|Midlands Floor Springs Limited||
If you live in and around Derby you may very well be aware of Bennetts the ironmongers starting in 1764 and servicing the Midlands. Today I came across a 400 they supplied to Mickleover Golf Course I believe in the 1970's, safe to say it is now working again.
We took a few 400s and a Monarch to ensure we had the correct one.
Here are some links to Bennetts and the Golf course for those interested.
Is there any one out there who is able to identify this floor spring and willing to share this information?
Below are shots taken from beneath the brass decor plate.
I do know the floor spring was sold by Comyn Ching in or around the 1940's which ties on with the buildings age, built in or around 1935/6.
I suspect these were supplied by John Nicholson furnishing ironmonger and manufactured by Smith and Turner but do accept I may be well wide of the mark on this occasion.
On many occasions I have discussed both Robert Adams and Andrew Smiths floor springs in great detail, however until today I have not combined the two.
Today I would like to introduce to you the Robert Adams Pattern no 177 Spring Hinge which I am sure you will agree is almost identical to Smith's design, hinting at possible collusion between Adams and by the time this model was introduced the company of Smith, Major, Stevens.
The picture below was taken from the Engineers Compendium of 1915, 6 years after Smith, Major, Stevens became a private limited company. The Robert Adams 177 is on the bottom right of the page.
Here is another quick post regarding a single/central spring model floor spring. The Howell was also manufactured by William Newman & Son in or around 1916 and can again be found in their 1916 catalogue.
Please feel free to comment.
Here is another William Newman & Son product that you may find controlling your doors, that being the "Albion." This door spring has no checking action but is similar to the previous blog post in so much it has one large central spring that returns the door to its centre position. William Newman & Son were manufacturing this door spring as early as 1916 and it can be found in their catalogue of the same year.
I hope you have enjoyed this quick post and as always feel free to comment.
Tonight I would like to a quick trip to the other side of the world and introduce readers to the "Bedford" Oil Check Door Spring, manufactured by William Bedford Limited based in Melbourne, Australia at 476 - 490 Little Lonsdale Street.
Regular readers will note the similarities between the "Bedford" and Joseph Bardsley's Checking Spring Hinge which can be found in an earlier blog post. Link below to Ramsay's Architectural Catalogue.
As always please feel free to comment.
Today I would like to introduce readers to John Whimes of Pimlico and his Double Action Box Spring Hinge For Swing Doors.
According to Newton's London Journal of Arts and Sciences Volume 15 Mr Whimes was acknowledged for improvements to double action box springs for swing doors on the 8th of June 1861. Above is the print of his door spring taken from the same book and which can be found in the link below for those interested.
Regular readers of this blog will know by now I have continually tried to discover who was the first to, in modern times, invent the various kinds of door closers and floor springs (predominately those that utilise some sort of spring, but not entirely).
Whilst off work due to my gear box failing on my van I have further scoured the internet and have found the article below from the English Mechanic and Mirror of Science and Arts, Volume 9 (June 18th 1869) pages 382 and 291.
The two companies (name - Smith/family lineage) that are mainly in the frame are Andrew Smith of 69 Princes Street, Leicester Square and Smith (John) of Smith and Turner 50 Bartholomew Close. Whether there is a family connection between these two is still unclear to me, if anyone reading this already knows the answer I would dearly like to hear from them.
"PATENT DOOR-SPRINGS. (ILLUSTRATED on PAGE 291.)
SMITH’S patent door-spring, although the first ever introduced for working the door both ways, still continues to keep up its name; there are many places, we are informed, where these springs have been in use for over forty years—for instance, St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The spring has, of course, been improved since the patent was first granted, and differs from all others in the following respects:—The same spring can be so regulated to work a door from l ft. 6in. square to one 9ft. high by 3ft. 6in. wide. The bearing parts are so well arranged that there is little or no friction, thereby preventing wear. It is strongest when the door is closed, and gradually loses strength as the door is opened. It will not stop open unless fastened, thereby preventing injury through being thrown out of gear. It can be made to describe three-fourths of a circle in opening without injury to the spring. The inside spring when in use is never more than a quarter wound up, which allows for a free - and - easy action, and renders it almost impossible to break.
