In this blog post I would like to introduce you to Patrick O'Connors Number 12 Door Spring. O'Connor is noted for “IMPROVEMENTS IN HINGES FOR AUTOMATICALLY CLOSING D00RS AND GATES” A.D. 1871, 26th August. No 2241
I am currently working on a badly worn Dilkes and Turner Patent Climax door spring. James Dilkes and Edward Turner of Leicester were officially recognised for improvements in door springs Patent dated June 15th, 1853 (no 1453). More to follow as work progresses.
As you may well be able to see the Climax had parts missing and some major wear to the collar support, pin and cast iron case
The Dilkes and Turner Climax is up and running again with the pin/shoe centering nicely. This floor spring is going to be controlling the door of an old vicarage somewhere in Derbyshire for many years to come now.
Despite targeted spam calls, threats, intimidation and various other wrong doings directed at Midlands Floor Springs Limited which admittedly has caused me a great deal of anxiety and distress which in turn has lead me to almost complete collapse and me packing my business in I have decided to press on regardless.
Here is a link to the NFB Heritage & Traditional Building Magazine Issue 1 we have advertised in, pages 48 and 49 are our advertisement.
Today we have attended site to remove this unusually large Climax, physically the largest I have yet come across (circa 1850). The patent I have shown elsewhere on the site shows a patent date of 1892 but I believe they were not patented until many years after their invention, certainly after the inventor died as can be seen on the patent.
More to follow...
Re-sprung and back in the ground for another...hundred years?
I have spoke about the 600 on many occasions previously but here is something we had not done before with one. We retro fitted the 600 to an old oak Church door at Seagrave Church, Leicestershire. The door had no control and was previously swinging back with some force, which was noisy and of course possibly dangerous.
As can be seen we cut a whole in the floor tiles and sand stone threshold and mounted the door via the shoe onto the 600. The weight of the door is still handled by the strap hinges and pintles, only the closing speed is handled by the 600.
Here is a link to our youtube channel showing it in action.
For those interested I discovered an old Robinsons in a historical Church. The 2 x Robinson's were controlling side entrance doors to St Mary Aldermary, four others had been removed and replaced with 400's at some time in the past, 1 of which I exchanged.
It was great to see this fine old building so full of people!
Here is a link to a wikipedia article on the Church
In this instance MFS replaced the Smiths with one from our stock that we had previously saved, serviced and repaired using mix and matched parts.
Here is a link for those interested in history regarding Daniel Tidy and Belsize Park.
I was planning on working on the top plates over the Bank Holiday weekend from the Robert Adams Sceptres but due to a power failure at the workshop I have been unable.
I have however been contacted by John from Australia who has sent me pictures of another Smiths I have not heard of before and he is having problems with.
I have advised him of my suspicions and await further correspondence with a view to help repair the Australian Smiths.
It seems Frederick Lassetter & Co Limited were huge in the early 19th Century right through to the early 20th Century.
Here is a link for those interested with regard to their history
Lech, Michael, F Lassetter and Co, Dictionary of Sydney, 2011, http://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/f_lassetter_and_co, viewed 28 Aug 2017
A quick post about the Sceptres I am working on at the moment in a really beautiful setting, more to come as work progresses.
Midlands Floor Springs Limited also repairs and services window winding gear/control mechanisms of all types.
Please feel free to comment as usual.
I have tried elsewhere on the blog to trace the history of who in fact produced the first device to close a door with the aid of a spring and admittedly I am still not quite 100% sure. Who A. Smith is, who Smith and Turner are and how either relate to Smith, Major, Stevens.
According to Abridgements of Specifications relating to Hinges, Hinge Joints, and Door Springs: A. D. 1775-1866, Parts 1775-1866, bottom of page 3 it clearly states A. D. 1790, April 13, - No 1742. Downer, Henry, - (is recognised for) "A spring for the purpose of shutting a door"
Meaning that the first officially recognised person is therefore Henry Downer (1790) in so much as a spring is used to close a door.
