Friday, August 21, 2009

New Windows!!!

Oh, not for me. God no. No, my neighbor just put new windows in to his old Victorian. To his credit, he did not put in vinyl. He did the right thing and put in top of the line Anderson windows. They are wood with an aluminum clad exterior that has a nice, historic color. The reason I’m so excited about it is because I get old wavy glass and old rusty, painted over hardware. Wooo-Hooo!

Most of the original hardware was gone, but from the downstairs windows I salvaged 7 sash locks and 5 sash lifts. I’ll go over this weekend to see what is worth salvaging from the upstairs windows. The deal is, if I want the hardware I must take the whole window. Sadly, the glass is a little smaller than my windows, so I can’t use that. Still, it has got to be good for something.

After I boil everything for about an hour in a water and TSP mix I’m left with the murky, toxic brew seen above. Normally, this will take 90% of the paint off metal hardware. For the sash lifts, this worked great. For the locks, not so much. This boiling method seems to have almost no effect on the catch part of the lock. I attribute this to the sun. Normally, metal hardware won’t spend 120 years exposed to the sun. Sash locks get the sun all day, every day. The back side of the catch really has no escape. The paint gets baked on.

I tried using a wire brush wheel on the Rotozip. It worked, but sometimes took off more than it should. I switched to a nylon brush wheel, but the individual strands on the brush were too big to get in to the detail. I didn’t have as much trouble with the sash lock I cleaned last week that came off my windows. It is very odd. I may try good, old fashioned methylene chloride paint stripper next.

After the nylon brush, I spent some quality time with a utility knife and sand paper and ended up with the results seen above. It was about 10 minutes of work on the sash lock and almost nothing on the sash lift.

The interesting thing about these is that they are about 30% smaller than the locks and lifts in my house, and my neighbors house is about 30% smaller than my house. Did they really go to that much trouble to size the sash locks and lifts to a particular scale of the house? The other interesting thing is that the catch and handle of the sash locks are identical - except for the size - as the locks in my house, but the base and locking arm are a different style. Must be the same manufacturer.


Jayne said...

After cleaning, that's really pretty. Wonder what mine look like under all their layers of paint? Your house & mine are about the same age, so I'm hoping my sash locks are similar.

Eva said...

How lovely! At least you can feel like you're uncovering some real treasure after all your hard work. ;)

Karen Anne said...

When I stripped the hardware in my old bungalow, I put it to soak in a glass baking dish with some stripper. In retrospect, probably not environmentally couth, but it worked well. A toothbrush easily took off the paint after it had soaked for awhile.

Gloves, safety glasses, all that stuff, for sure.

Kathy said...

I love the detail!!! Our house was built after 1900 so most of the hardware is very plain. I really like the Victorian era, so much drama! I have so many different styles of hardware on my windows; it's hard to tell what the original looked like. Good luck! :-)

Greg said...


Yes, the stripper works well, for sure, but like you said, it is nasty. Especially when it starts flying around from the toothbrush.

Try the boiling method next time. You'll be amazed at how well it works for door hardware and hinges. Things that aren't baked in the sun.

Anonymous said...

they're beautiful, thanks for showing them to us. i often think of your himalayan labor in cleaning the tiles from the jack london bar, and what tales they must have to tell.

HPH said...

Score! And yes, you will find a very creative way to use the beautiful wavy glass.

Jessica said...

I have just started the huge project of stripping all of the hinges and doorknobs in my house, and I used the nasty method of chemical stripper + brush. I would love to avoid that mess by using your boiling approach. In what ratio do you mix the TSP and water?

Greg said...


There is no real science to it. In fact, it might work just as well without the TSP. If you look at that first picture of the pot before I had the water, you can see the little pile of TSP at the upper right. I would say it is about a teaspoon.


anj said...

Lurking again, but wanted to say - Those are beautiful. I have soaked some painted hardware in Coca-Cola - took the paint right off with just a quick brush.