Pocket Door Repair

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Pocket Door Repair

Post by Greg »

I just completed fixing a couple of pocket doors on my old house which was built around 1910. I searched the web for specific information and did not find exactly what I needed so I'm posting here for others who might find themselves in the same situation. Most all of this is difficult to explain in words. These pocket doors seem to throw one obstacle after another in your way. This was one of the most exasperating jobs I've encountered in trying to get my house in shape.

The most recent patent number on the hardware for the pocket doors I have are dated 1894 by Lane Bros. On these doors, there is no adjustment to raise (or lower) the doors without actually removing them. To get to the heart of the matter the doors need to be removed and then the actual wheel needs to be turned to raise (or lower) the door. The wheel is attached to a large bolt that actually screws into the top of the door. If you want to raise the door, you need to screw the bolt in deeper. The space for further depth of this bolt may have to be carved out deeper in the holes in the top of the door.

You will need to slide the wheels of the door off the track. The screws that attach the track need to be removed at the point where the two sections of the track meet. If the two sections of the track meet in the middle you are in better shape. On one set of my doors the sections met about 1/3 of the way. If that is the case keep in mind that you may have a problem removing one of the door wheels. It is also very important that you put the doors back in a proper order. You might run out of room as you slide the door.

If you need to raise the door you might notice that the slot above your head (the space in which the track is housed) may need to me widened. That is, if you raise the door it needs to be able to slide up into this slot. The slot on one set of my doors was fine. On the other however I needed to use a circular saw to make the space wider. I know, ugh! The also meant removing the molding that meets along the slot space.

Once you slide the wheels off the track you will need to remove the screws (two) that hold the wheel assembly into the top of the door. The problem here if that you have very little room in which to work. I mean very little! There is no room for a screw driver so a ratchet wrench with a screw driver tip is the best bet. It has to be a very small, rather thin, wrench to fit into the area in which you are working. Since you're dealing with an old house these screws have probably been on for decades and are not that easy to remove. Also be careful, the head of the screws are probably wider then the screw driver bit and they are very easy to strip.

I guess the biggest problem is getting the wheel assembly attached back on the door while working in that small space. The door will bend out only so far and you need to be gentle when working with all of this. Although I must also say that these things were built to be very sturdy and lasting. I just don't know how one would go about replacing any of these parts.

Here is another really lovely part of the job. It's really not possible to tell if you adjusted the doors properly until you put it all back together. Yes, ugh. If one door is higher then the other, they will not meet properly in the middle and there will be a space. I adjusted my doors up about a 1/2 inch but did have to remove them to fine tune the height.

My doors were rubbing along the floor and I needed to have them higher. It may have been possible to actually saw the bottom of the door and avoid all the above. It would take a very delicate saw and touch to get an even line and not hit the floor. I'm not sure that this would be a good alternative to removing and adjusting the doors but I did think about it.

A few other tips... Have plenty of vinyl or latex gloves. It is a messy job with all the old fine black dirt that collects around these doors. In fact, this job is very tough on hands so be careful and wear heavier gloves when you can. As you know, these doors can be really heavy too.

The may be a little latch at the back of the door that keeps the door from sliding all the way out. I used a piece of duct tape and slid is back there which was just enough to keep the latch from falling into position.

I did read somewhere to be careful if you intend to oil the wheels. I think WD-40 for example may attract dust. My wheels seemed to be lubricated fine even after all these years.

Best of luck. Hope this was of some help.

Post by Greg on behalf of Rabbit

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Post by raymanretro »

Here`s an illustration of the wilcox rollers in my house. At the edge of the door the mechanism has a little metal door that slides up and the adjustment screw is underneath to rais or lower the door. These rollers are very quiet when working prooperly. Over time our headers had sagged in the middle and all the adjustment had been used up so I had to remove the doors and cut a 1/4" off the top of the door. The wheels are pressed on but not really tight so getting a small pry bar in the jamb I was able to get the wheels off the axel then realease the stops on the door slide it oud into the opening and swing the bottomout untill the door comes out at the top. It`s been one of the most frustrating jobs but I am very proud of them now. :D

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