thought of. I don't know why but it never crossed my mind to use WD-40. I sprayed the screws and let them sit for several hours. When they still wouldn't budge I beat them some more with the hammer and chisel thinking that maybe that along with the WD-40 might loosen them. It did not.

Several of the automotive websites had solutions involving tools and equipment that I don't have access to. But there was one removal technique that several people had used with some success and I thought I might be able to pull it off. They suggested you heat the screw (or bolt, whatever) with a torch then while it's hot you drip candle wax all over it. The heat from the screw will cause a wicking action and the wax will get sucked into all the tiny crevices and act as a lubricant. I felt really good about this one! The only problem is that we don't have a torch. Well we do but we don't. Jayson has one of those handy dandy nozzle things that you attach to a small bottle of propane and it turns it into a torch. The problem is that we don't have any small bottles of propane. The only other thing I could think to use was my little mini butane torch that I use for soldering. Or for attempting to solder. I still don't do that well.

I fired up my tiny torch and heated those screws for all I was worth! Then I dripped candle wax over the screws, the headboard, the yard and my clothes. It was windy and dark outside so my aim was off. When the wax had set a little I scraped it off the top of the screws then tried unscrewing them again. They didn't budge. I removed the rest of the wax from around the screws and tried turning them with a set of those locking pliers. That didn't work either. Finally I went back after them with the hammer and chisel again just in case the wax needed a little encouragement to work its magic. There was no magic.

Jayson said our only solution might be to either cut them off with a torch (a real grown up torch, not my little baby one) or to grind them off. I suppose I could have run to the propane store to pick up a bottle to make his torch but I was afraid the heat might mess up the headboard in some way so I saved that as a last resort. It has a beautiful gold finish on it with a patina you just can't faux.

Jayson asked if I'd tried the Dremel yet. I had not. I got out the Dremel and went through just about every little attachment in the box. The screws just laughed as they ate up several cut off wheels, wire wheels for removing rust, and some grinding stones. I grabbed the hammer and chisel again, not because I thought maybe it would loosen the screws, but because I was pissed and wanted to beat the crap out the whole headboard. So I did.

On Day 3 I decided to give the screws the silent treatment. I thought they needed time to think about what they'd done so they could see the error of their ways.

Meanwhile, our plumber came over to fix a couple of minor flushing issues and while he was here I asked him if he ever had occasion to remove rusty screws. Indeed he did. Okay, I already knew he would but I was doing my clueless woman thing since I needed his help. Not that I was trying to manipulate him or anything, I was just trying to make him feel good about himself for being able to help me. So see it was all about building him up, not about me getting what I wanted. And I'm pretty sure he could use some building up because, bless his heart, his is a stereotypical plumber complete with exposed butt crack. Every time he comes down the stairs he stops at the bottom step to pull up his pants and for this I am truly grateful.

Mr. Plumber went out to his truck and came back in with a brand new can of Liquid Wrench that he said I could have. He really is a nice man even though his pants won't stay up and he smells like sweaty socks. I thanked him for the Liquid Wrench and pretended to be interested in all of his Liquid Wrench success stories as I slowly herded him toward the door. Just before he left he asked if he gave me one of his business cards. I said no and was about to tell him it was okay since I knew how to get in touch with him but before I could he hurried back out to his truck with one hand on the waistband of his pants to hold them up while he walked at what was surely an unusually accelerated pace for him. He came back and handed me a business card that was torn, bent, dirty and stained with something that looked organic. I took the card, thanked him, then after he left I showered for 45 minutes.

To be honest I was a little disappointed that all he used was Liquid Wrench. Even though I haven't used it before, I've seen it and thought it was just another brand of WD-40. I was really hoping for some kind of magical plumber's potion that no one else has access to.  Since it was all I had I drenched the screws with Liquid Wrench and just left them overnight because I was sure it wouldn't work.

On Day 4 I went outside to stare at the headboard to try to intimidate the screws into loosening. I sprayed them with more Liquid Wrench and noticed how clean and pretty the metal was in the places where it had dripped on it. I gave up on the screws and decided to just clean the whole thing with Liquid Wrench.

Jayson came outside and griped at me a little bit for dripping the Liquid Wrench onto the patio. I forgot it's an oil and would stain the concrete. I sprayed it on the patio because he told me not to spray it on the grass. If I can't spray it on the patio or in the grass, what am I supposed to do?! I was about to gripe back when he pulled out his pliers or wrench or whatever that thing is and went after the screws again. I was going to say he pulled out his tool but that wasn't quite right. Good thing I didn't say that. Anyway much to my surprise and his too, the screws started to turn! It wasn't easy and definitely not something I could have done but that man of mine got those last two screws out without us having to resort to anything that might have affected the prettiness of the headboard.

Here's the headboard now, waiting for me to finish cleaning the excess Liquid Wrench from all its little crevices. 

The gold finish isn't paint so I'm thinking maybe it was powder coated? There are a few places where it has worn off but I can't pick it off or remove it like a paint. I'm thinking it's either powder coated or some kind of plating.

How gorgeous is that?! I'm not crazy about the gold color but I'm not going to change it because it matches the character of the piece so well. It would feel right at home in Versailles. Or my mother's house.

I haven't told Jayson that the screws were just step one. I want this thing to hang on a wall but I'm not exactly sure how to go about doing that. I think it's too heavy to just hang from nails or hooks. We may have to find some brackets or something to hold it up. Or I could just wait till the next time one of our potties acts up and casually ask the plumber, "Do you ever have a need to hang something really heavy?"

1 comment:

shamayn said...

I use bulldog screws to hang heavy stuff. They have built in gripping threads so you don't have to use an anchor and a screw, just the screw. They are awesome!