View Full Version : old camera - needs new bellows

06-18-2006, 06:47 PM
I picked up an old plate camera similar to a TP triple extention.
The red bellows is actually in nice shape, but it is more like a cloth material than leather. It's not light-tight and you can see light seeping through the material.

Is this normal for this type of camera?
How hard is it to make your own replacement bellows?

Also, the ground glass frame folds down over the back.
But how the heck does a film holder stay in the back?... there is no spring or anything to hold it.

Roger Hicks
06-18-2006, 06:57 PM
Google 'Camera Bellows'

It almost certainly takes its own unique bookform holfers. If you had any, you could see how they fitted. Your best bet is probably to fit a modern 4x5 back.


Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com)

06-19-2006, 01:09 PM
I second Roger's recommendation for Camera Bellows (http://www.camerabellows.com/). They are great folks and can do any bellows for a very reasonable price. They make many original camera bellows today. However, they will need the frames that the current bellows are attached to. Regardless if the bellows are glued or attached otherwise. If in doubt, call them and ask for Keith.

I had them make a replacement for my Linhof Technikardan bellows, which I re-designed, because I didn't like the original design. The cost for these custom bellows was 1/4 of what Linhof wanted for a replacement.

06-20-2006, 01:03 AM
well I found a local leather supplier. They had some smaller skins that I bought for a few bucks each. I will try my hand at making a smaller bellows before I start on the full size.

Donald Miller
06-20-2006, 01:18 AM
Western Bellows in California has built a couple of Deardorff V8 bellows for me. They also built the bellows for a 12X20 Korona that I had. They do good work. Prices were more reasonable then others.

Nathan Smith
06-20-2006, 08:44 AM
well I found a local leather supplier. They had some smaller skins that I bought for a few bucks each. I will try my hand at making a smaller bellows before I start on the full size.

Please keep us posted on the progress of your project, I'm sure there are plenty of others (like myself) who plan to do this one of these days.


Jim Noel
06-20-2006, 10:59 AM
As for holders, the camera will not use modern holders. Are there a couple of pins in the base of the back when the ground glass swings down? If so, that is a clue to the style of holder. They were thicker, often single sided and look very much like the ground glass portionof the back. There were several styles and methods of holding the plate holder to the camera so it is difficult to be any more detailed.

06-26-2006, 07:10 PM
Yes the normal 4x5 holders will definately not fit.
I dont have the camera in fromt of me right now. but I think there is a channel that the holders should be slid into. There is also a brass 'tooth' shaped locking mechanism.
The back is made to be reversible. It comes off easily by lifting a spring over the pins. So I will probably make a replacement 4x5 back if I cannot find a useable holder.

It's too bad there is not a makers mark on the camera. They are really ingenious when you look at how they are engineered.

06-28-2006, 09:26 AM

I have close to 30 plate holders of various makes as part of my collection of vintage English plate cameras. (Jim Galli accumulates lenses, I accumulate turn-of-the-century mahogany and brass stuff!)

If you could email me pictures of the camera back I can probably find a suitable holder for your camera from my pile of plate holders. I have a working idea of the configuration that you describe, and from what little information I can gather, you probably have a Houghton.

As to your question of how a plate holder stays in place: There are two ways, depending on the design of the back (this varies from maker to maker, and from one maker's model to the next.) If you take a look at your camera's back you will see "tracks" or grooves cut on the top and bottom edges. In some cameras, the holder is slipped into the tracks from the side. The tracks hold the holder in place after it is pushed completely to the left. From your description, your camera has a spring-loaded latch that locks the holder in place. This prevents the holder from being accidentally displaced as the holder darkslide is pulled for exposure. In other cameras, the holder is laid flat against the camera back, while aligning a tab on the holder with a cutout or notch on the camera back. The holder is then slid to the left along the camera back grooves.

I hope the answer helps. On another topic: it might be difficult to find correctly sized sheet film to put into half-plate holders unless you devise adaptors to hold 4x5 film in place, or cut 5x7 sheet film to fit. I have tried both in the past, and neither worked to my satisfaction. I tried it mostly just to find out how my plate cameras performed, and to find out if I could recreate that turn-of-the-century look. (I couldn't: emulsions on glass plates and modern film emulsions are two different things.)

06-28-2006, 11:14 AM
Half-plate-size film is still made, for those who like to used their old cameras. I think I've avoided getting any film in that size, although I have holders (same size as 5x7" holders, for "normal" cameras).

Plate holders for old cameras can be a difficult thing to find. Not that there aren't lots of them to be found, but finding one that actually fits the camera you have is virtually impossible!

I've been lucky enough to get three fine 24x30cm holders with my big plate camera - all it needs is a new bellows. I've received a price estimate from Camera bellows, and it is very reasonable. Especially for a 34x34cm square bellows, with internal taper only, 24 pleats, max extension 85cm, minimum < 3.5cm...