window springs
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woodturner



Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 73
Location: Western Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 8:19 am    Post subject: window springs Reply with quote

In reading everything I can find on repairing double hung wood windows, I find information on weights and pulleys, and sash pins.

My windows have springs - coil springs, one on each side of the lower sash, that attaches to a pin in the top of the side rail of the jamb. So the spring is extended when the window is closed, and retracts when the sash is lifted. Sort of like a garage door extension spring.

Has anyone encountered this arrangement? Anything I need to know to repair these windows? It seems pretty simple - I'm assuming I should just lift the sash until the spring is lose, then unscrew the attachment point?

Thanks.
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johnleeke
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Joined: 20 Aug 2004
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Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Terry Meany may cover this type of spring balance in his book, Working Windows.

Maybe someone who has a copy of his book at hand can check that.

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woodturner



Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 73
Location: Western Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 1:33 pm    Post subject: I've looked at that book Reply with quote

Thanks for the suggestion.

I've actually looked at the "Working Windows" book, both versions ("short" and "long"). He's one that seems to say there are either:
1. weights
2. sash pins

and to not touch them if they aren't one of those two, because they are fixed windows that are not intended to open.

However, my windows have springs and were clearly intended to open ( and do open - well, most of them :-)
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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I grew up in a house built in 1950 that had this type of spring balance. During the two decades I lived there, and the next three decades I helped my folks take care of the place, they never failed so I never learned anything about maintaining or repairing them. Over half a century of trouble free life is a pretty good record.

It's a shame they don't make the cheesey vinyl windows that good.

I expect some simple mechanical problem solving would work. Take them apart, see how the parts function, repair or replace any damaged or broken parts, clean up the rest and put it back together.

You can probably get direct replacement parts from Blaine Window Hardware Co.

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Harold Pomeroy



Joined: 26 Apr 2006
Posts: 25
Location: Chesham Station, NH

PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

These sound like metal spiral balances from the 1950's.

I encountered some of these with a weird screw nail holding the balance at the top. It was a spiral nail with a slot for a screw driver. When I unscrewed it, the spiral balance spun and shot the screw across the room. I installed sheet rock screws for the next guy. I think you're supposed to un-hook the bottom first, but there was too much rust on the hardware on the bottom sash, and paint on the top sash hardware, to allow that.

Those balances work a lot better if you clean the spiders and dust out, and lubricate the moving parts with light oil. Also, wax the outside of the balance. That tube stays put when the sash is raised or lowered, and cutting down on the friction in that groove makes the sash slide better.

Harold
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woodturner



Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 73
Location: Western Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 4:43 am    Post subject: These are coil springs Reply with quote

Harold Pomeroy wrote:
These sound like metal spiral balances from the 1950's.

I encountered some of these with a weird screw nail holding the balance at the top. It was a spiral nail with a slot for a screw driver. When I unscrewed it, the spiral balance spun and shot the screw across the room. I installed sheet rock screws for the next guy. I think you're supposed to un-hook the bottom first, but there was too much rust on the hardware on the bottom sash, and paint on the top sash hardware, to allow that.


If I am understanding your description correctly, your springs sound like a flat spring, like a clock or watch spring. Something like this, maybe
http://www.springcompany.com/Window%20Mfg.htm

My springs are coil springs, like a garage door extension spring or a screen door closer spring. They don't "unwind" but just stretch out. Something like these springs
http://www.mastercoil.com/product2.html

The "screw nail" comment is interesting - I wonder if that's what I have. The posts definitely have a screw head, but they do look a little odd.

Thanks for your comments.
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jade



Joined: 11 Feb 2005
Posts: 786
Location: Hawley MA

PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm, you've got me stumped on the springs...never come across that type...
The 'screw nail', in my experience, is typically an aluminum nail with a spiral thread and a very slight notch for using a screwdriver. I think they are used with a 'one time use' in mind as they are not very sturdy. If replacing, I suggest using a small square or phillips head....

Woodturner, are you able to submit a photo of your springs?

...Jade
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woodturner



Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 73
Location: Western Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 7:08 am    Post subject: I'll post a picture Reply with quote

jade wrote:
Hmmm, you've got me stumped on the springs...never come across that type...

Woodturner, are you able to submit a photo of your springs?

...Jade


Thanks again for all the help.

I thought about posting a picture, actually, but didn't have time before leaving this morning to do it. I'll try to either find a picture on the web or post a picture in the next day or so.