In the same pamphlet/booklet on page 9 is reference to Joseph Smith, A. D. 1814, July 16, - No 3822. SMITH, Joseph, - "Spring hinges for doors and gates." From the description of the patent I believe this is the Smith of Smith and Turner fame.
A.D. 1814, July 16.— N° 3822. SMITH, Joseph. — " Spring hinges for doors and gates." A brass shoe, fixed on the bottom of the door, has a centre pin or pivot which passes through a fixed brass plate and is stepped into a socket. A lever, carried by the pivot (the pivot lever) and fixed to it, is furnished with a collar (or brass roller) which is between two levers on two different but concentric fulcra. The upper lever is fixed to a spindle connected with the interior of a spiral spring ; the under lever has its fulcrum on a collar con- nected with the spring box of the said spring. A fixed angular piece, in which is inserted a screw, regulates the distance of the upper and under levers when they are at rest. This invention is adapted for doors that open either one or both ways ; when the door opens to the right, the upper lever is forced back by the pivot lever, and " when opened to its extent, becomes light and easy in consequence of the spring having lost a great portion of its power, by means of the brass roller " <( having passed nearly to " the end " of the upper lever, thus, by the door opening, the pivot lever " obtains great power over the spring, and as the door *' closes, the spring regains its former strength." When the door is opened to the left, the pivot lever forces back the under lever, and the operation has the same effect as before described. A couple of toothed wheels, eccentrically pivoted, may be used instead of the upper and under levers. In fixing the door, an upper centre pin or pivot is fitted to the top of the door vertically over the pivot connected with the said brass shoe. [Printed, 6d. Drawing.]
Graces Guide appears to confirm my suspicions by the 1814 date as can be seen below although the advert from the site however does state they were established in 1799.
It clearly states "In 1770 Mr Smith founded a small engineering company at 69 Princes St, London, the present site of the Prince of Wales Theatre. He was an ironmonger of considerable inventive talent. Among other things he invented an early door spring or door closer for locating in the floor under the door."
It again clearly states "...the beginning of this business can be traced back to 1770 when Archibald Smith patented a spring door-closing device, improved models of which are made by the company to this day."
We also have further reference from Graces Guide and the name John Smith and a date of 1760:
"Smith, Major and Stevens
of Abbey Works, Weedon Road, Northampton
1760 Company established previous to this by John Smith (records go back no further).
By 1878 Messrs. Archibald Smith and Co., hydraulic and general engineers, were in Leicester Square, London.
1880 A new factory was built at Battersea to meet the expansion of the business, and the firm's name was altered to Archibald Smith and Stevens."
We also have the above news paper article to throw in the mix, where it states "William Smith set up a hardware business in Princes Street, London. His business which became Archibald Smith and Stevens..."
So from three different sources we have the names Archibald Smith, John Smith, William Smith and the dates of 1760 and 1770 plus a number of references to a door spring invention that established the company, along with hoist manufacture.
For those interested it is therefore reasonable to assume that
1. Despite the patent of Henry Downer (1790) the first device to close a door by way of a spring/spring device is more than likely attributable to the Smith line (20 to 30 years before Downers patent), later to become Smith, Major, Stevens.
2. "Smith" of Smith and Turner is not the same Smith as the Smith, Major, Stevens line.
3. Despite their claims (unless you want to play with definitions) Smith and Turner were not the first to manufacture/produce/invent a door spring (their earliest reference only goes back as far as 1799 and in all likely hood should be 1814, either nine or twenty four years after Downer and as said possibly as many as fifty four years after Smith).
4. More investigation is needed.
I hope you find this blog post interesting and please feel free to comment.
Here are some Invincible/Forwards that we supplied springs and repaired the piston to, not something we normally do because from our experience we know that these particular floor springs will be needing more than a change of springs and repair to the piston to get them working as they should.
Hats off to the owner for taking the time to polish the components however and keeping them in the ground.
Today I have been to a local house where the owner to his credit is sympathetically restoring it. Fascinatingly he provided me with the paperwork below showing the costs of the Smiths originally plus the price for fitting.
