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Sash Cords

Sash cord fastener patented by Margaret Jane Hufman, Dec. 6, 1892.
Cotton sash cord.

Gain access to the sash chord

To gain access to a window's sash cord, remove the inside window stop from both sides of the sash, and if the upper sash needs attention, the parting stops separating the two sashes must also be removed. Carefully pry the stops away from the jambs, using a wide putty knife.

Lift Out the Sash

Lift the sash clear of the stool and swing it out. With the sash free from the window, remove the sash cord from the keyed slot in its side.

New Sash Cord

Thread the new sash cord over the pulley and down into the sash-weight cavity until it appears at the access panel. Tie the new sash cord to the sash weight, and then put the weight back into the cavity. Knot the other end of the sash cord at a point that will permit the weight to hang 3 inches above the sill when the sash is fully raised. Reinstall the sash and nail the stops. Touch up with putty and paint as necessary.

Source: Creative Homeowner

Sash cords should be given attention at the same time as any extensive repairs and replaced if necessary. If a considerable amount of glass has been replaced it will be necessary to adjust the weights. Traditionally, the combined downward pull of the weights serving the top sash should be slightly more than the sash itself, including glass, so that it has a tendency to close easily. The weights serving the lower sash should be slightly lighter than the sash itself for the same reason.

Wrightson, David. The Conservation and Renewal of Timber Windows, Public Information Leaflet, Cathedral Communications, Wiltshire, England [PDF file]

Replacing a Sash Cord

Even if the other cords appear sound, it is usually sensible to replace them all. This can be done as follows:

  1. The lower sash is first removed by carefully taking off the staff beads, which will free the sash.
  2. Disconnect the sash cords from the sash and tie a knot in the cord to prevent the sash weight dropping to the bottom of the box.
  3. Take out the parting beads and the upper sash will now be free to be removed, restraining the sash cords as with the lower sash.
  4. Take out the pockets, which are loose pieces of wood normally held in place by the parting beads; by moving the wagtail from side to side and letting down the cords it should be possible to find the weights in the box.
  5. If any of the glass has been changed since the windows were hung, the sashes should be weighed at this stage.
  6. A new length of cord (waxed sashcord is best) is weighted with a nail, threaded through a pulley and allowed to drop until it can be reached through the pocket.
  7. The weight should be tied to it with a secure knot (bowline or similar), with make-weights added as necessary to balance the weight of the sash, and replaced in the box.
  8. When all the cords have been inserted in this way, the free end of a cord is then nailed with three flat headed nails into the groove in the side of the upper sash, adjusting the lengths of the cords so that the weights do not quite touch the bottom of the box when the sash is at its highest point.
  9. When the upper sash has been hung the pockets can be put back and the parting bead replaced (or renewed if damaged).
  10. The lower sash can then be rehung, finally replacing (or renewing if damaged) the staff bead, ensuring a firm, but not tight, fit.

Sash WIndows,A Guide to the Repair of Sash Windows [PDF file], Building and Maintenance Guides, Planning Department of the London Borough of Islington and Roger Mears Architects

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