I was recently sent these pictures of some old Gibbons from a most prestigious building and asked to give a price to repair/service, as readers can see it is probably best if I have a site visit to ascertain just exactly what is the problem over and above the obvious. I hope in the future to bring you more about these fine Gibbons closers.
I would like to introduce to you the earliest "door spring" to receive recognition from the American Patent Office so far as I have been able to yet ascertain.
The patent was given to ITHIEL S. RICHARDSON, OF BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS and was titled a SPRING FOR SHUTTING DOORS AND GATES.
Specification of Letters Patent No. 433, dated October 20, 1837.
I have been contacted by a company in Honolulu, Hawaii who have been tasked with the repair of some unidentified floor springs in a historically significant Church built on the island in 1928. They have asked for assistance in identifying the make.
Fortunately I was able to identify it and my friend Jess who lives in America agreed confirming the make plus the model number.
As you can see below the patent for this model was filed in 1912.
The Rixson No 10 Duo-Check (Rixson Junior) or Number 12 Duo-Check if it does not hold open was controlling the doors to the Sanctuary of The First Chinese Church of Christ in Hawaii and appears to be an original fitting.
Here is a link to this fascinating part of Hawaii's culture passed on by the company who contacted me.
Here is a link to Heavy Metal Inc (The company who contacted us about the Rixson number 10/12). https://www.instagram.com/heavymetalhawaii/
Rather than ask a consultation fee I have asked for a donation to help pay for the up keep of the site, my time taken for research and I hope the enjoyment the reading of this blog brings to those who want to know just what the devices beneath their feet do, how, who invented/manufactured/supplied them and or those this blog has inspired whilst promoting heritage and the recycling of these devices for I hope the greener good of all. To those who have chosen to continually attack me for it I can only apologize it was never and is not my intention to do any wrong to anyone.
As always feel free to make comment.
Following on from my last video of the Dorma BTS 75 and 80 in freely rotating pivot mode, here is the same free spinning action but on a GEZE 550 this time.
Inquiries are most welcome.
There are pivots and then there are pivots. This blank pivot is from a size E, Monarch floor spring, I hope to be able to discuss it and other features of this floor spring as time goes on.
I was contacted by Unicorn Restorations to repair a door closer that was found in the header section of a very rare K2 phone box, there were only ever 1500 manufactured compared with the more well known K6 phone box of which 136,000 were manufactured. The K2 phone box was only ever distributed in and around London, compared with the K6 that was distributed nation wide.
The arm to this door spring was bent in a number of places and twisted, the spring itself was broken, the fixing flange had a corner broken off and all the hinge points were loose and tired.
I was surprised at how small the closer was, especially as I recall the doors to the old phone boxes were heavy cast iron affairs. I took the shot of a Briton A so you can get a comparative understanding of its size. While talking to the owner (Tony) of Unicorn Restorations I mentioned my surprise at how small the door spring was only to be informed that the doors to the old phone were wood, not cast iron and were therefore much lighter than I imagined and as it turns out wrongly recalled.
Here are some links to the history of this most British of icons and Unicorn Restorations for those wanting more information.
As always feel free to leave positive comment.
In this blog entry I would like to share some videos and link to a linkedin post of a video I made showing how I disabled a Dorma 75 v and Dorma BTS 80's. As can be seen in the video I show a Dorma 75 v with a Briton pin and strap freely spinning after I uncoupled it from the floor springs mechanism plus BTS 80's doing the same.
The calculation data for this conversion is as follows:
Basic dynamic load rating C 8.5 kN
Basic static load rating C0 26 kN
Fatigue load limit Pᵤ 3 kN
MFS has found by far our tried and tested service/solution (5 years with no problem) to be the best way of dealing with the associated problems surrounding an existing installation prior to the fitting of any over-head disabled door opener all things considered (including cost, durability, ease, down-time, is environmentally friendly and is reversible. Inquiries are most welcome through our contact page. Training and possible franchising may be available.
GEZE 550 Floor Spring supplied by Allgood Plc, Stanford Hall (Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre).
