Restoring a Thornton Pickard Junior Special Ruby Reflex
In another thread I mentioned I was going down the Reflex route, it's part of the learning curve in camera restoration.
The camera arrived yesterday and after photographing it this afternoon restoration has begun. I knew from the outset that the shutter was broken, there was no focus screen, lens/lens board, and the front silvered mirror was useless. In addition the focus hood is coming apart.
The camera had been poorly stored and the covering had become damp at some stage, once dried out it was starting to flake off so I made thedecision to recover the camera with similar style Morroccan grain Arbitex leather. There was evidence of a crack in the wood of the body so removing the covering woulsd make this easier to repair.
The camera and the front silvered mirror.
Taking the camera apart turned out to be relatively straight forward and I now have the shutter module out, intact. Steve (steven_e007) gave me some hints, as did Tomosy's book on Camera restoration but unfortunately my camera differed in the position of the hidden screws
With the shutter out I dampened the covering on the body and scraped it off, I found two ther significant cracks in the woodwork but they will be easy to repair. There's also a crack in the frame of the shutter this would probably not be an issue but a drop or two of Super glue and it's fixed.
The body-shell. The third atached photo shows the most significan crack, this was through the covering as well. Tomorrow I'l fetch my clamps and repair the cracks in the woodwork, then I'll repaint the interior of the camera and the shutter module with matt black acrylic.
Then the harder part re-building the shutter, first I've got to figure out how it works.
I've worked on a few Graflex shutters but they are quite crude in comparision as they have just one shutter blind and depend on coice of slit & tension, a bit like a Thornton Pickard roller blind shutter except 4 slit widths instead of one. British (and European) reflex camera shutters (and other focal pane shutters) use two blinds and your shutter speed dial adjusts the slit width.
Fun for tomorrow . . . . . .
Last edited by Ian Grant; 06-09-2012 at 05:32 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: lost photos
What a neat project!! Can't wait to see it finished, or more pics along the way.
Thanks for sharing
The restoration has had a slight hiatus. The mirror box is now re-glued and rigid again but I'm waiting for a new reflex mirror (first/front surface) to arrive from Vacuum Coatings Ltd (Scientific Mirrors) and until that arrives I can't really begin to re-assemble the shutter or fit the new shutter curtains.
I have cleaned the shutter control mechanism, it was tight and difficult to move so needed a good soaking with WD40, then I washed it well finally making sure there was no trace left of the WD40 using methylated spirits.
The new Moroccan grain Arbitex leather (bookbinders cloth based material) arrived yesterday and I've recovered the hood, front standard and a small side panel so far. The body itself can't be re-covered until the shutter's been re-installed because there's an aluminium plate on the bottom of the camera that has to be removed.
It is amazing how different your camera is to mine, considering they are supposed to be the same model - or at least have the same name. As far as I know 'Ruby' refers to the shutter - which appears to be the same - and I thought 'Junior' was the size and 'Special' was the model? Maybe it is like the menu in Greek restaurants I went to once - everything was a 'special'
I've spotted two on ebbbeeeegeeebay, one which looks the same as your camera and one more like mine. I think these reflex cameras were produced for many years and I suppose there may well have been more than two versions, even with the 'Ruby' shutter? I'm pretty sure my model is the same as one in an advert I have from 1927.
I had to chuckle about the hidden screws. I suppose there's no point in hiding them if they always hide them in the same place!
Unlike your camera mine has no metal insert inside the wooden box (your camera seems to have a 'mirror chamber' - if that is a good name for it?). One advantage for me in this arrangement was that I could work on the shutter without fitting the mirror. I was able to slip it in and out of the mounting rails fairly easily with the camera assembled and so I actually left it out most of the time so as not to damage it.
I also had a new mirror made by Scientific coatings a few weeks ago... they only charged me £15 for mine, though
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The Ruby name isn't to do with the shutter as TP made various Ruby field camera, and Ruby enlargers as well. They did make a Ruby with a focal plane shutter that's rather like a Speed Graphic.
I've now found 7 variations of these Ruby Reflex cameras in adverts all but the early pre-WWI backed up by cameras on Ebay (there may be more) and I now think mine ws possibly made womewhere between 1921 and 1924. There's a pattern to the changes. One advert states the Ruby Relex has a new improved shutter. They were also sold under the Salex & Zodel brand names
This evening I had a good play with the shutter mechanism and it should run very smoothly now, when it came it was almost solid. I've written my name and the date of restoration on the mirror box in pencil below an original TP pencilled number.
I guess it's time to make the new shutter curtains, I've just bought two more TP roller blind shutters, and have a couple of others to restore from Europe and South America, so a it makes sense to make them all at the same . If you want a set FOC let me have the dimensions (only widths are critical).
I'd love to find a trashed Ruby Reflex camera and just have a working shutter/mirror box on display, they are remarkable technology for something desinged over a century ago.
Restoring this old reflex camera is a remarkable and interesting learning curve, if I can get some help (the wifes away abroad) I'll video how the shutter works before I re-install it.
I got the impression the Shutter was a 'Ruby' shutter from the earlyphotography website:
They give the impression the early TP focal plane shutter was the 'Unit' and the later design the 'Ruby'. Doesn't mean they're right, of course. I wonder if it is like Ford cars? 'Zetec' started out as a type of engine, today it refers to the trim level, regardless of what engine you have... And how many Ford Escorts have there been, which look nothing like each other and have no interchangeable parts? I think once a manufacturer has registered some brand names and got them known, they like to recycle :-)
Anyway, if you haven't seen the site have a look. It is a good site with some close ups of shutter mechanisms.
Your wife is away abroad? Oh, luxury! No wonder you can make so much progress so quickly! Now, I am jealous. Do you think she would take mine with her?
I'll PM you about shutter cloth.
I've used the earlyphotography site quite a bit to identify cameras but on this occasion he's got it wrong. The Unit shutter was available at the same time as the shutters in the Ruby Reflex and in fact was improved with the introduction of "The Thornton-Pickard New 1910 Patent Unit Focal Plane Camera Sets".
Many of their cameras could be supplied with this new Unit shuttter fitted including the Royal Ruby, Special Ruby etc but these weren't Relex cameras. The older Unit shutters had adjustable tension, like the T&I and used the same ratchet shutter speed indicator (as my Avatar), so needed two adjustments one to wind and re-tension the shutter, the other to adjust the tension to change the spped. The 1910 Unit shutter is similar to our Ruby Relex cameras, one winding key, they still used the key in 1921 but by 1924 it was a radio style knob.
So in 1910 there's also the new Ruby Reflex with the newer "Unit shutter".
The camera still looks the same in a 1921 advert. So I guess what the site owner calls the Ruby shutter is just in fact the newer type of Unit shutter.
One of the best looking camera I have ever seen. What about the lens , was there a lens fitted to the camera when you bought it ? If not, do you have an original that era lenses at your hand , I think fitting a modern schneider would kill the camera but what is your opinion ?
I haven't found the right lens for the camera yet Umut, but then I've not really looked hard either. I will fit a British 6" lens in a sunken mount though which is what it would had originally.
It does appear that TP started calling the Unit shutters Ruby shutters by the mid 1920's.