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19 July 2011

The Filofax Ring Mechanism

Have you ever got curious about how the ring mechanism on your Filofax organiser works?

On 'modern' Filofax organisers the cover over the mechanism is riveted on, so it isn't possible to see how it works, but on my old Winchester the cover just clips on. Being a curious engineering type of person, I couldn't resist having a look under the cover!

Sorry for the quality of the photos, but taking close-up pictures of 'shiny' things isn't easy! 

So here are the rings closed, with the tabs 'up' so when you press down on the tab it presses the two strips of metal you can see running the length of the mechanism.


These two strips you might notice are now hinged up slightly, so the rings open. The strips interlock at intervals along their length on alternative sides (the small half moons on the upper surface). These two strips are contained in a springy U channel, which is allowed to flex a very small amount for the rings to go from closed to open. But it is this channel that is the 'spring' and therefore it is this that keeps the rings closed.


So to ensure you don't damage the mechanism, always use the tabs to open rings and use gentle pressure on both sets of rings to close them.

Now I have seen inside I think I can see what could go wrong with the mechanism with the strips becoming out of their interlock condition and so they would just fall open or at worse come out completely.

21 comments:

  1. Interesting! Thanks for posting. Now I understand why Filofax construction is better than plain old binder rings.

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  2. That is interesting. I've always just opened the rings manually as I didn't know there was another way of doing it!

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  3. Wow that is really great to know, thanks for this Steve!

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  4. Wow, as a kid that always took things apart to see how they worked (then left the various pieces all over the apartment for someone else to deal with), I really appreciated this post!

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  5. @ Alison. I'm glad I'm not the only one - I have just got very excited and shown my other half the magic of the opening rings and he just looked at me as if I was completely mad for not knowing that before :-) Very cool!!!

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  6. Interesting, but.... my metal binder tabs are so very stiff, that I have to force them down hard,and almost do myself an injury,to open the binder that way!!! Sigh!!!

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  7. The A5 Finchley can also be taken apart this way to see how it works -- I did that a few months ago to see if there was any way to replace the ring mechanism with a DayTimer version (heresy I know, but I love my Flavia inserts, and I love Filofax binders, what can I say). As you can see from these pics, the sad answer I found is "no."

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  8. Just finished off a post on 'Press Studs' for next week... yes I realise I need to get out more!

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  9. Steve, thanks for the post. I have a Filofax with slightly strained rings that don't fully meet and cause pages to snag. It's one of the older non-rivetted spines, so I expect that the cover plate can be removed. Do you think it might be possible to massage the mechanism back into shape to make the rings meet fully?

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  10. *Update* This evening I swapped out the ring mechanism of my Eton which had become a bit strained and no longer closed fully. The entire mechanism just slides out, once the cover plate has been removed. Thanks for the inspiration, Steve.

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  11. Did you manage to sort out the problem? What was the reason for them not closing?

    Regards
    Steve

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  12. Steve, the wonky rings in the Eton were driving me nuts, so for now I've just stripped out the entire mechanism and replaced it with one from a current Amazona model. The Eton is now back in order, but I've yet to sort out the Amazona - hoping to find a sacrificial cheap binder in the office. I could see no obvious problem with the Eton spring mechanism, but they're specifically designed not to align in a flat plane, so it's very tricky to judge.

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  13. Gerard
    Did you notice any mis-alignment or bending of the U shape trough that the rings fit in to?

    Also check that the flat part of the ring mechanism isn't twisted over it's length. Check it by sighting it from end to end. Put a couple of pencils at each end across the flats to exaggerate any small twist.

    As you have seen the amount of movement in the mechanism is only very small so any slight twist gets magnified by the time you get to where the rings join.

    I'm sure you should be able to pick up a cheap binder (Check Ad Spot on here) that could be a donor for a new set of rings.

    Steve

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  14. Steve,
    Thanks for those pointers. The donor rings from the Amazona fit the fixed trough of the Eton very well, whereas the Eton rings slide into the Amazona trough too easily and as a result the rings don't fully meet. I'll try your suggestions.

    Gerard

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  15. Gerard,
    May be you could try 'adjusting' the fixed trough by very gently squeezing both sides together slightly in a vice. But be careful of course.

    This is assuming that all of the rings aren't meeting. My previous suggestion was assuming that some rings were closing ok whilst at the other end they weren't.

    OK?

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  16. Steve,
    Sounds good - now all I need do is find the vice, or maybe some g-clamps.

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  17. It is possible to realign the rings with a pair of pliers (taking care to put something between pliers and rings to stop the pliers damaging the surface of the rings). Although I **don't recommend** this unless you are 100% prepared to sacrifice your filo. Its also possible to bend one ring too far and put all the other rings out of alignment! There is also the risk of the rings become "oval" and the teeth not meeting, I've just spent an hour sucessfully realigning mine. Thanks for the tip about the removable cover, its clips on and off really easily

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  18. @Gareth - thanks for the tip. I agree that it's a nerve-racking business to attempt these modifications.

    In the spirit of FFAF, I hit the workbench on Friday (ok the kitchen table) and transplanted the A5 ring mechanism from a Succes binder into a Mulberry Planner.

    I now have an A5 "Filoberry" Planner that's fully compatible with Filofax A5 inserts. Simples - except now I'm all conflicted, having sworn to standardise on Personal size. Still - it's nice to look at.

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  19. This is useful info thanks. I bought a used Kendal personal size, and I was disappointed that it had gaps in the rings. I stripped the binder right down, squeezed the channel a bit with pliers, slid the rings back in and then reattached the tabs and it's now as good as new!

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  20. I just purchased an a5 Malden from the UK. The rings will not open at all. The only way I can open them is to pull the rings apart...a no no. However, has anyone else purchased a new a5 Malden that will not open? What to do? Thank you.
    Carolyn
    2/21/2014
    lintonc 16@gmail.com

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    Replies
    1. Return it to Filofax UK, the details about returns are on the reverse side of the invoice/delivery notice that would have come with the organiser.

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