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Thread: Rebuilding a Burke & James 5X7 View Camera

  1. #1
    James R. Kyle's Avatar
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    Rebuilding a Burke & James 5X7 View Camera

    A Rebuild of A Burke & James “Watson” - 5"X7"
    View Camera

    James R. Kyle - 12-2018


    I found a Burke and James “Watson” - Five by Seven inch - Field View camera at a local antique mall, after a friend told me about it, for fifty dollars. After looking it over, I made the quick decision to buy it, remove the paint, and rebuild to restore to a working condition. Already having a lens with a pneumatic operated shutter (Incase this lens, shown, will not work). I knew that it would not only be workable, but also practical for the design. (Thus = This became one of my “Winter Project” for 2018 - 2019.)

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  2. #2
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding a Burke & James 5X7 View Camera

    Now it's an expensive camera

    Looks great!
    sin eater

  3. #3

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    Re: Rebuilding a Burke & James 5X7 View Camera

    Great job! Someone at B & J must have owned lots of stock in the paint business.

  4. #4

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    Re: Rebuilding a Burke & James 5X7 View Camera

    Looks great James! I have always wanted to restore an older camera, perhaps someday. I am curious as to what the lens is that came with it...

  5. #5

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    Re: Rebuilding a Burke & James 5X7 View Camera

    Have been told the B&J folks painted because of wood varieties in the cameras. Not always able to get the same wood types and matching was difficult. Easier to paint and the industrial/battleship gray was inexpensive.

    Have seen a few refinished that were all beautiful Maple and some with more than one wood type in the same camera. Still looked good, but from the age of some flawless finishes and matched wood grain it is easy to see the paint being done.
    "My forumla for successful printing remains ordinary chemicals, an ordinary enlarger, music, a bottle of scotch - and stubbornness." W. Eugene Smith

  6. #6
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding a Burke & James 5X7 View Camera

    Really nice job! And at $50 its a great find in about any condition. With a case too . . .?

    Paint? I used to have a table at the Houston Camera show twice a year back in the last decade of the previous century (1990s). There were many older gentlemen there with professional experience in various aspects of photography , some going back to the 1930s. What I was told about the B&J line was that these cameras were intended to be less expensive "work-horse" tools of commerce and not flashy cabinet-grade gear like the Deardorffs. That's why they are built stoutly. The grey paint was meant to simulate the appearance of the higher end metal cameras from Kodak and others.

    Whatever the case, that's what the old guys said to me.

    I had a 5x7 B&J back then and used a 4x5 back on it. Worked well for me too. I regret swapping it for something else.
    Drew Bedo
    www.quietlightphoto.com
    http://www.artsyhome.com/author/drew-bedo




    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

  7. #7
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding a Burke & James 5X7 View Camera

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie View Post
    Have seen a few refinished that were all beautiful Maple and some with more than one wood type in the same camera. Still looked good, but from the age of some flawless finishes and matched wood grain it is easy to see the paint being done.
    The Graphlex press cameras were covered in leather for about the same reason I think. I have seen a few stripped, and while made from Mahogany and finger jointed, they don't look all that great in varnish.
    Drew Bedo
    www.quietlightphoto.com
    http://www.artsyhome.com/author/drew-bedo




    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

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