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.
This 'modern' door closer industry can be said to have begun in England on a Tuesday in the summer of 1786, for it was on Tuesday June 13th in 1786, that a linen draper of Cheapside, London, Francis Moore, 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. Ironmongers were selling door springs up and down the country around the time of Moore and Downers patents were granted.
Edward Morris Ironmonger Northampton Mercury 1773
Edward Morris Ironmonger Northampton Mercury 1794
John Sibbald Smith and Ironmonger Caledonian Mercury 1794
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 Ovendon's for that as I have discussed previously. - https://www.midlandsfloorsprings.co.uk/blog/lewis-c-norton-and-the-first-door-check
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
Repair or should I say in this case restoration of the Smith and Turners continues and as you can see, this is going to be rather a task to get these back to being fully functional. The front wall is broken and missing some pieces, the flange on both is broken, completely on the one on the left, there is major wear to all components, minor parts are missing and the springs are seized solid, possibly snapped.
While on the subject of Smith and Turner I have discovered Joseph Smith started out as a Silver Smith from 2 Bartholomew Close an address I have shown on a decor plate previously (https://www.midlandsfloorsprings.co.uk/blog/ben-turners-the-silent-patent-door-spring). I have also found mention of possibly the inspiration that lead him from Silver Smith to inventing his door spring, that being Thomas Gibbs a spring blind manufacturer. I have also set out below to show the Smith side of Smith and Turner along with, I suspect, the meeting place of the Smiths' and the Turners,' the forming of Smith and Turner, plus the earliest reference yet to 50 Bartholomew Close (John Bull and Co), which admittedly I do not know if they have any connection to Smith/Smith and Turner other than the address.
First reference above to 50 Bartholomew Close 1774 taken from A Handbook of London Bankers With Some Account of Their Predecessors The Early Goldsmiths Taken By F.G Hilton-Price F.R.S.A.
Joseph Smith 2 Bartholomew Close (1810 to 1816) Silver Smith (Old London Silver By Montague Howard Published 1903 - Page 340).
1814 Joseph Smith, Silver Smith, 2 Little Bartholomew Close (Post Office Annual Directory 1814 - Page 297).
1818 Johnstone's London Commercial Guide and Street Directory Published 1818 page 25/26). Thomas Gibbs trading from the 50 Bartholomew Close along with Joseph.
John Smith 1837 Accounts and Papers Fifteen Volumes, Volume 10 Railway Subscription Contracts, page 123.
(Post Office London Directory 1843 Page 375) John Smith Door Spring and Hinge Manufacturer.
1851 John Smith, 50 Bartholomew Close, Patent Spring Hinge & Patent Swing Spring Hinge. Great Exhibition Catalogue Page 42
From the same 1851 Catalogue T, Turner 33 East Street, Marylebone Door Spring and Centre
1860 Henry Smith Door Spring Maker (Blower's Architects, Surveyor's, Engineer's and Builder's Directory) Page 90.
1869 Henry Smith and Thomas Turner (Smith and Turner 50 Bartholomew Close) English Mechanic and Mirror of Science and Arts Volume 8 Page 180.
Laxtons Builders Price Book 1873 Mentioning 1872 Report of Ben Turners Door Spring and Top Centre Page 517.
1876 Ben Turners New Patent (Irish Builder and Engineer, Volume 18 Page 116.
Tantalizing glimpse of Smith and Turner 50 Bartholomew Close, August 1904, photographed by Walter L Spiers.
Front and side cut out ready to weld in pieces machined from cast iron bar stock.
As you can see things progress with the Joseph Smiths patent Smith and Turners.
Collectors of cork screws will no doubt have heard of G. F Hipkins as many cork screws are highly collectable.
Readers and cork screw collectors may however not know he also manufactured and patented door springs as can be seen in the advertisement below.
As usual comments are appreciated.
30 years or so after Rowland Hodges argued over his "Accumulator" Door Spring trade mark case, the firm of Hill and Hodges were manufacturing the extremely robust floor spring you see in the picture below. In this blog entry I will show readers the well engineered parts that make this a particularly fine example of late 19th century 'Brummie' technology.
After the amount of time this unit has been in use there is some inevitable wear to the piston, this will be re-manufactured and brought up to date with a custom valve, giving it control from 1 through to 105 degrees as this is a stand open model.
The Hill and Hodges is now complete and ready to be re-fitted, the customer has decided not to have the decor plate polished so it has only received a light clean and been straightened.
The two part piston that utilised a leather washer was modified when machining a new piston to incorporate our bespoke valve design, the leather washer that had perished is now redundant.
This handsome floor spring is possibly a 120 years old and it is apt that the unit has been repaired and not thrown away, considering it will go back to grace the doors of the Quaker House in Bourneville, built by George Cadbury, as he himself was a Quaker, with one of their core beliefs being to live in a sustainable world. By repairing and up-grading rather than renewing, regardless of its heritage value, the Quakers and George Cadbury's ethos has been upheld because it is quite reasonable to assume the Hill & Hodges will continue on for another 120 years, maybe even longer as it has no perishable parts in it whatsoever now.
Here is a link to the Quakers. - https://www.quaker.org.uk/about-quakers/our-values
Here is a link to further reading about George Cadbury and the village of Bourneville, Birmigham. - https://www.cadbury.co.uk/about-bournville
Please feel free to comment if readers so choose.
These are some early Smiths (Smith and Turner) showing I believe symbols of the United Kingdom (Lion & Unicorn) etched into the decor plate along with Ben Turners BT emblem, more to follow as work on them continues...
Here are a couple of Smiths that we repaired for Matrod Frampton Ltd coming from a 1930's property I was informed. These particular ones had a really nice coppery hue to their brass decor plates and shoes.
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
A link to the above information - http://idighardware.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/2004_LCN_HISTORY_BOOK.pdf
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 Mr Norton 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. 1864, 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 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.