Used metal office fixing and finding parts

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Forum topic by jtrz posted 02-28-2018 08:23 PM 731 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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168 posts in 1783 days

02-28-2018 08:23 PM

I needed a new desk quick and found one on craigslist for $20. It’s one of those ubiquitous metal office desks that way a ton. Not a tanker desk. Probably manufactured in the 80’s or 90’s. Anyways it’s 30×60 with a 18×40 L return. Here is the 30×60 desk to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

Anyways, I had to move the drawer cabinets on both pieces to the opposite sides so I could set it up with the L return on my right (due to the way my room is configured). I figured these things were modular and it would be a snap to do this. Well, it’s not exactly modular but I was able to switch everything around. I had to drill new holes and because the metal is dented and warped in places there was a little guesswork involved and I surely am off a bit.

Anyways the desk is upright but I’ve run into a new problem. The metal file drawer slide is missing the over travel ball bearing slide and that throws the whole thing off. I’m wondering if anyone knows where I can get a replacement slide and really any other replacement pieces for this type of desk?

I’ve searched the hell out of this desk online but have gotten nowhere. I don’t know who the manufacturer is or anything. The problem is that when you google used metal office desk everything that comes up has to do with tanker desks because everyone is nuts about them right now.

Has anyone had to tackle one of these desks or have even a passing knowledge of them? Any help would be much appreciated. This thing is super heavy even when disassembled so I want to make it work to avoid having to take this thing to the curb.


-- Jeff | Louisville, Ky

6 replies so far

View MrUnix's profile


7599 posts in 2808 days

#1 posted 02-28-2018 08:52 PM

You are probably going to have to figure out the manufacturer before you get anywhere. It should be on there… well hidden of course :)

I used to have one just like yours, but can’t remember if it was a steelcase or not. Recently, I’ve picked up two tanker desks for cheap – both in pristine condition. One for $20 with a 3 drawer return, and another for $15. I did run across a few sites that sold parts, but you need to know who made them first. Good luck!


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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John Smith

2135 posts in 772 days

#2 posted 02-28-2018 11:44 PM

Jtrz – just out of the blue – why not call SANDUSKY LEE Customer Service. in Sandusky, Ohio:
419.626.5465 or 800.336.0671.
they are a major distributor for Steelcase and Sandusky office furniture. maybe they can help you.
maybe parts for the model 700 Teacher’s Desk may fit yours.

Brad – that looks like the old GSA government issued desk….. no telling who made it then.
Jtrz: for your peace of mind and sanity – sell that one back on C/L and look for something more durable.
Like Brad said – look for the vintage heavy steel desks at your local Good Will and Salvation Army
stores…. or Habitat outlet. generally $20-25.
very heavy, very solid, has one or two slide out typewriter trays. it can become your new “family heirloom”.

there is a reason that everyone is nuts about the old Tanker Desks right now.


-- I am a painter. That's what I do. I paint things --

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7599 posts in 2808 days

#3 posted 03-01-2018 12:15 AM

look for the vintage heavy steel desks at your local Good Will and Salvation Army
stores…. or Habitat outlet. generally $20-25.
- John Smith

Yup… here is the last one I got for $15:

Up north in the NY area, these things are selling for hundreds, even thousands. Go figure.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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168 posts in 1783 days

#4 posted 03-01-2018 02:17 AM

Thanks guys. Yeah there are zero brand labels or model #’s. I don’t think there is a single piece of writing anywhere on the desk. It resembles some of the steelcase lines and some sandusky and some HON but haven’t found the exact one. I’ll look into GSA approved and see what I find.

I love the old tanker desks. In my search for a cheap metal office desk I’ve run across a ton of them for cheap and I would love to have one BUT I need something that is functional for the type of work I do. I usually work with two computer monitors, a laptop, and my iPad all arranged nicely and I also need a surface for blueprints and other items that I need to reference. Thus, these old L-shaped office desks fit my needs perfectly.

And really this one is totally fine except for one drawer that is missing the ball bearings on one of the glides. In the back of the drawer cabinet there is this little tab that the drawer is supposed to slide under but without the ball bearings that side of the drawer is sitting too low and gets stopped by that stupid tab. Here is photo because it is impossible to explain…

Ok, why that photo is rotated is beyond me. I saved a few copies that were rotated different ways and they all look the same. So there’s another problem. But anyways…

I just need to figure out a simple way to shim the drawer slide up a bit so that it can do what it is supposed to do with that tab. I don’t mind if the drawer doesn’t slide really smooth. It slides a bit rough now and I;m fine with that it just won’t go in all the way.

My sanity is still intact but if I have to move this beast again, find another desk, go pick it up, bring it back, and then solve whatever unseen problem that will surely arise once it’s in my room, then I might lose it.

I’ll keep you guys posted because I’m sure your on the edge of your seats with the metal office desk debacle.

-- Jeff | Louisville, Ky

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6054 posts in 3018 days

#5 posted 03-01-2018 02:50 AM

You could go the creative route. Piece of shim attached to the sides and then the same for the drawer and use standard ball bearing slides. Fixed two for a friend awhile back using this method. He just wanted a quick fix for a desk at work he used alot.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View olegrump's profile


97 posts in 832 days

#6 posted 03-01-2018 12:55 PM

Maybe you could figure out a way to replace the slides on this drawer with full extension cabinet drawer slides….? I’ve seen wooden parts retrofitted onto salvage desks to make them functional again, so why not…?

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