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View Full Version : Refurbished Rittreck View 5x7 Field Camera



Paul Kinzer
2-Jul-2017, 01:36
I bought a rather beat-up Rittreck View a couple of months ago, and I've been working to make it my own. I made a 5x7 back for it, and an adapter for using lenses in Graphic boards. And yesterday, new blue bellows arrived, which I had made by the seller called Tokyophoto on eBay. They are amazingly good people for several reasons, and I cannot say enough good about them. I know that these are not very common cameras, so maybe my detailed descriptions won't help many folks out there, but I like to share, and some of what I write might be helpful for other cameras. I apologize to those in other lands for my references to products available here in the US, and to stores here as well. I can only describe what I know!

I'll start at the end, by explaining the bellows. Tokyophoto sends them to you with the front plate already attached, and asks that you then ship them the plate you remove from your camera when getting rid of the old bellows. The front plate arrives glued to the front of the bellows, and you need to remove the eight tiny machine screws that hold your own plate to the front standard, and then re-screw them in through the 'new' plate (it's actually one sent to them by someone else, spreading the good). I decided that it made sense to do the front first, because reaching through the back of the camera would make getting at these tiny screws very difficult (thanks to someone here in another thread who wrote that he wished he had done this with his!). The front standard slides right off the camera by lifting it upward. This made it easy to simply set it flat on a table to work on.

I was fortunate in that I had some glue on hand that seemed like a good fit for attaching the rear of the bellows to the metal frame of the rear standard. It's a silicone based adhesive that seems a lot like caulk, but it adheres to a wide variety of materials, including both metal and fabric. I bought it for gluing telescope mirrors to their cells. It gives a lot of working time, never hardens completely, and is fairly easy to remove once dry, if it ever becomes necessary. I don't have it in front of me, but could supply more information if someone wanted me to.

I had already completely removed the old bellows material and glue from the rear frame. It was, fortunately, not too difficult. I don't know what the old bellows were made of, but it sure seemed like some kind of paper! I was able to scrape it off with my (luckily for me) substantial thumbnails, and the glue residue came right off with Goo-Gone.

I knew that I needed to spread a bead of adhesive all the way around the frame, and then clamp the back end of the fabric of the bellows in such a way that there would be no wrinkles or open spots. I went to Office Depot and found -- in a clearance rack, no less! -- a big tub of paper binder clips. I knew they'd fit into the tight slot within the pleats of the bellows. I also figured I'd need some kind of flat stick to use as a brace for the clips to grip against. ?I made some out of thin plywood scraps I had, but they were too thick. Then I noticed an old band saw blade hanging on the wall. It was too dull to ever use again, and I don't know why I hadn't thrown it into recycling long ago, but it worked perfectly, and was easily cut to the proper length with tin snips (see the first photo).

The other photo shows the clips in place. It sat on our dining room table. But the photo will show why I call it the 'camera crap table' for now. I'm putting together my LF kit there, for the trip I'm taking with my son in August. We're gng out west to see the total eclipse of the sn on Augist 21st, but just in case there are clouds that day, I'm planning lots of fun before and after. LF is one of the things I want to do.

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Paul Kinzer
2-Jul-2017, 02:07
Here's a photo of the camera with the bellows installed, and with the 5x7 back I made for it.

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I bought the camera with the Rittreck 4x5 back that many of them come with. I've owned and repaired a whole lot of Pacemaker Speed and Crown Graphics, and own one of each for myself. Weirdly, though, I've almost never used them for photography. I love to tinker, and to make old, good things work in the world again. So I guess maybe it isn't too weird. But I decided after having back surgery in December, and lying useless for way longer than I wanted to, that I wanted to give LF a serious try. I did a lot of research, and for no really rational reason, I picked the Rittreck as the camera I wanted to get. I already had the Graphics, and they have their uses, but I wanted to explore movements.

When the camera arrived, I realized right away that I wanted a different back for it. The Rittreck 4x5 back is solid, but it is not a Universal/Graflock, so it cannot be used with my 6x12 rollfilm back. I started looking around for an alternative, but while doing so, I began wondering about 5x7. And it didn't take me long to conclude that it might be the format for me, for all the reasons others were telling me in their posts about it: it is nearly twice the size of 4x5; it is less square (which I prefer); and most of the lenses I was collecting will cover it. So I ended up buying an old wooden Burke and James 5x7 back that someone had attached to a homemade reducing back of some kind. I paid more than I should have, because I've seen several 5x7 backs for less since, but I was eager.

