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"Conditioning" The Hinges Of Old Scott Binders

 
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Posted 01/24/2021   3:58 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add jabber to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
OK, last new "Scott International binder" topic for the day, I promise.

This one is probably based in bad/no science, and thoroughly bananas, but hear me out, please. <g>

I bought 7 used International binders that arrived today - vintage ones mostly with the Volume numbers on the spine. Somewhat mismatched and clearly remainders from two or more old Big Blue collections. They are in generally OK/average shape though some were clearly in storage a while - the pages within (partial sets, only good for discarding or breaking up) have a bit of an "attic" smell.

However, when opening and closing these binders, and a few other older ones I already owned, I get some crackling/creaking sounds from the hinges, which I take as not a good sign for projected longevity.

Has anyone tried applying any kind of "conditioner" or softening agent to the spine area of these Scott binders to revivify them? I was thinking something like lanolin, and only sparingly on the outer hinge (definitely not on the cloth inside), but no idea what the chemical makeup is of this binder coating material that gets flexed. It seems a synthetic/plastic coating (Drew mentioned "Fabrikoid," which I vaguely recall from Scott marketing decades back), and it may just be getting brittle/denatured with age and wear. And I probably don't want any kind of "goop" anywhere near my album pages, so would do any such application with the binders empty.

But was simply wondering that if hinge crackling/cracking might be remediated with some kind of light application of some agent. A Chap-Stick for binders if you will. (Easiest solution, which I am rapidly coming around to: Just buy fresh new binders.)

Again: "binder moisturizer" probably a terrible idea, but just wondering if anyone has any kind of strategy around keeping old binders from crackling and splitting with age. (Open to a similar solution for my aging body, as well. <g>)

best
John
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Posted 01/24/2021   7:38 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DrewM to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I vaguely remember "Fabrikoid" as the name of the covering on all Scott binders, but that might be some other brand. Just today I see the Amos Advantage website calls it "leatherette" whatever the heck that is. But basically, the material used to cover Scott binders is just heavy-duty paper. I've tried to teach myself how to restore these binders -- since I'm a cheapskate and won't pay brand new prices. So I've torn apart a few binders that were too far gone they couldn't be saved.

The green or blue covering is just a heavy paper that can easily be torn. It's not cloth, but it's embossed to look that way. Maybe Scott has their binder manufacturer add some "special sauce" to the paper, but I didn't notice anything. It's designed to be shiny enough so you can wipe it down with a (slightly) damp paper towel or rag, so maybe they add a waterproofing agent to the paper or maybe it's just a kind of paint? Not sure. You'd think by this point someone would have produced a good, sturdy paper-like material for binders that wasn't paper or vinyl and would flex well and not come apart for years. Vinyl is used on cheaper binders, but it dries out, it can become loose which creates "bubbles" or wrinkles, and it cracks along the hinges. Vinyl is pretty disappointing, and I prefer the Scott binder covering whatever exactly it is.

So, no, you can't really add a "conditioner" or other product and expect it to do anything. I don't even think it would soak in. A little cleaner spray and warm water on a rag would be fine to clean off the covers, but that's about as far as I'd go with any liquids. Someday maybe I'll experiment with a flexible spray product, but I imagine that would make a huge mess.

I'd guess the crackling sound you're hearing is the glue inside the paper cover bending and separating. Over time, the glue used to attach the paper cover to the cardboard front and back covers and to the metal spine dries out. You'll notice it falling out of the spine as you tap the binder on a hard surface. Or maybe the hinged part of the paper is crackling from age, meaning the glue and the paper have both dried out so bending it makes it crackle like old paper does. It's probably a combination of these things. When the glue finally gives up the ghost, the paper cover will peel away from the metal spine. That's when most people get a new binder.

You'll also get some rust falling out of the two channels that hold the two long pins. This is due to the steel spine of Scott binders rusting inside from moisture in the air. That spine is a curved piece of metal with two channels, one along each edge. It's all one piece. Running a long narrow brush down into those two channels will remove a lot of the rust. I'm about to try adding a little "rust killer" liquid to my brush to see if that kills the rust and seals it from further rusting. The front and back cover are attached to the spine only by the paper cover which flexes along its paper "hinges". Those hinges are obviously weak spots, so Scott has come out with metal hinged binders recently which should last almost forever. I'm still partial to the old paper-hinged covers since I don't like heavy industrial metal for my stamp collection. But maybe I'll get used to it.