I am also informed the Architect Sir Charles A. Nicholson, Bart (FRIBA) is well known in the Country for the building of Churches in this time period (1927).
I hope and expect the Smiths to be there working for another hundred years now the springs have been replaced.
As I am currently working on the hydraulic (Hydraulisch) Schubert & Werth door closer I thought I would show you the pneumatic door check and closer that the famous Berlin Door Closer Factory produced. This particular door closer must be before 1912 because from that time forward (1912) the company was renamed Schubert and Sohn (Son).
Below you can see the 1892 Patent from Hermann Schubert and Rudolph Werth.
Above is an original ad from 1902 showing both types of türschließer that Schubert & Werth manufactured. You can also see how the pneumatic closer is mounted to the door frame.
Today I would like to introduce you to a fine old Pre-First World War Schubert & Werth of Berlin 'Eagle' Door Check that has seen far better days. When I got it I discovered the con-rod is badly worn, the piston has turned 45 degrees (becoming unconnected from the spindle and crank, which is also bent), the piston is frozen in the bore, the main spring was disconnected, the gland nut is shattered into three pieces, all the seals are perished and the spring in the arm is snapped, some may say therefore fit only for the bin!
Considering however that the makers Schubert and Werth were exhibiting in the Exhibition of the German Empire in Chicago 1893 I hope to save it from the bin. The original version of this door closer was introduced around 1902, having a single valve to the front and no valve on the top, to the right as can be seen in my photographs.
As you will see this antique door closer would not look out of place in the Reichstag Building or even the Winter Place.
I really love the depth of cast and the fine Prussian Eagle.
The broken gland nut.
The bent and twisted crank.
A shot of the top cover after the top sleeve has been removed and the beginning of the 'Adlers' renovation and repair.
For those interested the inscription reads: Schubert & Werth, Berlin, Door Check/Door Closer, Factory.
As can be seen above the Pheon...Prussian Eagle is slowly rising from the ashes. The original Adler was gold in colour but on this rare occasion I have decided to change the colour of the door closer from gold to matt black, slightly scuffed/polished back off to pick out the high points.
Of course the outside of this door closer is the easy part to the repair/renovation, it is the mechanicals that are causing the problems as described above.
Up date: The beautiful old ADLER is now back working as it should, this was certainly not an easy repair as the piston was seized solid in the bore, there was major wear to the con rod, the crank was both bent and twisted, all seals had perished long ago, the spring in the arm was rusted through and the gland nut was broken into three pieces.
You can see it working at our You Tube site, not the most fitting of doors to have the ADLER mounted to but it can at least be shown to be working.
Robert Adams moved into the door closer business it appears from around 1927 with another product in the Victor line, that being the R.A.V (Robert Adams Victor) door closer. The model number on the one I am showing you is size 556 roughly equivalent to a Briton B.
I have discovered however that this was not Robert Adams own design. I can find no patent for this model door closer associated to the Adams name and as can be seen from my pictures it is identical to a Yale 62 and was probably just that a Yale YR 62 re-branded.
The RAV in the above advert it should be noted has the valve mounted on top rather than in the end. This is still a Yale 62 but known as the Y62 introduced in 1911 as a successor to the Yale/Blount after Yale bought and marketed Blounts original design which goes back as far as 1883.
As you can see in the above the RAV is identical to the G & S Allgood (YALE YR62). Below is the YALE 202 bracket from the Allgood, again identical to the one on the RAV.
As usual please feel free to comment.
The above is a video ink to a repaired Newman Tonks universal fit 7063. When it came to Midlands Floor Springs Limited the pin had snapped and it had lost its sweep and latch, it was therefore deemed only fit for the bin, these are considered irreparable, sealed throw away floor springs.
Below is a picture of the now red N/T 7063 next to its smaller brother the Newman Tonks 7004 which I took parts from to repair the 7063.
