Quote Originally Posted by Aggie
I decided to take the plunge and learn about wet plate/dry plate/tintypes. I did the ebay thing and purchased this camera: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...e=STRK:MEWN:IT

What I would like to know is all about restoration that I might need to do with this camera. Keep in mind that wet plate photography tends to get messy so things need to be durable. Things I need to know and I know some of this stuff has been talked about before, but I can't find the threads, are: where to get new bellows if it needs it? Wat kind of finishes do you put on film holders? Should I send the lens off to SK Grimes? Where can I get some lens boards made? I do not want to spend the time making my own. Will I need more than the three film holders?
I'm in the process of tooling up for this right now also. I took a weekend workshop and learned enough to be dangerous. First, you will probably need only one plate holder. You expose the thing within 5 minutes of taking it out of the silver bath, so there is really no way of using more than one. It is sort of like a caveman style polaroid back. You coat, sensitize, expose, develop, wash, fix and look. If it stinks, you change something and try again, using the same holder.

Ray Morgenweck at Star or Wayne Pierce may be your best bet if you want to really refurb the camera. The link that Kerik gave you on the Scully&Osterman page for making your own holder with an old 8x10 holder may be the best way to start. The thing to keep in mind is that you are going to be dripping silver nitrate onto whatever you use, so if it is an organic material such as wood, you will need to varnish it thoroughly.

The more critical item you will need to have made are the two tanks for sensitizing and then fixing your plates. The silver bath tank will need to be light tight if you are planning on doing any of this outdoors. I would highly recommend buying the Scully and Osterman guide, the John Coffer book and perhaps the Coming Into Focus book, which has a section on wetplate. In addition, you can go to Alibris and find a copy of the facsimile edition of the Silver Sunbeam, which is a period book on the process with exhaustive detail on everything from making your studio and darkoom to making your own collodion from scratch (NOT recommended unless your insurance is completely paid up - a few people blew themselves up in the 1800's making home brew collodion with nitric acid and cotton and ether)

There is also a collodion forum that you can find by googling robert szabo and collodion.