1904 Seneca View 5x7 restoration.

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by pdexposures, May 31, 2010.

  1. pdexposures

    pdexposures Member

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    My first post here, not sure if this type of thing is allowed or accepted and couldn't find anything in the rules. So just let me know if this is a no-no.

    I picked this badboy up for just $40 with the tripod yesterday from craigslist. Protip: search the antiques section for camera. I was able to grab this off someone who knew nothing about it that's why I got it for so cheap. Anyway, on with the pics.

    The camera
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    The tripod
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    The head of the tripod was broken and will be getting its own restoration as well with new fittings and hardware. And the ability to use a modern head on top of it. But for now this will do. I used a bolt with some washers to support the camera.
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    For the initial cleaup, I used a variety of chemicals. The first being liquid gold to clean and treat the wood.
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    You can see here how dirty it was (dust) then how it looked with the dust off, and finally how it looked once treated (the lower level).
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    Upon closer inspection you can see the mnfr stamp.
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    The metal fittings have started to pit and show some serious wear, although they are in relativly good shape still.
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    So I took them all off
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    it was filthy underneath
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    But I cleaned and treated it all
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  2. pdexposures

    pdexposures Member

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    And used a metal polish for the metal fittings
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    It made quite the difference
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    The screws were trash as well so I took some sandpaper and sanded off all the tarnish
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    The bellows inside were dirty but light-proof still
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    The back panel is in so-so shape. The ground glass is cracked and the wood has a brace installed. Which will not be fun to repair. Thank god my grandfather is a woodworker. It will make this a lot easier
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    I removed the fittings to see how bad it was. Someone obviously did a terrible job fixing this as there was wood glue everywhere.
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    While the ground glass was out however I noticed there is an "L" in the upper right hand corner. I wonder what was written there
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    I will be making a new lens board as this one is clearly not the one that came with it. It is spray painted black and is made of particle board
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    Masking tape was covering this hole
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    Anyway, here it is on the tripod
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  3. pdexposures

    pdexposures Member

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    Bellows closed
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    Completely folded up
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    This thing is HUUUUGE, here it is next to my 2nd oldest camera, a 1916 Kodak brownie. Mind you this takes 120 film. So it isn't exactly small either
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    And folded up next to the kodak
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    Went to my favorite local camera store today. Right as I walked in a customer who was there complimented me on the camera (as I had brought it in). Turns out he was the lead photographer for Nike for 14 years, and now works as a college professor for photography! My friend and I ended up chatting with him for a while. Turns out he shoots mostly large format, he even has a 12x20 camera. The negatives for that cost $50 a pop, not something you want to screw up. He was a huge help, picked out the best lens for me that they had there (I had the owner put it aside) and found some film holders for me as well.

    Only grabbed two, but he has 4 more I will probably buy later on.
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    Fits great in there
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    Next to my buddies 4x5 Crown Graphic which I used to think was a big camera lol
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    And both of them open
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  4. pdexposures

    pdexposures Member

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    Did a little bit more yesterday. So far I am still focusing on the small things like the cleanup before I make a new ground glass (which I picked up the cutter for today), a new ground glass carrier and going in to re-drill a few of the spots that some of the adjustment knobs have been knocked off track. But it is coming together nicely.

    I polished some of the adjustment knobs, here is a before and after. There is still some grime that just would not come out. I will probably need to go in there with some steel wool.
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    I also removed more of the chrome to find dust and 106 year old gunk underneath.
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    So I cleaned it all up and put it back in. While it was out I also adjusted the retainer for the hinge as you can see on the right side of the before photo where it is sticking out of the hinge.
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    Unscrewed the bottom portion here to find more of this substance (not surprised)
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    But what I was not expecting was what was on the back of the chrome plate.
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    I cleaned it up as best I could and re-installed it
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    My next task was the heavily tarnished brass guide rails that go the entire length of the camera
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    But when I removed them I found nothing hidden underneath!
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    So I started to polish them
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  5. pdexposures

    pdexposures Member

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    Even got creative with getting into the cracks
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    And here is a before (left) and after (right) of the brass. Quite the difference
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    Anyway, hope you enjoyed, more to come soon as I make a new ground glass and start getting serious.
     
  6. Kevin Kehler

    Kevin Kehler Member

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    So jealous.
     
