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Bushing/replacing bow eyelet?


Casey Jefferson
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Hi all,

I'm looking to replace the eyelet, and approached some of the local shops. It seems that the eyelet/screw combination on my bow isn't standard, so instead of replacing the eyelet, the repair guy offered to stick a slice of wood inside the eyelet acting as a temporary bushing fix.

The wood wear out in a mere 2 days. And the repair guy doesn't seems to care about the bow sent in - he used superglue to stick the slice of wood in, but didn't care if his hand still have fresh super glue on it, and I found out there're residues on the bow frog. Cleaned it with nail polish remover, it was alright and luckily it didn't stick on the bow stick or else it'll drive me nuts. Told the repair guy about it, and he offered to shave it off with knife!! How can it be the very first option to do so? He'll be God-like if he manage to scrap off the super glue without taking a few shaves out of the wood. Of course, I didn't do it.

I'm so disappointed with my local repair guys. None of them able to fix my problem *without* doing another damage. I always end up repair the new damage myself. One of my earlier experience is that the repair guy did yet another damage just to repair the previous damage he did!

Ok, now's the question related to my topic - can the worn out eyelet be repaired? If I want to have it replaced, should I unscrew the eyelet and send it together with the screw to competent bow guy in other country, and ship it back? I try not to replace the screw/eyelet set because it probably will never weight the same...

I'm pretty depressed, I need helps. :)

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I'm pretty depressed, I need helps. :)

Ahhh, yes, real world repairs...

I am not really a bow guy, but I do work on them occasionally.

In this situation I have a huge collection of old bow parts (including many screws and eyelets) to help me - but occasionally, in particular with the eyelet where nothing is "standard", even that isn't enough & I will send the bow out to a professional, and realize that there is going to be a fairly substancial cost involved.

Other than that, I will order a matching screw/eyelet set from someone like International Violin Co. or Howard Core. (perhaps someone else can chime in with other or better bow supplier suggestions) I have even resorted to replacing the entire frog.

Which means you have to be comfortable doing a rehair also.

With a new bow screw/eyelet set, you still have the problem of fitting the new eyelet screw to the frog, in which case, you might have to plug and drill out a new hole for the new eyelet screw - for which, you'll need to insert an ebony plug - and have an appropriate size drill and tap.

Most non-bow people have no real hope to do a repair like this, and do not have the proper tools.

Then again, having these things is expensive and very specialized - if you like the bow, send it to a bow specialist.

Someone here must know a good bow shop?

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Casey Jefferson said:
can the worn out eyelet be repaired? If I want to have it replaced, should I unscrew the eyelet and send it together with the screw to competent bow guy in other country, and ship it back? I try not to replace the screw/eyelet set because it probably will never weight the same...

In theory, I imagine a worn eyelet could be repaired by bushing it. To do it, I would drill out the hole to clean up the inside surface, solder a piece of brass rod into the hole, drill a new hole and thread it.

In practice, I've never repaired an eyelet, and I've never heard of it being done. Replacing the eyelet is easy for someone who's set up to do it, and the eyelet is not considered to be an important original part of the bow except possibly in some rare extremely high-end bows.

I think that anyone who fixes your bow will need the stick and frog as well as the screw and button, because the new eyelet needs to be fitted to the frog and to the stick -- not just to the screw.

I buy eyelets with unthreaded holes and thread the hole to match the screw. I have a collection of taps that seems to be able to match the threads on most screws. I buy eyelets with two different shaft diameters, but sometimes the hole in the frog needs to be drilled a little bigger or bushed smaller. Then the head of the eyelet often needs to be filed smaller to fit the mortise in the stick.

I've heard that sometimes a worn eyelet can be temporarily fixed by squeezing it with pliers with the screw inserted. I've never tried this, because I always just replace the eyelet, and I wouldn't expect it to work for very long.

I would not worry about the weight of the screw and eyelet. I think any replacement would not change the weight of the bow noticeably.

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Thanks guys!

I think I'll have the screw/eyelet replaced, but I'll have to communicate with the repair guy and make sure he will not take even a sliver of wood off without my permission. Of course best if only the eyelet replacement is needed. If thing doesn't run smoothly I'll have to pay extra to ship the bow out...

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If it's an expensive bow with original parts, please think twice about replacing the screw. If you replace the screw, make sure you find someone who can do it without messing anything up, and who will do it in a way that it can be reversed. As you already know, there are lots of ways to screw things up.

Another option might be to stick in a different screw/button assembly, and save the original. Be careful though, because there are plenty of ways to mess this up too.

I'm just guessing that it might be some kind of special bow, if it doesn't have a common thread on the screw. An awful lot of the damage to bows comes from incompetent repair people.

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It's much easier to leave the screw the way it is and just fix the eyelet.

Brad had the right idea: Drill out the old internal threads and silver solder a piece of round brass stock into the hole, drill and re-tap with the same threads as the old screw.

I have done this with more than a few bows and it was a successful repair every time.

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It's much easier to leave the screw the way it is and just fix the eyelet......I have done this with more than a few bows and it was a successful repair every time.

Why? Wouldn't replacing the eyelet be much easier than fixing it?

I'm surprised because, as I said, I've never heard of anyone repairing an eyelet.

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Bill, there are some wonky thread sizes and pitches which are difficult to find taps for. A good restoration person might have it, or be able to make it, but he doesn't have these people where he lives.

