I just got the bellows patch kit from Bostick and Sullivan that they sell for something like $10.00.
I figured I'd be getting something similar to the puncture repair kits you get for rubber rafts and bicycle tires....
Boy was I wrong! It is definately a good value since you get 225ML of the bellows patch sealer liquid and a substantial amount of patching fabric! I am now set for the next 20 years when it comes to fixing my bellows.
Anyway, the instructions are O.K., but a bit vague. I have five holes I have identified. All in the same area. This is for my Calumet CC-401 that I got. Since this camera is lacking the knob on the end of the rise and fall shaft, the gear that runs along the back of the front standard tends to fall against the bellows. Turn that gear a bit or have the front standard move in shipping, and the teeth of the gear bit into the corner of the bellows.
So I have 5 holes all on the upper corner of 5 consecutive pleats. The biggest one is MAYBE 0.5mm. The smallest is only noticable when I place a flash light right against the area. Definatly not a planetarium. Figuring a decent fix, I should be able to keep the bellows running string for decades. No other holes at all.
Anyway, I want to fix this correctly so I never have to do it again. The instructions state that for "pinholes" I can just brush several layers of the liquid on. For "holes and tears" I have to use the fabric and cover that with several layers of liquid.
So is 0.5mm a "pinhole" or a "hole"? And since these holes are in an upper corner of a pleat, is there any extra care I should take in this? It seems an inherently "tricky" area.
Any hints on using this stuff would be greatly appreciated.
I would say 0.5 mm is a pinhole...how the heck did you measure this?---
anyhow, if you follow the instructions in the kit, you will make a mess. What I did was buy some wood glue, and glue the fabric to the inside of the bellows. BTW I painted the fabric black. (Why in the heck they send white fabric I have no idea!). Anyhow once the fabric was fastend and dried I put the rubber compound on the outside until it was all black. It brushes on gray, but will blacken when it dries. BTW let the bellows stand open for at least a week, if you close it sooner the rubber will stick to the walls and come off.
Well, I played with this stuff a bit and think I got a good result.
I used a small paint brush to dab over the pinholes. The liquid coating they send you is pretty thick and after about 4 coats everything is light-tight now. I avoided the fabric since the holes were so small. Worse comes to worse, I can reapply with fabric. Of course my grey bellows now has some black specks on it, but this is not a beauty contest (which a CC-401 would never win anyway).
Of course now this beast is sitting in my living room on top of my Benbo like some sort of sculpture waiting to dry.....
One thing I've been wondering about. What's the problem with making an outer bellows out of the same cloth used to make dark cloths? It would likely cost a person the abilty to squeeze the bellows real tight so short lens would be a problem. But other then that?
Plenty of older cameras out there that aren't worth a new $200+ bellows but might be put back too work relatively easily. Obviously I'm missing something just not sure what-)) Basically the idea is an extension of throwing your dark cloth over the bellows while you take the photograph.
I am no expert in bellows making but I would think that the darkroom cloths are way too thick and don't have the ridgeity to do what bellows do. Sure, you will have to put in the little cardboard shapes, but is that enough for the whole thing to stand up to the movement. Plus, the darkroom cloth I have seen is not nearly light tight in one application. Just my too scents!
I don't mean in place of a bellows but over the bellows. Sort of like a sock-))
What you are proposing is pretty much like a bag bellows for short focal length lenses. You should take a look at a few of them and get some ideas on the construction. You may find a way to reproduce them for your purpose.
OH! my bad. I do that now with my darkcloth from my 8x10 camera. I don't see any real advantage to making a sock. The bellows is supposed to be light tight and if it is in good shape the only issue would be were you insert the film holder and that is where I keep my darkcloth.
I'm just thinking about all those well used cameras with bad bellows. Would seem to make sense to put them to work.
I have bought two Deardorffs on Ebay in the last year. I disassembled, stripped and refinished the wood and metal as well as replacing the bellows. The bellows cost $290.00 on each of the cameras. The refinishing materials were relatively inexpensive. On each of the cameras, that I bought, the bases had developed splits (due to the way in which Deardorffs were built. I disassembled the wood bases in the process of rebuilding the cameras, reglued and rebuilt them. I would not be reluctant to try another camera again. The bellows are something that I think that I would at least try to build myself next time. Most of the cost of replacement bellows has to be the labor to fabricate them. There are sites on the internet that discuss materials and patterns of bellows construction.
For those who have an inclination to rebuild cameras, I would get the seller to confirm that the rack and pinions were in good shape. That all of the movements worked and that there were no broken or missing parts. The greatest majority of the metal on these cameras is OEM and is very costly to have fabricated unless a person has a metal mill and lathe.
Depending on a persons woodworking skills, the thing that has appealed to me is to take 8X10 cameras and building new backs for 11X14 format, 8X20, or even 7X17 format. There seems to be a relative shortage of ULF equipment on the used market and new is costly. There is an apparent resurgence of alternative process that requires contact processing and the cost disparity between new ULF and what could be accomplished through conversion might make this a viable market.