Repair/replace old mortise locks

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  #1  
Old 07-06-05, 07:28 AM
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Repair/replace old mortise locks

I have a duplex with mortise locks on the front doors, Circa 1930. Neither one of them works as far as the thumb latch, and the keys are both long gone. A previous owner has added a modern deadbolt (above the original mortise lock)to each door so they can be locked, but it looks hokey. My locksmith is not optimistic about being able to fix the original locks, but the exterior trim is very handsome and I'd like to try to keep it if I can. They look like they were of good quality in their day - there are buttons on the side like the commercial locks have nowadays.

What do you guys do with these? Are the new mortise locks the same size as the old ones? If the keys are gone, can they be re-keyed? Are there people who fix them?

If I decide to just go with new locks, are there kits available to adapt the door to cylindrical locks? Should I just glue in a piece of wood to fill the mortise cavity and start over?

Thanks!
 
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  #2  
Old 07-06-05, 12:50 PM
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They do make modernization kits to replace the old style mortise locks. You can get them at Home Depot or a Hardware store. Maybe thats the route your locksmith was trying to go. I found a page which sells antique mortise locks. http://www.eddonaldson.com/mortise.htm#rim%20locks. There is also a company that makes modern mortise locks. That are fairly well made. http://www.marksusa.com/products/marksusa/pricebook.php.

If I had it in my hands I'm 90% sure I could fix them & make keys. As for rekeying a old "Bit" key lock. I guess its possible if you move the levers around you could come up with a different key combo. If it was me i'd probably go with the modernization kit. With a light commercial Lever/Knob (Grade 2)locking or passage, since you have the existing dead bolt.
 
  #3  
Old 07-06-05, 06:17 PM
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Old Mortise Locks

Hi,

For my own reference, here's your entire post:

I have a duplex with mortise locks on the front doors, Circa 1930. Neither one of them works as far as the thumb latch, and the keys are both long gone. A previous owner has added a modern deadbolt (above the original mortise lock)to each door so they can be locked, but it looks hokey. My locksmith is not optimistic about being able to fix the original locks, but the exterior trim is very handsome and I'd like to try to keep it if I can. They look like they were of good quality in their day - there are buttons on the side like the commercial locks have nowadays.

What do you guys do with these? Are the new mortise locks the same size as the old ones? If the keys are gone, can they be re-keyed? Are there people who fix them?

If I decide to just go with new locks, are there kits available to adapt the door to cylindrical locks? Should I just glue in a piece of wood to fill the mortise cavity and start over?

Thanks!

I did this so I could address as much as I could. Old Mortise locks do add a certain charm to a place don't they? Repairng one is not so charming, it's not very easy, and could wind up being expensive. I have done it for those that requested, and understood the possibility of expense. The first thing is to determine the maker of the lock. Is it a Baldwin? What are the deminsions of the lock body? What is the backset of the lock? All these things have to be considered, especially if replacement is in order. Have you had the lock apart? My experience with baldwin Mortise locks is that the screw that holds the actual lock in place fails first. This is usually due to people turning the screw in the wrong direction. (They are Left hand thread. At least the ones I've seen.) This causes the lock to not be tight in the body of the lock. If this is the problem, unfortunately, I have not found a place to purchase that particular piece of the lock.

If the Bolt part, or Latch parts are worn, I have actually had them brazed, and have reshapped them with a file to get them right. (This is really expensive, but adds new life to the lock.)

I'm not familiar with the update kits, but this may be the way to go. If you can, measure them in all directions, and go back to your Locksmith to see if maybe baldwin sells the same size and type of lock. If they do, the mortise lock body can be replaced, and the existing handles can be used as well. I've done this many times, and is in the long run, I think, the least expensive way to go about it. The Lock itself is not cheep, but will last alot longer if new.

I hope this gives you a few ideas as to what can be done. Good luck, and keep us posted as to what happens with this project.

cuedude
 
  #4  
Old 07-06-05, 08:08 PM
WGW
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Hi Cheyenps;
Just so you know, not all Locksmiths can repair old mortise locks.
I've known many over the years who won't try to repair before suggesting a replacement. In some cases it's because they lack the knowledge required to carry out a proper repair of antique hardware, others just have'nt the resources for replacement parts when needed whether it's a new part or one that is custom made.

The mortise locks on my 1870 Victorian home had been butchered by a previous owner and parts were missing, but with persistance I was able to find replacement parts and restored them both back to working order.
And because the PO had installed brass Deadbolts above the beautiful original trim, I decided to keep them for the extra security instead of attempting to fill in the deadbolt cutouts. To lessen the difference in appearance of the shiny deadbolt and the tarnished old trim, I stripped the finish off both deadbolt and mortise lock trim and polished them. Then I applied a couple of coats of clear laquer. Two years later they still look pretty nice together on the doors.

I'd suggest checking around with other lockshops before you give up on your old door hardware.
Another good possible source might be a local demolition yard because they will often hang on to old doors for the resale value.
And as they others have said, making keys for your mortise locks should'nt be any problem at all.

Regards
 
  #5  
Old 07-06-05, 09:58 PM
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You guys are fast!

Let me see if I can figure out how to get one out of the door and try to find a name on it. I'll also measure it up and see what you guys think.

Thanks!
 
