How to repair 1950s faucets without removing tile — and see Randy’s Mermador!

vintage shower door by mermadorYou know I love it when I gets to see me something all-new old. How did I run across Randal and his vintage Mermador shower door? The one in his lovely, 1955 pink tiled bathroom with the ming green Crane (?) toilet, tub and double sink vanity? I do not know. But, I love Randal’s bathroom… and his post about fixing his plumbing… and most of all, his Mermador shower door. Read on for more, from Randal….

Randal writes:

Love your site! Thanks so much. Just started visiting it, but have already ordered Remcraft light fixtures for the outside of our home and after we paint our living room, I will be buying rugs from Dash & Albert. You are my hero!

I have a blog focused mainly on bicycles, but I did a post — “Sometimes a Plumber” — on my faucet repair project in our awesome 1955 pink bathroom. Thought you might want to share it with your readers.

I had original American Standard faucets in the tub and shower with one leaking stem and all of them near the end of their useful life. Terrified about having to tear into tiles to replace entire fixtures, I undertook the project of gently restoring what I had. I found replacement stems and surrounds on line, installed them myself and took lots of pictures along the way. The project took weeks as I let liquid wrench work its magic on calcified parts. It came out beautifully!

Thanks again and take care!

Readers, be sure to check out Randal’s link — blue text above — you are gonna love that bathroom… the vanity, woah! Meanwhile, I take back what I said above. What I love more than his Mermador, is Randal’s blog. Here he is, on his faucet repair, for example:

I stared at the thing for minutes.  Felt like hours.  I wanted to see into it, to know if it was about to disintegrate or in good condition.  My x-ray vision would not come up no matter how long I stared.  I  placed the wrench and gave it a meager push.  Clockwise to tighten it.  Nothing.  A harder push.  Nothing.  A little more and… it moved!  I stopped.  I was pumped and terrified.  I got really conservative all of a sudden.  Maybe the sixteenth of a turn would be enough.  I ran downstairs to turn the water back on to see if it had stopped leaking.  Sadly, it hadn’t, but I now knew if I could tighten it, I could loosen it.  If I could get it apart, I had a chance of finding the right part on the web and fixing it myself.  No new fixture.  No tearing out tiles.

No, Randal, YOU are MY hero! You are added to the blogroll, Mr. Randal Loves to Pedal, and I have become your biggest fan. You’ve also given me a kick in the pants — I need to REALLY WRITE, more.


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  1. G.G. says

    Good work Randal – It’s always nice to see someone fix something rather than just replacing it. You have a great bathroom there.

  2. Amy Hill says

    This is a wonderful post! By using some old-fashioned ingenuity, Randal was able to save that old bathroom, and a whole lot of money, too! Beautiful bathroom, btw. I wonder how they came up with their color combinations back then. I would decorate this bath with a pink flamingo theme!

  3. Shane Walp says

    That IS a kool bath. Mine is just a plain jane 5′ x 8′ floor, then the tub. I’m dealing with the same thing – a leaky Hot water side. Mine is easier tho as I had to remove all the drywall in the bath. I just took the bath fixture out and soldered a couple caps to the pipes while I make the repairs on the fixture.
    Being OCD (not really) after I get the replacement stems (thanks to the article!) I will soak that fixture in CLR to clean it up inside and out, then get it back in place.

    MY terror comes in installing the 4×4 field tile and making it look good!

  4. says

    I love this bathroom! Pink and black is my favorite combination for vintage bathrooms – so much so that I’m installing one right now. I wasn’t “unlucky” enough (according to most people) to inherit one in my 1954 ranch, so thanks to Pam and RR, I found out where to buy the pink and black tile and I’ll just make my own. B&W tile is the cat’s meow! Also adore the undersink cabinet and floor is fabulous!

    • says

      We have those exact same heating and air vents throughtout our house. I remember when I first looked at the house, I couldn’t figure out what they were having only lived with in-floor vents. Sadly and embarrassingly, I didn’t think about stripping them to the original metal, so I just painted over them (again) to match the wall paint so they would blend in. Wish now that I had taken your approach as they are lovely in their original condition.

    • pam kueber says

      I saw that post, Randal. Was planning on spotlighting it separately. You know how I love pics of the original family….

  5. Heidi Swank says

    Oh my gosh! After much scouring of vintage bathroom pix in books and on RR, we put the same Kohler faucets in our two bathrooms as the existing ones were neither matching nor period appropriate. In the master bath, we ran into the same problem with fitting the faucet into the holes in the sink. I was way too afraid to use the dremel on our lovely blue-green sink as I kept picturing a large crack meandering across the sink due to my inept dremelling. Instead, I spent two long days (10 hours in all) sitting in the blanket-covered princess bathtub with my iPod on slowly making the part of the faucet that goes into the holes smaller. I was so proud when I could show my husband that it worked! As always on RR, its so great to read that my husband and I aren’t the only ones who are such sticklers for the details. 🙂

    Soon we are looking at a big kitchen restoration project and will be putting the matching kitchen faucets in there.

  6. says

    I want a Mermador!! Love it. Love the registers. Love the wallpaper find. (It looks like the one I found under the thermostat). And even more, love the bikes! You’ve reminded me I need to add my Raleigh to my blog. Old bikes are like old houses… built so much better and only getter better with age…

    • says

      Ah bicycles! My first and forever passion! That said, I can’t come across anything, even new things, and not do my best to keep them pretty and in service. I think almost anything will delight people after 30 or so years, provided it is kept nice and functioning. Thanks for reading!

  7. Shane Walp says

    Man that plumbing place needs to be a solid source for vintage goodies. I just found exact replacement stems for my 1954 Briggs bath fixture on thier site.

    Every once in a while you get to do something the easy way, because of someone else’s hard work.

    Thanks Randal!

  8. Mike says

    Wow– what a vintage treasure! MERMADOR?!? Fantastic…

    We have the same toilet and tub as yours in the 1950 house we bought this spring (instead of a vanity we have the coordinating pedestal sink in Ming green by “Standard”). We tore out the tile on the walls and the tub surround that was done in the late 60s (pale pink with olive green veining– really clashed with the Ming), and also ripped up the 80’s vintage vinyl flooring. Most people have loved our vintage bathroom, but some (especially plumbers, it seems) question why we would keep such “antiquated” fixtures. Thanks for helping us to feel not so alone, and keep up the good work! 🙂

  9. Alice says

    Randal – what a great bathroom. Love the under tile double sinks! would love to see the INSIDE of your shower too! Also, looks like you have that same refreshing blue – perhaps in the hall – as I do.

    I shared your blog post with my husband who upon reading it exclaimed “why the x@!& didn’t you share this with me before I began fixing the faucet 8 months ago?”

    sigh. thank you.

  10. pam kueber says

    I’m not sure how it happened, but I got messed up – -Jacob’s correct name is Randal. I am fixing all the posts and comments, too. sorry ’bout that, Randal!

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