Sunday, April 09, 2006

Lockset Archaeology, plus more working lights!

We spent yesterday continuing with the electrical work and moving original parts of the house around. Now, thanks to our Wonderful Freinds, we have a hallway light fixture, and my son's room has light, and things are really moving along that way. So well, in fact, that we need to buy some more wire :)

However, Chris and I did stuff not related to electrical work. We went looking for various bits of hardware that had been relocated over the years and tried to put it back. This kind of thing is one of my favorite rehab activities - I get to play archaeologist.

I was started on that path because our original (now interior, as our porch was enclosed 10 years ago) front door had had its lockset and attendant hardware removed and replaced with a modern Kwikset lockset (YUCK! I despise shiny yellow goldtone) sometime in the last 30-odd years. There have not been any keys for that lockset for nearly 15 years (according to the PO), so we were going to have to remove it, no matter what, and replace it with something that our 3-year-old can't use to permanently exclude us from the house.

I thought of something odd I had seen on the (now interior - also has a now-enclosed porch) back door, involving a knob/key plate that didn't look like it was set right. It looked too large, and the interior one, while smaller, was still larger than the rest of the interior plates. This matched up nicely with the scars on the front door, as did the edge face of the lockset, once we removed the Icky Kwicky lockset and knobs. I delightedly disinstalled the relocated mortise lockset and brought it into the living room, where Chris was working on the door.

Chris observed that the latch was going the wrong way, and said that this must not be the right set. I pointed out that somebody had clearly disassembled the lockbox and removed the deadbolt (I'm guessing about the time the key disappeared) and the button stops (privacy knob-locks). It looks very similar to this repro mortise lockset, but is made of iron with steel working parts. Chris then unscrewed the two screws, pulled out the latch and flipped it over, and put it all back together. After all that, it worked fine and tapped into its original hole perfectly. We still have to strip off the eighty-one billion layers of old paint from the plates, and then refinish them and the knobs, but it already looks a million times better.

Yes, our internal kitchen/back door is now without knobs, but I know where its originals went (and plan to harvest them and replace them), and the latch hadn't lined up with the (wrong) strikeplate for decades anyway. It had locked with first a twist bolt (since painted into oblivion) and then a small surface bolt for ages and ages.

I have ambitous plans for relocating various doors throughout the house so they are more useful (such as the all-glass basement entry and its lovely old wood-framed screen door, the current interior kitchen rear door, and the old kitchen/hall door). There are two non-original, but clearly older, doors that are going to go away to more appropriate homes once the doorway shuffling is complete.

There's also some strangely located edge molding that was stuck into the cellar stair doorway in addition to the stop molding. For no good reason. That will also be removed, stripped and reused in one of the several places such molding was yanked out. But it can wait. Next winter, maybe...

As for future plans, anyone have shellacking or varnishing tips for me? I'll need to coat the cleaned door/window hardware to make it match any non-painted stuff that still exists in the house, as all the hardware was in place when the wood was finished, with shellac. And our windows in the dining room bay need to be refinished, as there's old water damage from before the storm windows went on.

Why is it, that as soon as a task gets struck from the list, two more spring up to take its place?

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