Sunglasses Repair: Half a Hinge Is Better Than None

Broken hinge and brass shim stock repair parts

Broken hinge and brass shim stock repair parts

Some years ago I managed to talk one of the local optical shops into stripping the anti-reflective coating off my second-oldest pair of glasses, dunking the lenses in the gray dye pot, then re-coating them. I got a fine set of variable-bifocal sunglasses for 75 bucks; that’s why it took some persuasion. The near vision lens is a bit under my current prescription, but it’s good enough for driving and biking.

All good things must come to an end: the right-side hinge broke. The bad news is that it’s a titanium frame (can’t be brazed, at least by me) and the whole affair is old enough that it’s not worth sinking a bunch of money into a new frame. This year calls for new glasses anyway, so with any luck they’ll be able to do it again.

The good news: I can fix this thing with JB Weld epoxy and a few brass bits. So off to the Basement Laboratory, Machine Shop Division, we go…

Resistance soldering brass parts

Resistance soldering brass parts

Fortunately, the unthreaded top hinge plate broke off, leaving the threaded bottom plate intact. The plan: replace the plate with a suitable bit of brass shim stock, solder it to a U-shaped sheet of brass, epoxy the thing to the temple, drill a hole through the new plate, and run a screw into the threaded plate.

The top picture shows the broken hinge and the tediously cut-and-filed brass parts. The tab on the end of the flat plate fits around the remaining part of the hinge, the upper part is flush against the frame, and most of the plate will be trimmed off.

Rough-filed hinge splice

Rough-filed hinge splice

After demonstrating that my smallest torch can satisfactorily melt tiny bits of brass shim stock, I (tediously) re-cut and re-fit another set of parts, then deployed the resistance soldering gadget I built a while back (and wrote up for Circuit Cellar, Feb / Apr / Jun 2008) and silver-soldered the bits together. I must describe that thing here one of these days; it’s built around a rewired kilowatt-class microwave oven transformer with triac pulse-duty-cycle switching to control the heat.

A bit of diagonal cutter and file work produced a U-shaped channel that exactly fit over the remaining hinge. The rounded end (in the rear) is too wide, but that’ll get trimmed to fit when it’s in place.

Aligning earpiece and frame for epoxy

Aligning earpiece and frame for epoxy

Wisely is it written that you cannot have too many clamps, which is what I used to build a fixture and align the earpiece with the lens frame to epoxy the hinge splice in place. As is always the case, nothing is square, plumb, true, or parallel. Fortunately, the glasses weigh basically zilch, so after I get the pieces aligned, they won’t shift out of place.

That done, I worked some JB Weld epoxy into the hinge stub’s crevices, then slipped the splice into place. A small blue clamp applied a bit of pressure to make the friction fit marginally more secure…

Final clamping overview

Final clamping overview

The trick here is to leave the plastic lid with the rest of the mixed epoxy sit on the workbench; if the epoxy in the lid isn’t cured, then there’s no point in moving the glasses and breaking the bond.

Clamping with epoxy applied

Clamping with epoxy applied

Then I let the epoxy cure overnight… when the story continues.

  1. #1 by wong elana on 2010-08-23 - 02:56

    wow nice jobs. I think I can apply for my Sunglasses Repair at home.

    thank for sharing

    • #2 by Ed on 2010-08-23 - 07:12

      It’s one of those repairs that almost makes economic sense, given how expensive the frames are, although the amount of effort is absurd.

      Thanks for the good words…

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