Who was it... Steve Beckley I think who gave an entire lecture on bow screws once, including the various thread styles, sizes and pitches used by various makers in the past. The lecture had a cute title, something like "Being Screwed". :)

One of his sites:

http://www.bowworks.com/

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The wood wear out in a mere 2 days. And the repair guy doesn't seems to care about the bow sent in - he used superglue to stick the slice of wood in, but didn't care if his hand still have fresh super glue on it, and I found out there're residues on the bow frog. Cleaned it with nail polish remover, it was alright and luckily it didn't stick on the bow stick or else it'll drive me nuts. Told the repair guy about it, and he offered to shave it off with knife!! How can it be the very first option to do so? He'll be God-like if he manage to scrap off the super glue without taking a few shaves out of the wood. Of course, I didn't do it.

+++++++++++

The bow frog area has a lot of grease, supper glue won't be able to adhere to it. It does not mean that the repairman should not keep the area

free of excess glue.

Fixing the eyelet for the sake of saving the screw is where the trouble is coming from. Replace a set (eyelet and screw) is the way to go.

Those are moving parts. They have to be smoothly fitted. Just common sense.

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Bill, there are some wonky thread sizes and pitches which are difficult to find taps for. A good restoration person might have it, or be able to make it, but he doesn't have these people where he lives.

Who was it... Steve Beckley I think who gave an entire lecture on bow screws once, including the various thread styles, sizes and pitches used by various makers in the past. The lecture had a cute title, something like "Being Screwed". :)

One of his sites:

http://www.bowworks.com/

What you say is true, I've had to buy some odd ball metric taps at machine shop suppliers to match the existing screw. Sometimes because these use an unusual thread, if the tap is available I would rather fix the old eyelet than mess around trying to find a replacement eyelet or having to replace both the screw and eyelet.

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Another thing I've noticed that may not be important, but I'll mention it anyway. Quite a few of the bows I've seen made earlier then around 1910 have these bigger eyelets, sometimes so big that the groove in the stick is a bit wider then standard (sometimes out past the hex edges) to accomodate the eyelet. When replaced with a smaller eyelet, even if adjusted properly, the frog is sometimes less then perfectly stable on the stick. Again, this may not be important, but it exists.

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What you say is true, I've had to buy some odd ball metric taps at machine shop suppliers to match the existing screw. Sometimes because these use an unusual thread, if the tap is available I would rather fix the old eyelet than mess around trying to find a replacement eyelet or having to replace both the screw and eyelet.

There are also the old ones which don't conform to any known standard. Some of them were made by using a stamping die, and the "forging" marks can be seen. I don't know how the dies were made... maybe from a hand-filed positive. If I remember correctly, a lot of the old French threads were made with dies, and that's why the thread diameter is larger than the shaft size... kind of like you find on a rolled thread. Obviously, these shafts didn't provide a good fit in the bore.

Sorry, you probably know all this already, but I thought it might be interesting for other people.

Getting back to the practical side for a moment:

Casey, Steve Beckley is one of the people who might be able to help you out, particularly if you have something unusual and valuable.

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Bill, there are some wonky thread sizes and pitches which are difficult to find taps for. A good restoration person might have it, or be able to make it, but he doesn't have these people where he lives.

Who was it... Steve Beckley I think who gave an entire lecture on bow screws once, including the various thread styles, sizes and pitches used by various makers in the past. The lecture had a cute title, something like "Being Screwed". :)

One of his sites:

http://www.bowworks.com/

That was at the 2008 Fed meeting in Seattle, David.

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Thanks all for the great helps and informations, as usual!

I'll consider and pick the best option for me. Meanwhile I think I'll settle on my backup bow first and will sort out the eyelet thing. Might opt for the whole set changes if it doesn't affect the weight much, less risk on sending out the bow (although local incompetent luthiers are as risky!). :)

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Thanks all for the great helps and informations, as usual!

I'll consider and pick the best option for me. Meanwhile I think I'll settle on my backup bow first and will sort out the eyelet thing. Might opt for the whole set changes if it doesn't affect the weight much, less risk on sending out the bow (although local incompetent luthiers are as risky!). :)

Now, I am surprised that the pros did not suggest this: measure the diameter of the threaded portion, and then threads per inch or centimeter. See if you can measure the diameter at the thread root. Go to the internet or Machinery Handbook to convert those measurements into a thread size. If possible, buy a tap from McMaster-Carr or some specialist. If no tap exists, go to Howard Core and see if they have anything that will fit from their published dimensions. If none of this works, replace the entire unit (eyelet and screw).

Mike D

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  • 2 weeks later...
Now, I am surprised that the pros did not suggest this: measure the diameter of the threaded portion, and then threads per inch or centimeter. See if you can measure the diameter at the thread root. Go to the internet or Machinery Handbook to convert those measurements into a thread size. If possible, buy a tap from McMaster-Carr or some specialist. If no tap exists, go to Howard Core and see if they have anything that will fit from their published dimensions. If none of this works, replace the entire unit (eyelet and screw).

Mike D

Thanks a lot for the tips!

I just shown my bow to a local repairguy, and lucky enough he has an old bow with matching eyelet so it's as easy as replacing it.

However, it's definitely some older design with thicker screw shaft and of course bigger eyelet hole. The worn out eyelet appears to be custom made too as the hole wasn't well centered. Nevertheless, this can be a long term fix, at least for now. But sooner or later when the thing wear out again I think I'll have to be prepared and have some spare eyelets ready with the correct tap size.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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