Here’s another trick Jay Heyl has tried to help keep Wild Gears in contact with the paper when using them.
This is getting very deep into geeky gears country, but I bought a small set of metric nylon washers on Amazon. They were only a couple dollars so I was willing to experiment.
I took two slight different sized washers and glued them together with the holes aligned. This allowed use of a top washer with a hole sized so it wouldn’t ride up past the shaft of the pen tip and a bottom washer big enough to not drop into any of the holes on the gear. I put the washer pair over the gear hole I want to use and insert the pen through it. This traps the gear between the paper and the body of the pen, keeping the gear from riding up and popping out of the ring. It’s not the most elegant approach but it is reasonably effective for those cases where the gear keeps trying to pop out.
This is the kit of nylon washers I got on Amazon. None of these are a perfect fit as delivered. The ones in the lower right compartment have the right sized holes to not go further up than the lowest part of the body of the pen. Unfortunately, they’re so small they’ll drop into the medium sized gear holes. The other problem was none of them are thick enough to block the gear from riding up. My solution was to mix washers of two different sizes.
The gear on the right is the smallest one in the previous picture. The one on the left is two sizes larger. The hole on that one is too big and allows the washer to ride up too high on the pen. On the plus side, the larger one will not drop into the medium sized gear holes. So I glued two of these washers together.
This is an extreme close-up to show the detail. I used Super Glue. It worked but was probably not the best choice. It took forever to set up and it was difficult keeping the washers centered and pressed together while it set. It was definitely not a ultra fast cure like you used to see on the commercials. I used a nail to keep the washers centered as the glue dried and was afraid I’d end up with the washers glued to the nail. Were I to make a bunch of these I’d have to come up with a better approach, but for doing one or two it was adequate. I did run the mating surfaces over sandpaper to rough them up prior to gluing. The nylon is very slick and there’s almost nothing for the glue to hold on to unless you scratch it up first.
Here we have them kind of in action. Obviously not actually drawing anything here. Note how the washers keep the gear trapped against the paper and prevent it from jumping out of the ring. In this photo I think the tip of the pen is extended a bit further down than it would be if there were paper underneath. On paper there’s a bit of a gap between the body of the pen and the washers, but not so much that the gear can escape.
Wild Gears have a smooth surface over which the washers easily slide. My recollection from childhood is that Spirograph gears are not smooth so this may not work with them.
[This is true. Spirograph gears are die-cast and have lines and numbers on them. – Ed.]