I recently went to Standford Hall a grade II* listed 18th-century Country House to assist with the automation of one of the doors to the gym area of the DNRC.
The remit was to uncouple the door from the Geze 550 so the automatic door opener would not have to overcome the power of the floor spring unit in its normal operation, which will thereby inevitably prolong the life of the disabled door opener itself.
I have previously found various ways to do this, on this occasion however I designed and manufactured a solution which will be available shortly as a 'deactivation' kit for other automatic door opener fitters to purchase if they come across a similar situation.
The 'deactivation' kit can be used on any floor spring in the GEZE range past and present and will also work with any model produced by Dorma both past and present. I will also be designing and manufacturing a similar device to be used in conjunction with transom closers.
I invite pre-production orders through my contact page and or there are any interested investors out there.
Please feel free to leave positive comment if you so choose.
Here is a link to one of my preferred information sources -
Here are two Smiths I recently worked on from the Victorian era Wiston Lodge, Lanarkshire, Scotland. As you can see they were essentially no more, until we repaired them to go back and control the doors once again at the handsome ex hunting lodge built in the 1850's. For more history on the lodge please click the link - https://wistonlodge.com/about-us/history-of-wiston-lodge/
As always feel free to comment.
Here are a few shots of the completed Hill and Hodges back in the ground, definitive date of the patent and a few shots of the interior of the Quaker House. At the bottom you see a picture of Mr and Mrs Cadbury.
Our old Smithy's (Joseph Smith and Turner) have been returned. From smashed, seized, broken and missing parts to fully functional, snapping to centre with no play whats so ever, usable door closer mechanisms. This design was a hundred years old at the beginning of the First World War, now over two hundred years old, they will live to fight on, With my bespoke springs at their heart it will be a long time before these need any more attention.
Cast iron plate, machined from bar stock.
Bespoke springs manufactured for this traditional door closer.
The decor plates were only cleaned, leaving the rich caramel brown patina.
I wonder what Joseph would make of it, I wonder if while lying their listening to his bedroom door banging he would ever have thought his design would last so long?
Please leave comment if you happen to pass by and take an interest in this bi-centennial beauty.
Whilst continuing on with research for this blog I came across what I now believe to be the first pneumatic device to check or retard the speed at which a door shuts. Long before our American cousins and long before the Ovendens 1864 patent I would like to introduce you to William Bullock, of Newman Street, in the county of Middlesex, Locksmith and Brass-founder, and James BOAZ, of Glasgow, Scotland, Engineer.
The Anglo - Scottish team in 1813 were noted for their mechanical contrivance designed to stop doors (and windows) from being blown in by the wind (a somewhat similar problem that Mr Norton faced) hinted at in a snippet from their patent, below.
"A pneumatic apparatus for preventing the sudden closing of a door. Air is received into a cylinder or collapsible receptacle, and the door cannot be completely shut until the air is expelled or squeezed out."
Here is a link to their patent in its entirety AD 1813 No - 3695 Securing Doors and Shutters found in English Patents of Inventions, Specifications, Volumes 3666-3744.
As always please feel free to comment.
A quick post to say I have the twin of the Hill and Hodges to convert to the new piston design, some Earls from the Belgrade Theatre to service and repair along with some 600's and some single action Gibbons I have serviced, repaired and converted to hold open for the Crucible Theatre.
Please feel free to make positive comment.
The single action version of the "King Victor" is known as the "Queen Victor" using only a single action volute spring.
The "King Victor" Patent Floor Spring Hinge interestingly uses two volute springs in its design and is one of Robert Adams larger floor springs.
Volute springs are conical in shape and are designed to compress in a shorter distance than perhaps a conventional coil spring would.
The door closer may be far older than you first thought and have had more of an impact on our daily lives than ever could have been imagined, when looking back to prehistory devices to close all manner of "doors" have probably been around since the very first doors were "invented." They may have been developed from devices and simple spring mechanisms to close access to a trap of some sort. A little later perhaps when our nomadic life style came to an end and we began to trap and rear animals for food, labour and transport these mechanisms may have been scaled up to automatically close gates once animals had been driven into a fenced area for instance, closing off their route of escape.
