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Replacing a Window Sash Cord

Tools & Materials

You'll need an old chisel, hammer, paint scraper, a few 38 mm nails, a handful of 25 mm galvanized clouts and a roll of sash cord. A roll might seem too much, but if one cord is broken, others will surely follow.

Replacing the Sash Cord

1. Carefully insert chisel under the middle of the side stop bead and, tapping it under with the hammer, and begin to lever it off. With a pencil, clearly mark where it goes; then repeat for the other side.

2. Next, cut the bottom sash cords, if any, with a trimming knife and carefully lower the weights down inside the box. Then remove the bottom sash, working the chisel or screwdriver into the joint if it is stuck because of built-up paint.

3. The parting beads, which fit into a groove in the pulley stiles, have to come out next. Insert a fine chisel or screwdriver and carefully pry them out (if they or the stop beads break, you may have to make a quick trip to the timber yard to find a replacement - make sure you take broken piece with you so you can match it). Label them also to make sure they go back in the same place.

4. Lower the top sash, cut the top cords, and remove the top sash. Remove the nails and cutoff the cord from the sash stiles. Scrape or plane away any paint build-up so the sash will slide easily once again.

5. Next, time to go fishing in the pockets with a chisel or screwdriver to retrieve the sash weights. Mark where they belong. If one is bigger than the other, the larger one belongs with the bottom sash (assuming they are both the same glass size) because it has a wider and therefore heavier bottom rail.

6. Make a "mouse" to help thread the sash cord. This is achieved by attaching a small piece of sheet lead (a thin sinker could also work) to a 1.5 meter length of string. Fix the other end of the string to the end of the new sash cord. Push the mouse through the top pulley hole and allow it to fall to the bottom of the pocket. Retrieve it, then pull the cord through.

7. Affix the top weight to the end of the cord using a figured-eight knot, then push the weight back into the box. Put the top sash in the outside channel and let it rest on the sill. Then pull the cord tight until the weight bumps up against the pulley. Lower it a fraction, then tack a 38 mm nail through the cord 150 mm below the pulley to hold the weight up.

8. Swivel the sash outwards and nail the cord into the groove in the edge of the sash using the clouts. Four should suffice. Repeat for the other side, then remove the 38 mm nails.

9. Then repeat the procedure for the bottom sash but watch that you lower the cord approximately 100 mm below the pulley before you tack it in place. This stops the weights from hitting the pulley. Then replace the pockets, parting beads and stop beads in that order.

10. Check that the sashes slide before you nail the stop bead back into place. If everything works properly, you can have the rest of the day off. You've earned it. If there are other cords to replace, don't leave it too long or you might forget how it's done.

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