1921 Sargent Door Closer Restored

1921 Sargent Door closerWhen we first saw our house, one of the things that we really liked about it was all the original details. One of those was a 1921 Sargent door closer. Of course, I’m sure no one will be surprised to learn that it no longer closed the door. It just added character.

Well, I’m happy to say, that after two years of searching high and low, I was able to find someone that could fix it … in CANADA!!!

door-closer-before-restorationTruth be told, the first place it tried is a good option for most people, and especially if you have a Norton door closer. You might want to check out New England Door Closer, Inc. if you want to have a closer repaired.

The trick with repairing a vintage closer, however, is finding someone that is enough of a pack rat to have an old part when one needs replacement. Closer disassembledThe reason I didn’t go with New England Door Closer is because they didn’t have a ca. 1921 Sargent spring, which is the part that was damaged in mine.

The place I eventually found that not only had the know how but also the part was Acme Doorway Technical Service in Toronto. As you can see from the photos, it was quite the process and turned out great.Door closer after cleaning and prior to reassemblyDoor closer installed and operational


96 Responses to “1921 Sargent Door Closer Restored”

  1. looks like you found a pretty old closer there, did best action in getting your sargent FIXED not REPLACED by a newer closer. your right, these old closers add alot of character to a building that a modern day “box and arm” closer cannot give.

    i agree that parts for these old style closers (the body style is called traditional) are rare to find, only companies that actually use the old body style anymore are Yale for their 1900 series and Norton for their 78 B/F if your looking for a new closer. but since newer dont always mean better, seems these old ones like your sargent they last FOREEVER if taken care of correctly. I also have a few old closers, one, a sargent SCREEN DOOR CLOSER (the ones made before the hydraulic rack and pinion closers) its soo old the spring is seperate from the door controlling air cylinder. my other closer is similer to yours but is a russwin, made in 1952, hopefully they will never break, was neat to see the photo of the sargent closer and parts layed out (I guess was taken by Acme doorway technical services?) the sargent you have uses rack and pinion to control insides, some closers, (such as russwin for instance) use crankshaft and piston design (basically has piston, connecting rod on piston connected to the spindle shaft (that long round part next to the piston in the second photo of closer in peices) for door control.

    best place to look for a true oldie like yours (if in the event you want to add more to your doors at your house) ebay, and also when places go out of business.

    I am an expert in door closers(oddly, im female age 24 too!), have known alot about them since I was 12 and through school years I pretty much was givin the nickname “doordoctor” because of my knowledge in closers, I still give advice online to people with problems with their closers, so please, if you end up with a question about yours, feel free to ask in email or response.

    didn’t mean to bore you about vintage closers and my knowlage in them, keep in touch if you want.

  2. I’m trying to find out how old our apartment is. Are there any other door closers you know of that look just like that being younger. I think ours is the same one. If you could get back to me it would be highly appreciated.

  3. portia:

    about your question about your apartment, sometimes anymore its hard to tell the age by looking at the closers since people sometimes do collect old closers like the one shown above and install them for cheractor on a newer building then closer’s age. many comp

    about other closers that look like the 1921 sargent but newer, do you mean other brands that made them with the classic traditional styling??? the companies i can think of that did use this style are Norton, Yale, Blount, Sargent, LCN, Corbin, Russwin, Dorma/Reading (for short time) Briton (UK, canada and AU) BKS (germany and western europen countries) most of these companies stopped making this style of closer back in 1980’s because of weight and metal usage so they all (or most) went to a slimmer design (like norton 1600 series “storefront” closers)

    only BKS, Norton and Yale still use this style but using aluminum alloy instead of cast iron or steel body.

    portia, if possible, if its not EXACTLY like the one shown at top of the wordpress article, can you maybe upload a photo using photobucket or imageshack.

    please comment back if possible,


  4. hay jess, what a dream woman you are !! i can talk about door ironmongery with you – ace !! i am actually looking for a pair of original old cast type closers can you recomend where to get two from and perhaps what makes to go for.



  5. noah, glad you found this blog and found me,

    about your request, i take it your in uk (as you said ironmongery) and i seen your wordpress blog about the buildings you have done, there are a few dfferent places i can think of tfind old cast iron closers,
    1. be local scrapyard (i have a friend who found a closer at a scrapyard) 2. ebay (best bet, but cant guarentee that anyone is selling 2 at a time in one auction, sometimes you get lucky, happy bidding)
    3. local contractor/locksmith that deals with things like that, removal of old ones and installation of new closers and best to catch him/her during removal,
    4. flea market/yard/garage sales
    5. secondhand shop

    the most popular closer used in UK and canada was called “the briton” (they are indicated by letters for spring size, instead of number like modern closers)

    briton don’t make them like that anymore, i myself live in the states and i only know of is like 3 companies that still make them the old fashion style, (but are aluminium alloy, not heavy cast iron) i hope my ideas have helped in you finding some vintage style closers,

    about talking to me, i have SKYPE as well, but about that, il leave that to the contact me page on the noahredfern site, ok?? i enjoy talking to people with same interests and door hardware/ironmongery also contact me if have problem instaling or question about fixing them, I don’t bite (lol)

    hope to hear from you again,


  6. Hi,
    I work on an old estate in New York and the front door has an old sargent closer. It wasn’t closing completely today for some reason ( it had been working fine). Do these things use hydraulic fluid or is it all springs, or neither? The small adjustment screw wasn’t helping any either. Assuming that the screw on the left side is an adjustment screw.
    Any help would be appreciated.

