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  1. #1

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    Need info about stainless steel for LF springs

    I am starting work on a 8x10 reducing back for an 11x14 camera. I am using the back on my Commercial View for a rough guide. The parameters of this job require stainless steel for the springs.

    I am woefully lacking in materials knowledge concerning stainless steel grades and designations. So I have a few questions for anyone with knowledge about stainless that is used for camera springs.

    I assume the springs are made from the same grade of stainless that a fairly stiff spatula or pastry knife is made from. The springs on the commericial view are .040" thick. Is this type of stainless, already tempered for flexibility available as stock or would you need to buy stainless and heat treat and work it first to achieve the qualities required for a spring? (outside my range of ability).

    If it is available what is the grade designation? (301, 302, 17-7 etc)

    I can buy commercial grade spatulas and flexible knives up to 18" long and cut out springs on a water jet. It would be better to be able buy a piece(and less expensive) 20"x20" to cut pieces from for future projects if available.

    Thanks in advance for any and all answers.
    "Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
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  2. #2
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Chinn
    I assume the springs are made from the same grade of stainless that a fairly stiff spatula or pastry knife is made from. The springs on the commericial view are .040" thick. Is this type of stainless, already tempered for flexibility available as stock or would you need to buy stainless and heat treat and work it first to achieve the qualities required for a spring? (outside my range of ability).
    Have you looked in a kitchen shop? I've seen cake frosting knives made from stainless in that thickness range that sell for a few dollars each; the blade carries through the wood handle, so you should be able to get a pair of spring strips (cutting on both sides of the rivet holes in the tang) from one such knife.

    OTOH, if you're not wedded to stainless, have you looked at a leaf rake for spring stock? The tines are just about perfect...
    Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.

  3. #3

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    If you can find a machine shop that has a metal cutting band saw then the worn out or broken blades make excellent springs. If the thickness is inadequate then one could always build a leaf spring arrangement with shorter subsequent lengths

    Most of the stainless steel that I have encountered over the years has been 316 and it has a certain degree of spring to it...but I don't think that it qualifies as spring steel.

  4. #4
    AZLF's Avatar
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    The flat raw spring stock I have purchased for past projects did not come tempered. You would have to have that done or do it yourself after cutting and shaping.You can buy flat spring stock in a number of thicknesses, I bought mine from Brownelle's which is a gunsmithing specialty house. Were I to need to make something like a spring mechanism for a view camera film back I would probably do as others have suggested and find something already tempered that had the size needed and cut my spring pieces from that. Tempering requires precise temperature and time for the given stock and is especially hard to do in a home shop envirorment unless you have an oven that can reach 700+F reliably. My few attempts at it were not successful.
    http://www.apug.org/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=10716
    http://home.comcast.net/~rem700a/westviews.html

  5. #5

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    The pastry knives will work, but difficult to cut something that narrow on a water jet without having to make a jig to hold it. With a bigger piece I can duplicate the shape of the commercial view springs.

    You are right about the bandsaw blades Donald. I have made springs out of scrap and it works perfectly. However this back goes on a camera I am selling so I need the more "professional" look of stainless. Regarding 316 stainless, I think I have used it for other purposes. In the raw form I get it in it is flexible but fatigues and loses its "spring" with repeated flexing. I think 316 is a grade that with heat treating or chemical "pickeling" you get the combination of hardness and flexibility for springs. (two thngs beyond my capabilities. I think heat treating stainless for temper and hardness requries about 800F.)

    The pastry knives are actually the cheaper alternative after doing a quick google search. So if I can't find a source for stock of that particular stainless I will be heading over to the local restuarant supply house.
    "Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
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  6. #6

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    This site (http://home.earthlink.net/~bazillion/intro.html) might have some useful information upon digging around.

  7. #7
    Aggie's Avatar
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    Bob Coogan at the Appalacian Craft Center in Smithville TN. will know exactly what you need, and where to get it cheaply. Just tell him I told you to call. He is not there on Friday's. Tempering is easy to do if you have a blow torch. It is t6he color the metal heats up t6o that you need to know for each particular type of SS. Some take water cooling, some oil cooling, and others air. For what you are talking about get one of those cooking torches that they brown the sugar on the top of Creme Brulee. It will be hot enough for what you want. Metal fabrication places have all the scrap metal you could use. Fruehof in Omaha would be a good one to start with.
    Non Digital Diva

  8. #8
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    I think I might be able to help you.

    Well - I actually have a little bit of experience in this. The first 4x5 I ever shot with (about 1984) was borrowed from a neighbour. It was a compact-ish monorail with a triangular x-section rail and red bellows (anybody wanna help out on what this might have been??)... at any rate - during the exposing of my third photograph on the camera (a two hour exposure of a twenty-foot high pile of gravel at about 2 am...!), a bunch of yahoos in a pickup truck come TEARING around the corner and actually RUN over the camera, tripod and all. SOMEHOW the camera actually ended up UNDER one of the wheels...!!

    So - to cut a long story short - I opted to get the really beyond repair parts of the camera re-fabricated - that would be the ground glass and the springs.... which SOMEHOW got torn in half. I went up to the engineering shop of the local university and they told me it was a very specific metallurgical blend called, simply, 'spring steel' - and they re-made them for $40. I'm not sure if a waterjet would be the right way to cut them. You should talk to a materials engineer to see if they'd retain the correct properties (might stress the material too much...?).

    http://www.industry.net/industry/fil...dvn/psw05.html


    Good luck.
    Jonathan

  9. #9
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    Donald may have hit the best source for you. Band saw blades with the teeth ground off work fine. You can use the raw stock from an old blade, grind off the teeth (cabinet shop, metal shop will have broken blades for nothing) and use a torch on the ends to bend them into shape. If you just heat the ends and use a vice or clamp as a heat sink, the temper will stay in the middle and the ends can be worked hot. I think there is a paste used in gunsmithing which will quench heat traveling in the metal. Try Brownells, they may also have spring stock. tim

  10. #10
    Aggie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noseoil
    I think there is a paste used in gunsmithing which will quench heat traveling in the metal.
    It's called yellow ochre. Rio Grande Metals tools catalog will have it. They are out of albuquerque NM. Also try a parts catalog called small parts. They may have that exact spring type you want already made. They are really quite reasonable (cheap) on their products.
    Non Digital Diva

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