16 April 2015

Fitting bigger rings to a Gillio A5 Mia Cara

The Gillio Mia Cara in Medium (Personal) and A5 size come as standard with just 25 mm size rings. Now most people might be ok about that. However, considering the size of the organiser and it's outer jacket the rings on the A5 do look a little small. This of course might be due to me using Filofax A5's with 30mm rings or my Van der Spek with 35mm rings.

So is it possible to increase the size of the rings and what are the downsides to the larger rings. The simple answer is yes and the downsides are as follows:
  • Heavier overall weight with the increased number of pages. 
  • The tabs do stick out a bit more, but you will see that there is a way around that on the Mia Cara.  
So here is a standard A5 Mia Cara with 25mm rings with a standard set of inserts. The tabs are just flush with the edge of the organiser part, but well inside the edge when installed in the outer jacket. 

You will see from this photo looking down that with 25mm rings how much spare capacity there is, although the rings are more or less at their capacity in terms of holding the full set of inserts.

Next let me show you the conversion to 35mm rings, this was very easy to do as 35mm Krause rings are available from Van der Spek last year, so it is very easy to remove the existing rings and replace them with the 35mm rings. (See Footnote 1.)

By going up 10mm in ring size naturally the tabs do stick out beyond the edge of the organiser section. 

But if you remove the pen from the spine pen slot of the outer jacket, that will let you position the organiser section more snugly in to the spine of the outer jacket.

And then the tabs and pages are not sticking out beyond the edge of the assembled organiser. If you compare the 25mm overhead shot with this one below, you will see I've got quite a lot of additional paper (in white) behind the standard inserts. This additional paper would not fit on to the 25mm rings.

To gain back a pen loop I use a Filofax A5 Flex pen loop punched for A5 and I have a couple of these  to give me two pen loops (not shown in these pictures) 

So 35mm rings are workable with a few compromises in an A5 Mia Cara. A similar conversion can be done to the Medium Mia Cara and I've fitted 30mm Krause rings to mine in place of the existing 25mm rings.  

Here is what is looks like with 30mm rings instead of the 25mm rings. 

Again the tabs just peek out of the organiser section but may be not as bad as on the A5.

Once again by not using the spine pen loop it creates enough space to fit the organiser section in so that the tabs are well within the closed outline of the full organiser/outer jacket.

Again I've used a Filofax A5 Flex pen loop cut down to the right size to provide a pen loop which slots on to the rings, you can place the pen loop at either end or in the middle it doesn't matter. They are fairly cheap to buy and easy to use.

I've used both the Medium with 30mm rings and the A5 with 35mm rings for several months.  It occurred to me quite early on with the A5 that a better size might be 30mm rings. The 35mm rings are fine, but if you don't have that many pages then the 'hump' of those large rings can start to get in the way. If you fully load up the 35mm rings then the total weight of the A5 Mia Cara with 35mm rings and all that paper starts to go over 2kg in weight!  Now I don't carry mine around that much.. but it would be quite a weight to heave around on a regular basis if that was your only organiser. 

So I started a hunt for 30mm rings. A few ideas crossed my mind. Yes Krause make that size in A5, but I couldn't easily find a supplier who would just sell me a couple of sets of rings. Krause want to sell them in multiples of 1000's. No my collection isn't that big! 

I could remove an existing set of rings may be from an older A5 Filofax which had removable rings. That idea didn't appeal to me. 

I decided what ever I did had to be reversible, so if need be the organiser could be put back to standard 25mm ring size. And it had to be done in a way so as to not damage the organiser leather in anyway... so no holes in it etc. 

And then I came up with an idea following on from my Filofax Convertible idea... and it goes like this. 

On Amazon there is a company that sell A5 ring conversion/repair kits and they come in 30 mm size and for a reasonable price. So I ordered a set. (Links at the end of this post) 

Now these rings are intended to be fitted to say a Filofax Domino where the fixtures bolt through the spine of the organiser. Or you open up the layers of leather on the organiser and slide in the backing plate with the fixing bolts and then bolt on the new rings. Neither of these solutions appealed to me at all. 

Here is the kit as supplied. 

So here is how I over came the problems... I removed the 25mm rings from the Mia Cara and had them in bits. See my video on how to remove the rings. 

From this set of parts I put all the bits to one side apart from the base plate. This is the bit that slots on to the lugs. 

I then took the conversion kit backing strip and used it as a template to drill the two additional holes in to the 25mm backing plate. I de-burred the new holes so there were no sharp edges on the metal plate that would damage the leather. 

I then mounted the new 30mm rings on to the modified 25mm rings back plate using the supplied 'bolts' like this. 

The small domed nuts are nice and low profile so that they don't damage the leather once installed. 

The screws go through the rings in to the bolts shown above to hold the two parts together. As luck would have it the conversion kit rings just about fit in to the channel of the 25mm backing plate.

So now all I had to do is reinstall the rings in the usual way. Bend down the locking tab,  mount the rings on the lugs and push forward until they clicked in to place. Removal is slightly tricky, the easiest way it so use a thin bit of plastic pressed underneath the ring mechanism to lift the locking tab again. 

And here is the end result. 

The tabs stick out slightly, but not as bad as they do with 35mm rings fitted. 

Again without using the spine pen slot you can fit the organiser section in comfortably to allow for the slightly wider overall organiser section.

And once again I was also able to fit in additional pages not possible with just the standard 25mm rings.

So here is a photo comparing the three different ring sizes left to right 25mm, 30mm and 35mm

I know of quite a few people that have increased the size of rings fitted to Medium Mia Cara's but I'm not aware of anyone doing similar modifications to an A5 model. People have also asked me about modifications to other models as well. 

The Pocket Mia Cara is another natural candidate for bigger rings the standard ones are only 16mm in internal diameter. Some Filofax pocket organisers come with 19mm rings. Carefully removed these could possibly be fitted to the backing plate of the existing rings. Krause do make 20mm pocket size rings but once again the problem is finding a seller that will supply them in low numbers. 

The ring conversion kits are available in pocket size, but still only 16mm in size so no real advantage there. 

I've also been asked if the modifications will work on a Gillio Compagna, I don't own one, so I've not been able to see if they will fit or not. I suspect not because unlike the Mia Cara, the Compagna is all one piece so the extra bulk of the larger rings has to be taken up within the existing design.

I suspect if you want a 30mm Medium (Personal) size organiser you would be better off ordering a custom Van der Spek in 30mm size, these can be ordered with the full back pocket now and other similar features to the Gillio model and you will be getting a 30mm designed organiser so no issues with sticking out tabs. See my review of the 30mm Van der Spek organiser from a few months ago for details. 

Here are links to the conversion kits, they are available in silver and gold in A5 30mm size. In terms of quality they aren't the best rings I've come across (some small gaps, but no catching pages) but they are certainly not the worse rings I've come across either! 

1. Since initially drafting this post I have found out that Krause have recently changed the design of their rings. The locking tab has now been moved to a position central between the two mounting lugs.

This potentially makes the two brands of organiser different from each other in terms of what rings will fit, unless of course the rings that Gillio supply also change in the future to this central locking tab as well.

This picture shows the different backing plates with the locking tabs circled in red.

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