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  1. #1

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    Tips on restoring wooden film holders?

    I have a whole bunch of old wooden 5x7 film holders, most of them in pretty rough shape. What do I need to do to get them operational? I know I need to re-tape the flaps, what tape works best? Would you advise taking them apart to clean the light traps? Also, at least one of them actually has the blackness wearing off of the septum to the point where you can see the shiny metal! What would I use to fix that, something like matte black spray paint? Any other tips or hints on getting these back in to service?

    Thanks for the help!

  2. #2
    Wade D's Avatar
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    Black book binders cloth tape works well for the flaps. It's thin enough not to interfere with the fit into the camera back and lasts a very long time. Taking apart the light trap might be risky unless the felt is unusable. Try just blowing it out with canned air then try a test sheet of film to see if there is a light leak. I restored a bunch of old 4x5 Graphic holders using the above method and they still are in great shape. Hope this helps and good luck with them.

  3. #3

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    Regarding the paint on the septum. I'd remove as much paint as I could with either steel wool or scotchbrite pads and try a couple of very light coats of Krylon Ultra black camouflage paint.
    Use one holder to experiment on before you commit to doing a bunch.
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

  4. #4

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    I use gaffers tape for hinges ('cause that's what I have on hand) bookbinder tape would be more flexible. I think gaylord bros has a sale going on right now.

    Don't blow air. The dust will only come back to haunt you so get rid of it! Get a micro cleaning attachment set for a shop vac or similar and suck up all that dust in the light traps and channels.

    I've yet to repaint any of my holders where they come out looking good. Unless the bare metal is giving you problems my advice is ---don't mess with painting.

    You can replace missing locking ells with small ones from the hardware store---you'll probably need to cut them down and rebend them to fit but it works.

    A light coat of wax (I like lemon pledge) helps wood holders slide home more smoothly..

  5. #5

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    Modern film has anti-haliation backing to prevent reflection from light passing through the film, then back. I have found no problems using holders that have the paint partially off the septum.

  6. #6

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    Beeswax on the darkslides, dried and buffed, sure makes them go in and out more smoothly. You can buy it at Goody's or any other music store that sells wax for basses and cellos.

  7. #7

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    I'll have to use the canned air in combination with a normal vaccuum cleaner, since I don't have a shop vac and can't afford one at the moment. I like the Lemon Pledge idea to help the holders slide smoothly, I'll give that a shot! Hopefully one of the local art stores has book-binder's tape, if not, what exactly is gaffer's tape? Is it something like duct tape? Would a normal hardware store carry it?

    Thanks for all the tips guys!

  8. #8
    Maris's Avatar
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    The light trap in old wooden film holders can open up due to the pressure from the comb shaped brass spring inside. The spring keeps the light trap shut when the slide is out and it does not need to exert a lot of force to do so BUT the thin wooden bridge across the top of the holder, the thing the comb-spring presses against, will bend. It may take 60, 70, or 80 years to bend but bend it will. Then the light trap stays open when the slide is pulled and film gets fogged.

    All is not lost. There is a solution albeit a violent one. Get the right size sharp wood chisel (1" for a 8x10 holder) and use it to crack off the light trap bridge at its seam. I lay the film holder flat on its back and whack into it with a horizontal chisel working from both sides in turn. Take off both light trap bridges. Keep all the stray splinters or chips but discard the tiny nails. Now re-bend the comb spring to cope with the dark slide gap that has crept open over the years.

    Re-assembly is merely re-gluing everything (chips and splinters included) back exactly the way it was. I have "rescued" many wooden film holders this way. It's risky but the alternative is a bunch of worthless non-light-tight holders.

    Bear in mind that the comb-spring keeps pressing and the holders will eventually lose light-tightness. You may have to repeat the procedure in another 80 years time.
    Photography, the word itself, invented and defined by its author Sir John.F.W.Herschel, 14 March 1839 at the Royal Society, Somerset House, London. Quote "...Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation,..". unquote.

  9. #9

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    I haven't found gaffer's tape in hardware stores but any good camera store should have a roll. It is a light tight black fabric tape, but not at all like duct tape. I would not recommend duct tape!

  10. #10
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    I use hockey stick tape, simply because it's available in any (Canadian?) sporting goods store, seems to work fine and is very strong.
    If I had been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better arrangement of the Universe.
    Alfonso the Wise, 1221-1284

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