View Full Version : Awesome things you've found when buying a house (not-so-subtle tool gloat)

07-30-2011, 10:52 PM
Howdy All,

Long story short, we just bought a house that needs a lot of work and has a 30' x 40' garage out back which had the roof collapse 10+ years ago. Good lord, there's lots of cool stuff in there the previous owners didn't bother moving out, but to keep from making this thread entirely about how awesome a deal we got, what sorts of cool stuff have you gotten as a result of a home sale?

So far my list includes (mind you I have yet to actually go digging and have only pulled back the vines growing up the front of the garage, but I've been told the garage was the father's tinsmith/roofer workshop from the early 1960's on and there's likely lots of that kind of stuff hiding in there that I haven't uncovered yet):
1. The 1940's Buffalo drill press I mentioned in a thread last week (http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/showthread.php?t=48687)
2. The 1930's Canedy-Otto Dovetail drill press also mentioned in that thread (http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/showthread.php?t=48687)
3. A vintage-unknown Craftsman bandsaw (probably 1960's from the look of it, no idea if it's geared for metal or wood but I suspect the former)
4. A Rockwell horizontal belt grinder (thanks to GWilson for explaining to me what this tool was the other day in his amputation knife thread; had no ideal I was about to run across one so soon)
5. A 295 amp AC welder (Century badged, if it makes a difference and probably 1970's or 1980's vintage)
6. An Acetylene welding rig that nicely fits the #5 Acetylene tank a friend scavanged for me last week from some random person's front lawn (http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/showthread.php?t=49067)(had a "free" sign taped to it and is the subject of a recent thread)
7. Quite a lot of sheet metal fabrication equipment in varying degrees of disrepair (see mention above re: roof collapse), including several bench-mount flangers, a shear or two, what looks like a press brake (see note above re: not getting a chance to go digging yet and the father being a tinsmith/roofer)
8. Probably a dozen old caned rocking chairs needing new caning
9. Supposedly a mid-1800's era rope bedframe (the house was built in 1825 and we're told it's hiding in there somewhere but haven't found it yet)
10. Not the one boat we were able to see when looking at the house, but two others as well. The obvious one is a fairly nice ~15-20' bass boat (115hp Johnson outboard, acoustic fish finder, 2 electric trolling motors last registered in 2004), but there was also one hiding in the bamboo behind it which looks to be a wooden sailboat of some sort in bad shape (but decent looking trailer) and there's a 10' speedboat looking thing propped up against the front of the garage hiding under the Virginia Creeper/wild grape vines/bamboo.

There might also be a gas-fired heat treating oven in there, but it'll take some doing to dig it out and see what it actually is. Probably will find a bunch more when we get a chance to dig; as I've mentioned, the roof collapsed and all I've done so far is walk into the sections that are relatively safe to go into. Will post pics once I get them transferred to the computer, but it might be a couple days since the place needs a lot of work and we literally closed on it yesterday afternoon.


07-30-2011, 11:03 PM
Gez wtf lucky bastard. Course, you did kinda pay for it along with the house. (that makes me feel better.. :P)

Hope the stuff in the garage is still ok. Guess someone just died and ignored the place or something. I sure as hell would'nt leave all that stuff just laying around if I was still kicken!

07-30-2011, 11:08 PM
That's a lot of neat stuff you found ! I hope much of it is usable or restorable.
Back in 1976 when I bought my current property, it was 5 acres of junk, with one exception; a reasonably nice 1955 Thunderbird sitting out in the weeds.
Imagine my disappointment when, a couple of weeks later, a guy with a trailer pulled in, loaded up the T-Bird, and took it away. He didn't say a word, but a call to the previous property owner confirmed that the T-Bird had been the subject of significant dispute, including a fight with a baseball bat, and definitely did not go with the house.

07-30-2011, 11:13 PM
Pretty much, Black Moons... Father died 10+ years ago, family piled crap in his workshop for years, the roof fell in, they couldn't be bothered to go digging to get any of it out. As for the boats, well, can't explain that part; they belong(ed) to the oldest son, who lived in the cottage on the property and was served eviction papers a month ago (by his younger brother who has POA) and for whatever reason he left them in spite of the fact he could have easily backed the truck up and taken them off-site. The way the law is here in PA it looks like ownership of tenant property after eviction passed to the landlord once they're out, and if the property is sold ownership passes to the new owner. Last thing I need is a boat, but it seems I now have 3. Very excited about rebuilding the garage/workshop though and am planning on fixing up/renting out the main house to cover the mortgage, putting my mom in the cottage and then using the workshop for all the silliness I get into. Oh, did I mention the property is all of 10 minutes from my house? :D

07-30-2011, 11:17 PM
Sorry to hear that Bill, and FWIW what I've read seems to indicate it belonged to you. At least here in PA it looks like it would have. :( From what I can tell there's a fairly straightforward process here for me to apply for a new title for what's effectively abandoned property. Time will tell if I'm reading it correctly, though.

