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The Strange Case of the Collyer Brothers 1947 - Floor Loading Check anyone?

The Strange Case of the Collyer Brothers 1947 - Floor Loading Check anyone?

The Strange Case of the Collyer Brothers 1947 - Floor Loading Check anyone?

(OP)
So came across this story. I've investigated many old structures built between 1910 and 1950 and generally have a good feel for the structural framing.
Typically multi-wythe brick load-bearing walls with wood floor joists and wood sub-flooring. Some cases you would have light steel "joists" typical of the time.

So these two recluse brothers were hoarders and when the police broke into their home upon reports of a dead body, they could hardly get into the space due to all the junk.
Sometimes junk up to the ceiling.

Made me wonder what the floor load capacity was with those areas filled with books and papers.

https://www.vintag.es/2018/05/the-collyer-brothers...

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RE: The Strange Case of the Collyer Brothers 1947 - Floor Loading Check anyone?

I think back then, people didn't run as close to yield limits as they do now, as they didn't have the computing power to prove that then could get away with it. My parents house, built in 1926, had no 2x4s anywhere as structural members; the studs were 4x4s, and were rough cut, so much closer to 4x4 than what you might use today. Likewise, joists were pretty large too.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: The Strange Case of the Collyer Brothers 1947 - Floor Loading Check anyone?

(OP)
I just looked at a house that had 2x8 main level floor joists @ 18" o.c. and 2x6 second floor joists @ 18" o.c.
2x4 roof rafters at 24" o.c.

Flimsy!

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RE: The Strange Case of the Collyer Brothers 1947 - Floor Loading Check anyone?

When I was looking at buying a house, old houses held up a lot better than newer ones. There were old houses that were 50-60 years old that were in better shape than newer ones that were 15 years old. The only mark against them in my opinion was that the layout felt and arrangements felt old. I suppose that is a plus if you like an old timey feel. That worried me about older houses was evidence of termite treatment but that shouldn't be an issue if it was controlled. The older house did feel like they could last 50 more years with maintenance.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.

RE: The Strange Case of the Collyer Brothers 1947 - Floor Loading Check anyone?

This hoarding stuff still goes on. Just do a look at the many cable channels these days and there are several similar cases and folks unwilling to get rid of any of these treasures filling rooms that seem to carry the load without failing..

RE: The Strange Case of the Collyer Brothers 1947 - Floor Loading Check anyone?

According to Wikipedia, the Collyer house was 1500 sf, which makes the 140 tons of stuff work out to 187 lb/sf. It's not overly impressive. I can't figure out how they managed to fit FIVE grand pianos into a relatively small house, along with all the other furniture they must have had.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: The Strange Case of the Collyer Brothers 1947 - Floor Loading Check anyone?

(OP)
187 psf is way over a typical residential live load (40 to perhaps 60 psf back in the day). And way beyond the resulting safety factors of 2 to 3 that perhaps existed back then.

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RE: The Strange Case of the Collyer Brothers 1947 - Floor Loading Check anyone?

JAE:

Are you sure those floor joists weren't petrified?

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA)


RE: The Strange Case of the Collyer Brothers 1947 - Floor Loading Check anyone?

JAE,

The house was described in the article as some sort of mansion. This would mean somewhat better than average construction. All of the stuff that was shoddily built back then has fallen down or has been demolished. Has quality really gone down?

--
JHG

RE: The Strange Case of the Collyer Brothers 1947 - Floor Loading Check anyone?

(OP)
drawoh,
You are probably right. I lived in a 1929 large house in college and when we remodeled a bathroom we discovered the floors were framed with shallow depth steel bar joists with the wire-reinforced black paper "decking" between and a thin concrete floor on top of that.

But still, 187 psf? And that is an average load.
Even with steel joists I would bet that some portions of that floor were near collapse or possibly inelastic.

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RE: The Strange Case of the Collyer Brothers 1947 - Floor Loading Check anyone?

The earth was smaller back then and gravity was less...

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA)


RE: The Strange Case of the Collyer Brothers 1947 - Floor Loading Check anyone?

(OP)
But Mike, I'm sure you work with architects where "less is more"!

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RE: The Strange Case of the Collyer Brothers 1947 - Floor Loading Check anyone?

Have to give you that JAE - all too often...

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA)


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