Camera bellows maintenance

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by Peltigera, Sep 22, 2012.

  1. Peltigera

    Peltigera Member

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    Three of my favourite cameras have bellows (Zeiss Ikon Nettar 515, Franka Solida III and Voigtlander Vito II) which are clearly ageing a bit. The Nettar is 75 years old and the other two 60-odd years old. Should I be doing anything to prevent the bellows cracking/splitting? Is there anything I can do? I am lucky enough to have these three in very good condition and would hate to have to replace them - I doubt paying for repairs would be economically viable.
     
  2. Marc B.

    Marc B. Member

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  3. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    In the old days they used to use bees wax on leather camera bellows.
     
  4. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    I would not have thought that the bellows on either of these cameras is actually 'leather'. On my Zeiss Super Ikonta it most definitely isn't. You can test this easily by gently flicking a finger over the inside of the bellows and if there is a dry papery sound then it isn't leather. Leather will be almost soundless.

    On a large format camera 4x5 and upwards they bellows may very well be of leather because they can take the extra bulk and they are not folded shut so often..

    To be light tight, the leather would have to be too thick to be of any practical use and make folding the camera front a difficult operation. It is more likely to be a fine woven fabric base covered over with a hard wearing material that looks very much like leather just as on my Ikonta.
    I would not like to put any preparation on the bellows as it will have some grease content, and as we know grease can migrate to places it isn't needed.
     
  5. georg16nik

    georg16nik Member

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    Zeiss Super Ikonta bellows have leather as the top layer.
    Usually, bellows have at least 3 layers:
    1. silk - inside
    2. stiffeners - middle
    3. leather - outside
    As benjiboy wrote, the leather is best to be treated with bees wax based cream.
    I use Woly Sport Wax Active http://tinyurl.com/7kttlp7 on the bellows leather of my Zeisses and Voigtländers.., once every other year.
     
  6. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    While restoring a 10x8 Agfa Ansco two years ago I had to re-glue the bellows, I noticd that the inner cloth had faded quite badly and was nowhere near to being black eough. I used a semi-matt black acrylic paint to rectify this, it only needed a very thin application and is fully flexible. Choice of acrylic paint is quite important as some will cause the folds to stick together.

    Ian
     
  7. Peltigera

    Peltigera Member

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    Thyank you all for the advice. I shall try the annual (i.e. later today) application of bees wax and hope for teh best.
     
  8. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    I used black fabric dye, in a spray bottle to re-blacken the bellows liner on a 8x10 camera.
     
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I've used black dyes in some cases, I use a cheap airbrush but a spray bottle would be just as good. It's important not to drench the inside or the water may affect the adhesives. The reason for using black satin acrylic is it helps stabilse oder lining cloth, I use it for other applications anyway.

    Ian