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Posted: December 2nd, 2011, 11:49 pm
by bburn

I just registered at the suggestion of the "Old-house Guy" and would like some clarification.

First, let me say that I have a vested interest in my opinions and methods. I own Heirloom Windows and my mainstay is building and installing my proprietary "modified replica sash kits".

As far as I know mine is the only company that builds replica sash with mortise and tenon joinery and molding profiles indistinguishable from the originals while incorporating a full ¾” insulated glass unit. Furthermore, I “clad” the exterior with ¼” of AZEK expanded PVC and bevel the interior perimeter to replicate putty glazing. FYI the cladding follows the joints of the sash frame members so, once again, the exterior looks practically identical to the original fabric. I also mill kerfs into the perimeter of both the interior and exterior edges of the sash in which to install kerf mounted fin seal (all hidden behind the stops).

I usually fix the upper sash in place and since the unit weighs almost twice that of the original, making the rope and pulley balances ineffective, I mortise “constant force balances” into the sides of the jamb and hang the lower from them.

HERESY! you exclaim....right?

Well after years of investigation and trial and error, this system is what I would choose to install in my 1893 Victorian home. It’s designed to be the best of both worlds - contemporary weather-stripping, glazing and balance systems and maintenance free exterior, yet practically identical to the original units in appearance. I would challenge any “preservationist” to identify my product as a replacement window from five feet away.

So, please clarify...does this preclude me from being part of your organization?

Another note, I’ve done my time as a restorer. I restored the windows in several buildings in downtown Indianapolis adhering to the DNR standards and have gone through several five gallon containers of “West Systems” epoxy. I removed, stripped, bolstered, routed for and installed IG then rehung 350 60” x 120” 2.25” thick double-hung windows for a very high profile restoration project in Indy. I also just finished restoring a large portion of the windows in the "Turkey Run Inn" which state park facility and is admisistered by the DNR. So I know about restoration and preservation.

Feed back please?


Re: Heresy

Posted: December 3rd, 2011, 10:31 am
by johnleeke
bburn wrote:Greetings,

So, please clarify...does this preclude me from being part of your organization?


Bill, you are definitely welcome to be a part of the window standards collaborative; in particular, for your experience restoring and saving old windows, but also for your views on why and how the traditional windows need to be improved.

While the focus of the standards is saving old windows, we want to be sure the standards do not limit the long-standing tradition of improving windows. For example, without four centuries of improvements, the traditional double hung wood window would not be as good as it obviously is.

How long have your modified replica sash kits been in use? When and why did you first start developing them? How do they hold up? How do they fail?

Re: Heresy

Posted: December 3rd, 2011, 2:45 pm
by bburn
Whew, that’s a relief.

I was afraid you guys were going to be like some of the reps from the governmental entities with which I've dealt – “if it’s not in our little book as so, then it can’t be”.

I appreciate your open minded attitude. I think we are on the same page concerning some of the more distinguishing characteristics of the traditional double-hung, or casement for that matter. Such as...

The visual depth and richness of both the interior sash molding profile as well as the putty glazing look, which are both conspicuously absent from both vinyl windows and even contemporary wooden windows. The same goes for the delicate frame member proportions and glass to frame ratios. As a matter of fact that leads me to your second question, “When and how did you first start developing them?” I believe the answer to that question is addressed on my website but for those, like me, who don’t have time to go surfing, I’ll explain that here.

We moved into a 1893 Victorian about 15 years ago. My wife suggested we place wind-chimes near each window to take advantage of the drafts in the winter. The standard metal double track storms weren’t much help since they were already 15 or 20 years old and pretty well shot.

Of course we were younger and idealistic and determined to maintain the character of the home in every respect. After a long investigation, I determined there weren’t any national brands of wooden windows that even looked similar to the originals and of course vinyl was out of the question. I began searching for “replicas” and found a company on the east coast that could/would make a window just like ours but they wanted $1200 each and with 30 some windows that appeared prohibitive.

It was then, since a 36 x 40 pole barn came with the house, that I told my wife that I thought I could make the windows myself if I only had $4K -$5k worth of equipment (you gotta justify buying tools) to create a wood shop. She thought that was a good idea.