  7. snay1345

    snay1345 Member

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    I wish I could score something like that off craigslist.
     
  8. pdexposures

    pdexposures Member

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    Do what I do and leave a tab open 24/7 and hit refresh every so often when you are on the computer. I've scored a 35mm complete darkroom for $40 and a 4x5 darkroom for $50 (but at the time I didn't have a use for it so a friend picked it up).
     
  9. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    That is awesome!

    Jeff
     
  10. stillsilver

    stillsilver Member

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    Great job! How long has it taken so far?

    And welcome to the site.

    Mike
     
  11. pdexposures

    pdexposures Member

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    Its been about a week. But I've only been working on it when I get around to it.

    More recently I have been re-polishing everything with a new and better polish that gets rid of more of the grim that was on there. Right now the camera is off the rails and in a few pieces. I had intended to post more photo's but my digital camera decided to not save anything I shot... go figure :D
     
  12. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Nice one, I've being doing the same with a quarter plate camera, in worse condition :D

    A new screen is cheap and extremely easy, get some #400 and #600 grit Silicon carbide powder, and a piece of glass to fit, as well as a square of plate glass 3"x3" to use to grind the screen. Takes less than 10 minutes a screen, I just made a dozen screens - quarter plate, half plate, full plate, 10x8 and 5x4 and some 9x12cms for less than £15/$25 :D

    Ian
     
  13. pdexposures

    pdexposures Member

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    Where did you get your powder? I've only found it online so far.
     
  14. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I bought mine online in the UK, delivery was fast it arrived less than 24hrs later, it's not expensive. Look for a local Lapidary suppliers, or a club as it's used for stone polishing,

    Grind with the #400 first then the finer $600 if you want a finer screen.

    Ian
     
  15. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Nice work. I had a similar adventure here (link points to thread on Century 8x10 restoration).
     
  16. pdexposures

    pdexposures Member

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    Another update, and the last of the cleaning before i get back into the serious work.

    I ended up taking off all the rails and re-polishing them with a different compound. They came out much better.
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    Just look at that shine
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    Put the base back together and set it on the tripod
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    I then returned my attention to the front of the camera again and took of the entire front lens carrier.
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    There was some junk under there that was hard to get rid of
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    I also noticed that some of the material to keep light out was coming off
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    So I hammered it back in, realistically however this will need to be replaced
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    I then turned my attention to the rear of the camera
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    Taking off the springs
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    More dust
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  17. pdexposures

    pdexposures Member

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    And even more I couldnt see when I had just peered into it
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    Before on the bottom and after on the top
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    All four polished up
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    Parts everywhere
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    Once that was done I was able to mount the camera back onto the rails
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    Secured down the metal basis for the setting knobs with some wood safe glue
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    Haha, my smallest camera on my biggest
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    I then turned my attention to the tripod, and applied some liquid gold to it
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    Well thats it for now. Still waiting for the lens, should have it sometime next week with any luck. And then I can start making a lens board for it. Ground glass is coming soon!
     
  18. pdexposures

    pdexposures Member

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    It's been a long while since my last update. Unfortunatly I haven't been able to get around to working any more on this until this past weekend. Went to Blue Moon Camera and Machine here in St. Johns and looked at the lens options they had for an hour. Debating on price, image circle, focal length, and many other options. At one point I had 10 lenses sitting on the counter. Some dated to 1911, others were made in the 80s. I just couldn't decide. So I ended up choosing one that was pretty easy on the wallet. And my very first Nikon lens ever.

    It is a Nikkor-W 180mm f5.6. It's pretty fast and going to be very wide on the 5x7. Which I tend to shoot a lot in other formats as well so it will suit me. Plus I got it for a damn good price. Not to mention it will be fantastic on the 4x5 monorail camera I inevitably will get. The only downside is that the image circle will barely cover 5x7 plus some very small movements.

    Right now the lens board is being fabricated for me by Blue Moon as well. I will have the camera back in my hands in about two weeks ready to shoot.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. pdexposures

    pdexposures Member

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    Finished the ground glass, it's pretty rough around the edges but it was my first one and I will certainly be making more considering this is about 120x cheaper than buying one from B&H.

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    It works!!

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  20. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    That's very rough :D

    Get re-grinding, you can equal or better a Steve Hopf screen, no Satin Snow GVB any more :D

    Ian