Am I crazy for wanting to re-use 1950's tub toilet sink?

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by nowwhatnapster, May 8, 2013.

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Should I re-use the 1950's fixtures?

  1. Yes, save them. They will look marvelous!

    33.3%
  2. No, smash them to pieces or sell them if you can't bring yourself to the sledghammer.

    66.7%
  1. nowwhatnapster

    nowwhatnapster New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    CT, USA
    I am gutting the upstairs bath in my 1950's ranch. It has some issues. Peeling linolium floor. Ugly plastic shower liner. Missing tiles. The fixtures, however, are in good shape. They are matching american standard in ming green color. So I thought, hey! why not reuse these for my scary half-assed excused for basement bathroom. It would save me some dough and look good too.

    I was trying to reason with myself, but I figured I'd grab a few more opinions. I have mixed views from family. My plumber thinks its not worth the effort.

    Pros:
    -Retro look (so old they look new)
    -Matching fixtures
    -Low cost (Equivalent fixture savings $1500+ )
    -Quality (lasted 60 years with minimal wear)

    Cons:
    -Some imperfections (most noticeable is a large gash in tub enamel)
    -5 gallon flush (thankfully it is a secondary bathroom and wont get used much)
    -Repair required (toilet guts and seals, stiff faucet knobs on sink)
    -Difficulty finding repair parts
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,272
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; Low cost (Equivalent fixture savings $1500+ )

    FIFTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS? What kind of fixtures are you planning to use in this "basement bathroom"? The "gash in the tub" is NOT a "throw away item". It can cause real problems for you down the line because it will get bigger unless it is repaired for about $300.00. American Standard parts are NOT "difficult to find".
  3. nowwhatnapster

    nowwhatnapster New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    CT, USA
    Maybe I worded it incorrectly. If I went out and bought brand new fixtures for my downstairs bath of the same quality and coordinating style like the ones from the 1950's. (such as Kholer Memoirs collection) I'd be lucky if I could get it for $1500. More like $1700.

    If I take the 1950's tub toilet and sink from my upstairs bathroom and put them in the downstairs bathroom it is essentially free. I would need to put new guts in the toilet and repair the stiff valves on the sink and touch up the damage on the tub. The damage likely occurred by the worker who took down the tile tub surround and put up the plastic liner. Something heavy and dense hit the sidewall in the tub basin. It went through the enamel, but it being a cast iron tub, it didn't get very far. I would assume just touch that one spot up with some color matched epoxy.

    As for finding parts for american standard, I have no idea, someone told me that, maybe it was to just to discourage me.
  4. DougB

    DougB Member

    "Am I crazy for wanting to re-use 1950's tub toilet sink?"

    Yes - crazy, cheap, or both. Spend all that time remodeling a bath, then building that old 50-60 year old crap into the new tile job.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,272
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    In the 50's those fixtures were "competitive" quality, NOT like the Memoirs. You can buy the same "quality" fixtures, in matching colors, from Kohler for a lot less than $1,500.00. Good luck finding a "spray epoxy" to match your tub's color. And when the toilet or tank breaks, then you will no longer have a "matched set" of fixtures.
  6. nowwhatnapster

    nowwhatnapster New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    CT, USA
    hj
    Sorry, but I don't understand what you mean by competitive quality. If I time warped back to the 50's and took the memoirs set with me, which would be the superior bathroom set? In my eyes they are pretty close aside from the water usage improvements on the toilet.

    As for repairing the damage, I know matching the color will not be perfect. I was only looking to repair the one spot on the tub and fully expect the repair to peel off in time. I have heard that any epoxy or paint will have a limited life span, so spraying the whole tub is not an option.

    As for the tank breaking, do they get brittle and crack from old age? I would imagin substantial forces are required to crack a toilet. If I bought a new toilet and the tank was subject to a heavy blow I doubt it wood fair much better than the once from the 50s. I will agree that finding a replacement would be far easier in the near term. Inevitably the manufacturer will discontinue the line 5-10 years from now and it will become difficult to find exact replacements.

    DougB
    When you say incorporate that "crap" into a new tile job, do you feel that way because of the style of 50s era fixtures or because of flaws/imperfections/limited lifespan of 60 year old fixtures?
  7. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,397
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    You came here with a question. You got several answers, but you don't seem to want to accept them. Friend, it's your house, your money, and your life. No one here thinks it's a good idea, but if you want to try to renovate 60 year old plumbing fixture, have at it.
  8. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,334
    Location:
    New England
    I don't know how fussy the inspectors are...a major remodel requires bringing things up to current codes. A toilet from 50-years ago could use in the order of 8 gallons to flush. A modern one can work well with just 1.6g (max mandated, with some using as little as 1g). Porcelain can last centuries, but it's hard to say with the stress of removal and reinstallation if a hidden flaw might let loose, or you may create a problem. 50+ years of wear and tear on a tub, and it is highly unlikely it will look as good as a new one. I'd be much more inclined to put in new, and have it look good for the next 50-years, or until you decide you want to remodel again.
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,272
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    How high is the "old tub"? If it is 14", then it was 'builder grade' and used in "tract housing". The toilet is probably a Cadet and the sink a 19x17 cast iron one.
  10. tdiygreg

    tdiygreg New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    new york
    I was planning on saying more than I'm going to now. It seems like none of your feedback is in favor of this resurrection. I love the old antique look. When it comes to some things, plumbing for instance, I find it better to buy new pieces that are designed to look antique.
  11. nowwhatnapster

    nowwhatnapster New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    CT, USA
    Gary Swart
    I apologize if I came off that way. It’s not that I don’t accept the answers, I just don’t understand them fully. I greatly appreciate everyone who has taken or will take the time to share their opinion/knowledge.

