There is probably an easy answer to this question, but I can't seem to find it.  Several years ago, I bought and restored/remodeled a 1929 craftsman.  I kept all the beautiful old doors and hardware, even though my contractor couldn't remove the mortise locksets (they have been painted over MANY times and clearly not cared for).  I put the doors with the most functional hardware on the main floor and my builder added newer knobs to the upstairs doors.  He left the mortise hardware on the door and I'm not sure how he connected the new knobs to the old hardware.  That worked well for a while.  But now this particular work-around is beginning to fail...and most of the upstairs knobs are no longer able to open the doors they're connected to.  Ideally, I don't want to replace the doors or damage them trying to remove the mortise locksets.  Does anyone have any ideas how I can keep my upstairs doors with new knobs and old locksets functioning...?  Thanks so much in advance!

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Knobs and their spindles were largely interchangeable, so your contractor likely just put new knobs on the doors.  To make them work better, you need to remove the knobs when the door is open (unscrew little screw behind one of the knobs in a standard set-up).  Then, in principle, you can unscrew the two screws that hold the mortise lock to the door and pull it out of its pocket.  If it is painted into place, then you have to damage the paint to release it. If it is really thick, then you made need to use paint remover or a heat gun to clean out the screws and allow the lock to pull out.  Once out, there is typically a set screw on the side of the mortise box. unscrew that carefully, then lift the top off of the lock carefully.  IMPORTANT: immediately take a few pictures of the inside of the lock so that you know how to put it back together.  Then, you can begin to experiment with the lock to see if it just needs lubrication (oil) or if some part is stuck or broken.  Ultimately, most are fixable.

If the above directions don't make sense, then you should post some pictures of your door and its hardware.  

This does make sense - thank you!  There's so much paint on the lock that I think this will be a pretty challenging job, but it does seem like the only way.  I appreciate the help!

If the doors are equally thick with paint, you could consider stripping one of those down at the same time to see if that improves the look and the function.  

Our locksets looked like they had been dipped in paint, inside and out, and it was so thick  you could hardly see where screws were. I used a heat gun set on low to warm the paint, a good screwdriver, and lots of patience. Make sure the slot is cleaned out well and then try turning to tighten the screw first. This breaks the bond and they can then be removed. An overnight soak in an old crock pot with water and 1/4 cup of TSP, set on medium heat will remove most of the paint, scrub with a stiff brush or fine brass bristle brush will remove the rest. One screw removes the cover on most of the locks, they look complicated but are very easy to work on. Take a picture first. Mostly a good cleaning and light oiling on moving contacts and good as new. Biggest problem I have had is a broken or stretched spring. An easy fix. Once cleaned up most any competent locksmith can inspect and repair the lockset if needed.

A bent spindle is easy to straighten. If it is so worn to be unserviceable spindles are basically dime a dozen at salvage operations or Ebay.


Are they box locks?

I had this problem on my last house, twice.  Once my old dad was there and he took and ice pick and hammered it right down the line of the screw, chipping the paint away slowly but surely until that screw sure enough would loosen with the screw gun.  Another day he wasn't there and I wasn't strong enough to do that as well as he had.  So I put a spot of CitriStrip on the screw and waited 10 minutes.  Sure enough, it lifted the paint right off and I was able to get it with the screw gun.


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