Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Help Wanted

I need some help.  Advice really.  It's a two-part problem.

Part One:  I have this hare-brained idea that I could get the paint off the transom window hardware if I put it in my bathtub (which is nasty and will be replaced within the next calendar year...I think) and pour boiling water over it.  My tub gets the most use as a wallpaper trough and a place for the kitties to nap, and only rarely for its intended purpose.  Do y'all think this will work?

Part Two:  How in the Sam Hill do I get the transom window hardware off the window?  Or any other hardware, for that matter?  It just occurred to me that I'd like to strip the window latches and the thumb lifts on the other windows in the house, too.  There's so much paint blobbed on it that it's almost impossible to see the screws.  I tried stripper, which worked okay but not well enough to be able to remove the hardware.  I tried a heat gun, which bubbled up the paint on the trim but did nothing else—except make me worry all night that a dust bunnie behind the trim was smoldering and my house was gonna catch fire. 

Part Two really ought to be Part One, now that I think about it...Oh well.   And thanks in advance, because I just know someone will know the answers to these questions!


  1. If there's that much paint, I'm not entirely sure. I've had that problem before myself and never resolved it.

  2. I have these large plastic storage tubs that fit under my bed. They are at least 3' long and about 8" deep. I say this only because you are probably dealing with lead paint. That way you can dispose of them when you are done.

    I have no suggestions on removing the hardware. I'll ask Jack what he thinks.

  3. For removing the hardware, find a screwdriver and a hammer. If you can't see the slot in the screw, place the screwdriver at a sharp angle on top of the screw and gently tap it with the hammer to remove the paint. It'll likely pop the paint off of the screw. Then take the screwdriver and place it in the screw slot, but at an angle. Tap the hammer against it to push the paint out of the slot. You should then be able to use the screw as intended. If you didn't already know, once you have the hardware off, place it in boiling water to remove the paint.

  4. Part One - my concern would be the paint clogging up your drains. I thought the same as Milah, though you might want to do a test run outside first (without the hardware) to make sure the plastic can handle boiling water without melting.

    Part two - WHen I've done this in the past, I haven't been that worried about the hardware or the wood surrounding it as I would have if I had yours but ... I've used an exacto blade to gently cut through the layers of paint to get to the screw before. ALso used the blade to clear the slot in the screw so I could get a screwdriver in the slot to turn it. Hopefully someone has a better idea than mine for this problem.

  5. I'm struggling with how to get screws out of a massive stair railing, where they were covered with plugs that were glued in. I dug out the plugs, but small attempts to turn the screws started to widen the slots. Dunno, hope someone has an idea.

  6. Using the correct size screw driver once the paint is removed from the slots is very important.

    Make sure you use the correct thickness of screw driver and the correct width of screw driver so that you do not damage the slot. Using too small of a screw driver is ineffective since you cannot exert force over the entire slot to remove a stubborn screw. A too thin of screwdriver will only touch the edge of the slot on the outer most edges of the screw driver thus not given you optimal force or leverage in removing the screw.

    The screw driver/hammer method is the one I use. Start out by using a small screw driver to remove the paint from the slot. Increase the size of screw driver until you have removed the paint and you able to use the correct size screw driver. To ensure good placement, I sometime just tap the end of the screw driver with a hammer to make sure it is seated into the slot correctly. I have found that it isn't always necessary to remove the paint from the head of the screw but just the slot.

    Slotted screws were the forerunner of the Phillips head screw which is more efficient because it has more contact points to exert leverage to remove the screw. This allowed them to start making screws out of softer material such as brass and aluminum which also made machining easier and faster. But also made using the correct size screw driver an absolute must.

    If you destroy the slot while trying to remove a screw, you can sometime cut a new slot perpendicular to the old slot. Of course you will then need to buy or find a replacement screw but the screw was already damaged in the first place.

    Can the transom hardware be disassembled into smaller pieces?

    Can you place one end of the hardware in the crock at a time rather than the whole piece at one?

    I clogged a drain with paint globs and stripper once. It doesn't flow very good through pipes and re hardens as the stripper washes away. Also I should have first considered the lead paint issue before I let it go down the drain. My bad. Plus my husband was furious that he needed to run a snake when he had more important things to do.

    PS if you like to read, there is a book just about the screw and how it has changed history. Starting with the screw press and printing.

  7. Name of the book is One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw by Witold Rybczynski.

  8. When I removed my much painted hardware, I used a razor blade to break the paint bond at the point where the hardware met wood. I also used a razor blade to dig out the screwdriver groove in the screws. Then I used a ratcheting screwdriver to work out the screws (works a lot better than a regular screwdriver). It took a bit of effort, but eventually I was able to get all of my hardware off...and boiled clean.

    On your tub question - I think the hot water works on breaking the paints bond to the metal when it has a chance to sit. I'm not sure just pouring hot water over the painted hardware would work. I have bought plastic dish pans at Target & used those for soaking hardware...would one of those be big enough?

  9. Thanks, everybody! I didn't think about the damage the paint might do to my pipes when I pour it down the drain. Not such a good idea. After I posted this, Mare called me and said that he thinks we need a really big screwdriver to loosen the hardware. Goes right along with what Jan said. So, I think I'll try a bigger screwdriver and, if the hardware comes off, I'll stick one end of it at a time into the boiling water. Thanks again, everybody!!