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  1. #1

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    Help with Conley 4x5, please!

    Hi, I'm new to LF and I just picked up what I believe is a 1912 Conley Model XVIa. I would like to try it out but I'm looking for some advice. Is there a source for replacement shutter bulbs? Anyone know of a sorec for copies of an owner's manual?

    Thanks!

    Mark Ehlers

  2. #2

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    You probably don't need a manual to operate it; just do some reading on general large format work and it should become clear what to do.

    Some hints:

    1. You need film holders. I'm not sure if standard 4x5 holders fit the camera - you may need some obscure plate holder or older wooden 4x5" holder size. Try picking up one or two standard, modern lisco / fidelity 4x5 holders to see if they fit. If not you can resell them. If your camera came with holders you're set - unless they're plate holders. In that case you may need to manufacture an insert to get the film in the right position. Someone who's done this may be able to guide you.

    2. Can you operate the shutter without a bulb? Presumably you mean an air hose / bulb, right? Don't turn any dials on the shutter until you note any arrows (if any) denoting a direction to turn them. Some shutters (e.g. dial set compurs) require that you turn the dial in the indicated direction only when you change shutter speeds, otherwise you can mess up some springs or something.

    3. You can process 4x5 film in trays, in the dark, but a rotary tube is an easier way. Some also use hangars and big tanks.

    See this description:
    http://www.largeformatphotography.info/unicolor/
    The universe is a haunted house. -Coil
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  3. #3

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    Bulbs should be available from Packard, the shutter folk. Harbor Freight has a bulb that may work cheap!
    The one from HF is about 4" long X 2+" dia. with a brass nozzle.
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

  4. #4

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    Thank you, gentlemen.

    Walter: I just thought if I could possibly get a copy of the owner's manual it would be a neat thing to have. But I don't expect to find one. The camera came with 5 wooden holders, and they all seem to be in great shape. Are the inserts you mention to help install the film the same ones that are removed and replaced when exposing the film? If so, it seems I'm all set for those too.




    Yes, there is a lever shutter release to trip it without the air hose/bulb. Thanks for the warning about turning dials. I don't seem to have that problem with this shutter. But I don't seem to have any change in ss when comparing 1/2 to 1/100. And 1 second ss just sticks when set to that. Is there a type of lubricant that's safe to use on the shutter?

    I've been looking into different types of developing tanks on ebay. What do you think of the Yankee square-shaped Agitank? Or would I be better off getting a rotary tube? Can you develop in a rotary witho only hand agitation?

    John: Thank you for the resources for a bulb. That one that HF has looks like a good deal, but I'm hoping to find something smaller that will fit inside the box when the camera is folded. But maybe I'll give this one a try and see how it works. And maybe it nees to be this large to trigger the shutter? The one from Pakard is $15 and I don't know what it looks like.

  5. #5

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    You might be able to get the shutter working by using it a few times. On the other hand that might do more harm than good. I don't know much about these air piston shutters. Even if you can't get it working quite right you can always just make sure you're always shooting 1/2 second exposures (or whatever your single speed times out to be), and use a hat or lens cap for other situations... or flash in a darkened room.

    The film inserts I'm talking about are not the same as the darkslide (the black sheet that you pull out to expose the film). They'd be like thin metal sleeves inside the wooden holders. Do the holders look like they're set to hold a thin sheet of film inside them (ie, with ridges along the insides under which the film would slide)? If you can't see any obvious way to insert a sheet of film without it flopping around inside the cavity then the holders are probably for glass plates.. but you can make adapters fairly easily, or you may be able to just stuff regular film holders into the back of this thing.

    There are very few cameras of this age that don't need a bit of work to get them working properly, but it's worth it!

    Cool camera. You'll have fun with it once you get it working.
    The universe is a haunted house. -Coil
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  6. #6

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    I have a similar camera (seneca from 1908). They're fairly simple considering there's little-to-no movements. It's the same idea with the bulb, but unfortunately my camera doesn't have shutter speed settings, so all my exposures have to be 1sec or more to accurately expose the film. The guy who had the camera before me bought it with a non-operational shutter. He took it apart and fixed it himself as the setup was relatively simple. If you're feeling brave you might want to do this.

    Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.

  7. #7

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    A side note here: I have some nagging feeling that you should *not* lubricate these air piston shutters. I think the pistons and tubes might need to be cleaned but I vaguely remember reading that lubricant will throw them way off and basically ruin them. I might be misremembering, but that's my vague nagging recollection. If you take it apart, just clean it.

    I've run into similar issues with simpler rotary shutters (these mechanisms are really dirt simple; two metal plates, each with a hole, that slide against one another, so the holes line up briefly). I found one in an old folding camera that had been lubricated and it was gummy and stuck and pretty much impossible to fix (though the camera was cheap and common and I just wanted to tear its lens off so I didn't bother trying). The others I've seen have not been lubricated and also did not work at all, but a bit of a cleaning with some fine grit sandpaper got them working as snappy as if they were brand new.

    The other risk if you lubricate would be to put lubricant on the wrong parts and have it transfer to the aperture blades or shutter blades, and then the thing is pretty much guaranteed to gum up.
    Last edited by walter23; 02-13-2009 at 05:06 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    The universe is a haunted house. -Coil
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  8. #8

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    Your shutter "times" the speed you set by how high the piston rises on the right side of the shutter. The left piston is for the shutter hose and bulb, the right piston is the shutter time piston and it descends a measured amount to "time" the length of exposure. It descends a longer distance for longer exposures. This piston and sleeve have to be super-clean and dry to work properly. No lubricant of any kind. You can take the piston out of the cylinder and clean both to help restore correct shutter speeds.

    Another source for bulbs would be the bulb used on a blood-pressure tester. If you have any surgical supply stores in your town, you should be able to get a bulb, and surgical tubing.

    The film-holders you have are for glass plates. Sometimes you can find them with film inserts. These film inserts fit where the glass plates would fit, and hold sheet film like a normal sheet film holder does. Many glass plate holders and glass plate cameras are not standard size for holders as used today, and your camera may, or may not accept modern film holders.

  9. #9

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    ...to add to PHOTOTONE's comment, you can make your wet plate holder into a film holder with some work. You can put a piece of matting board that is the same thickness as the glass plate in (I'm not sure what this is off the top of my head) with a couple of guides on the side for the film to keep it flat. It's not perfect, professional or easy by any means, but if you want to put in the work, you can get a pretty interesting setup. My seneca is rigged for 4x5 film and it works really nice and produces great vintage looking photographs.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by jordanstarr View Post
    ...to add to PHOTOTONE's comment, you can make your wet plate holder into a film holder with some work.
    Just a minor correction here. The holders the OP has are "dry" plate holders, not "wet" plate holders.

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