Monday, February 20, 2006

Vintage Tub & Bath Now Offers Product Reviews!

Customers of Vintage Tub and Bath can now comment on and read unbiased reviews of our products. View a typical review of our Strom Plumbing English Telephone Faucet.

To kick off the program, we asked home renovators and bloggers Mindy and Teague (from the Our Fixer Upper blog) to write reviews for fifty of our products.

Mindy & Teague

We felt that they were an excellent choice to review our new products because they are knowledgeable about plumbing and are in the process of a major home renovation. You can learn more about Mindy and Teague on their about us page.

The deal was that they were to comment honestly about our products and that Vintage Tub could not edit or reject the reviews – we had to use exactly what they wrote.

They really went at it - here they are ripping one of our tub crates open to inspect one of our tubs:

Opening a Clawfoot Tub Crate

Next, they spent some time inspecting several of our tubs and crating methods.

Reviewing a Clawfoot Bathtub

The rest of the day they got to sit at a fairly uncomfortable desk and review faucets, sinks, and clawfoot tub accessories:

Reviewing a New Clawfoot Tub Faucet

Reviewing Clawfoot Tub Supply Lines

Reviewing a Vessel Sink

Now you can add your comments and review the products we sell. All you need to do is visit Vintage Tub & Bath and go to any product page to write a review.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A (Very, Very Brief) History of the L. Wolff Manufacturing Co.

Yet another loyal reader of the Daily Tubber wrote:

Hey, I saw on your blog a bit of info on American Standard clawfoot tubs. My tub was made by Wolff Manufacturing. Do you know the years that company made tubs? Ours is a typical clawfoot tub. We can't find a date on it - any guess on the age? We figure the '20s.

According to the Chicago Historical Society, Ludwig Wolff (1836 - 1911) came to Chicago in 1854 and by 1876 he had a large plumbing supply factory under the name L. Wolff Manufacturing Co. Wolff built a large new Chicago plant in 1887. This facility soon employed about 1,000 men and produced $1.5 million worth of goods a year. As indoor plumbing became more common by the late nineteenth century, Wolff began producing a wider array of plumbing items for homes, hospitals, businesses, and schools. By 1910, the company had about 3,500 workers at two Chicago-area plants and sales and service operations in about 10 other cities. Wolff's operations shrank during the Great Depression and the company stopped operating shortly after World War II.

The Chicago Historical Society also has a 1912 Wolff Plumbing Catalog online.

One of their clawfoot tubs is shown on pages 10 and 11 of the catalog. The only other useful reference I found for Wolff Mfg. was from the Victorian Crapper site.

I am sorry I could not get more information about the company or the approximate date for your tub. If I had to guess, I would say it was built between 1910 and 1939. I know it is not a very tight date range but it is the best I can do for now. Does anyone else have any more information about the Wolff company?

20 April 2006 UPDATE
Evan D. wrote to tell us that he found a Wolff tub "without a faucet and some rough holes cut for a replacement. So I cobbled my own freestanding unit. The tub itself was sandblasted (where we found the casting date), reglazed, outside painted, wood rim repaired and refinished, feet brass plated to match drain system."

Here is the stunning result:

Refinished Wolff Claw Foot Bath Tub

Here is a detail shot of the Wolff name on the overflow cover:

Close-up of Claw Foot Tub Overflow Cover

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Standard Sanitary Claw Foot Tub Feet - A Question

Kerwin from PA recently asked us an interesting question about vintage claw foot tub feet. He wrote:

I have a 1924 clawfoot tub with legs that have two different casting numbers inside the legs. Two have "43" and two have "43L". I have inspected them carefully and can find no differences. I have put them in all different configurations around the tub and there is always an imbalance, as in opposite corners are too high and too low. The tub rocks.

What Kerwin has are the feet from an American Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company (Mfg. Co.) 5’ Roll Rim Claw Foot Tub. These were made by the tens of thousands during the 1920's and 30’s and are the most common type of antique claw foot tub found today.

The feet, in fact, are slightly different. The feet marked 43 should be on the drain end of the tub. The 43L feet should be on the end furthest away from the drain. The L stands for “long” and puts the tub at a slight angle in order for the water to run into the drain. A cross-section of the claw foot tub foot appears below:

American Standard Sanitary Claw Foot Tub

If the tub continues to wobble, you can be truly vintage and use the standard leveling kit from the United States Mint – pennies, nickels or dimes wedged under the feet. Yes, this really is the way to level the tub because the feet are not adjustable. When we used to remove claw foot tubs from old buildings we would always find coins under the feet. This is the only solution we know of for leveling old tubs.