07 March 2018

Ring Mechanisms

Now I'm sure your eyes glazed over as soon as you saw the title of this post 'What more is there you can tell us about rings Steve?'..... 'Is this your specialist subject for Mastermind?'.... 'It's not 1st April already?'...

Let me explain why I decided to write this post. Over the last few weeks I've received more than the usual number of messages associated with ring mechanisms. They are normally fairly easy questions like 'Where can I get rings for an XYZ' or 'Can I swap this size for this size of rings on an XYZ?' Yes fairly ordinary questions which I'm normally able to answer fairly quickly and from memory.... miracles will never cease!

Let us first answer the easy question.

'Where can I buy a ring mechanism from?'

Both Van der Spek and Gillio Firenze will sell you a set of replacement Krause rings. However please don't go dashing off just yet looking for your credit card!!

If you are replacing like for like, same size for the same size then you can be 99% confident that just ordering from their websites will be just fine. There is an exception, isn't there always! A5 Krause rings went from two point mounting to three point mounting in the last couple of years.

The supply of two point mounting A5 rings has more or less dried up... but in theory you might be able to use the same base plate from your existing set of rings and swap the parts over from your new set of rings. Not a simple job admittedly, but not impossible to do. Knowing which type you currently have is not possible without taking your rings apart beside knowing the age of the organiser.

Be sure to check both sites for the size and style of rings you are looking for taking in to account price differences and the cost of shipping.

Unlike organisers, ring mechanisms don't cost a lot of money, but the cost of shipping them undamaged to you isn't going to be much different to the cost of an organiser.

So the cost of shipping can be more expensive than the ring mechanisms themselves. This isn't the fault of either company, it's just a fact of reality these days. So if you can wait until you need two or three ring mechanisms you will save a lot on shipping.

'Can I change the size of rings in my organiser?'

When changing the internal diameter size of rings in the same size organiser some size swaps work... some will not.

This picture saves a thousand words! Remembering that this is from Van der Spek, so Standard is the same as Medium in Gillio parlance and Personal in Filofax terms. Senior is the same as A6 and Junior is the same as Pocket.

So 25mm and 30mm Standard (Medium) share the same mounting point spacing. Likewise Senior/A6 20 and 25mm are the same spacing.

Sadly Junior/Pocket 16 and 20mm are different. So to change from say 16mm to 20mm would require some organiser keyhole surgery to change the backing plate inside the leather layers of the organiser, not easy to do.

Also you will see it's not possible to go between Slim 13mm rings and Standard  (Medium) 25/30mm again the spacing is different.

You also need to consider if you are increasing the size of the rings say going from 25mm to 30mm in a Standard/Medium size organiser is the cover big enough for the increase in ring size. That increase in ring size whilst it gives you more paper carrying capacity, but it also pushes the edge of the paper and your dividers out to the side further.

Ask on the relevant Facebook group or search in the photos of the Facebook groups for someone who has done a transplant previously to see if it works or not.

If you are decreasing the size of rings (e.g. 30mm to 25 mm) generally the same issue doesn't occur, because you are increasing the size margins, so you might be able to use wider than normal inserts by decreasing the size the rings in your organiser.

'Where can I get Krause rings to fit a Filofax Classic Croc'

The rings fitted to the Filofax Classic Croc use the Krause 'PXR' system of mounting the ring mechanism to the backing plate in the organiser. This is different to the Krause 'PER' system used by Gillio/Van der Spek.

The 'PER' system is based on a set of lugs on the backing plate with a keyhole type slots and a locking tab in the base plate of the ring mechanism.

In the photograph below note the lugs in the cut outs of the leather and the corresponding key hole slots in the base plate which fits over the lugs on the larger hole and is then slid up wards allowing the  narrower section to slide under the lugs and for the locking tab to click over the small step in the backing plate.

The Classic Croc uses the PXR system which uses a backing plate with two vertical studs that stand up from the backing plate. It looks something like this:

The ring mechanism has sprung claws that grip the vertical studs very tightly.

The way in which this system works means that the ring mechanism is very securely mounted in the organiser. The PER system ring mechanisms can become easily detached from the organiser if it is dropped.