That said, probably best not to stick yourself into the middle of a 'discussion' involving a bat. That's never a good place to find yourself. :eek:

07-30-2011, 11:28 PM
Oh, and if it makes you feel any better, Black Moons, at the moment I'm thinking "condolences" are more appropriate than "congratulations" with regard to the new place. Sure, we got it cheap but dear lord does it need work. It's basically 0.5 acre in an old suburb on Philadelphia, PA with the house being the original schoolhouse for the town, built in 1825. The house itself is in decent shape for the age, and mostly needs cleaning, spackle, paint and some reinforcement in the basement/crawlspace. The cottage was built in the 1920's and it's a tossup whether it would be better to gut it or burn it. I'll let your imagination dictate what that means, but will caution that I've done the old-house-rehab thing twice so far and tend to go to extreme lengths to fix/rework/rehab whenever possible. Sure, there's likely good stuff to be found in the garage, but at the moment I'm barely able to move and have many months more of this to look forward to. What were we thinking???? :confused: (read: aside from things that need inspection {electric, etc} we're doing everything ourselves. Oh, and by "We" I mean me and whatever handy friends I can rope in with promise of beer and burgers, which nowadays there's a dwindling supply of given the lack of teaching the sorts of things that would qualify one as "handy". And while my wife will be helping where she can, she's really just the PM for the job since I'm the stay-at-home-dad-with-time-and-skills-to-do-this-sort-of-thing and she's the one with PM experience working for a big name national defense company. Somehow I think she's getting off easy, but then again, I'm getting a big-assed workshop with untold goodies to be found in it.)

Your Old Dog
07-30-2011, 11:50 PM
The things I've found weren't nearly as awesome as yours. I found that the drains ran slow, the fuses popped at the slightest hint of use. I found that the roof leaked and that a neighbors kid played bass guitar.....really loud. I don't care to find anything else.

07-30-2011, 11:54 PM
This might be the appropriate time to mention none of the toilets actually flush.... If you can imagine how well that goes with bribing worker bees with burgers and beer you have an idea how my day went.... :o

Oh, and I neglected to mention the moldy spiders. As in spiders that died in their own webs and were subsequently covered in a 1/8" thick coating of mold. Never seen anything like it, and hope to never see it again. Straight out of a Stephen King novel. Seems the old furnace was a gravity heat/octopus type thing and there's loads of wood piled in the basement, rotting away thanks to frequent flooding. Mind you, the octopus was pulled out of service in at least 1980 (first service date written on the side of the "new" oil burner), yet it took us all day to empty the cellar entrance of the floor to ceiling pile of rotted wood destined for the octopus. And that's in addition to the 5 cubic yards of wood already rotting in the basement next to the octopus...

Today's mantra: "the workshop's going to be awesome"

07-30-2011, 11:59 PM
I would consider consulting an attorney or the state regarding those boats. I dont think you legally own them. About fifteen years ago now, my uncle lived on the NY side of the border but kept his bass boat in a storage lot on the PA side. He was an "occasional everything" in that he had more money and toys than time to use them and often didnt for months or years on end. Well he shows up after what was likely months expecting to pick up his boat, but the boat isnt there and neither is the storage lot. It seems the lot was foreclosed on and the bank auctioned everything. A legal battle later, the bank had to pay several thousand dollars to replace his boat.

Youre definitely a lucky guy regarding your tool find however. When my brother bought his farm, we found a 19=teens Buffalo 10 inch camelback buried in the mud of a shed.

07-31-2011, 02:56 AM
I have never found anything, but I recently bought some stuff from a guy on CL that bought a property at auction for 170,000. The property was in the middle of a suburb, on 7.5 acres. It also included a house, huge red barn w/ silo, and a huge shop also filled with machine shop goodness. The PO had died and left his entire estate behind, which this man bought for pennies. He wasn't a machinist and was interested in turning the shop into a nice garage to store cars. He sold all the equipment and tooling for pennies and most of it was from the 40's-60's. I bought up as much as I could afford before it all went away...the sad thing is I paid 190,000 for my house 2 miles down the road a year before that(1 acre w/ house, no machine shop lol).

