Anyone measuring a good few feet distance will be aware of Chestermans tapes for which James Chesterman is famous, less famous are his single and double action door springs.
Today I would like to introduce readers to another of Hill and Hodges floor springs that being Hill and Hodges Patent Check Action.
This one comes from the Quaker House in the village of Bournville, the village set up by George Cadbury. A car had hit the doors these were fitted to...more to come.
Link to George Cadbury - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Cadbury
I have mentioned The Wallace previously, manufactured by Edwin Showell & Sons (another Birmingham based door spring manufacturer) so this will just be a quick post. The owner of The Wallace had a problem with it, when the door it was connected to was opened 90 degrees, no problem but when the door was only opened 15 to 20 degrees and let go, it slammed (although it didnt if the door was held for 30 seconds or so). This was obviously a concern to our customer so he brought it to us for investigation after having taken it to a couple of other places and had a go at modifying the piston himself.
After some investigation it was noted the piston and oil intake were in our opinion manufactured in such away it was never designed to have control if the door was only opened a little way.
We therefore changed the configuration, designing a bespoke one way valve, manufacturing it and used it in conjunction with the original system. You can see the valve was incorporated into the head of a "manufactured" bolt in the picture, this was not the first design, we were going to place a new valve into the piston itself but this was decided against for a number of reasons.
The Wallace now has control from 1 degree, through and up to 90 degrees instantly.
Investigating alternatives before coming up with the solution.
As always comment if you care to.
In this blog entry I would like to introduce readers to George Beattie, who on July 6th 1848 was granted a patent for his Improved Air Spring, that relied on a vacuum one side of the piston and atmospheric pressure on the other side to control the action of a door, having no springs whatsoever in its innovative design.
Reproduced below is George Beatties description of his wonderful door spring found on page 295 t0 296 of The Civil engineer & architects journal, Volume 13.
In this blog entry I would like to push the date for the earliest door spring back even further to 1748, which I am sure readers will agree this is quite along way from the Henry Downer patent that I have mentioned many times previously and our Mr Smith. The actual date is even earlier than this because it can be reasonably presumed it was manufactured before the date of the letter between the two brothers.
I discovered reference to this door spring in a correspondence between Sir Edward Filmer (3rd Bart) and his brother Beversham Filmer on the 13th of October 1748 via the National Archives online.
"Filmer Manuscripts. CORRESPONDENCE. Sir Edward Filmer (3rd Bart.). Letters from his brother, Beversham Filmer. From his brother, Beversham Filmer. About sending a door spring having a watch repaired and music he had left at East Sutton
Held by: Kent History and Library Centre Date: 13 October 1748 Reference: U120/C28/43"
Obviously I have no pictures of this door spring but please feel free to leave a comment if you found it interesting.
I have recently discovered, many emails from various places that for some reason I seem not to have received. This was an inquiry I discovered about the humble Briton B which of all places is on a door in Antartica in Sir Edmund Hillary;s TAE/IGY Hut which eventually grew into now what is called the Scott Base and represents the beginnings of New Zealands involvement in Antartica.
I was contacted on the phone by Martin Wenzel who was there with the Antarctica Heritage Trust and always wondered why I had never heard from him again. Here are the shots he sent me of the well traveled Briton B.
Martin if you ever read this I can only apologise.
In 1872 Robert Lawson designed the Knox Church in Dunedin in the 13th Century Gothic Style, the second Church on that site as a more permanent place of worship for those seeking fortune in New Zealands biggest gold rush for the sum of £17,757.
In or around the 1970's James Gibbons supplied the floor springs used in the buildings Halls.
In 2019, I have been contacted by Dr Chris Bloore to help with the source and supply of a strap insert for the broken one as can be seen in the picture below.
