View Full Version : Puzzled by 3/8" tripod mount on old wooden field camera

23-Oct-2010, 06:29
Hi. First post, so my apologies if I break any guidelines...
I have a vintage Japanese wooden field camera, brand name of Ishibashi, probably dating from the early 20c (has dry plate holders). The tripod nut seems to be a 3/8 size, but my Gitzo 3/8 adapter won't screw in, and neither will a standard 3/8 bolt.
I suspect the pitch of the thread is 'non-standard'.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the standard 3/8 is 16 threads per inch for cameras and normal bolts. I'm wondering if the tripod nut my camera might be a 3/8-24TPI. Would that make sense?
Here's the camera...

John Koehrer
23-Oct-2010, 08:10
I've no claim to know anything about these but could it be a metric thread?
Over here I'd just run down to the local ACE & test fit. As you suggest, it may be a fine thread too.

23-Oct-2010, 08:55
Yes 3/8- 16 is the standard. Your camera could have a 3/8-20 which was used in the 20's.

23-Oct-2010, 16:39
Thanks for your comments.

John, I tried a metric M8, which seemed the closest size, but unfortunately no joy. Given the age and provenance of the camera, I suspect it must be an imperial size.

Richard, thanks for the intriguing tip. 1920s would probably be about right for this camera, so I suspect it is as you say 3/8-20. I'll have to see if I can find a suitable bolt and rig up some kind of adapter bracket.

I've got a feeling that's going to be a hard size to find here in Japan.


23-Oct-2010, 18:06
Go to a tool store and get a thread guage. It's sets of teeth you try over the thread to see what the thread measurement is. Looks like a feeler guage set or bland swiss army knife.

24-Oct-2010, 01:39

I've got a feeling that's going to be a hard size to find here in Japan.


Com'on! It's internet age today - you can buy your screw easily from the net. If you knew its standard you wouldn't even need to move from your computer to get it...:)

24-Oct-2010, 03:57
I thought so too, but it's proving harder than I thought. 3/8-16 is everywhere, and I already have that. A single 3/8-24 I can get from a retailer selling through Amazon Japan, but with postage, that one bolt is costing about 10USD, a quarter of what I paid for the camera... and I'm not even sure it's the right size. And the one I think is the right size, 3/8-20, is nowhere to be found.... I'm starting to wonder if it may be easier to find a 1920s tripod head.

24-Oct-2010, 04:44
If you have problems finding a 3/8 - 20 bolt let me know I had a custom die made for a job I was working on.

24-Oct-2010, 05:17

Thanks. I may take you up on that if I can't source one locally in the next week.

John Koehrer
24-Oct-2010, 09:13
What about running a 3/8-16 tap through it or would it screw up the mount?
In the past I've gone to a smaller size thread by gluing a screw in place & re drilling & tapping it.

Scott Walker
24-Oct-2010, 14:01
If you have problems finding a 3/8 - 20 bolt let me know I had a custom die made for a job I was working on.

Out of curiosity, who did you get to make the die for you.
I had 1.4mm taps specially made to my specs and I found no one in North America to make them.
I had to get them done in Germany and the minimum order was 50

Struan Gray
25-Oct-2010, 00:36
These people sell threaded studding that you could use:


I always used to get my oddball threads and dies/taps from model makers, although they were better in the small sizes so 3/8" might be a bit large.

When I had the same problem with a tailboard camera I inherited I replaced the tripod nut on the camera with one that had a 3/8"-16 thread. I kept the old one in case I ever wanted to pass on the camera to a manic collector. Not a big job for a competent workshop - in fact, probably too small a job. Alternatively, you can use a new flange nut like the one at the bottom of the page I linked above (in the right size of course).

28-Oct-2010, 06:58
Re: re-drilling and tapping. Sadly I don't have the skills or gear for metalwork.

That looks like a good source. Thanks for the tip. Like your photo work by the way. Smart website design too.

In the end I've decided to take on an alternate solution for the time being...I've knocked together a wooden platform or tray that the camera will fit snugly into, and drilled a hole in the wooden tray to fit an Etsumi adapter into:


The tray screws onto the tripod head, and the camera sits in the tray.

Thanks to all for your help and suggestions.

john biskupski
5-Nov-2010, 04:23
I don't know if this may help, but a quick google search on 3/8-20 bolt size on Google UK brought up lots of results including www.britishfasteners.com which is actually a US online store for imperial size ironmongery. Their 3/8-20 bolt retails at $1.65.

Didin't early Japanese camera makers emulate British cameras in the early 20th C, maybe including hardware sizes possibly?

5-Nov-2010, 06:27
Thanks for the tip John,
I checked their site, and they have a 3/8-20 under the BSF type bolts. I have family in the UK, so now I know it's a BSF size, perhaps they can get one for me.

10-Nov-2010, 08:26
I have an unidentified 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 (full plate) camera that doesn't take any of the standard tripod threads. I had about given up, when I brought an old Agfa tripod at a garage sale. This is one of the ones with a triangular center column, raises with a strange hand crank affair. This is the only tripod I've found that I can use with the camera. I'll check the thread on the screw tonight. I know the bolt is bigger than the usual 1/4 inch. I tried the usual 3/8 inch tripod thread and that wouldn't work either. It might be the same.

Vick Vickery
10-Nov-2010, 08:43
It appears that, at this time, you still aren't sure what size your thread is. Any competent machine shop could easily tell you and even turn a bolt to fit your tripod or make an insert to let you use a 1/4 x 20 or other size (any smaller size) bolt. Another alternative would be to remove the odd-sized piece from the camera base and replace it with a standard size.