Home>Discussions>PLUMBING>Where to get washers for a very, very old faucet?
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Where to get washers for a very, very old faucet?

We have a house in upstate NY, built in 1890, that has a lot of the original fixtures, including 2 clawfoot tubs with the original plumbing. We need to find somewhere/someone who can either supply parts, or, failing that, how do we repair it using current parts? Anyone have any experience with this kind of faucet repair?

A. Spruce
Re: Where to get washers for a very, very old faucet?
A. Spruce

You will likely need to take apart your fixture and take the pieces to a plumbing supply house (not a big box), the older the shop, the better. If they don't have what you need, see if you can find an antique plumbing dealer that has the parts you need.

dj1
Re: Where to get washers for a very, very old faucet?
dj1

Another source would be the internet, except , you can't actually see the washers and try them on your faucet stems. Some pictures might indicate "real size", yet, you still don't get to try them on.

On the other hand, some folks would rather call an old time plumber and let him do the running around.

Re: Where to get washers for a very, very old faucet?
A. Spruce wrote:

You will likely need to take apart your fixture and take the pieces to a plumbing supply house (not a big box), the older the shop, the better. If they don't have what you need, see if you can find an antique plumbing dealer that has the parts you need.

Thanks - Yeah - we did that, and not only doesn't anyone have them, they have never seen one before! The washer sits in a metal shank. We might have to have one made if we can't find something.

keith3267
Re: Where to get washers for a very, very old faucet?
keith3267

Buy the largest multipack assortment of washers available at your plumbing store. You are bound to find something that will work. You might have to buy a multipack for each fixture.

A. Spruce
Re: Where to get washers for a very, very old faucet?
A. Spruce

Thanks - Yeah - we did that, and not only doesn't anyone have them, they have never seen one before! The washer sits in a metal shank. We might have to have one made if we can't find something.

Then you are left with the choice you already know, making your own. As long as the metal parts are functioning fine, custom fitting a washer or making one isn't all the difficult. Get a slightly larger washer than you need and install a machine screw through it, backed with a nyloc nut or two nuts locked together to pinch the washer just tight enough to keep it from moving. Chuck it into a drill to spin it while running a sanding block or file across the washer. This will keep the washer perfectly round.

You can use the same technique with rubber gasket material to fully craft your own if necessary.

dj1
Re: Where to get washers for a very, very old faucet?
dj1

I can't imagine having faucets that were made 2 centuries ago.

Unless you are historically, or any other reason, attached to them, why not use this opportunity to upgrade to something new? perhaps something with old time look?

Mastercarpentry
Re: Where to get washers for a very, very old faucet?
Mastercarpentry

Perhaps they want to keep them because they don't make faucets which will last 100+ years any more :p

All I can add to the foregoing is to learn about recutting the seats and re-packing the spindles. If the seats need re-cutting do this as minimally as possible. The stems will likely be loose and their caps also worn, so use graphite packing string at the bottom then a size of waxed string at the top which won't work itself out through the gap. You'll probably have to re-pack them every 6 to 24 months (based on use) but it's a 5 minute job and you don't even have to cut the water off to do it. One old-time fix was to make your own faucet washers from shoe soles ;) Don't try that, cut a new washer down as it's a better material for this. But if one splits when you can't get a replacement you can patch it up and keep going now that you know how.

Though I'm not a plumber I love the old fixtures made back when quality was foremost and final and people took pride in doing their best. Newer fixtures may have closer tolerances and need less maintenance but the automated machines which produce them have no soul and today's workers have little pride. You can't fix a bad cartridge, only replace it. Only that exact cartridge will work. Once they stop making the cartridges you're screwed, but as you can see the old stuff can be kept going nearly forever with almost nothing. To me that has a meaning which goes well beyond today's concepts of how things should be done.

Phil

ed21
Re: Where to get washers for a very, very old faucet?
ed21

My local Ace Hardware and True Value have bins of assorted washers and stuff. It's possible the original parts are so distorted they may not exactly resemble the originals especially the thickness. It could be something similar might work. Taking the part or Whatever you can with you to the store might help. At some point obsolete hardware is easier to replace.

Fencepost
Re: Where to get washers for a very, very old faucet?
Fencepost

By any chance is it a Crane Dial-Ese?

https://www.google.com/search?q=crane+dial+ese&tbm=isch

Banterers
Re: Where to get washers for a very, very old faucet?
Banterers

Yikes, I would almost suggest replacing the faucet entirely.

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