Care and cleaning of OLD Bellows?

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by JMC1969, Dec 3, 2008.

  1. JMC1969

    JMC1969 Subscriber

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    Hello,

    I bought a Contessa Nettel 3 1/4x 4 1/4. At first sight it seemed in pretty rough shape, but I have done a lot of cleaning on it and found it to be a whole lot better than I thought. The Zeiss Ikon shutter is working perfectly and I took the lens glass out separately. They came out spic and span (Nostar 13.5 cm).

    So the bellows checked out good, no pin holes or light leaks of any kind. No flaking on the outside, but it did have some white type fungus on it which I cleaned off with alcohol. Then it occurred to me that this is old enough it seems to be actual leather. Leather is after all skin and alcohol dries skin out. Would it be a good idea to put some leather oil (or boot oil) on the bellows (lightly) or for that matter, hand lotion, aloe something like that to keep them from getting brittle?

    Thanks,
    Jody
     
  2. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    Folks have suggested Pledge furniture polish for leather bellows in the past and I must admit it did nice things for the 1895 Rochester 8x10 I cleaned up. Neetsfoot oil makes the leather too soft and "sticky" for my tastes, though it does help it bend without cracking.
     
  3. Fotoguy20d

    Fotoguy20d Subscriber

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  4. JMC1969

    JMC1969 Subscriber

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    Thanks, Although I know from being in the custom furniture business for years that Plead_e has silicone in it. In fact my advice to anyone that has solid wood furniture is to stay away from the stuff for that reason. Silicone never comes out and makes refinishing near impossible without getting what we call "fisheye" in the new top coat. Also, I believe silicone may be bad for leather as it will seal it and not allow it to breath causing dry rot. I've learned from a guy that seems to know way too much about the subject (though I am thankful and amazed) that Mink oil is good for this. He gave me some alternatives if you have something against mink oil, if anyone is interested I will retrieve it and post.
     
  5. JMC1969

    JMC1969 Subscriber

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    Thanks for the link FotoGuy, Good read.
     
  6. paul ron

    paul ron Member

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    Liquid shoe polish.
     
  7. Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith Member

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    I use a product made for leather seats in cars. It softens the leather, but isn't sticky - after all, you wouldn't want to use something sticky on your car seats would you? Comes in a pump spray bottle at your auto parts store. I think mine is by Turtle Wax, but there are several brands - Meguiars might be a bit more upscale: http://www.meguiarsdirect.com/product_detail.asp?T1=MEG+G10916
    Nathan