Sashes defy gravity!

Well sort of…. By using one

Of two common methods, you double hung sash windows are able to stay at any set position within the frame. The most traditional method is by using a special hank of rope known in the sash window world as ‘sash cord’ normally a cotton sash cord, a better quality is a pre stretched and waxed sash cord, I gave up on cotton sash cord more than a decade ago and moved to a ‘dual core poly’ which will not stretch or rot like cotton, and I’ve yet to return to a snapped one. The trick in well balanced timber sash windows, is in the weighting. You do not want them exactly Half the weight of the sash each side! You want slightly more on the bottom and slightly less on the top, this will provide years of trouble free service.

This type of window is recognisable by the distinctive cord/ rope running up each side of the of the pulley stile where it enters the box cavity over the top of the pulley wheel, and behind the scenes is attached to a lead or cast iron weight.

The second type of sash window which became popular shortly after World War Two is the spiral balanced windows, essentially a helical metal rod trapped in a metal spring incased in ABS Plastic or metal sheath, resembling a magic wand. These spiral balanced windows work on tensioning of the spring by winding the helical rod the required amount, which is a intuative operation, with a bit of trial and error, and sore digits if you don’t pay attention and have a ‘negligent discharge’ of the tension.

Which ever method is being used it’s important that it is the counterweight that is countering the weight of the sash! And not friction at the pulley wheel or at the stop beads, with incorrect installation! 1.5 -2 mm is perfect! Trust me on that!

There are of course a pethora of other systems employed, such as ACME tapes, single cord, block and tackle has been popular in the last 15-20 yrs and boy do I hate it ! Made one, fixed and existing and I’m done lol. They suck and have little longevity! I’d recommend sticking with traditional sash cord, where there are MANY examples still serviceable today after 100 yrs or more! Or spiral balance, Whitco being my preferred reliable brand as it lasts a long time, Gainsborough is another option which does have several advantages such as colour and tube diameter, however for me the negatives outweigh the positives, in my humble opinion.

Someone attempted to install a spiral balance in a rotted timber bottom sash

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