Before I even got setup, the owner of a local landmark on the historic register found out what I was doing and the rest is history (pun). My first project was building 66, 6/6 replica sash for that 1840’s Woolen Mill. On that project, and several subsequent, I used an “over-glazing” system, wherein I slightly modified the jamb and stops to accommodate mounting a lite of glass directly over the entirety of each sash. This created an insulating space while protecting the new sash from the elements.

I continued that method for a few years with pretty good results. The key was to leave just bit of ventilation space between the glass and sash to mitigate condensation. I was having pretty good success with both residential and commercial projects then began the job I mentioned previously – the WH Block building in down town Indy. To make a long story short we were to remove 350 10’ tall and 5’ wide 2.25” frame double-hungs, restore them, install 1” insulated glass then reinstall the sash. Unfortunately, the project demanded Union labor on site. The shop work went well enough but I didn’t count on the inefficiency of the laborers. What I anticipated as a five man hour job, removing then reinstalling the windows, turned into 20 or 24 man hours. Multiply that overrun by 350 and you can see how I lost $250k on the project. It essentially put me out of business.

However, I have windows in my blood and couldn’t ignore the obvious market. I started the business back up about three years ago. This time I became convinced that IG was the way to go. After months of design work I finally came to the conclusion that it was impossible to reconcile four elements that were, in my mind, non-negotiable...

a) a full sized and historically accurate interior sash molding profile (7/8”)
b) an insulated glass unit that is worth using (3/4” minimum)
c) a significant offset between the exterior plane of the glass and sash in which to either putty glaze or replicate putty glazing (1/4” minimum)
d) 3.25” residential jamb depth

It was time to think out side the box. So, I designed my Magnum sash (1.875 sash width) with the first three elements included then setout to determine how to make them work with the fourth element – jamb depth.

It didn’t take too much time to realize that the blind stops were the limiting factor (didn’t want to saw stools and set interior stops back ¾”). Therefore, when I install Magnums I do one of two things – either saw/chisel off the blind stops and replace them with the stops that are integrated into my jamb liners or let in the perimeter of the upper sash the necessary depth to fit between the blind stops.

The results speak for themselves. The windows are as, if not more, efficient that the best contemporary window, yet are indistinguishable from the originals.

So to address your first and third questions...

Three years
I’ve not had any complaints and can’t envision what they would be since I clad the exterior with ¼” expanded PVC (AZEK) and use “constant force balances” which are rated at 6000 cycles.
Fail - the only call backs I have are an occasional bit of air-infiltration (at the normal places – bottom and top corners of the lower sash) and which are the results of my installation.

Thanks for your interest and feel free to continue to query me concerning my product and methods. Maybe next time I won’t have to be so verbose.

Re: Heresy

Posted: December 3rd, 2011, 7:37 pm
by johnleeke
bburn wrote:I was afraid you guys were going to be like some of the reps from the governmental entities with which I've dealt – “if it’s not in our little book as so, then it can’t be”.

Here on the Window Preservation Standards project we are writing the little book the governmental entities will be using when it comes to preserving windows. So, we can write the book to include anything we want. That's why it's important for you to participate. The project is set up with a few levels of involvement. I think you would fit right in as a Stakeholder:


Also, the project has a budget that is supported by a wide range of funding agencies and individuals:


Re: Heresy

Posted: March 11th, 2012, 7:45 pm
by Martin Muller

I took a look at you "Magnum" product. Very interesting.
Congratulations for "thinking outside the box."

I have a few questions. And rather than posting them on your website, I figured I would post them here, so all participants here can partake in the discussion. I hope that's Okay.

My first question:
On some of the brick buildings you show on your website, was there brick molding present?
And if so, how did you deal with the increased depth of the combined sashes? Was it necessary to move the brick molding out?
I know that in that scenario here in Seattle, I'd have the historical society all over the reduced exposed brick next to the windows.

In your diagrams I see how you made a jamb liner assembly for the upper sash, to move the upper sash track out, to accommodate the thicker sashes. I assume you fill in the parting bead dado. I didn't see that mentioned in your text.