We have so often received applications for information relating to door spring construction that we think the annexed diagrams will be examined with interest by many of our practical readers.
Our engravings show a sectional elevation of a spring with the shoe fitted to a door; the inside of a spring with levers exposed; the sectional plan for showing the inside of the spring worked for retaining the position of the levers; and the revolving pin and socket, as fitted to the door-top."
As always I look forward to any and all comments.
Before Turner & Co (see previous post), there was the partnership between John Barrow and Thomas Turner, unsurprisingly called Barrow &Turner.
John Barrow was the inventor of Barrow and Turner's first door spring which he patented in 1815, receiving 10 Guineas for his inventiveness and awarded the Silver Isis Medal from the committee for the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce based in London.
Unfortunately I have only the above picture to show for now taken from the Transactions of the Society of Arts, Volume 33 (Google Books). The engraving shows both a double action and a single action door spring.
For those interested further reading with regard to John Barrow's door spring can be found in the link below:
As always please feel free to Comment.
I have recently had an inquiry about this Turner & Co door spring which as you can see is not at its best.
John Barrow (a member of the Zoological Society) and Thomas Turner ceased their partnership in 1845 and continued on as Turner and Son according to the London Gazette (part 1) as can be read in the link https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=fRhKAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA1028&dq=barrow+and+turner+east+street+manchester+square+london&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjmhfnctszcAhWnIsAKHRcaDFIQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=barrow%20and%20turner%20east%20street%20manchester%20square%20london&f=false
After further scouring of the internet I came across reference to "TURNER, T. 38 East St. Marylebone, Manu-Sliding metal sash of improved construction. Door-spring and centre for a door to swing both ways" in the Official Catalogue of The Great Exhibition of the Works of all Nations, 1851 (page 198).
The above design of door spring could in fact be the very same as was shown at the famous "Crystal Palace" Exhibition and I believe may well also have been the starting point for the firm of Smith & Turner as I have previously mentioned in earlier blog posts.
Thank you for your interest and as usual feel free to comment.
I have written a great deal about the Smiths floor spring on this blog and today I will write a little more.
In the English Mechanic and World of Science - Volume 3 - Page 556 from 1866 you will find the advertisement below.
By 1869 we can see in Atchleys Price Book. page 27 none are warranted unless having Smiths name stamped into the decor plate along with the caution against purchasing spurious and inferior "copies."
Seven years later in Spon's Engineers and Contractor's Illustrated Book of Prices of Machines, Tools, Ironwork and Contractors Material for 1876 you will find the this advertisement where as you can see upwards of 40'000 floor springs were in use and you are able to see an accurate rendering of the Trade Mark and address.
Considering the Smiths door spring was still being manufactured in the 1950's and possibly later (you may well have one controlling the door or doors, in your home, your place of worship, your place of study or your place of work) like the one on the right in the first picture below. However if you have one with Smiths name and address stamped in the brass cover plate as on the left, you have a bona fide, guaranteed door spring of some considerable age and character.
In my humble opinion you have a piece of history beneath your feet, something more than a mechanism to control a door, the longevity of which it does so is astounding (as highlighted in previous posts), is of historical importance, should be a source of National pride (along with others) and we should therefore be doing the utmost to restore, protect and ensure its continued use not only as a method of door control but for future generations to wonder over.
If you agree, disagree, like this post or simply want to acknowledge you have a Smiths or any other floor spring for that matter please feel free to comment.
I have mentioned the Robinson System previously but in this blog post I would like to further expand on this model floor spring. Samuel Robinson first invented his swing door hinge in 1863 (Patent number 1689, 7th July 1863) later selling the Patent rights to Messrs. Hart and Co as can be seen in the advertisement above from 1865 and as can be confirmed in the Irish Builder and Engineer, Volume 28, Page 19 (Published in 1886) .
