SWISCO - The Replacement Hardware Authority

My balance is a different design than your Series 900

A home owner from Maryland says:
I would like to buy balances for an old Alcoa window. The window tilts, the balance diameter is 3/8", the tip is blue, the metal tube is 12", but the balance design does not quite match the desing in the pictures on your website. There is a 3/8" outer diameter circular spring (not the internal spiral balance) fastened to the bottom of the metal tube; the total length of the tub + the spring is 27".

So, my question is this. Do you have spiral balances that can replace the old ones and if so, how would I specify it on your website?

Thanks.
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Paul from SWISCO responded:
The original Alcoa balances had a plastic covering that would deteriorate over time and expose the inner springs. We use metal tube balances, because they hold up better. I think our S900-12 could still work. The red tip can carry a sash weight of 7 through 17 pounds, while the blue tip can carry 11 through 20 pounds. There is some overlap there, but weigh your sash and use your best judgement.
A home owner from Maryland says:
Yes. But the whole assembly - spring + metal tube - is 27 inches in length (not counting the spiral that is internal to the metal tube). So should I buy a 27 inch balance?
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Paul from SWISCO responded:
I guess I'm having trouble visualizing what you're describing. Maybe it would be best if you take a few pictures of your balance so we can see what you're talking about.
A home owner from Maryland says:
I have taken pictures of one of the balances.

Note that the internal spiral part has been removed from the assemblies as shown, that the length of the metal tube is 12 inches, the length of the spring section beyond the metal tube is 15 inches, that the tip is blue, that the sash height of the window I am trying to fix is 30 inches, and that the height of the upper part of the window I am trying to fix is also about 30 inches.

Thanks.
User submitted photos of a window balance.
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Paul from SWISCO responded:
Ah, I see what you mean. Believe it or not, I believe your balance originally had another tube on the outside of the coil. Do you have an undamaged balance that we could see? Perhaps on the other side of the window, or even in an identical window elsewhere in the house. If you do, I'd like to see it. You don't have to remove it, you can just show me what it looks like in the jamb. I strongly believe there should be a tube on the outside of what you show here, and knowing its length and diameter is essential.
A home owner from Maryland says:
Hi,

Length of plastic tube is 28 inches, coiled steel spring with blue tip extends 1 inch below that. Although the diameter of the plastic tube is 5/8 inch, the gap throug which I would have to insert the new balance is only 1/2 inch, so I would guess that the new balances should be 3/8 inch diameter.

The window itself is about 59-60 inches.

I have just uploaded a picture.
User submitted a photo of a window balance.
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Paul from SWISCO responded:
When you replace the balance, you are going to remove both the plastic tube and inside mechanism and install a new complete balance. Because your plastic tube is 5/8" and the length is 28", then I recommend our S600-28 with a blue tip. We use the metal tube because the sun deteriorates the plastic tubes.
A home owner from Maryland says:
Right. But the vertical gap through which the balance will need to be inserted is only 1/2 inch wide. So would it be better for me to buy 3/8" balances instead of 5/8" balances, for example, green or yellow tip S900-28?
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Paul from SWISCO responded:
If the nylon tube on your existing balances are 5/8", then I see no reason why our 5/8" balances won't fit. Before you order, though, remove your existing balance with the plastic tube and see how well it can fit through that 1/2" gap. If you have no trouble, then I think the 5/8" balance is the way to go.
A home owner from Maryland says:
The plastic tubes are brittle and crack when I try to extract them. Furthermore, the polymer that is on either side of the vertical gap through which the new balances would need to be inserted seems fairly rigid.

I weighed one of the sashes and its mass is 17 lb. So now I guess that my question is this.

If I buy 3/8" diameter red-tipped S900-28 balances, which I am sure will fit through the 1/2 inch vertical gap through which they would need to be inserted, will they properly fit the original pivot shoes?

Thank you.
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Paul from SWISCO responded:
Yes, a Series 900 spiral balance should still fit on your original pivot shoes.
A home owner from Maryland says:
I installed the 28 inch Series 900 red tip balances. After I did the initial three clockwise turns using the tool I found that I had to use quite a bit of force in order to get the bottoms of the balances to seat between the vertical gap in the shoes (see attached picture of shoe). Once I did this and put the bottom part of the window back into the shoes, the balances worked pretty well except that they did not hold the window when it was ~3/4 to all of the way open. So I needed to do further tightening of the spiral balances. See next post to see pictures of what happened to the balances when I tried to remove them from the shoes to tighten them a little more.
User submitted a photo of a pivot shoe.
A home owner from Maryland says:
When I tried to remove the balances from the shoes, it was necessary to use a bit of force due to the lack of clearance (interference, actually would be a better description of this) between the two pins at the bottom of the balances and the vertical gap in the shoe into which the bottoms of the balances needed to be inserted. As the spirals were being removed, the top pins sheared the metal which comprised the spirals. See attached post-removal picture of bottoms of balances. Fortunately the shoes seem to be relatively intact, but I'm not quite sure what to do next. Do you have any recommendations or suggestions?
User submitted a photo of a window balance.
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Paul from SWISCO responded:
I was afraid something like this could happen. I still believe that our Series 600 balance would have been the better choice. The Series 900 appears to not have been strong enough for your window. Your original balances had a tube diameter of 5/8", so you should stick with that.
A home owner from Maryland says:
Ok, then. I sent a picture (see above) of one of the pivot shoes. Does it look as though it's in good enough condition to keep using it (it seems to slide ok in the frame, the window fits in it ok, its mate is in similar condition) or do you recommend that we replace the pivot shoes also?


Thanks.
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Paul from SWISCO responded:
No, the pivot shoe looks to be in good condition.
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