Rebuilding the lift mechanism
If the lift mechanism in your office chair needs repair but the upholstery portion is still
in good shape, don’t toss the chair. Fix it!
You can replace the gas cylinder yourself
for about $40 (one source for office chair
parts is swivel-chair-parts.com).
Rebuilding the lift mechanism is a
two-part process. First you have to disassemble
the lift mechanism so you can
measure the size of the gas cylinder and
order the new part. You’ll need a needlenose
pliers, a pipe wrench with a long
handle, and a helper. Disassembly takes
about a half hour. Then you just reassemble
when the part arrives. That only
takes 15 minutes, and you can do it
without a helper.
Start the repair by flipping it upside
down on your workbench. Then remove
the spring retaining clip on the bottom
of the pedestal (Photo 1). Next, lift the
entire pedestal and column off the chair.
Lift off the bearing, washers and rubber
bumper and keep the parts together for
reuse. Remove the telescoping trim bezel
Then grab your pipe wrench and
helper and remove the cylinder (Photo 3).
If it won’t budge, soak it with rust
penetrant and tap with a hammer to set
up vibrations. Then try the wrench
Measure the length of the gas cylinder
from the bottom of the taper to the top.
Don’t include the piston rod in the measurement.
Then measure the cylinder
width at the widest part. Order the
replacement from an office chair repair parts Web site.
To reassemble, just push the tapered
end of the cylinder into the chair seat and
install the telescoping trim bezel. Slide on
the rubber bumper. Then lubricate the
bearing with grease and install it back on
the piston rod with the original washers.
Next, slide the pedestal base and column
over the rod and secure the piston rod
with the washer and spring clip. Finish
the job by turning the chair right side up
and bouncing on it a few times. Your
weight will drive the tapered gas cylinder
into the seat retainer. Then raise the lift
mechanism to the proper height and get
back to work.
Online sources for parts:
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Replace a caster
When casters roll around long enough in
dust, dirt and hair, they stop rolling and
start skidding. And that’s how your floors
get scratched up or your carpet gets wear
tracks. Sometimes you can bring casters
back from the dead by cleaning and lubricating them. So try that first. Just
spray household degreaser/cleaner right
onto the roller axles. Then spin the
wheels to loosen them up. If that helps,
rinse off the cleaner, blow them dry with
compressed air, and then lubricate them. If cleaning doesn’t help, you’ll have to
replace them. Here’s how.
Most office chairs use a twin-wheel
grip-ring style caster. The grip ring compresses
and snaps into a groove in the
socket. The easiest way to remove a grip-ring
caster is with a flat bar (Photo 1).
Before you buy replacements, measure
the width and height of the stem. The
most common widths are 3/8 in. and 7/16
in. There’s only a 1/16-in. difference
between the two, so measure carefully! If
you try to fit a 7/16-in. stem into a 3/8-in.
socket, you’ll crack the socket.
Next, measure the wheel diameter. If
you want the chair to push back easier or
roll over small items on the floor rather
than get stuck, buy a caster with a larger
wheel. Buy a urethane tread caster for
wood (and composite), tile or vinyl floors.
But if the chair will roll on carpet, buy a
hard rubber or nylon tread caster.
To install the caster, tilt it into the
socket to compress the grip ring (Photo
2). If you can’t get it started, apply a drop
of oil to the ring. If the caster only goes in
halfway, tap it with a mallet (Photo 3).
You can find a wide selection of casters at servicecaster.com and castercity.com.