We simply may never know the exact route by which the very earliest or first door closing devices were invented and I suspect the door closer in some way shape or form has been invented and reinvented over and over throughout history.
Arguably not as an important a discovery as fire, when fully considered you may agree however they deserve far more recognition than they have ever previously received and could well be in the top 100 of all time most important mechanical devices ever invented, behind the wheel or the lever but nearly equal of the lock, affecting our daily lives in ways you may have never even thought, achieving the rare position of being practically indispensable and yet to all intents and purpose invisible to all but the most inquisitive of us.
Whilst not exactly a door closer the reference below shows that we were inventing machinery and devices to control doors long before any patents were issued for such devices, below is the earliest reference I have been able to find of a "machine" or device to control a door. Monsieur Delanois displayed his Mathematical Statue, at the White Swan in Stamford 1736. It is reported to open and close his door himself among bringing sugar, coffee and all sorts of spices to I expect the delighted on lookers who came to view the spectacle of the "Merchant Grocer."
Stamford Mercury Thursday 21st December 1738
The Works of Jonathan Swift Dean of St Patricks D.D., Dublin Volume 12, 1755.
As you can read above Jonathan Swift discusses a simple door closer as early as 1755 almost identical to the one first patented.
The 'modern' door closer industry can be said to have begun officially in England on a Tuesday in the summer of 1786, for it was on Tuesday June 13th in 1786, that a linen draper named Francis Moore living in Cheapside, London, was awarded the first English patent for a device to close doors, which consisted of weights, a line and pulleys. This was followed four years later by Henry Downers 1790 patent that used a spring to overcome the weight of the door to return it to the closed position.
Patents are of course important they do not however reflect the entire door closer story as not all inventions are patented. Along with Jonathan Swifts description of a door closer, it can be shown through advertisement ironmongers were selling door spring/door closers up and down the country before and around the time Moore and Downers patents were granted.
Salisbury and Winchester Journal - Monday 19 June 1775
Chester Chronicle - Thursday 07 March 1776
Edward Morris Ironmonger Northampton Mercury 1794
John Sibbald Smith and Ironmonger Caledonian Mercury 1794
Adding to the confusion for those wanting to trace the history of the door spring door closer is the fact a spring when used on its own to close a door is known as a door spring as are the various components when combined together into one device.
In whatever form the various component parts are combined for most of their 250 plus year history they have been known as door springs.
To be continued...
Just a quick post about another of Hill and Hodges fantastic range of "hinges." I recently worked on Hill & Hodges Patent Hydraulic Check Action Floor Spring Hinge for the Quaker House in Bournville (I am please to say they want another modifying) and tonight I will introduce you to its brother The Windsor.
As you can see there are slight differences to the one I worked on, the circular collar for one, it being at the pivot end rather than at the furthest point away from the pivot, also appearing slightly smaller but no less robust in its design and construction. You will also note they made a heel spring The "WONDER" which I have yet to come across.
As always please leave a comment.
Following on from my previous blog post (please read in conjunction with this post) when giving it some thought what is it that defines a door closer and why should it be so? I believe a door closer is any device fixed to a door for the purpose of closing it in a controlled manner once it has been opened.
Door closers have had many names over the years, work in many different ways, are fixed in many places, granted some control the closing and opening speed better than others but they all appear to use the same energy as was used to open the door to close it (so this must be a contributing factor in its description/definition). If it opens the door using a motor this is I believe is the exception and is rightly defined as a door opener, not a door closer.
Even if you consider the modern view of a door closer being surface mounted, is only single action and has an arm, why should that only that be thought of as a door closer? A floor spring for instance has an 'arm' (shoe/strap), can be single action (some are double action) are obviously mounted to a door and you can argue to the surface of the door if you take into account a single action shoe and how if fixes to the surface of the door.
A door closer can be simply called a overhead door spring
or a door spring and check
or a door check and spring using hydraulics in their design.