  7. hi John, about the door, does it feel weak when opened?? or feel same in spring strength (effort for you to open the door) but just don’t close it??

    answer to the question, they use BOTH a light weight hydraulic oil and a coil spring (looks like an oversized slinky toy spring, if adjustment knob is not working, then you could be low on oil, has the unit been leaking (any stains on floor or on bottom of closer??

    if not leaking, have you tried adjusting the gear thing under the arm at the top?? to adjust the gear, you would use a tool that looks like a hook wrench (sold in car parts stores or sold with car racing shocks (coil-
    overs) adjust it one notch at a time until it closes all the way. if its just not latching the door, possible the sliding part on forearm (arm segment between bracket on frame to where arm connects to other arm that goes to closer body) possible that the sliding part got loose (many have a set screw that gets loose over time and slides out disconnecting the forearm.

    has weather been colder for past few days (or whenever your Sargent started to stop working right) reason I ask about temp, weather can effect older closers that using an old oil (may just need a change of oil to something like mineral oil or marine (boat) power steering fluid.

    if your up to changing the oil:

    remove closer from door

    take to the shop or garage area (somewere that you have a workbench with a vise)

    first drain out all the old oil (mount closer in vise valve knob down and with an old coffee can or bowl under closer unscrew the valve knob and pump arm back and forth till all the oil is out.

    reposition closer in vise with valve knob area pointing up and with a syringe or small funnel pour in the new oil (alittle at a time) while slowly moving arm to keep air from entering closerwhen full (and arm pushed or pulled as far as you can get it, remove syringe or funnel and HOLD FINGER OVER HOLE and sowly move arm back to center (were arm stops)and repeat process until oil is even with end of closer body (at edge of hole that valve knob came out of then put knob back in (some closers the o-ring may be on valve, some the o-ring is inside hole the valve fits in)

    if there’s a nut surrounding the valve knob, that is to keep o-ring from leaking from valve knob (they use an o-ring that is compressed with pressure from the nut against inside closer body to stop leaks from happening at knob) after adjusting closer, RE-TIGHTEN THIS NUT (I have seen many times that people adjust an old closer that has a nut they loosen nut, adjust and forget to re-tighten the nut and closer for short time after adjustment looses all its fluid from the knob area)

    hope this was not too confusing and PLEASE type back with any other questions or problems with your closer John, hope all my ideas help and KEEP IN TOUCH about the closer

    -Jess the “door closer doctor”

  8. forgot to add, after filling with oil, remount to door and adjust, again, hope my ideas help

    -jess the door closer doctor

  9. Hay Jess hit me up, very sorry havent been on here for ages. . . .
    i have my two door closers ready( AT LAST ‘ , can we talk on skype please ? hit me up on my site or email please if you can. I have a few questions.

    I dont bite either !



  10. Garry Stepanek Says:

    i have a LCN closer (1957 style) with C-71 on bottom.
    Do you have adjustment diagram for it.

  11. Garry, from the info you have givin me, its alittle hard to tell if its an older style closer (traditional such as the type shown at top of this blog,) or a more modern closer (the kind that you put a box cover on, sen commonly in hospitals and schools)

    I don’t mean to sound mean, but reason I say, is that LCN interchangeably used c-71 and 320g on the door closer bodies (casted in the steel or on a label) this is not the model number, its just the casting number (factory’s casting mold number) most closers now made by LCN are stamped with 320g

    reason I say this, LCN made the more modern closers (4000 series) starting in 1956,

    so below you will find basic adjustment instructions for the traditional style closers (like shown above) and the box body style (like found in today’s school classroom doors and hospital corridor doors)

    about the closer, does it resemble the one at top and have what looks like a police shield shaped nameplate on front?? if it does, most times it will say adjust speed with screw nearest hinge, (can be left or right side of body,) depending on what your trying to adjust it to do, if it feels weak to pull, you may have to adjust the spring power, (this adjusted with a special hook shaped spanner on a gear thing on top of closer under the arm) towards the hinge to make it stronger, and away from hinge to make weaker,

    usually its like this with LCN’s. left screw is sweep and latch, other is backcheck, if one of the screws has a notch, this is the sweep/latch screw, (both usually are flat head screwdriver adjusted)

    if its the modern day looking ones (square box body and a 5 inch tube on one end, that is the 4003 series LCN, those the adjustments are on top and thre would have been 2 or 3 allen key or flat head screw adjustments, the 2 adjustments that are next to each other on “short end” of closer, those are sweep and latch (latch being nearest the end of closer body and sweep being the one next to it, if there’s 1 screw that is on other end (end with tube) that is backcheck adjustment if there’s a nut found at end of tube, that is spring tension,

    hope above info has helped,

    please reply back to me if still stuck or have questions,

    -Jess the Door closer doctor

  12. D Miller Says:

    I need istallation instructions for a LCN C-71 closer. Are they available.

  13. D Miller, C-71 is the casting number used on ALL LCN closers to idntify the mold usd in th casting process at foundry they are made at, and also identify what UL guidelines they passed) to best help you since installation varies between the different series closers that LCN has made over the years,

    if at all possible, can you please PLEASE upload photo of the closer so i can best identify it and provide you with the installation/adjustment instructions if possible???


    -Jess the door (closer) doctor

  14. car parts these days have increased in prices but there are some online car parts seller that have cheap prices ;~”

  15. Gabe Garza Says:

    Jess- I am desperately looking for some old door closers like the Sargent restored in the photo on this blog for a restaurant i am building in New Orleans. I am trying to keep a vintage feel throughout, and this element is a must. Any ideas of where to start? I need approx 12. Thanks!


