Eric LavElle's machine glossaryMaster restorer, Eric LaVelle writes delightful articles about his work, which includes rehabilitating old buildings & rescuing antique machinery that he uses in his rehab work. He has graciously allowed me to include his stories in my blog. They include technical terms many of you (that includes my own self!) don’t understand, so I am including a GLOSSARY here for you so that you can most easily follow the bouncing ball. I am going to put it in alpha order because I am guessing that you’ll find these terms repeated in more than 1 post.

Each article also has links to videos about the machines that are discussed. I have tried to find videos that show the old machines & the tasks each on is able to perform.

Should I have missed any words, drop me a line & I will include them.


A bar connected to the center of a circular object such as a wheel that allow sit to turn especially one connecting two wheels of a vehicle.

Babbitt bearingBabbitt bearings
A bearing is a device that supports, guides, & reduces the friction of motion between fixed & moving machine parts.

Babbitt bearings are made of certain types of alloys, which are melted down & cast to produce the bearing surface.

Band saw
A power saw that uses a long blade loop, like a ribbon, stretched between two wheels. The blade continually rotates along with the wheels. Take a look at the video to see what it can do.

A machine or plant with power-driven machines for sawing logs into rough-squared sections or into planks and boards. A mill may be equipped with machines for finishing processes for decorative items.

Millwork is historically any wood mill produced decorative (rather than structural) materials used in building construction.

It is often is in a deteriorated condition from the elements & must be repaired, recreated.

Phase wires
The phase wires are the hot wires used in an electrical power system.

Phase converters
The majority of phase converters are used to produce three-phase electric power from a single-phase source, thus allowing the operation of three-phase equipment at a site that only has single-phase electrical service.

Three-phase electric motor
A three-phase electric motor contains four wires (three hot wires and one neutral wire) and uses three alternating currents of the same frequency.



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Historic house restored by Eric LaVelleEric LaVelle of Belleville, Illinois, is a master historic preservationist but takes it a step further. In addition to performing masterful work on houses that are extremely  deteriorated, dangerous, ornate & enormous, he finds, salvages & repairs the antique construction machinery with which he works his magic.

Eric was kind enough to allow me to publish his fascinating & inspiring story, which starts with his childhood interest in old houses, his own first old house, & the trials & tribulations of collecting massive machines & moving them to his workshop- without heavy lifting equipment!

I have created YouTube playlists to show you what these machines do. Some of them I was able to find in their antique versions & some, only modern, but they allow you to see how they would be useful in historic preservation work.

I have also created a GLOSSARY. The words in the GLOSSARY are linked in the text. If you see any words here that you don’t understand, let me know & I will add it.


As a child, I was fascinated with 19th century houses, but it wasn’t until 1996 that I bought and lived in one. My wife and I moved into an 1880’s two story house in a small town. Most of the interior woodwork was intact, as were the ornate front and back doors.

Eric LaVelle's historic house

I was fascinated with the woodwork, and wanted to be able to reproduce it, but I had no idea how they had done it, or the equipment they used to do it. I began reading Old House Journal and Old House Interior magazines to learn more about these houses, and how to restore them. The internet was new to me, and there wasn’t a great deal of helpful information on it at the time.

Eric LaVelles' house interior features

In order to gain the skills to reproduce this millwork, I bought a few small, second hand machines at local auctions. My budget then was extremely small, so in order to get lumber, I resorted to salvaging it from buildings being torn down. The largest of these salvage projects was a dairy barn made mostly of oak and hickory, about 35’x50′ in size, and 30-40ft tall. I spent some time analyzing that structure, and ended up disassembling it from the top down, in a manner that was the reverse of how it was built. Some of my friends helped me do it. It was a physically punishing and dangerous job. To haul the barn lumber, the farmer sold me a 16ft double axle trailer to haul away the lumber.

Historic restorationist Eric LaVelle demolishing a barn

It was 2001, and I had mountains of salvaged lumber, so I needed machines to work with it. My budget was still extremely small, and I could only look at the catalogs of the larger modern machinery with longing. I simply wasn’t ever going to be to afford a shop full of those machines. I tried working some of the wood with hand tools, but found it to be much more frustrating than inspiring. My small machines would simply burn up doing any serious work.


