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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Need advice on making new back for Conley wood field camera!

    Hi. I am awaiting the arrival of my new to me Conley wood field camera. It had been modified in the past and the original focusing/film holder holding back may be gone.

    Although from pictures, these backs all seem to be pretty much the same in general design there must be idiosyncracies to be wary of for each manufacturer.

    What advice do you seasoned camera restorer/manufacturers have in this instance for me?

    I have thought of asking on another forum group whether there are any owners of similar cameras who might send me some pics with a scale of the back. Is that the place to start or can I work backwards from what I got with the camera and the standard plate holder?

    Thank you

    Mark MacKenzie
    Mark MacKenzie, M.A.C.
    Art Conservator
    Past Ink Publishing
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
    S7H 2S6

  2. #2

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    Mar 2005
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    I have not had to actually make a back yet, so far I've been able to adapt backs from other cameras. You didn't mention what format this camera was originally designed for. If it doesn't have the back I guess you may not know, in that case I guess you can choose the nearest size. What you need to know, in any case, are the outside dimensions of the body. Then you can look for one with the same, or similar, size back.

    I have an Eastman 2D 5x7 and have found that the Burke & James backs are the same size, but the pins which attach it to the camera are located slightly off from the Eastman. It's a simple matter to fill the old holes with a small dowel and relocate the pins. I use brass rod from a hobby store to replace them.

    So, there's your next question: by what method did the original back attach? It probably uses the pins like the Eastman and the B&J, but there's always the chance that the original back was one of those old hinged jobs. Really old. Haven't had to deal with those myself. In that case you may want to scrounge up some new hardware to allow the more common pin-type attachment.

    Nathan

  3. #3
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    If the Conley uses the common pins for attachment, post the desired film size, the spacing between the pins, the outside diminsions of the back, and the diminsions of the square opening in the back. Some of us might have old unused backs. If you wish to use 4x5 film, it might not be too difficult to make a frame to adapt a press camera back to the Conley.

  4. #4

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    Dec 2005
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    Extra Information for the Conley field camera

    Thank you for pointing out the information that I missed posting earlier.

    I don't have the camera yet however, the previous owner told me that the dimensions of the rear "standard" are 10 x 10 inches.

    This particular Conley model was made in a variety of sizes, the two largest being the 8 x 10 and the full plate 6 1/2 x 8 1/2. I suspect that this means the camera is the full plate version.

    It has been modified for 5 x 7 which I will keep but I also wish to make backs for full plate and 4 x 5.

    I will post more exact information and perhaps a couple of quick picks as soon as I receive the real thing.

    Regards

    Mark MacKenzie
    Mark MacKenzie, M.A.C.
    Art Conservator
    Past Ink Publishing
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
    S7H 2S6

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Conley New View Model BW

    I have received the camera. I found an image of what the back should look like. I think I have the back plate but it has been modified to fit a smaller format film holder. So I need a focusing panel and the spring hardware.

    The back panels fit on using twin pins a la Kodak Century and others.

    If anyone has one from which I can get dimensions I would be very grateful.

    Regards

    Mark MacKenzie
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails conleyBack.jpg  
    Mark MacKenzie, M.A.C.
    Art Conservator
    Past Ink Publishing
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
    S7H 2S6

  6. #6
    Charles Webb's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Mark G MacKenzie]
    It has been modified for 5 x 7 which I will keep but I also wish to make backs for full plate and 4 x 5.

    Mark,
    All you have to do is wait until the camera gets to you. Take the back off and dupelicate the way it fits to the camera. Then buy a 4x5 back and mount it exactly like the 5x7 back. Use small nails cut down for the retaining pins. You can use a good grade of 1/4 in. ply wood cut to the exact size of the 5x7 back then cut another piece 1/4 inch smaller all around and glue it to the center of the larger piece. Cut out the center to fit the 4x5 back you buy,
    stain it or paint it, put in the pins and your done. An easy way to locate the retaining pins is to simply tape the back on the camera and mark the locations through the spring clips. Top and Bottom. Be sure to put in extra pins so the back can be used vertical or horizontal. I have also used 1/4 inch Masonite to build reducing camera backs. Baltic Birch is nice, but is not often available for me out here in the sticks.

    Very easy to do!

    Charlie............................

  7. #7
    jimgalli's Avatar
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    Full plate 'film holders' can be difficult to find. Most are 'plate holders.' I wouldn't worry too much about full plate until you get a few holders found. Could be a while. Or you could take up wet plate collodion and use the plate holders. I have an old Ansco 8X10 to 4X5 reducing back that would be a good place to start for the 4X5. You'd have to get a cabinet shop to trim it to your dimension and router in the drop in light trap area to match your camera. $60 if you want it.
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep..to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

    http://tonopahpictures.0catch.com

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Before making a full plate back you should be advised that 6.5 x 8.5 holders come in a few different sizes. I have 4 of them and 3 are for century and the other I had to modify as the outside dimensions were quite different. You should also note that full plate film holders are almost unheard of. If you want to shoot full plate you'll most likely you'll be using glass plate holders and either adding a sheet of glass or modifying them to take film. I got super lucky and my full plate camera came with one film holder and later on I found 4 full plate film sheaths that slip into the glass plate holders and hold film. I did have to do extensive modifications to one of the other glass plate holders so it would accept film and fit the camera. I did not have to contend with making a back but don't underestimate the skill and time required to make a functional back.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Full plate back for Conley

    My apologies for leaving out some information. I am planning on doing wet-plate and tin-type photography with this camera and so would use plate holding full plate holders. Wheww, what a mouth full.

    But I don't currently have any full plate glass holders. I do have some in 5 x 7 and 4 x 5 and so will be doing these formats while waiting to put the full plate option into reality.

    I am grateful for the suggestions and advice.

    Thank you

    Mark MacKenzie
    Mark MacKenzie, M.A.C.
    Art Conservator
    Past Ink Publishing
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
    S7H 2S6

  10. #10
    Charles Webb's Avatar
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    Disregard every thing I said! I misunderstood what I read!

    Sorry about that!

    Charlie............................

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