  16. I remodel houses and old building I put a new door in a chuch today and on the old door was a 1932 model 73 yale and towne mfg.co. door closer it still works and in really good shape good cleaning and it would be lik new it also had the coner backet that says yale on it. Its pretty cool I was wonder if I found somethin good annd worth something or did I jus find a old door closer please email me back wit any info my email is cisneycorbin@yahoo.com thank you

  17. Gabe Garza: i hope the below suggestions help in finding you the amount of closers you need, you may not be able to find 12 all in one shot or together in same place but sometimes you get lucky andhit the jackpot of door closers…

    some helpful “hotspots” that you may find vintage Sargent traditional closer(s)

    1. flea markets, many contractors when they find a good find on a renovation job, they will kep it until they go to the flea market and then sell off their finds to anyone who’s there, be aware that they can be a bit high in prices (all depends on the contractor, i cannot point a finger to what price range to expect on old closers, but i have seen them on ebay go for about 15 on up to about 70 price range

    2. eBay, although its rare to see more then 2 or 3 units in one auction, but sometimes it does happen were a person will sell more then one of the same brand in one auction (happy bidding and be aware that those are heavy and shipping may be more then what the winning bid is.many are cast iron making shipping costs really high)

    3. habitat for humanity ReStore, this basically is a nationwide chain of stores that operate like second hand stores but for things such as doors, windows, wood, sinks, plumbing fixtures. (ReStore basically is the building materials version of a second hand store (salvation army/goodwill)

    4. school board of educations (it helps alot if you know someone in the maintenance dept of a school or the local school district, because many school districts will think “why would some guy come off the street to ask us if we have any old closers” reason i make the suggestion, many BOE’s keep their old closers stocked away in closets and basements or in the maintenance room long forgotten and tossed out during a renovation of the building.

    contractor/locksmith/door repair guy, many high populated areas (new orleans for example, especially the south) will have lots of old closers, helps to catch them (the guys) in their down time (break time) or during a removal when installing new hardware (“upgrading the hardware”) a tip when catching a contractor, offer to BUY them off him for like maybe starting at 20 to 25 a closer. never know if they will sell them (used closers they just removed) to you.

    businesses that are specific in door closers, i know it may be far, but they mat help you somewhat in this, i know of a company in massachussets, New England Door Closer,

    i hope these suggestions help also as it gets nice out, go hunting at yard/garage sales, i have got lucky at a few, but my parents (i was really young at the time, i was like 8 or 9, LOL) said no

    good luck and feel free to ask any questions about any closers you find or email

    jld902 @ aim . com (spaces are intentional for spam reasons)

  18. I just pulled 20 or so 1956 Norton M48 door closers from an elementary school. They are the same color and style as the sargent pictured above but they are a bit longer. I saved them cause they look so neat but I have no use for them. They all seem to be in good working order. I would like to sell them for $20 each plus shipping. If you are interested please email me at rthrbflyfishn @ msn . com remove the spaces in the email. I can email pictures if interested. Thanks, Dan

  19. Hi Jes

    I,m a union finish carpenter out of local #43 in Ct. Im in the biology tower at Yale New Haven. I was handed a task today to adjust a metal door and adjust an old time Sargent closer. This door and closer have been worked on by many.
    The closer had resistance to open and close. The small adjustment screw was reversed counter clockwise 21/2 turnes to find relief except at the latch position. Tha active closer stem at the top can be moved in both directions with no signs of a return function.
    I saw your blog above. old oil ?. No leaks seen.

    Thanks Steve

  20. Steve:

    sounds to me your latch function dont work, what can effect latch in an old closer such as that shown above is the arm angle, if the spring was pre-loaded too much then arm connected, it may not have a latch function,

    also since some sargent closers the valve knob is only for main speed of door, some the latch is adjusted like how you would adjust the same speed for a screen door (this means lengthen or shorten the forearm)

    when you mention about the resistance, do you mean spring resistance (its pulling the door shut) or do you mean hydraulic dampening resistance (yes theres oil in there and its possible that if this is true, (oil resistance dampening the movement) it just may be the spring needs to be wound up alittle to be able to close the door properly.

    the main stem, do you mean were the arm attaches at the top?? this is called the spindle, if it doesn’t return or show resistance, it’s possible 1 of either 2 things have happened

    1. the spring became disconnected/broke inside or most commonly;

    2. the “gear” thing on top (around spindle, its called the ratchet) is not engaged to put tension on the spring (sometimes done to allow door to freeswing) to wind the spring, you will need a hook spanner wrench to put on the teeth of the gear to wind it away from the hinge.

    (you didnt mention how installed, if on a corner bracket or on pull side of the door)

    to get the spring tension back, may need to turn the ratchet against spring resistance and engage the hook in the arm to the gear,

    some closers such as LCN C-71, and Norton 78 B/F’s (both are traditional closers) for instance, sometimes even though it may not say so on the label on front or in any documentation, some the screw valve also adjusts latch, to adjust the latch, adjust the screw UP TO 1/4 of a turn to regulate latch.

    if still no luck, it is possible the oil did get old, which to fix this, changing the oil may help, (process is mentioned in one of my comments above your question)

    if still no luck, you can send it to New England Door Closer for proper rebuild. if it comes to that avenue, tell Neil Jess the door closer doctor sent you.

    good luck and hope this above helps,

    -Jess the door (closer) doctor

  21. Steve,

    forgot to add, if still stuck in a “jamb” with this or any other doors at YALE, feel free to email me with any pictures of your closer or video of it in action to better explain or describe whats going on.

    email address is in my one comment above Dan’s offer to sell his old closers, i hope this helps,


    -Jess the door(closer)doctor

  22. Hi Jes Steve from Yale

    Thanks for the great info. Your response has prompted me to elaborate on what I see. I removed the arm from the spindle since in was not at a right angle to the casing. I thought maybe the last monkey did not preload the closer with tension. The spindle turns both ways but does not return to original position. When the arm
    is attached the door swing has to be pushed due to resistance. As per your insight I assume this is fluid and the spring is not working.

  23. Steve: thanks for getting back to me about your problem, if there is dampening action when you close the door, yes that’s fluid dampening what the spring should be doing

    if you have a hook spanner wrench (usually sold with coil-over shocks or Norton 78 or Yale 1900 closers to adjust spring tension)

    , have you tried to turn the gear thing (ratchet) on top of closer under the arm??? sounds like either you found one with a broken spring (it’s a spiral band spring like the closer shown in the photos in the blog) or its not wound (someone may have messed with it and let all the tension off the gear thing at the top)

    if you have the tool and no resistance is felt when attempting to wind the spring, or ratchet can be moved by hand, it is possible you have one with a broken spring.

    again, please feel free to email me about this and other closers at Yale.

    jld902 @aim .com (spaces intentional for spam reasons) remove the spaces

    (are you allowed a camera on the job?? pictures and videos are worth alot of words and can simplify the diagnosis of whats wrong and how to fix the closer)

    (I ask in case you want to send me videos or photos of this or other closers there)

    -Jess the door(closer)doctor

  24. Steve at Yale U. :

    forgot to ask, did you see any model number or series number on the Sargent closer?? any V or YR or just a year??

    please type back if and when you can,

    -Jess the door (closer)doctor

  25. Hi Jess,

    We have several Yale ‘traditional’ (potbelly) door closers that are not dampening the swing of the door (the door slams hard so don’t suspect the spring is broken).