Links for readers wanting to know more about this impressive Church
As always please feel free to comment
I know many believe that it was an American, Lewis. C. Norton who invented the first door check and many places on the internet will uphold this by telling the story of how Lewis was employed by the Bishop at Boston Trinity Church to invent a device to stop the slamming of swing doors in the vestibule (17 June 1881). However this is not the truth it was in fact an English Father and Son team by the name of William Ovenden Snr and William Ovenden Jnr in April 1864.
If you turn to page 111 in the Patents for Inventions of Specifications relating to Hinges, Hinge Joints, and Door Springs at the bottom of the page you will find an entry entitled 'A.D. 1964, April 15 - No 948 Ovenden, William, the elder, and Ovenden, William, the younger - Certain mechanical arrangements to be applied to doors and casement windows to prevent slamming or "clapping."' It goes on to describe the very first hydraulic and pneumatic door check (as can be read below), beating Mr Norton by 17 years. Below is the entry -
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and feel free to comment.
As I have recently discussed the Great Exhibition of 1851 held in the Crystal Palace at Hyde Park, I thought I may share a little about the other door spring manufacturers that exhibited in front of Queen Victoria and 6 million others. Along with Thomas Turner another of the famous manufacturers displaying their door springs was William Newman of Newman/Tonks fame.
In addition to his door closers he also displayed a unique machine that tested door springs known as the The Pediatricas.
As you can read it ended up at the bottom of the Grand Union canal but was fortunately retrieved in 1968 according to the Coventry Evening Telegraph of Wednesday 28th of February (1968). How it got there nearly one hundred and twenty years after being first displayed at the Great exhibition is a mystery that I have yet to find the answer to. Here is a link for readers wanting to know a little more about the 1851 Exhibition - https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/Great-Exhibition-of-1851/
As always feel free to comment on this or any other blog posts you care to.
Many I am sure, of a certain age, will remember seeing the heavy cast iron scales outside of chemists where for a small fee you could weigh yourself, or possibly you have heard of the name Salter because you have a traditional grocers scale in your kitchen with the name Salter across the dial? Less people, I expect however will know that they were also manufacturers of door springs and pneumatic door checks as can be seen in the advert above.
As you can see the Turner and Co door spring previously spoken about from a certain castle in Windsor is in a sorry state of repair, possibly to be expected as I believe these particular in floor door closers are from around the 1850's meaning they are nearly 170 years old.
Above is the divider mark.
Above you can see J. Barrow (John Barrow)
The remains of the leather bump stops.
Setting up to braze the broken bronze parts.
As you can see they are coming along, although there are a number of issues to contend with.
Readers should be able to see the signs of the bespoke manufacture of the various parts that make up this fantastic in floor door closer.
As discussed previously this particular floor spring has both the markings of Barrow and Turner (John Barrow) and Turner & Co (Thomas Turner), meaning it must have been manufactured in the transitional period between the ending of one partnership/business and the beginning of another.
Below is information taken from the Official Catologue of the Great Exhibition of the works of Industry of All Nations (1851), as you can see T. Turner exhibited at the now famous Crystal Palace. I wonder if it was this model door spring and centre he exhibited?
Readers should see there has been a lot of effort put into getting these back to good health (well worth it considering their age, their historical importance and their home of course) including the manufacture of a number of bushes, sleeves, transfer arms, cog and rollers. It should also be noted the four names/businesses surrounding these two spring floor hinges, J. Barrow, Turner and Co, Turner and Son and Barrow & Turner.
A new cog was cut for the Turners.
As always I look forward to any positive comments made on this or any of my previous blog posts.
Prior to Andrew Smith patenting his floor spring door closer, long before his trip to California with his son Andrew Smith Jnr (Later Andrew Smith Hallidie) and before his setting up at the 69 Princes Street, Leicester Square address he lived at York Terrace, in the Parish of Saint Margaret, City of Westminster. From here he patented various inventions and had varying business partners to market and sell the devices he either invented or improved upon.
