Safe glass removal from victorian sash window?

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Hi folks,
Because it's absolutely bloody freezing up here in the north my mind's turned to the window about 3 feet away from me which I've put up with for 4 years - it's merely 4mm perspex!
This was the room when we bought the house:
http://vorbis.demon.co.uk/computerroom2.jpg
and the window you can see is still the same - the roof had been in such bad condition up until it's replacement in 1995/6 it had rotted the old window so the same cowboys who fitted the 'orrible plastic windows to the front of the house just put said perspex in and rode off into the sunset. (What they did to the window in the boxroom downstairs is another story :o) It blows when the wind hits it and leaks water very badly very closely to the half dozen sockets underneath it :-/
The sashboxes are still there and we have a pair of sashes that are the right width but the wrong height. You'll have to bear with me on this one! Because they're victorian they still contain the red glass and blue stars at each corner, and we don't trust any of the local joiners to be able to get the glass out to resize the sashes.
Googling around has come up with devices like this to remove the putty from the frames:
http://www.menco.com/chaser.htm
"Only $19"
2 questions: Are we wasting our time trying to do all of this and should we just get another pair of sashes made that we can fit the glass into? We're trying to be as original as possible, so resizing the frames is the ideal solution......
Your insights appreciated as ever :) -- cheers,
witchy/binarydinosaurs
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thats warmer than glass, so expect to be even colder soon.

Traditional putty remover is a hacking knife. I gather that tool is basically a cheapass router.
Note that with old stained glass sometimes its coloured glass, and sometimes the colours painted on, and so can get chipped off.
Regards, NT
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On 30 Dec 2003 10:42:46 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@meeow.co.uk (N. Thornton) wrote:

It's not the perspex that's really the problem - it's the nasty way it's been 'installed' (I use the term loosely). At least a proper window will be properly framed and I hope draughtproof. Definitely leakproof.

I think so, aye, but with a fixed bit designed for hacking putty and nothing else, hence the $19.

This stuff looks coloured, I would've thought with painted colours you'd be able to tell which side is painted......
-- cheers,
witchy/binarydinosaurs
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First thing one am, asap, pull out the old window, slap in a 3 or 4x2 frame and use 3 sets of 3/4 square beads to lash up some temporary double glazing. Mastic the gaps between the wall and the temporary fix before glazing.
You can then wait as long as it takes for a joiner's shop to repair it to your specs..
I believe the main reason is that the roof is too near your ceiling. I shouldn't think it is a "warm roof" is it? Not insulated too neither, no doubt.
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On Wed, 31 Dec 2003 19:40:17 +0000 (UTC), "Michael McNeil"

We've had this for 4 years so a bit longer won't make much difference :) Ta for the tips though! I'm at the stage now where I could actually do that meself.

At that point the roof IS the ceiling. No idea about the insulation, but given the standard of work done I'd say definitely not. I'd also hang, draw and quarter the cowboys responsible, particularly since they took advantage of an old man in his later years. -- cheers,
witchy/binarydinosaurs
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thats warmer than glass, so expect to be even colder soon.

Traditional putty remover is a hacking knife. I gather that tool is basically a cheapass router.
Note that with old stained glass sometimes its coloured glass, and sometimes the colours painted on, and so can get chipped off.
Regards, NT
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Some notes on old glass removal here- http://www.jpbutler.demon.co.uk/joinery/notes.html#ogl
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On 1 Jan 2004 13:13:49 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@jpbutler.demon.co.uk (jacob) wrote:

I hadn't spotted this before - thanks! -- cheers,
witchy/binarydinosaurs
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Properly made sashes aren't glued together. Remove the wedges at the mortices with a suitable screw and pliers, lay the sash flat on some carpet or whatever and then tap the rails apart using a scrap of wood as a drift and obviously be careful not to whack the glass. Old putty doesn't stick to glass well - if at all.
I did just this on two sashes with curved tops recently and it was extremely easy - I had 'ordinary' spare sashes with the correct but longer bottom rail to replace the rot on the others.
Getting the old putty out of the wood is perhaps the worst job. I used an old wood chisel side on.
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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On Mon, 05 Jan 2004 02:11:07 +0000 (GMT), Dave Plowman

I discovered this yesterday in an old Readers Digest DIY book from about 1985! I also found that properly made doors aren't glued either, so I may stand a chance of fixing the warp that appeared on the bathroom door when we had it stripped not so long back.