    The Models and series vary: Yale 56, 66.

    Are parts available for the o-rings and packing (we have done fairly well at stopping leakage from the adjustment screw with hardware supplied o-ring and plumbing packing) ?

    And the most important parts:

    Do we drain the oil from both sides of the piston (out the adjustment hole and out the back side of the piston)?

    How much oil do we put back in?

    1. through the adjustment hole to flush, pumping the air out by rotating the arm?

    2. in the back side of the piston (with the large hex open)?



  26. Hello Dean, about part availability, Yale no longer makes repair parts available to the end user (owner of the closer)

    Yale and many other door closer manufacturers look at things in a “throw-it-out-and-buy-a-new-one society” but i can see why you ask for help, old closers do add charector to a place during a renovation or just want to keep the “geriatric” closer around for another 50+ years or more.

    o-rings: rubber o-rings from the hardware store may help, but nothing designed for fixing water leaks (plumbing store leak repair stuff) because closer oil leaks will dissulve the material (such as teflon tape) and will leak again in short period of time.

    about adding more oil,

    yes i can help you on that,

    remove the closer from the door, put in a vise with valve up (closer will be on it’s side)and remove valve (loosen the nut nut between body and valve first, then gently unscrew the valve until its out of the closer) using mineral oil and a small funnel, add more oil while slowly moving arm up and down to keep air out of the closer, (if oil is at end of hole, put thumb over hole and slowly move arm back to start rest position then remove thumb and move arm slowly and add more oil, do this until its full when closer arm is at rest (straight out or not being pushed)

    put valve back in and re-tighten the nut between valve and body, take out of vise and reposition upright in vise (to test the dampening action and valve to check for leaks

    if all goes well, re-mount on the door and make sure theres no leaks (check on it once in a while)

    repeat this process for all the slammers you have

    please message back if have questions/concerns/update on progress.

    feedback is appreciated when helping someone with a closer

    type back soon if and when you can,

    -Jess the door (closer)doctor

  27. I just found this forum, I have a few old sargent door closers from a school house that was built in 1939. Don’t know a whole lot about them. Anyone interested just post back. Thanks.

  28. I need to find out how to adjust the opening tension on a Yale model year 1932 model no. 75 door closer. It is difficult for some people here to open the door. The building is a registered historical landmark and I would rather not replace the opener with a new one.

  29. Hello Scott, the opening tension is adjusted by adjusting the gear shaped thing under the arm on the top of the closer body. to do this, you will need a hook spanner wrench tool that fits the notches, if you dont already have the tool, there is a closer place called New England Door Closer in west springfeild massachusetts that may have the tool that fits the spring adjuster.

    if you already have the tool, place it on the gear and pull the tool alittle and release the hook from under the arm and turn the wrench slowly one notch weaker and put hook on arm back in the notch on the gear and try the door, if still too strong, go another notch weaker repeating same steps until desired force is found.

    if possible, if the closer looks different from the one found at the top of this blog post, can you upload a photo to photobucket or flickr and provide a link to it in your response to my comment?

    good luck and be careful, spiral springs in (traditional) closers are really powerful and can injure you if the tool slips or you lose grip of the tool or arm.

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  30. Hi Jess. Thanks for the quick response. When you say “one notch weaker” do you mean counterclockwise? Lefty loosy, righty tighty? The closer looks very similar to the one at the top of the post. That is good because I’m not really computer savvy and not really familiar with doing much on them. I’m lucky I was able to figure out blogging! Thank you very much and I will stay in touch if I have further questions. Scott

  31. the “one notch weaker” has alot to do with if this closer is on pull or push side and what hand of the door it is on, if its on a left hand door or a right hand door,

    reason i ask the hand of the door and what side the closer is on, becuse to weaken it you would turn the gear thing (in door closer terminology, its called a ratchet) AWAY from the hinge, i want to make sure of the installation type before saying for sure which way to turn the gear thing (ratchet)

    yes, blogging and message boards/forums can be helpful, sometimes its easier to get help from other closer owners/repairers/locksmiths rather then call the company that made the closer (Sargent in this case) as most of these companies do not provide product support or have any manuals for a closer they stopped making some 30+ years ago as times change and technology advances they make room for support for newer stuff.

    with the staff,(as with any company, not only hardware makers) some just dont know EVERYTHING there is about their product/services and due to the economy, the older people getting layed off and new people coming in.

    it is great that people like me are out there and sometimes it only takes is the right sequence of words on google to find info on an old closer, just have to look in all the right places.

    good luck, keep in touch, happy you responded

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  32. Hi Jess,

    We are working on a courthouse and have some Sargent “pot-bellied” closers labeled 44V. Any idea what decade these are from? Also, these are on 2-1/4″ thick doors about 3 feet wide x 9 feet tall. Do you know what the original weight limitations were for these closers? Thanks! I like your blog/message bd.

