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Thread: Vintage Case Handles

  1. #1
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    Default Vintage Case Handles

    I have 2 Gibson "A" cases from the twenties. Both have purple lining. I also have two questions;
    1. On one, the original handle is showing wear to the leather outer skin. How do I protect the original handle? Do I replace it with a new one and save the original? Or do I get a new case and preserve the vintage case?
    2. The original handle is missing on the second case. Someone did a really good "fix" on a replacement handle. I would like to restore it with a period correct handle.

    Both cases are in very good++ condition. Thanks for any advise.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    Old handles for Singer sewing machine cases from those periods are a good match for the old cases you have. Usually don't have the wear that a music case would have

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    This comes up from time to time. Honestly, if you want to preserve the original case then by all means, find a modern case to keep it in until you sell it. The handles do come up regularly on eBay. Take a look at forum member Loudloar's response in this thread. His name is Steve Kirtley and he has this site that deals with vintage musical instrument cases. He also has a Facebook Group. Here is another past thread on the subject. If you poke through these search results you'll find these threads and more as to what people have done. I buy these handles when I see them on eBay because I know that eventually I'll need one.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
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    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    Ive used old vintage doctors black bag handles. They Look close to original.

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    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    Here are during and before photos of a handle restore. The outer material was gone from my case handle. I coated the handle with yellow wood glue and let it dry. I then painted it black and went over it lightly with steel wool to lessen the shiny finish.
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  8. #6
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    Quote Originally Posted by jim simpson View Post
    Here are during and before photos of a handle restore. The outer material was gone from my case handle. I coated the handle with yellow wood glue and let it dry. I then painted it black and went over it lightly with steel wool to lessen the shiny finish.
    That's pretty interesting. My case handle is in about the same shape.

    I was told I didn't need to do anything, because the metal goes all the way through and it wouldn't give out. I was going to wrap it with black gaffer's tape, though.

    Do you have a picture of the finished article or is it still in process?

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    Similar handles to that case handle can be found new. I'm not sure of the exact measurements but I would try someone like Brettuns Village and check them out. The handle that the OP has is similar to the current "Banana" handles used on some newer guitar cases. I'm actually surprised nobody has started selling those. One more place where someone could fill what would probably be a very small market.

    It appears that Ohio Travel bag is very close to what I'm talking about.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
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  10. #8

    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    Tell ya what not to do: classical black ‘friction’ tape, black vinyl electrical tape, most duck/duct tapes. Goo, and unwinding.
    If there are any more shoe repair people in your world, they have the technology to stitch on a leather cover, but be advised, in the auto concours world of petty nit-picking, judges have been known to count stitches per inch on upholstery.

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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    I have done this a number of times on different handles that have deteriorated....

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzk3HCQyGOs

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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    Great ideas and resources!! Love the paracord for a different project. I'll research the ones Mike E posted and replace with new handles. I love the vintage cases. Thanks to all......

  14. #11
    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    That's pretty interesting. My case handle is in about the same shape.

    I was told I didn't need to do anything, because the metal goes all the way through and it wouldn't give out. I was going to wrap it with black gaffer's tape, though.

    Do you have a picture of the finished article or is it still in process?
    I had to dig for these, sorry for the smaller size of image.
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  16. #12
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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    Anybody looking for a handle for an early Gibson case might want to look at this.

    NFI

    If I didn't have two sitting here I'd buy that for the handle in a heartbeat.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    Someone got it!! There may be a vintage tweed suitcase in my future. Thanks for the lead Mike.

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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    I knew that one was gonna go fast. Keep looking.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
    --J. Garber

  19. #15
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    One of the reasons I haven't really thought about any option that involves removing the handle for repair, is that I don't immediately see how to do it. Would you have to bend apart the D ring holding the handle to the case? I can't imagine it would be very easy to put it back into the same shape again at the end.

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    I'm leaning toward the paracord as it is a "do no harm" method.

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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    Yes you would remove the D ring by bending it, it can be squeezed back shut easy enough. Somewhere on here someone was selling new handles that were made to recreate these old handles. The para cord would work well, especially if you locked each turn. It can look quite fancy. I wouldn't use tape as it will get sticky and get all over you hands eventually and goo up the handle in the end.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  22. #17

    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    Re. Pops 1, bending D rings. Yes and no. These are not put in their cover by bending, but are nearly complete “rings” in most cases. That means you have to very seriously deform them to remove, if even possible. Also, they are probably steel and not so easy to bend.
    Instead, I would extract the rivets. The case lining is pulled back carefully, and if you’re lucky, the rivet is either split, and easily made straight with ordinary pliers, or is a fully-headed one, which is not easy since it has to be drilled out. If there’s a reinforcing washer around it, cutting the washer will allow easy extraction without drilling, but you’d have to see. New split rivets are hardware store items and are put in without special tools.
    If I’m wrong, and the D ring only protrudes slightly into the cover piece, or is something soft, the right tool is a pair of pliers whose jaws expand and have notches. I’m not home, so I can’t show a photo. With sufficient hand strength, two sturdy common pliers can be used instead.
    The ‘I’m frustrated and can’t spend all day’ version is to nip or cut both rings and replace them with suitable strong wire.
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  24. #18
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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    Sue- I'm going to do the paracord on my case that has the good "fix" handle. No harm, no foul. It's missing the original handle anyway. Hat tip to ajh! I just checked my paracord inventory, 5 colors none black. I will get creative and report back!

  25. #19
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    Bob, I'm going to do the paracord handle as well, cover the existing core. I've been looking at different styles online. I think I have some very thin black cord that might work. I'll be looking forward to seeing how yours comes out.

    Gah, I don't want to pull back the lining, do any drilling or heavy duty plier work. I'm going to do it with the handle in place .

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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    The first time I wrapped it too tight. Couldn't pull the loop back through. Second time not so tight. Turned out nice.

    Having trouble uploading pics. I give up.
    Bob D.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    I have a set of snap ring pliers that I use to open the D rings. The jaws expand when your squeeze them. Then you close them back up carefully with padded pliers. It's not a big deal. In the absence of the D ring pliers two sets of padded pliers can be used to expand the D rings. They weren't originally installed this way but it's the only way shy of removing the split rivets holding the brackets on to the case. I can almost guarantee that most of us would screw that up. Pops 1 has obviously done this before.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
    --J. Garber

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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    If you are going to wrap paracord go under each wrap and pull tight. It will lock each wrap and make a very nice spiral around the handle when you are done.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  31. #23
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    I went to a custom saddlemaker and had him stitch on a new cover for a case handle. It wasn't exactly cheap but he did a great job.
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  33. #24
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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    Here's my finished handle. I don't know why the picture is upside down, but I guess it doesn't much matter.

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    I got an 18 ft. package of black paracord in the craft section at WalMart for $1.97. It was just a tad thinner than the 550 paracord they had in the rope and chain department. I used "West Country Whipping", which is just basically overhand knots top and bottom; it took about 14 feet of cord.

    Here's the link I followed: https://www.paracordplanet.com/west-...g-handle-wrap/

    It's not perfect, but I'm pretty happy with it. It was cheap and easy, and if it gets ratty, I can replace it. Easy Peasy

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    Default Re: Vintage Case Handles

    Very nice!! Functional & keeps the vintage handle in tact. Thanks to all for the wealth of info. Now if I could only figure out how to post pics. When I get the files ready and click upload files, nothing happens.
    Bob D.

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