Bellows replacement/removal/repair???

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by big_ben_blue, Oct 27, 2005.

  1. big_ben_blue

    big_ben_blue Member

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    Hello folks.
    Yes, I read pretty much all the threads re. bellows making, repair, etc. here, but I have still a few questions:

    Just got a Century Grand Senior selfcasing cam in the mail today. Unfortunatelly, the bellows isn't in its best shape; it's certainly not just "Some minor scuffs on leather, otherwise in good condition" as the seller described :sad: . Pinholes everywhere, and the leather is getting really worn down (good for display maybe, but not for use).

    Question 1: What would be the best least destructive way to take the bellows off the rear housing. Unlike my Anscos, where it was merely a matter of removing a few screws, the Century's rear bellows frame seems to be be nailed to the casing as if the survival of the whole universe depended on it. Any tricks short of getting the wrecking bar out :wink: ?

    Question 2: I love the maroon coloured leather, and would like to replace it with something similar in appearance. What would you guys recommend?

    And question 3: Well, I mentioned that Ansco; it needs a bellows repair too (lucky me, picking all the "goodies" from ebay :rolleyes: ). It's the kind with the rubberized outer coating; and it's stiff as a board, with some of the coating cracking and flaking (on the corners). Is there any way to salvage the beast? Maybe something to soften the rubber/plastic, or recoating with something?

    I'm new to bellows making, but ain't afraid to tackle the callenge - how else to kill eternal boredom on those cold and dark winter nights.

    Cheers,
    Chris
     
  2. RichSBV

    RichSBV Member

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    First off, I'm not familiar with the "Grand Senior"? Buy it might pay to double check that bellows mounting. My Century Universals have the bellows nailed (tacked) to a wood frame inside the rear standard. But that frame is then screwed to the standard box. The screws were difficult to see. Two on each side, from the inside out obviously...

    To my knowledge, noone currently makes marroon bellows. I tried on the CU. Camera Bellows in the UK used to do leather, but not in years. The only option I know of now is the standard black synthetic. If you find a reputable company that does marroon leather, let me know!


    As for the flaking covering. If it's vinyl (most probable), you can refinish it easily if not looking new. Think automotive vinyl seats and hard tops. If you remove all the flakes and anything that may flake, you can simply respray the bellows with a new vinyl covering. SPray cans right from the auto store and they work fine. The vinyl covering is really just for show anyway.... Nothing that I know of will restore cracked and flaking vinyl...
     
  3. big_ben_blue

    big_ben_blue Member

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    Thanks for the tips; I'll have a closer look at my "Grand Senior", shouldn't be too much different from a "Universal" in general construction.
    As for the maroon bellows, I am willing to try building one myself, if I can just source the material.
    The Ansco bellows are probably not worth saving; I was hoping for a small miracle of sorts I guess (something to soften the stuff). But I'll give the automotive section of my hardware store a try on my next visit (which will be shortly ;-) ).
     
  4. RichSBV

    RichSBV Member

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    If the Ansco bellows are rigid enough for actual use, restoring them with vinyl paint is overall pretty easy and probably worthwhile. After all, if you've already given up on it, then what's to lose by spraying it?

    Finding leather for bellows has two problems beyond color. Thickness and size. Choose one... In my searches last year or so, I could find leather thin enough, but only in small sizes, one or two square feet. And _very_ exspensive. It's usually associated with book binding. Clothing leather is never thin enough... If you can find it, they will either have the color you want or you can go 'natural' and dye it yourself... Good luck with that...
     
  5. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    The old maroon bellows are going to be next to be impossible to save; the glue holding the cardboard stiffeners will give way as soon as the leather gets damp.

    After many renovations, and tryin EVERYBODY, let me suggest Camera Bellows in Birmingham England as being the best craftsmen, nicest people, and best value.

    .
     
  6. nick mulder

    nick mulder Member

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    Are you considering the possibility of making your own ?

    I've made one so far, they are a hassle and you need (lots) of time and patience but it is totally achievable / add another string to your bow etc... (;

    The difference between a working bellows and a working and *also* good looking bellows is the issue tho ...

    (;
    nick
     
  7. big_ben_blue

    big_ben_blue Member

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    Yup - while this is new territory for me, I have my mind set for a lenghty DIY project (of course, I would love just to buy a new one from one of the few remaining makers, but my current cash flow is a tad futile at the moment).
    I know what you mean by having a working bellows AND good looking too.

    Going for genuine maroon bellows sound like mission impossible, but I would be perfectly happy with a more modern and more easily available material if the colour is reasonable close. Something akin to the Canham bellows material (whatever it is) but in a reddish tone would make me a very happy camper :smile: . BTW, the inner layer still seems to be in decent condition, just the outer leather layer is shot.

    And for the Ansco - vinyl paint it is - the forum has spoken :smile:

    Chris
     
  8. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    I have made bellows from a material, that is vinyl on the outside with at thin cloth backing that we can find at our local fabic shop, it is thin enough to bend easily and what I do, is buy and equal amount of black pellant, which is a thin material and available in many different colors make your ribs than make your bellows inner core with the pellant, then cover with the thin vinyl and do you folding to attain your bellows, I would definately spend some time practicing with some heavy brown paper until you figure out he easiest way for you to do your ribs and folds.

    Dave
     
  9. big_ben_blue

    big_ben_blue Member

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    Dave,
    this sounds like a really good solution; do you know by any chance what this vinyl material is called? I am heading into "the big city" tommorow, and might stop by a fabric store. Please forgive my ignorance (english is only my second language), but what is "pellant"?