The first I would like to show readers is below -
"To William Henry Kitchen, of High Street, in the Parish of St. Giles, Bloomsbury, in the county of Middlesex, Ironmonger, and Andrew Smith, late of York Terrace, in the Parish of St. Margaret, in the City of Westminster ; but now of Princes Street, Leicester Square, in the same City, Merchant, for their Discovery or Invention of certain Improvements in the construction of Window-frames, Sashes, or Casements, Shutters, and Doors, designed to afford security against burglars, as well as to exclude the weather.--[Sealed 7th Feb. 1829.]" English Patents of Inventions, Specifications, Volumes 5755-5800 AD 1929 No 5770
These improvements were initially shared with Thomas Don his business partner in 1827.
Second is his floor cramp for laying floor boards and his link to yet a further address, that being No 2 Palace Street Pimlico -
I also while researching the information above I found between an advert for a wet nurse and an advert for artificial teeth the link to the previous owner of 69 Princes Street Leicester Square (John Wright), reference to spring hinges for swing doors from around 1827, the bankruptcy sale of 69 Princes Street and a dissolved partnership between John Wright and Joseph Tanner from the previous year (1826) -
"PORTABLE IMPROVED WARM BATH The fire for raising the water to its proper temperature is put into the Bath on the principle of consuming its own smoke, and will warm the room at the same time, and will heat the Bath, in 15 minutes, inhaling the vapour arising from the warm water. — Price 91, 9-. One can be seen always in action, at the inventor's, J. WRIGHT, Smith and Engineer, 69, Princes - street, Leicester-square. Also his improved Garden Engine and Shower Bath, Vapour Baths, & Spring Hinges for swing doors."(Morning Post - Friday 20th April 1827).
As always I hope readers have found this entry of interest along with my others, please feel free to make positive comment.
Among other things I am currently working on a pair of Smiths I have been sent that have no pivots, need springs and have odd mismatched shoes that have different sized squares which I will be matching up to the pivots I am going to be manufacturing, rather a difficult job considering the many various pins sizes I come across as can be seen in the picture below. The one on the left is from the Andrew Smith which I will be replicating, the centre is from a Cartlands and the one on the right from a Smiths Patent.
The other three pivots you can see are from the Wing and Webb "Invincibles" that I have discussed recently and need machining also as they are badly worn. As I am working on Smiths in my next blog post I am going to discuss some of Andrew Smiths other patents besides his fantastic floor spring door closers.
I was contacted by Tom and Paula, who had a lovely old Smiths in a Victorian House they are renovating. Their problem was the springs had snapped and there was wear in other areas of the components that meant the Smithy was not working as it should.
They are also having new flooring material laid that meant the shoe would have been catching the new height of the floor and needed the shoe raising without use of washers for the reasons I have discussed previously. I was happy to help Tom with advise on how to remove the door spring from the floor, the door from the floor spring/shoe and replace it after we had repaired it. Here are some of the shots as we went along and shots provided by Tom of it back in the ground.
Much as I love to see the old decor plates on display along with the Victorian tiles I understand that this may not always be feasible especially as Tom was telling me about the gap beneath the skirting and the various drafts in the Victorian property, meaning previous owners would sit with their coats on indoors from November till March before they got central heating in or around the 1960's.
My personal preferences aside the renovating of the Smiths, along side the fitting of modern carpet is therefore in this case a happy mixture of old and new.
As always feel free to comment about this post or any other you may care to.
I have discussed Wing and Webb of Wolverhampton previously so would just like to show readers some "Invincibles" I have come across supplied by them in the early 1930's. I was informed these were original to the rebuilding of the school/frontage of the nearly 400 year old Richard Hale School (Science and Engineering Academy) in Hertford, here is a link to the history of the school and London merchant Richard Hale -
Although this door was not controlled by floor springs it was great to see it had been incorporated into the wall where either side of it four of the the six Wing and Webb Invincibles can be found. The door I was informed is the original entrance door to the first Richard Hale School as can be read about in the links provided.
This entry on my blog is a little different to others as it is about Andrew Smith and his family rather than directly about floor springs, door closers or the work I do, I still hope readers enjoy it however.
