I've put the casing work aside temporarily to work on the siding. Every so often I need to get some paint up in order to keep the City happy, and the casing has taken much longer than I had expected, what with the continuing weather problems and the epoxy mishap. Getting a coat of primer up on the siding will reset the clock and buy me some time to continue the complicated putty-sculpting work I have ahead.
Normally, I prefer to wait to do the primer until I am ready to do the finish coat as well, so I only have to mask once. In this case, however, I will not be able to judge where the siding needs further patching until I see it all in a uniform color, and I'll have to caulk between the colors before I paint, so I'll have to mask twice anyway. Thus, I might as well do it now, since I can get it done without too much fuss. I'm not going to sand the siding, because it is largely cupped, and the weathering is so extreme that I'd have to sand off a considerable amount of wood to get it smooth. Lydia and I tried in one corner, and after several hours of work with the big random orbit sander and 40-grit paper, we still were not down to a clean surface. So, as with the shingles in the tympanum above, I brushed all the siding with a brass-wire brush to remove all the oxidized paint.
There is one spot where the previous coat of paint is exposed, in the place where there was a bracket for holding up the vent pipe from the old floor heater. Before I brushed there, I made sure I took some clear pictures of the area to document what seems to be the original body color.
It's hard to see here from the few remaining traces, but in person it's clear that it was mustard yellow, which was by utter coincidence the very color we were originally considering for our paint scheme. The color studies, however, indicated that the color was too bright for the surroundings, and would make the house stand out too much. We wanted the house and grounds to strike the eye as an organic whole, so we chose a darker color suggested by the bark of the pine trees, derived from the precise compliment of the trim color. We're quite happy with our color scheme, but it's great to know that we did our homework well regarding the appropriate colors for a house of the Farm House's vintage.
As I brushed the siding, I re-set the nails that had popped out, and marked the areas that needed further attention before I primed because of cracks or knots. While I am not going to do much patching on the siding because of the difficulty of making the patches blend in, I am nonetheless going to fix the areas that are not weather-tight, because I have to for the sake of the house's health.
Most of the problems are cracks that just need some glue, such as this one, but some of the cracks are wide enough that they require putty as well. I figure that I can putty them more or less level, then wire-brush them after the putty has partially set to emulate the grain pattern of the surrounding area.
This area has long been a mystery. This patch, made of thin sheet steel, is uncommonly well-done relative to most of the patching work I've found, nicely formed and thoroughly tacked down. What terrible secret lay behind it? Lydia advised leaving it alone, but I had to know, so I pried up the bottom of the patch carefully and took a look.
It's a huge knothole, almost as big as the patch, big enough for a rat to get through, which is why I left the patch in place until I patch it up properly. I'll have to slip a piece of wood in as a backing and glue it in, then putty over that. Since there's no way to hide that a knot was there, I won't have to worry too much about making it blend in. Chalk up another badge of honor for the Farm House.