So I’m knee deep in making a bathroom out of a dirt hole in the ground, and the Mrs pokes her head in and starts pestering me that the door latch for the kitchen stairway is not working right. It had been kinda limping along for the last week, and I had it on my honey do list, but nowhere near the top. I thought maybe a squirt of WD-40 would perk it up, however, the nagging continued as the dew points rose. You see, the kitchen stairway door keeps all of our deliciously cool and dry air where it’s supposed to stay, upstairs, but it likes to slip out when the door does not latch. We leave the ground floor the way the house had it in the late 1870’s. Hot and humid.
Speaking of the 19th century, when we bought this place, most of the doors and some of the windows were original to when the stone part of the house was built. The new wood part was built in 1920 and had some really neat gas lighting at first, but it got taken out in the early 50’s when the first electrical system was put in. This has now all been ripped out and replaced with 20 amp wiring throughout, so we are all uptown, so to speak, in the lighting department. I’ve found parts and pieces of gas lamps in the metal pile up on the ridge, along with Model T motors, pump jacks and lots and lots of metal wheels. The place is a gold mine for old cool junk.
Anyway, I was gluing up 3 inch PVC for the waste line of the downstairs bathroom, when Miss “drop everything and come fix this one little thing that’s bugging me” lets me know that the door latch is still bugging her.
Maybe it was the fumes from the PVC cement, maybe I didn’t really need a distraction at this particular moment in time, or maybe I just felt the need to bolster my wife’s fixing stuff skills, whatever it was, I told her to just handle the problem, and went back to wiping the PVC primer off my hands, hoping my face wasn’t purple (the PVC primer is purple), from when I was wiping the sweat out of my eyes.
It had gotten real quiet in the kitchen and since it was close to coffee time, I thought I would see what she was up to. Her tool box was out, the door latch guts were spread out on the counter and the Mrs triumphantly pointed to a small metal strip that was in two pieces. I told her the metal thingy was a spring and she said well there’s your problem. So, after a century and a quarter, this little metal spring, that had reliably kept the door latching for all that time, decides to suddenly up and call her quits. Hmm. I guess this is why we can’t have nice things.
However, before you get too riled up at cheap crap not working right… Huh, I had to laugh at myself a little when I wrote that. Take heart Bunky, this ain’t no Chinese plastic piece of bull poop. This lock was made to be fixed. Since she had the whole thing apart I could see there are 3 metal springs that keep the mechanisms under tension and it should be no problem to come up with something that will get it back working. After coffee, I went back to building, but the mind was also ciphering on what I could come up with for a spring.
Lunch time comes and my battery powered impact driver needed to be charged, so I went out to the shop and looked around for some metal. The only thing I had was some 18 gauge galvanized sheet metal. It would have to do. I cut a 1/8 inch piece by 2 1/8 inches long and brought it back to Mrs Fixit. She said it looked a little wimpy, I told her to rub it a little and it would work out OK. I get that look. She goes to putting things back together and next thing you know, it is back on the door. Sure, it’s not as snappy as the old spring, but it will do the job for the next 50 years or so. Hope the next owner has a wife that’s handy.