If I understand your text and diagrams correctly you place a vinyl exterior glazing face (with beveled edge mimicking glazing bevel) on the outside face of the sashes. You also mentioned in your discussion here some failed IGUs. How is that glazing face fastened to the wood of the sash and can you remove it to replace the failed IGU? Or do you have to replace the whole sash if the IGU fails?

I am not familiar with the longevity of the vinyl used in the glazing face. What is that typically?

Your fin & pile weatherstripping; how is it fastened to the sash? Is that adhesive-backed?
How are they holding up? In my experience I've not seen such a product stand up to repeated glide/shear friction.

Many thanks for sharing your innovative approach.


Re: Heresy

Posted: March 12th, 2012, 10:45 am
by bburn
Hi Martin,

Now your answers in order.
1) Brick molding
a) In every application I've installed there was either brick molding or wood casing
b) I'm sorry I didn't make it clear on my web-site that one needs to remove the blind-stop then apply the jamb liner with integrated blind stop. The thickness of the jamb liner blind stop is .5" and that is about how far the outside plane of this new blind-stop is beyond the original. It's not noticeable unless you're looking for it.
c) Since this is new information to you, let me just say that removing the blind-stop is not as hard as you might think (though it's seldom merely an applied piece like the parting-stop). I use an oscillating saw (you know, like the Fein) to cut the BS cross grain every six inches or so. I then just chisel these pieces off. It doesn't have to be pretty since it's covered by the new jamb liner. It's just that no portion can be proud of the surface. This operation only takes about 10 min per unit.

2) I need to revisit/update my site to make things more clear and reflect the latest upgrades. The jamb-liner is now the full width of the jamb (plus the blind stop). So at the bottom, measured from the outside edge of the stool, the overall blind stop width is 4.625". What I'm saying is that the jamb-liner covers the PS dado. FYI the jamb-liner is .0625 thick except at the PS and BS.

3) Sash face/Glazing
a) You understood the design correctly.
b) The sash face is applied to the sash with adhesive caulk and face stapled to the sash then the staple holes are filled then painted over.
c) I've "restored" thousands of windows. I've found that replacing glass with this system is far easier than trying to remove hardened glazing putty and clean out the rebate.
d) With the sash removed, one just forces a "seven in one painting tool" between the wood and vinyl somewhere along the exterior edge. You then work the tool along the face, prying gently to loosen the staples. This is much the same method as removing interior window stop that's nailed on. Once the vinyl is removed, you can then remove the staples from the vinyl itself (or grind them off from the mating face), scrape off the adhesive caulk from both surfaces and reuse the vinyl.

4) The trade names of the material for the facing are "Azek" or "Versatex" (not the less durable/dense vinyl used in the sign industry). The mfgs boast about lifetime performance and really, this 1/4" material is bound to be better than the .03125 or thinner material used buy other companies that "vinyl clad" their windows. Go to the sites of these vinyl mfgs to see their propaganda.

5) Again, I need to update/illustrate the weather-stripping system better on my site. I use the same material as the facing to create a "weather-stripping retainer" for the hidden edges of the sash. I rip pieces of this material to a width so that 1/16" of WS is proud of the edges of the sash, which is the correct amount of WS compression. I then kerf both sides of the retainer (.07") to the correct depth and insert the kerf mounted WS into the retainer, and then apply that to the edges of the sash. I like this method better for a few reasons. a) I don't trust adhesive mounted WS either, b) the cuts and resulting shoulders would be too delicate and likely to break off if I tried to cut the kerfs directly into the sash edges, c) by applying the WS using a separate retainer component, I can remove it on site in case I need to adjust the sash width on site (you know how there's always some variation in jamb width even among windows that were originally the same size), d) if I cut WS rebates/kerfs into the sash itself, I couldn't adjust the width like mentioned above without needing to remill the sash. This WS is used in contemporary vinyl windows and the kerf mounting is very secure and stable.

You asked some very insightful questions. I'll be happy to answer any other questions you may have.


Re: Heresy

Posted: March 12th, 2012, 11:41 pm
by Martin Muller

Many thanks for your detailed answers to my questions.
I will study them in more detail when I have more time this coming weekend.
If I have more questions I will be certain to ask.