    hj
    If I remember correctly the tub is 16-1/4†from vinly floor to top of apron. The toilet and sink both say "Standard" in on them. I would assume that stands for "Standard Sanitary Co." aka today's American Standard. Inside of the toilet tank the year is stamped 1953 or 4. I can't remember. So... with this information, would the memoirs still be superior and why? Side note: The Kholer Mendota bathtub ($900) is closer for comparison, but its not part of a coordinating bath set.

    The fixtures look like this (not my house, but better color photo)
    [​IMG]
    This is my un-renovated upstairs bathroom with the fixtures I was considering reusing in the basement bath.
    bath1.jpg
    bath2.jpg

    jadnashua
    Thank you for the input, you do bring up a good point about the inspectors. I believe if a homeowner wants to swap his basement toilet with his upstairs toilet, without moving any pipes, then no inspector will care or know for that matter. Perhaps when I go to sell the house someone might care, but that will be a long time from now. The 1.6g mandate applies to the manufactures for sure, but I don't think anyone is going door to door and enforcing that regulation on consumers. Maybe its happening in CA, I know their environmental laws are strict.

    In regards to breakage during removal/installation, Valid Point. If something major broke it would be a miracle if I found a replacement.

    The tub does have the one imperfection as I explained, but other than that it is in good condition for its age. The tub at my moms house which is 10 years older looks like crap in comparison. If it were her tub, I wouldn't be having this conversation. Since it would be going into my basement bathroom, it will get lightly used, so in theory I could go another 30+ easy before it starts to look like my mom's tub.

    tdiygreg
    Thank you for the input. If I have to I will scrap the idea of saving the fixtures and buy new that looks old. I definitely prefer less modern looking fixtures. Hopefully when you see the photos you will understand why I considered saving them.
  12. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,334
    Location:
    New England
    Depending on where you live, most remodels require a permit - then, you'll care! You cannot buy a new toilet that does not meet the current standards. An old one won't get the inspector upset, except possibly in a remodel. Remodels require bringing the things you change up to code such as an anti-scald shower valve, flow limited vanity faucets, low flow toilets, GFCI protection, low-lead fixtures, 2.5gpm max flow shower heads, etc. Whether what you want to do would force that provision depends on where you live; in many places it would.
  13. tdiygreg

    tdiygreg New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    new york
    You had me a little confused with your pictures. I didn't notice the top pic was from somewhere else. You just used the pic to show the same fixtures. It seems to me that you're also asking for a lot of work to save your bathroom components. The issue of up to code with the basement renovation, as pointed out by jadnashua, could result in major stress. Look into the abundance of choices out on the market for old style bathroom components. They're new and code doesn't become an issue if installed properly. The quality of the old has a lot to say for itself, but 60 years from 1953 has room for breakdown. To move that down to your basement, I think will only lead you to headaches. If you really want to keep those components, keep them where they are. You could make improvements in and around them.
  14. DougB

    DougB Member

    Another thing: Many jurisdictions make you bring certain items up to code when you remodel. For instance you will probably need a 20 amp dedicated outlet in each bathroom. Also a sufficient number of smoke detectors. I know I had to do this when I remodeled the kitchen.
  15. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots Sprinkler Guy

    Messages:
    798
    Location:
    Metro NYC
    Purely from an aesthetic standpoint, the metal legs on the sink are a bring-down.
  16. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,272
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Your tub was equivalent to the Kohler "Mendota", not the Memoirs, and it predates the time when they began using a straight apron to make it easier to tile to the tub. good luck finding parts for that sink in the places you probably have access to. I was going to say that if you had the sink in the upper photo, scrapping it would be the smartest thing you ever did.
  17. Cookie

    Cookie .

    Messages:
    5,658
    Location:
    .
    There is a restaurant near where I live that is the '50's', it is really, neat to eat in. Kind of like the Happy Days. Even the bathrooms are retro. I don't know if they are the originals fixtures or replicas. If using them, gives you pleasure I say go for it. It can always be changed later down the road if something doesn't work out. It wouldn't be the end of the world. Have fun doing it.
  18. hmca

    hmca New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Northern NY state
    What you are planning on doing is what I am doing now. Same style. Same color. I replaced the tub valves with modern valves. Rebuilt the toilet valve. Removed everything from the sink and installed a complete rebuild kit. The American Standard Chrome over Zink was falling apart. The rebuild kit for "Shelf Back" sinks is Chrome over Brass.
    Personally I would rather rebuild the old stuff because I bet the new stuff won't be usable in 60 yrs. Cast iron was better then. Porcelain was thicker and lead based making it harder. The style is timeless. Ignore the naysayers. Do what you feel.
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