I can try explaining in a bit more detail, that might help. The spring is a coil of wire, like a slinky. One end attaches to the side jamb near the top, the other end to the lower sash. When the window is closed, the spring is stretched out. When the window is open, the spring is relaxed.

Hmm, I don't think I've ever had the upper sashes open, and I don't remember a spring on those. Maybe I have single hung windows.

I'll check this all out and try to post picture by Monday.
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woodturner



Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 73
Location: Western Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2006 6:27 pm    Post subject: Pictures!! Reply with quote

[quote="jade"]
Woodturner, are you able to submit a photo of your springs?

...Jade[/quote]

OK, if I did this right, pictures are below of the spring, handle, and latch. It turns out that I will need some of all three - after careful inspection, I find that some are missing on some windows.

Any ideas on sources for replacement parts?



window latch resized.jpg
 Description:
This is the window latch
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window latch resized.jpg



window handle resized.jpg
 Description:
This is the window handle
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window handle resized.jpg



window spring resized.jpg
 Description:
This is the window spring
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window spring resized.jpg


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woodturner



Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 73
Location: Western Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2006 6:28 pm    Post subject: better detail picture of spring Reply with quote

Here is a close up of the spring


window spring detail.JPG
 Description:
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window spring detail.JPG


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jade



Joined: 11 Feb 2005
Posts: 786
Location: Hawley MA

PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2006 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

R...
I've never come across anything like that spring...is that an aluminum jamb liner? The the lock, handle and springs, try www.mcmaster.com and do a search under all three items. I wonder, is it just a case of replacing the spring?
Depending on how much you want to invest, the hardware is available in solid brass or brass coated steel and there are many suppliers. I like Walter Phelps Co in Brattleboro VT.

Is that privacy glass I see in the sash with the handle--a bathroom window?

...Jade
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woodturner



Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 73
Location: Western Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 6:17 am    Post subject: Almost Reply with quote

jade wrote:
R...
I've never come across anything like that spring...is that an aluminum jamb liner? The the lock, handle and springs, try www.mcmaster.com and do a search under all three items. I wonder, is it just a case of replacing the spring?
Depending on how much you want to invest, the hardware is available in solid brass or brass coated steel and there are many suppliers. I like Walter Phelps Co in Brattleboro VT.

Is that privacy glass I see in the sash with the handle--a bathroom window?

...Jade


No, it's not an aluminum jamb liner - the windows are original wood windows, as far as I can tell. They have been painted in places that ought not be painted :-(

For the spring, the mechanism is just the spring - so if I can find something close, it should work. I'll try the places you suggested. I'll also try the local hardware store - not sure why I didn't think to try them first.

The window with the handle is the bathroom window, but it's not privacy glass, just the window screen showing through the glass.
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johnleeke
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Joined: 20 Aug 2004
Posts: 2961
Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 6:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's the way. Remove the sash and take apart the spring balance system. Consider this a mechanical puzzle, which you must solve as you do the dissassembly, figuring out not only how it comes apart, but also how you will reassemble it later on. BE CAREFUL, those loaded springs can hurt you if they release in an uncontrolled way, zingling parts around the room and into your eyes, pinching and crippling fingers, etc.. Clean up all the parts, removing all grease, grim, grit, paint, etc. Replace or repair broken or missing parts. (Most likely available from Blaine Window Hardware, Inc. Hagerstown, MD 800-678-1919; 301-797-6500; Fax: 888-250-3960, manufacturing and distributing obsolete, hard-to-find and current hardware parts since 1954.

http://www.blainewindow.com

To repair or make parts go to your local machine fabrication or welding shop. If you don't have one make friends with your neighborhood motorcylce or VW Bug mechanics. They are used to solving mechanical puzzles made of metal. If you have to do it yourself and don't know how to get started, read Persig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Do any repairs or maintenance needed on the window sashes, frame and sills. See Save Your Wood Windows at

http://www.historichomeworks.com/hhw/reports/reports.htm#Windows

Re-assemble the spring balance parts and re-install the sash. You may need to make a special tool, jig or fitting to hold springs and parts in place as you assemble them.

Do one window complete before proceeding with the others. If the mechanism is complex, you may have to go through two or three windows before you get the dissassembly/reassembly proceedure down pat. Document your methods in writing and with photos as you go.

Stop back here at the forum with photos and questions if you get stumped, stimied, or stalled.

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by pen and thought best words are wrought
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