The spring and check can be combined or not
utilising a helical torsion spring or a compression spring and pneumatics.
They can be mounted in the floor and called a door spring
or be called a floor spring and have no damping.
They can use leaf springs and be called a spring hinge
or use compression springs and be called a floor door spring.
They can have many springs and no check or have a single compression spring and hydraulic check mechanism but only called a door spring.
Be single action or double action
and look far more like a hinge than anything you would associate the word spring with.
And just when you thought you knew what a door closer was you come across one set in the floor that has levers and weights
or one that clearly closes doors but looks more like a bar than a spring, so it takes you right back to where you began, with the question what is a door closer?
Does it have a spring? One spring, two springs or more springs or in fact just be a spring? Must it be regulated by air, gas, oil, or just rely on friction to dampen its closing speed? Where does it mount, in the floor, above the door, middle of the door, on the surface, in the door, in the hinges? Does it make a difference if the device is closing a door or a gate?
I know what I consider to be a door closer and who should be credited (or not) as the case maybe with their name at the top of a google search for the question - Who invented the door spring, the door check or the door closer?
I hope you have enjoyed this post and as usual please feel free to leave a comment.
I have recently contacted Google to point out that when googling who invented the door closer and or who invented the door spring the result came back for both as Francis Richards. I pointed out as google is a global search engine should its answer to as specific a question as who was the first not reflect and or take into account the patents/products from all countries?
Having Francis Richards return as the answer to who invented the door spring, is like Alan Shepherd coming back as the answer to who was the first man in space?
They have kindly now changed the answer to direct to a Wikipedia article on door closers (one I have an interest in editing) as the terms door spring and door closer are used interchangeably along with a number of other terms.
My logic was if the terms are used interchangeably and the term door spring was used as early as 1748 as I have pointed out elsewhere the google search cannot correctly return Francis Richards as the first person to invent the door spring, he only received an American patent in the early 1870's.
Since the above I have now noticed that when googling who invented the door closer Lewis (Louis) C. Norton is returned, taken from an article produced by LCN and The American Society of Locksmiths. I also respectfully consider this to be not as accurate as it might, as you can see below the word 'door closer' was used as early as 1850 when referring to George Beattie's door spring/door closer (even earlier uses of the term "door closer" do exist), so again how can Mr Norton be considered the first person to invent the door closer, door closer and door check being one in the same?
I have also contacted google again to ask they also consider amending this, along with the Oxford English Dictionary to put forward and or define the word/words door closer as there appears to be no listing for door closer or door-closer.
Link to news paper article - https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000540/18500807/059/0003
As you can see the same occurs when you google the question who invented the door check (door check and door closer being the same thing)? The inquiry comes back as a piece written about the inventive, commercially savvy, Mr Lewis, Carey, Norton as you can see in the screen shot below, therefore google at least recognize, "door closer" and "door check" as one in the same thing. However by the same reasoning as above Mr Norton was not the first to invent the door check, door checks were originally designed to check a doors swing at 90 degrees (leather strap type) or later from mechanisms to prevent windows flying open (friction stays).
You can see in the rather gruesome news report of 1826 for example that door checks were mentioned long before Mr Norton turned his inventive mind to the problems at the Boston Church. Creative soul as he undoubtedly was, he should not, in my opinion, on a global search engine be returned in the number one slot for a search of who invented the door check either we have the Bullock and BOAZ for that as I discuss here - https://www.midlandsfloorsprings.co.uk/blog/after-further-research
Here is a link to the fascinating story of Mr Norton and his brilliantly designed door closer.
As always feel free to comment and whoever is editing my blog post can you please stop it, if I am doing something wrong let me know?
I was contacted by Peter, a parishioner from St Stephens in Scorparoo, Brisbane, Australia with regard to their Monarchs that have been faithfully controlling the main entrance doors of their Church since the mid 1950's. They had an intermittent fault that occasionally the doors were either closing too slowly of slamming to. The cost of the flight stopped me from jumping on a plane to assist, so this time I walked and talked Peter through a basic strip down and service.
