My bellows repair recipe and technique.
I like this post alot. So I put it on my film photography blog.
I fix bellows on a regular bases. I don't know how to rebuild bellows from scratch and some cameras can't be put back together once you destroy the rivets that hold it together (Kodak 1a, no 2, Ikontas, etc).
What I use is:
- Liquid Stitch for large gashes. (also works great glueing leather back to metal).
- Followed by a coat of black fabric paint. I use Tulip brand because it's everywhere.
- Followed by a coat of mixed Elmers Facbric Glue (flexible, stretchable glue) with the black fabric paint. It'll be grey.
- Followed by another coat of black fabric paint to cover the grey back up and to make sure there's no more light leaks.
- An optional final coat of black fabric paint.
For polaroids I use only Elmer's Fabric glue mixed with black fabric paint. Since the bellows is synthetic you don't have to use liquid stitch.
For antique Kodak Bellows cameras, I remove the lens and use black Simply Spray Upholstery Fabric Spray. I spray the inside. These antique Kodaks can have hundreds of tiny light leaks. The upholstery spray remains soft and flexible and covers up all of the tiny annoying holes.
Using extremely thin coats and completely letting them dry prevents sticking of the paint when the camera's shut.
Please bear in mind that those glues may not be known to many of us. (I have to google them all to have an idea of what kind of substance they are.)
You know, this is very informative.
But I wonder, dkgeorgie or anyone: Is there simply a thin, opaque tape that can be carefully wrapped into the bellows that will not tear when repeadedly bent (as will be the case as the bellows is brought in and out)? Doing this would truly build back the bellows' stability that had been lost with the wear. - David Lyga
Originally Posted by David Lyga
I'm still searching for that. The closest I've come to finding a tape solution is black masking tape:
The thinner the better. I've used 1/4" black tape (could be the same brand above) on bellows. Getting the inside grooves of the bellows is easy. But the outside corners is hard to get with tape. And I don't have the steadiest hands.
Someone's mentioned to use gaffers tape in the past. But isn't gaffers tape a little thick?
David, tape is most likely hard to fix in the corners, if it tacks at all. I would rather consider an opaque glue that stays flexible to be inserted thinly in the creases all over. Of course it may not stick the flanges together, nor may it stiffen significantly the bellows.
However I have experienced one such glue to harden significantly over the years.
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Just a small note on the color of paint materials we are using for patching. If the material is on the inside of the bellows or camera, some place where it could reflect light on to the film, black is good. On the outside, believe it or not, white is better for blocking light. Dark colors do not contain opacifiers, where light colors do, the primary one being titanium dioxide. Nobody wants big white blotches on their bellows, of course, so some of what we are doing is about looks, but if you're looking to block light, use white paint, not black.
I wouldn't trust just paints and liquid stitch. I use a very thin repair fabric which used to be made in Holland it's designed for repairing tears in suits etc and to be invisible. The black version is light-tight, self adhesive a nd very thin & flexible, I've been able to repair large shutter curtasins with it as well, all I have left now is some dark-brown material.
For a set of badly damaged bellows on a Speed Graphic I was able to patch inside and out and it's hard to spot where the repairs are. I have a variety of different black acrylic paints for finishing from matt black to gloss, there's a lot of variation.
I've a few cameras with extremely poor or missing bellows and the best option is to make replacements. I've a 9x12 camera with bellows that are wrong (look like they've been changed)- they don't allow full extension of the lens / focus rail so they'll be changed as well.
At the camera fair I go to ocassionally one seller has a box of OEM replacement bellows for many European cameras, I'd guess these are ex Camera Bellows (now Custom Bellows) stock and are inexpensive. Camera (Custom) Bellows made/make the bellows for most manufacturers in the West, millions for Kodak alone
This thread popped up just as I'm about to make bellows for my half plate Thornton Pickard Triple Imperial, and I pick up a whole plate camera next weekend that'll need new bellows as well, in addition I have parts to make another whole plate camera, just missing a front standard which I'll make.
I've been trying to find a replacement for the Invisible mend cloth I used to use, in the meantime I use off-cuts of shutter curtain material and impact adhesive, I also use this to retape DDS (double darkslides - called film holders in the US). I'm saving my last bit of Invisible mend fabric for more delicate repairs.
Originally Posted by djgeorgie
There are Iron-on invisible repair tapes but these aren't practical for bellows uses. The adhesive on the material I used was extremely good, once applied it's permanent. I must ask in a few more places to see what else is available.
Gaffer tape is designed to have a short life, over time the adesives get very sticky then it dries out and the pape breaks down/ I've had to remove it from botched repairs and it always makes a mess. So don't use it .
I use bookbinder's tape for filmholder hinges. It's not completely light-tight but it might work for bellows repair as a base with something painted over it to seal up the tiny holes in the weave.
My bellows repair recipe and technique.
Where is this fair? I'm guessing the UK?
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
I live in the US, I'd love to find a place for stock bellows, specifically I have a Kodak 1 and 1a that both need new bellows, I don't really think repair is an option one is so dry the dust gets all over the film images, it's really bad, the other I ok but neither is light tight and I don't think paint is the answer, I also think gaffers tape is to thick for the smaller bellows like mine, perhaps the LF cameras would probably use gaffers tape on the bellows.
Can you pick some up for me and ship it? LOL when you say cheap, how cheap? What's the price range?
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