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Experience With/Advice Around Scott Binder Repair?

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Posted 10/04/2020   12:49 am  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add jabber to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Hi folks,

Longtime lurker here looking for some sage advice. Had a bit of a stamp disaster yesterday -- I have a good-size worldwide Big Blue collection in Scott International Jumbo binders, stowed in a homemade bookshelf. Yesterday, one of my two collection shelves collapsed (a support peg worked loose). Eight big (and well-stuffed) Scott International binders--the Jumbo kind--fell to a hardwood floor with a mighty crash...about a 4-foot drop.

After I started breathing again (it was LOUD), I saw, miraculously, almost no damage to the pages inside the binders. But the sheer weight of the albums meant they fell top-down as a group, and the binder top edges bore the brunt of the fall. The spines of most of the binders are bent inward or are now twisted (some more, some less) at the top. But the bigger deal--the hinges on both sides, on almost all of the albums split nearly top to bottom on impact, along the seam, as pictured below.

So, at the moment, I have eight near-new Jumbo binders with both covers hanging by a thread. :( An expensive accident indeed.



So....does anyone have experience in repairing these? I did bend a couple of the spines back into near-OK shape (the metal inside flexed back with some force), but it will require removing all the pages from the affected binders to fix it right and then effect a repair to all the split hinges. I ordered some blue bookbinder's fabric tape online, but am wondering what others' experience may be repairing old/splitting Scott binders whose covers are falling off.

I bought all my International binders new from Amos or Subway Stamp about 5-6 years ago, and never found them particularly rugged or worth the money - a couple had already split on the hinge seam, even though I had babied them - so I'm not inclined to spend $400 or so to buy them all over again. (If I even could! They seem to be sold out and on backorder everywhere.) Am regretting to an extent now not going with the slimmer ones, which might have weathered this better. The Jumbos are just too heavy, anyway.

Any pro tips appreciated before I embark on this gigantic repair project!
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Posted 10/04/2020   08:50 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jmdregs to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Jabber, I use the old Scott brown albums to house my world wide collection and given the age of these things, they usually had binder issues and required some repairs before I could use them. Bookbinders tape really worked well to make the fix. There are some excellent You Tube videos regarding binder repairs. Check them out. Regards, John
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Posted 10/04/2020   08:57 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Climber Steve to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
@jabber: welcome to the Forum. Sorry that your first post here is under such circumstances. My own Jumbos, bought in the 1980s, are in good condition and still in use. One well filled Jumbo houses my North America collection, which I define as US & possessions; Canada & provinces; Greenland; Mexico; St. Pierre; UN-New York; all ending no later than early 1970s. I couldn't get all those collections into one binder were it not for the Jumbo. However, as I've added International binders, I've gone to the smaller, regular sized, binders. Mine are stored on low level, built in shelf units with doors, in my family room.

To answer your specific question(s), I've bought collections in International binders over the years, two large collections in particular. Neither collection was maintained properly, from either environmental or storage perspectives. The pages were mostly in good condition (except where one of the owners had used tape to add partial pages on top of some other pages!). Most of the binders were falling apart. One owner had used some of what looked like a bookbinder tape. It helped. But this binder was so shot that I ended up trashing it. I agree that one has to "baby" the International binders.

I kept just a couple of about 16 of those old binders. The remainder were recycled, or trashed. I think you're on the right track to try and repair. If it was me, though, I'd buy new stuff to replace the binders that are in the worst condition. You mentioned Amos and Subway as vendors. There are others, like Potomac Supplies, which is the supply branch of Maryland Coin and Stamp. I've ordered items from Potomac. Another entity is Brooklyn Stamp & Coin Gallery, or something like that. Yet another is Internet Hobby Supplies (iHobb dot com). I have not used either of the last two, although some people here like iHobb.