Recently I have had a run on inquiries for Smiths Floor Springs, which has lead me to turn my thoughts again to Andrew Smith, his family, his and his families influences on our industrial heritage and more, considering his connection with Sir Andrew Hallidie Royal Physician and Andrew Smith Hallidie, probably better known in America than here in the UK due to his involvement with the trams of San Francisco (something I will visit in the future).
If using Google to search for Andrew Smith, Hood and Co, it will take you to Graces Guide and an entry for Andrew Smith Flood and Co, where it does mention that the reference they have used is maybe a printing error, I hold it is and the true name of the firm was Andrew Smith, Hood and Co.
The Hood being John Lionel Hood, a gentleman from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne who it appears was jointly granted a patent with Andrew Smith for improving the manner in which belts, bands or straps were manufactured in the place of ropes or chains as you can see below of the two references I have found.
Link to Graces Guide and the entry discussed above - https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Andrew_Smith,_Flood_and_Co
Link to the place I believe they got their reference from - https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433066344452;view=1up;seq=319
1 Link to the place I got my 1st reference from - https://books.google.co.id/books?id=jB0AAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA215&dq=john+lionel+hood,+newcastle+upon+tyne+gent+and+andrew+smith..&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi_wJKD8onhAhUF7oMKHQkiDikQuwUILDAA#v=onepage&q=john%20lionel%20hood%2C%20newcastle%20upon%20tyne%20gent%20and%20andrew%20smith..&f=false
2 Link to the place I got my 2nd reference from - https://books.google.co.id/books?id=yN2FAgeFpxIC&pg=PP281&dq=john+lionel+hood,+newcastle+upon+tyne+gent+and+andrew+smith..&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi_wJKD8onhAhUF7oMKHQkiDikQuwUIMjAB#v=onepage&q=john%20lionel%20hood%2C%20newcastle%20upon%20tyne%20gent%20and%20andrew%20smith..&f=false
Further reference to Smith and Hood - https://books.google.co.id/books?id=U77Rz84RjlIC&pg=RA8-PA1&lpg=RA8-PA1&dq=john+lionel+hood,+gentleman+newcastle+upon+tyne&source=bl&ots=YOtMvNtQRU&sig=ACfU3U2DS6MYd5ApdOY9pL8CBvsBNc0XIw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjV0qG8-YnhAhWjxYMKHczeDBEQ6AEwAXoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=john%20lionel%20hood%2C%20gentleman%20newcastle%20upon%20tyne&f=false
To those interested, if you Google John Lionel Hood, gentleman, Newcastle Upon Tyne much more information can be found.
I have shown you these floor springs previously and from that job I am using some of the spares I managed to collect to repair these. At first I thought the parts were the same (all be it hand finished) as I have discussed previously so I did know it would not be as easy as just swapping the parts. I have come across a few changes in the design however that means I was unable to use the parts even if I had to modify them slightly, mainly centred around the piston and to some degree the action. These changes I believe were to overcome some problems I had encountered with the original design.
The Gibbons are from the Grade 1 Listed Liverpool Town Hall and are holding open about 15 degrees from centre, having no checking action whatsoever. Here is a link to this handsome building if readers would like to know more about the history of the building. https://www.liverpooltownhall.co.uk/
The Gibbons are off the main entrance hall in the east part of the building, I was shown another set of the original Gibbons and was upset to see that previously some of the original floor springs had been replaced with modern units. I had believed these to be called "Zeniths" I now know this to be not correct.
Because of the difference in design and the problems I discovered once I began to dismantle them it was decided that it would be best to remove the parts and take them back to the workshop to be repaired.
Anyone care to hazard a guess to why the design changes, the bottom one is from the Liverpool Town Hall, the above from the Star & Garter?
As I have stated on many occasions any input from readers would be great and I always try to reply whenever someone makes a comment and I spot it, I hope you enjoy the post.
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.