This Old Sink... made of concrete?

phillyvictorianDecember 25, 2007

I've got an old sink that I'm guessing was used for laundry in the rear of my 1914 home. It's VERY heavy duty... the walls are about an inch and a half thick and made of stone (or concrete?). Can anybody tell me more about this sink? Is it worth keeping?

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I've got one just like it except for the color scheme. Some day I'll take it out and use it for a flower bin but right now our washing machine drains into it. It's concrete.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2007 at 11:13PM
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"Can anybody tell me more about this sink?"
Oh, the fond memories of my childhood this brings back.

Before the advent of automatic washers we had the old wringer washing machines and the laundry sink was a vital part of the laundry process. In those days the old wringer washers had casters on the legs so you could roll it to a corner for storage and roll it out on laundry day. In addition to the wringer washing machine you needed a minimum of one laundry tub. For most people that was just a #2 galvanized washing tub and some form of table or stand to put it on when needed. The more affluent amongst people had a single or double galvanized laundry tub on a caster leg base that could also be stored in a corner or rolled out on laundry day, but if you were a person of means you had a dedicated laundry room with a built in single or preferably a double concrete laundry tub such as yours.

When you had a double tub one tub was filled with hot water and used to "pre-soak" work clothes or items that were heavily soiled. You then set the washing machine in front of the sink and fill the washing machine with hot water. You would take the clothing from the pre-soak and pass it through the wringer to transfer it from the sink to the washing machine. The laundry detergent was put in the washing machine and once the clothing was transferred from the pre-soak to the washing machine you would agitate it in the washing machine for 15 minutes, at which time you rotated the wringer head from the pre-soak tub to the rinse tub. The rinse tub was filled with hot water and you added "bluing" to the rinse water. (bluing was blue cake like material that you melted in a small pot of water on the stove then poured into the laundry rinse water in the same manner as we now put the blue dye material in a toilet tank.)
The clothes were then taken one piece at a time and passed through the wringers from the washing machine to the rinse tub where they soaked in the rinse water about 10 to 15 minutes while you loaded the next load from the pre-soak tub to the washing machine.
You then passed the clothes from the rinse tub one more time, only this time they went into your laundry basket to be taken to the drying process.
In those days we all had energy efficient maintenance free dryers (a couple hundred feet of rope and a bag of clothes pins).
In the 50's the old wringer washers began to give way to the new space age technology of automatic washers and as people got the new automatic washers they no longer had need of the old washing tubs. Some were kept as utility sinks but most were simply broken up with a sledge hammer and carried out.

There was a time when a double concrete laundry sink was a sigh of affluence and in some areas there is a high demand for the old concrete laundry tubs for high end renovations of the old Victorian homes. In fact, there is a contractor in my area that specializes in Victorian renovations and whenever we run across one of the old concrete sinks to be torn out he will pay us $50 or $75 for it, plus he provides all the labor to remove it.

The only major difference today is that the original faucets will not pass code because the opening of the faucet is below the flood level rim of the sink. Code now requires the lowest point of the faucet to be a minimum of 2" higher than the flood level rim.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2007 at 10:50AM
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I demo'd ours (exactly the same) into manageable chunks with a 4lb hammer since I didn't have the room for it. Very easy to do. BTW, the curved rim seemed to be made of lead. If I had the room I would have kept it, if only to save the cost of replacement with something half the size (and perhaps half as useful).

    Bookmark   December 26, 2007 at 4:58PM
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coolvt made my day. I'm affluent! I will visit my bank today. With that information I don't see how they can turn me down for the loan on the Rolls Royce that I've been wanting.
Seriously, I enjoyed the information that you shared. I do remember the wringer washers and remember the kid across the street who had his arm run up through the's didn't release as it was supposed to.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2007 at 8:23AM
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Funny you should mention the kid with his arm in the wringer.

One time when i was about 5 years old my mother was doing washing and she went to answer the phone. While she was gone I got the stupid idea to help her so i began feeding clothes into the wringer and I got caught in it. The wringer literally lifted me off the stool I was standing on and by the time my mother heard me screaming and go to the machine i was suspended in mid air hanging out of the wringer. Some of the later model machines had a panic bar on the wringer that would instantly release the tension but such was not the case on the one I got into. Mother simply threw the wringer in reverse and wound me out, then took me to the hospital.

