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Thread: Repairing bag bellows; vacation coming up-help needed!

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    573

    Repairing bag bellows; vacation coming up-help needed!

    6 months after buying my (used) Wisner 4x5, I finally had reason to put my bag bellows to use. Up until then, I had only shot with 120mm-180mm lenses.

    The first time it was not too sunny, and 1 out of 4 frames showed stray light. I assumed I had done something wrong while loading the quickload.

    The second time, it was a very sunny day in Central Park and both frames were damaged. One was damaged beyond repair, and one my wife was able to repair in Photoshop.

    Again I initially assumed I did something wrong or perhaps had a faulty film holder. Then I took the bag bellows into a dark room, and to my amazement there were areas in the leather that the flashlight would shine right through.

    Given how hard it is to find used Wisner components, and how long it would take Wisner to supply a new bag bellows (not to mention the cost), this could easily ruin my upcoming vacation where I was planning to use my 90mm lens extensively.

    My options as I see them are:

    (1) Don't use the 90mm. Not a good option!
    (2) Use the 90mm with the regular bellows. No movements at all! Not a happy option.
    (3) Find a used bag bellows that doesn't leak. Not likekly in two weeks. Plus, the thing is fragile and could be on the vege of wearing away.
    (4) Get help from Jon Wisner. Not very responsive.

    OR:

    (5) Fix the thing myself.

    But I have no idea how. Are there any ways to patch a leather bag bellow without making it worse? Anything that can be sprayed on the leather to make it light tight?

    (Btw, I also checked the normal bellows, and it appears to have a few tiny pin holes; they haven't affected the pictures in any way I can see, probably because of luck. Are those kinds of bellows repairable?)

  2. #2
    SatinSnow
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
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    Montana
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    Re: Repairing bag bellows; vacation coming up-help needed!

    One thing you might do to save your trip, is once your set up, hang your dark cloth over the bellows before pulling the dark slide, I know I have done this on a couple of cameras I have owned in the past, and it worked just fine to keep light out, just remember to pull the dark slide after you have draped them, and remember to replace the slide before you take the dark cloth off the bellows.

    Dave

  3. #3
    Clay Clay Turtle's Avatar
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    Re: Repairing bag bellows; vacation coming up-help needed!

    Another temperary fix would be to get a tube of black silocon caulking compound & use it as the glue to add a small piece of dark cloth (liner) over the affected areas.
    Last edited by Clay Turtle; 6-Jul-2007 at 09:02. Reason: added information

  4. #4

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    May 2006
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    Orlando, FL
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    Re: Repairing bag bellows; vacation coming up-help needed!

    Bostick & Sullivan sells a patch kit.

  5. #5

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    Valley of the Sun, AZ
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    Re: Repairing bag bellows; vacation coming up-help needed!

    Stay away from silicone of any sort -- nothing else will ever adhere to that area.

    I have had very good luck brushing on a vinyl encapsulating compound made for sealing electrical connections in marine environments. Liquid 'Lectric Tape is one brand, West Marine sells their own brand. Small pinholes can be sealed just by brushing on the compound; it adheres well and stays flexible. Larger holes can be patched using a small patch and using this vinyl compound as both an adhesive for the patch and as sealant as before.
    They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.
    -Francis Bacon

  6. #6
    Clay Clay Turtle's Avatar
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    Re: Repairing bag bellows; vacation coming up-help needed!

    Bob, I am glad you added that information . . . I should add that I have not tried to repair a bellows as of yet so that method isn't proven by experience. But if you try it use a thin layer of adhesive & use a jar or can & a rubber band to stretch the material while drying . . . the dark cloth is more of covering so the areas don't become stuck together after the repair. Kind of like repairing the tube of a bicycle tire.
    Last edited by Clay Turtle; 6-Jul-2007 at 09:34. Reason: spelling error . . .

  7. #7

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    Re: Repairing bag bellows; vacation coming up-help needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by John Schneider View Post
    Stay away from silicone of any sort -- nothing else will ever adhere to that area.

    I have had very good luck brushing on a vinyl encapsulating compound made for sealing electrical connections in marine environments. Liquid 'Lectric Tape is one brand, West Marine sells their own brand. Small pinholes can be sealed just by brushing on the compound; it adheres well and stays flexible. Larger holes can be patched using a small patch and using this vinyl compound as both an adhesive for the patch and as sealant as before.
    Do you brush this on the inside or outside?

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    161

    Re: Repairing bag bellows; vacation coming up-help needed!

    Having previously owned a Wisner 4x5 bag bellows - it was an early one but very well made with no problems - You may want to invert the bellows in order to work on the inside.

    If I remember correctly you should be able to pass the front mounting flange through the rear flange & pull through to reverse the bag for internal access.

    It may be possible that the stitching has degraded & it could be a simple issue of re-stitching or having a shoe repair place do it for you.

    Another possible solution would be to dye the leather black both inside & out if the leather is thinned out in areas.

    Lasly - could ask a leatherworker/shoe repair person about making a new bag bellows for you - either mounting to the frames as original or perhaps outside of the original bellows with appropriate adhesive for pliability.


    Good Luck.

  9. #9

    Re: Repairing bag bellows; vacation coming up-help needed!

    There is no way to really patch a bellows. Patch the existing holes and more will invariably occur. Where have you tried to find a bellows? You appear to be in NYC. Have you tried Photo Gizzmo? Photo Habitat, Foto Care, Lens & Repro? All in Manhattan? Midwest Photo? Keeble & Shuchat? PhotoMark? The View Camera Store? Glazers?

    Or just look on the web? Any of these, as well as several others, could have a wa bellows in stock. New or perhaps used.

  10. #10

    Re: Repairing bag bellows; vacation coming up-help needed!

    If there is a cloth backing behind the leather, on the inside of the bag bellows, then there is one repair that can work very well for years. That is by using screenprinting ink, like used to make images on T-shirts. I have done several very old bellows on medium format folder cameras that way, the oldest repaired four years ago and still blocking light effectively.

    This would not work if there is only leather. The cloth backing holds the screenprinting ink in place. You would need a brush to apply it. Then curing is by setting the bellows in directly sunlight for many hours, until dry inside. After that you end up with a flexible repair that blocks light. Hopefully that could work for you.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat
    A G Studio

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