    Thanks,
    Chris
     
  10. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Pellant is a material, they use to back dresses and other flowing skirts and such, it is a bit heavier than the outside material it goes under to give shape to a dress, I have always used the black color, and actually even without the outside covering, it is still very good bellows material, you might be able to make your bellows out of this material, then use the vinyl spray that Rich recommended to cover it and come up with a good looking and usuable bellows.

    Have fun in the Big City, I know what you mean, I only make it to the Big city about once a year..

    Dave
     
  11. nick mulder

    nick mulder Member

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    for my next cam I'm going to make Sponge-Bob Square Pants bellows -

    Will paint the other side of the material black tho ...
     
  12. big_ben_blue

    big_ben_blue Member

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    uhhhhhhh, ohhhhhhhhhh, sounds very kewl - don'f forget to give that cam a matching paint job too :D

    I better stick to something more conventional though :smile:

    Chris

    PS: How about a zebra finish to the bellows? :D
     
  13. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Zebra Finish would be cool, I remember back when I was a competing archer and showed up at a prissy tournament with a Zebra finished bow, talk about a sensation, and of course Ted Nugent, took it to the extreme...I still have that bow and love it...

    Zebra finish is great!

    Dave
     
  14. tdeming

    tdeming Subscriber

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    Hi-

    I made a bellows for my 8x10 Eastman 2D. I used white blackout curtain material (ensures light proofing) on the outside, and coated this with thin nylon. I was able to find the nylon in pretty much any color, and got one that was a close match to the original red/maroon bellows. Both the blackout curtain (mostly available in only white) and the nylon are thin, so you dont have to worry about everything getting too thick. Inside the blackout curtain, I put the black cardstock ribs, and covered this on the inside with a thin black cloth. This "three-ply", all glued with 3M spray adhesive, has worked very well. I have a bellows that fully compresses to allow folding of the camera, and can extend to 30". All of the materials are readily available at any fabric shop.

    it's a lot of work to make the bellows, but very satisfying when it's done.

    cheers

    Tim
     
  15. RichSBV

    RichSBV Member

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    I like the Zebra idea! With today's fabrics and vinyls there would be an interesting opportunity for some company to produce 'designer bellows' in various outrageous colors and patterns. Retro 60's psychedelics... It may create a resurgence in bellows cameras?
     
  16. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Rich,

    We have been considering introducing some exotic wood field cameras, I have a good friend that makes bows out of some wild looking woods and can purchase his scrapes for some really cheap prices, could you imagine a Zebra Wood Field with Zebra striped bellows, wow, what a change!

    Dave
     
  17. RichSBV

    RichSBV Member

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    Well, we've had "Zone VI", how about "Zebra VII"?

    I actually like the idea of new exotic wood (and bellows) field cameras. Hassy and Mamiya did some exotics on their MF gear so it's not too far fetched.

    unfortunately, I'd probably have to sell all my cameras in order to be able to buy one...
     
  18. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Rich,

    Believe it or not, I, after looking at labor costs and material costs, don't think it would be much more expensive to produce one that what the current line of Shen cameras costs, myself personally find some of the prices that are charged for field cameras to be rediculous....talk about profit...

    Dave
     
  19. big_ben_blue

    big_ben_blue Member

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    Oh my god - I have created a MONSTER with that zebra finish idea LOL. But it would look very kewl; maybe I go for it when refinishing one of my Anscos this winter (I'll report on it's acceptance by the public ;-) ).

    Tim - your method sounds very intriguing; one more option for me to consider now.

    Chris
     
  20. Kevin Roach

    Kevin Roach Member

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    sheesh, you guys.

    Next you'll make a translucent bellows to match your original I-mac and your George Foreman grill.

    :smile:
     
  21. RichSBV

    RichSBV Member

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    Dave, I am also shocked at some of the prices for new cameras. I always thought that maybe they only sell one or two a year? ;-)

    But to be practical, the bellows is the killer. A new replacement can easily run $350 or more (okay, that's 8x10).

    I would have to say that if I built a wood field camera, I doubt I would be willing to sell it for less than $1000. Start with a $350 bellows. Add cost of brass, good wood, screws, washers, custom inserts (tripod, etc.). Do all that machining. Do all that fine finishing. Add the costs of labor. $1000 may not be enough?

    But if someone has the resouces of wholesale materials and a CNC machine, then I could see, well, a $1000 camera... There does have to be some profit involved in there or why bother?
     
  22. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Rich,

    Just looking at it from the 4x5 standpoint right now, and you would be amazed at how low the material costs are, once I was set up, I could bring a 4x5 to market for a very reasonable cost, and I have 90% of the tools right now to do it...bellows are not that hard to make, I have done quite a few of them, in fact I have now taught my wife the process and she is better at it, then I am, she can do a complete bellows in a very short time, they can become expensive, depending on the material you use, but even with using cordovan leather, I can do them quite inexpensivly..

    Just some thoughts, send me a note and I can eleaborate a bit more.

    Dave
     
  23. RichSBV

    RichSBV Member

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    Well, I admit that I look at this from a one-off project with a huge amount of fine handy work, and buying a bellows.

    I suppose you could outsource all the metal work and save a bundle if bought in bulk. I was amazed at what my company could buy things for (machined metal parts). If you then made your own bellows, you could save a lot, but I have no idea how much time would be involved? And then there's all that wood finishing, something I've always hated. It's just so easy to leave a scratch in the wrong place, or make a new one... I love woodworking but always hated the fine finishing...

    So, we have some pople who want to make new cameras. Dave has plans and know-how. I have, ummm, well... interest? ;-) When do we start production?