Almost Finished!

February 1, 2010

I found a bellows that mostly fit. The bellows frames were too large and I had to do some work to get them to fit on the old frames. It took about 2 hours with some fabric glue and tack nails. Now all I need to get is a lens, some film holders and film and I can test it!

Day 7: Re-Assembly

September 7, 2008

I re-assembled the camera after midnight last night, so that counts as day 7 right?

I’ve never refinished anything before this project so I was a little worried I would mess up some crucial part and it would look like some shoddy piece of work.

It doesn’t. 🙂

Since the camera is over 80 years old, I was wanting to make it look ‘distressed’ and it does slightly. But it really looks nice.

I learned a lot so far with this project. There’s a few things I would have done differently if I could go back, but overall I’m happy with the results.

I was able to find an 8×10 back and a 5×7 reducing back for pretty cheap. It’s still missing a few small parts. 1 Knob and the plumb level.

Now to make a new bellows… That’s going to take a little while as I have to source the right materials and test them out.

Day 5 to 6: Stain and Lacquer

September 7, 2008

I wanted a lighter color than the original because I think it goes with the brass work better. I started with conditioner – added a MINWAX light cherry base stain and then 2 coats of MINWAX mandarin orange stain.

The cherry was oil based and had to dry for at least 8 hours before I could add any further coats. I let it dry for 12 hours. I let each coat of mandarin orange ( a water based stain) dry for 3 hours.

I then added 4 coats of gloss lacquer. I rubbed the final coat down with 0000 grade steel wool which added a beautiful and subtle shine.

Now on to re-assembly…

It took several days, but I got the entire camera stripped and sanded to bare wood. With trial and error I got better and faster results towards the end.

The final process that worked best for me:

  • Coat with paint stripper and let set for 5 minutes.
  • Use scraper to remove guck and muck of finish.
  • Recoat with stripper and rub with paper towels.
  • While still damp with the stripper I sprayed 409 on the wood and rubbed it with steel wool.
  • Let it dry overnight.
  • The next day I sprayed the wood with Clorox Bleach cleaner and wiped it with paper towels, this removed 80% of the stain.
  • I let it dry again overnight.
  • Small amount of final sanding got me to the bare wood.

Now to stain and laquer the wood…

Day 1: Cleaning the Brass

August 30, 2008

The first thing I did was disassemble the entire camera.

I soaked all the brass parts in pure ammonia for 1 hour to remove the grime and corrosion. I experimented with Connoisseurs Metal Polish, Bar Keepers Friend and NEVR-DULL to get it semi-shining. I don’t want it to be glossy new, I want it to look a little aged.

I found the best combo was Bar Keepers Friend followed up by NEVR-DULL.

I picked up a box of junk that used to be an Eastman Kodak 2-D 8×10 camera from the earlier part of the last century.

The original bellows were torn to shreds. A previous owner had attempted to attach another Sinar bellows that were also in pretty bad shape. He had glued shims to the rear standard to mount the new bellows that had to be removed before the original bellows frames could be mounted again.

The brass is nearly black and all pitted. The wood is dull, heavily scratched up and just plain ugly.

It included a sliding 5×7 sliding back and a 4×5 reducing back. No 8×10 back was included though, so I would have to find one. It also included the extension rail which is often missing on these old cameras and nearly impossible to find, so there’s one positive.

I removed the Sinar bellows and checked the fit of the original. I mounted the camera on the rails to check movement and it runs smoothly. It’s just really ugly.

These are not rare at all and it doesn’t devalue them to restore unlike antique furniture. It actually improves their value if they can be made fully functional again. I’m not a collector, I don’t own a camera that doesn’t work.

So now to plan the restoration…