I ordered a 3mm thick sheet of aluminum from the UK (so I guess I should call it aluminium). It doesn't make sense to me, but it was chepaer to do this, even with the shipping charge, than to get it here in the US. I cut it to the proper outer dimensions (220mm square, IIRC), and cut a hole in the center to match the hole in the B&J back. I used my little power scroll saw, which wasn't really made for cutting metal. I broke several blades, but they're cheap.

The hardest part was making the ridged light trap that fits into the half-inch wide grooves around the outer edge of the back of the rear standard. The grooves are not very deep (less that 2mm), and I didn't have any metal strips thin enough. I ended up finding just what I needed again, though, in my workshop. Last year, I made a 14-inch Newtonian reflector telescope, and for its 'skin', I used 1.5mm thick flexible plywood. Some scraps worked perfectly.

I also made a thin (3mm) plywood ground glass protector for the back. It's held onto the steel part of the GG back with flexible magnet strips. The strips came with adhesive, but, no surprise, it came off in just moderately hot weather. I epoxied them on, and they're on there for good now.

I bought blue spray paint and used it on the back before I ever saw the new bellows, and 'sage green' that looked like a fairly close match to the metal of the camera. I like it!

Here's a photo of the back with the ground glass protector off.

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And its after 4:00 am here, and I'm an idiot! Good night!

Leszek Vogt
2-Jul-2017, 10:13
That is a pretty rig. Hope it takes as good images.

Les

Vaughn
2-Jul-2017, 10:58
Great job!

Paul Kinzer
2-Jul-2017, 14:05
Thanks, Les and Vaughn!

The last thing I did for my kit was make an adapter so that I can use all my lenses on both my Graphic cameras and the Rittreck. I fix old Graphics, and have lots of parts lying around, including front standards. So I took one of these and attached it to a Rittreck lens board with a very large hole in it; large enough that the big (70mm) back end of my 90mm f/5.6 Super Angulon can be put through it. In order to use the adapter on the Rittreck, I needed to pull the Graphic standard out a bit (1/4 inch), because the Rittreck lens mount works with a lever that flips out. Without the wooden spacer, with needed notches on both the top and bottom, the lever would not clear the Graphic standard. This means that lenses are abut 1/2-inch further out from the film plane than the would be with a standard Rittreck board (first photo). For me, this is fine, since even the shortest-focal-length lens I hope to use on this camera, my 75mm f/8 Super Angulon, will just focus at infinity (second photo). No movements are possible, but that's okay. If I need them with this lens, I have the Crown Graphic.

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I put more photos of the finished camera in the 'show off your LF camera' thread in the Cameras forum (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?36782-Show-off-your-Large-Format-camera!&p=1397118&posted=1#post1397118):

B.S.Kumar
2-Jul-2017, 18:28
You did a great job. Paul.

Kumar

Paul Kinzer
2-Jul-2017, 22:13
Thanks, Kumar! You were a lot of help to me.

Unfortunately, I found a new problem with the camera today. The lever that releases the front standard to slide along the rails, which is shown circled in the photo below, has always been positioned lower down than I thought it should be. And I could lift it up before squeezing it in the direction the red arrow shows, so it seemed like it may just have been part of the way things are meant to be with the Rittreck. But since the camera is just about ready to use (or so I thought), I looked at it more closely, from below. I don't have a photo of that (yet), but a lot goes on under there. Both this lever, and the one next to it for releasing the front swing option, are fairly complicated, spring-loaded levers, which put constant pressure on certain points. There is a central bolt for this particular lever that, in my opinion, was designed too short. It does not go very far into the threaded body of the bottom of the front standard, which seems to be made of aluminum. Those threads have been broken away over the years, so that the bolt is not held in well. Everything works, but is held together pretty much by the pull of the spring, and does not lock down as it should. I also worry that somewhere along the way, probably in the middle of a field in western South Dakota, the bolt will let loose, and the spring will shoot it over a cliff and into a ravine in the Badlands. I can't have that!

So it's off to the hardware store/hobby shop in a nearby town tomorrow. There's no way I'm going to find a bolt just like this one, only longer, but I hope I can piece something together. If only the bolt was 5mm longer, this problem would not have arisen. The threaded hole has plenty of room for it.

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Dan Fromm
3-Jul-2017, 09:17
Paul, two thoughts.

First, can you enlarge the damaged hole, tap it and put a helicoil in it?