Weston Bye
07-31-2011, 08:33 AM
Your story has all the primings for a mystery novel. I hope you find jelly jars stuffed with money :D buried somewhere in the mess, not a trunk with a body.:eek: The moldy spiders are a nice touch.

John Stevenson
07-31-2011, 08:51 AM
Only thing I have ever found [ still got it ] was one of those long school photo's that had the whole school on it rolled up in a loft of a house we bought.

It was taken in 1957 at Rugby school in the UK, very posh, paid for boarding school.
If I had been rich and clever enough to go there it wouldn't have been until 1959 but hey what's 2 years after all this time ! :rolleyes:

Good thing about these photo's is there is ALWAYS someone like you on them so looking at the first year sprogs there was this ugly pimply faced Herbert with thick glasses that looked just like me.

Stuck the pic in a frame and stuck it up on the wall. Visitors would come, note the picture and walk over to take a look.
"Oh you went to Rugby did you ? " [ Brit stiff upper lip protruding ]
"Oh and I bet this is you ?" pointing to the pimply sprog.

What a hoot..........

07-31-2011, 09:45 AM
Burn the sailboat! Arm your men, and let no one be taken alive!

Oh wait. Wrong century.

Wooden sail boats are a PIA to maintain and restore. Salvage all the metal parts. Should be a decent amount of SS and brass and then give it a viking funeral.

Weston Bye
07-31-2011, 11:12 AM
Burn the sailboat!


Check out an issue of Wooden Boat magazine. There are them what would take it off your hands and give it a new life. No different than you rescuing a lathe or mill. What goes around, comes around.

Davo J
07-31-2011, 11:19 AM
Good to hear about your new tooling and machine score. I bet the old guy that owned them would like the thought of them staying put and someone putting them to good use.


John Stevenson
07-31-2011, 11:26 AM
Put the machine tools inside the sailboat then you can start a new thread on levelling machines :D

07-31-2011, 11:35 AM
Man... that's a frequent dream of mine. I find myself in a room or attic I didn't know existed my house filled with all kids of cool stuff. I wake up all excited and then bummed out when I realize I was only dreaming...ho..hum..

John Stevenson
07-31-2011, 11:52 AM
I once dreamed I sold my round column mill drill and bought a Bridgeport.

Woke up and it was real - what a nightmare................;)

Weston Bye
07-31-2011, 12:04 PM
I can imagine Sir John's fiinal words, at the moment he passes from this world to the next:

"What? Bridgeports? Noooooooo.....

No speculation or prediction as to which way he's going.

07-31-2011, 02:12 PM
When I bought my house I found: A George Foreman grill, a waffle iron, a wok, fireplace tools, a U.S. Marine Captains dress jacket hanging in the closet :eek: , Marine globe & anchor hanging on the front door (it vanished after the 2nd week), and some wine glasses.

07-31-2011, 02:28 PM
As for the boats, well, can't explain that part; they belong(ed) to the oldest son, who lived in the cottage on the property and was served eviction papers a month ago (by his younger brother who has POA) and for whatever reason he left them in spite of the fact he could have easily backed the truck up and taken them off-site.

Highly recommend selling the boats ASAP. Iv never seen a boat that did'nt cost a freaken fortune, And never known anyone with a boat (including my own DAD) to actualy USE the damn thing after putting all the money they have into it.

Seen a boat sink.. Twice.. at the dock. They won't even let you leave it down there due to the oil/fuel leaking out. -_- So more $$$$$$

07-31-2011, 04:19 PM
I found all the original drawings in a closet for my 1904 house.

07-31-2011, 07:37 PM

Check out an issue of Wooden Boat magazine. There are them what would take it off your hands and give it a new life. No different than you rescuing a lathe or mill. What goes around, comes around.
Yes these are what's known as crazy people:)

Harvey Melvin Richards
07-31-2011, 07:52 PM
I found a pair of needle nose pliers, and some gold wallpaper. The wallpaper is so awful that it actually works for Xmas wrapping paper.

