Bellows repair

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by VPooler, Jun 28, 2013.

  1. VPooler

    VPooler Member

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    Hi there again!

    My road to Mount Calvary aka building my own 4x5 compact folder by restoring-modifying took a turn to the worse today when I discovered that the bellows on the donor camera (bought from Rocky cameras) lights up as a starry night when I shine light into it. There are some thin patches, every single corner shines through brightly and so on...
    I don't want to spend big buck on another camera, just to discover that there are again pinholes haunting me probably and having replacement bellows made professionally is a bit expensive, it probably would be cheaper to buy a Speed Graphic at that point since I already have a lens and 5 holders coming my way but that wouldn't be any fun, now would it?

    Now, two things that popped into my head were thinning the original goop covering on the fabric further with acetone, letting it dry and painstakingly paint it over with liquid electrician's tape, only that some corners have pretty big holes in them, looks like the base material is also damaged...maybe also paint the inner surfaces with it?
    Other idea was getting the thinnest blackout cloth I can find and gluing it on the bellows.
    The big idea with both of those methods would be covering the faulty material completely to avoid finding and repainting pinholes every other week, that camera will be my main LF workhorse for years to come.

    Any other ideas? What would be the pros and cons of the two methods I described?

    All the best,
    -Vallo
     
  2. GregW

    GregW Member

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    How about making another bellows? I used the liquid electric tape stuff on a couple pinhole corners of a bellows. it took a few tries. I can't image how long and tedious it would be to do every corner. Adding thickness will effect it's ability to collapse. There are several online tutorials for making bellows. A new bellows will also have much less dust than an old decaying one to end up on the negative.
    greg
     
  3. VPooler

    VPooler Member

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    I am thinking seriously about thinning away the old black goop on the bellows, stretching it out on a form and gluing a blackout cloth on it. I found some beautiful wine red one for 13€/meter. It would save me the trouble of making those pesky cardboard stiffeners and the inner layer seems to be in acceptable shape. I am just not that sure on how to do it.
     
  4. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    May as well. You certainly have nothing to lose. Sounds to me like it would get you by for some time. Open the bellow up at the seam and flatten them so you can glue your covering on. I knew a guy in 1976 who did that. The bellows didn't compress a lot, but who cares? Right now you certainly have nothing.
     
  5. VPooler

    VPooler Member

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    The original outer covering seems to be slightly rubberized cotton fabric, extremely thin. Methinks that if i remove enough goop and glue this space-age superthin blackout fabric on it, it will hold light. I am also not sure about opening the seam, maybe just stretching it to its unfolded state will do the trick. Maybe use a piece of styrofoam as a jig...
    It would definately be a lot simpler to source another set of 9x12 camera bellows, probably even cheaper than making my own...but as I said, they are scarce, unfortunately.
     
  6. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    Yeah, you just don't have any choices, unless you're rich. And rich people usually don't fool with such things anyway. All you can do is lay the bellows out flat, clean as best you can, and glue on the new covering.
     
  7. VPooler

    VPooler Member

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    I did find a matching size Kodak bellows but it was sold out. This is getting interesting...
     
  8. fotch

    fotch Member

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    How about taking a small black plastic bag, cutting the bottom out, making it a tube, and then slipping it over the camera bellows, and attaching it (larger rubber bands?) to the camera body on one end and the lens standard on the other. The bellows will block the bulk of the light, the plastic bag on top of the bellows will prevent the light reaching any of the leaking areas.

    Not a permanent solution, just something to use until you find a replacement bellows.
     
  9. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    You know something? That's not a totally shabby idea.
     
  10. smieglitz

    smieglitz Subscriber

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    If you are replacing a tapered bellows try turning it inside out by pulling the small end through the large. Then apply your blackout material and reverse the procedure.
     
  11. VPooler

    VPooler Member

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    I doubt that it would survive the procedure, I checked again and there were more weak spots and would-be tears than I first thought. These bellows are nothing but holes I am afraid. I am trying to source myself some compatible bellows somehow, I even wrote to Surplus Shed in a desperate attempt. Making my own would be the most desperate attempt because surprise-surprise, a lot of the stuff needed is only sold in bigger amounts that I will ever use up, making it quite costly and as someone said - there is nothing worse than making just one set of bellows.


    If anyone reading this has a spare one around that will stretch to about 25cm/10 inches or so, please let me know, maybe we can arrange something.
     
