Friday, March 30, 2012

Swing Arms: How To Adjust The Centers of Clawfoot Tub Faucets

Swing arms have been on my "short list" of blog topics for quite some time. I just didn't know where to go with the topic until yesterday. Yesterday, an email from Gary arrived with a photo of his British telephone clawfoot tub faucet. Gary's faucet provided the inspiration for today's post.

Before I get to Gary's clawfoot tub faucet, I should probably explain swing arms. Swing arms are adapters that swivel to provide clawfoot tub faucets with adjustable centers. They are sometimes called swing arm adapters, swing arm couplers, or swing arm connectors. Swing arms are also sometimes called swivel arms or S-unions. They are usually "S" shaped (hence the term S-unions) but there are also "C" shaped swing arms called reverse swing arms. There are swing arms for deck mount clawfoot tub faucets as well as tub wall mounted clawfoot tub faucets.

Swing arms are most often found on British telephone style clawfoot tub faucets like Gary's. The centers for these faucets would normally be 7"; which might be fine if the faucet were deck mounted but would not work if the faucet were to be installed through the holes in the wall of a clawfoot bathtub. Faucet holes drilled through the wall of a clawfoot tub are almost always drilled at 3-3/8" centers. Swivel arms allow British telephone faucets to adjust from 7" down to 3-3/8" centers so they can fit the average clawfoot tub. Conversely, swing arms can be used to convert a gooseneck clawfoot tub faucet from 3-3/8" centers up to 7" centers so the faucet can be rim mounted. I guess you could say that swivel arms swing both ways.

The reason Gary's British telephone clawfoot tub faucet provided inspiration for today's post is because Gary's faucet had two pairs of swing arms attached accordion-style to the faucet. According to Gary, this was done by a previous homeowner. The accordion arrangement of swing arms wasn't a first for me. Coincidentally, I saw the same setup just a few weeks previous. I assume it was done as a workaround to raise the profile of the faucet. In many areas, plumbing codes now require the faucet spout to be above the tub's overflow hole or even above the tub's rim. In its default configuration, with a single set of swing arms, the spout on Gary's faucet would not have been above the overflow hole. Rather than replace the faucet, the previous homeowner added a second set of swing arms to elevate the faucet above the overflow hole. This solved one problem (code violation) but created a new problem. The accordion configuration of swivel arms is unstable and Gary's faucet periodically leans one way or the other.

Several years ago, Sign of the Crab introduced extended swivel arms for their clawfoot tub faucets. At twice the length of regular swing arms, the extended swing arms not only provide variable centers but also provide a reliable way to raise the profile of British telephone clawfoot tub faucets. Rather than chain two pairs of regular length swivel arms together, a single set of extended swing arms can increase the spout's height without creating instability or complexity.

Most manufacturers of British telephone clawfoot tub faucets offer swing arms. To my knowledge, Sign of the Crab is the only manufacturer that offers extended swing arms. The caveat is that faucet parts are not universal. The swing arm's connection to the faucet is not assured by an industry standard and not all clawfoot tub faucets can be adapted with swing arms. Choose swing arms from the same manufacturer as that of the faucet to ensure a proper connection.

A special thanks to Gary for the direction and inspiration for this topic.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Decorative Round Vent Covers by Classic Grills that are Far From a Square Peg for a Round Hole

Round vent covers are primarily used to cover vent openings found on walls and ceilings where round, rather than rectangular, duct work was used. This type of duct work was commonly used to retrofit air conditioning systems into old homes around the middle of the 20th century. Therefore, most round vent openings found on walls and ceilings of old homes were for forced air, rather than return air, duct work. Decorative round vent covers were introduced to complement the home’s existing decorative vent covers. Use of round vent covers is not limited to old homes, however, as they are becoming increasingly popular in new home construction as well.

Classic Grills now offers its popular Renaissance Victorian style grille design in round vent covers. Classic Grills round vent cover grilles are constructed of solid bronze and are available with light and dark oil rubbed bronze, burnished antique bronze and satin nickel white bronze finishes. Classic Grills also offers most of their round grille sizes as round heat registers with pre-attached louver assemblies that add air control for forced air heating and cooling vent ducts.