Second, re 6x12 roll holders. I'm aware of three insertion type 6x12 roll holders. In alphabetical order, Cambo/Calumet C2, Linhof Tecno Rollex, and Sinar Panorama, available in several types with variable-width gate and one with fixed width. There may be others. Making a Graflok back, as you did, may be cost effective but isn't the only way to shoot 6x12 with a 4x5 camera that has a spring back.

el french
3-Jul-2017, 09:48
You may be able to repair the threads with JB Weld or similar epoxy. A helicoil may be a better option if, as Dan says, you can use it.

Paul Kinzer
3-Jul-2017, 10:00
Paul, two thoughts.

First, can you enlarge the damaged hole, tap it and put a helicoil in it?

Second, re 6x12 roll holders. I'm aware of three insertion type 6x12 roll holders. In alphabetical order, Cambo/Calumet C2, Linhof Tecno Rollex, and Sinar Panorama, available in several types with variable-width gate and one with fixed width. There may be others. Making a Graflok back, as you did, may be cost effective but isn't the only way to shoot 6x12 with a 4x5 camera that has a spring back.

Hi Dan,

I considered the enlarging of the hole, and will go that way if needed, but if I can find a longer bolt that can do the job, it would be less work, and less risky. The hole is inside a rather difficult to get at place, too, and does not go all the way through the place it is in, so enlarging it with a tap would be a challenge. I'll post what I end up doing.

As for the 6x12 back: thanks for the other suggestions. For me, since I already own a Dayi 6x12 back, getting a Graflock was the simplest, and cheapest solution. I should make clear that I did not make that back; I bought it from someone here. It was pretty inexpensive, and made more so by the selling of my other 4x5 back.

Paul Kinzer
3-Jul-2017, 10:02
You may be able to repair the threads with JB Weld or similar epoxy. A helicoil may be a better option if, as Dan says, you can use it.

Could you explain that, or maybe give me a link to one. I have heard of this, but don't have the skills. Wouldn't using JB Weld (which I have right here) mean that the bolt would essentially be permanently glued in place?

I'm heading to the hardware store as soon as I post this. I'll ask about this there. Thanks!

Paul Kinzer
3-Jul-2017, 16:46
Well, I've been to a few stores, to look over whatever might work for my purposes, and nothing will! The bolt I have apparently has 3mm threads, but they are coarser than the 0.5 threads which are the only 3mm bolts available now; not just there, but online, too. My hope was to simply get a longer bolt that would thread into the hole that's already there. That seems to be right out.

I think I figured out what el french meant about repairing the threads: put JB weld into the hole and re-tap it. But with a bolt that has odd, unavailable threads, that won't be possible.

My choices now seem to be either

1. See if one of my machinist acquaintances can fabricate something for me, or

2. Put JB weld into the hole, and then put everything back together and clamp it down till the JB weld sets. I'd need to be careful to not have the JB Weld get onto the parts that must be free to move. And, of course, the 'fix' would be permanent.

Any thoughts?

Here's a photo, showing just what needs to go where. Match the colors to figure it out, if you can. It's a bunch of stuff that needs to go together just so, and there are two different springs -- one quite aggressive -- that will pull and push against whatever I do.

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Here's another, showing the bolt, it's dimensions, and what might be done to make the replacement more robust against the pressure of the springs:

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Paul Kinzer
3-Jul-2017, 18:36
Well, as often happens, I ask some questions, and then come up with my own answers. I ended up ordering some items form McMaster-Carr. It would be nice to be able to just go to a store and pick one of each thing that I need instead of ordering 10, but that's the way it goes!

I'm getting a 'Hex Drive Flanged Rounded Head Screw', 3/8-inch long, 6x32 (I had to get 10 of these). I'm also getting a 'Stainless Steel Unthreaded Spacer 1/4" OD, 1/16" Length, for Number 6 Screw Size'. These will be close to what the old bolt is in size. (While I was at it, I also ordered some static-free zip-lock bags to store my 5x7 backs in. Might as well save on shipping by getting it all at once.)

I'll have to drill the hole out in the cam (the hole is shown circled in red in the last post) because the current hole is only 0.225 inches in diameter. I'll wait for the stuff to arrive first; maybe the diameter of the spacer will be off.

I'll also need to re-tap the the hole circled in blue above, to accept 6x32 threads, but that's good because it's the whole cause of the problem.

I may also have to grind away part of the top of one of the 'Hex Drive Flanged Rounded Head Screws', since it will need to slide under the cross bar of the camera rail guide. But I'm getting 10 of them, so I'll have lots to make mistakes on.

For anyone reading this, thanks for bearing with me as I post my process. I should probably wait until I'm done, and then just report what I did,once I do it!

