Grandpa Webb's blog

Thursday, 31 January 2013

The lock on the loo door

Who is this Grandpa Webb?The lock on the toilet door is probably the second most important lock in the house. Ours has been a bit unreliable lately. Turn the key and it might work, but most times it didn’t.

Investigation showed that a one-piece spring inside was now in two pieces. Taking the lock with me, I journeyed to B&Q.

B&Q has lots of door locks. They hang on hooks, each one entombed in a very strong burglar-proof plastic casing. Without smashing the plastic - which would need powerful scissors or a good knife - there’s no way of taking out the lock inside to see if it matches the one I have brought with me.  After much squinting through the plastic at the position of the keyhole, the fixing holes and the hole that the handle fits into, I invest £18 in a Brass Effect 2 lever Sashlock.

After jemmying it out of the plastic casing I discover that the keyhole and hole for the handle - the main holes are exactly the same distance apart to those on the broken lock, which is a very good sign. I make the mistake of telling grandma that this will take only a few minutes with a screwdriver.

An hour later my two screwdrivers (the old lock has slotted screws, the new one cross-head screws) have been joined by two chisels, a hammer, and a power drill.

While the main holes are identical, it turns out the fixing holes on the faceplate (the bit that fixes to the edge of the door), are in a different place. The lock is also a bit lower down the faceplate than the old one. So I chisel the door a bit and eventually screw on the new lock.

But now the handles don’t work. True, they will open the door, but when pressed down, they stay down. I can hear grandma saying that they worked better before. Off come the handles and I find myself using little bits of matchstick and superglue to plug the old screw holes before drilling a new set.

Although we now have handles that work, a key that works, the door won’t shut because the new lock uses a different striker plate (the thing in the door frame that it latches into).Clunk-click - it works!

The holes in the frame don’t match the new striker, so out come the matchsticks and superglue and the hammer and chisel, and a little more frame hits the carpet.

At last it all works. The key turns smoothly, the handles spring back after they’ve been pressed down and the door shuts with a satisfying click. It only took five hours and all I have to do now is paint over the freshly-chiselled wood on the door frame - when I get some primer from B&Q. 

There’s nothing like a bit of do-it-yourself. And to encourage us, oldies get a 10% discount at B&Q on Wednesdays.

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