Bellows care -- How to??

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by chiller, Jul 27, 2006.

  1. chiller

    chiller Member

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    I have a Calumet 400 [?] the 26" rail model. I would like some guidance on cleaning the belows. I have heard products like Lemon Pledge are ok but I really don't have any idea what quantities to use.

    Basically I want to clean the bellows and if required patch any "deficiencies".
     
  2. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    For leather bellows I use a product called Lexol. It's expensive, but is designed for leather care. For non-leather bellows, I would use a product that is designed for that material, if you know what the bellows is made of. Pledge is more of a furniture polish, I'm not sure how it would do for a bellows.

    - Randy
     
  3. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    Randy's right - it depends on what the bellows is made of. I have used Lemon Pledge on my synthetic bellows. Just spray it on lightly and wipe it off, or spray on a cloth and rub. It doesn't soak into a synthetic bellows so the quantity needed is really based on how much you need for cleaning. You wipe off all but a trace.
    juan
     
  4. Pragmatist

    Pragmatist Member

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    Steve, if you have repairs to make, do those first. You must use a spot area cleaner first to remove any dirt or oily film in the area of the repairs. Isopropyl (rubbing) or denatured alcohol works best for this. Once the area is clean, the treatment can be applied. Several threads exist here as to good treatments, but for wear or small tearing at the corners of the pleats, Plasti-Dip or liquid neoprene works best and is most resilient. Problems with the long folds of the pleats require more agressive measures, such as restabilization or the interior or exterior surface. This is dependent upon the material the bellows is made of.

    For cleaning and improving the appearance of synthetic materials, a spray furniture treatment such as Pledge applied lightly works. Clean gently prior to the finish coat in the folds with a Qtip. Grime can be removed as stated with alcohol. Be very careful on older "saturated" fabric materials, as the cleaning or finish application can actually dissolve or weaken the black or red coating that is impregnated in the fabric cover. Polishes work best with smooth vinyl coverings.

    Leather is a special case. Once repairs are accomplished, a good liquid conditioner such as Kiwi Leather Lotion is recommended. The greatest cause of problems in leather bellows is the drying out of the material, and subsequent cracking, feathering, and flakeing. Leather lotion cleans and conditions the material, adding needed oils or moisture to the leather material. This helps prevent the aforementioned problems. Apply with a soft bristle brush, and then buff gently in a few minutes with another, clean soft bristle brush such as a 2" paint brush. The same sort of brushes are recommended for applying and finishing synthetic surfaces.