I had the camera out for the first time yesterday at Per Volquartz's workshop in Joshua Tree. I managed to get one one film holder completed in time for the workshop and tried two exposures - mainly a test run for things. I found that operating the camera is much more cumberson than an 8 x 10 (who wouldn't have thought that), and I have some adjustments to make to get the front and rear standards a little more secure and stable. Otherwise, things worked fine. In reality, I don't think it weighs much more than my Kodak 2D 8 x 10 - which is basically what I patterned it after.
Regarding my "Journal", it will probably be a month or more before I can get it finished. I want to get a bunch of completed photos of the camera in the journal and also a section on what annoying little quirks it has as well as how I might do things differently if I were to do it all over again. Keep in mind that I had given up taking photos since June to build this camera, and now I'm very antsy to got out and use it.
Regarding the gear rack system, I purchased both the gears and gear racks from McMaster Carr. They have many different sizes. Be prepared to pay a little more than you think they will cost. I spent about $50 for two gears and 4' of rack. The front standard has a brass shaft at the bottom with a gear on each end at the bottom of the two standard posts. These gears ride on the gear rack which is recessed into the top of the two side pieces of the front extension bed.
Here is one "I should have done it different" suggestion. I installed the gear racks on the center plate and the front extension bed, but not the rear extension bed. The front of the camera is gear driven, but rear is not. In using the camera yesterday, I learned it would be much easier to focus if the rear was gear driven, rather than the front. I have long arms, but not that long. If you had that, you really wouldn't need to make the front gear driven.
Thanks for the info. I look forward to your journal. I am also interested in details for the spring steel. And you made the bellows also?
The springs on the ground glass back were made out of brass that I got at Home Depot (door kick plate). The strips are about 5/8" wide and there are two thicknesses on each side of the back. These two thicknesses seem to give about the right amount of spring pressure to hold the film holder. Note that the top spring is about 2" shorter on each end than the bottom one. The bottom one is bent into a loop at each end that fits around a brass rod. This detail is similar to the 8 x 10 Kodak 2D that I have.
The attached drawing will show you how it is made.
Regarding the bellows - I made it myself. This is not the first bellows I've made, but it is clearly the largest. The inner liner material is white drapery blackout material (only comes in white) and the outer liner material is black egyptian cotton. I hand painted the inside surface of the drapery liner flat black and it's working just fine.