All the usual signs were good that this Monarch had fortunately had an easy life. There appeared to be very little wear to the components and I am awaiting to hear that everything has been put back together in the right order and she is working correctly.
As always comments are looked forward to and appreciated.
Here is a link to the Church if anyone would like to know more -
Today I would like to introduce readers to the James Cartwright and Son "Yeoman" floor spring. As you can see below along with the Cartwright produced ever faithful Smiths is their Yeoman double action floor spring which is very similar in design to the later Avon discussed elsewhere on the blog. Also please note the interesting design of the top centre.
Liverpool Daily Post - Thursday 20 September 1855
Liverpool Daily Post - Saturday 25 April 1857
I have previously shown readers the decor plate of Patrick O Connors Number 12 spring hinge, the number 12 has a large central mounted spring and has a carriage affair that compresses the spring by way of the pin profile (photograph of internals below). The carriage is very similar to a none checking William Newman Invincible and the central spring similar to a Bardsley or the later Avon as can be made out in the picture below of the badly corroded and damaged ones. As far as I am aware O Connor held two patents for his floor springs and the Number 11 is either a smaller version of the 12 or differs entirely and uses a lever and weight system (inside the box) that controls the speed at which the door closes/returns to closed position. Please read on for some further information with regard to Mr O Connor and his number 11 double spring hinge.
I was thrilled to receive an email from Christian Recabarren editor and founder of REDMIN Mining Magazine who has kindly sent me this picture of a floor spring he found (below). This No 11 model had found its way all the way from Patrick O Connors Ironmongery premises on the High Street (Number 11) in Wavertree to Coquimbo. It graces the doors of the Social Club of Coquimbo City in Chile, a distance of 7055 miles or 11353.92 kilometres.
I am not 100% sure but believe below is O Connors No 11, if it isn't, from reading the patent it is very, very similar.
Readers may find that remarkable in of itself, however there is more.
The No 11 is still working some 170 years after it was invented by Mr O Connor further testament to our heritage, Victorian craftsmanship and ingenuity. If that was not enough there is still yet more.
On the back of Mr Patrick O Connors inventiveness and his skill in designing floor springs it brought him wealth, so much so he was able to have a number of houses built in North Drive, Wavertree, number 29 and number 31 (Urn House and Urn Mount). Which leads me on further still.
The reason why number 29 and number 31 are called Urn House and Urn Mount are because while these houses and another (number 27) were being built in the late 1860's some 8 prehistoric terracotta burial Urns (dating back 3000 years to the Bronze Age) containing human remains and arrow heads were discovered by workman digging the footings, two of which are now in the Liverpool Museum and are known as the Wavertree Urns, others are built into the walls of the properties above, number 27, Urn House and Urn Mount built for Mr O Connor on the back of his door spring inventions and the money generated by the sale of them.
Please feel free to leave positive comment if you have enjoyed reading about Irish born, Patentee, Ironmonger, Manufacturer, Inventor, Chair of Wavertree Local Health Board and Liverpolitan Patrick O Connor or his number 11 door spring.
Further reading can be found here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wavertree
here - http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/mol/visit/galleries/history/burial-urn.aspx
here - http://www.roydenhistory.co.uk/mrlhp/local/calders/calders.htm
here - Liverpool Daily Post - Wednesday 13th March 1867 Page 5
and finally here - https://books.google.co.id/books?id=wZ3NAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA131&lpg=PA131&dq=mr+o+connor+wavertree+urns&source=bl&ots=VVhsBaLHPk&sig=ACfU3U04jG8MJk3WHwNkYam8wBz6IdPU6g&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj2jLydxKPiAhUPY6wKHU8UBxoQ6AEwCXoECAcQAQ#v=onepage&q=mr%20o%20connor%20wavertree%20urns&f=false
As I am writing elsewhere about the Briton B I thought I would show readers this example, a gold plated Briton B given as an award.
I will make this only a short post as I hope to write further about the Briton B and the other models in more depth in the future. In the meantime here is a link for a little more information - http://www.bmagic.org.uk/objects/2001F162.7
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.