To this day I have scars between the pinkie finger and ring finger on my left hand where they stitched my hand back together and a nasty burn scar in my left armpit where the wringer roller kept on eroding away at my skin while my shoulder was pressed against the wringer body.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2007 at 8:51AM
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I have one at my mother house. I have the overhead plumbing and a clamp on faucet probably a gerber.

I need to temporarily move the tub and need to unclamp the faucet from the tub to avaid cutting and water lines.

Can anytone tell me how to do the unclamping.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 5:00AM
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Most of the clamps just have a square head 1/4-20 bolt on the backside. Loosen the bolt and it should lift off.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 6:55AM
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I'm no expert, but over on the kitchens forum there is a lot of talk about SOAPSTONE counters and sinks. I believe what you have is made of soapstone and would be very desirable to many people.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 8:18PM
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Our 1930's house has one too. I love the thing, but paint flakes from it were getting into everything, so I decided to restore it. Put it up on jack-stands and stripped it down to bare concrete. The rim on mine is definitely steel, not lead. The old valves require new washers and packing every now and then, but still work pretty good.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 10:59AM
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I too suspect it is soapstone, with a lot of paint and other crud caked on over it.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 1:55PM
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That's a beauty! Are those the jack stands in the picture?
BTW, Does anyone know where to get bases for old soapstone sinks? We have a big, double sing that we want to install in our new house, but I wanted to use old-fashion cast-iron style legs or base for it.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 11:40PM
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I have a triple concrete sink, I'd like to sell and purchaser must remove.
I live in Brisbane, QLD.

Make me an offer I can't refuse

Cheers Bex

    Bookmark   January 9, 2011 at 1:51AM
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Soapstone with metal bead for the upper edge.

You can tell by the age they last a LONG time.

If I see one going out that is not broken I pick it up, even paying for them if the owner wants (though they save $ by not paying a removal fee).

    Bookmark   January 9, 2011 at 9:25AM
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One that looks like that could be either soapstone or concrete.

Our sink from 1947 looked the same, but ours appeared to have been cast since a metal twin drain was set within the material itself. Ours had separate holes for each basin, but only one exit hole underneath.) And the edge was lead on ours, too.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2011 at 9:49PM
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I'm not an expert by any means, but looking at the front sloped piece of that sink at the top, it looks more like a slab which was stuck on rather than concrete which would have poured in one continious piece. Based on that, I would think it's soapstone. Clean it up and use it somewhere in the house. Would be great.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2011 at 10:38AM
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I also have one just like it. Its in excelent shape -nice-
but I am remodeling the space in my basement for a bathroom and it is just taking up too much space.
Does anyone have advice on how I should get rid of it--is there anyone who BUYS em?
Someone PLEASE let me know what I should do with it. I am disabled and unable to lift/carry it out.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 7:22PM
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There was one in our laundry room but it had been tortured over the years. Contacted local salvage shops, each of which declined it, citing the several they each had and couldn't sell.
I ended up cracking it into small pieces with a 5 lb. hammer and carrying it out.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 12:32AM
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I wish I had one in my utility room even though there is a cement one in the detached garage. I am going to install one in the utility room, but it will probably be a single and sadly, plastic. Sometimes there are things that need to be cleaned that just won't fit in the kitchen sink and I don't want to use the bathtub.

The "pup" missed a couple of points on the efficiency. First, a double sink allows you to have two rinses. You save a lot of water that way. The first one gets the rough stuff out and the second one is a polish. Normally, on wash day you start with hot water and whites. You move on to light colors and the water is cooler. You finish with bright and then dark. This is all with the same washer-load of soapy water changing the rinse if necessary. if the family is big, or the kids got into making mud pies, you might change the wash water.

It is an especially efficient way to wash clothes for a small family compared to running the washer for partial loads so things can be separated.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 8:05PM
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Mine fell off the stand, but I love it. Any suggestions as to how to get it off the floor and back on to the stand? Really heavy.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 5:03PM
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Just wondering if anyone can help.
I also have one of the old concrete twin tubs.
It was in an outdoor laundry. We decided to keep it to use as an outdoor feature (Put a slatted and hinged top on it for a table and/ or ice for parties etc)..
Problem is.. we couldn't get the concrete legs out as they were embedded into the floor and therefore was demolished with the rest of the house.
Does anyone know where I can get a pair of the concrete legs from? (Adelaide, SA, Australia)

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 6:22PM
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