victorian rim locks won't budge




Hope this is the right place for this post. We have 4 old victorian doors upsatirs. I want to have the doors dipped but I can't remove the rim locks and knobs because there is 130 year's worth of paint sticking the screws in place. And some of the screws are tiny! I've tied scraping, banging with a hammer etc but they won't budge.

Any secret solutions or tricks of the trade out there to melt away the paint [and rust I think]. Would like to keep the locksand knobs and restore if possible.

Thanks a lot,
Fay :)
Sponsored Links
paint stripper?

but i read that dipping doors is not always good

Thanks for your suggestion. I've got some paint stripper but didn't think it would loosen the screws. But maybe it would.... Have already scraped off a lot of the paint on and around the bigger screws but it made no difference.

Why is dipping doors not good? They are old so was worried paint might have lead in it, so dipping them seemed like best option....

I did say i had read, so i cant say for sure. However, a quick search and i found the following comments (not the same post, not the same poster) but they all say dipping is not that good

Here are the comments:

BTW the best strippers don't dip, they use a brush-spray type of system which is much less likely to damage the door and joints. Prolonged dipping can sometimes cause hide glue joints to fail - not good!


I had an Iroko door dipped, which took off about 5 layers of paint.

I left the door two weeks to dry, applied three coats of water based PU varnish and refitted the door - it doesn't fit! The door seems to have expanded to the extent it won't fit in the frame.


OK if you're going for the rustic look, but they will never look like new
Sponsored Links
Thanks a lot for the info. I'll look into it some more. Not so bothered if they don't look new but would be a bit annoyed if they didn't fit or fell to pieces.

Won't be able to get them done anyway if I can get the knobs and fittings off!

Everything is soooooooooooo complicated [when you don't know what you are doing! ] :LOL:
To get the screws out, you need to scrape enough paint from around the edges, and the slots. This is usually easy to do as the paint is brittle. I wouldn't recommend paint stripper for this: too messy.

If they are the original screws they will have narrower slots than standard slotted screws today. I have screwdrivers which I've ground down to suit older screws, in different sizes.

Sometimes it helps to hit the screwdriver into the slot with a hammer (use a driver with the tang going through to the end of the handle: the old perfect pattern screwdrivers were ideal for this). This can help to seat the blade, and the shock helps to unstick the threads.

For more difficult cases, use an impact driver to start the screw turning. However, these can sometimes break the screw head if it is hardened.

Another approach is to heat the screw in order to loosen it, using a large soldering iron, or in some other way.

Bear in mind that most Victorian doors made from softwood were designed to be painted (often with a grained finish). Stripping may expose filler under the paint which may not look good when waxed or varnished. Stripping by dipping can wreck the joints and degrade the surface of the wood, and in my opinion can look horrible, but each to his own.
Thanks very much for the detailed reply. I will try the things you suggested for the screws.

The doors look like they have been well used over the years but I want to keep them because I prefer old and battered to cheap and nasty [and don't have lots of spare cash for new and nice!]. Went for the dipping option because I kept reading alarming stuff about lead in paint. But now been reading all the bad stuff about dipping so not sure what to do anymore.

If the dipping affects the joints and melts the glue etc, are the doors likely to drop to bits? If we don't have the doors dipped, what do you suggest we do?

Thanks! :)
I agree entirely that it's better to keep original doors.

I don't think anyone would claim that dipping will cause the doors to fall apart; it may dissolve the original hide glues used and so the joints may begin to separate.

My own approach to stripping doors is to remove them (which you are planning to do) and take them outside. Laid on trestles, I strip with a hot air gun and then with carbide scrapers, finishing with appropriate sanding. Then I rehang, fill where necessary, prime and paint. Admittedly this doesn't meet some people's standards for dealing with old lead paint, but I do make sure that children are kept well away and that my clothes go in the wash afterwards. Search on 'lead paint' in the Decorating section where you may find a more rigorous approach recommended.
Thanks a lot. Will think about your suggestions and read a bit more about lead paint.... I find those heat guns a bit scary and being left handed [my excuse for all bungles and botches!] I'm not confident I'd do a very good job..... But maybe I'll give it a go at half term if it's not snowing!
I had another thought: it may be that some stripping firms are better than others, using more sympathetic approaches or shorter times of immersion. I don't know, but it might be worth looking into.

Just got the doors back today. They were stripped with door handles on so I now need some advice about how to clean the old rim locks and door handles. They all look black with some bits of gold colour shining through. Sorry for the lack of technical details! Does anyone know what I need to do to restore them to their former glory?

Also do I need to put anything special on the doors or can I just sand and varnish?

Keeping my fingers crossed that the doors don't fall to pieces the first time someone shuts one too hard! :LOL:
I would clean all the paint off using a hard nylon brush (I have brushes mounted on a grinder for this purpose, but you could equally use a drill-driven brush).

While you're at it, make sure the mechanism is working properly. It's a good idea to strip down, clean internally and lubricate. Then polish the brass parts on the outside, degrease and paint the steel parts; mask off the brass bits if you need to.

Originally rim latches would been black japanned; Hammerite smooth or satin black is quite suitable, though some rim latches were finished with a black crackle paint.

Refixing with new black japanned roundhead steel screws is probably more authentic, but I quite like to use roundhead brass screws.

DIYnot Local

Staff member

If you need to find a tradesperson to get your job done, please try our local search below, or if you are doing it yourself you can find suppliers local to you.

Select the supplier or trade you require, enter your location to begin your search.

Are you a trade or supplier? You can create your listing free at DIYnot Local

Sponsored Links