If the paper starts to separate from the cardboard covers or the metal spine, most people throw the binder away. But that can be fixed. Merely adding tape won't solve the problem of a loose cover, and it introduces glue where the stamps are. What I do instead is to slit the inside hinge of the binder from top to bottom using a box cutter. Don't worry, it will help solve the problem. I pull up any loose paper and reglue it with Elmer's white glue which works just fine. Use a brush or your fingers. It's washable. Smooth out the paper cover and wipe up all excess glue. Then I lay the binder flat with some weight on it maybe overnight to let the glue dry. After that, I tape up the inside of the hinge to cover the slit I made. I use "gaffer's tape," never "duct tape" whose glue will eventually leak. This seems to prevent glue leaking beyond the edges of the tape. This way, the binder will flex along the tape, giving it years of new life.

You can also tape up the outside of the binder, as well, if you want. But if you put your binders into slipcases be aware that this may make them fit too snugly for comfort. Also outside tape seems to eventually come loose along the edges of the tape from repeated handling. So I try to avoid tape on the outside of the hinges. But if you have to, you have to.

Again, NOT duct tape or you'll regret it. I've seen so-called "bookbinders'" tape, as well, but often it's just cheap duct tape with another name. I'd be wary of it. Gaffer's tape seems strong, the glue doesn't leak or soften like the glue on duct tape does, and my repairs with it have lasted three or four years so far with no problems. I have no way to know if these repairs will last decades, of course. By then, new binders will be in order.

As for an aging body, it's more complicated: (1) get plenty of sleep, (2) eat healthy (cut out sugar), (3) don't smoke, and (4) take long walks or other exercise every day. Or take two aspirin and call me in the morning.
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Edited by DrewM - 01/24/2021 7:51 pm
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Posted 01/24/2021   8:11 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Especially refined sugar. And watch your sodium intake.
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Posted 01/24/2021   8:28 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add bookbndrbob to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
With all due respect, I cannot in my wildest imagination see someone doing a proper repair or upgrading of an album binding without the right materials and equipment, and at least some working experience at the craft.
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Posted 01/24/2021   9:50 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add No1philatelist to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Maybe we should just ask Bob, he is after all the pro at doing this. What will it take and cost in order to repair the bindings, or at least the hinges and spine, if at all worthwhile.
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Posted 01/25/2021   11:24 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add bookbndrbob to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi No1. I would recommend getting a new binder. A suitable binder should have a heavy canvas hinge and a cover material of strong, water-repellant book cloth. Manufacturers are cutting corners more and more over the last several decades, so a search for quality might be tough.

Early on in the bookbinding business, I learned to thoroughly search prospective repair jobs for previous homemade "repair" work. These were always the most difficult things to undo and correct, if I accepted the task.
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Posted 01/25/2021   5:11 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Climber Steve to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
John: I have yet to hear any of that crackling with the International binders I bought myself, some of them in the 1980s. All have been carefully handled, and stored appropriately. As already noted, I have the advantage of living in the dry, semi-arid, climate of metro Denver.

In the past, I bought two major, multi-binder, International collections. Most of the binders were falling apart; fortunately, the stamps were generally OK altho edges of most pages were yellowing and becoming brittle. I attribute all of that to improper storage and perhaps poor handling. All of those binders were broken apart to recycle what I could, and the rest was thrown away. Without knowing it, I followed Bob's advice and got new binders.
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Posted 01/26/2021   2:47 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jabber to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Steve...yeah, these binders I acquired are the kind with the volume numbers printed directly on the spine; probably pre-1980s or maybe even pre-1970s. (Anyone have any idea when Scott stopped offering the binders with the Volume-prenumbered spines?)

Drew, your memory was right; among this bunch of binders I have a circa 1940s 2.5" Scott binder and page set here (Volume 2, 1941-1946) just acquired, with an advert inside for itself, and it is billed as a "Fabrikoid" coated binder. The covering material is definitely a different, more "clothy" texture than the more recent Big Blue binders. Held up remarkably well, I must say, but the pages in this thing are pristine and look like they were never touched in 70 years. It probably sat in an attic since the Eisenhower administration. I suspect Scott moved away from the Fabrikoid at some point in 1950 to 1980, because as you mentioned, the current binder covers are more like a plasticized paper, it seems. (That much is indeed clear from the split edges of my many 2010s-manufactured new-model, damaged Jumbo binders.)

