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How to Install Plumbing on an Old, Pre-1910 Farmhouse Sink

Joy has lived the old-fashioned way since 2010, when she and her husband bought a 1928 farm house, without improvements. What a journey!

My Farmhouse Sink

This sink is great to use, easy to clean, and best of all, holds many secrets and memories of the last century. It is made of cast iron, porcelain-coated.

This sink is great to use, easy to clean, and best of all, holds many secrets and memories of the last century. It is made of cast iron, porcelain-coated.

A Pre-1910 Farmhouse Kitchen Sink

I like old things. They fascinate me. In case they fascinate you too, I thought I'd share with you some pictures of my very old farmhouse-style kitchen sink. Seeing as this style of sink has gotten hugely popular, there may be many of you who would like to see mine.

This sink is in the kitchen of my 1928 Wardway's kit home. However, it was clearly salvaged out of a much older home, when this house was new. It is pre-1910. We suspect it may first have been installed in the original house built on the farmstead--which is now being used as a shop and storage shed.

Original Farmhouse Sink

The sink was dirty and lonely when we first came, being without even a pump or faucet. It had not been used in 20 years. The surrounding countertop is fir or spruce, and is a wonderful work surface. It is not spliced, though it is 24" wide.

The sink was dirty and lonely when we first came, being without even a pump or faucet. It had not been used in 20 years. The surrounding countertop is fir or spruce, and is a wonderful work surface. It is not spliced, though it is 24" wide.

The sink has turned out to be excellent for a busy, rural lifestyle, being able to be used for dishes and other uses simultaneously . . .

The sink has turned out to be excellent for a busy, rural lifestyle, being able to be used for dishes and other uses simultaneously . . .

. . . as well as being large enough to make washing big stock pots, kettles, buckets, and milk pails easy. The farmstead used to include dairy cattle, so it has seen much use.

. . . as well as being large enough to make washing big stock pots, kettles, buckets, and milk pails easy. The farmstead used to include dairy cattle, so it has seen much use.

Plumbing Differences

This sink was desgned to be used with lead pipe plumbing. Hardly a health-conscious option, but who knew then? We made it work with modern pipe.

This sink was desgned to be used with lead pipe plumbing. Hardly a health-conscious option, but who knew then? We made it work with modern pipe.

My father had to manufacture a fitting and bracket for the drain, as we could not locate one with the correct design. He heated and flared a new pipe, using a lathe to achieve a bell-shape. He also modified brass toilet bolts to work with the clamp.

My father had to manufacture a fitting and bracket for the drain, as we could not locate one with the correct design. He heated and flared a new pipe, using a lathe to achieve a bell-shape. He also modified brass toilet bolts to work with the clamp.

The drain parts from my father's old sink. The lead pipe would have been belled to fit with these parts. The pipe on this sink had been instead bronzed to the bell.

The drain parts from my father's old sink. The lead pipe would have been belled to fit with these parts. The pipe on this sink had been instead bronzed to the bell.

Here is how he flared the pipe . . .

Here is how he flared the pipe . . .

. . . then shaped the inside to fit snugly against the drain parts.

. . . then shaped the inside to fit snugly against the drain parts.

This sink had never actually had plumbing installed under it. The previous residents had used a bucket to catch the waste water . . . maybe even this same brown scrub bucket which we found in the house.

This sink had never actually had plumbing installed under it. The previous residents had used a bucket to catch the waste water . . . maybe even this same brown scrub bucket which we found in the house.

Kitchen Sink Options and Styles

Farmhouse Style Sinks

Age of Your Kitchen Sink

Installing Pitcher Pump; A History of Kitchen Sinks

The First House

I haven't been able to find out much about the very early days of the farm which this sink calls home, except that the people who lived here were German immigrants, and they were innovative and enterprising. At first we thought the "shed" shown below was a tenant house for hired hands, but now I think it's where the couple settled before building their permanent house. We thought it curious that they even built a closet in this original house--an unusual thing, as it counted as an extra room for tax purposes.

I can't find evidence of where the old sink was mounted. Perhaps it was salvaged out of some other place after the main house was built. Still, it's fun to imagine the life it's lived--the conversations it has heard, the meals it has seen, and the songs it knows from thousands of hours of dish washing service.

Original Home

Outbuilding, original homestead house.

Outbuilding, original homestead house.

Do You Know Anything About This Particular Sink Model?

My father has nearly 40 years of construction experience. In that time, he has seen only two of these sinks . . . the second one of which was installed in the house where his father was born, built somewhere between 1905 and 1912. (No accurate records were kept of the construction date of this house.)

When he presented photos of my sink on a professional plumbing forum which was made up of knowledgeable people from many places, he was met with blank stares. No one there had seen a sink to match this one. If you know anything specific about it, please leave details in the Comments section below.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2011 Joilene Rasmussen

Comments

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on August 07, 2016:

Yolanda, so glad to be of service!

Yolanda on July 25, 2016:

So glad I found this! My sink just burst a hole through the lead trap.

Angela on November 10, 2013:

How resourceful, renovating some old stuff into a new ones. This make sense , sad to say never done this. I always replace my stuff to a new ones.

http://plumbernorthsydney.com.au

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on July 12, 2012:

How cool is that? :-)

Laura on July 10, 2012:

I just found this identical sink in my yard in some bushes, stamped 1910 on the back.

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on September 14, 2011:

I've learned to use almost anything that will produce or collect heat to cook meals, at one time or another, so I understand the dutch oven scenario, as well as other creative methods. At one point, I was so proficient at preparing food on the hood (and under the hood) of my husband's work truck that it seemed almost like home. :-)

This summer, I have primarily used a small electric cooker - outside - as no one really wants a fire in the cookstove when the house is 90* F and climbing. The only problem with this arrangement is that my tom turkey also loves to cook. Ever smelled burnt turkey lips?

Ivorwen from Hither and Yonder on September 12, 2011:

Burn barrel huh? I've never done that, but one summer we only had a fire pit. We became very efficient with the dutch oven! This summer, the BBQ has been a life saver. Being gas, it works almost like a stove top.

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on September 10, 2011:

Ivorwen,

Been there, done that! :-D Being without a stove and cooking over a burn barrel is another interesting experience.

Ivorwen from Hither and Yonder on September 09, 2011:

Any sink is better than no sink!

I never knew the value of a kitchen sink until I took mine out. I can't wait to finish my kitchen remodel! There is nothing like washing dishes in a bucket in the bathtub or on the back porch. :)

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on September 07, 2011:

LiftedUp,

You're right - my old sink is in better shape than almost any new ones I've seen. No dings, dents, scratches, or serious marring. And no mineral buildup. It comes clean quite well.

LiftedUp from Plains of Colorado on September 05, 2011:

I find myself desiring to go back to the older things, even that sink that was in the porch when B and I moved into this house. I appreciate the sink we presently have in that room, but the old ones were made to last! I'm glad you were able to keep your original.

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on September 02, 2011:

Ladybird,

I like my sink a lot! :-)

LadybirdSC on September 02, 2011:

Wow. Makes me appreciate my older (70's) beige, double-sink even more! lol Interesting post. Good luck!

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on September 01, 2011:

Shea,

Thank you.

shea duane from new jersey on August 28, 2011:

interesting