Excellent :) We've got some other sashes in the garage I can practice on. I wondered how the likes of Ventrolla said they could do it so easily. (for 500 per window)

Got just the tool here, so I'll have a go on the sash that already has cracked glass in it.
Thanks for the tips! -- cheers,
witchy/binarydinosaurs
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I've repaired, reconstructed, demolished etc hundreds of old sashes of all periods all over the country and also Ireland and can say I've never come across a single one which was not glued and wedged and usually also dowelled. Sometimes dowels only at meeting rails where wedges not possible if rails are thin. What you have might be some local variation I suppose. Sometimes the glue has been washed out from the bottom joints when they are really neglected and decrepit.
cheers
Jacob
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On 5 Jan 2004 15:14:03 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@jpbutler.demon.co.uk (jacob) wrote:

Bugger :) These sashes are still in good nick. Good job I hadn't started! I'll see what state things are in underneath the paint and go from there. -- cheers,
witchy/binarydinosaurs
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All I can say is it's not common in London - I asked an old builder pal the other night and he not come across an original which had been glued. I have seen some with a dowel construction, but assumed that wasn't glued in either.
There's really no need to glue the sash - a well constructed one will be extremely rigid with just wedges, and the box stops it being dismantled by a burglar etc. I've come across nails toshed into a joint, but assumed this was either done later, or a bodge by a poor craftsman when being made.
And did they have waterproof glue 100 odd years ago? And would it have lasted?
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Got it from an old builder in the London area - could this be an urban myth? Speaking myself as a provincial old joiner - I've never seen this glueless phenomenon and never even heard of it or read of it in any literature. I certainly don't believe in the gluless door idea - a big six panel victorian door without glue would slowly come apart under it's own weight. Your old builder might have been looking at a decrepit window from which all the glue had been leached by rain water, and extrapolated from that. Bone glue was used from ancient times and I've often found it still in perfect condition in very old joinery. It doesn't need to be waterproof as it is protected by the paint. If paint has gone then sometimes the glue too has gone - in a sash usually from the bottom joints only, as the tops are well protected. You shouldn't believe everything you read in DIY mags or books - they're often written by retired teachers or put together by publishing teams who know f.a. about anything. NB dowels used not as joint but as pin through a glued and wedged mortice & tenon - old joiners were into belt AND braces. Dowel as a joint strictly a cheapo machine-made furniture phenomenon.
On the other hand I could be utterly wrong and things are done differently in London.
cheers
Jacob
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The sides of a Victorian sash aren't painted - they are bare wood, not even primed when new, or so they appear by the time I've taken any out for repair. And I doubt many strip their windows down when re-painting. But paint won't seal a joint reliably anyway.

The bottom of the top sash is pretty exposed.

If you're directing that at me, I've never read a DIY book in connection with anything to do with sash windows - or much else. My experience is based on perhaps a half dozen properties scattered across South London - my retired builder mate I wouldn't like to guess, but it would be hundreds.

Yes - I've seen this done. But it wasn't glued either.

Quite possibly.
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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True about edges not being painted, not true about paint sealing the joint - infact it's entirely due to poor paint maintenance that I've been in business for 20 years renovating sash windows. As paint deteriorates the sashes start coming apart starting with the bottom joints of each sash.
All I can say is that my experience is based on renovating/replacing period joinery mainly about 1000 plus sash windows and also several hundred doors, in the midlands, Scotland, wales, Ireland. I've looked closely at every one and have kept samples of interesting bits - I have never seen a single unglued joint anywhere ever.
cheers
Jacob
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jacob wrote:

Hi Jacob, thats a nice bit of information. Re. cutting old (or any) glass - the difference between using a single point diamond cutter and a wheel type is amazing. Ditch the wheeled type immediately!
J.B.
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jacob wrote:

Neither have I. but I have not done 1000+ windows - quite a few, though. I agree with your "maintenance" point - I have made a few new ones by hand in the past for people, and even inside 10 years you can see some neglect starting!
J.B.
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You've seen sash windows that were only 10 years old? Just how old are you?;-)
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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I used to use white wood-primer, leaving it for the client to paint. But they'd often use all sorts of cheapo paint and even just gloss straight on to the primer - so windows start rotting 5/10 years on. I got around this by using grey aluminium yacht primer - it's so dark that you need 2 or 3 undercoats to cover it - result: good paint cover. Pity they can't make wood primer in black with purple spots. I also tell them to clean often - with a chamois leather and just clean water, and to look out for defects in paintwork during the first few years and to remedy them immediately - there's bound to be a knot lifting or paint not sticking on a greasy bit. The point is to blame them in advance for anything going wrong!
cheers
Jacob
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