I am starting to come around, though, to the idea that there may be little point in messing around with these older binders acquired from eBay. There are no bargains on eBay these days for these things (probably due to the intermittent out-of-stock on Amos and other sites), and even if you get one for, say, $25 (seems to be the minimum going rate for a decent Regular binder), vs. $40 from Amos, it'll already be 30 or 40 years down the "glue decay" and "hinges drying out" road vs. a $40 new one. Plus, at the moment, Amos will ship $65+ in orders for free in the USA, vs. the high shipping for getting single binders via eBay. (A bundle of three mediocre quality Regular size Big Blue binders on eBay the other day went for $77 plus shipping, and one had blue tape on it.)

Interesting piece about Fabrikoid, which was a DuPont concoction it seems from the 1910s/1920s. https://www.hagley.org/about-us/new...game-changer (I was actually at the Hagley Museum 30 or so years ago. If only I'd known, I'd have visited the Fabrikoid exhibit!)

The most interesting bit from the DuPont site:

Fabrikoid is pyroxylin-coated cotton fabric. Of course, pyroxylin cellulose nitrate with low degree of nitration, was also used in the manufacture of DuPont Duco paint and early artificial silk. Unlike other forms of artificial leather that preceded Fabrikoid, the fabric is embedded in the coating. The fabric went to strengthen the coating material and bonded with it, instead of simply depositing the coating on the fabric. After the embedding process another fabric material was applied to the back of the fabric-reinforced coating.

Fabrikoid is water-resistant, resistant to wash and polish, and versatile in application. It has low permeability to air and oils and greases. No doubt it was a game changer in the leather industry and was used widely for book binding, upholstery, automotive car tops and interior linings, boxes etc. With time, artificial leather becomes hard and brittle and the coating may crack and may also peel off the surface of the fabric. Fabrikoid derives strength in the fact that the resin is impregnated rather than coated on the surface of the fabric.


It goes on to say that with age it can get brittle and smell funny. I'll just leave it at that. :)
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Posted 02/27/2021   8:45 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DrewM to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
"I cannot in my wildest imagination see someone doing a proper repair or upgrading of an album binding without the right materials and equipment, and at least some working experience at the craft."

Actually, no one needs training to use Elmer's glue to hold a loose cover in place. If someone wants bookbinder quality stamp albums, they can always pay for that. But I'm pretty doubtful most collectors are going to want to do that -- or want to learn the bookbinding craft. These suggestions do work. They're very inexpensive. And they will salvage an old album binder for years more use. How do I know? Being thrifty, I've repaired dozens of old stamp album binders instead of throwing them away. It can be done with simple products like a box cutter, white glue, and some gaffers' tape. What have you got to lose? If it doesn't work, throw the thing out, and buy a new binder.

I have over 60 stamp albums (and probably a lot more than that), so you can imagine the expense if I had to start each collection with a brand new $50 binder. And that's Scott binders which are a lot less expensive than many others. Making a little effort and working carefully can, and will, repair a lot of things. And with simple repairs there's no chance of damaging your stamps.

The green paper inside the covers of my Scott binders is sometimes faded or ripped. I cut some new green paper to size and glue it over the old paper. I use good quality archival paper and either have a print shop cut a package of paper to size (costs me about $2), or if I'm feeling adventurous, I use my paper cutter and get about the same result. New green liners inside the covers will cover up small tears, ink marks, fading, the former owner's name, and other issues. It looks as good as new.

If the top and bottom edges or the corners of your binders are wearing through to the cardboard from years of being pulled off the shelf, you can use a color-matching permanent marker to hide the wear. Not elegant, but you don't see the problem anymore and it's an easy improvement.

On some of my old Scott binders, I had rust dust falling out of the two metal tubes that hold the two wire rods. Now I dip the long narrow brushes I use to clean out those tubes in liquid rust killer. It chemically changes the rust to a harmless substance, seals it, and stops annoying rust "dust" from falling out. Takes about 10 seconds to do that.

When the green "paper" covering the outside of a Scott binder comes loose from the cardboard covers, it's because the glue has dried out. You can easily glue it back on with basic Elmers white glue, as I mentioned above.

I ended up with a few nice-looking binders I got cheap because someone dropped them while full of pages which bent the metal spine badly. Throw them out? Heck no. I got my trusty needle-nose pliers out and gently bent the metal back to where it had been. Looks good as new. No metal bending training required.

And so on.
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Edited by DrewM - 02/27/2021 8:56 pm
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