In 2002, I stopped crying over the new machines I couldn’t afford when I got on Ebay and found very old machines for sale for very little money. The first thing I decided I needed was a large bandsaw to resaw barn timbers. This one was 36″, much larger than those I saw in the catalogs. You can see videos of  an antique bandsaw & a new ones in action, here. After having the high bid, I set out on a 4 hour drive to pick up the machine with my van and trailer. My Dad went with me. I filled the gas tank just before leaving, which took us all the way there with some gas to spare.

Eric LaVelle's vintage bandsawI had never seen a 36″ bandsaw. I was shocked at the size of it. It was in a machine shop, and they were using it to saw aluminum. They loaded it with a forklift, but they didn’t really know what they were doing, and tried to lift it by the table, which promptly cracked. I didn’t know enough to tell them any different. It was loaded sideways to the wind, and had some plywood guards built onto it, so it caught wind like a giant sail. Paying little attention, I filled the gas tank on the way out of town, figuring we’d have plenty to get home. I hadn’t even bothered to watch the gas gauge when we ran out of gas on the interstate about 30 miles short of making it home. It was then that I learned lesson #1: a loaded trailer, especially with an enormous amount of wind drag, burns a lot more gas than an unloaded one.

After hitch hiking to the gas station and filling up, we got the saw home safely. As I was going in and out of the driveway, there was a dip in the pavement, and I bent the cross bar that held the jack on the trailer. I drove to a local welding shop where they could cut it out and weld a new piece in. The giant saw was still on the trailer. The owner of the shop looked at it and started talking about “3 phase motor” and something called “babbitt bearings”. I had no idea what those were, so I just nodded my head, and looked them up later. These would lead to the development of skill#2: building a phase converter, and skill #3: pouring babbitt bearings.

We had just bought another house with a garage, and were moving there, so I wanted to unload the saw at that location. I had no idea how to move a 1500lb saw without any power equipment. This would require skill #1: rigging heavy machinery with hand tools. My Dad showed me that I could use my 48″ crowbar, the same bar I used to disassemble the barn, to slowly inch the saw off the trailer. It took me a very long time to move it that way. Since it was taller than the garage door, and I didn’t know how easy it was to remove the top wheel, I hooked a chain around the top of it, which was attached to the framing above the garage door, and tipped the saw so it was leaning into the opening of the door. I then stood it up by prying the base forward, and the saw stood up inside the garage.

At this point I had a long way to go. I still didn’t know how they made the millwork in my first house, and I didn’t have electricity in the garage, which was 130ft from the house.

This is only the first machine & the first episode of the story of Eric LaVelle, historic preservationist extraordinaire. Follow along with me as we see him figure out how to make impossible things work.


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Here you stand, in your new, empty house. Perhaps you were fortunate to buy a house that needed little restoration, or perhaps you’ve been working for months to rescue it from a tragic combination of remuddling & neglect. And now the paint is dry, the floors are gleaming & the windows slide up & down.

Either way, it’s a blank slate. How do you even begin to fill it, making these echoing spaces a welcoming, rejuvenating home that serves your needs & pleases your eye?

The choices can seem overwhelming so where do you start?


A bungalow interiorThis your house- your retreat, your communication & above all, it must serve your needs well. So, your first task is to determine your own needs.

Most of my friends are very house proud- artists, interior designers, architects, bent on creating magazine-worthy homes & have the skills to accomplish this.

However, one of the most beautiful Arts & Crafts houses I have ever seen was the spacious home of a large family. Built in the early teens by a man who owned a lumberyard, it was a glorious display of woods from all over the world. Every room was clad in a  complementary mixture of species of the American forest- oak, maple, walnut, cherry, Douglas fir, redwood, chestnut.

A magnificent staircase of a multitude of woods greeted you upon entry.

Throughout the house there were softly gleaming floors, wainscoting, box beam ceilings, wide window & door trim, box beam ceilings.

Truly one of the finest houses I had ever had the pleasure to view, it was regarded by the homeowner simply as a home in which to rear her family. The perfect setting for the most collectable Arts & Crafts furniture, textiles & lighting, it resembled a daycare rather than the A&C showplace it could have been because that was the ambiance that best served this child-centered family.


