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Thread: Replacing Gundlach Korona Bellows

  1. #1
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    Replacing Gundlach Korona Bellows

    I have a c.1926 Gundlach Korona in very nice condition. I've just finished polishing up the metal (nickel plated brass), cleaning up the wood, and had four very nice replica lens boards made by the guy in Chicago. I mounted two nice old Voigtlander Petzvals, one E. Woods pillbox, and a 12 in. Velostigmat in Betax 5 to the boards. I have both a 4x5 & 5x7 back for the camera. Camera also has a working Packard shutter which I have questions about for later. My intention is to create a show piece I can actually use to take portraits. It all came together very nicely and is stunningly beautiful! However, I discovered a problem. The bellows are old and very stiff. I've used the camera several times already and got nice results most of the time. A few times there were light leaks, but I assumed they were from the vintage holders I was using. Well, that turned out to be wishful thinking. I gave the bellows the flashlight test and the thing looked like a tea strainer! No way they can simply be patched. The coatings on the corners have broken down.

    So, I need new bellows. I see a guy on ebay, in Hong Kong, sells replacement bellows for this camera for about $150. Sounds like a deal! Offered in black or red: obviously black is correct to the vintage. Now, I'm not at all sure how the old bellows come off! It looks like they are wrapped around a wooden square on the front and that is held in place by four small screws from the inside. The rear bellows I just can't see, mainly because the bellows are stiff and I haven't separated them enough to see if there are similar screws. I do see many, many (many!) tiny tacks or screws holding the rear bellows to a wooden frame.

    Here's my questions:
    1. How do I get the old bellows off?
    2. Since the old wooden square the bellows attach to are full of tacks, would I be better off having a new frame made? Or, will I likely be able to reuse the old one? I'm thinking of both tacking and gluing the new bellows on.
    3. Any tips on this project? I've never done this before.


    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  2. #2
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    Re: Replacing Gundlach Korona Bellows

    Poking around inside the bellows I found four small screws inside the front opening. These look like they screw the wooden square the bellows are tacked on to, to the front standard of the camera. The rear attachment is slightly different. There are two screws on each side of the frame, making eight in total. There are also a lot of small tacks, which I assume hold the bellows to the wooden square. I think I can reuse the squares for the new bellows. I will both tack the new bellows on and sparingly use a hot glue gun. I ordered a new black bellows from the ebay guy in Hong Kong. Should arrive in the next two weeks. Not sure how hard it will be to get old bellows off and then attach new ones, but it doesn't appear to be overly difficult.


    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  3. #3
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Replacing Gundlach Korona Bellows

    I find the cameras with frame mounted bellows easier, as we can mount the bellows to the wooden square which is a frame and then attach the frame to the standard.

    Long screwdrivers are handy to reach inside.

    I have not done a Korona.

    We await your comments when done, with pics!
    2022

  4. #4

    Re: Replacing Gundlach Korona Bellows

    You may want to reconsider the hot glue. I would recommend instead Pliobond - It is soluble in alcohol and is much easier to clean up and stays flexible.

  5. #5
    Tracy Storer's Avatar
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    Re: Replacing Gundlach Korona Bellows

    Another "Ixnay" on hotglue. Cools and hardens way too fast, is too thick, etc.

    Use a contact adhesive which will be more like what bellows mfgrs use to attach bellows to frames.
    Tracy Storer
    Mammoth Camera Company tm
    www.mammothcamera.com

  6. #6

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    Re: Replacing Gundlach Korona Bellows

    Remove the bellows still attached to the front and rear frames and send them to Custom Bellows in England. After a couple of weeks you will get in return a beautiful bellows ready to easily install in your camera. They are not the cheapest, but they are by far the best. A few years ago they even made a replacement for my 8x10 Deardorf and it was perfect.

  7. #7
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    Re: Replacing Gundlach Korona Bellows

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Thomason View Post
    You may want to reconsider the hot glue. I would recommend instead Pliobond - It is soluble in alcohol and is much easier to clean up and stays flexible.

    Noted.


    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  8. #8

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    Re: Replacing Gundlach Korona Bellows

    I hope that you don't mind me asking this on your thread Kent,

    However has anyone had a bellows made by Turner Bellows
    If so how was the quality?

    I for one would like to support N.American companies whenever possible. Even if I need to pay a little more.

  9. #9
    Milonian's Avatar
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    Re: Replacing Gundlach Korona Bellows

    Hi,
    Sounds almost exactly like a Gundlach-Manhattan Criterion View 1/2 plate that I refurbed.
    At the front the bellows were wrapped round the small board and glued. The board was attached by 4 small screws from inside the bellows, to the front standard assembly. A long screwdriver is essential and it's a fiddly job! Or at least it was on mine as the screws had more or less welded themselves to the wood.
    The bellows on mine were completely shot full if pinholes too so I removed them. I made new bellows so can't comment on suppliers other than to say I've heard good comments about the Hong Kong supplier and the guy in England.
    At the rear, between the inner and outer bellows there is thicker card (?) material and the tiny pins go through that (and the bellows outer and liner layers) and into the rear frame. From memory glue was also used here.
    That camera is now at Manchester University in England and is used for Wet Plate Collodion work.
    PM me if I can be of any more help. I have lots of photos somewhere of the whole process.
    Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness. - Yousuf Karsh.

  10. #10

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    Re: Replacing Gundlach Korona Bellows

    Kent,
    I've done several Koronas in a couple of sizes. I've always bought my bellows from Rudy (a.k.a. Ecbuyonline) via Ebay. He does impeccable work, in my experience. I also always use Pliobond to cement fabric to wood--there's nothing else as good. I'd advise you to carefully pry out the tacks so you can re-use them. Tiny little upholstery tacks are hard to find and I've never found a staple gun adequate.

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