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View Full Version : Props to Western Bellows



C. D. Keth
10-Nov-2008, 21:48
I just wanted to toss this up, in case anyone is going to have a bellows made any time soon. I got my kodak 2D bellows back from Western Bellows today and I am beyond happy. It's absolutely perfect. It's thin, very flexible, perfectly to specs and doesn't sag a bit at full extension.

Now to finish the rest of the camera...

PViapiano
10-Nov-2008, 22:28
How long was your wait time?

Just curious...having never had a bellows made to order before.

Thanks! ...and have fun!

C. D. Keth
10-Nov-2008, 22:47
I think it was about 6 weeks from sending out the old bellows and frames to receiving the new. About a week of that was because they actually made my bellows twice. The first one was slightly unsatisfactory for some reason so they redid them from the ground up.

David Karp
11-Nov-2008, 07:19
Glad it worked out. Jim is a nice guy too.

I dropped my camera off and picked it up, so I got to see (but not touch) some of the other cameras waiting for a new bellows. Also, there were forms for bellows of various types, and some good stories.

Jim Fitzgerald
11-Nov-2008, 08:06
Jim did the bellows for my 8x20 about a year ago. It was nice that I could drop off the frames and see the work in progress on other bellows. It was great to see the materials he uses and have him explain why. I'm going to have him do my 8x10 bellows when I get the $$.

Jim

MIke Sherck
11-Nov-2008, 08:24
Kind of weird that so many of these places have no web site, or even an e-mail address. "Call or write." So twentieth-century! :)

Mike

C. D. Keth
11-Nov-2008, 11:06
Kind of weird that so many of these places have no web site, or even an e-mail address. "Call or write." So twentieth-century! :)

Mike

I thought the same thing. I got the impression that it's a very deliberate choice. Jim is quite short spoken and doesn't even seem to like talking on the phone all that much.

Bruce Watson
11-Nov-2008, 11:12
I thought the same thing. I got the impression that it's a very deliberate choice. Jim is quite short spoken and doesn't even seem to like talking on the phone all that much.

So for the sake of completeness, what is the snail mail address and what is the phone number? It'll save someone (me?) in the future a lot of looking, maybe, if that information is part of this thread.

David Karp
11-Nov-2008, 11:17
Western Bellows
7454 Henbane St
Etiwanda, CA 91739
(909) 980-0606

rodneyAB
25-Feb-2009, 12:45
I did send my 8x10 bellows in for replacement just after Thanksgiving 2008 and paid in full.
I have not received the product yet, and am no longer holding my breath, and should I receive it sometime this year, I'm sure I'll be pleased as well as surprised.
Since I was told a two week turn-around, I expected that. Perhaps business is real good, and when my turn in que comes up, it will only be a two week turn-around.

Bryan Lemasters
25-Feb-2009, 17:31
I did send my 8x10 bellows in for replacement just after Thanksgiving 2008 and paid in full.
I have not received the product yet, and am no longer holding my breath, and should I receive it sometime this year, I'm sure I'll be pleased as well as surprised.
Since I was told a two week turn-around, I expected that. Perhaps business is real good, and when my turn in que comes up, it will only be a two week turn-around.

Rodney,

Call Jim and remind him that you have now been waiting 3 months for an item that he promised in two weeks. I ordered 2 Deardorff bellows a couple of years ago and had the same problem. I called him about 2 months after I placed the order and he told me that he was just finishing them and would be sending them out that week. A month later I called him again and kindly let him know that I was upset about the situation. He apologized for the wait and I had my bellows within about a week. For what it's worth, in Jim's case such a long wait seems to be the exception rather than the rule. I know of only one other photographer on this forum that has had any trouble. If it helps, the bellows are worth the wait.

Bryan

Gene McCluney
25-Feb-2009, 17:34
Rodney,

For what it's worth, in Jim's case such a long wait seems to be the exception rather than the rule. I know of only one other photographer on this forum that has had any trouble. If it helps, the bellows are worth the wait.