You will find a variety of opinions as others answer. Some prefer Vario pages, Steiner pages, and similar, used with three ring binders. Like you, I went with the International pages and binders, in the 1980s, and have not been disappointed. I even trim down selected Scott Specialty pages to fit my International binders. Good luck!
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Edited by Climber Steve - 10/04/2020 10:27 am
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Posted 10/04/2020   12:01 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add cjpalermo1964 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I used a combination of yellow aliphatic resin carpenter's glue and bookbinder's tape for a similar repair of a 1948 Yvert France album. The glue was applied sparingly in small dots using a bamboo skewer as an applicator, and only in locations that would be fully covered with tape later. With careful clamping, the cured joint is stronger than the original. The key is that you need only half of the glue that you think you do.
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Edited by cjpalermo1964 - 10/04/2020 12:01 pm
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Posted 10/04/2020   12:04 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add gmot to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Ouch! If there are some that are unrepairable, old Scott binders can sometimes be found available for sale online ( eBay mostly).
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Posted 10/04/2020   12:51 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jkelley01938 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I'll get shot for this. (Try duck tape)

Jack Kelley
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Posted 10/04/2020   1:04 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Climber Steve to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
"Duck" or duct tape?

Interesting suggestion, but I'd never use it on stamp albums. Over the years, I've used a lot of duct tape to repair hiking, backpacking, and mountaineering gear. Duct tape can be a stop gap repair measure. But getting it off, if necessary, is almost impossible, especially once it dries out. And the adhesive tends to "wander."
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Posted 10/04/2020   1:21 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add mootermutt987 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I have been in the extremely early stages of looking at new albums, mostly for specific individual countries, but when I am on a website I tend to look at all kinds of other things, too. I have bought from Potomac and Subway in the past, for all kinds of things. Somebody upthread mentioned IHobb and Brooklyn Galleries as possible sources, so I went to their sites. I had seen this thread, so while I was at those sites, I thought I would look at what they offered in Scott International supplies. Both sites list the two Scott International blue binders as being out of stock.

eBay may be a source for these binders. Be VERY careful, though, that you don't get something that is a little TOO used. I might also suggest looking at any upcoming stamp auctions - many houses offer lots of supplies and you may find a few lots of various binders. They usually go for cheap, but you would probably get other stuff that you don't want. Don't forget about shipping, too.

FWIW, I also have a set of blue Internationals and a couple weeks ago decided to get another binder because my current set is filling up. I went on eBay and found a 3-1/2 inch binder that LOOKED to be in good condition and got it. I am still waiting for it to arrive, so I don't know the ACTUAL condition yet. Anyway, they ARE available on eBay, if you are patient. Be careful about condition - strong advice. Good luck with whatever you do!
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Posted 10/04/2020   1:47 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jabber to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you all for your input. I probably will, ultimately, replace the worst of these over time if they do not hold together, whether new or via eBay. My OCD will probably get the better of me, with 9 binders with tape and 9 without. <g> The problem with the Jumbo binders is that if you fill them even close to capacity, the sheer weight of the pages, when you lift the binder, creates a bit of torque on the front and back hinge area as the whole binder flexes laterally (if that makes sense). Am hoping the bookbinder's tape adhesive is firm enough to hold up to all that "sideways" stress.

I was thinking, perhaps, of using a high-quality duct tape (1" wide Gorilla Tape) as a base repair to "brace" the splits as a first layer and then over-layering that with 2"-wide bookbinder's tape, for appearance and flexibility. As Climber Steve mentioned below, duct tape does tend to ooze its glue over time, so was thinking that perhaps the outer layer of bookbinder's tape might seal it in. The manufacturer of the bookbinder's tape claims that its adhesive is stable and won't ooze. (I guess I'll let you all know in 2030.)

I will keep you all posted on the progress here, maybe there are some lessons that will be worth sharing. (Lesson one: Build a better bookcase.)

Here's a question I guess I'll be in a good position to answer as I get into this and empty the binders...what is at the core of these binders under the vinyl coating? The covers seem to be some kind of very thin hardboard (it almost reminds me of MDF or "particle board") but am trying to figure out what is at the core of the spines that gives them their shape. I was able to bend a couple that were dented back to a semblance of normalcy but cant tell if it's all metal inside the spines giving them their ")" shape, or if the only metal in the spine is in the metal tube "rails" that hold the rods that in turn hold the pages in place.

For a little while I even had the crazy idea that somehow I might be able to buy some thin, piano-style metal hinges, like on the green Specialized binders, and somehow rivet/retrofit them in here. (Then I saw what such hinges cost...as much as new binders.) I'm rather jealous of those hinged binders!

