KW: I understand your grief about people hacking fine cameras, but understand 2 things:
1: the kalart rangefinders are often in poor condition, and are rarely used by for critical LF work. The leatherette on many old cameras has deteriorated. The graflex cameras (except the century 23) have a mohagony body that is absolutely gorgeous when sanded and laquered. So often times stripping a graflex really brings it back to life.
2: Their is a ton of graflexes around. I dont know if the demand of photographers will ever exceed the supply.
Yeah, I understand the rationale. I'm not going to go so far as saying one way is "right" and the other is "wrong", but it still feels for me like taking a big beautiful 1950's V8 automobile, replacing the engine with a contemporary four cylinder engine, replacing the body with a fiberglass one with lots of sparkles in the paint job and replacing the wood and chrome analog console with a computerized, heads-up display.
The number of serviceable Graflexes is self-diminishing. I was very pleasantly surprised when I had the top rangefinder of my Crown cleaned. It works wonderfully now. I'm still working through what might be light-leak (or operator error) issues with my Graphmatics, and I'm giving serious consideration to getting a Speed with a Kalart so I can use barrel lenses, shoot with the focal plane shutter, and adjust the Kalart to use lenses for which no top rangefinder cams are made.
I still wonder, though, at how many owners each of these modified cameras might have had after their current owner -- how many happy decades of use and appreciation might those Graflexes have seen, and how much value those cameras will have in ten or twenty years when the current fashionable mods are neither current nor fashionable.
Sure, I'll bet Charles Dickens might appreciate it if I took a first edition Oliver Twist, cut the spine off, laminated the covers in plastic, spiral-bound it and circulated it amoung thousands of contemporary readers, but that would mean there's one less first edition Oliver Twist in the world, and what in the world is wrong with just getting a contemporary edition for those purposes? For me, the depth of enjoyment out of an Old Original, especially one that's in serviceable condition, cannot be improved by adding bells and whistles.
To appease the purists
Just so you know, mine was junk before I defiled it
hey - i'm an idiot, i.e. i don't know a thing about "stripping the leather" as the common parlance goes.
but the leather on my crown graphic is a bit mildewed in spots and coming up in others. i've seen beautiful pictures of beautiful naked graphics and would really like to dive in... but i worry... well... how?
do i just simply pull the leather off? and then what? in the process of making something better, i don't want to make it worse.
really. i'm serious. i failed woodshop. i don't fix cars. i don't even drive a car.
I don't think of stripping a rangefinder and other parts from a Crown/Speed as good or bad. To me the camera is only a tool. The perfect tool in my mind has only what one needs and nothing more; streamlined.
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Frequently the leather can just be peeled off, Sometimes it needs to be encouraged. A mild solvent such as alcohol or the more aggressive acetone will take most of the glue holding the leather off.
A light sanding, some stain & a varnish or polyurethane to seal & finish and voila a newish camera
Mine came of in strips using pliers, then the glue washed off with water, just don't allow the wood to stay wet longer than necessary. A little fine steel wool will speed the process. Mine was finger jointed mahogany, and I finished it with a light coat of stain wiped on and spray can clear polyurethane. I also sprayed the inside with flat black paint after masking the exterior. The brass I soaked in paint remover because some of it had been painted, then a weak (diluted with water) muriatic acid (swimming pool ph adjusting chemical) solution and steel wool to remove the oxidation. Then I sprayed those parts with a clear laquer made for metal before re-assembling.
Here is my (modified for field use) CG
Not to know what happened before one was born is always to be a child - Cicero
Originally Posted by kwmullet
THAT'S what they do in my neighborhood, then put hydraulic systems on them to make them jump up and down.
tim in san jose (home of the 'low rider')
P.S. I have thought of doing this to my 3x4 Speed but ya know, I do have a 1926 Trona that fits the bill unstripped.
Where ever you are, there you be.
An easy way to remove leather.
It's really quite simple and works fast. Simply fill the teapot and set it to boil. Open the spout and hold the camera over it. The leather can be removed super easy as the horse hide glue will loosen and the leather will wrinkle up. Pull off or use a scraper with care. Forget the solvents. Hazardous and messy.
Originally Posted by rakuhito
I have a couple of bodies striped waiting for a design that will allow me to pull the cover off and fix a dedicated lens to it like a Hobo. I'd like to keep the rangefinder on it tho. I also figured that by putting a tripod adpater into the center of the front cover, and reworking the front cover arm guides inside the body you could get back tilts.