Bryan

I need to add my name to the list of customers who had an inordinately long wait for a bellows from Western Bellows. The quality of the final product is very good though.

neil poulsen
25-Feb-2009, 20:07
I have a Kodak 2D, and I've been thinking about installing a new bellows. My bellows are light tight. But at extensions longer than about 9 inches, a rise of 1.5" to 2" causes the bellows to obscure the top edge of the film.

Do you see this problem occurring with the new bellows that you received?

nikon_sam
25-Feb-2009, 22:07
Western Bellows
7454 Henbane St
Etiwanda, CA 91739
(909) 980-0606

I have an old business card from them when they were located on 7th Street...
Etiwanda is still part of Ranch Cucamonga and so is Alta Loma where I happen to live...
If I ever need their services it's good to know they're still right next door...
:D

David Karp
25-Feb-2009, 22:19
When Jim did my bellows, I called him about 1/2 way through the estimated delivery time and just checked in to see how things were going. Then, with about 1/2 week or so to go I called and asked him to set an appointment to pick it up on or around the delivery date. We set a date and time, and the camera was ready when I came to pick it up.

Shortly thereafter, I made a dumb mistake, damaging the bellows. I called, told him what I had done, and he said to bring it in. He fixed things up nicely, put a patch on the inside of the bellows to reinforce things, and charged me $0.00 for his efforts.

He is a one man shop, like so many of the suppliers/vendors in this market, and when he decides to hang it up, there will be very few bellows makers left. I hope he is OK, and the delays experienced by others are not due to illness.

I enjoyed the conversations I had with him when I dropped the camera off, picked it up, and while he repaired the bellows.

Mike Herring
2-Mar-2009, 17:00
Make that 3 customers..............I have spoken to them 6 times and get the same story each time...........NOT impressed and really starting to worry !!!

Mike:(


I need to add my name to the list of customers who had an inordinately long wait for a bellows from Western Bellows. The quality of the final product is very good though.

rodneyAB
23-Mar-2009, 22:34
Ah! my bellows arrived today, and it is indeed a very sweet product

C. D. Keth
23-Mar-2009, 23:17
Glad he's still delivering bellows. If you want to see one of his bellows in action (as much action as bellows see) check out my camera restoration thread (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=47094). The photos of the finished camera w/ bellows are on the second page.

Michael Jones
24-Mar-2009, 08:19
I've used Jim for several projects over the last 20 years and never had a problem. He produces a quality product, IMHO.

Mike

Doug Herta
24-Mar-2009, 20:54
I just finished building a bellows for an old Bunk & Junk .... er Burke & James Grover 8X10 yesterday. The camera is not really worth putting a bunch of money into, but the old bellows resembled a planetarium on the inside and I wanted to make a useable camera.

I tried coating the old bellows with various paints, tool dip, inflatable raft rubberizers, etc but it didn't really do the job. And to tell you the truth the bellows smelled.... bad.

I used the stinky old bellows for a pattern, bought 2 yards of "darkroom cloth" from Freestyle for the inside and outside layers of the bellows, 3 sheets of the thicker Yupo plastic material from Daniel Smith and a can of 3M "77" spray adhesive.

Let the tedium begin!

I cut the 184(!) stiffeners (ribs?), glued them in place, and pulled it around a form. I then worked the outer covering onto the form with much difficulty. Fortunately I had just cued up the Sex Pistols LP on the turntable right before I started putting the outer fabric on the bellows... It kind of helped to define the moment.

Lessons learned?

1) Materials costs are minimal (~$40) compared to the hours you have to dedicate. I have a new respect (awe) for those who do this for a living. If you can not tolerate tedious work then you will go Coo Coo for Cocoa Puffs over this.

2) Measure measure measure get it lined up perfectly to get the folds to lay straight. Even then it will probably be a little crooked (see attached photo).

3) So far the bellows material, stiffeners, and adhesive appear to be quite suitable and appropriate to the task. I am pleased the Yupo appears to be of the proper thickness/stiffness to support the bellows. It also may stand up better to rain than cardboard stiffeners. Pacific Northwest and Ireland photographers take note...

I will let you all know how this set holds up. It was an excellent learning experience.