Calumet C1 restoration

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by Mark Fisher, Oct 25, 2009.

  1. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    I recently bought a magnesium Calumet C1 from a fellow apug member what was complete (well, except for a bunch of broken plastic knobs), but very corroded. It needed to be completely disassembled, all plastic knobs replaced, sanded, masked, repainted, and reassembled. I documented the teardown with my digital camera (a great use for one of those things) and posted the images on flickr in my account (name is fotofish) if you are curious or need to see how to fix yours. The knobs were the hardest part because they are very non-standard. I ended up modifying and/or disassembling some off the shelf knobs from Reid Tool. If you want details, let me know. I refinished the parts with Rust-o-leum green hammertone paint. The hammertone seemed appropriate to the period and hid a lot of surface defects. Highly recommended! In the end, the camera works pretty much like new. I'm not sure whether I'll end up keeping it as it is a beast even in magnesium, but it was a great project that turned out well.
     

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  2. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    I restored one, it had all of the parts and a 5x7 reducing back. What I did was to take it apart, strip, clean, steel wool, and then to the buffer, an industrial model, it cleaned all of the corrosion off. Mine was the magnesium model too but I used Krylon paint in black. I made an aluminum base plate and added it to the camera, the weak part is the original bridge work that can break. It's a nice camera but very heavy.

    Curt
     
  3. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Seriously heavy even in mag. Can't imaging what the aluminum ones are like. I'll probably add a plate also unless I get a tripod/head that is as big as that base (e.g. Majestic, Reis or home made). Although, it is pretty obvious that some sort of quick release is needed so the plate may be the way I go.

    I'll have to say, though, the green hammertone is very nice.....
     
  4. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Member

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    Like Curt I, too, did a complete (and I mean complete!) teardown and restoration. No two parts were left together by the end. I regret not counting them all just for fun. Mine is a later aluminum model. It even has a back-tilt fine adjustment thumbscrew mechanism I've never seen before in all the C1 photos I've looked at.

    Fortunately mine, although pretty filthy when I got it, was absolutely complete, and with no broken parts. Even the original lock screws holding the front and rear standards together for storage were there. Also like Curt every piece on mine was stripped, cleaned and buffed as required to better-than-new quality. For instance, the vertical aluminum track for the front rise/fall friction gear now has a mirror finish.

    I even took the time to carefully machine an asymmetric curvature into each of the friction gears. Now when they turn in their tracks only small part of their surface actually touches the track walls. This resulted in extremely smooth-turning mechanisms that do not require the use of any dirt-attracting lubricants.

    The paint masking was very intricate. I used a black gloss epoxy enamel of the type used on kitchen appliances, chosen because it's extrordinarily hard and durable once completely cured. All interior facing surfaces, including lensboards, were repainted using Krylon Ultra-Flat Black. (This paint is now discontinued. It's replacement is noticeably less "dead" black, but supposedly more environmentally friendly. I understand the telescope makers were not happy either.)

    Along with the camera I also similarly restored a 4x5 revolving back, a never-used, still in the original box NOS 5x7 back, and an 8x10 back. I also cleaned up a nearly new original equipment compendium shade. As luck would have it, the original camera bellows was in wonderful condition, requiring no repairs at all.

    To top it all off, the camera also came with both 210/9 and 305/9 G-Clarons, both in black-ring Copal shutters. Once cleaned up they appeared defect-free and almost brand new. And both Copal speeds were tested by my lens tech as near perfect.

    All of this took about a year to complete. Needless to say I'm thrilled with the outcome. And while it is indeed an imposing and heavy Beast, I love using it out in public. A gleaming, like-new Calumet C1 mounted on a heavy-duty hardwood tripod is truly a thing of beauty. Beats a polished rosewood camera any day. (And I own a rosewood 4x5, so I can say that... :wink:)

    Ken

    P.S. As a quick-release mounting plate solution I've been using one of these, which has thus far worked quite well for me. Click the "more images" link to see the underside.
     
  5. John R.

    John R. Member

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    This thread is cool .... hat's off to all you guys restoring these classic 8x10's. I have the black version too. The camera has always seemed like aluminum to me. Perhaps it is magnesium but if it were it should be lighter in my opinion. Whatever the metal castings are I don't really care. It's been a great camera, I obtained the 4x5 rotating back for it too, use it with a polaroid back for tests. These cameras are extremely robust, simple but really well made like all the older Calumet views. Not teh fanciest cameras but are solid workhorses and do the job great. I use mine on a Ries A100 with the tilt head or on a Majestic 4500 with the 1200 head. No matter which way I go it makes a nice setup. The weakest part of the C1 are the thin stainless clips that hold the folded bed up for storage, they will crack after repeated flexing so be gentle with them. I use my C1 with Rodenstocks. If anyone has the compendium shade mounting block they would like to sell, send me a message, I need one. Enjoy those great C1's.
     
  6. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Adding the aluminum base plate is one of the best improvements you can make for the C1. There is no need however to use a thick piece of metal, about 1/16 inch at the most.

    I would still have my C1 if I could have determined some way to modify the front standard so that it could be moved.

    I had all three backs and the 5x7 was my favorite when using a recessed lens board and a 90mm SA.

