My bellows repair recipe and technique.

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by djgeorgie, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. djgeorgie

    djgeorgie Member

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    I like this post alot. So I put it on my film photography blog.
    http://filmphotog.blogspot.com/


    I fix bellows on a regular bases. I don't know how to rebuild bellows from scratch and some cameras can't be put back together once you destroy the rivets that hold it together (Kodak 1a, no 2, Ikontas, etc).

    What I use is:
    • Liquid Stitch for large gashes. (also works great glueing leather back to metal).
    • Followed by a coat of black fabric paint. I use Tulip brand because it's everywhere.
    • Followed by a coat of mixed Elmers Facbric Glue (flexible, stretchable glue) with the black fabric paint. It'll be grey.
    • Followed by another coat of black fabric paint to cover the grey back up and to make sure there's no more light leaks.
    • An optional final coat of black fabric paint.

    For polaroids I use only Elmer's Fabric glue mixed with black fabric paint. Since the bellows is synthetic you don't have to use liquid stitch.

    For antique Kodak Bellows cameras, I remove the lens and use black Simply Spray Upholstery Fabric Spray. I spray the inside. These antique Kodaks can have hundreds of tiny light leaks. The upholstery spray remains soft and flexible and covers up all of the tiny annoying holes.

    Using extremely thin coats and completely letting them dry prevents sticking of the paint when the camera's shut.
     
  2. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Please bear in mind that those glues may not be known to many of us. (I have to google them all to have an idea of what kind of substance they are.)
     
  3. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    You know, this is very informative.

    But I wonder, dkgeorgie or anyone: Is there simply a thin, opaque tape that can be carefully wrapped into the bellows that will not tear when repeadedly bent (as will be the case as the bellows is brought in and out)? Doing this would truly build back the bellows' stability that had been lost with the wear. - David Lyga
     
  4. djgeorgie

    djgeorgie Member

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    I'm still searching for that. The closest I've come to finding a tape solution is black masking tape:

    http://www.uline.com/Product/Detail...&gadtype=pla&gclid=CPLZ6v7u97MCFUHNOgodU0MAMg

    The thinner the better. I've used 1/4" black tape (could be the same brand above) on bellows. Getting the inside grooves of the bellows is easy. But the outside corners is hard to get with tape. And I don't have the steadiest hands.

    Someone's mentioned to use gaffers tape in the past. But isn't gaffers tape a little thick?
     
  5. AgX

    AgX Member

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    David, tape is most likely hard to fix in the corners, if it tacks at all. I would rather consider an opaque glue that stays flexible to be inserted thinly in the creases all over. Of course it may not stick the flanges together, nor may it stiffen significantly the bellows.

    However I have experienced one such glue to harden significantly over the years.
     
  6. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Subscriber

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    Just a small note on the color of paint materials we are using for patching. If the material is on the inside of the bellows or camera, some place where it could reflect light on to the film, black is good. On the outside, believe it or not, white is better for blocking light. Dark colors do not contain opacifiers, where light colors do, the primary one being titanium dioxide. Nobody wants big white blotches on their bellows, of course, so some of what we are doing is about looks, but if you're looking to block light, use white paint, not black.
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I wouldn't trust just paints and liquid stitch. I use a very thin repair fabric which used to be made in Holland it's designed for repairing tears in suits etc and to be invisible. The black version is light-tight, self adhesive a nd very thin & flexible, I've been able to repair large shutter curtasins with it as well, all I have left now is some dark-brown material.

    For a set of badly damaged bellows on a Speed Graphic I was able to patch inside and out and it's hard to spot where the repairs are. I have a variety of different black acrylic paints for finishing from matt black to gloss, there's a lot of variation.

    I've a few cameras with extremely poor or missing bellows and the best option is to make replacements. I've a 9x12 camera with bellows that are wrong (look like they've been changed)- they don't allow full extension of the lens / focus rail so they'll be changed as well.

    At the camera fair I go to ocassionally one seller has a box of OEM replacement bellows for many European cameras, I'd guess these are ex Camera Bellows (now Custom Bellows) stock and are inexpensive. Camera (Custom) Bellows made/make the bellows for most manufacturers in the West, millions for Kodak alone :D

    This thread popped up just as I'm about to make bellows for my half plate Thornton Pickard Triple Imperial, and I pick up a whole plate camera next weekend that'll need new bellows as well, in addition I have parts to make another whole plate camera, just missing a front standard which I'll make.

