**Update** Clark the Locksmith replaced the broken spring for $7.50. I love fixing old things!**
I like to take things apart and figure out how they work. When I was younger, I would pretty much start dismantling anything, any time, regardless of the pragmatic implications of taking apart something you might need, and not be able to put it back together.
I’ve (mostly) gotten over that disregard for the practical. So when my bathroom door latch stopped working, two days before we’re hosting a stranger who is doing some organizing work in Rhode Island, I was reluctant to pull the whole thing apart. The little jobby that usually moves when you turn the knob wasn’t moving, so the door wouldn’t latch. I tried wiggling the knob. Nothing. I tried poking at the latch bolt mechanism. It was stuck inside, so the door wouldn’t stay shut. I posted on facebook and got a wide assortment of helpful tips. I tried some WD-40 in case something was stuck. Nope. So finally, I decided to pull the whole thing out and see what was going on.
The whole thing was pretty cool. Lots of little parts and pieces all designed to operate the deadbolt and the door knob. I enjoyed looking at all the bits and pieces, the levers and mechanisms that operate the door. I like mechanical things, they bring a real tangibility to our frequently digital world.
But the problem was immediately obvious: a broken spring. Beyond my scope of service. So I bagged up the whole shebang. I’m going to take it downtown to a locksmith to see if I can get the spring replaced, or if they have a replacement mechanism with the same dimensions, because of course in an old house, everything is just slightly differently sized than things you can get at the Home Depot.
But I think my favorite part was this: the screw that holds the whole mechanism together is magnetized, so it’s stubby self doesn’t get lost. Cool.