No one has ever found a good alternative to the Big Blue binders, correct, that doesn't require trimming or repunching Scott International pages?

Best to all,
John B
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Posted 10/04/2020   2:01 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jabber to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Actually after writing last note realized I have a couple of old 3.5" Scott binders that were left over from eBay collections I had bought years ago, housing blank/duplicate pages and other leftover "extras." These have the volume (Part VI, etc) numbers printed on the spine so am guessing they date from the 1970s-80s. Or maybe even earlier.

The top edges of the spines on these are worn away/split open and there is what looks like oxidized/rusted metal exposed at the top. So am wondering if the Jumbo binder's spine is metal all the way down, coated with the vinyl. Or if the "formulation" has changed over the years with possible different manufacturers/suppliers.

And thus, wondering then, once I get the pages out, if maybe I can tap the dented spines back into shape or smooth out the dents with, say, a rolling pin, before the tape repairs.

Sounds like what I REALLY need to do is take these to the body shop. <g>

Will keep you posted!
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Posted 10/04/2020   3:45 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add redwoodrandy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I see the Scott binders "large and small" can be purchased new. No problem here.
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Posted 10/04/2020   7:29 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Climber Steve to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Randy: which site are you looking at for new Scott binders.

John: you raise an interesting point about torque in handling the Jumbo International binders. I've not thought of that. But, as I stated earlier agreeing with you, these things have to be "babied," which I've done since my Jumbos are pushing being 35 yers old. I don't know if this makes sense, but I seldom leave them laying on their sides for extended periods. They are filed standing up and I remove them that way, with one hand underneath as I remove the binder from the shelf. Sort of like handling a cat or a small dog.

Two years ago, I finally broke down and bought a 6' folding table to set up in my family room, mostly for working on stamps. If I have a binder out, either Jumbo or regular size, they'll be "standing up" on the couch unless I'm directly working in one. I often add new stamps onto G & K quadrille pages, sized for the Internationals. I finish pages and then add them to the album; instead of putting a blank page into a binder and then adding the stamps.

Do keep us advised as to how your repair project works out. I'm intrigued and sounds like others are too. Steve
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Posted 10/04/2020   8:21 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add redwoodrandy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
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Edited by redwoodrandy - 10/04/2020 10:26 pm
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Posted 10/06/2020   01:24 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DrewM to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I've torn open some old Scott binders. The spine is metal. Since it does rust, it appears to be steel and not aluminum. The spine is curved and the edges of the spine are bent inward iinto long tubes to hold the rods -- which hold the posts which go through the holes in the pages. On old binders, that powder coming out of the tubes where the rods go in is rust. If I need to, I insert a narrow bristle bush into those tubes from top or bottom to clean them out. Otherwise, with older binders, you'll keep getting rust dust on your table top. You'll be surprised how much rust can come out of those tubes.

The covers are thick cardboard. Nothing fancy.

The blue or green covering is like a plasticized (?) heavy paper product. I think Scott calls it "fabrikoid," but it's not fabric. Maybe "fabric like".

HERE'S SOME INFO ON REPAIRING BINDERS - a bit long, I'm afraid.
I'm no expert on repairing damaged stamp albums. But I've repaired a few dozen damaged or worn album binders over the years and managed to get better over time.

I've even tried duct tape. And various types of glue. Here's what I've learned to do and not to do.

First, my thoughts about huge stamp album binders. The size of these "Jumbo" albums is a disaster waiting to happen. Filled with pages, they're enormous and heavy. Dropping one will do what you see here every time. That's why I don't use them. I realize we don't all have large budgets for our collections, and to some people the use of enormous albums to hold lots of pages seems more economical. Otherwise why does Scott even sell them? Economical, that is, until you drop one. Or until you struggle just to pick one up. By the larger is better logic, why settle for a 5" binder when a 10" binder will hold nearly twice as many pages?! Well, there's a point of diminishing benefits, that's why. For binders, I'd say that's around 3" or 3 " thick. Such a binder holds fewer pages, but you can actually pick it up with one hand. And it's much less likely to fall on the floor and destroy itself. I cannot pick up a Jumbo album with one hand. It requires two hands plus some leverage. That's not a recipe for a safe stamp album. And that many pages makes them curve more, making it harder to mount stamps. Minkus Supreme albums are also much too big. So are the larger Harris albums. Higher quality albums don't come in binders this thick for a reason. Most Lighthouse, Davo, Schaubek, Stanley Gibbons and other Scott binders -- are 2", 3", maybe 3 " thick because they work better. A binder more than 3" or 3 " thick is a binder waiting to fall on the floor and destroy itself.

