An ongoing war of wills has been going on between me and our front door knocker for about the last 7 or 8 months, and I’m embarrassed but not surprised to admit that the doorknocker is presently winning.  In fact, this weekend’s battle proved to be quite a savage blow from the forces of darkness.

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On our front door we have a nice big heavy brass doorknocker.  It’s in the shape of a lion’s head, and the knocker-ring thing sits in the lion’s mouth.  At some point last year one of my housemates said that it had come apart, and instead of being a nice lion with metal ring in its mouth, the bottom jaw-piece had come off, and what we now had was a bottom-jawless lion on the front door, a metal ring hanging off a nail just inside the front door, and a fairly hefty bit of brass in the shape of a lion’s bottom jaw sitting on tiop of the fire alarm panel box.

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The problem – as it turned out – was that the screw holding the jawpiece on had come out, so all that needed to happen was to get hold of a new screw and return to our prior happy-go-knocky state of play, right?  Well when the handyman turned up to fix the door locks I handed him the jawpiece and asked if he had anything in his random bag of screws that would do the trick.  Despite having nearly one of every type of screw and bolt you could possibly imagine, this type wasn’t in there.

Never mind: a trip to the hardware store would SURELY yield the correct type of screw, thought I.  On the way over to Richie’s place one weekend I popped in to Homebase, armed with the jawpiece, and went screw-searching.  It turns out that loose individual screws are a thing of the past in the British Handyman’s psyche, because now the smallest configuraion available is the 10-pack.  I duly went through a series of 10-packs of varying specification, coaxing a screw out of the packet and trying with increasing numbers of failures to find the correct one.  I was stumped here, so I suspended disbelief for a moment and went & asked someone for help, and 20 or so minutes later after having found someone available to dispense hardware advice, I was told in no uncertain terms that they didn’t carry the correct sized screw.

Last week it dawned on me as I walked down towards Mornington Crescent tube that I’d be passing Romany’s ironmongers, who claim that if they can’t find it, it doesn’t exist… so in I pop to seek out this screw.  It took a little bit of explaining, and the man seemed more interested in me buying a whole new doorknocker, however eventually he rolled his eyes at me and said “Of course you won’t find the right screw at Homebase, it’s a non-metric thread!”.  The correct screw lay in the palm of his hand, and now having established that I wanted it and it was the only thing standing between him and a sale for 35 quid’s worth of new doorknocker, he had the good grace to charge me 50p for it.

The chief problem now as I saw it was that the screw was about 3 inches long, whereas what was required was a screw perhaps 1 inch long… and guess who didn’t have a hacksaw?  This is why this week I ordered a hacksaw off t’internet and had it delivered to the office.  The hacksaw duly arrived, and this morning I set about adjusting the screw to the proper length.

Literally all that now remained was to undo the bolts on the inside of the door holding the lion’s head on, take it off, and then reattach the jaw.  Easy, right?  As it turns out, our front door is a victim of inept-handyman-cut-cornerism, and where ordinarily you’d expect to see a pair of easy-to-remove nuts holding the bolts where they needed to be, instead there protruded 2 nutless bolt threads, covered in white paint (akin to the back of the door).  Further investigation showed that these bolts didn’t use nuts at all to remain in place – the bolts had somehow been paint-sealed in, meaning that there would be no easy way of removing the lion’s head without finding the nuts which I’d assumed were just missing.  Luckily, a rudimentary search on the top of the fire alarm panel yielded 2 endcap-style nuts.  And did they nicely fit the back-of-door bolts meaning that I could simply reattach these after removing then replacing the lion?  Yeah, did it feck.

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The choices available now are:

  1. give the protruding bolts a whack with a hammer and hope that it dislodges WHATEVER is holding them in place at the moment, fix the knocker, then hack the bolts off to the correct length & reattach with the nuts provided
  2. give the bolts a whack, fix the thing, then get hold of a couple of tube/barrel pieces and use them as washers of sorts so I don’t have to cut the bolts or worry about the fact they’re gummed up with paint
  3. whack, fix, and get hold of correct sized hexnuts which are open-backed and therefore travel all the way up the bolt
  4. call the landlord and get them to deal with it

Whilst I’m leaning in favour of 4, prior experience shows us that Christmas cards may go out before this is likely to take place.  It’s actually reasonably tempting just to buy a new one & be done with it – although this still doesn’t address the issue of how to get the old one off.

See, nearly 1000 words about cleaning a keyboard, and now the same on fixing a doorknocker.  Perhaps I should pitch for a Jackass sequel?