    In the end the monster was indeed a monster and I cut it loose, I mean sold it. Good luck.
     
  7. John R.

    John R. Member

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    I don't understand why people want to mount a metal plate to the bottom of a C1. Mine has no issues at all and there is absolutely no reason to modify it. Not only that, but any alterations to a camera like these just kills it's value when and if you go to sell it. Maybe someone can elaborate why they feel they need to alter the camera with an aluminum plate.
     
  8. donbga

    donbga Member

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    John,

    I simply bolted an aluminum plate to the bottom grid of the camera, completely reversible so there is no effect on the camera value. I didn't have to drill an holes or remove any metal. But as far as the value of the camera goes, any improvement to the camera that is properly done would increase the value, IMO.

    By putting a plate on the base grid of the camera a QR plate mounted much more securely than using the small mounting area that the camera has. I didn't mount the camera directly to the tripod. In either case using an aluminum plate improves the stability of the camera to tripod mount, no question about it.

    I owned the black and green versions and I never was real happy with either, though I used them extensively for a while.
     
  9. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Until you show us pictures we don't believe you... :D:D:D:D:D
     
  10. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    With mine it was complete in parts but the base already had a fracture in it so I had to put the plate on. I did used an aluminum plate of about 1/16 inch and did drill and tap through holes and used stainless steel screws that were counter sunk into the plate. It binds the crack and looks nice, I drilled and tapped the holes out for 1/4" and 3/8" mounting bolt. As for resale I'm not worried about resale of a camera I bought for less than one hundred dollars. I got lucky and the bellows looks like it is new. That's why I did the restoration.
     
  11. John R.

    John R. Member

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    As I stated I use the C1 with the Ries pan tilt head (The A250) out in the field. The camera mounts rock solid on that large platform head which is designed to support an 8x10. Thus, it supports the camera over the entire base plate frame including the perimeter. The Majestic 1500 head also provides proper support for an 8x10 base. I think the problem people may be running into is the use of improper heads (too small) to properly support or be used with an 8x10. I don't think there is any issue with the camera base plate frame design, it has a strong cross member that even acts as a gusset. More than enough support for the camera. It's imperative to use the camera on a proper support, that means correct choice of tripod head / tripod legs. Perhaps, the magnesium version of the camera has caused people some problems, it may be more vulnerable to breakage of the base frame simply because magnesium is more brittle to begin with. I don't know if there are differences in the base frame design between the aluminum C1 and the magnesium C1. How can you use a quick release plate on an 8x10? I have never seen a QR plate for 8x10's. What head is it used with? Guess I may not understand your description correctly.
     
  12. donbga

    donbga Member

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    I prefer to use a carbon fiber tripod with a ball head. I never cared for the Reis because of the weight.

    You screw the release plate onto the base of the camera. A very common practice.

    A RRS ball head worked for me. Prior to that I used a Bogen 3047 (or what ever it's called now).
     
  13. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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  14. John R.

    John R. Member

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    Yeah, I know you screw a plate onto the bottom of the camera but where are you getting a suitable quick release plate that fits the base frame of a C1 8x10. I hav enever seen a QR plate that is appropriate for that application.

    What ballhead are you using with a C1? I have a Arca B1 and even though it can handle the weight there is no way it is suitable for a C1 for proper stability and support. this is why i use the Ries A250 head in the field and the Majestic 1200 head indoors. I agree the carbon fiber is certainly lighter than the Ries legs. But the wooden Ries legs greatly absorb vibration.
     
  15. John R.

    John R. Member

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    I don't know how good their heads are. I can tell you it is hard to beat the Arca heads and my assumption is the RRS is not in the same league, but the RRS looks like a nice head in concept. I'm sure someone can afford real world feedback on that head. RRS does not make any large format mounting plates suitable for an 8x10 much less a Calumet C1. Anyone that uses a RRS 4x5 plate on a C1 base frame is asking for trouble because the camera would be getting woefully inadequate support. RRS might be willing to make a custom size plate that would be appropriate or SK Grimes could be commissioned to do so but you will pay big time to them, their custom work is expensive.
     
  16. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    John, I wouldn't be buying a $500.00 head like the RRS listed even if it really does support 50 pounds. And I wouldn't be getting a ball head to use on a C1 either. My Gitzo Studex with it's Gitzo large platform head support is more in line. The Bogen tripod with the leg spread brace that I have handles the camera perfectly too. My wooden Berlebach Report is too light to use.
     
  17. John R.

    John R. Member

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    Yeah Curt, I would agree with your approach. Certainly the RRS heads are awful pricey and not sure if they justify their cost. I would like to get one in my hands some day just to see what they are like. No way are they suitable for a C1 no matter what, they are too small. The Gitzo rig is a good way to go for the C1 as long as the weight is not a factor to you. My Majestic is a perfect support for the C1 but you wouldn't want to be carrying it around and lugging a C1 too. The Ries A100 works great and in combination with the A250 head it is a beautiful rig for a C1 in the field. I like the wooden legs because of the vibration absorbing qualities and the simplicity of the tripod use. You could go with the heavy duty Berlebach, they make a very nice tripod as you well know.