Can you repair this Jumbo binder? Yes, you can. But I wouldn't for all these reasons. I'd throw it away and start over with smaller binders. If you do repair it, you're just back where you started from, and the binder is still too large to handle comfortably and still likely to fall and damage itself.

There are LOTS of 3 " Scott International binders for sale on eBay. Just keep looking. I've bought a lot that way. Some may need a little repair work. After all, they're used. I'll describe what I've done with the many Scott binders I've repaired over the years.

Do not use duct tape. Or Gorilla Tape. These are industrial tapes, not book tapes. They're made for very different purposes. It would be like using hedge pruning shears to give someone a haircut. It "should" work, but it won't. Duct tape is designed for ventilation ducts. It's a heavy duty tape. You want something that will hold a book together, not something that will hold air-conditioning ducts closed. Duct tape glue has two problems. It eventually leaks onto whatever is around it. Especially in a warm environment. Does glue leaking onto a stamp album filled with stamps sound appealing to you? I didn't think so. The second problem is that duct tape glue eventually dries out and becomes a white powder. It may take a few years, but I promise you it will do this. Dried glue on your stamp collection sound nice to you? If you do need to peel duct tape off your album, it will make a godawful mess. This mess can be cleaned up using either alcohol (this is slow, though), glue remover (3M makes a good one), or Goo Gone. Use a rag to rub it on the glue until it's gone. But PLEASE remove all the pages from your album before you do this.

What tape will work? I've tried various brands of "bookbinders'" tape, but the quality varies. Some sellers call their tape "bookbinders'" tape even though it's not. If you insist on using "bookbinders'" tape, at least buy it from a library supply company, not from Amazon where quality control can get a little shaky at times. Jeff Bezos is not going to pay you back for damage to your stamp album.

In my experience, the most effective tape that doesn't peel off quickly, whose edges don't lift easily, and which does not leak adhesive is gaffer's tape. It's designed to mark locations in theaters, not for use on industrial equipment. So, while the adhesive holds strongly, it can also be removed. And in my experience, the glue does not leak. Around stamps, I want a glue that doesn't leak. I use dark blue, black, or dark green gaffer's tape (the latter for Scott Specialty binders).

I use 1" wide tape. Slightly winder tape will also work, but not much wider. You don't need a wide piece of tape to do this job. You're not covering the entire spine of the album. You're repairing the hinge, and that tear is only a fraction of an inch wide. A 1" wide piece of tape will cover a torn hinge well. Wider and it will become a mess. You don't want tape on the inside of the spine, either (it's too close to the edges of the pages there!) or on the inside of the covers where you don't need tape. A wider piece of tape does not make the binder stronger, just messier.

Continued . . .
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Edited by DrewM - 10/06/2020 01:32 am
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Posted 10/06/2020   01:29 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DrewM to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Continued from previous comment . . .

Where do you tape? If you tape the outside of the hinge and do nothing more, it will hold together for awhile. But will also look like it's been taped -- not the best look, I think. And if the binder goes in and out of a slipcase, or if it rubs against another binder, over time the tape will rub, peel at the edges, and the edges may begin to fray. That's not a good look, either. It's better to tape only the inside the hinge. That way the binder doesn't look taped, and it can't rub on anything.

I know you want to tape the outside of the hinge, and what if it's the outside of the hinge that's torn? Or what if the cover material is coming off the cardboard and making the album loose and sloppy? Then you should re-glue it. After regluing, you can add a 1" strip of gaffer's tape along the outside hinge if you want to. But I normally don't because my gluing solves the problem. I put my tape only on the inside spine where it does the most good. On these "Jumbos," though, I think you'd have to tape up the outside hinge.

Another advantage of taping the inside of the hinge ris that in the usual way tape is applied, tape used outside the binder will always be bending outward, stretching the tape. You don't want the tape to stretch. Tape on the inside generally bends inward which doesn't stretch anything. If you must apply tape to the outside, apply it with the binder closed. The tape will then not stretch as you open and close the binder.

