This section is from the book "The Principles And Practice Of Modern House-Construction", by G. Lister Sutcliffe. Also available from Amazon: How Your House Works: A Visual Guide to Understanding & Maintaining Your Home.
Sinks are used for various purposes, and are made of several different materials. In small houses and cottages the one sink has to serve for all purposes. In it plates, dishes, and other crockery, vegetables, and the various vessels used in the process of cooking, must all be washed. For this purpose therefore a material that is at once strong, clean, non-absorbent, and inexpensive is needed. Stone is strong enough, but it can scarcely be said to be either clean or non-absorbent, even in its hardest varieties. Slate fulfils all the first three requirements, but is expensive, and is, moreover, liable to crack with excess of heat. The best and cheapest form of sink that is at once strong and cleanly both in fact and in appearance, is one of salt-glazed earthenware (Fig. 273). A cheap but slightly better kind of sink is made of cream-glazed ware (Fig. 274).
Fig. 273-Salt-glazed Earthenware Sink.
Fig. 274 - Cream-glazed Earthernware Sink.
The chief defect of these kinds of sinks is a tendency to wind or twist in the kiln, and unless care be taken in selection, the outlet may prove to be at the highest point of the sink.
A more expensive form of sink, hut on the whole the most suitable for a house where only one scullery sink can be afforded, is that of enamelled fire-clay or porcelain. These sinks are made in the same way and of the same materials as the fire clay baths, and if properly used are of great durability and very clean in appearance.They are frequently damaged by having heavy iron saucepans knocked against the sides or bottom, the enamel being chipped off It is also a common complaint, that chinaware is liable to be broken when being washed in a porcelain sink This sort of damage is little (if any) more liable to occur in a porcelain sink than a stone one, hut the remedy in both cases is the same, viz., to wash the crockery in a wooden tub placed in the sink, and after washing to place the pieces on a wooden drainer.
Porcelain-enamelled cast-iron sinks are also used for scullery work, but are not equal to the fire-clay sink The enamel is much more easily damaged than that of the fire-clay sinks, and when once the iron is exposed, oxidation rapidly occurs, and the appearance and value of the sink quickly deteriorate.
Wood sinks lined with lead1 (Fig. 275) are commonly fixed in pantries and in housemaids' closets. The advantage of the lead is that, compared with iron, fireclay, or stone, it is soft, and therefore fragile things, such as glass and china. are not so liable to be broken by contact with the sides or bottom of the sink. The chief disadvantage is that the lead is readily expanded and contracted by the application of hot and cold water, and the consequence is often a wrinkling or corrugation of the bottom, which is objectionable. The remedy is to make the bottom of 10 or 12 lbs. lead, and the sides and ends of 8 lbs. lead. The bottom lead is lapped over the sides and ends, and the angles formed to a regular hollow with solder. The lead should be returned on the top edges of the sink and covered with a capping of oak fixed with brass cups and screws.
An alternative to the lead is tinned copper, but this is a harder and more expensive material.
For large house where the number of sinks is not limited by considerations of expense, separate sinks should be provided (1) for washing vegetables; (2) for cleaning copper and iron cooking utensils; (3) for washing crockery, glass, and silver. Sometimes sinks are required in nurseries, dairies, and for other special purposes.
Fig. 275 - Wood Sink for Washing Crockery.
1 For the method of lining wood sinks with lead, see pp. 317 nod 318,§ VI.
1. For washing vegetables galvanized-iron sinks are generally considered the best. They should be from 18 to 20 inches deep, in order that green vegetables may float at the top of the water and the grit and dirt fall to the bottom. Such a sink is shown in Fig. 276, with a galvanized-iron strainer and standing waste in one corner. Cast iron sinks may also be used for this purpose, either finished black, or galvanized, or porcelain-enamelled.
2. Galvanized-iron and cast-iron sinks are also suitable for washing copper and iron cooking utensils. Sinks for this purpose vary somewhat in size according to the amount of work to be done, but should be about 2 feet in depth, and the outlet of the waste-pipe should be kept 6 inches above the bottom of the sink, in order to prevent the sand used in scouring pots from being washed down into the drain. Iron sinks should always be flush riveted inside.
A word of caution is necessary with regard to the use of galvanized-iron sinks under certain circumstances. When the water is very soft (as it is, for example, in Glasgow, Sheffield, and Torquay), iron must not be used The action of this class of water is to eat away the zinc and iron, and this at so rapid a rate that twelve months will often suffice to wear out the bottom. Under conditions such as these, the sinks for the purposes referred to above should be made of copper, or lined with it.
3. For washing crockery, glass, and silver, the best kind of sink is one made of wood; and the best kind of wood for the purpose is selected (or "picked") American birch, but pine, teak, and sycamore are also suitable. The sink is constructed, as shown in Fig. 277, with wood 2 inches thick, held together by galvanized-iron bolts and nuts, the joints being tongued and grooved, and filled with a thin layer of red-lead and rushes. In very large establishments, it is convenient to have sinks for washing plates and dishes arranged in pain, CM being for washing, and the other for rinsing. These sinks should be about 2 feet 6 inches long, 1 foot 8 inches wide, and 1 foot 1 inch deep. For houses of more moderate aire, a depth of 11 inches is sufficient For washing glass, the smaller class of crockery, and silver, a sink about 2 feet long, 1 foot 6 inches wide, and 9 inches deep is a convenient size. Slate sinks are useful for steeping salt meat and for pickling hams, but are not to be recommended for washing-up purpose on account of their liability to split with hot water, and their tendency to leak unless supported on solid brick piers.