View Full Version : Bellows Replacement Question

Clyde Rogers
6-Mar-2008, 18:24
Hello all,

I have a new-to-me Phillips 4x5 that I'm updating a bit. It has a heavy bellows, and I'm going to have a lightweight bellows made for the camera by Camera Bellows in the UK (gives far better movements with wide lenses, more front rise for all lenses, and is lighter).

Here's the problem---the bellows is attached directly to the front and rear standards of the camera. If I want CB to mount the bellows, I have to send them those parts. Shipping these parts with appropriate insurance costs about $100 each way. I could, on the other hand, remove and remount the bellows myself. Then all I have to send to the UK is the bellows, about $35 each way fully insured.

So, has anyone mounted such a bellows on a Phillips or similar camera? Is it difficult? Should I stop whining and just pay the shipping? Or is the replacement so trivial that I can safely save myself $130?

Thanks for reading,


6-Mar-2008, 19:28
Why don't you give Dick Phillips a call and see what he thinks. I've talked to him and he's just a super nice and helpful guy, so I'm sure he could advise you. I'd bet you could carefully remove the bellows without damaging the frames and install the new bellows with a little guidance.

Ted Harris
6-Mar-2008, 19:36
Or, call Richard Ritter. He can do the whole job for you.

Right now I believe Dick is traveling.

Clyde Rogers
6-Mar-2008, 22:25
Calling Dick is a good suggestion. I've spoken to him about this in general terms, and know that he has Camera Bellows install the bellows for him (he sends them in batches, so the shipping cost is much lower per unit). I have not talked to him specifically about my current thoughts---Ted is right, he's out in Death Valley (lucky man!). I may wait until he's back.

I hadn't considered Richard, and will think about that.

Thanks for the thoughts so far, Barry and Ted!


al olson
7-Mar-2008, 07:51
Hi Clyde,

This past year I replaced the bellows on three cameras with bellows from camerabellows.com for my Tech IV, Super Tech 23, and Super Graphic. I shipped the old bellows for the Tech 23 and the Super Graphic to be used as patterns. (They already had Tech IV bellows patterns.) The shipping cost one way via USPS as I recall was under $10, more like $8 so I am puzzled as to why your costs are so high.

If you disassemble them carefully and make good notes on how they were installed it is not difficult to install the new ones. Each camera had a different way they were glued and some also had additional mechanical connections. Some trimming was also required before installation so make sure they return you original bellows so you can match them up.

Clyde Rogers
7-Mar-2008, 22:29
Thanks for the tips, Al.

The shipping cost comes from sending the front and rear standards (the bellows isn't interchangable). If these parts are lost, the camera would likely be a writeoff. To get enough insurance, you have to use the most expensive shipping option. That's where the question comes from---if it is simple to remove and replace the bellows, then I'd just as soon do that, and shipping drops to about $30 each way. I haven't noticed any $8 options.

After reading your post, I checked the bellows attachment to see how difficult it would be to remove, and I found it was surprisingly easy, and it looks simple to reinstall. So I'm sending just the bellows, and will glue it back in myself. Thanks to everyone for the help and advice.

Oh, and Al, what glue did you use to reattach your bellows? Thanks!


al olson
8-Mar-2008, 07:43
I used contact cement on the first two sets. Then someone recommended Pliobond on this site for replacing the leatherette covering saying that it is easier to get them off if you have to do maintenance. So I used Pliobond on the last bellows.

I don't know, but the Pliobond seems to me to be just as strong as regular contact cement and probably as difficult to remove anything that is attached with it. I did have to cut and tear the older bellows some to get them off.

I used acetone to remove the old glue. This worked well and I used a small (1/4") wood chisel along with the acetone to scrape the glue off the more stubborn areas. My standards cleaned up nicely. Hope this helps.

Oh, one other thing. I did practice positioning the bellows on the standards before doing it with glue. You want to make sure they are lined up properly. It may also make a difference which phase of bellows fold goes to the sides or top and bottom. Luckily I had that figured out before I applied the cement.

Clyde Rogers
8-Mar-2008, 21:30
Now why didn't I think of Pliobond? I was taught to use this stuff to attach leatherette to 35mm camera bodies (I apprenticed with a camera repairman after school in junior high). It does seem like contact cement, but it never gets so hard that it can't be peeled off.

Thanks for the tips, Al (and everyone)!