If you need to re-glue the cover material because it's torn or peeling off, how do you glue it? I tried all sorts of things to apply glue inside the cover bamboo skewers, chopsticks, you name it. I was trying to "feed" glue in through the ripped area to hold the cover onto the album. It doesn't work well. And you get a big mess. I tried plastic syringes with long "needles". A mess. Long narrow artists' paint brushes loaded with glue. What a mess. Then, one day, watching a video by a librarian (exciting, huh?), I came across a much better method.

The better method may sound drastic, but it works better. Use a box cutter and slice open the entire inside of the torn hinge from top to bottom. Yes, really. This will give you much easier access inside the material which covers the cover. If that material has come loose, it has to be glued. If it has peeled away from the cover, it has to be glued.

The glue I use is not fancy glue. It's Elmer's white glue. Other glues may work, too. I haven't tried them all. But this common glue works great, stays in place, and does not damage anything like some other glues did for me. Don't use spray glue or you'll ruin your binder with overspray.

I use either my fingers or a small brush to apply the glue. For brushes, the best and cheapest I've found are "acid brushes" (not sure why that name) which come in packs of a few dozen for not much money. After I use one, I just throw it away. So no mess next time. Coat inside the covering moderately, not too heavily, then smooth it out. Then add inside the covers something like a stack of paper or a book to hold it firmly in place, plus a few large rubber bands to clamp it closed. By the next day it will be re-glued and almost as good as new. If you still have a few threads hanging loose, either smooth some glue over them to hold them in place or snip them off. You can then add a strip of tape over the repaired part, and for me, once again, that's inside the hinge, not outside.

Is there a fix for scraped or worn tops and bottoms of spines? If there's wear but there's still fabric, I use a marker in the right color and re-color it. It will look better, believe me. I don't find "Sharpies" work very well due to their colors having a red tint. I use felt tip pens, instead, in the appropriate color. What if the binder covering is worn through to the metal of the spine? In that case, I cut a long piece of 1" wide gaffer's tape and place it over the damaged edge of the spine. It should be long enough to go from hinge to hinge. Too long is better than too short since you can trim off any excess. Since spines are curved, you can't just fold the entire piece over. It won't work that way. Instead, after it's on the spine but before you smooth it down, cut it vertically three or four times to create three or four smaller flaps of tape. Then bend each flap inside and outside the spine. That repair will last for years.

A $20 used binder with some regluing and some gaffer's tape will look new and last for years.


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Edited by DrewM - 10/06/2020 01:35 am
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Posted 10/06/2020   11:46 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Climber Steve to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
DrewM wrote: ..........a lot !!! As a 60 year collector, I encourage all to read his musings. Valuable information there.

I did a census of my stamp containers. I have around 70 albums and stockbooks available for use, some empty. Of the 70, I have 7 International Jumbos and two regular size, all in active use, housing collections. I also have 6 more regular sized International binders that went into reserve as a result of downsizing my collections. FWIW, the Jumbos measure about 4 3/4 inches across and the regular internationals measure about 3 3/4 inches across.

An option for holding Jumbos together; if one didn't spend the money for the slipcases; is to use heavy duty rubber bands. I use Brites; File Bonds; that are available at Office Depot. I actually haven't yet banded my Jumbos. I do band the two regular size Internationals that house my Portugal & colonies collections. Reason for banding is that I have a pocket folder in the back of each that contain my certificates.

Drew wrote about Jumbos: "and that many pages make them curve more, making it harder to mount stamps." There are ways to work with this problem. I use several of the Scott thick paper end sheets in front and back of each binder. An end sheet is also useful for measuring and trimming any pages that don't fit the International binders. More importantly, one should use post filler strips in between pages. I put about 3 into the regular binders and up to 5-6 in the Jumbos. I bought the Harco brand fillers, from Chicago, back in the 1980s. I don't think those are now made. One can use Scott Specialty fillers, but they have to be re-punched to fit the two-post International binders. I saved the Harcos from the binders that are now in reserve, which gives me more for the Jumbos.
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Edited by Climber Steve - 10/06/2020 7:19 pm
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