Burning down the house (a trial by fire)

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by Bosaiya, Dec 5, 2009.

  1. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    Here's a couple photos of a Graflex RB I heavily rekajiggered to work in harsh enviornments, particularly high heat.

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  2. PeteZ8

    PeteZ8 Member

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    Wow that's quite beautiful!

    What is the intended environment if I may ask?
     
  3. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    Thanks, Pete. Structure fires mostly. So far I've gotten it up over 300f.
     
  4. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Steam Punk! (That's a good thing, and kinda cool)
     
  5. mhcfires

    mhcfires Subscriber

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    What a cool camera! Makes me want to take the ragged leather off one of my old beaters and see what lies beneath the skin. Thanks for sharing.
     
  6. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    Thanks! I've stripped and refinished two of the three I own. The other one is nicer, but not quite finished yet. This one gets pretty grungy during use and looks more like a user than a show-piece.
     
  7. McFortner

    McFortner Member

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    What can I say but "Wow!" Very nice work on that camera.
     
  8. Dave Pritchard

    Dave Pritchard Member

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    Wow! I'm impressed.

    I have a couple of old Speed Graphics with bad leather on the body.

    Hmmmm.
     
  9. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    Every decision I made was with function in mind, but I couldn't help a little artistic flair. The wood and brass were stripped and gone over with about eight or nine coats of marine grade spar varnish. The bellows were reinforced with mesh and Pliobond. The leather was treated with Hubberd's Shoe Oil. The metal joints and holes (like at the shutter key and tension knob) are filled with machine oil. The top was reverse-mounted and has a mirror on the underside so it can be used like a regular SLR instead of having to look down onto the ground glass. All of the seams were sealed with high-temp waterproof sealant. Everything was gone over with a bunch of layers of carunaba wax as both a sacrificial layer and to seal any last spots. The magazines have an over-sized pull ring for use with firefighting gloves. The darkslides are cut down from larger-sized dark slides so that there is plenty of room to grip on top and a leather leash was attached in order to help yank out the darkslide if it got too difficult to remove and also to tether it to the camera so it wouldn't get lost.

    Weight with one magazine is well over eight pounds. Pretty hefty, but not too bad when you consider that the weight of bunker when dry is over twenty-four pounds and twice that when wet. So far the camera has taken a direct hit from a firehose strong enough to knock it over (keep that weight in mind!) and countless glancing blows. All I've had to do is tip it over to dump the water out of the top area.
     
  10. DBP

    DBP Member

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    So let's see some pictures.
     
  11. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    Sure things, here's a couple. Other than some dodging and burning these are straight prints.


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  12. DBP

    DBP Member

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    How does the film hold up to the heat? What do you do to protect it?
     
  13. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    The film held up pretty well, all things considered. The caveat being that I am more of a pictorialist than a realist, so the types of effects you see in the photos above are a bonus for me where they might be ruinous for someone else. The results can be very unpredictable, some sheets/shots will come out pristine and some will look like liquid emulsion was brushed on sandpaper. I just try to go with the flow and stay cool.

    So far I haven't done anything to protect the film. For a time I considered building some sort of enclosure out of a fire blanket or something like that but abandoned the idea after realizing the bulkiness required and that ambient heat would probably be the biggest problem anyway. If the gear and film were exposed to direct flame I'd have a lot more than my exposure to worry about! As it is I nearly broke my neck trying to climb down the stairs to exit when the fire got too hot.