Reinforcing bellows corners

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Nathan Smith, Dec 20, 2008.

  1. Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith Member

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    I could swear I've seen this topic before but can't find it ... feel free to redirect me to an old thread if there is one.

    I have a couple of old cameras which have relatively solid bellows but have some wear at the corners. I'd like to add some thin cloth along the corners to reinforce and protect those thin areas. I'll attach a shot of a FKD 13x18 which was made like that.

    So, the question is: have you done that and how? I've thought about bookbinders tape, linen tape, silk strips, silk ribbon - and maybe adhering it with Pliobond. I distrust tape in general since the adhesive is often problematic. Thoughts?

    Thanks,
    Nathan
     

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  2. tessar

    tessar Subscriber

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    Hello Nathan,
    Bostick & Sullivan makes a bellows patch kit for $15 US which includes the sealer and a good supply of fabric for patching. I've used this with excellent results. The link for the kit is
    http://www.bostic-sullivan.com/cart/home.php?cat=16
     
  3. tessar

    tessar Subscriber

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  4. Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith Member

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    Yes, I've used that kit too, it's very good. It's particularly aimed at fixing holes though, I'm really trying to strengthen a large area that's weakened. In fact, I was planning to use that kit to first fill any actual pinholes and then go over it with the tape or cloth strip.

    Another reason for going this route is that one of the cameras is a Burke & James with red non-leather bellows. I think they're still light proof, but the corners are worn down a bit. Short of using red Plasti-Dip, I can't think of a good way to fix that without it looking weird.

    Nathan
     
  5. Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith Member

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  6. Francis in VT

    Francis in VT Member

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    Hello Nathan,

    This may not be high tech enough but I have repaired/reenforced many bellows using 3 M Black cloth tape. It is available in different widths and I beleive different colors. In most cases I applied t to the inside of the bellows.

    Francis in VT
     
  7. Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith Member

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    Hi Francis,
    Is 3M Black cloth tape the same thing as "Gaffer's Tape"? I haven't used either of them, but Gaffer's Tape sounds like about the most useful stuff around.
    Nathan
     
  8. Maris

    Maris Member

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    I use 3M 850 Black polyester tape. It's very thin, very strong, very black, with a non-bleed non-creep adhesive that stays put. One of my enlarger bellows is entirely covered with 3M 850 without being bulked up or losing flexibility.

    The downside is expense. My last roll cost $100 but it means I can make good any bellows that is still vaguely in one piece.
     
  9. Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith Member

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  10. Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith Member

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    Thanks Maris, I hadn't heard of 3M 850 Black polyester tape, but I've looked it up and it looks like good stuff. It is a bit pricey, but looks like it might be cheaper here in the States.

    Nathan
     
  11. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    I noticed it comes in several widths. Having never done any bellows work, which would be a better width from most bellows repair/reinforcement?
     
  12. Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith Member

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    Sandy's original post in the previous thread suggested 2-3". I guess it depends on the size of the weakened area. In my case, the wear is directly on the corners, so 2" will probably be fine.

    Nathan
     
  13. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    I fixed one set with several bad holes in the corners with black gaffer tape. It worked well and has held up for several years but added extra thickness to the bellows so they don't compress as flat as they used to.
     
  14. eli griggs

    eli griggs Member

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    You could try using patches made from Golden Heavy Body Black (or suitable red) acrylic and a Japanese paper, made from 90-100% kozo or gampi fiber, such as a Gampi tissue, Hosho or Kitakata. Avoid more than 10% sulphite in these papers.

    The Golden acrylic paints are top quality and the acrylic binder acts an adhesive, though you could also buy a small jar or bottle of one of their many gel or liquid mediums as added insurance; most are very good glues and used by artists as such. Emailing Golden for their advice might be good, they have great product support and may have experience with this topic.

    The Japanese papers are made from long fibers, longer even than flax, in overlapping layers that run at cross directions and are very durable; they are often used for mending books, which can put them through a lot of stressing, perhaps more so than a bellows.

    Paint them on the bellows side with the paint and dab a little over the bellows area where it'll go, lay-on the patch and when dry, about 30 min or so, give a light overcoat of paint/medium, or repeat with a slightly larger patch and then a finishing coat.

    Any decent art supply house will carry these papers and brand paint so you shouldn't have too much trouble finding them. If you can't locate the paper, PM me and I'll shoot you some odd pieces you can use as patches.

    Cheers
     
  15. Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith Member

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    Thanks Eli, very interesting idea. I like it.
    Nathan
     
  16. mongo6407

    mongo6407 Member

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    liquid electrical tape

    for fixing pin holes could you also use liquid electrical tape? from what I've read it is fast drying and comes in red and black
     
  17. mongo6407

    mongo6407 Member

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    fixing bellow pinholes with acrylic nail polish?

    I read online of using wet 'n' wild nail polish color black creme to fill in pin holes in the bellows of an agfa isolette. Does anyone have any success with this method? To me it wouldn't seem to work well because nail polish is meant to be hard and brittle, whereas the bellows are meant to be flexible. Therefore, I wouldn't think this would even be a good short term solution. Any ideas?
     
  18. Shadow Images

    Shadow Images Member

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    Used liquid electrical tape on my deardorff. Seem to work well, do it in layers.
     
  19. mongo6407

    mongo6407 Member

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    how durable is the repair

    With the liquid electrical tape, how long does the repair last?
     
  20. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    I've got one that's been over a year now, but the camera doesn't see much use. No more than one roll a month if that. It's still flexible and light tight, and a lot cheaper than a replacement bellows.

    If you want something for hard use that must be dependable in the face of financial loss to a customer, then I wouldn't use the liquid electrical tape. But for a hobby camera that I use occasionally I'm pretty satisfied with the results so far, and it's pretty cheap.

    MB