  33. Hello Chris, about the courthouse, is it the one with “Texas capitol” written on the hinges of the doors (place has lots of traditional closers as well (Norton 78’s or Yale 1900’s) that this project is currently going on at??

    now for the limitations of the potbelly closers, i am not COMPLETELY sure about it but with a door that big (sounds like an impressive set of doors) they will have the spring wound up a bit higher then you would for a usual installation (typical 7 ft door) be sure to not overwind the spring, when winding up the spring, go one notch at a time on the spring tension “gear” at the top until door can shut and latch on its own. some may be weaker then some, but if this is a renovation and want to keep the character of the building, at least the door is weak enough for disabled people to open it, some doors with old closers are hard to open, its because of the properties of a spiral “clock spring” as opposed to a compression spring found in closers made today.

    as for the era the 44V’s are from, i would have to say they are from the 30’s until 50’s. the old Sargent V series are a rare closer. there are places around that can still rebuild them if they have problems.

    as for the blog/messages, this is not my wordpress blog, im just another wordpress user who just has knowledge in closers and this blog pretty much became the place to go to ask about door closer problems.

    hope my message has helped you in answering your question about the sargent 44V’s

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  34. Thanks Jess!

    No unfortunately its not the Texas Capitol. I do love those hinges though. When they restored the capitol they made some replacement hinges and window latches to supplement where the originals were missing. These were made by Cirecast in San Francisco. You should check out their website. They make some beautiful hardware.

    The courthouse I’m working on is in Columbus, Texas (Colorado County) Built in 1891 and remodeled in 1910 after a hurricane blew off the original tower. I’ve been trying to determine what few pieces of hardware are 1910 or earlier. We have some photos of the building on our website and have been meaning to put up more.

    Thanks for the info on the Sargent 44V’s. We’ll take another shot at adjusting them or send them out for rebuilding. I found out from the contractor the doors weigh approximately 200lbs each.


  35. Hello Chris Hutson,

    i took a look at the website Volz Associates, that building is pretty old!

    as for the closers and hinges, it all really has to do with effort over inertia to get the door moving, since there are doors out there that are heavier and can be easily opened and closed

    (also depends on the hinge as well, if its ball bearing or one of them continuous geared hinges, they take up most of the door’s weight)

    the closers: where they too weak or showing wear or not operating smoothly (slamming)

    if its slamming or not responding to adjustment, tried changing the oil?? over time the oil gets bad in closers and the oil (its not like the oil used in today’s units) had to be changed.

    as for rebuild companies, i know of New England Door Closer, located in West Springfield, Massachusetts. i am sure they are still able to repair the old V series. if and when you decide to contact NEDC tell them Jess the door closer doctor sent you.

    hear from you soon, type back if and when you can

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  36. Hi Jess;

    Me again. I was finally able to get a picture of the door closer that I need to adjust. The door is a left hung which opens outward. I need to adjust it so it opens more easily. Do you have an e-mail address that I can forward the picture to? I believe I’ve stated before that I’m not really adept at this computer stuff. Any help at all to make sure you get the picture will be greatly appreciated. Scott

  37. Hi Jess:

    Scott Dorsam here again from the Carus corporation in Peru, IL. You must be away from your compter. I have a photo of the door closer that needs adjusting but am not sure how to upload it to photobucket or anything else. When facing the closer, it is on the push (right hand) side of the door(it opens outward). Don’t know if that will be of any help to you in figuring which way to turn the ratchet adjuster. I will be back at this computer on Mon. Oct. 17th. Thank you very much for your help and advice. Scott

  38. Hello Scott,

    now i have a better idea of how your closer is set up, as for emailing, JLD902 @ aim. com (remove spaces)

    if the closer is on a bracket that is attached to the doorframe with end of arm touching the door, when door is opened, closer is hanging from frame on the bracket,

    to make weaker, turn spring tension away from hinge side of door (clockwise if looking down at closer from above)

    to make stronger, turn towards the hinge side.

    same instructions for push side closers that the body of closer is on door and arm is on a stud mounted to doorframe (like a modern day push side closer)

    hope this helps.

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  39. Hi Jess;

    Thank you very much. I will give it a try and keep you posted. Hopefully the closer won’t need to have the oil changed. Your information has been most helpful. Thanks again, Scott

  40. Hi Jess!,

    I was able to finally get the closer adjusted on our front door. The information you provided me with was most helpful and greatly appreciated. I was told that it is much easier to operate for those who were having trouble with it. Thank you very much! I hope you’re still around if I should need you again. Scott

  41. I like the detailed photos of the door closer and all of the parts i want to do the same , I want to take apart and rebuild a yale door closer from 1957 which is in my church i have 12 which need rebuilt can you tell me how to get the parts to do this I have searched the web high and low to no avail please contact me @ myskilledtradesmen@gmail.com

  42. Scott:

    glad all is doing well now with the door that was causing too much trouble, yes i shoudl still be around in case you run into any more problems in the future with the doors.


    i hope to not dissappoint you too much here, rebuilding runs you into 2 problems, replacement parts availability and the tools required to do it without trouble. for liability reasons, i do not give out step by step instruction on how to completely rebuild ANY closer (traditional or modern day unit) i understand you want to keep the old yales because of charector, it is best that you send them to an autherized repair facility (such as new england door closer) for the proper repair.

    i understand you want to do this yourself and save $$$$, the problem also with rebuilding closers is the springs and the internal parts (o-rings as well as oil) replacement, many manufacteres the internal parts are no longer available or have to be specially made to replace the broken part.

    tools availability, the manufactueres that made these closers long ago, do not sell or rent out the tools for rebuilding, many of the people that currently rebuild them now their tools are really old and most likely canot buy another tool if the tools they use break during a rebuild.

    sorry again to not be all that helpful but for a reason, if i posted about the step by step (or in an email) i legally could be helpd liable of the person asking for help gets hurt or damages the closer during the rebuild, i hope you understand, i just dont need my head in the proverbail vise (lawsuits and in trouble because of an email)

    just like in the article, i know of one door closer repair service that may be able to do the repairs/rebuilds on the closers,

    New England Door Closer located in West Springfeild, Mass. i understand that you are in TX.

    i have a friend (Neil Scully) who works there, they are nice people, it dont hurt to give them a call, their prices i think are reasonable, but pricing all depends on what they find wrong with the closer internally as well as the shipping to and from the repair facility.

    i know you want to do a rebuild of these, are any of them having problems with closing the door or have any noises??

    if and when you decide to call, tell them Jess the door closer doctor sent you, most likely if you do call, it will be Ron longley or Neil,

    i hope all goes well with the doors, sorry to have dissappointed you with the church yale closers, in public postings and emails, i stay limited to how to change the oil and set the spring tension and adjust the speed, i hope you understand….

    please type back if and when you can about any progress or updates about what you want to do with the 12 closers.

