04 February 2015

Ring Mechanisms

Back in 2011 I wrote a post about the Filofax ring mechanism and how they worked. I took apart my Winchester to show you. Or rather I gingerly took the cover plate off the ring mechanism. For me this was a bit of a voyage of discovery. I had never taken one apart before. On reflection this post really didn't cover the topic in depth enough for my liking.

Come forward 3 years and I can take them apart blind folded almost, which might seem a bit of a boast but I've learnt so much more about the mechanisms in the last year or so.

So this post is really an expanded version or a continuation of what is inside the ring mechanism.

Now not all mechanisms are removable Filofax and other brands chose to use mechanisms these days that are riveted on to the back plate. So they are virtually impossible to change without a lot of surgery, especially if the rivet heads don't show on the outside of the organiser. Some Franklin Covey mechanisms are held on with short bolts which you undo. And the ones I'm more familiar with use a latching mechanism to hold them on to the back plate.

However, apart from their attachment method most if not all ring mechanisms I've every come across work in a very similar way internally. In fact you can go back over 90 years and find that the ring mechanisms from the first years of Filofax worked in the same way too.

So if we are going to look at the latching type mechanism and how they are put together.

You first of all have a shiny cover which is made from a spring steel type material, this just clips on to the base channel. And you can ease this off the base down one side, open the rings and it removes completely. Carefully place it to one side.

With the rings open. You can easily unhook and remove the two metal tabs that you use to open the rings. On the tabs you will notice there are three prongs or lugs. The outer pair slot through the holes in the ring base plates. The centre one is the one that opens the rings when you push down on the tabs.

This leaves the rings themselves which as you will see are joined down the middle by small overlapping tabs, the tabs keep the two halves in alignment so that the rings always meet nicely together. The tabs also limit the distance the rings open by. Without them the rings would open and then fall out!

To remove the rings from the base you can gently pull them apart, or if you have strong fingers you can slide them out of the end of the base channel like this.

Once removed if you turn them over and place them back together again you will see the tabs I mentioned earlier, they are the overlapping half moons running down the centre of the ring halves.

You now have the two halves of the rings. And we can now remove the base channel by lifting the tab and pushing it about 8-10mm until the plate comes off of the lugs you can see sticking through the base channel.

This leaves the backing plate which is glued in to the organiser it self and here you can see the latching mechanism stop which holds the rings in place when put back in again.

With the parts removed I will show you how they go back together again and we can look at them workings in more detail... which is easier with it removed from the organiser.

To get the rings back in to the base plate I put a small amount of vaseline on the edges of the ring halves. This just helps you slide them back in again. Place the two halves together as if the rings were closed and then gently slide them in again. You might need to stand them upright and press down on a hard surface. I use an old table mat to protect the surface I'm working on.

Once reassembled they should look something like this. The need to be equally spaced from each end.

Now before we put the tabs back in again let us look in detail at how the mechanism works.

So I used a couple of clothes pegs to stand the rings on end so I could photograph them!!

I've added the red lines so you can see how the base plates of the rings are angled downwards with the rings in the closed position. The curved base plate is applying compression to the two base plates over their whole length.

Here the rings are in the open position. Again the peg is only there as a prop to hold the rings so I could photograph them!  Again I added the red lines to the photo so you can see the angle of the base plates.

This time angled upwards with the rings open. Again the curved base plate is applying compression to hold the rings tightly in the base and this time the pressure holds them open.

During the transition from closed to open and vice-versa open to closed. There is a point when the ring base plates are horizontal. At that point in the movement of the rings the base line is factionally longer than it is in the fully open or fully closed position of the rings. At that point the base plates are pressing outwards on the edges of the curved base plate and it has to expand outwards (or wider) to allow for this small additional width.

Therefore the base plate has to have certain spring properties to it in the metal. Too soft and it would open out but not return again. Too hard and you wouldn't be able to open the rings.

So to continue with the reassembly. We now open the rings and put the tabs back in again they just hook in underneath the base plates and the outer lugs pop through the holes in the end of the ring base plates like this:

With the rings still open take the cover and hook over one side of the base plate and press it down along the length until it has snapped back on again.

With the cover back on again you can open the rings with the tabs and close them. Repeat this a few times and check for any issues before you reinstall the rings back in the organiser.

Before we put the rings back in again we have to bend the locking tab outward so it is standing proud of the base plate like in this photograph.

If we turn the ring over we can see in more detail the locking tab and the latch in the backing plate as well as the lugs that the ring mechanism attaches too.

You should note that is like a keep hole arrangement the wider part of the hole is what you put the rings on to the lugs to start with and then you would slide it to the left in this photograph to engage the ring mechanism on to the lugs until you hear the locking tab go 'Click' on the stop.

So turn it over make sure the ring mechanism is going to attach at both ends push down on the mechanism and slide it until you hear the click.

And there we are all back in again.

Sometimes sliding the mechanism back in again is quite hard to do. I've found that to get the base plate to slide over the leather of the organiser you might need to put a very thin smear of vaseline on base plate. As petroleum jelly (vaseline) is one of the main ingredients of leather care products it should not do any harm to the leather.

Here is a video of me actually taking out the rings and putting them back in again. If you listen really carefully you might be able to hear the Gillio organiser say to me 'Oh no not again Steve'...

The rings have been in and out of this one several times... only for demonstrations not because they were faulty!

I hope you have learnt a bit more about rings and how they work from this post. Naturally if you have any questions please leave a comment and I will do my best to answer your questions.


  1. Fascinating post! We know that early Filofax/Lefax models didn't have the spring system acting simultaneously on both sets of rings. I wonder who came up with the idea and how they calculated how "springy" the metal needed to be?

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  3. Good article, Steve. Your research is much appreciated. :) The rings in my Pocket Chameleon are riveted in, apparently, a la most Day-Timers and many Franklin Coveys. Could that be due to its back wallet pocket design?

  4. I think Filofax figured out fairly early that larger format binders (A5, & B5) need to have the rings riveted simply due to the weight of the pages on the rings. The stress of that weight loosens the clipping mechanism and the rings start shifting up and down on the backplate.

  5. This post is informative. I have an address book that has personal size rings that measure about 20 mm. I wondered if I could remove the rings.

  6. Thank you this is really great should I need to adjust or replace the rings!

  7. Steve, thank you so much for this instructive post and video demonstration. Very useful!

  8. Steve

    Very informative. I just purchased a A5 Gigliodoro Divino with 25mm rings and am searching for 35mm replacements (6 rings is what I have and it works well...but I wish I could find a 3 ring mechanism). Apparently Krause has since changed their ring backplate design so now there are 3 tabs instead of just 2. I'm in the US and not sure where I can find the older design rings. But I'm not certain if a newer designed rings set wouldnt not fit...it seems like the middle tab is the "locking tab" and these rings are pretty tight even without locking.


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