View Full Version : Help needed for restoration of Ansco Universal View

22-Jul-2011, 19:46
Some time ago i purchased on Ebay an Agfa Ansco Universal View 5x7".
I did it because of the Ilex Photoplastic 5x7 lens that came with the camera. Unfortunately the lens came with a standard back cell, so it's not as "soft" as expected.
Fortunately the Ilex No.5 shutter is working well enough, so i don't feel totally at loss with my purchase.
To feel even better i should fix the camera, and bring it back to an usable state.
I uploaded a picture from Cameraeccentric, the camera looks to be the same. The red line evidences where the camera is broken: there is a missing "slice" of wood on the side, and the knob (see the red arrow) is also missing.
The camera was probably kept in some humid basement for some time: as soon as i tried to unfold the camera, some parts went off. A few small wooden bits came loose, as if they were unglued, and also a small rack, that went down together with the two nails that kept it in place (not screws, nails!).
The line, along which the wood broke down, could be flattened and a new part redone, copying the shape of the other side. But my main concern is the missing knob. Is it used to lock the sliding bed? How does it work? When i tried to disassemble the camera, it was just falling in pieces, so i stopped, and decided to keep a few pictures for reference, and ask on the forum for guidance.
I'd like to try to remake the knob, but i found no close pictures of the part, and no description of how it's shaped.

My camera is not here, so i can't post a picture of the broken part, but i hope that my description would be enough.

have fun


23-Jul-2011, 09:31
That little knob is indeed for locking the bed. It's basically just a screw that pushes a thin strip of brass against the side of the sliding bed (friction lock). The brass strip (connected to the inside of the main rail with a single screw on one side) serves mainly to protect the side of the bed against being chewed up by the screw.

23-Jul-2011, 12:03
Thanks a lot, it's less complicate than what i feared! :)
One more thing: is there some kind of brass bushing, or the shaft (of the brass knob) is directly fitted on wood?
The breackage line is about halfway the round hole that used to house the lateral knob. The diameter of the hole is not so small, so i am wondering if there was a brass bushing, that would help to smoothly turn the knob/shaft assembly. With brass-on-wood, even a very good waxing wouldn't last very long...

For the small wooden parts that are falling off, i am going to fix them in place, using clamps and vinylic glue. Would it be strong enough even for more structural parts?
Being a not-so-old camera (probably immediately pre-WWII, but i might be wrong about that), i guess that "modern" materials were used for construction and finishing (i.e. no animal glue, no shellac finish). Unfortunately the finish of the camera is not in very good shape, not absolutely sure cause everything is covered by a thick layer of dirt. I'll try my best to clean the dirt with a furniture cleaning product, then apply finishing oil (woodworking mineral oil), and then waxing (with a bee wax-based product).
If the cleaning doesn't work out as expected, there is the method used with old furniture: clean with the smallest grade iron wool, using a mix of water, alcohol and turpentine. I don't know how it works with "modern" finishing, though.
If the wood surface is badly compromised, the only choice would be to use a paint stripper gel, using a mid grade iron wool, followed by a smoothing with a 000 wool.
After that (and after filling small holes and scratches), i have no idea about which product to choose. For safety reasons, and anti-pollution rules, it's almost impossible to find anything non_water-based, in the EU. There are some "wax effect" water-based products, that impregnate the wood giving a nice "satin" effect. They can be found in transparent, oak, mahogany, cherry, and so on, but i have used them on new, untreated wood, and i have no idea of how they work with a wood that has already some patina (caused by age and UV exposure... stripping it would be a crime!).

I am open to critiques, objections, encouragements, etc.

have fun


John Koehrer
23-Jul-2011, 15:01
The nice thing about wooden cameras, especially old cameras is most parts were assembled from straight cuts.
I've only done a couple of old cameras and haven't found anything that looks remotely like a bearing. I think I'd find brass tubing that slips over the shaft and glue it in place. I should be invisible without disassembly and give a longer life.
A camera that age may have a shellac finish. I've just used Formby's stripper with steel wool to remove the old and stained and used a wipe-on varnish for the camera.

I've also used Mahogany ( that's what the original was) to replace a couple of broken pieces like yours. Sand(glass)paper is your friend.

In the US McMaster-Carr has many parts you may need.

24-Jul-2011, 00:13
I have one of these that I recently listed for sale (but forgot to post photos). Let me know if you need closeup photos of any particular view. I'll be taking some generic pics to sell it, but can provide any details if necessary.