What better way to inaugurate a links page than to suggest a scavenger hunt-where the goal is to "make work" in these difficult economic times. But the work is light!! Because a bad day restoring pocket doors is better than a good day fishing!! These contractors were urged on by a clue furnished by the homeowner. Go to "Friday, December 12th 2008" http://www.mosbybuildingarts.com/blog/2008/12/12/pleasant-surprise-hiding-in-the-walls
Emulate this case...Look for a thicker than normal wall in your Victorian era home. About 11" to 13" ought to be thick enough to possibly contain hidden pocket doors. You have to be "judgmental" concerning the openings between rooms-do the trim boards look "inappropriate?"
http://www.oldhouseonline.com/expert-advice-mystery-hardware/ is remarkable for several reasons. It answers the question-with an historical background. It offers peripheral maintenance tips, one of which is advice on what not to do. I contacted Bill Rigby in Fall of 2008 and introduced myself. Through his professional courtesy (referrals), I have sent pocket door hangers (as well as custom adjustment screws) to Kentucky, Rhode Island and Indiana.
Bill and I exchange emails 5-6 times a year. In my last email to him, I included a "chuckle" and made reference to how the text of his excellent response was paired with a photograph which the editors (inadvertently) printed...upside down!! <:d)
Pocket doors are mysterious. The running gear...hidden. "Their ways are past finding out." They elicit "oohs! & aahs!" when they move easily, but a great deal of consternation when they drag on the floor. Since pocket doors are an enigma, perhaps Old House Journal felt the need to publish some material. What I am saying is...subscribers probably clamored for some help with pocket door troubles. These articles are "OK," but they really just scratch the surface.
I was browsing a search term and came across an answer which Eric Hollenbeck (of California) had posted regarding pocket doors. I sent him an email inviting him to look at my site. If you have an old house, you should definitely see Blue Ox Millworks site below.
John Carlton saw my site and contacted me to visit his Boston workshop. I think his portfolio and the images speak for themselves. Click on this link to load his site http://www.historicdoor.com
In the Spring of 2008 I began passing out my humble flyer in my own Boston neighborhood of Roslindale. Unbeknownst to me, a professional cabinetmaker lived in one of the Victorian houses. He retained my flyer for a year. When he called me, his first floor was undergoing a major upgrade. I didn't see any structural changes, but David Kenyon, the homeowner, had used his talents on restoration of wainscoting and on custom cabinetry. In addition there was a crew of three men refinishing all the oak trim and molding, doors and windows.
I was asked if I could restore a 7' wide oak pocket door! I was glad other workers were there. Once the trim was off, it took five men to carry the door away from the opening! Two days later, David, the cabinetmaker, said "Thanks...and remember to tell clients who need custom reproduction molding and casings for their Boston area Victorian homes to call Kenyon Woodworking."
This is quite amazing. An early, very ornate and complicated bit of engineering...that is a set of pocket doors for Stephen Decatur, sea captain. Apparently the house was constructed near the White House. This is not "light reading." But if you study the drawing, you will see that these immense doors rolled on wheels embedded into the floor! This is the work of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, America's first professional architect. The house was built in 1810.
From time to time, I browse the Web using different search terms related to sliding doors. This Spring, I noticed a professional builder who was offering advice in a forum. I contacted him and, in a short email exchange, we decided to link our websites.
This summer while I was browsing the Internet using search terms related to carriage house sliding doors, I again saw helpful comments posted by Randall Marder. He knows his stuff. You might want to direct building questions to him.