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jpfulton248 04-18-2013 12:51 PM

Modernizing/Repairing Old Mortise Locks
I have a 1939 homes with 2 solid wood entry doors which are outfitted with mortise locks.

One of the door's mortise lock is functional but the doorknobs are loose and no matter how many times I try to reset them on the shaft, they always end up "floppy". I haven't necessarily noticed the setscrews slipping on the spindle, but I suppose it's a possibility.

The other door's mortise lock has been cannibalized and is no longer functional as far as serving as a lock. The doorknob latching mechanism works but the doorknobs are really loose. We are using a latch-lock to lock the door. When I bought the house the spindle's diameter was too small so I went to a locksmith store and he gave me some spacer things to increase the diameter where it matters. Basically it's a horrible, pain in the ass mess.

We don't really have it in the budget to replace both doors but if we could find a cheap mortise lockset replacement we might go that route. I guess one question is: what are the chances I can find a mortise lockset replacement that will, A) not cause me the same b.s. problems I have now, and B) actually fit the existing door that is already drilled/chiseled out. Another question might be: are there any solid options that will work to prevent the obnoxious floppy doorknob problem I have in the mortise lockset that IS functional?

P.S. If it makes a difference in terms of the value to price ratio, I also need a new storm door on one of these doors... not sure if a new storm door packaged with a new entry door will get enough of a deal to make new door hardware a bad idea financially.

Thanks in advance


rossfingal 04-18-2013 01:16 PM

I've seen kits to replace common, mortise locks (old ones) -
better, internal mechanical parts.
I think they were 30 to 40 dollars. (Sorry, not sure!)
Cheaper than replacing the whole door.
Check on the Internet.

Try replacing the set screws.

jpfulton248 04-18-2013 01:25 PM


Originally Posted by rossfingal (Post 1162052)
I've seen kits to replace common, mortise locks (old ones)

I saw reference to that somewhere on the internet. I'll keep browsing but it's kind of hard to tell what I'm looking at. Measuring width, height and depth is one thing, but then location of the cylinder and doorknob or other factors. If anyone else has experience or input on this I'd love to hear it.

rossfingal 04-18-2013 01:41 PM

If you're going to install a storm door -
go to a "Big Box" store - get a "Larson".
If it's installed correctly - it'll work.
Or - go pay 400 - 500 bucks for a storm door -
Installed incorrectly - not good!

Try replacing the set screws.

jpfulton248 04-18-2013 01:45 PM

I'll keep that in mind. There's a local company who apparently makes superior storm doors which are welded and not wood-core. The problem is that only a dealer/installer can get them and they are expensive. Maybe we'll take your advice and go with a Larson.

rossfingal 04-18-2013 01:57 PM

Larson are composite cores -
They do the job, though!
Are you installing the storm door, to last for 100 years? :)
Install correctly (same thing with all windows and doors!)

jpfulton248 04-18-2013 02:04 PM

I see your point re: life expectancy. We are currently renting while we are fixing up our new place... and I will say we just replaced the cheap wood core door that bulged to the point that it wouldn't close in our rental. No amount of screwing or any type of jpfulton248 fixes would do the trick... you can't screw a fastener into rotting wood.

joecaption 04-18-2013 02:17 PM

jpfulton248 04-18-2013 02:19 PM


Originally Posted by joecaption (Post 1162102)

Right, I actually did the google version of that but it still doesn't answer my questions about fitting etc. Thanks for your input.

user1007 04-18-2013 06:59 PM

Wilmette Hardware and Al Bar Wilmette Platers (next door to each other) has restored or replaced lots of locks for my projects and they have all kinds of parts for old locks. They might be worth a call. They are responsive to email and you can attach detailed pictures and descriptions. Make sure to measure carefully and like a cabinet maker. The more details you can provide, the better. They will deliver something that will fit and work perfectly for your existing doors.

Here is their information form and lock inventory form in PDF.

Where are you by the way? You might want to update your profile with basic geographic information.

kwikfishron 04-18-2013 07:16 PM

199 Attachment(s)
You may want to check this place out too. I've bought door parts from them many times over the years and have always been satisfied with the quality and customer service. They used to be my local source but even after I've moved away I still use them.

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