Vintage in-the-door twist crank door bell restoration

I live in a 117 year old house. Sometimes it’s a challenge to heat, cool and clean. But, we have the original doors which I love. Big heavy solid wood doors with a lead glass window.

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What you can’t see on this side of the door is an original brass twist crank door bell.

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Who paints these things? Does it come from pure laziness or at some point was this considered an eye sore or old fashioned? Either way I am happy that it wasn’t taken out if the door. But the paint muffled the sound of the bell and it needed some maintenance.

First I very carefully began scraping off the paint. It was decades of paint and paint types so I heated it with a hair dryer and began picking… All day picking with a sharp knife. I was careful not to gouge. Once I was able to loosen the center screw that holds it to the door, I removed it. I filled a glass bowl with hot sauce. Yep, hot sauce.

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I lowered the bell into the sauce and let it sit for a while. The acidic hit sauce ate away at the corosion on the outside and inside of the metal. Check every 15 minutes and use a soft toothbrush to scrub some of it off.

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I used some fine steel wool to get it looking good as well. While I was cleaning this piece, I cleaned the mechanism and use a spray penetrant. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of that. It made the twist turn much easier.

The end result is fabulous. It’s stamped April 14, 1891 patented. The house was built in 1896.

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It worked so well I moved on to the hardware.

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