Building a new back?

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by Ole, Apr 18, 2005.

  1. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I have this magnificent old camera, which works great in all respects but one: It's a 18x24cm plate camera, which takes "book type" glass plate holders.

    So I would like to build a new back for it, to take "modern" 8x10" (and 18x24cm) holders. I could of course build one with a removable GG which slips out so the film holder can slip in, but that strikes me as both inelegant and somewhat risky: I don't want to accidentally step on the ground glass.

    Does anyone know of a good resource for plans and/or materials? Wood I can find, but what about springs?
     
  2. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    People tend to use spring steel or brass and immitate the Deardorff back. But there's a trick in the heating and bending I think(?). I've seen articles on the web specifically about making the springs but, can't find the link just now.

    Try to google for permutations of elements from the followin set:
    {LF, Large Format, Camera Construction, building, home brew, ...}

    If it were 4x5, I'd say get a good, used Toyo/Omega or Speed/Crown Graphic back and fasten it to a piece of baltic birch of the appropriate size. Perhaps a similar tactic would work for the 8x10?
     
  3. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I built a 5x7 back for my Ansco 5x7. The orginal was some sort of extended back and made focussing anything shorter then 150mm impossible. All I did was take the hardware off the old back and mount it on a new board. Depending on the size of your current back you might be able to just fit a ready made 8x10 back or to just take the hardware off an old 8x10.
     
  4. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Good idea, but that necessitates finding another old 8x10". I started from the other end and got one with lensboard, good bellows, sufficient movements and all hardware. I don't think my wife would be too happy if I bought another one!
    Besides, most old 8x10" cameras here in norway seem to be either all metal studio cameras, or very old wooden 18x24cm plate cameras. Which leaves me just about where I am...
     
  5. phfitz

    phfitz Member

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    Hi Ole,

    You could try ebay for

    other large fromat items
    film backs and holders

    8X10 backs come up all the time. The only problem is to make sure the springs clear the retainer clips on the shell. Cherry seems to be the wood of choice, baltic birch plywood is not stiff enough for 8X10.

    Good luck with it
     
  6. Andy Tymon

    Andy Tymon Member

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    Hey ole I have found this website to be pretty useful. http://www.srv.net/~vail/ he has 8x10 construction plans with printable drawings and construction techniques.
    hope this helps
     
  7. Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith Member

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    Jon Grepstad has a section of his site devoted to large camera building , and a page or 2 strictly on making a back of his own design.

    Also, check the link on that page, other camera builders for more sites and info.

    Good luck,
    Nathan
     
  8. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Would it not depend on what thickness baltic birch is used? I would think that a piece of 3/8 or 1/2 inch, 9 ply would probably be plenty stiff...
     
  9. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    In a similar vein, some time back I started to design a 4x5 reducing back for my 8x10 Tachihara. Encountering problems with hardware availability, I decided to modify my (very elegant and well-designed) plan to be simply an adapter frame. That gives me a nice, multi-step light trap on the camera side and accepts currently-available Toyo backs on the other. The same frame-oriented approach might work for you, too, Ole.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Ralph, that's the cat's ass! Very nice.
     
  11. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Here's the camera side of the adapter frame. To ensure light-tight corners, the top half of the joints are lapped, and the bottom half mitred.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. phfitz

    phfitz Member

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    Hi there,

    GaussianNoise: I have already tried 1/2" 11ply, it's not stiff enough when you fit it to the body, cut the rebate and cut-out the film gate. It works fine for reducer backs but not to full size 8X10. Maybe with a bail opener it could work.
     
  13. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Wow...thanks for the info. That'll save me another round of "learning from my mistakes".
     
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  15. phfitz

    phfitz Member

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    Hi there,

    GaussianNoise: Thank you, I'm glad it's a help.

    Ole: springs are easy to make from a saw blade, to bend the ends heat it to a dark cherry red and turn over with needle nose pliers. The full circle is a bear, just bend it around two bolts in a vice.

    Everyone, do you want a secret? Good.

    Go to hardware store, household goods, cooking and find a slab of polished marble for making candies and confections. Mine is 12" X 18" X 1/2" and perfectly flat, it's a surface plate. Works very well for clamping the pieces of the back and ground-glass frame to be sure there is no twist.

    If you go to the flooring dept. they have 12X18 sheets of adhesive sandpaper to put on one side, 80 grit is fine. Now it's non-skid and you can use it to flatten anything.

    Have fun with it.
     
  16. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I was just beginning to think along those lines myself - setting up a small forge in the garden for making the springs myself. I could even harden and temper them :wink:
    I don't think saw blades are the best thing to start with, with the correct tempering almost any steel will do. They don't have to be springy to start with, and it wold be nice not to have serrated springs :D

    Yup. I have a few slabs of serpentinite left over from the bathroom. Unlike marble they are totally non-absorbent and heat and acid resistant too!
     
  17. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    On getting back home I dug out the "Build Your Own Large Format Camera" book (leaflet) by fellow Norwegian Jon Grepstad.

    He suggests making springs from drain cleaners - the long spring things! I think I'll have to buy a new one - mine is used...
     
  18. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    I bought some back parts years ago from Calumet as replacement parts for some camera. You might try this angle. Maybe Keith Canham would sell you springs. Is there a camera manufacturer on your side?
     
  19. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Yes, the springs can be made from saw blades the best are those that are on a metal cutting band saw...so if you have a machine shop nearby arrange to pick up their worn blades. The serrations can be ground off.
     
  20. phfitz

    phfitz Member

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    Hi Ole,

    was just drifting around ebay and saw 2 variations that may be interesting;

    Item number: 7516007024

    Item number: 7516004429

    just a thought.
     
  21. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    phfitz,

    I'm drooling. But I already have one very old and very large plate camera, and have just got a slightly newer "modern" camera in parts. So now I have a modern 8x10" back to use as a pattern to make another for a different camera - I think I'm getting closer!

    Drain cleaners still look like the best springs :smile:
     
  22. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    Hey guys, not just any steel will temper and make springs, you need a high carbon content for the best springs. The raw spring stock can be purchased fro Brownells gun smithing site or catelog. For camera back type springs, you can use a propane torch for a heat source. Simply keep it moving while bringing up to non magnetic red, then bend and cool slowly, or quench it in ambient temp. water then reheat to straw to temper for a working spring.
    Cooling slowly will be the same as annealing, quinching will make it too hard
    and will have to be slightly tempered. Do it in a shaded area (out of bright sun light) where you can see the color changes of the steel.

    Brownells spring stock is soft enough to file or cut with a jewlers or hack saw.
     
  23. Eric Mac

    Eric Mac Member

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    Spring this

    On the 4x5 camera I built, the plans called for using the spring metal off the back of the rubber on windshield wipers. I found an old set at the gas station and they were springy and easily bent into shape. However the tight tolerances seemed out of my league for the groundglass and back, so I ended up stealing the grafloc back off a press camera and away I went.

    Contact me if you want more info.

    Eric
     
  24. Canuck

    Canuck Member

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    Has anyone tried piano wire for the springs? I was thinking of using them but still trying to find a source.
     
  25. barryjyoung

    barryjyoung Member

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    Nice work Ralph. And the photography of it is excellent as well. Huzzah!
     
  26. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Canuck,
    The local hobby emporium should have music wire in 3' lengths x whatever diameter you want up to about 1/8".