Being so securely mounted of course means that the PXR mechanism fitted to the Classic Croc is very difficult to remove, without inflicting damage on the organiser or yourself!

Therefore, because the type of mounting is different, the ring mechanisms are not compatible with each other (Filofax <> Gillio/VdS). Therefore if you want replacement rings for a Filofax Classic Croc your only option at present as far as I know is to contact Filofax Customer Service.

'I have an old Filofax can I get a new set of rings to fit it?'
Older (Vintage) Filofax organisers use a PER style ring mechanism the same as Gillio/Van der Spek so you can can be replaced easily. But you might have to disassemble the existing rings to double check the mounting point spacing before ordering a new set of rings. See the photo above for details.

'I have a Filofax Slim or Gillio Slim organiser do they use the same type of mounting?'
The Gillio and Van der Spek Slims both use the same PER type mechanism so they will be interchangeable.

The Filofax Slim along with the Gillio Mini organisers use a type of mechanism that uses two small tabs that secure the mechanism to the organiser at each end. These tabs (highlighted in the photograph below) can be quite fragile and if they snap then the backing plate would have to be changed.

'How do I change the rings on my Filofax Malden?'
Unfortunately there are a lot of Filofax organisers that use a riveted in ring mechanism, the Malden is just one example. As such you can remove the ring mechanism by drilling out the rivets carefully. A lot of people have done this to convert their organiser in to a travellers notebook.

Sadly it's a one way trip, there is no easy way of reattaching a new mechanism. The rivets are part of the backing plate within the organiser. You could use some form of dome headed bolt and a locking nut to reattach a similar type mechanism. This would work if you happy with the head of the bolts on the outside spine of the organiser.

For more information on fixing ring gaps and how to go about changing rings in general please see this earlier post it has more photos and a video to explain how to remove and replace your rings.

Of course if you have any questions about rings I will be happy to be submitted to sitting in the 'Mastermind' chair with the spotlights on my face, answering questions for two minutes on my specialist subject of 'Ring mechanisms fitted to modern personal organisers' 😊


  1. Cheap source of ring mechanisms is aliexpress. I have no idea whether their quality is good or not(I have never ordered any ring mechanism ever) but it is worth checking.

  2. Thank you for this interesting and useful article Steve. A lot of it I didn't know about but then I don't have a Gillio or VDS. No doubt a post to point to when you get questions relating to ring swapping.

  3. was in rymans Darlington today & they have filofax on display, which i haven't seen for quite some time. Apparently filofax is making a comeback due to smartphone issues & loosing data. Common one apparently being phone ends up in beer or other liquid. Obviously i live in plebsville. prices for basic ones & faux leather start from 24 quid. Since i make leather wallets thought i might have a go. the clamps i want are circa 7 inch (18cm) long & ring distance 19,19,50,19,19 (mm)- i think they call that personal . Any idea what the code would be for this for 2 supplier you listed ?

    1. Yes that is the spacing for Personal (Standard on VdS) if you are ordering rings, mention you want the back plate as well.

    2. to save other peoples time , this is the response i got back from http://www.gillio.be

      Dear Andrew,

      I believe you are referring to our medium rings but I'm afraid we only sell the rings without backplate, it's not possible to order the full configuration as you have explained.

      Kind regards !

      Benois Steve

    3. Order them from Van der Spek, they can sell you them with the backplate if they have plenty of ring mechs in stock for their own production needs.

  4. Do you know which ring mechanisms are compatible with the Smythson Dukes (A5)?

  5. As a leatherworker, I see no great difficulty with drilling the rivets out completely and replacing them with two-part compression rivets, with either one or two caps.
    My preferred leather suppliers are JT Batchelor, Culford Mews, London, or LeProvo in Newcastle. JT's have so much business they have next to no interest in going online, as it's a pareto waste of time. Email them for your needs, if you visit, they're in a huge 1930s garage.
    Finally, Shepherds bookbinders suppliers in Pimlico, London.

  6. Hi, this was very helpful. I wish they made all organisers with screwed in ring mechanisms as opposed to the rivets. For products that are, I assume, meant to last, they should be more modular.