i made some french toast with a side of kielbasa sausages for lunch. i used wheat bread - which although healthy - don't make the best french toast (a bit lacking in flavor). the weather was grey and cold throughout the day and began to rain a little bit in the afternoon.
i went to the locksmith in porter square to see if they had any skeleton keys that'd fit my locks. i bicycled there in the light drizzle, alternating my hands from the handlebars to blow hot air into them to keep warm. the guy making keys behind the counter was a dead ringer for martin starr. it took a moment before he turned to me and asked, "can i help you?" i showed him the opened mortise lock body and asked if he had a skeleton key that'd work with the lock. he looked at it for a while without speaking, and then reached behind him onto his wall of keys and picked one out. "try this one," he said, returning to his key grinding. i fit the key into the keyhole and it turned effortlessly. however, i didn't like the look (cheap plastic tip), and asked him if he had an all-metal alternative. he said no, i asked if he was sure, eyeballing the section of other skeleton keys hanging behind him. "i'm sure. who do you think knows more about keys? the guy who works here 8 hours a day? that's the only one we have." he explained the other keys were blanks and needed filing before they'd work. that ugly looking plastic-on-metal skeleton key ended up costing me $5 before taxes. at the very least i have one key that works; i can now troll flea markets, ebay, craig's list, and other venues looking for additional skeleton keys. the key itself isn't very complicated, and if i was really desperate, i'm sure i could whittle a spare out of a stick or jerry-rig a replacement with some spare household items.
after debating whether or not to soak the back plates in paint thinner to remove the remaining paint, i decided to go with a 3rd coat of citristrip. the face plates attached to the mortise lock bodies were fine, and one of the back plate was already pretty much paint free, so i just coated the 3 remaining plates. results from the 3rd stripping was better but i'm still not entirely finished. that one back plate with just a bit of paint came out clean. the two plates from the bathroom were much improved but needed one more coat before they'd be completely clean.
i finally finished the rest of my leftover mexican soup for dinner. afterwards i went ahead and applied the 4th coat of citristrip. i did some online research to find out more about my particular set of mortise locks, and discovered that they're in the eastlake ceylon style manufactured by the corbin hardware company around 1895. a complete set came with some awesomely ornate brass doorknobs but alas the ones i have at home are just plain porcelain ones.