Sad folder story
I need a little sympathy... On my last trip to Berlin, I fell in love with an Agfa Billy Record II and brought it home. Since then, it has been my very able travel companion to Berlin again, to London twice, and to Knoxville, TN. Alas, after using the ancient bellows a little, it developed a pinhole. And I found the focus ring a little on the stiff side (not really smooth, nothing bad). Being a good folder owner, I sent it off for repair and a bellows replacement to a German site that Shall Not Be Named...
It came back yesterday. I drove to the UPS store to pick it up, paid 171 Euros, found the functions really nice and smooth, found the old yucky bellows in the package, too, and drove home happily. I shot a few rolls on a hike today, of course totally trusting the repair shop, and developed the first roll today. You guessed it I'm sure - every single frame on that neg is absolutely black.
It got dark here an hour ago, and we shone a flashlight through the bellows. There are three, uhm, "pinholes" in it. One of them is about 5 mm long and 2 mm wide, the others are slightly smaller.
It's childish I know, but it just makes me sad. They replaced my one-tiny-pinhole bellows with one that's just plain ripped... For 171 Euros...
On the bright side: I won an auction for one of Certo6's folders (that's Jurgen Kreckel, the folder guru). Sure, I will send the Billy in again and either get a new bellows or a big refund, but... I don't know. It hurts. Someone hurt my folder! Isn't there a Hippocratic Oath for repair shops, too? "Never do harm to anyone..."? :rolleyes:
Sorry. I think I need to get hugged now.
You certainly need a hug. I hope you feel better in the morning.
Sounds like you need to go enjoy a few of those excellent German beers we hear so much about!
The place with the 171 Euros in its pocket needs to hear about this...
maybe they used an old stock replacement and were unaware it had shelf life issues.
That is a lot of money to have it be unusable...even worse from my perspective considering the exchange rate if I had paid that much.
Here's something that might not be a hug....but close. I restore Agfa Isolettes and Ansco Speedex 6x6 folders as an enjoyable hobby. Almost all of the ones I buy need a fairly complete overhaul. Here's what I do:
All cameras are completely disassembled. Lenses are removed from the shutter. The lens glass is removed from the lens mount and cleaned with a solution of 50% ammonia and 50% peroxide. Lens mounts are cleaned of all old grease using non-acetone nail polish remover. Shutter is disassembled and cleaned with either a very small amount of Ronsonol lighter fluid (naphtha) and/or Asahiklin AK225 tech cleaner, depending on how much cleaning is required. Any residue left on the shutter leaves or diaphragm leaves is carefully removed using Eclipse Optic cleaner. In some cases (not all), the shutter escapement and delay timer gears receive a very light application of molybdenum disulfide (BP-2000 powder) dry lubricant. The old bellows is removed. The top plate is removed. Dust and dirt is removed from all interior surfaces using the ammonia/peroxide solution. The shutter release mechanism and double-exposure prevention mechanism receive a very light oil. Excess is removed. The film take-up winding knobs are cleaned and dry lubricated using the BP-2000 powder. If the camera has a rangefinder, it is removed, disassembled, cleaned, lubricated, and adjusted. The top plate is cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner using a biodegradable cleaning solution (EuroSonic). I may also use a restoration metal polish to further improve the appearance of the top plate. For badly tarnished depth-of-field dials on the top of the camera I use a Dremel burnishing brush to 'brass' the dial. The exterior cover is cleaned using ArmorAll Cleaning wipes. If the covering is in very bad shape I completely remove the old covering, clean the camera down to the bare metal, and re-cover using black seal grain leatherette purchased from CameraLeather.com. The camera is reassembled. I fabricate new leather bellows and install them. Bellows are checked for light tightness. Focus is adjusted using an old Rolleiflex focusing screen with two 120 reels attached to each end. The focusing screen is loaded into the camera and focus is adjusted for 10 feet using a loupe. After securing the focusing ring at the 10 foot (or 3 meters) indicator, focus is again checked at 3, 6, 10, 30, and infinity. If the camera has a rangefinder, the focusing ring is matched to the distance reading on the rangefinder. Last step is just to check that everything works.
Now the good part.......I currently have about 20 restored cameras and would like to give you one as a gift to ease your pain. Most are Isolette II's with Apotar lenses in Prontor shutters. I have some Isolette III's / Speedex Special "R", again, all with Apotar lenses. I do have one Isolette II with a f/3.5 75mm Solinar lens. This one has some very minor (almost unnoticeable) coating loss on the inside of the front element but I really don't think it will affect the performance.
Anyway, tell me your general preference (e.g. feet or meters on the focus), Isolette II or Isolette III, send me your address and I'll select a good one and send it to you. I'll even pay the postage.
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I was going to wait until Antje responded before commending your generosity. I was going to PM you myself to ask if your services are available to others, but you have neither PM nor e-mail enabled here :O(
Bravo, John! I'm more than certain Antje will find your generosity so much better than a hug.
Tom, on Point Pelee, Canada
Ansel Adams had the Zone System... I'm working on the points
system. First I points it here, and then I points it there...
I've enabled e-mail and PMs.
To answer your question, I've restored and sold about 50 cameras. I've also installed my new leather bellows on a few cameras that customers have sent me. Almost without exception the people who have purchased them were quite happy. However, when you start dealing with money, people sometimes expect more than they get and that's an uncomfortable situation (at least for me). The enjoyment I get is to purely from working on and bringing these old folders back to life - not from making a profit on what I do.
If I started to take in cameras for repair then there would be schedules to meet and expectations that I might not be able to satisfy. So, I've decided that from now on I will continue to get cameras that need repair, restore them as best I can, and give them away to total strangers who I might stumble across as I did in this thread. Since I've started this practice I've given away 5 cameras and made some very good friends, so I think I'll continue down that path for awhile.
That being said, if you have an Isolette (no Super Isolette's please) or Speedex that needs some attention and you don't care when you get it back and don't care if I mess it up, then feel free to send it along. No charge for my services, of course.
Antje, I'll send you a cyber-hug anyway! That's a rather depressing experience. According to some ePrey auctions I tracked a while back, and figuring in the exchange rate, you might have been able to get a Billy Record II CLA'd and ready to go from certo6 for the cost of that repair. That makes it all the more annoying.
DaveT -- enjoying a Perkeo II from Jurgen.
First an Update: Called them this morning and they were stunned as I expected... I mean, they serviced all my Hasselblad stuff and did an excellent job! They also service my dad's significant zoo of post-WWII cameras. So, I'll send it in, and they'll either fix it or refund the money for the bellows repair. That is very fair I think, the rest of the repair was done wonderfully. I agree, they must have picked an older bellows by accident, and that one must have gotten ripped when I opened the camera.
Too bad about the photos from the hike, but I'm confident I'll get a working cam back, and they have always been really quick in their repairs.
*chewing my fingernails*