What to do with old window counter weights?

My house was built in 1915 and we are replacing the windows to get better efficiency. Now I have all these weights. I can have them thrown into a landfill but that seems like a bad idea. I've seen people doing things with homemade forges but I don't have one. Would these be useful? Could they be melted down? Or could they be toxic?

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ctgscott1 month ago

This one disappoints me a little... and here's why: Modern windows simply are not that much more efficient than a repaired historic window. I run a firm that repairs both modern and historic windows and we regularly find that modern windows have a life span of around 15 years (guides, rollers, latches, springs break, dual-pane glass fogs up and the old, trusty wooden windows just keep on chuggin' along. I urge you to consider repairing the old windows, integrating modern weather stripping and perhaps adding a low-E film to your south and west facing windows. Then you will not have the problem of what to do with your left over iron weights.

They are iron by the way. There were a few made out of lead, and one or two made out of brass or bronze, but VERY few. Nearly all were made of the cheapest/densest metal builders could find, pig-iron. They are non-toxic, they are not valuable but they will keep working if you let them.

Another thought about what to do with them, in case you have them lying around in your garage... donate them to a firm like mine that needs to put them back into houses undergoing restoration. :)

orb4me1 month ago

I have 6 of them now. just came out of old windows. cheap on ebay, but pay through the nose for shipping. I like some of the ideas for them to weight things down. tx for the ideas.

orb4me orb4me1 month ago

paint them and place them in real fireplace or just decoration for the fireplace?

iceng3 months ago

They are collectibles offer them on eBay.

VisaP3 months ago
rickharris2 years ago
They are more than likely lead, It has a high scrap value try your local scrap yard who will pay you by weight for it.

They may be brass and are equally valuable, again the scrap yard will buy them off you. Alternatively if you have a local model engineer he/she will be delighted to take them off you and turn them into something interesting.
that was my thought
Never seem a lead one. All the ones in mum and dad's were pigiron.

Might be a time/regional/cost thing - I've seen lead ones.

A friend's house had a sash wall - the dividing wall between two rooms could be lifted into a hollow wall upstairs. It had a pulley system in the loft, with big lead counterweights.

She went and got it replaced, a choice she later regretted.
Ouch. I'd've paid money to see that idea in action.
I never saw it move - for a while, I think it was painted shut!
Our Victorian house had lead weights in the windows. I have seen brass as well - very nice for turning - Old brass seems to be a lot more friendly then newer stuff. maybe I am buying the wrong grade!

You could:
  • use them to hold down the corners of picnic blankets and tablecloths used outside
  • pile a few in the bottom of any tree tubs you have, to stop them blowing over in high winds and make them less desirable to plant thieves (who won’t know they are filled with brass or lead, just that they are too heavy to carry away)
  • keep one for use as a plumb bob when hanging wallpaper
  • pop one in your garage/shed to tie on the end of a rope the next time you need to sling it over a branch to hang a swing, hammock or to control the fall of the branch when you are pruning it
  • if you have a garden pond, you could use a brass weight to anchor newly planted waterlilies
  • the weights could maybe be used to secure the ends of party bunting or banners by hanging them over tree branches - less trouble than tying the ends around branches
  • use one with a length of cord for chilling a bottle of wine or beer in a stream when picnicking - there isn’t always anything convenient to tie the cord around on the bank
  • keep one under the seat in your car in case you ever have a crash and need to smash your way out through the window (lead may be too soft for this)
  • likewise, if you have toughened or laminated glass in your house windows, keep a weight in each bedroom in case there is a fire and it's too dark or smokey to find the window keys/catches
  • get kids to practise their swimming skills by picking up a weight from the bottom of the pool
vince 092 years ago
I gave all of ours to a local blacksmith
iceng vince 092 years ago
Who probably sold them on eBay :-)
vince 09 iceng2 years ago
Well I hope he got something good for them lol there where like 30 of them lol
There are shops that renovate old sashes and can't find weights.
RavensCraft2 years ago
They would make great tarp hold-down weights,
If you have something outside that you want to protect
from the weather. Just tie a piece of rope to the weight
and let it hang from a grommet on the tarp.
Burf2 years ago
Some old window sash weights are collectable, particularly those that have manufacturer's markings on them. Those not of the typical cylindrical shape are more collectable.
I have seen a fireplace andiron and grate made from old sash weights but for practical purposes, if you can't sell them or use them as decorator pieces, they're not anymore useful or valuable than any similarly shaped piece of cast iron.