Around 1866/1867 the company merged with Peard and Jackson becoming Hart, Son, Peard & Co, therefore it is reasonable to assume any Robinson floor springs manufactured after this time would have Peard's name incorporated into the advertising.
With the above information and the advertisement on the decor plate we are therefore able to work out that Steve and Sheila's Robinson floor spring must have been manufactured (and presumably installed) around 1865, certainly no later than 1867. Consequently this faithful device must have been controlling these doors for approximately one hundred and fifty three years and we now expect them to be doing the same for another hundred and fifty plus years.
The paper slip that can just about be glimpsed in the bottom of the shoe advises to use finest quality sperm oil as a lubricant.
Following in the foot steps of Sir Winston Churchill, we were called out to repair this non checking Invincible at one of his early haunts. The estates department were told by the carpet fitters. I believe, that they would not get anyone to repair/service this floor spring, safe to say they were wrong! Not only were we able to get it back to working like new we were also able to get around the nearly 1/2 inch difference in the floor heights after the carpet fitters had laid new flooring.
Someone previously had tried to get around the problem of the differing floor heights by placing large washers over the pin with a view to lifting the shoe/door, so I presume it would close. Neither was it closing when we arrived nor was it centering because of these washers. As I have previously stated this method makes the shoe/door loose on the tapered pin and will over time damage the female fitting in the brass shoe.
Please, please carpet fitters/floor layers do not place washers over the pin, contact us instead.
As always feel free to comment.
One of the things I love about my job is the sense of accomplishment I get from helping others as was the case with the Zephyr.
I was contacted by Madelaine with a problem she was having with removing her swing door so her builder could lay a new floor. I am happy to show I was able to help.
As can be seen lateral fine tuning is handled by way of this adjustable strap, being a cheaper option than the adjustable full brass shoe or "adjustabox."
The brass decor plate appears to have cleaned up nicely.
The "Zephyr" was introduced in 1953 by WILLIAM NEWMAN AND SONS Ltd and is in this instance is a hold open type, Madelaine's "Zephyr" however was manufactured in 1966 I believe from seeing this stamped into the top plate.
The floor spring appears to be approximately two thirds of the width of the 400 that I have shown you on many occasions.
It is in someways similar to Joseph Bardsleys floor spring in so much as it has a central piston encased by a single spring.
As usual please feel free to comment and I hope you have enjoyed this post.
I recently worked on these fine single action Gibbons at the Royal Geographical Society, London.
Can anyone tell me why the opposite floor springs have their access holes in differing places as can be seen in pictures 1 and 2?
As I have discussed the AVON at length on the blog previously I will simply say thank you to Tracey B for sending me this picture of one she found at the Lone Star Mexican Restaurant in Buxton Derbyshire.
Please feel free readers to send me any other pictures of floor spring you may happen to come across, I hope to catalogue as many as I am able with a view to writing a book in the future on the subject of door closing devices, their inventors, manufacturers and distributors.
All comments and pictures are greatly looked forward to.
A quick post to show you what I believe to be the earliest Smiths I have yet come across as you can see it is has a different top plate and it appears configuration. The decor plate clearly reads number 203 in the top picture.
In this blog post I would like to reproduce a letter to the editor of the Building News and Engineering Journal (1919), it is self explanatory so I will say no more.
A CENTENARIAN DOOR-SPRING.
To the Editor of The Building News and Engineering Journal. Some years ago we brought to your notice a remarkable example of the length of life of an old door-spring made by Mr. William Smith, of 69, Princes Street, Leicester Square, to whom we are the direct successors. In that case, you may remember, a customer wrote to ask us to supply some new parts tor a pair of springs which had been swinging his shop doors for over fifty years. Our object in reminding you of this is that we have recently had brought to our notice an even more remarkable example of the longevity of the patent "Janus" door- springs.
