Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Storm Door Broken Window Repair

It would be worth my life to tell how this happened.

Suffice to say that it happened, and needs to be dealt with.

This shabby old door is slated for replacement anyway, but that could be a ways off yet. For the time being, it will have to get an opaque 'window'. It's a good thing I have some salvaged sheet material on hand that I won't mind wasting on this.

That window is secured on the inside by four of these screw-fastened clamps.

A bit of paint digging in the screw recesses with a scribe tip and the window should come out easily.

As I expected, it pries out from the top. Only the bottom edge resides in a channel. The paint the door had gotten long ago made the window frame a little balky, but with a bit of persuasion it came out.

And here it is all done up, and with the outside pre-painted even.

'Looks good to me. I don't know what my wife's complaining about.

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Addendum -- Dealing with the Broken Window

If nothing else, I need to dispose of all the glass shards safely. If I could get a pane of glass cut for it, I wouldn't mind repairing it and getting the door back to normal. When I was a boy, every hardware store had a rack of window glass and a machine for cutting it squarely and precisely, but that's gone the way of typewriters and sock darning. I must look into it.

Anyway, it looks like the window frame can be disassembled fairly easily -- there's one screw at each corner, like so.

If I do this carefully, I can get the pane's exact width x height dimensions.

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Here's a view of how the frame is constructed.

It took a bit of persuasion to get it apart that far. I'm impressed with how deeply the glass is seated and sealed in its frame-channels. That's quite a nice bit of engineering. Each of those 'L' brackets is spot-welded to the ends of the upper and lower channels, then screw-fastened to the side channels. At reassembly, the side channels will have to go in place first, followed by the upper and lower channels.

Some further persuasion got the entire upper channel off, and from there it was easy to remove all the shards and the seal.

I got the dimensions -- 24 5/8" x 18 1/8" x 0.085" thick. I may as well make a proper job of this. I'll strip off that wretched paint and find where I can either get glass, or get the window professionally reglazed. To be continued.

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Replacing the Glass

I found a glass place and got a piece of glass cut to size. It's a good idea to take a sample of what you need with you when you go for glass, so you have the answer to the thickness question[1] right in hand. On a window frame of this construction, glass thickness is critical -- too thick and it won't fit the gasket/channel arrangement.

Anyway, I've stripped the paint off the frame channels and scrubbed them clean along with the gasket. Before dismantling the frame, I marked the corners with an electric engraver so I could put it back together exactly as it was. That's a good precaution to take, even on things that appear to be made of interchangeable pieces; it can save you save some surprises. Here's the glass rectangle with the gasket installed.

Now I have to get the frame channels in place and fastened back together. Needless to say, this is a bit fraught with peril. I'll smear WD-40 in the channels so they go onto the gasket easily.

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That went remarkably easily and well. The only flaw is that I was unable to get the ends of the gasket to meet, so there's a void at one corner, like so.

I have some grey silicone gasket maker that I can stuff in there to seal that and give it a better appearance.

Tomorrow, I can reinstall the window, and the cat can get back his afternoon sunny spot in the vestibule to lounge in.

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The grey silicone (Permatex ULTRA GREY) worked out well. Here's a shot of the filled corner of the gasket from the exterior of the reinstalled window.

And the landlord has his sunny spot back.

All's right with the world again.

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[1] I had miked the glass and found that it was 0.085" thick. I also took a sample of the glass with me to the somewhat 'boutiquey' glass outfit that I'd found in the Yellow Pages. (The showroom was something of a hall of mirrors -- lots of really expensive, arty-looking items.)

I handed the guy the dimensions I needed and told him the thickness was "eighty-five thou." He said, "I've got two mil and three mil." I was glad I had the sample with me.

When I hear "mil" used as an abbreviation for "millimetre", it sets my teeth on edge. It's a slovenly usage of "mil" that's just flat out wrong, and doesn't inspire confidence in the user's knowledgeability.

Anyway, the guy cut my piece of glass and for $15.00 I went home with it. (I was a bit surprised that he didn't have a cutting apparatus like the ones I remember from long-ago hardware stores. He did it with tape measure, framing square and hand-held cutting tool, like I would at home.)

My point in all this is simply to advise that empirical means of conveying information (e.g. a sample of something) can be very helpful for avoiding error and miscommunication. The glass guy no doubt knows his stuff in his way, but I suspect that "eighty-five thou" meant nothing to him. And his "two millimetre" thickness dimension was nominal; the glass was actually 2.2 mm thick (just shy of 0.087" -- a tiny bit thicker than my sample).

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