Source for camera hardware

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by smieglitz, Apr 18, 2005.

  1. smieglitz

    smieglitz Subscriber

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    Several recent posts have touched on the fact that a source for new view camera hardware is difficult to locate. Someone must be making it though. Does anyone know an actual source for view camera hardware like knurled brass knobs, sliding locking plates, and so on?

    Well-intentioned folks usually respond with sources like Small Parts Inc., McMaster-Carr, Berg Tool, MSC, and Boston Gear, etc. However, these sources don't really have the items in brass, only plastic or stainless steel, or the selection is very limited and not sufficient.

    I wrote Ron Wisner once about selling parts such as these but he failed to reply. Does anyone know where such camera manufacturers source their parts or if some other manufacturer or camera repair person might sell such hardware to us DIY folks in a limited quantity?

    Thanks for any info.

    Joe
     
  2. wfwhitaker

    wfwhitaker Member

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    I seriously doubt that camera manufacturers buy off-the-shelf for the same reasons you and I find it unsuitable. Assuming you don't want to cannibalize old Burke & James cameras, you're left with two choices. The first is to go to a CNC machine shop and order 100 of each piece you need (or whatever their minimum/price break-point is). The second is to set yourself up with a mini-lathe and make your own parts. There's no easy solution unfortunately.
     
  3. BarrieB

    BarrieB Member

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    ** Be reasonable, Ron Wisner has had a hard run to get his business up to where it is today, he makes all his own parts 'in house' to keep his costs down, ( or to help make some money ). The Camera business is NOT very profitable .
    If you want the satisfaction of D I Y then you have to make your own !!
    Sorry to be a wet blanket, Cheers Barrie B.
     
  4. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    Making your own parts can be a double edged sword. A really good mini lathe is going to cost several hundred dollars, but once you have it you now need to spend more money to buy the necessary tooling. Chucks alone can run nearly as much as the lathe sells for. You can make a simple knob similar to those used on view cameras by turning the brass in a drill with a file for a cutting tool. To make several exactly a like is next to impossible!

    I believe the best way to buy any lathe is to find a hobbiest wanting to sell or trade up, then make an offer based on your own research to buy the lathe and all his existing tooling. You will need a 3 jaw chuck, and a 4 jaw chuck.
    I like to use collets when working with small parts, so a collets and a good closer could be on your list. A grinder to sharpen and shape your cutting tools, and the list goes on and on. But you could get by with just these tools if your innovating.

    I personally do not like to knurl a knob on a mini lathe because I feel the pressure necessary for the tool to cut the knurls deep enough is extremely hard on the bearings of the lathe. None of my mini lathes (3) have a back gear, so this contributes to my not liking to do knurling.

    I certainly don't wish to discourage your project, but if you need several of anything CNC is the only way to go, but it is very expensive, perhaps you could sell the over run to others on ebay etc. I wish you well in what you are trying to do, but want to warn of a few pitfalls.
     
  5. paul ron

    paul ron Member

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    Knurling is done by a knurler. This mechanical device has rollers with the posative side of your knurl, the knob is pushed tightly against these to make the knurling impression as it is rotated between the rollers.

    Flat brass parts can be easy to make from stock materials but is a pain to reproduce perfectly in pairs or in number unless you have some mechanical experiance and access to a shop for the tools you'll need. I cheated making slides on a computerized sign machine, same only smaller as a CNC router, a few years ago when I worked in a shop that had one.
     
  6. fotch

    fotch Member

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    I am also involved with Antique clocks and clock repair. It’s quite common for an advance clock repairer to have to make a part. I also sell tools such as Sherline Lathes and Mills and used small lathes. http://www.sherline.info

    You can knurl a knob by taking an old file and pressing down on the part (round brass knob) while rolling forward in a sliding action. Of course, if you were to do a lot of knobs, Sherline make a rolling attachment for about $50.

    I have made some parts to modify camera gear that either was more than I wanted to spend or not available, or I needed immediately. Flash bracket to hold Vivitar slave to sit in front of my crappy digital Kodak so it would block its built in strobe and use my studio White Lightning strobes.

    I also recently made an attachment to mount on the Whites Lightning to make the light beam straight, like the one they sell (which I already own) but better. I am next going to make a snoot, also maybe a frensel lens to focus it for a poor mans strobe spot light.

    Many hobby machinists are out there and you may be able to fine one that is near you to help you out in making something. Forget CAD, a shop would need to make 1000's. Think analog machining, using the human computer to guide. Making one item at a time is not that hard.

    I will post some photos of my homemade photo attachments if anyone is interested. You can also visit my clock website http://www.ClockBug.com and see some of the tools I use and sell. Just remember me you come across an old clock looking for a home. ò¿ó
     
  7. mikewhi

    mikewhi Member

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    I had to have a part made last year by Richard Ritter. He had to make it from scratch. It was a knurled knob with an offset center post that went into the camera body. He said it was a real pain to make and charged me $50 for a brass knob! So, don't break anything<g>.