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  43. Roger Breedlove Says:

    I live in a fine old, 1916 home. I have been repairing and restoring the screens on the sun room doors. One has a working Yale Model P closer with a double lever action. One lever is attached to an adjustable compression spring while the other looks to be an oil or air damper. The tube is capped on both ends. The attachment rod runs though one end and the other has some sort of fitting with a hole in it. It does not look like it unscrews. Any ideas on how to gently disassemble the oil/air damper tube for maintenance? The Yale name is cast or stamped into the connecting end of the damping tube. The model number is stamped on to the main spring housing. It has worked fine for years. It has many layers of paint on a brass plated iron and steel components.

  44. Roger, if you can please do, can you send upload a photograph of your closer and send link here or to to my email address (is in an older comment near middle of the blog comments) what you are describing also sounds to me like a sargent closer i have, which i have not yet found out the series or model, but what you are describing sounds like a screen door closer,

    to best rule pneumatic or hydrualic and how to best go at it with taking it apart, a photo can help with what i would do if i was to rebuild or fix a sargent screen door closer as the years have passed features change and same with body style of closer,

    Sargent to this day don’t know they made screen door parts, possible what you have is something made by Sargent & Greenleaf

    BUT, before i rule anything out and how to best tell any more about how to fix it, a photo can help (photobucket or flickr or imageshack (where it gives the photo a web link to allow people to click on it)

    hope to hear from you soon Roger,

    -Jess the door closer doctor

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  46. alvin rhodes Says:

    i have 5 sargent pot belly 44v door closers. these came out of a school in n.c. that is 98 years old and actually 4 are still on the doors now that i will be removing this week .one of the 5 doesnt slow the door down but the other 4 work fine .lets talk money.

  47. I have a Sargent door closer very similar to the one refurbished in the picture. Except the arm mounts on the face, not bottom, of te top jamb. It’s on the front door of a Victorian, circa 1900, in California. It looks great, but the door, big, 40″ x 90″ x 2 1/4″ slams when people let it shut. What might be the problem? Fixable? I hope so. They are great looking pieces. If not, anyone selling these? Are they the 44vs? How much? Thanks. Randy

  48. Hello Randy,

    door closer doctor here,

    from your description, it appears your Sargent 44V is on pull side of the door and is a common way to install a traditional closer, another common installation method is with closer mounted to a bracket on door frame (on push side) and arm on face of door at the top.

    this is fixable, have you tried the adjustment valve on the side??

    it may be possible your’s is low on fluid, or may need to change out the old fluid with fresh fluid (automatic trans fluid or power steering will work) instructions for this are in earlier comments on this page, (commenter “Jess”, which is me before I found out I can sign into wordpress blogs with one of my other names,

    as for finding a new 44V Sargent closer, these traditional/potbelly closers are no longer made in cast iron, most brands stopped making them in the early 80’s

    there are 2 brands that still make the style but are made of aluminum alloy instead of cast iron, Yale series 1900, and the Norton 78,

    I really feel that its a better choice to keep yours around and try to fix it if possible,

    please keep me up to date with progress on how attempts go at fixing your closer to making it not slam anymore.

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  49. Just wish to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness to your submit
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  50. Jessie,

    fine with me, (showing this article due to my expertize in door closers) although i do not own this article, I’m just a fellow comment submitter,

    if you have a question or problem, feel free to ask,

    -Jess the door closer doctor

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  53. got an old closer in needof a part or two (arm ) I can ID the make, can I send you a photo??If so what email, thanks!

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  55. Chris, i may be able to help with this, jld902 (at) aim (dot) com

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  56. jess, I need an arm for a 1920 ( isn) Sargent 520 , a small door closer for a screen door, I cansend a photo, so whats your email??

  57. just sent photo to you via my other email, let me know Trying to help an old friend

  58. did you get the Sargent 520 screen door closer photo Jess????

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  60. Hi Jess,

    I am looking for a vintage door closer like the Sargent or Norton “potbelly” style. I have seen some available on ebay and other sites. My question is, are the closers “handed”? Will they only work on a left or right swing door or can they work on both. I am looking for a closer that will mount on the push or stop side of a right handed door. Can you tell from a picture on ebay which hand the closer is made for?

  61. Gary,

    these can be used on both left and right hand doors, but must be re-handed to work on the door that its not handed for, to re-hand the yale or norton/sargent, you must take the top (arm ratchet,(gear thing) top cover and spring out and turn spring upside down and rotate the shaft 180 degrees and reassemble,

    re-handing the yale/norton also will change the valves as well (for the modern potbelly closers with a valve on both sides of the body)

    if you still will like to show me a photo, JLD902 (at) aim (dot) com

    hope this helps.

    -Jess the door closer doctor

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  68. garage door service Atlanta,

    the article written here is about a vintage door closer used on a regular swing door in a house,

    your comment is alittle confusing, as the windows have nothing to really do with the operating conditions of the garage door opener (Genie or Liftmaster)

    although garage door openers are used in houses, but the device in the article here is not powered by batteries, electricity,motors or pulleys,

    often times when a GDO is having a problem, its usually a sensitivity adjustment on THE OPENER itself or the infrared “eyes” are not aligned at bottom of door (to prevent the door from trapping a child under it as its closing) or a relay or circuit is bad (if its an old or used alot over the years)

    also with an opener, at least 1 or 2 times a year, grease the rail and chain/screw) as well as door rollers to keep it running smoothly and quiet.

