Monday, July 2, 2012

Side Trip

My find, as of September 2009
Haven't done a lot on the house this past month or so.  Life's realities have intruded and needed attention.  But what little I have done has had nothing to do with shellacking trim or prepping the living room for paper or cleaning up the 1st floor hallway floor for paint.

No.  I've been off on a side trip, seeing what I can make out of my new-old back screen door.

The existing door is a bog-standard aluminum convertible number that some previous owner forced into the opening.  For the past three, maybe four years it's been hanging by one hinge on the bottom and the door closer at the top.  The screw holes in the top and middle hinges are stripped, and try as I might I couldn't get the screws to stay in or hold.

So it was nice three years ago on the eve of the Borough's semi-annual large-item trash pickup that I spotted the perfect screen door dumped at the curb the next street over.  It fit the style of the Sow's Ear perfectly, had all its original hardware, and it was in one piece when I rescued it.  Well, two.  The screen insert was separate.  But though the stiles and rails and panel were all sound, by the time I got it off the porch and down the basement the dowels gave way in several places and the door fell apart.

Never mind.  I could replace the dowels and put it back together.

But with that and it's needing stripped and, oh, look, the hinges and latchset are on the opposite sides from what I need, oh, yeah-- dealing with the salvaged door has taken a back seat.

But this spring I got tired of hearing the aluminum door bang.  I figured the neighbors were tired of it, too.  It won't be long before the last hinge gives out and then were will I be?  I don't run the AC in the summer if I can help it, my kitchen door would be standing open, and the flies would be in and the dog would be out-- out eating dropped rose of Sharon blooms and getting the runs.

So before this summer is out, I'm determined to fix up and install that salvaged screen door.

Mortised into the door edge!!
Front screen door
Slow process.  First thing, I needed to remove the hardware.  Rotten difficult, as the screws were rusted in or painted in in most cases.  After three or four weeks of coming back and coming back and working at it, I finally got the hinges and latchset off, but I'm not home free.  The hinges are the half-surface kind, where one leaf is supposed to mortise into the jamb and the other, which is broader, is screwed to the surface of the door.  My front screen door is hung just that way.  But the previous owners of the new door had to get creative.  They mortised the narrower leaf into the edge of the door (patching work to do there), and the wider leaf they must have attached to the jamb in some way.  I'm not sure how, because all three have two 1/8" thick aluminum shims attached to them.

Aluminum shims.  I wonder why.
And that's where the difficulty lies.  A lot of the Philips head screws that replaced the originals in those leaves are stuck, broken off, and plain won't cooperate.  I've tried everything with sprays and oils and clamps and pliers, but there's still four of them I can't get out.  Grrrrrr!!

On top of that there's the jolly screw-cams that hold the screen insert in.  Oh, those were nasty.  Worked at them literally for weeks.  But I finally realized that it was doing no good to pump loosening solvent over the heads of the screws on the face of the door, the thing to do was to squirt it into the grooves in the sides to get to the rotating tongue part.

That, and get the pieces outside into the light where I could actually see what I was working with.  Had to do that anyway this afternoon, to wash the dirt off the surfaces.  Finally, finally, I was able to work the screws around so I could get hold of the tongues with my Vise-Grips.

The cam rotates!
So now they're free, and all I have to worry about is the fact that the tongues look a little bent.  And about stripping the pieces, redowelling them, getting those stupid shims off the hinges, getting the insert rescreened, etc., etc., etc. . . .

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