old plate camera: to refinish or not?

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by darinwc, Mar 16, 2007.

  1. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    I have an english-style triple extention plate camera, similar to a thornton-pickard field camera. Its in lackluster shape, without a bellows. The finger joints on some corners have separated and someone did a messy job of gluing them together.

    Ive managed to re-separate the joints and I am going to reglue them properly after a bit of sanding.

    However, I was wondering your opinions on if i should do the minimal amount to get the camera working again or if i should completely dissasemble and it, sand and refinish the wood. That would also entail giving all the brass a good cleaning.

    What are your opionions?
     
  2. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    If it were mine, and I was going to the time, trouble and expense to replace the bellows, and reglue bad joints, I'd want to look as good as possible when I was done. I'd say that refinishing and polishing the brass would be appropriate.

    Sounds like an interesting, hopefully fun, project!
     
  3. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    If you've got the time and ability, whats to question? Make it into a fine looking working camera.
     
  4. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If it's really lackluster, I would try to give it back some lustre.

    I have a small project that really needs refinishing: A small 6x4.5cm plate camera with peeling leather. What I suddenly learned is that the leather is all that is keeping the "front release" button in place!
     
  5. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    Most of my "small" restoration projects usually turn into "large" projects, too.
     
  6. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    If you are more interested in pretty cameras than in making photographs, certainly refinish it. Otherwise, the time and energy spent in a major refinishing job might yield some fine negatives. The refinish job can wait until the camera has been replaced by another workhorse.
     
  7. paul ron

    paul ron Member

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    As long as you aren't in a hurry, take your time and do a bang up job, the whole enchilada. Now that is if you are capable of this type of work or willing to learn n experiment with it. After all, it's not working now so the worst that will happen is it still won't work but you did have a great time doing it.

    It's the journey that makes it worth the trouble.
     
  8. ragc

    ragc Member

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    Do it!

    [​IMG]
     
  9. paul ron

    paul ron Member

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    WOW, what a beauty!
     
  10. ragc

    ragc Member

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    Thanks.

    It's an old Asanuma & Co. (Asanuma Shokai) King 1 English style half plate camera, pre-WWII Japanese. I built 4x5 and 5x7 backs for it from old B&J backs and installed Satin Snow screens on both, cleaned it (the finish is original), polished the brass, and had new bellows made for it. The strap is a dog's collar. The tripod base is plywood, left with the plies visible, bolted to the old-style tripod slots with ground blots that allow the rear and front extensions to move unimpeded, and two spirit levels from a cheap plastic carpenter's level, mounted with brass tubing. Lenses are a 90mm Schneider Angulon, a 150mm Fuji Fujinon and a 210/370mm Schneider Symmar convertible. It looked pretty bad when I got it for a song...now it's my baby!
     
  11. Freneticist

    Freneticist Member

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    Here is another reason to do it right. Camera was bought for $30. Took me two weeks to get to this point just a couple hours in the evenings and a couple week-ends. Makes a big diff. It may not shoot any better, but it sure looks a helluva lot better. I am not ashamed to take it for a walk around the block.

    http://century-camera.livejournal.com
     
  12. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    It looks really nice so far, great job!
     
  13. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Surely a lot depends on the history and value. An indifferent camera of modest value -- restore it as far as you possibly can. But after discussing my 12x15 inch Gandolfi Universal (c. 1900) with Gandolfi, I decded it was better to leave the history evident. I'm going to replace one fitting that was originally brass and is now chrome (?), and the tie-rods that have crystallized, but the rest stays like it was.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  14. Freneticist

    Freneticist Member

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    Agree. Wholeheartedly. For collectible's, too often their value is diminished by the work done to them. Especially by hobbyists such as myself. The Century was actually more of a "rebuild" than a restore. It had no value as it was, so there was no loss to what I did to it. Now it's value is either display or shooter. I will be using for the latter. But and if a camera has no intrinsic value in the condition it is in, then IMO, go for the whole nine yards.
     
  15. sanking

    sanking Member

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    That is a very nice looking camera. It looks a lot like my 5X7 Nagaoka, though it does not appear to have some of the movements of the Nagaoka (rear and front swings, front swing and tilt, for example). However, the carrying handle on my camera is also a small dog collar, the orginal leather having bit the dust some years ago.

    People who see these type of cameas assume they are very fragile. My 5X7 Nagaoka is close to 25 years in age and still sets up very rigid. The English field type camera, from which your camera and mine are evolved, was a remarkable design for function and light weight.

    Sandy King
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2007
  16. sanking

    sanking Member

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    It is in generally a bad decision from an economic point of view to re-finish anything that has a lot of collector value. Even high quality re-finishing will often detract rather than add to the value. I would certainly be very cautious, as Roger has been with the old Gandolfi, in making any changes that were not absolutley necessary.

    BTW, with regard to the specific question of this thread, I would definitely re-finish the triple-extension camera if in the condition you describe. You will give it more user value for sure, and unless it happens to be a very rare model, in the present condition it likely does not have much collector value.


    Sandy
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2007
  17. ragc

    ragc Member

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    From what I have been able to find out, Asanuma is a distributor who used to brand the products as "King". The probable maker of my camara was Tanakaichi, the predecessor of Nagaoka. So you see, your observation is very accurate. The camera does have front tilt and rise/fall, and rear tilt and swing. It lacks front swing. It also has a droppable bed. And again, you are right about it being much tougher than it looks (and also extremely light!).

    I actually had the original leather strap break in my hand the day I got it! :sad:

    I love it, and it is a great camera out in the field in both 4x5 and 5x7 formats.