  12. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Sticking an extra layer of blackout cloth will probably work but will restrict the amount you can close the belos up by - which might not be an issue in your case.

    If you want to have a go at making bellows, here is my method using an old changing bag: http://stevesmithphoto.webs.com/bellows.html


    Steve.
     
  13. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I'd make new bellows, it's not difficult. I need to make a few sets in the next month or so for some restorations, a half plate camera and a quarter plate enlarger, (both Thornton Pickard) and also for two new cameras I'm building.

    Most of us are wary of buying from Rocky cameras, having seen him in action purchasing items I'd steer well away. He has a reputation . . . . . . . .

    Ian
     
  14. VPooler

    VPooler Member

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    Yeah, I've heard about his reputation but thought of givin him a chance. Big mistake. Already opened a dispute as the camera was described as in fully working order and optically perfect. Besides the bellows being nothing but pinholes, the shutter was sticky and way off on the slow speeds, the glass had fungus and haze and half of the metal parts have corrosion. This was marketed as in fully working order :smile:

    I'll PM you regarding the bellows, Ian!
     
  15. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Back in late April I was alongside Mr Rock as a seller emptied a box of untested items (cameras & lenses) he was buying items at £5 each with just a cursory glance. Now bearing in mind the seller had already taken the best items out beforehand and was just off-loading the rest that seems to sum up why there's so many complaints.

    Ian
     
  16. VPooler

    VPooler Member

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    That seems to be the common business practice these days, I am afraid. Our local auction site is filled to the brim with guys like this, only that they charge a lot more for their rubbish. 350€ for a Fed-3 with a missing lens and cracked viewfinder, marketed as fully working out of the box.
     
  17. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I paid £10 for a nice Zorki C last Autumn, Fed 2's were the same price - no lenses, then the at a later camera fair the same seller had Jupiter 8's for £10 some mint but all OK, in fact Mr Rock spotted me going back to buy a second and came and bought some as did a more reputable dealer.

    Ian
     
  18. VPooler

    VPooler Member

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    I at least got a refund from Rocky but still, it is a setback. I was quite excited about cannibalizing an old quarter plate folder to give life to a bit more modern wooden 4x5 folder and since bellows are the most expensive thing to source besides a good lens, I was quite happy at first to get a cheap, seemingly intact camera. So much for that. I currently own a good lens and a focusing mechanism with 5 film holders on their way, so I am half way done with getting the stuff I need. Better than nothing :smile:
     
  19. Maris

    Maris Member

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    This has been posted before but the method keeps working. Even bellows I patched 10 years ago still function perfectly.

    The key item is 3M polyester tape type #850 black. This tape is so thin, 0.05mm, that it does not bulk up the bellows even if you covered the whole thing. The tape is very flexible so it can be used to patch pinholes in the corners and then the bellows can be re-pleated easily. Best of all the adhesive is strong, doesn't bleed, doesn't creep, and never goes gooey.

    The downside? It is an $$$ expensive roll of tape.
     
  20. VPooler

    VPooler Member

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    Another downside would be that I would have to order it overseas. Easier and cheaper to either make or buy new bellows. Downside of living in the outskirts of civilised Europe...
     
  21. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I used a repair tape from a haberdashers (fabric/dress making shop) designed to do invisible repairs dark suits. Very thin like the 3M tape Maris mentions but the company who supplied it in Holland has ceased trading. It was light-tight and very thin with an excellen adhesive, I used sonme to repair the bellows on a Speed Graphic and patched them on the inside as well as the outside, no noticeable affects on bellows compression etc and virtually un-noticeable. It may of course have bee re-packaeged 3M tape.

    Vallo, I just remembered getting some bellows (3 sets) in a box of parts from Paris, they may be too large but I'll double check later as one set is smaller than the others.

    What country are you based in ?

    Ian
     
  22. VPooler

    VPooler Member

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    I am located in Estonia.
    I'll also call up 3M distributor in Estonia and ask about the tape. I might need it for future uses.
     
  23. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The bellows are in excellent condition but they have been on a camera before so the two ends need tidying, rear inside is 9x12cm, front 7.5x9cm. My guess is they were used on a Quarter plate Speed Graphic. They compress to about 2.5cm and extend to about 25cm. I'd keep them as they are very nicely made but they won't fit any of my projects.

    Let me know if they are any use to you, price would be reasonable, otherwise I'll sell them on Ebay.

    Ian
     
  24. VPooler

    VPooler Member

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    I think I can fit them in the camera, PMed you!