Sad folder story

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Antje, May 30, 2008.

  1. Antje

    Antje Member

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    Hi all,

    I need a little sympathy... On my last trip to Berlin, I fell in love with an Agfa Billy Record II and brought it home. Since then, it has been my very able travel companion to Berlin again, to London twice, and to Knoxville, TN. Alas, after using the ancient bellows a little, it developed a pinhole. And I found the focus ring a little on the stiff side (not really smooth, nothing bad). Being a good folder owner, I sent it off for repair and a bellows replacement to a German site that Shall Not Be Named...

    It came back yesterday. I drove to the UPS store to pick it up, paid 171 Euros, found the functions really nice and smooth, found the old yucky bellows in the package, too, and drove home happily. I shot a few rolls on a hike today, of course totally trusting the repair shop, and developed the first roll today. You guessed it I'm sure - every single frame on that neg is absolutely black.

    It got dark here an hour ago, and we shone a flashlight through the bellows. There are three, uhm, "pinholes" in it. One of them is about 5 mm long and 2 mm wide, the others are slightly smaller.

    It's childish I know, but it just makes me sad. They replaced my one-tiny-pinhole bellows with one that's just plain ripped... For 171 Euros...

    On the bright side: I won an auction for one of Certo6's folders (that's Jurgen Kreckel, the folder guru). Sure, I will send the Billy in again and either get a new bellows or a big refund, but... I don't know. It hurts. Someone hurt my folder! Isn't there a Hippocratic Oath for repair shops, too? "Never do harm to anyone..."? :rolleyes: :wink:

    Sorry. I think I need to get hugged now.

    Antje
     
  2. Uhner

    Uhner Member

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    You certainly need a hug. I hope you feel better in the morning.
     
  3. PeteZ8

    PeteZ8 Member

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    Sounds like you need to go enjoy a few of those excellent German beers we hear so much about!
     
  4. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    The place with the 171 Euros in its pocket needs to hear about this...

    maybe they used an old stock replacement and were unaware it had shelf life issues.

    That is a lot of money to have it be unusable...even worse from my perspective considering the exchange rate if I had paid that much.
     
  5. jsfyfe

    jsfyfe Member

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    Antje,

    Here's something that might not be a hug....but close. I restore Agfa Isolettes and Ansco Speedex 6x6 folders as an enjoyable hobby. Almost all of the ones I buy need a fairly complete overhaul. Here's what I do:

    All cameras are completely disassembled. Lenses are removed from the shutter. The lens glass is removed from the lens mount and cleaned with a solution of 50% ammonia and 50% peroxide. Lens mounts are cleaned of all old grease using non-acetone nail polish remover. Shutter is disassembled and cleaned with either a very small amount of Ronsonol lighter fluid (naphtha) and/or Asahiklin AK225 tech cleaner, depending on how much cleaning is required. Any residue left on the shutter leaves or diaphragm leaves is carefully removed using Eclipse Optic cleaner. In some cases (not all), the shutter escapement and delay timer gears receive a very light application of molybdenum disulfide (BP-2000 powder) dry lubricant. The old bellows is removed. The top plate is removed. Dust and dirt is removed from all interior surfaces using the ammonia/peroxide solution. The shutter release mechanism and double-exposure prevention mechanism receive a very light oil. Excess is removed. The film take-up winding knobs are cleaned and dry lubricated using the BP-2000 powder. If the camera has a rangefinder, it is removed, disassembled, cleaned, lubricated, and adjusted. The top plate is cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner using a biodegradable cleaning solution (EuroSonic). I may also use a restoration metal polish to further improve the appearance of the top plate. For badly tarnished depth-of-field dials on the top of the camera I use a Dremel burnishing brush to 'brass' the dial. The exterior cover is cleaned using ArmorAll Cleaning wipes. If the covering is in very bad shape I completely remove the old covering, clean the camera down to the bare metal, and re-cover using black seal grain leatherette purchased from CameraLeather.com. The camera is reassembled. I fabricate new leather bellows and install them. Bellows are checked for light tightness. Focus is adjusted using an old Rolleiflex focusing screen with two 120 reels attached to each end. The focusing screen is loaded into the camera and focus is adjusted for 10 feet using a loupe. After securing the focusing ring at the 10 foot (or 3 meters) indicator, focus is again checked at 3, 6, 10, 30, and infinity. If the camera has a rangefinder, the focusing ring is matched to the distance reading on the rangefinder. Last step is just to check that everything works.