    His e-mail is:

    rrlg4mat@sover.net

    That piece of info will cost you $23.42.

    -Mike
     
  8. smieglitz

    smieglitz Subscriber

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    Thanks Mike and all those who have responded so far. I contacted Richard last year and while he was willing to make the parts I got the distinct feeling I could have bought an entire view camera and stripped the parts from it for what it would cost to have them custom fabricated. So, I'm referring to stock parts, not custom made-to-order ones. There has to be a source. I can't believe each one of these manufacturers do them in-house.

    I also wrote to Mabef last year. They make French easels and some of the hardware used on those could be adaptable to a view camera, but again, no response from the company.

    I have access to a machine shop and have turned and knurled a few knobs myself but I'm not much of a machinist (or woodworker for that matter). The set-up for each part is pretty time consuming so I can understand why Richard and others would charge what they do for special parts. Again, another reason why I'm seeking a source of regular production items.

    Joe
     
  9. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    I am afraid that the call for brass specialty items is very small in this day and age. Companies that use this type of item have them made one offs or small production runs. Either use Stainless and fab yourself whatever you can't get, or buy from someone who does this type of manufacturing himself (Ron for example). If you want to build your own camera, build your own camera. Expecting anyone in the industry to supply you with hard to manufacture products that undercut their own market, isn't a reasonable request.

    You might find one of the kit camera people who might help you, but then again, jut buy one of their kits.

    Or wait till that perfect Kodak D2 comes around at the local yard sale for 15 bucks.

    tim in san jose
     
  10. Paul_Baker

    Paul_Baker Member

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    Just a quick internet search turned up rowecraft.com. It looks like they have some solid brass hardware. I don't know if any of it can be used for view camera hardware though.

    Paul
     
  11. Paul_Baker

    Paul_Baker Member

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    Okay, I've done a little better this time. I looked at an online photo of a Tachihara for reference BTW. After looking at the hardware on it, I got to thinking that the fittings look an awful lot like window hardware, expensive casement and roll-out windows, specifically. Look at some of the stuff offerred by this place:

    http://www.knobsknockers.com/window_fittings.htm

    Several pieces in there look like good matches for camera hardware. Some of the fittings don't look like anything that would be used in anything else because it is too specialized. I noticed several Indian companies which stated that they can make any piece you wany in small orders, so maybe those pieces you could get from them.

    Paul
     
  12. paul ron

    paul ron Member

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  13. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    Check out casement and awning window hardware as well as wooden box 'holder-uppers' at a hardware store.

    I bought a couple slotted angle brackets that were brass plated for standards but they were only tall enough for4x5, not 8x10. One problem is you still end up with Frankenstein look, having selected different style parts from six different companies - no design continuity.

    Murray
     
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  15. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    Oops, I commented on window parts too not having seen the previous reference.

    I looked at the knobsknockers site (hmmm...disappointing, no actually, nice stuff!)

    I bould a similar straight version of the 704PB at a local hardware store. I could not envision what purpose the curved (as in 704PB) one woul serve for a view camera, unless you wanted rise and tilt without being able to control them individually!

    I avoided the ones with the fixed incremental stops and chose a fully slotted frictional clamping one.

    Murray

    Murray
     
  16. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    http://www.pathcom.com/~vhchan/

    This guy is heavily into photography, optics, cnc hobby built machine tools, and has a picture of his homemade CNC mill making a brass camera part.

    I don't know if he can be talked into custom parts, but's it worth a site visit.

    Murray
     
  17. barryjyoung

    barryjyoung Member

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    OK, If I see enough interest to warrant a run of anything, I will make it. The problem is that one guy who wants one knob for a camera that is rare beyond belief is appalled at the cost. If you want something for an unusual camera, please consider that the machinist has to do the research, order the material (there is always a minumum, so it costs maybe $100 to get the bar of unobtanium metal you need your knob made of. Then he has to match the knurling tool, another $50 and an hour and a half at the tool company. Then he has to set up his machines for one knob. One that he will never make again as long as the sun shines. When you see the hardware at Lowes and a similar knob (well really it is a plumbing fixture) sells for a quarter of a dollar you start thinking the guy hosed you. Well, not really. How much time was spent in communications? How many people bought the gizmo at Lowes? How much time did the manufacturer spend per part on research? Anyway, before I talk myself out of this, tell me if you need some parts, but if they are for something only you have, please expect sticker shock. If they are something common, maybe not so much. An example is due. I was making a bunch of screws for obsolete hand woodworking tools made by a company whose name begins with S. These were special screws for their long obsolete #55 hand plane. Impossible to find anywhere because the manufacturer used a special pitch screw so you would have to buy from them. Well, I made a couple hundred of the unobtaianable screws. The first tool dealer I talked to bought them all at $2 each and complained for hours about the price. At the next tool show, I saw him sell the last of them at $8 each. When he turned to me and asked for more, I said "Gee John, if you hadn't complained so loudly about how I was screwing you, I would be happy to fill your order". Anybody need any special parts?

