Bellows Repair?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by graywolf, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. graywolf

    graywolf Member

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    Yes, I know, there are a hundred threads about this, but....

    I picked up a Toyo-View 45G on eBay recently for about $100. Amongst the problems I discovered the bellows are in bad shape. Not, I think, beyond repair however. They have gone beyond just pinholes, some of the outside covering is starting to flake off at the seams and corner folds.

    After reading those hundred threads, and another hundred on other sites, then checking out what is available in local stores, not much. I did find the liquid electrical tape that some have recommended, and better to my way of thinking a black rubberized coating in a spray can. My current thinking is to remove the bellows from the frames flatten it out and use that spray coating lightly over all to cover the pinholes, and stabilize the outside covering, then use black photo tape on the seams and corners. Black photo tape, for those who do not know, is basically just black masking tape, but is opaque. It is also a lot thinner than gaffers tape or duck tape and a lot cheaper and will fold better than polyester tape.

    I figure that will cost me all of $15 plus a couple of hours labor. Down the line a bit, I will of course replace the bellows, but $400, or even $100 for a made in China knock off, for a new one is a bit out of my budget for awhile and I do want to use the camera while I am waiting.

    Anyway, I thought I would get opinions on how folks here think this method of repairing the bellows will work? Do you think it will give me another year on the old bellows?
     
  2. johnielvis

    johnielvis Member

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    I never tried spraying---it it's the fabric that's shot, then use the existing bellows for support of a new fabric coating myabe better----like get some of the thin throlabs blackout fabric and glueit all around over the existing fabric--you get thicker bellows for sure but--stronger---man...either way you look at it it's a lot of screwing arounnd and then probably associated problems---new bellows is best--maybe modify some cheaper bellows (used??) to fit the camera bellows frames? I"m sure you can find some cheap bellows out there that are used but still good

    well-try what you propose--it sounds like it'll work just as good as any other budget repair plan--give it a shot and let us know if it is successful or what the problems are...I know I'm gonna have to be repairing some along the line...
     
  3. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    For pinholes:

    I use Weld-On ABS cement (#773, its the BLACK, not clear). I got it @ Home Depot for ~$4/can. More than a lifetime supply for me.

    I use a fine point disposable paintbrush from a 5pack from the dollar store to apply it, since it doesn't wash off, and dries relatively quickly.

    -Dan
     
  4. harrydelman

    harrydelman Member

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    you might want to talk to someone at turner bellows in rochester, ny. i found them very helpful w/ my questions and the estimate seemed reasonable. i haven't yet used them but plan to when i get around to removing the bellows from my camera. also got my camera from ebay. cheap, but w/ a trashed bellows beyond hope of repair. also, turner is a local rochester company so american made. i so sick of the crappy stuff from china. Website: turnerbellows.com
     
  5. desertrat

    desertrat Member

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    Before I patched the bellows of my ancient 8X10 Seneca with black fabric paint from the craft section of the local Wally World, I would wrap a piece of black fabric around the whole bellows before taking the shot. The fabric was a section of the same large piece I used to make my dark cloth. I don't use a dark cloth anymore because a black tee shirt put on upside down works even better.
     
  6. snederhiser

    snederhiser Member

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    Hello Tom;
    Get some liquid tape and the thinner, mix 50-50 and brush this on. Use a few coats as needed, remember not to close the bellows for a couple of weeks. Good luck with the repairs, Steven.
     
  7. John Austin

    John Austin Member

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    Get new bellows, repairing bellows is for cheapskates -

    I briefly considered the bellows repair path and in my wisdom realised that compared to the cost of fuel, location hire, accommodation, model fees, dinner out with the client followed by the danger of lost images new bellows are very cheap

    Also, the first pinholes in the bellows are usually the sign that the whole bellows are drying out and getting brittle - I check mine by feel and looking for raggy bits on the folds, when this happens move very quickly

    Replacement bellows can be found on-line, ecbuyonline is one company I have dealt with - However, they listed as holding stock when in fact they made my 10x8" Sinar bellows to order, while they already had my money in their account

    The alternative is to just enjoy the light streaks and fog, like Dianaographers
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2012
  8. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Or possibly the fabric from a changing bag.


    Steve.
     
  9. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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  10. johnielvis

    johnielvis Member

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    oh TURNER is good--they custom made a 2meter bellows for me---you ship them your frames and they come back with new bellows ready to mount in the camera--the ones I got aare like super heavy duty though--make sure you give them the folding specs (max thickness folded)---I didn't really care since I knew that the bellows would be thick no matter what...but they ARE thick--probably due to the size of them, they used super heavey duty thick materials....but they do very good work on time, as promised--a real company--you don't want to ship your bellows frames off to some joe blow and then wait for him to get around to making your bellow--meanwhile you're out a camera....
     