  #6  
Old 07-07-05, 05:17 AM
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Being older, Theres not much to it. Just remove the set screws from the spindle and the knobs/handles should unscrew. Then just remove the screws on the face plate at the edge of the door. Should pull right out. But if you have a thumb turn and or thumb piece. You might have to remove the trim plates.
 
  #7  
Old 07-07-05, 07:23 PM
WGW
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If you're going to remove the hardware, then going by what you said in your first post about it having buttons on the side. I'd assume it also has either one mortise cylinder and thumbturn, or two mortise cylinders (meaning key operated from both sides of the door). In that case you'd follow the procedure outlined by Wreck, but in addition you would have to loosen a set screw located at the lock bodys edge directly opposite the mortise cylinder likely under the face plate, but some are accessed through the face plate. Then use either a key or small slot screw driver in the keyway to unscrew (counter clockwise) the mortise cylinder.

Regards
 
  #8  
Old 07-13-05, 07:01 PM
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Howdy!

I took one of the locks out today. It was easy enough to do once I figured out that the cylinder unscrews from the lock body itself.

Here are pictures of what I have:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v191/cheyenps/pennlock/Pennlock3.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v191/cheyenps/pennlock/Pennlock2.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v191/cheyenps/pennlock/Pennlock1.jpg

It's was made by Penn Hardware, and it's in pretty bad shape. There are internal pieces missing, the thumbturn is missing, and there is a piece broken off of the case. Not a good candidate for repair, IMHO.

So - how about a new mortise lock? I can't imagine that modern locks share the same dimensions as this old lock does, but it's worth a shot:

Backset: 2 3/4" (So far so good!)

Centerline of lock cylinder to centerline of doorknob: 3 3/8"

Case dimensions: 3 5/8" deep, 5 3/8" tall, 3/4" thick

Mortise plate (is this the right name for it? The part on the side with the buttons?) 1 1/4" wide x 7 3/4" tall, 1/4" thick

Do these sound like the dimensions for any modern lock that you know of?

Thanks!
 

Last edited by Cheyenps; 07-13-05 at 07:16 PM.
  #9  
Old 07-14-05, 05:04 AM
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They make modernization kits like I stated above. Which actually cover the larger holes made by the mortise lock, with br*** plates. And have a plate for the edge of the door, that will except a regular latch. There a companys call DonJo / Mag, that also makes filler plates and cover plates. As for a new one, there are many options. But thier not inexpensive, and most likely require you to change the strike and maybe even mortise "chisel" the door more to fit the newer lock. Theres a company called Marks, that make decent more modern mortise locks. Best thing to do is search around for something you like and a price you want to spend.
 
  #10  
Old 08-09-05, 09:11 AM
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Update

I looked for a replacement mortise lock for a while, but gave up when nothing seemed to match up well enough to make it worth the trouble. I ended up using a modernization kit from Doj-jo and a Baldwin entrance set.

It's perfect! From the outside of the door, the Baldwin set looks nearly identical to the mortise lock it replaced. It's nice and sturdy - should last longer than I do!

Thanks to everyone for good advice!
 
  #11  
Old 09-04-05, 05:50 PM
dlloyd1975
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Mortise locks are easy to come by!

IIRC, good old mortise locks go for around $15 in these parts (St Louis) at the architectural salavage places. Just about all of the ones I've worked with require a simple soaking of WD-40 to get them working correctly again. Even if it takes you a few to get a functional one, that's still cheaper than buying new from the Orange or Blue box plus you get to keep some of your old house charm.
 
  #12  
Old 10-09-09, 06:13 PM
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Thumbs down installing door knobs in mortise lock

the new Marks mortise lock has a metal plate where the door knob spindle should go through. How do I insert the door knobs?
 
  #13  
Old 10-10-09, 02:59 PM
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Many modern mortise locks operate using two spindles. One from inside and one from outside. This is deliberate because of modern building code and fire regulations.

It is purposely designed so that you can leave the door locked on the outside but unlocked on the inside.

If you had one solid spindle, whenever you lock the door on the outside, it will lock inside also, which becomes a fire hazard.
 
  #14  
Old 10-10-09, 06:57 PM
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Did you buy a complete lockset, or are you trying to use existing knobs/levers/spindles with a new mortise lock body?
If the former,what model is it? If the latter, realize that different models within the same brand can vary in design so that spindles and lock bodies (lock case) may not be interchangable. There are several different arrangements of knob/spindle/hub designs.
 
  #15  
Old 10-11-09, 05:43 PM
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if you pull apart the mechanism, you will void any warranty.

but you can remove the little plate between the hubs, so the spindle goes through.

Doing so will prevent the fire escape function.
 
  #16  
Old 10-12-09, 05:42 PM
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Me too!

Like some of those here have said earlier, I would simply like to remove these knobs so I can flip the door around to the other side of the door frame. I removed all the screws from the plates around the knob, the plate on the edge of the door, and even a fat, little flathead screw where the knob starts to taper down on the inside.

I can find no retainer holes of any sort, and I have sat with a flashlight examining every square inch. The knobs do not unscrew, and I have also tried pushing and pulling them toward and against eachother at every step of the process. I don't see any thing that can be turned behind the plates, either, except the keyhole.

Here is a picture. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

David

 
  #17  
Old 10-12-09, 06:41 PM
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Oops, I answered in the last thread, sorry.
 
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