07-31-2011, 08:17 PM
Back 2-3 months ago i was looking at a house to buy.
(Deal fell through,,) But in the house -it was built in 1939,, Was a box with all the costs of the house even what the building lot cost and the taxes in 39. The lot was bought for $125.00 cash, the property taxes on the lot before building were $16.00 per year.
All blueprints were there, plus every bill of sale for windows, doors, hardware, furnace, men's wages at that time.
They were cleaning out the house, so i got (Out of the scrap pile,) a bunch of real old tins in good shape, a set of Mossberg Sockets with ratchet and one flex socket extension, (Found out these fit Model "T"'s ) sockets are stamped in 32nd's ,a real expensive copper and brass sprayer, v belt pulleys, large bolts and spikes,a brass goose neck office desk lamp, etc etc.
Lots of fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:D

Dan Dubeau
07-31-2011, 10:18 PM
When we bought our house last last year it came with a shed full of 3/4" plywood, and a bunch of 2x dimensional lumber. Another shed had a bunch more lumber, and some chainlink fencing, and various other stuff like a beer keg, some old metal gas cans etc. The poultry coops were full of 5 gal pails (about 60-70 of them), and a whole bunch of various other "junk" that the previous owners had no need for at their respective new places (divorce) so they just left here. Some of it has been handy, but for the most part, it's all junk that's been a pain in my ass to clean up.

The best thing I found was a wood chipper that was all tarped up with heavy rubber tarps back in the woods one day. Not that old of a model, and I still havn't run it yet (no need as i burn all my brush).

All the other things I've found have been very creative "handy man" fixes to electrical, and plumbing that are taking a while to undo, and put right. Every out building has hydro, two of them have water, all of them need to be bulldozed.

It was a good investment, and I love the area, but it will take a long time to put things right around here, and a long time before I can just come home and relax and enjoy myself. Hopefully by the time I retire lol.

07-31-2011, 10:44 PM
Back 2-3 months ago i was looking at a house to buy.
(Deal fell through,,) But in the house -it was built in 1939,, Was a box with all the costs of the house even what the building lot cost and the taxes in 39. The lot was bought for $125.00 cash, the property taxes on the lot before building were $16.00 per year.

Very cool. We found something similar in the house we had in Detroit, which was a box with old photos of the house and a the original promissory note that was taken out to buy/build the house in the '20s or '30s. IIRC it was something like 2 grand or so.

Anyway, I finally got a chance to move pics over....

The garage _after_ clearing out a way to get to it.

Looking down the right side. Only thing of interest here is the Buffalo drill press on the far right. I'll be giving it back to the guy we bought the house from since it was his fathers and it has sentimental value to him.

Down the center. The Canedy-Otto dovetail drill is clearly visible leaning on a huge steel workbench. Behind that are two more workbenches with all sorts of sheet metal tools bolted to them. To the left of the drill is a large gas-fired forced air heater that apparently was only used one season.

And off to the left, where there's an obvious Craftsman bandsaw, a scale and to the right of that a belt grinder. The black thing with a handle just up and left from the green tub in the bottom right corner looks to me like some sort of forge or oven, but it'll be a while until I dig far enough to get a closer look.

I'm told there's also some scaffolding in there, as well as a 1800's vintage rope bedframe and a big roll of copper. Oh, and you can probably make out in the pics some of the half dozen or so caned rocking chairs hanging various places. Most are missing the caning, but some look restorable. No idea what else is hiding in there, but it's going to be fun digging.


07-31-2011, 10:44 PM
Oh, and as for the boats, how many do you see in this pic? For obvious reasons I was quite surprised to find 3 of them under all that and will be consulting a lawyer to verify that ownership did indeed pass to me shortly. And if it did they'll get a quick cleanup and then sold.


08-01-2011, 06:51 PM
All the other things I've found have been very creative "handy man" fixes to electrical, and plumbing that are taking a while to undo, and put right.
You too eh? I bought a house/shop/property back end of last year. Man, the things I've found. For instance, ground wires leading out from main panel, into a junction block randomly located, no ground wire (only hot/neutral) from there to the next junction near the evap cooler, then ground into the box. So you think it's grounded, but (shhh, don't tell anyone), it's not. And all the wires were twisted together in one junction so EVERYTHING came on with the stat on High-Cool, and nothing anywhere else. All the wires were run, just not connected. Took me all of about 30 minutes to fix it all, and that included running it all down (and just lucky finding and fixing the break in ground). And that's just ONE thing! What a maroon...

Not really complaining mind you. I got a great deal in my opinion, and I knew (at least generally) what I was getting into, which was factored into my offer. But still it amazes me that the guy didn't kill himself on some of this stuff.

Anyway, congrats on the buy. Looks like several of us are going to be quite busy for a while, and not playing with the machines.