    -Jess the door CLOSER doctor

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  76. Scott Stagliano Says:

    My friend I was asked to take a look at our church’s front door closers to see if I could fix them. being a carpenter with 37 years expirence I excepted the job. our church was built in 1870s and most the hardware looks original some replaced aprox. early 1950s. I am looking for information on how to fix the ones that don’t work and maintain the closers that are working. I’m looking at three double sets of doors and three more double sets about ten steps up. these doors all have Corbin closers. twelf doors in all it looks like five are not working. any help that you can give I would be most grateful.

    Thank you and Gods peace be with you.

    Scott Daniel Christopher Stagliano

  77. Jess the door closer doctor Says:

    Scott Daniel Christopher Stagliano,

    I can help you with this, expert in closers here!!

    can you say what is wrong with them?? they slamming?? leaking, or no spring tension??

    Corbin, really great brand, lasts a really long time,

    now the what-to-do’s

    if it’s slamming, try to adjust the valve??? (some Corbins have 2 valves on the right side of closer, lower valve is sweep, upper valve is latch) if not slowed down after adjusting, check for leaks, is there any fluid trails from near the valve area to the bottom of the closer or a puddle or stain on floor??

    many potbelly closer leaks are caused by the compression nut between the valve knob and the closer body is left loose (not re-tightened after adjusting the valve) and allows fluid to seep out over the years,

    if need to refill them due to slamming, there is a comment where I explain how to change/add more oil to a closer in my response to Dean Hobbs back in July 11, 2011

    now if its the SPRING TENSION with the Corbin, you simply disconnect forearm parts (set screw on forearm) and let arm swing towards hinge, unlatch the hook from under the arm on the “gear” (ratchet this part is called) and reposition the hook on another notch in the gear and reconnect forearm, when adjusting the spring, go one notch at a time, so you do not risk breakage or the door to be too strong for weaker/older users.

    if still no luck and still have questions, on some of the comments I posted my email address if you find it easier to contact me that way, JLD 902 (at) AIM (dot) com

    hope this helps, and hope to hear from you soon,

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  78. I recently acquired a large cache of potbelly closers when I purchased the salvage rights to the basement of an old hotel in Mineapolis. I almost scrapped them because of the weight but thought I would check into them first. Not sure what the value is on these but they are cool looking when cleaned up. I have many sizes and brands from Sargent, Blount, Yale, Russwin, Corbin and a few others.
    Also, I have many extra parts, some new old stock as these all came from the maintenance room. Not sure the total number but they gave my 1 ton truck a run for its money on weight limit.
    Do you know anyone who might want to purchase these? Possibly I one lot? I don’t have the time to become an expert on vintage door closers.

  79. Jess the door closer doctor Says:


    nice large collection you have, great brands of them, Blount, that one is rare!

    some options, eBay?? if sold individually some go as far as 150 dollars per closer

    sell them as one lot on ebay, (as they are heavy, some upwards of 15 lbs per closer)

    habitat for humanity (they do not pay you for donations) but keeps them out of the scrapyard and used again on another business or house that someone is restoring to 1950’s era.

    door repair agencies/locksmiths/door closer rebuild agencies, some places they will buy them, rebuild and sell or use again.

    whatever you do, please do not scrap them!!! keep them or sell them off to people who may appreciate the look/quality of them,

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  80. klunaloca Says:

    Hey Jess, thanks so much for your expertise. i have read over all of the comments and am going to endeavor to adjust/repair the Sargent 44v pot bellied door closer that is attached to the door of my business. It has been swinging shut closer and closer to the jam and basically “kicking out” people as they leave. I have tried to adjust the swing using the “screw” on the left of the unit. The closer has seen many a day of use so I believe I am not the first to attempt to adjust it. Today as I was trying to make it stop “kicking out” my customers I noticed it has developed a leak. when turning the screw a small drop of oil accumulates on the bottom of the unit. So question is how to adjust the “swing” properly. And if I need to add more oil is there a way to do this without removing it from the door as I fear if I remove it I won’t be able to reattach it to the aging door. The building I am in is in a Historic register building in Astoria Oregon built in 1925. I would guess that the door closer may be original or close to it. Thank you in advance!

  81. Jess the door closer doctor Says:


    often times if adjusting (slow the valve screw down) and its still kicking your customers out, your closer is low on fluid and needs to be refilled with fresh fluid to be nice and gentle again and not kick your customers out as if they upset someone.

    due to how the potbelly closer is made inside, there’s no real way to get the oil inside it without taking the closer down from it’s door, another option would be taking the door off its hinges and position door laying on its side but downside is that you risk getting fluid on the door when refilling the closer if left closer body mounted to door.

    this is not too hard to take off the door, refill and put back up,

    whenever you remove a closer, disconnect the arm first then remove body.

    whenever you put one up (reinstall in same holes and with “fresh installs”) body of closer goes up first, then connect arm to frame

    now for refilling the closer,

    1. remove from door and take to a workbench with a vise

    2. position closer in vise with valve end pointed upwards (closer will be laying on its side in vise jaws)

    3. remove valve and brass nut (compression nut ot prevent leaks)and set in a safe place (so you don’t lose it)

    4. slowly pour in automatic transmission fluid or power steering fluid while slowly working the arm (so you do not let air in with the fluid) stop pouring in oil when its level with valve hole,

    5. reinsert the valve

    6. remove from vise and remount closer to the door and adjust

    7. re-tighten the compression nut after adjusting closer (so it does not slowly lose its fluid from its valve)

    hope this helps you fix the problem your closer is having trouble with,

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  82. klunaloca Says:

    Thanks I will give it a try and let you know what works! I appreciate your help!

  83. Do you know anything about a “Detroit” pot belly door closer? It is from 1929. Was working fine until I opened the door and heard a “pop”. Then the door swung freely with no resistance or closing action. Is it worth fixing? If so, where do I send it. Thank you.