Your first step is to determine your own needs & the needs of your family. These needs can be complex. Fortunately the layouts of bungalows, with their distinct, separate private & public spaces, can accommodate these needs. Some things you should consider are:

  1. If you have children, how can they have space to be kids & learn to handle their bodies without destroying the environment?
  2. How can your home comfort & recharge you? Is your greatest joy found in being in the kitchen preparing gourmet meals? Do you draw inspiration from being surrounded by beautiful objects? Is your house mostly a closet or a sports storage facility that you visit only to sleep & prepare for your next adventure?
  3. What furniture & accessories will come with you? Do you like them? Which are your favorites?
  4. What is your budget? Buying a house & moving are expensive & restoration costs can be high. You will probably need to create your interior over time so you need to decide on your priorities.
  5. Will you move room by room? Will you hit the basics & embellish later?
  6. What are your skills? Are you handy with a saw, a hammer, a paintbrush? Do you have a natural aptitude for learning these skills? Are you willing to learn?
  7. What are your physical capabilities?
  8. How much time do you have to devote to the creation of your home? How much attention?
  9. Who will help & support you? Who will oppose you & how will you deal with that?
  10. What are your favorite colors? Color theory will be discussed later, but I always suggest that you start with what you love.

The above exercise in designing your bungalow’s interior spaces may take you 10 minutes to do or it may take you 10 hours, but, looking into your own heart before making decisions is the best way to protect that heart.

After you have answered these questions, read my article on Jane Powell’s book, BUNGALOW DETAILS: INTERIOR. I highly recommend that you read this book because it will guide & inspire you.

Part 2 in this series will cover some basic design points as applied to the bungalow, taking you from the general to the specific. As we move along, I’ll link to other articles to read to embellish the information. Let’s make your home beautiful!


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OLD HOUSE RESTORATION VIDEOS- Bungalow Character Defining Features

OLD HOUSE RESTORATION VIDEOS- Bungalow Character Defining Features

These videos show & tell the story of bungalow character defining features, the architectural bits & pieces that separate a bungalow from other houses. They are the features that you expect to see on a bungalow that has been well-cared for, or authentically restored. They are a good guide in planning & performing your own restoration.

The term bungalow refers to the general shape of a building, not its style. In fact, one of the best things about them is that they were built in a variety of styles. This is why you can drive down the street of a bungalow neighborhood & each house is charmingly unique, inspired by a different style from Swiss Chalet to Victorian to Japanesque to Tudor.

I chose this format of conveying this information because it allows you to walk around & through a bungalow, rather than seeing bits of us out of context. I have chosen these particular ones because they contain great information that will help you know a bungalow when you see one, & will hopefully answer the question, “Is my house a bungalow?”

Enjoy the videos!

THE VIDEOS- Bungalow Character Defining Features

Brent trots us through a brief look at the history of the Arts & Crafts Movement, but spends most of his time discussing bungalow defining features. He shows us some bee-you-ti-ful examples of bungalows.

A fascinating, in depth look at the Arts & Crafts Movement.

The marketing of the bungalow. An amusing story of how the style made a lotta $$$ for a lotta folks.

The history & details of the adorable style.

If you want to read more about these dear houses, visit my article here.


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OLD HOUSE RESTORATION VIDEOS- Charles Rennie Mackintosh of Glasgow

OLD HOUSE RESTORATION VIDEOS- Charles Rennie Mackintosh of Glasgow

Charles Rennie Mackintosh windowMy first submersion in Charles Rennie Mackintosh of Glasgow, was at a special exhibit at the Museum of the Arts & Crafts Movement in St. Pete Florida. It was astonishing to see many of the actual items that I had seen in books, only inches from my nose. The life & beauty of each one was overwhelming.

I had known little about the Glasgow School before attending the exhibit. It is an integral part of Mackintosh’s story both in his formative years & later, as his work, when he was commissioned to design the new building for the school.

Like many masters of the movement, Mackintosh had full control over every aspect of the buildings he designed- the structure itself, the furnishings, the art & even the tableware of the tearooms. In this exhibit I was able to view  examples of all of them.

The exhibit also introduced me to his wife, Margaret Macdonald both muse & gifted artist. Their marriage was one of equality & romance & together they produced beautiful, innovative works of art. Of her, Mackintosh stated, “Remember, you are half if not three-quarters of all my architectural talents. Margaret has genius. I have only talent.”



Curator’s Perspective: Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Cutting-Edge Tearoom Designs (1:08:33)
Frist Art Museum

Should you find yourself one day, feeling a little dumpish, & in need of inspiration, watch this video. It is a curated tour of the Charles Rennie Macintosh exhibit I was so fortunate to have seen at the museum. I had zoomed home, eager to know more about Macintosh & up popped this video. It rounded out the experience beautifully! It has a long intro. You might want to start watching at 00:10:00.