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Thread: Bellows repair

  1. #1

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    Bellows repair

    Hi there again!

    My road to Mount Calvary aka building my own 4x5 compact folder by restoring-modifying took a turn to the worse today when I discovered that the bellows on the donor camera (bought from Rocky cameras) lights up as a starry night when I shine light into it. There are some thin patches, every single corner shines through brightly and so on...
    I don't want to spend big buck on another camera, just to discover that there are again pinholes haunting me probably and having replacement bellows made professionally is a bit expensive, it probably would be cheaper to buy a Speed Graphic at that point since I already have a lens and 5 holders coming my way but that wouldn't be any fun, now would it?

    Now, two things that popped into my head were thinning the original goop covering on the fabric further with acetone, letting it dry and painstakingly paint it over with liquid electrician's tape, only that some corners have pretty big holes in them, looks like the base material is also damaged...maybe also paint the inner surfaces with it?
    Other idea was getting the thinnest blackout cloth I can find and gluing it on the bellows.
    The big idea with both of those methods would be covering the faulty material completely to avoid finding and repainting pinholes every other week, that camera will be my main LF workhorse for years to come.

    Any other ideas? What would be the pros and cons of the two methods I described?

    All the best,
    -Vallo

  2. #2

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    How about making another bellows? I used the liquid electric tape stuff on a couple pinhole corners of a bellows. it took a few tries. I can't image how long and tedious it would be to do every corner. Adding thickness will effect it's ability to collapse. There are several online tutorials for making bellows. A new bellows will also have much less dust than an old decaying one to end up on the negative.
    greg

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    I am thinking seriously about thinning away the old black goop on the bellows, stretching it out on a form and gluing a blackout cloth on it. I found some beautiful wine red one for 13€/meter. It would save me the trouble of making those pesky cardboard stiffeners and the inner layer seems to be in acceptable shape. I am just not that sure on how to do it.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by VPooler View Post
    I am thinking seriously about thinning away the old black goop on the bellows, stretching it out on a form and gluing a blackout cloth on it. I found some beautiful wine red one for 13€/meter. It would save me the trouble of making those pesky cardboard stiffeners and the inner layer seems to be in acceptable shape. I am just not that sure on how to do it.
    May as well. You certainly have nothing to lose. Sounds to me like it would get you by for some time. Open the bellow up at the seam and flatten them so you can glue your covering on. I knew a guy in 1976 who did that. The bellows didn't compress a lot, but who cares? Right now you certainly have nothing.

  5. #5

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    The original outer covering seems to be slightly rubberized cotton fabric, extremely thin. Methinks that if i remove enough goop and glue this space-age superthin blackout fabric on it, it will hold light. I am also not sure about opening the seam, maybe just stretching it to its unfolded state will do the trick. Maybe use a piece of styrofoam as a jig...
    It would definately be a lot simpler to source another set of 9x12 camera bellows, probably even cheaper than making my own...but as I said, they are scarce, unfortunately.

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    Yeah, you just don't have any choices, unless you're rich. And rich people usually don't fool with such things anyway. All you can do is lay the bellows out flat, clean as best you can, and glue on the new covering.

  7. #7

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    I did find a matching size Kodak bellows but it was sold out. This is getting interesting...

  8. #8
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    How about taking a small black plastic bag, cutting the bottom out, making it a tube, and then slipping it over the camera bellows, and attaching it (larger rubber bands?) to the camera body on one end and the lens standard on the other. The bellows will block the bulk of the light, the plastic bag on top of the bellows will prevent the light reaching any of the leaking areas.

    Not a permanent solution, just something to use until you find a replacement bellows.
    Items for sale or trade at www.Camera35.com

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by fotch View Post
    How about taking a small black plastic bag, cutting the bottom out, making it a tube, and then slipping it over the camera bellows, and attaching it (larger rubber bands?) to the camera body on one end and the lens standard on the other. The bellows will block the bulk of the light, the plastic bag on top of the bellows will prevent the light reaching any of the leaking areas.

    Not a permanent solution, just something to use until you find a replacement bellows.
    You know something? That's not a totally shabby idea.

  10. #10
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    If you are replacing a tapered bellows try turning it inside out by pulling the small end through the large. Then apply your blackout material and reverse the procedure.

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