  84. Jess the door closer doctor Says:


    Detriot closer is pretty much Yale or Norton using a different tag on front, long ago the companies that sold closers would put their name on them as a “calling card” to spread the business. this is no longer done because if the closer was defective (only one) or slammed, people could in theory turn around and file a lawsuit against the company that put their label in it.

    all of these closers have a “gear” shaped spring tension adjuster on top of the body under its arm, many times when you hear a “pop” the hook or “paul” came dislodged from the notches of the gear.

    so the question is, is the “paul” or hook engaged in the notches of the gear after the pop?? are you able to adjust to a slower closing action and feel the it dampen when you attempt to slam the door?

    if YES, your closer’s spring snapped and does require a new spring (send it to a repair agency)

    if NO, (hook is not in a notch in the gear) the paul/hook just simply disengaged and can be re-tensioned by end user/owner (you)

    to do this, some closers you may need a hook spanner wrench (much like a wrench used in adjusting coilover racing shocks)

    many of them, you can just disconnect the forearm from frame or at the adjustable part in middle of arm and push arm towards hinge side of door and engage the hook/Paul into the gear and pull arm back away from hinge to reconnect to door frame. (closer arm will be under tension when you pull away from hinge)

    please try the above ways to re-tension the closer before settling on sending it in to a repair shop.

    now if attempting to re-tension the arm don’t work (with and without the spanner wrench and just turns by hand (the gear) then it is time to send it to a repair shop,

    since you mention Detroit, I presume the location is in Mich??

    due to many times the repair shops will charge you shipping both to and from the repair facility, it is best to send the closer to one nearest your side of the country, I will name 2 facilities below

    EASTERN states: New England Door Closer located in W. Springfield, Mass.

    if you live on WEST coast: Universal Door Controls which is located in Clackamas, OR

    Central states:

    also there is Advanced Door controls located in Princeton IL, as well as Gulf States Door Controls located in Dallas, TX

    please comment back with what happened if you try to retension the closer??

    good luck,

    type back soon if and when you can,

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  85. Hey Jess,

    just letting folks know I repair traditional door closers and floor springs here in the UK.


  86. Jess the door closer doctor Says:

    Hello Rod,

    nice to see you making a comment here 😀


  87. Hey Jess,

    nice to hear from you, will email you soon. Here is a link to my site for some pics of the internals of a floor spring, including some Victorian era models. 🙂

  88. John O'Brien Says:

    Hi Jess, I’m trying to replace worn out O-rings in a Sargent 1430/31. It appears a special spanner wrench may be necessary to remove the caps that secure the O-rings around the spindle. Would you have any knowledge regarding this tool and where I might purchase one? It’s an outside shot but I’d rather spend .75 cents for new o-rings versus $400 for new door closer. What’s the preferred oil for door closers? Thanks in advance.

  89. Hello John O’Brien,

    the tool you are referring to is called a “pin spanner wrench” best place to find it would be snap-on or craftsman tools.

    I agree with what your attempting, middle school I went to did same thing, (replace the cheap O-ring instead of buy a new closer) I cannot say the same today for the school system!

    please be really careful if you decide to remove the ends of the closer, strong spring behind the end caps, and can result in personal injury or damage to surroundings or closer.

    now for the OIL, power steering fluid or automatic transmission fluid will do, (Dexron 6 VI)

    when refilling, similar in some ways to the potbelly closer mentioned in this post (written by dckaleidoscope) the 1430 Sargent may be whats called “staked” there will be notches around the holes of the valves preventing you from removing them, it may void the warranty with you attempting to repair it yourself, (the warranty is usually 10 to 20 years on a closer such as the sargent)

    to get valves out past the staking (notches) carefully using a dremel, shave down the notch that protrudes into the valve hole and carefully unscrew valve.

    I hope this helps!!

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  90. i have lots of 1910 brass door closer corvin call jesus 323 9745657

  91. Bjorn Meyer Says:


    I have a 1930s vintage Norton 4 screen door closer that the spring just broke today. Do you happen to have any such thing available or know of a person that might access to a spring? It’s so old the spring is separate from the door controlling air cylinder

    Bjorn Meyer

  92. Bjorn Meyer,

    unfortunately I do not sell the springs, I just give advice on fixing them, the Norton screen door closer is soo rare, and soo hard to find the correct parts for them anymore,

    you may have better luck taking the closer to a metal shop or machinist(who may have experience making springs) and have a spring made for it that is same diameter and tension as the old one, the type of springs used in these are whats called a helical torsion spring, there may be a small compression spring inside the checking cylinder (on mine there is)

    if you want to take the spring off of the closer yourself, many of them they have a screw on both sides of that spring part, one for removing the closer from the frame jamb bracket and is on side with the gear/ratchet and other screw on other side of the spring chamber is for taking spring out from the end of the closer, just undo the screw on the end and remove the gear off the other side (called the ratchet) and spring should slide out the closer when replacing the spring back in, make sure the end of spring is in the slot or hole in the part with the gear/ratchet and the other end of spring puts pressure up against the “yoke” where the spring came out of, then put the screw back on the end and reinstall your screen door closer
    by first mounting the frame bracket to doorframe then with preload the spring by positioning the closer at a 45 degree angle from the door surface, engage the hook or pawl that engages the spring (or can use a short thick pin or nail or rod) and remount the 2 or 3 screws for the door portion of the closer (or put pin in the bracket at end of closer)

    in my private collection of closers, I have the Sargent version of your Norton pneumatic screen door closer, I think it’s pretty cool too that the spring is separate on the end of the rod then the checking cylinder.

    I hope this helps!! let me know how if you have any other questions or problems with this and any other door closer you find!!

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  93. Bjorn Meyer Says:


    What type of metal are these type of springs made out of? Music Wire (high carbon steel), MB (carbon steel), oil tempered carbon steel? I’m looking online on places that will build me a custom spring based on the measurements I have.


  94. Bjorn Meyer,

    you will want medium or high carbon steel wire, it may be easier for the spring maker if you have the spring already removed from the closer and show it to them in an email, I suggest this as a picture is worth a thousand words

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  95. Wonderful blog post !! You have mentioned a great information about closure close to the surgery on your blog. I read my blog and got valuable information. It really helped to restore the locked doors in my house

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