    Now the good part.......I currently have about 20 restored cameras and would like to give you one as a gift to ease your pain. Most are Isolette II's with Apotar lenses in Prontor shutters. I have some Isolette III's / Speedex Special "R", again, all with Apotar lenses. I do have one Isolette II with a f/3.5 75mm Solinar lens. This one has some very minor (almost unnoticeable) coating loss on the inside of the front element but I really don't think it will affect the performance.

    Anyway, tell me your general preference (e.g. feet or meters on the focus), Isolette II or Isolette III, send me your address and I'll select a good one and send it to you. I'll even pay the postage.

    Cheers,
    John
     
  6. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    Mr. Fyfe:

    I was going to wait until Antje responded before commending your generosity. I was going to PM you myself to ask if your services are available to others, but you have neither PM nor e-mail enabled here :O(

    Murray
     
  7. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    Bravo, John! I'm more than certain Antje will find your generosity so much better than a hug.

    Regards,
     
  8. jsfyfe

    jsfyfe Member

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    Murray,

    I've enabled e-mail and PMs.

    To answer your question, I've restored and sold about 50 cameras. I've also installed my new leather bellows on a few cameras that customers have sent me. Almost without exception the people who have purchased them were quite happy. However, when you start dealing with money, people sometimes expect more than they get and that's an uncomfortable situation (at least for me). The enjoyment I get is to purely from working on and bringing these old folders back to life - not from making a profit on what I do.

    If I started to take in cameras for repair then there would be schedules to meet and expectations that I might not be able to satisfy. So, I've decided that from now on I will continue to get cameras that need repair, restore them as best I can, and give them away to total strangers who I might stumble across as I did in this thread. Since I've started this practice I've given away 5 cameras and made some very good friends, so I think I'll continue down that path for awhile.

    That being said, if you have an Isolette (no Super Isolette's please) or Speedex that needs some attention and you don't care when you get it back and don't care if I mess it up, then feel free to send it along. No charge for my services, of course.

    John
     
  9. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    Antje, I'll send you a cyber-hug anyway! That's a rather depressing experience. According to some ePrey auctions I tracked a while back, and figuring in the exchange rate, you might have been able to get a Billy Record II CLA'd and ready to go from certo6 for the cost of that repair. That makes it all the more annoying.

    DaveT -- enjoying a Perkeo II from Jurgen.
     
  10. Antje

    Antje Member

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    First an Update: Called them this morning and they were stunned as I expected... I mean, they serviced all my Hasselblad stuff and did an excellent job! They also service my dad's significant zoo of post-WWII cameras. So, I'll send it in, and they'll either fix it or refund the money for the bellows repair. That is very fair I think, the rest of the repair was done wonderfully. I agree, they must have picked an older bellows by accident, and that one must have gotten ripped when I opened the camera.

    Too bad about the photos from the hike, but I'm confident I'll get a working cam back, and they have always been really quick in their repairs.

    *chewing my fingernails*

    Antje
     
  11. Antje

    Antje Member

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    Yeah, sure do - I couldn't get any sympathy from my husband for a sick camera. :mad: :tongue: My cat was very understanding, though.


    Antje
     
  12. Antje

    Antje Member

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    I cried myself to sleep over a few, thanks for the suggestion! :wink:

    Antje
     
  13. Antje

    Antje Member

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    I think that is exactly what I think happened. The bellows smells quite old in any case. Well, I do like the old cam smell, but, hey, this camera is waiting to start its second productive life!

    Antje
     
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  15. Antje

    Antje Member

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    Yikes, John... I read your post first thing this morning, and I was literally stunned by your generosity. :surprised: I couldn't answer right away, that offer just... touched me. All I could think was "Wow". I don't think something like that happened to me before. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that.
    I must decline, though, and I hope you understand just how happy your offer made me! It wouldn't be right to accept it - I'm sure the Billy will get fixed one way or the other, and there's a second refurbished Billy on its way to me from J├╝rgen. Not only would my husband divorce me if he found another folder in the house. :wink: But what's more, I couldn't do it justice.

    Thank you again for your generosity - I can't believe you did that! That was better than a hug, that was something I didn't know existed anywhere anymore.