    Ian
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I've been trying to find a replacement for the Invisible mend cloth I used to use, in the meantime I use off-cuts of shutter curtain material and impact adhesive, I also use this to retape DDS (double darkslides - called film holders in the US). I'm saving my last bit of Invisible mend fabric for more delicate repairs.

    There are Iron-on invisible repair tapes but these aren't practical for bellows uses. The adhesive on the material I used was extremely good, once applied it's permanent. I must ask in a few more places to see what else is available.

    Gaffer tape is designed to have a short life, over time the adesives get very sticky then it dries out and the pape breaks down/ I've had to remove it from botched repairs and it always makes a mess. So don't use it .

    Ian
     
  9. rjbuzzclick

    rjbuzzclick Member

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    I use bookbinder's tape for filmholder hinges. It's not completely light-tight but it might work for bellows repair as a base with something painted over it to seal up the tiny holes in the weave.
     
  10. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    Where is this fair? I'm guessing the UK?

    I live in the US, I'd love to find a place for stock bellows, specifically I have a Kodak 1 and 1a that both need new bellows, I don't really think repair is an option one is so dry the dust gets all over the film images, it's really bad, the other I ok but neither is light tight and I don't think paint is the answer, I also think gaffers tape is to thick for the smaller bellows like mine, perhaps the LF cameras would probably use gaffers tape on the bellows.

    Can you pick some up for me and ship it? LOL when you say cheap, how cheap? What's the price range?

    Thanks,


    ~Stone

    The Noteworthy Ones - Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1 / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic

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  11. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Give me some sizes, they aren't expensive maybe $8 max. I had thought of making them an offer for the lot :smile: They aren't always there though so I can't make promises. And yes in the UK.

    Ian
     
  12. djgeorgie

    djgeorgie Member

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    Good luck getting repairs on that. There aren't any screws in the camera. Everything is riveted together. I just painted a 1A last night with my fabric glue + paint.
     
  13. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    Thanks Ian,

    I'll go measure...

    Also, I'm not worried about rivets, I'll take them out and fasten them back together some other way or with new ones, I have friends who probably have rivet inserters of some kind.

    Oh this is exciting!!


    ~Stone

    The Noteworthy Ones - Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1 / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic

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  15. spoolman

    spoolman Subscriber

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    my bellows repair recipe and technique

    I just finishing a repair on a 616 special with multiple pinholes. I used vinyl wrap material that is used to detail cars with. It is very flexible and the adhesive is permanent. I was told by the auto supply people that I purchased it from that using a blow dryer on low heat will help the material fit into corners and odd shapes. So far, so good. It comes in matte black and is about 4-5 mm thick.

    Doug:smile:
     
  16. Louis Nargi

    Louis Nargi Member

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    Thanks for posting I have an Omega D2 with a bad bellows this is very helpful
     
  17. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    I keep meaning to measure when I'm home... Ugh, I'll send it soon.


    ~Stone

    The Noteworthy Ones - Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1 / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  18. Maris

    Maris Member

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    The best bellows repair material is, I reckon, 3M type 850 black polyester tape. I use the 1" wide version to repair and almost reconstruct bellows in enlargers and cameras. The tape is very thin, very black, with a strong non-bleeding, non-gooey adhesive. It is also ultraflexible and doesn't form cracks or pinholes. Maybe bellows should be made out of this stuff in the first place. Downside? Expensive!
     
  19. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Subscriber

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  20. BobD

    BobD Member

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    This is how I repaired a Mamiya 6 bellows.

    [​IMG]

    On the inside I glued an oversize patch cut from black gaffer tape. On the outside I applied many coats of a product called Plasti-Dip (black, of course) which I first thinned with naptha. I let each coat dry for about an hour before applying the next until it all looked fairly well blended in. Plasti-Dip is basically a liquid rubber.

    [​IMG]

    I used a small paint brush to apply it and also painted it on the frayed corners of the bellows which seemed to work well at sealing and strengthening them. There were no light leaks afterward and the bellows folded normally.
     
  21. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    The Mamiya 6 has a bellows? Are you sure that's not a different camera?


    ~Stone

    The Noteworthy Ones - Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1 / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic

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  22. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    That is the earlier, folding version - the Mamiya Six - as discussed here: http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Mamiya_Six
     
  23. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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  24. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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  25. Maris

    Maris Member

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    I encountered the same problem until I found a retailer who would ship just one roll. Even so the roll cost more than $100 by the time it got to me in Australia. At least I now have enough for two lifetimes worth of torn and pinholed bellows!
     
  26. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    Why doesn't Australia just make Thierry own stuff? LOL


    ~Stone

    The Noteworthy Ones - Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1 / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk