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As you can see in the images, this very old trip lever seems to be connected to the drain lever as one solid piece. I expected for there to be an arm and spring, but I cannot pull either end out from the pipe. I am fine replacing this with just a regular trip lever and drain, or a blank overflow plate and a push stopper. However, I am unsure how to safely remove the existing mechanism.

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You should be able to remove those components yourself. I do not recommend trying to replace them; I would rather advise a blank overflow plate to replace the trip lever, and an alternative stopper like a plain rubber stopper. A "pop-up" stopper won't work unless you also replace the drain strainer (a whole other exercise), because those thread into a threaded crossbar in the strainer, which you do not have.

The upper trip lever and linkage assembly will not typically be directly connected to the lower linkage and stopper. You will need to pull hard on both, with a thorough drenching in penetrating oil to lube things along. Be careful, if you damage the pipe assembly under/behind the tub (technically called a Waste & Overflow Assembly) you will be looking at opening up the wall behind or beside the tub.

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pic from https://www.familyhandyman.com/project/how-to-convert-bathtub-drain-lever-to-a-lift-and-turn-drain/

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  • Thank you very much for the answer. What sort of lubrication should I apply? And would you have any advice on how to replace the strainer? Shouldn’t I be able to remove it with a drain wrench? I can’t really see into the bottom with the arm and gunk in the way.
    – Jake J
    Sep 21, 2023 at 0:19
  • Personally I would drench it with penetrating lubricant, Liquid Wrench, using the included thin straw to direct the spray. A drain wrench (colloquially known as a spud wrench) should help you to unthread the strainer from the lower cast drain fitting (the shoe), but I have had to cut and bend and chop them out more than once. Strainers have various threads, with either standard coarse thread or fine thread being common but with possibility that it is unique. Rubber cushion washer between tub bottom and shoe, plumber's putty between strainer flange and tub, up top. Sep 21, 2023 at 1:57
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    Thank you so much for the advice friend.
    – Jake J
    Sep 21, 2023 at 2:08

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