Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dratted Hinge

OK, first a silly riddle from the local silly-riddle-of-the-month signboard on the way to the store:

What did one snowman say to the other snowman?

Do you smell carrots?


Hinges are a great invention. We all take them for granted, not even thinking of what things would be like without them. Doors at best would be sliding and/or pocket doors, perhaps a curtain sliding across a pole or tied back. Cupboard would be just shelves. Home security? Yeah, right.

Occasionally the metal becomes old, the hinge warps a bit, the tight fit is lost. I've had that happen. Or at least the folks who are replacing a door claim it has, given as a reason why I need to pay for a new hinge along with the new door. I guess I buy that. Quite literally.

But the house here has another issue. Some dope installed the top hinge on the master bedroom door upside down.

Do modern hinges even have a top or bottom these days? It would be so easy to make them with caps on both ends so the pin inside can't be pulled out, leaving a closed door forever closed unless the person inside chooses to open it. I haven't bought one lately, so I don't know. But I may have to. And really, there may be a perfectly good reason for having a hinge that can be taken apart. Like, say, a busted lock, unopenable.

But installing one upside down? Given a hinge with one end capped off to stop the pin passing that point, and the other end open so the pin can be put in or pulled out, don't you understand that there is a clear up and down to a hinge? The top is obviously the open part. The bottom is obviously the closed off part, closed to keep gravity from working its magic on the pin.

At least it should be obvious to everybody except the idiot who installed the top hinge in the bedroom door.

We first noticed the problem a couple months after moving in. Hinge pins make a peculiar pinging noise when they drop 5 feet to the uncarpeted floor. It's a sound I've come to know too well. If one doesn't check to see if the pin is starting to slide down, it will soon be heard. Sometimes even if one does check it, the ping announces the event. Last time was the day after reinstalling the pin from the drop before. AKA yesterday.

Now you might ask why that door needs so much moving that the hinge malfunctions. First, we keep the dogs out. Or in while we sleep, given their tendency to scatter wastebasket contents across the floors in pursuit of a popcorn kernel or a used tissue.  Even putting wastebaskets behind (hinged) doors doesn't eliminate the problem. Smart dogs!

Second, it keeps light and noise on the opposite side of the door from the sleeper, when the other is not sleeping. Third, it means not such need is attached to maintaining a spotless room in case company arrives. Fourth, the door helps regulate the environment inside the house, which areas are heated or chilled being varied due to its position. Anyway, reasons.

An upsidedown bottom hinge would not be quite such a problem. I think. The door could swing hanging from the top hinge and still be quite usable.  A separated top hinge, on the other hand, allows the door to drop and scrape the floor, sway, or any number of things that make it unusable. And trying to fit it back together takes two people with a lot of cooperative coordination, at least one hammer, and often involves a bit of cussing.

Not just because the hammer in that inconvenient corner may hit more fingers than hinge parts.

First, of course, the hinge loops must be lined up. Exactly so. Not a millimeter off. The channel must have no obstructions to keep the pin from advancing.

You try it.

The weight of the door helpfully wants to swing it out of position with any twitch, sneeze, or nano second of inattention. Even closing the door does not guarantee that the frame itself will hold it in the needed position. The first time we tried to fix the hinge it took us half an hour.

The second time took a bit less.

Recently I figured out a system.

The last two times the pin dropped (yes, Virginia, you can hear a pin drop, even with the TV going in the living room) it was as the door opened fully. The hinge itself hadn't yet shifted position. I gave Steve and myself both strict orders to leave it open in its exact same position. Don't even bump it. That was doable, but it let the dogs, light and noise flow freely in and out. So it had to be fixed quickly.

I needed a stick, something to slide the pin out of the corner behind the door without moving the door. After a search of the house, I decided on the mop handle. Success!

From the doorway side there was enough room for a finger to fit. It was all that was needed to start the slide of the pin several segments up into the hinge again, though not enough to push it all the way. Steve went to go get the hammer while I eased around the door and used the mop handle to slip under the hinge pin and hold it from dropping again. I managed to be coordinated enough to keep it in place through the closing of the door, giving Steve room to swing the hammer and finish the job.

Of course, as noted above, it didn't last long. But replacing it this time only waited until we were both awake at the same time again. Since then I look at that dang pin every time I pass the door, whether it gets moved or not. And when I do move the door, I try to put a little pull on it, enough to maybe keep the pin from falling out.

Now we're waiting for one of the "kids" to come down and either turn the hinge around or put a new one in. It didn't seem to be one of their priorities on previous visits.

That'll change.

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