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Is this a track for an antique pocket door hidden in my wall?

Critical Mass's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 180

01-13-14, 06:49 PM   #1  
Is this a track for an antique pocket door hidden in my wall?

So we're tearing up our "new" 110+ year old house, and the one wall between the two front rooms is kinda thick... 7"-8". Didn't think much of it, because we've seen a lot of goofy stuff so far, except I was chopping up a crappy drywall installation on a perpendicular wall, and that's when I was able to see inside the wall in question.

First, I see this metal bar, about the width and breadth of a ruler. It's screwed into the one side of the wall, and seems to serve no purpose. I'm estimating that the bar is about 16"-24" long, and right next to it is another, and yet another. It's held to the wall with very old, fairly large flathead screws. (Pic #1)

Second, the wall is hollow. I can see all the way down to the other end (a full 8 feet) with no vertical studs blocking my vision. (See Pic #2) It appears that at least part of this wall (living room side) has a type of horizontal beadboard.

So my guess is that the big room was the living room, the smaller room was a study, and... despite the fact that there is a doorway adjoining the two rooms at the far end, there was a set of pocket doors in the center of this wall.

Being that the wall is 8' long, and the track (at least the end I can see) goes all the way to the end, would that mean that each door panel was 2' wide for an opening of 4' wide?

So if this is NOT a track for a pocket door, I can look elsewhere, but if it IS, obviously there is no longer a door there, or else I would not be able to see all the way down. Would it be worth the time and effort to try to restore this, or am I going to have such a hard time piecing things together that I'm better off leaving well enough alone? About the only experience I have with this type of thing is installing bi-fold closet doors and sliding glass shower doors, so theoretically, it's the same concept

Thanks in advance!

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XSleeper's Avatar
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 19,331

01-13-14, 07:08 PM   #2  
That would probably be right on the money. A lot of houses of that era had double pocket doors where half slid one way and half slid the other way when they were open.

I would definitely NOT restore it using the original hardware. If you really like the idea of restoring the pocket door, i would suggest you demo one half of your double wall set up, demoing both the left and right sides that have the old track hardware.

Then get yourself a pocket door kit for a double 2-0 pocket door. It will have an 8ft track and two prebuilt pocket door frames for each side. Johnson Hardware makes the most reliable pocket door hardware, and I'd recommend sticking with it.

Pocket doors are quite tricky to install, but if you think you have the skills and a good 78" long level, I'm sure you could do it. Getting the head track level is the key, and making sure the side kits are plumb and aren't racked is also very important. Then you have to remember not to shoot any long nails or screws into the pocket doors when they are open.

calvert's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 466

01-15-14, 07:10 PM   #3  
Pocket door hardware

I wouldn't have a problem with the track, but...the real issue is finding the proper wheel assembly to fit the track.

There were a multitude of manufacturers and the assemblies they offered varied considerably. Last year I worked on 5 pocket door assemblies in 100+ year old houses and no two of them were the same. As a matter of fact, I am almost willing to bet that I have never worked on the same exact assembly twice in my 25 years of being around restoration work.

Unless you come up with the original doors or you get very lucky at a salvage yard you MAY have a tough time finding the appropriate parts to make the whole thing work like the original.

Being the eternal optimist, all I can do is wish you good luck.

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