The problem I consider to be the same as that found with other modern floor springs and transom closers but as can be seen in the video link they are repairable.
We were recently contacted by Richard from Australia who has the H&S Smiths Spring in his home there. Whilst he was here in England we provided him with a new set of springs for his Smiths.
The company and logo is not one I have come across before and would love if someone has any information regarding the H&S company from, I presume Australia, that they are willing to share with readers.
We have let Richard know that he is more than welcome to contact us for advice on fitting his new springs as they can be extremely difficult to shoe horn in especially in the smaller of the Smiths model as this one is.
Update: We have had word another Smiths has been saved and will live to fight many more days to come!
Today I would like to introduce you to a number of William and Robert Leggotts floor springs, ones I have yet to come across in the flesh, therefore I can only as yet provide you pictures from a catalogue that Alex from Inch's Books kindly sent me.
As far as I am aware Leggotts were still going into the 1970's. If any readers still have these floor springs operating their doors I would be most interested to hear from you.
Leggotts also produced the "LEGOS" double action floor spring and the "REBA" single action floor spring, they also produced a Briton B derivative under their own title, calling it the "ANGLO."
As always please feel free to comment.
This old broken floor closer was supplied by Parker, Winder & Achurch and was at the site of the Bommers that I have made to not stand open at 90 degrees.
It is very similar to the Monarch and was probably a copy, you maybe able to see the little return on the yoke, this is as far as I can see the only real difference between a true Monarch and the Parwinac version.
I believe it must have been put in the building after 1936 as the is no mention of this particular floor door closer in their catalogue of this year.
This is not a Robert Adams designed floor spring which will I feel may make certain folk happy.
Although I have shown you the Invincible before this one is supplied by Charles Smith of Deritend Bridge 'Works' Birmingham and later of 17 Conduit Street, London. Charles Smith and Sons were well known as contractors and manufacturers of all type of metal-ware, supplying to many public buildings and mansions including Windsor Castle. They are however probably best known for their locks rather than the supply and manufacture of door checks.
It is interesting as this one had an adjustable spring which comprised of 3 springs (one inside the other), it being therefore more powerful than the previous Invincible's I have shown you. It should be seen that this model uses square section springs similar to many Robert Adams designed checks and closers.
Here is another Robert Adams I worked on a while back at St John the Evangelist, Old Couldson. As can be seen from the pictures I took this is an early Robert Adams floor spring, as stated before each one is individually marked and the number on this one being reasonably low at only 336 (I wonder where number 1 is)
You can see there were two more Robert Adams door springs that appear to have long since been removed or moved (the ones I worked on could be them) and all that is left is an oil stain on the flagstones.
Any guesses Jess why the cup was formed at the end of the carriage?
Update: The 336 may in fact be a model/size/strength number as there is another number on the box which I now feel maybe the serial number.
Further update: The 336 is definitely a model number, the model I worked on is still early however as it has not yet been named the 'Crown Victor.'
Here are the model numbers which are associated with door width, thickness etc:
No 335, 336, 337 these models all have checks, the model numbers for this closer without checks are 330, 331, 332 this floor spring has further identifiers associated with it, these being B, C, D, E and F.
Despite recent events and the accusations of "passing off" I shall continue to blog about the Robert Adams range of floor springs, plus any and all I come across as I feel there are freedom of speech issues involved, right of expression and to be curtailed from doing so would I feel be detrimental to how as I understand it the Internet works and should work.
I have been approached by a local ironmongers of some historical note regarding Robert Adams Sceptre Number 21's fortunately still in place in the Leicester County Council Headquarters.
They appear to be a similar one to the version I was sent the piston from, it is nice to see how the springs are positioned as previously I only got to work on the piston, pivot and yoke of this model.
I have again kindly been sent some pictures of a supplier I have not come across before, that being Baldwins Ltd of Birmingham. The floor springs beneath these plates are Air Check Invincible's (a model I have covered before).
They appear to have made/supplied skates according to an advert found on Gracesguide.
Picture has been supplied by Phil Hallam.
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.