    Thanks for making my day. Or rather, my week. Or month. :smile:

    Antje
     
  16. Antje

    Antje Member

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    Yeah... I try not to think about that.... I bought a renovated Billy II with blue bellows from him a few days ago for significantly less than 170 Euros. *ouch* It's going to live in my handbag and will have to shoot colour film exclusively because of the coloured bellows. :smile: When the other one returns from the follow-up repair, it's going to accompany me on business trips in my laptop case again. After suffering from unsatisfying shots from the digital P&S I bought for that purpose, carrying a folder around on trips is a dream...

    You know, I thought about just not repairing the old folder. After all, I paid only 20 Euros for it, quite easy to write that off. But hey, it was built probably 60 years ago, it has a real history, I even have the original receipt for it and know the name of the guy who bought it from that store, and it came to me during a really crappy business trip. After shooting with it during for the last weeks, it grew on me. No way I'm going to let it down! :mad: :smile:

    Antje
     
  17. jsfyfe

    jsfyfe Member

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    Antje,

    I understand and appreciate the nice comments. It makes me happy that I was able to make you happy. Nevertheless, if you ever find yourself craving for another folder just send me a note...........I'll keep one in reserve for you.

    Regards, John
     
  18. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    What great people we have on APUG. Now if I could just get one of them to be my girlfriend. :smile:
     
  19. ricksplace

    ricksplace Member

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    Way to go John. I have sent "care packages" to two people on this site, both free of charge. One was a bunch of darkroom stuff, and one was some aluminum lens boards (one custom machined by me).
    Feels good doesn't it?
    If more people committed random acts of kindness this world would be a much better place.

    Rick.
     
  20. haris

    haris Guest

    This kind of generosiy is rare, but not that much. I was offered a Leica IIIf as gift from member of Leica forum. And few member of same forum few years collected among themselves Leica kit (camera, lens) and offered to me as gift. I rejected both offers, I won't tell whole story here, but I made few freinds from that time. I want to tell, people like John and Rick still exsists... :smile:

    Enjoy life.
     
  21. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    Antje - can your husband tell the folders apart? I guess when one is blue it does stand out. I don't know how many I have, so I doubt my wife can tell. She does count the empty boxes in the garage, however. I think some get counted more than once when I move them around!

    I guess you could use tungsten film outdoors with no color correction


    I donated a bunch of odd old stuff to someone overseas...and got caught in the postal rate change between acruing the items and shipping them. That was a bit of a shock - surface was discontinued and it was a 9 kg box.

    Then the recipient had to ransom the items from his local customs agent who was sure they were priceless...which they were not...
     
  22. Frank Szabo

    Frank Szabo Member

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    For whatever reason this happen to your camera, be it carelessness or customer disdain, the name of this "business" needs to be broadcast widely before they give somebody else the "business" also.

    Frank
     
  23. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    I disagree. This business needs the opportunity to make it right. Life isn't black and white, life is a whole pallet of gray.

    A will surely let us know if they do make it right in the end.


    tim in san jose
     
  24. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    My Significant Other can't tell the difference between a B&J 5x7 field camera and an 8x10 Deardorff. Nor between a 3x4 Speed and a 4x5 Crown, nor a 2x3 Speed or a 2x3 Crown, not even between one of the seeming dozen Zeiss Folders placed here or there. This is good.

    2500 sq ft of living space plus a studio has it's advantages.

    tim in san jose
     
  25. Antje

    Antje Member

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    Yes, he can actually spot a new one quickly. I have two Yashica GSNs, and he recognized the new one after two days! I'm quite proud of him. :wink:

    :D I had the same problem when I bought a Holga. "WHAT?!? You say it's only 15 Euros? Yeah, right." I was able to convince the agent that it's all plastic and, on top of it, it only takes film. That sold him in the end. :rolleyes:

    Antje
     
  26. Antje

    Antje Member

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    It's off to the shop again, let's see what comes out of it... I figured that the bellows got ripped partly because it doesn't fit well. There's a little spring on the bottom of the camera that operates the "cap" (don't know how to call it), and that one ripped wholes into the bottom part of the bellows. There are several smaller ones on the top, though, that look like just plain wear. It's probably a mix of the bellows being older than they thought and not really fitting.

    Like you said, they've done a great job on my Blad before, and they'll certainly make it right!

    Antje