    Barry Young
    barryjyoung@yahoo.com
     
  18. smieglitz

    smieglitz Subscriber

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    Hi Barry,

    I'm still interested in obtaining some brass knurled knobs in various sizes. I'd be willing to purchase several sets sufficient for a number of view cameras. I don't really have any concern about the style of the knobs if someone else requested a specific clone to a common camera.

    I'd take either diamond or straight knurled pieces. I would like the various sizes to have shoulders with set screws so that I could attach them easily to shafts. If you have a Reid Tool catalog I'd be looking for something like their SKA series only with a set screw instead of a pin. I'd also go for something like the KKT knurled knob series and would even settle for brass knurled blanks without the tapped or reamed holes since I could always do those operations myself (although I'd prefer not to). These items from Reid are adequate but I'm looking for brass knobs, not stainless , steel, or nickel-plated, etc. I want to use them with a dark walnut camera and I think brass would look best.

    If anyone else puts in a request for knobs please let me know what you'll be making for them and chances are I can make it work for me as well.

    I'm leaving on a trip tomorrow so will be out of touch until the 15th, so if you don't hear from me again until then, don't think I've lost interest.

    Thanks,

    Joe
     
  19. barryjyoung

    barryjyoung Member

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    I will, and thanks for understanding about my ranting and raving. Hey, sometimes it lowers the price.

    Thank you

    Barry Young
     
  20. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    Nor sure about usefulness for cameras yet, but dollhouse miniature hardware came up on a search once and it gave me an idea to check out a store someday. But I don't care how unconventional my projects look.
     
  21. barryjyoung

    barryjyoung Member

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    The Seattle Camera Makers are moving ahead. I will be making the knobs for the focus rods within a month. So, what is it you need? If I am already set up, it is pretty cheap to knock out another set of something. I am planning on making some extras for myself and at least one other member who is planning a whopping 12x20 camera after he finishes his 8x10. Please email me with whatever it is you are looking for and we will see what we can do.
     
  22. barryjyoung

    barryjyoung Member

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    There is a scissors type knurling tool. This type tool squeezes the part between two knurls. It places very little load on the machine. Your 7x10 mini lathes can handle knurling just fine with one of these gizmos.
     
  23. barryjyoung

    barryjyoung Member

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    So, how did they do it before CNC?

    There were several posts in this thread regarding how challenging it is to make duplicate parts using conventional (non CNC) machines. Not at all true. It just takes skill in machining instead of skill in programming. It is fairly simple when you know how and have the correct equipment. Take a knurled knob for instance. chuck an oversize bar in the three jaw with enough hanging out to make a part. Place your right hand turning tool against the end and use a travel indicator with a magnetic back placed on the ways. This is your zero and it will repeat within .0005 every single time. Face the bar and note the indicator reading. Turn the O.D. Note the reading on the crossfeed hand wheel and use that number on all of the parts. Every one will be the same. Turn the hub noting the handwheel number and the dial indicator number. All the hubs will be the same now. Knurl the OD until the diamonds shape up and you are done turning. Another number for the parting tool (It is mounted in a back toolpost right?) and they will all be exactly the same length. Do the same thing when you reverse the run of knobs to face the other end. Simple, yes? Trust me, many subhuman working machine operators (not machinists) are living proof that this aint rocket science. If some of the guys I have worked with over the years can do it, any of you can too.

    A 7X10 minilathe is capable of doing all of the machining you will EVER need to do including milling slots with a milling attachment you can make on the lathe itself. Harbor Freight currently has their minilathe available for $440, add to that $50 for a four jaw chuck (it comes with a 3 jaw which if you had to choose, you would want the four jaw not the three), $14 for a faceplate and maybe you would want the follower rest for $19. So yes they are expensive to get initially, but you could pay for one really quick making knobs for camera builders. The 9X20 from Grizzly comes with everything and it is $750. It is way more than twice as much lathe too. You can do real serious work on it. I know what you are thinking, "that is the price of a Super Angulon on Ebay". True. Only you can decide. My lathe has paid me back more than 30 times what it cost me so far and it will last me the rest of my lifetime and my kids lifetimes too. I wish I could say the same for any camera lens.

    If anyone has any machining questions, I would be more than happy to answer them.

    Barry
     
  24. magic823

    magic823 Member

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    Thanks for the explaination, Barry. Now we have to schedule time for you to show how in person and we can make lots of knobs for our cameras.

    Steve
     
  25. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Subscriber

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    What he said! :D
     
  26. photomc

    photomc Member

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    while not part of the current topic, but related to the thread...have a question for you guys. Does anyone have a source for the GG springs that hold the GG on the frame? Have an older Korona that is begging for a new GG from SatinSnow, but hate to remove the petrified tape :D that is holding one side of the GG on the frame.

    Thanks in advance for any input...had been following a source on ebay, someone was selling a set of 4 for a Dorff, but have not seen these in a while.