One of the leading builders in London has been engaged upon some alterations to an old house in one of the squares, and found there a spring made by William Smith and Co. still in use. From the manufacturing number stamped upon it, it is evident that this spring was made long before the other pair, and has, we judge, been working for upwards of 100 years, and, so far as it is possible to say, the original parts had not been renewed, excepting only, perhaps, the coil spring itself. The spring is now at our works, and we should be pleased to show it to anyone who may be interested. We have no hesitation in asserting that this constitutes a record in door-spring life, which must be unique, and your kindly interest in the earlier case has prompted us to inform you of this one.
Yours faithfully, For Smith, Major and Stevens, Ltd.,
Percy C. Major, Director. Abbey Works, Northampton.
Please feel free to comment as always
These are top centres we were asked to produce which will ultimately end up pivoting the 12ft high bronze entrance doors for the BBC's Broadcasting House, as you can see the original was very badly worn.
Please feel free to comment as usual.
I am currently working on ten Robert Adams Sceptre 21's from inner entrance doors to flats in Hampsted, as you can see from the pictures below they are in quite a bad way. Interestingly there are two different variations of the Sceptres in the same building on the same doors as you will see as work progresses.
As you can see the cams are badly worn and will have to be replaced, which then causes problems further along because these were hand finished and the squares filed to fit the recess in each shoe.
Nearly ready to refit.
Work to the guides of the adjustable top centres is also required.
As I have spent a little time of late talking about Smiths door springs I thought I would share with you a quick post in regard to Smiths direct competitor in or around the 1870's, that being Douglas Mole and his Double-Action Spring Hinge.
As you can see Douglas Moles Spring hinge was very similar to Archibald Smiths and may have been one of the reasons (among others) that Smith felt need to advertise the "caution" from the previous post especially as he had made similar improvements to the original Andrew Smith design for adjusting purposes, as spoken about in a previous post.
As always I hope you have enjoyed this post and again as always feel free to comment.
Here's a quick post and caution regarding Smith's door springs copied below from an article/advert from The Mechanics Magazine and Journal of Engineering, Agricultural Machinery, Manufacturers, and Shipbuilding magazine 1859. It is self explanatory so will leave it here for you to enjoy.
TO ARCHITECTS AND BUILDERS.—In consequence of numerous complaints, tho Patentee begs to inform the above, that all genuine SMITH'S PATENT DOOR SPRINGS, for Swing Doors, are stamped with Name and Address, thus--Smith, Patentee, 69 Princes Street, Leicester.Square, London; and that Springs thus marked arc warranted. SMITH'S PATENT WEATHERTIGHT CASEMENT FASTENING AND SILL-BARS arc admitted by all to be the most perfect invention for the purpose. Diagrams and List of Prices on application.
Although this blog is primarily about the many differing door closers and floor springs I come across there are also ancillary products that are equally as important for a door to close behind you once you have passed through, with floor springs it is chiefly the top centre (normal hinges are sometimes used in conjunction with a floor spring). A top centre is the top pivot that sits inline with the pin of the floor spring below and allows the door to swing on its arc.
I would like therefore to take this opportunity to introduce you to Archibald Smith's swing door centre/top pivot/top centre. This particular top centre was introduced to overcome the "evil" of wear which leads to the drooping of doors at the top and the "annoyance" of swing doors banging together as can be read in the above (those Victorians thought of everything). The article is from around 1872 as are the top pivots below which have worn extremely well for their age.
Link to article from The Architect magazine 1872:
The female part of the top centre sits in the top of the door and the male part is let into the header of the door frame
As usual please comment if you have enjoyed the blog post or any other for that matter.
A quick post about the Neville watts & Co's 600 we worked on recently. It was intermittently working when we discovered it and had been manufactured in 1958. Therefore this floor spring had been working for 60 years, once refurbished and the wear taken care of it will work for another 60 years.
As always feel free to comment.
As there is so little information out there with regard to door closers, especially vintage and antique model floor springs, I thought I would start this blog.