What old-house owner hasn’t walked up to a store counter with a pressing quest to find this or that traditional part or material, only to be shot down by some shaking head with the solemn response, “They don’t make that anymore.” Though it sounds like a sort of salesman’s mantra, these days this phrase is closer to a white lie. The truth is, many companies—some generations old, some much younger—do still make many classic house fittings and sundries, but because they’re not always that sexy or for new construction, you have to know where to find them. Here are a few prime leads to jump-start your search.
Historically, window hardware seems to be divided into two types: timeless tools and inventive widgets. Since there’s no telling which ones have been screwed to old houses over decades, Phelps Company carries a healthy assortment of both, from primary devices such as sash pulleys, casement fasteners, and cam-style sash locks to better mousetraps of the past, like spring-loaded sash pins and screen hardware. And yes, they have stop washers.
Inhabiting a space somewhere between architectural hardware and cabinet hardware is the decorative face hinge. Made for easy mounting to only one edge—or none at all—these workhorse hinges have been put to use on everything from pantry doors to tool chests. Similar ones come from House of Antique Hardware.
Given that cast iron weights have been balancing window sash since the early 1800s, you’d think replacements could be found in a few better places than scrap yards. Fortunately, Architectural Iron Co. thought so, too. They’ve been a restorer’s source for new weights since the 1980s, with sizes to match most sash.
Swinging Door Hardware
The double-acting spring pivot has been swinging pantry doors both ways since the 1880s. Made by a half-dozen companies at the turn of the 20th century, residential-level replacements became hard to find by the 1980s, especially if the hope was to return an otherwise healthy door to service without butchering the wood (or worse, blasting a hole in the floor). Bommer Industries Inc. has been making spring pivots since the 1890s, and their 7800 series can be a dead ringer for earlier versions. Bommer also does a few nifty hinges, such as a steeple-tipped butt hinge.Published in: Old-House Journal September/October 2005