Learn how to save an additional 5 to 10% on your vent cover order with Shop 4 Classics’ Hardware5 and Hardware10 coupon codes.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Overflow Brackets: Supporting Freestanding Clawfoot Tub Faucets Without Wall Braces

The curious thing about freestanding clawfoot tub faucets is that most freestanding faucets require support. You are not alone if you find yourself asking, "Just how freestanding can a faucet be if it requires support?" Although it may seem like a misnomer initially, the term "freestanding" is defined relative to the clawfoot tub. Freestanding clawfoot tub faucets do not mount through faucet holes in the tub wall or tub rim. They stand free of the clawfoot tub on tall rigid supply lines. They are free of the clawfoot tub but not necessarily independent of support.

Most often, freestanding supply lines are supported by braces that are anchored to an adjacent wall. Wall braces are a perfectly suitable solution for supporting a freestanding faucet if the faucet end of the tub happens to be near a wall. This isn't always the case in old homes and is becoming increasingly more unlikely in new homes as designers use clawfoot tubs as a centerpiece in the middle of large bathrooms.

Last year, Cheviot Products introduced a self-supporting freestanding clawfoot tub faucet that eliminates the need to brace the faucet to an adjacent wall but there is yet another solution that often gets overlooked. Most clawfoot tub manufacturers offer brackets that allow freestanding supply lines to be braced to the tub drain instead of a wall. The brackets install on the clawfoot tub drain's overflow tube. Rather than brace to a wall behind the faucet, the braces can be swung around and attached to the overflow brackets. Overflow brackets allow freestanding faucets to be installed without the need for wall braces. Even if the faucet is near a wall, the overflow brackets may still be preferred over wall braces. Bracing to the drain eliminates additional holes in your bathroom wall caused by wall brackets. Personally, I prefer the overflow brackets because they link the faucet, supply lines, and drain into one neat integrated package.

There are a few caveats with overflow brackets however. First, the freestanding faucet must be near the drain to utilize overflow brackets. Clawfoot tub faucets, even freestanding clawfoot tub faucets, are traditionally centered with the drain so this usually isn't a big deal. More significantly, overflow brackets for freestanding clawfoot tub faucets generally should not be considered universal. Sign of the Crab, Elizabethan Classics, and Sunrise Specialty all offer overflow brackets for their freestanding faucets. However, the Sunrise Specialty overflow brackets only fit their tower drain. The Sign of the Crab overflow brackets and Elizabethan Classics overflow brackets require braces that are included with their freestanding supply lines. There is no industry standard that defines braces so it isn't safe to assume that one manufacturer's overflow brackets will accept a brace from another manufacturer's supply lines. The potential for compatibility issues tends to make overflow brackets difficult to shop for and is likely a significant reason they are overlooked. Choosing a freestanding clawfoot tub faucet, tub drain, and overflow brackets from a single manufacturer will reduce problems with compatibility.

Shop 4 Classics offers the complete vintage plumbing catalogs of Sign of the Crab, Elizabethan Classics, Sunrise Specialty, and Cheviot Products. Visit for help with your freestanding clawfoot tub faucet project. Our experts can help you identify the correct overflow bracket for your project.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Complete Your Art Deco Kitchen Design with a New Art Deco Style Kitchen Faucet

Old home renovations often include undoing previous kitchen remodels that stripped the home of its original period character. Homes built during the 1920’s featured kitchens and bathrooms with distinctive faucets and fixtures that reflected the Art Deco design movement. Because Art Deco faucets and fixtures were so unique to the period, they were often replaced in decades that followed in favor of faucets and fixtures that reflected the latest trends. Unfortunately, post Art Deco industrial design was much more pragmatic and so the kitchen or bathroom’s style was often tossed into the dumpster along with their unique Art Deco faucets and fixtures.

If returning Art Deco style to your 1920’s kitchen is a part of your home renovation project, consider including one of Strom Plumbing’s new Art Deco style deck mount faucets and Art Deco wall mount kitchen faucets. Strom’s Art Deco kitchen faucets borrow many of the distinctive styling features from their very popular Mississippi series of Art Deco lavatory faucets including angular faucet bodies, spouts and handles. In addition to period appropriate chrome and polished nickel plated finishes, Strom Plumbing also offers their Art Deco kitchen faucets with a brushed nickel finish, which is a popular modern variation of the classic nickel finish.

If an Art Deco bathroom remodel is a part of your home renovation project, check out our previous Art Deco bathroom related blog entries including: Art Deco Style Bath Tubs, Faucets and Hardware: Streamline Choices for Your Art Deco Bathroom Design and New Art Deco Pedestal Sinks & Console Sinks: Introducing Futuristic Bathroom Sinks from the Past .