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Thread: Big Bertha's New Home!

  1. #1
    Dan Schwartz's Avatar
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    Big Bertha's New Home!

    Thursday was The Big Day, driving all the way down to Rodger Digiulio's office in Alexandria VA, from central NJ in the snow, sleet and slush to pick up this monster of a camera... And oh, does it need a restoration before it's really ready to shoot at a speedway.

    In case you don't know what a Big Berthat is, this particular model has a 5x7 Graflex Home Portrait SLR, circa 1912-1915, mated to an f/8 40 inch (1016mm!) Bausch & Lomb semi-telephoto lens. She's over 36 inches long when focused at infinity; and she extends to well over 44 inches for focusing closer in. She weighs in at 57 pounds; and that big black lens is larger than anything you'll see in a porno flick.

    She has two bellows, each 5 inches square and extending up to 8 inches. Normally, the front bellows are compressed to just 1-1/2 inch thick; with the front standard on a sliding bed allowing an additional 7 inches of extension.

    Here are four photos I shot before I started the restoration: As time progresses, I'll add more pictures...







    Last edited by Dan Schwartz; 19-Jan-2008 at 16:26. Reason: Add'l info

  2. #2
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    Re: Big Bertha's New Home!

    Cats! Now that's what I call a camera.

    Bruce Watson

  3. #3
    Dan Schwartz's Avatar
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    Re: Big Bertha's New Home!

    Here are some photos of the brass parts after polishing, and of Bertha disassembled and without her pair of bellows. Note how she has the variable rear extension controlled by the lever, while the front extension is adjusted by removing the brass extension bolts and sliding the lens in its carriage.








  4. #4
    In the desert...
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    Re: Big Bertha's New Home!

    Nice one....do you also collect and restore steam locomotives?

  5. #5

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    Re: Big Bertha's New Home!

    Damn, I'm getting ideas here. (and with a full and 35hr/week part time job, that's dangerous)


    erie

  6. #6
    Dan Schwartz's Avatar
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    Re: Big Bertha's New Home!

    The hard part of building a Big Bertha is getting the glass. The 1016mm f/8 lens on mine appears to be from a prewar aerial camera: I say this because the optics are not coated; and because there is a power jack for a lens (anti-condensation) heater.

    Quote Originally Posted by erie patsellis View Post
    Damn, I'm getting ideas here. (and with a full and 35hr/week part time job, that's dangerous)

    erie

  7. #7

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    Re: Big Bertha's New Home!

    Right now you're thinking that it's Big Bertha but give it a few months and you'll be thinking that it's more like Typhoid Mary.

    Anyway, it does seem like a fun thing to have. Hurry up and take some photos with it and good luck! Cheers.

  8. #8
    Dan Schwartz's Avatar
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    Re: Big Bertha's New Home!

    Steven,

    She's already on the surgery table, partially disassembled for the restoration. Fortunately, the heart of the camera -- The lens -- is in almost perfect shape, just requiring a quick disassembly, cleaning and reassembly.

    I'm waiting for answers on refurbishing or replacing the bellows from a couple more people; and also on a CLA of the focal plane shutter.

    All that being said, my target is the middle of March to have her shooting pictures at a NASCAR track.

  9. #9

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    Re: Big Bertha's New Home!

    I can't wait for the stories of being hassled by the local cops when you try and actually use this beast! I'm sure someone will think you are using some sort of rocket launcher LOL.
    *************************
    Eric Rose
    www.ericrose.com
    yourbaddog.com

    I don't play the piano, I don't have a beard and I listen to AC/DC in the darkroom. I have no hope as a photographer.

  10. #10
    Dan Schwartz's Avatar
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    Re: Big Bertha's New Home!

    I've been blogging Bertha's restoration on my website, which has more photos.

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