B.S.Kumar
3-Jul-2017, 19:25
Paul, if this doesn't work, let me know. I need to check, but I may be able to get you the bottom part with the spring and the black levers, or even the entire front standard.

Kumar

Paul Kinzer
3-Jul-2017, 21:02
Cool, Kumar! That would be great. But the stuff is on it's way, so I'll let you know.

Thanks!

Paul

el french
3-Jul-2017, 22:53
You need to use a release agent on the male screw threads. You may or may not need to tap the threads after the JB Weld has cured. There are also products made specifically to rebuild threads which also may be better than JB Weld.

Paul Kinzer
4-Jul-2017, 11:25
Thanks, el french! That makes sense. But I'm going to wait for the parts I ordered. I won't re-drill and re-tap the hole in the bottom of the front standard until I can look everything over with the new parts in front of me. But if all looks doable, my fix will actually make the whole thing stronger, with a slightly larger bolt being screwed further into the frame.

Paul Kinzer
6-Jul-2017, 19:22
Okay, the parts arrived from McMaster-Carr, and they seem to do the job. I tried several different arrangements, using lots of different spacings of various washers, but no matter what I do, pulling on the lever loosens the screw each time, even after lubricating things with dry graphite. It's so little that I would need to move the standard many times before it would be a noticeable problem, so I'm just going to live with it. I figure it's happening because I'm not using the exact parts the camera came with, and things are rubbing together a bit. I'll just make sure to keep the proper Allen key with me; tightening it up for long periods of use takes about five seconds.

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Above is an 'exploded' view of the order things had to go in. The brass spacer/bearing fits into the slot shown by the red arrow. The slot has gotten a bit rough in spots over the years, which might be one more reason things loosen up. I also had to drill out the hole marked by the blue circle. It was a hair smaller than the 1/4-inch I needed for my new spacer.



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Here it is, put back together and resting on my knee.




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And here is the camera, re-assembled. I had to use a different, thinner washer than the one shown on the bolt at the right in that first image. It was too thick to let the bolt assembly pass under the bar on the rail bed.

Everything works as it should now!

Jools89
6-Jul-2017, 19:59
Paul, congratulations and thanks! I bookmarked this one.
I recently picked up a Rittreck View myself. Mechanically it seems to handle well but I have decided that no amount of patching will save the bellows. So a replacement is in order to make it come alive.
I thought of making a bellows myself but I've never made one, and replicating the thickness of the paper bellows so the camera can close properly seems either difficult or as costly as a replacement.
Anyways, your fotos/info of the bellows replacement have been extremely helpful and encouraging, as I know next to nothing about this camera and info seems hard to find.
Happy shooting, Julio.

Paul Kinzer
6-Jul-2017, 22:32
Paul, congratulations and thanks! I bookmarked this one.
I recently picked up a Rittreck View myself. Mechanically it seems to handle well but I have decided that no amount of patching will save the bellows. So a replacement is in order to make it come alive.
I thought of making a bellows myself but I've never made one, and replicating the thickness of the paper bellows so the camera can close properly seems either difficult or as costly as a replacement.
Anyways, your fotos/info of the bellows replacement have been extremely helpful and encouraging, as I know next to nothing about this camera and info seems hard to find.
Happy shooting, Julio.

Hi Julio,

I'm really glad that my specific comments are of help to someone. It makes it seem much more worthwhile! Good luck with your Rittreck.

stawastawa
7-Jul-2017, 00:01
cool to see the repair with the bolt went so well. makes me wish I had had success with my mechanical adventure today. I have a seized and frozen shaft in my roll film back that refuses to release. But happy I at least managed to take it all apart and put it back together, even If I didnt make the fix!

i was going to suggest have a new bolt machined, but looks like you built your own fantastic bolt from kit parts! ;)

Paul Kinzer
7-Jul-2017, 00:49
Yup, I would have gone with the new, machined bolt, if this had not worked, but it did!

And this was the last bit of work the camera needed to make it work as well as when new. If the weather holds, I'll be doing some basic testing this weekend: light leaks, locking down of movements in the real world, etc. I'll start with some 120 film in my 6x12 holder, and try developing my own film for the first time, too!

Paul

el french
8-Jul-2017, 14:31
cool to see the repair with the bolt went so well. makes me wish I had had success with my mechanical adventure today. I have a seized and frozen shaft in my roll film back that refuses to release. But happy I at least managed to take it all apart and put it back together, even If I didnt make the fix!

i was going to suggest have a new bolt machined, but looks like you built your own fantastic bolt from kit parts! ;)

A trip to the freezer, then a little heat may loosen the shaft (The amount of heat depends on the materials).