  11. graywolf

    graywolf Member

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    Basically the type of tape I was talking about. It is interesting that one of the applications mentioned in the tech sheet is "camera bellows repair".

    Seeing that it is not recommended for outdoor use, maybe the better way would be to do the taping then spray the rubber coating over the outside of the bellows, the inside is in excellent shape, to weather proof everything. Once again, this is being considered as a temporary repair to allow me to pick up some lensboards and a couple of lenses, WA for architecture and a long one for portraits and product shots. Being retarded, oops--, retired money is in short supply around here.
     
  12. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Subscriber

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    Had you one or two little holes from accidents in an otherwise good/flexible bellows I say, yes, repair it. However, if it's falling apart then there's really nothing worth doing other than cover (wrap) the bellows with your dark cloth during exposure. I agree with others who suggest replacing it. Fortunately, if your 45G is in great shape other than the bellows that's still a good deal.

    Take this from someone who knows... the price spent on peace of mind is nearly always worth it.
     
  13. graywolf

    graywolf Member

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    Well, I have the tape coming. It is supposed to be here Monday. Could not find anything in town but Duck brand black duct tape. I have used that before and you can see more light through it than I can trough the windows in my apartment.

    I can, of course, get a brand new Toyo bellows, that they claim is so flexible that you no longer need a bag bellows. But that would cost more than I plan on investing in the whole outfit. My choices in my budget range are: 1--Repair, 2--Make, 3--One of those cheap Chinese ones without the frames from eBay.

    Just think of it, with a new Bellows and a new rear standard, I would only have $2000 dollars in a perfectly working camera that I could sell lfor $500. Where my intent is to have a decently working camera with 3 lenses for $500, or less. And, yes, I know, that if I lived in a big city, I could probably have found one for that price; but I do not live in a big city, or even near one.

    I will post an article on my blog (http://graywolfphoto.com/journal/2012/04/14/toyo-view-45g-arrives/) about how this repair works out
     
  14. Len Middleton

    Len Middleton Member

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    If you are looking at replacement bellows you (or others in a similar situation) might also want to look at Custom Bellows in the UK. They did a set of bellows for my 8x20 Korona Panoramic at a cost of less than 300 UKP, plus shipping. While that is a large sum of money, it is a large bellows (8x20 format and 32" long) for a big ULF camera, and an 4x5 would likely be considerably less. Work quality from Custom Bellows is first rate and they delivered when they promised.

    I have not used Turner, so I cannot compare their work and service relative to Custom Bellows. Just another option for you.

    And as mentioned by others above, I too draped my dark cloth over the bellows on my 8x10 until I got new bellow for it.

    Good luck,

    Len
     
  15. aluncrockford

    aluncrockford Member

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  16. Toby Key

    Toby Key Member

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    I have a Toyo 45c and I used black electrical tape to patch the bellows. Has worked fine up until now but the surface glossy material of the bellows seems to separating from what is underneath over time. The repair has lasted a good eighteen months though.
     
  17. graywolf

    graywolf Member

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    Well, it now looks like a simple repair is not going to work. Some photos and commentary about that is on my blog at
    http://graywolfphoto.com/journal/2012/04/23/toyo-view-45g-bellows1/

    The Plastic Dip rubberized spray coating looks like it would deal well with bellows not so far gone. That leave my options being to make a bellows myself, or buy one of the Chinese made ones on eBay. I simply am not interested in paying $300-400 for a bellows.

    Since I also have a couple of folding cameras that also need bellows making them may just be the best way to fly. I figure that I might make a trial version out of paper first just to see how it goes.
     
  18. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Subscriber

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    FWIW, any Toyo 4x5 removable bellows should fit... from a 45C, 45D, 45E, 45G, etc. (I think Robos too??). New old stock Toyo bellows pop up for sale fairly often. In fact, I just bought one for less than $150US shipped. No, I'm not selling it. :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2012
  19. graywolf

    graywolf Member

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    Well, I just ordered a bellows from an eBay seller in China. I picked that particular seller because I was able to find here on apug a couple of buyers who had reported that the bellows they ordered from were fine, although they bought bellows for a different camera. Those were the only non-bbay feedback reports I could find. I no longer trust eBay feedback at all.

    I ordered the bellows due to shear laziness. I am sure that I could make a really nice bellows after 3-4 tries.
     
  20. Michael Finder

    Michael Finder Member

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    Custom Bellows (UK) built me a replacement bellows for my 8x10 for around $250 dollars. Their bellows are excellent - a fabulous job. They are also very quick. I sent them the camera's front and rear standards. Previously to save money, I had patched my old bellows with book binder's tape and black acrylic hobby paint - all tips from APUG forums. Also I draped a dark cloth over the bellows to block out light. My original bellows only had a maximum extension of 17 inches, I had it extended to 24 inches - much better for portraits. My camera is now a thing of beauty. Cheers Michael.