DIal-Ese Shower Faucet Slowly Closing Itself

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wjcandee

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A few months ago, my favorite local plumber put new guts in the 1950s-era Crane Dial-Ese shower faucet in one of our bathrooms. It was interesting to see the design of the thing, as it seemed modern/unusual for its era, and it works somewhat differently in that the handle moves a little towards you to close and away from you to open; the opposite of the more traditional stem-and-seat faucet that moves away to close and towards to open. It also has a more-limited range of motion from full-open to fully-closed. Anyway, glad to have my man Jim Brown, because he loves to fix old plumbing fixtures in old houses like ours, and is knowledgeable and good at it. He made the Dial-Ese from 20 feet away. The handles are distinctive and very 1950s.

However, the faucet as rehabbed has one unusual quirk: When you open the hot water handle, it will move back, over about 5 seconds, to a particular spot, and always the same spot. If you open it all the way, it will stay full-open, but anything less than that and the thing will roll back to a particular spot about 1/3 open. Because the travel of the handle from full-closed to full open is only about 3/4 of a turn, this makes a meaningful difference in water pressure and will cause the temperature to change significantly.

Is this something that can be fixed easily by, say, tightening the screw in the middle of the handle? Or is it something that I should have Jim come back to fix? I know that he will insist on repairing his work for free, and I like the guy too much to have him make a service call if it's something I can do myself. However, I don't want to mess with it beyond something simple, because I know that every time we put a wrench on something 65-years-old, we stand a chance of breaking it if we don't know what we're doing. One thing that Jim pointed out was that the faucet's "cartridge" is pretty-robust, but the body is small and shallow and now brittle. I can change stems and seats on a traditional faucet, but I'm a little leery of ruing Jim's good work.

What say the group?
 
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Widgit Maker

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Nice video on Crane valve repair that will explain what is happening. This is on a sink valve but same would apply for tub valve.
 
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hj

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Because of the way the Dial-Eze works, if the "O" ring seal is NOT "tight" the water pressure under the stem WILL push it closed. A new "O" ring seal should stop the problem. Crane's single handle tub/shower valve was a Moen design.
 

asktom

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I agree with HJ, but it would do the same thing if the stem was lathered up with silicone grease or some other lubricant.
 

wjcandee

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Do you have a picture of it? All I see are two handle valves with that name.

Sorry, Terry, I wasn't clear. It is a two-handle faucet. Only the hot side has the problem. The cold stays in place.

Thank you so much for the explanations, HJ, Asktom, and Widget Maker. It is amazing the depth of knowledge that you have and choose to share with us. Checking/fixing those things is well within my skill set, so I will give it a try.

It's a nifty faucet. In doing research, I noticed the couple of different handles that fit it, and they are remarkable for their design.
 

hj

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The most luxurious was the Criterion, and they probably each cost as much as a normal faucet, then the Drexel, which is probably what you have, then the Oxford.
 
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