Dealing with door knobs

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Sekhmet
Posts: 272
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2011 10:27 am
Location: St. Louis, MO

Dealing with door knobs

Post by Sekhmet »

So, I posted some time ago about the horrible condition of all of our door knobs. Seriously, all of them. I don't want to count them because then I would invariably start multiplying that number by an estimate of $100 to calculate how much it will probably cost, at least, to replace/repair them all.

I have recently (like, 10 minutes ago) realized that my door knobs are all - I think - mortise door lock sets. Please see the photos here: https://picasaweb.google.com/1001135079 ... 361/Doors#

For example:
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(I told you they are in horrible condition. Where they will latch, it typically involves slamming the door.)

I'm about to start buying replacements, because my researching has led me to the conclusion that they probably cannot be salvaged, unfortunately. (Of course, feel free to shake me if you disagree. You all probably don't need permission to do that. :))

Assuming these are indeed "mortise" construction(?), can I just buy new knobs? Or do I have to buy a whole new set including the mortise thing? At least then it would come with nifty keys, but. $$$.
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The Edward A. Ohlms House, c. 1908
Historic Old Town, St. Charles, Missouri

JRC
Posts: 285
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 3:15 pm
Location: Youngstown, Ohio

Re: Dealing with door knobs

Post by JRC »

What's wrong with your door knobs? I see what looks like a little paint, and some scratches by the keyhole. If they don't work properly, they might just need opened up and cleaned out/oiled and maybe new springs, or something. Another reason old doors don't latch, is because the house has settled, and the lockset is out of alignment. This last is a big problem in my house, because people just lived with it for years.

Lynners
Posts: 584
Joined: Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:44 pm
Location: Minesing, Ontario

Re: Dealing with door knobs

Post by Lynners »

Definitely don't jump to buy new sets just yet! Take 'em apart and see what you can do about repairing them yourself.

I restored a cast iron rim lock from useless to functional, and it cost me zero dollars (well, I do need to buy two set screws).

http://www.firsthomedreams.com/2012/01/lock-it-up.html

I've taken apart the only mortise lock we have in our house too, just to have a peek, and it wasn't all that different from the rim lock.
The Carson Farmhouse, 1899
Minesing, Ontario, Canada
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http://www.firsthomedreams.com

Sekhmet
Posts: 272
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2011 10:27 am
Location: St. Louis, MO

Re: Dealing with door knobs

Post by Sekhmet »

Thank you for the replies.

JRC, it isn't the paint. For one thing, it's crooked, and we've been unable to get it aligned properly. More importantly it does not latch properly (barely at all). I only just realized that these are mortise locks and, as such, there is quite a lot going on inside the door that's hidden from the eye... (I just got back from a wonderful hardware shop where the owner showed me the inside of an old mortise that someone had brought in - pretty intricate!) So I will try your suggestion of opening that up and cleaning it out... There is a decent chance it hasn't been cleaned in at least 50 years. And/or, there could be pieces rusted and/or broken, as was the case in the one I saw at the hardware shop.

We actually tried repairing the front door knob (pics not shown), including replacing the spindle, with no luck. I think we will have to pull out the whole assembly and see if we can possibly fix it ourselves. I have looked but, so far, not found anyone local who works on antique lock sets.

I think we might have the wrong spindles and/or set screws and/or even knobs on some doors. Everyone we have talked to seems to think it's pretty simple business, but we've been unsuccessful so far. It is frustrating being unable to figure out why they don't work and/or the knobs fall off.

We have ONE door that works perfectly. Although it feels like tempting fate, maybe we'll take that one apart to see all the proper parts and how it works...
:shock:

Lynners, thanks so much for the link. Wow, that one was dirty inside. I do wonder if many of mine look like that.

The guy at the hardware shop mentioned using "liquid graphite" for oiling the locks inside - is anyone familiar with that?
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The Edward A. Ohlms House, c. 1908
Historic Old Town, St. Charles, Missouri

MrGrady
Posts: 99
Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 9:07 pm
Contact:

Re: Dealing with door knobs

Post by MrGrady »

So much of this old hardware is serviceable. I fixed my screen door latch with a pen spring and a can of WD-40. :)
The Birdsall House- Built 1868, Queen Anne renovation 1895
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jwesevich
Posts: 399
Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2008 8:42 pm
Location: E Greenwich RI

Re: Dealing with door knobs

Post by jwesevich »

Yeah, I would definitely start taking things apart and seeing what you can see. I was able to get just about everything working, and the couple that were an issue I used a dremel to fix the holes in the catch to fit. Couple of pen springs; backplates boiled; paint removed; polished or repainted; wd40 (or graphite); and a couple of "generic" skeleton keys...

jeff
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Emma F. Brown House 1897
Model for: Barber's "Modern Dwellings" Catalog 27E
"Vinyl is just a fancy name for Plastic"

mross_pitt
Posts: 745
Joined: Tue Oct 11, 2005 3:37 pm

Re: Dealing with door knobs

Post by mross_pitt »

Agreed, they should all be fairly easily fixable.

Stripper or boiling water, black paint, WD40, etc.

If you would do something silly like replacing them all, at the very least sell them or give them to a salvage shop. They cost about $50 at our local salvage place(and that's in rusty barely working condition).

Sekhmet
Posts: 272
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2011 10:27 am
Location: St. Louis, MO

Re: Dealing with door knobs

Post by Sekhmet »

mross_pitt wrote:If you would do something silly like replacing them all, at the very least sell them or give them to a salvage shop. They cost about $50 at our local salvage place(and that's in rusty barely working condition).
Yes, they are quite expensive. I have looked for matching old knob sets to use to replace these, hoping to go that route rather than replicas. And actually, if I replaced them, I was planning to put all them in a box in the basement with a tag on each set stating what door they were taken from & on what date.
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The Edward A. Ohlms House, c. 1908
Historic Old Town, St. Charles, Missouri

Sekhmet
Posts: 272
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2011 10:27 am
Location: St. Louis, MO

Re: Dealing with door knobs

Post by Sekhmet »

When you guys say "pen springs," are you literally referring to the spring one might steal from a pen??
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The Edward A. Ohlms House, c. 1908
Historic Old Town, St. Charles, Missouri

jwesevich
Posts: 399
Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2008 8:42 pm
Location: E Greenwich RI

Re: Dealing with door knobs

Post by jwesevich »

Yep, those size/type--that's what puts the spring in your mortise lock. :)

jeff
Image
Emma F. Brown House 1897
Model for: Barber's "Modern Dwellings" Catalog 27E
"Vinyl is just a fancy name for Plastic"

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