W. Maplehurst

This JL Mott Ironworks porcelain corner sink from the early 1900s and the Eljer “Saneto Vitroware” toilet became the inspiration for this 1925 half bath in Ferndale.


The “guts” of the drain, for those of you wondering, is behind that little overflow cage that says “Mott” on it.  We did not have to disturb it, and the screw didn’t budge anyhow.  More pictures farther below as to its disassembly.


It’s stamped “Eljer” on the bottom and dated 1914.


After gutting this 5 foot by 5 foot bathroom located in the landing to the back-door, (where it looked like the roof had leaked since the 50s), we added a couple additional 2×6 floor-joists and replaced the ones that the original plumber all but wrecked. We reworked the drains to make more sense and removed the old cast iron 4″ drain “mass” beneath, which was the only cast iron left after a previous plumber replaced everything else with PVC.

Since the room is barely 5 x 5, we experimented with a few options to make the bathroom a little more roomier.  The problem was when you stood at the sink and washed your hands, your legs were brushing up against the toilet.  And there’s a radiator directly beneath the window.


We found a wall-tank in Steve’s garage which we decided would be the best solution, and placed it as close as we could to the wall that held the vent stack without it looking like an afterthought.  We lined up the bowl corresponding to the tank and the straight down-pipe which would connect the two.




The vintage threshold we found (a couple) at Detroit Architectural Salvage (Grand River at 15th) and paid 5 bucks apiece.  They needed to be stripped and polished, but hey, they were 5 bucks, sat an inch high and were 5 1/2″ inches wide, exactly what you’d find in an old house.











R-15 insulation in 2×4 walls is code in most of Michigan.  Here we’ve also framed up the blocking for the corner sink.


After floating a couple bags of floor-leveler, we had some leftover Ditra from a previous job.  A word to the wise if you are installing a vintage toilet bowl, a 3″ flange is almost never sufficient, as the horn on the bottom of the bowl will most likely bottom-out on the flange. I’ve taken to installing the flange the same height as the tile, instead of on top, just to be sure.   You should be able to find a 4″ flange that drops to a 3″ PVC at the supply house.





If you’re going to re-create a vintage 1920s bathroom, why not use basket-weave?


This Mott corner sink tailpiece is original to the sink, and can’t be retrofitted with anything else.  We scraped out the old washer, and with a ginger amount of heat (some fingers crossed),some WD-40, and a couple raps with a hammer and cold-chisel, the tailpiece spun apart from the pop-up. Be careful using heat around porcelain, it will shatter.  Brass, on the other hand doesn’t require a ton of heat to loosen it. If you have a chance, try tightening “frozen” threaded drain pieces first (an eighth of turn is more than enough) once you have hit them with the heat, and make sure to use plumbers grease on the threads when re-installing so the next guy in 100 years can get it apart.



Don’t forget to use a slip washer so your rubber washer won’t squeeze out as you tighten.



Tile going in.  We milled a couple trim pieces for the window casing which were not there when we started.





If anyone out there has a picture of the Mott Corner sink bracket from the early 1900s I would love to see it.  We had to make ours  from aluminum, and weld some “t-bolts” from some 5/16″ threaded stainless rod. The T-bolts tip into the bottom of the porcelain on two sides.  There is a groove in the corner itself which also has to be locked in.  We rigged this.  It’s not moving.  We totally should have cut an ogee into the ends of the brackets for decorative purposes, but we literally spent two solid days trying to hang the sink.



The spouts are Standard.  And since we’re on two outside walls, the supply lines are coming thru the floor.








As a cherry on the top, this little guy came out of the “3 for 10” bin at Senate Antiques at Grand River and the Fisher Fwy, across from Cass Tech. The switch still works, but since it’s wired into a real switch on the wall, it will live for a while longer.




Found:  a vintage mirror from a previous demolition.  And it’s made in Detroit.



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