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Thread: Rebuilding a Deardorff 11x14 Studio Stand

  1. #1

    Rebuilding a Deardorff 11x14 Studio Stand

    I purchased a Deardorff S11 11x14 studio camera with stand 11 years ago. I took the massive bipost stand apart to get it into a minivan, put it into a shed, and forgot about it. I finally have space to use the stand, and I am trying to get it clean and together. I need some support. Hopefully others can benefit from this as well.

    My stand has 12' poles. It is too tall to fit into my space, so my first step is to cut the poles down to fit in my studio. My assumption is that I need to do the following steps:

    1. Cut the pipes down to a maximum stand height of 8'
    2. Shorten the chains (which are used to move the camera up and down the stand)
    3. Shorten the weight cables (which are counter balances to the weight of the camera as it moves up and down)

    So, to begin, what sort of tools do I use to shorten the stand? I am (relatively) mechanically competent, but this is a different sort of work then I have done before.

    What should be used to cut the pipes? A pipe cutter (for cast iron pipe) doesn't seem like the right tool. Should I just find a metal worker with a horizontal bandsaw? Is there a way of using a hacksaw with a guide to prevent messy cuts?

    Can the chains be shortened using a bike (or motorcycle) chain tool? I tried this before and broke my tool.

    Thanks for your help!

  2. #2
    Matt Alexander
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    Re: Rebuilding a Deardorff 11x14 Studio Stand

    My go-to metal working tool for less than precision work is an angle grinder with a cut-off wheel.
    Sound like a fun project!

  3. #3
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding a Deardorff 11x14 Studio Stand

    My posts were 13 feet, too tall for my 11 foot high ceiling and my overhead HVAC pipes. I cut them to 7 feet with a tiny 12 volt battery Jigsaw. The pipes were put on small jack stands to hold them level for cutting. Took 4 recharging cycles. Important to get both equal length and a good straight cut.

    Even with 7 foot posts, the camera top will almost touch the top of my 11 foot ceiling. The pipes are exactly 4" OD and easily replaced IF necessary. Don't paint the posts before assembly . The paint will become scratched every time you move the camera height. I touch that up with a 2" wide magic marker as it's a thin coating and a jiffy to do. Or oil the bare metal. Mine were already black paint.


    I have assembled mine twice, as I had to move it. I do think there are minor differences over the years. I know the locks vary. I put in new bolts where I could, checked the lead weights and their screweyes. I did not remove or replace them. I think that's a weak point as the screw is simply screwed into lead...I would prefer a through hole such as Saltzman used.

    I replaced the lead weight cables with McMaster Carr aircraft rigging fittings and wire years ago. I don't have the part #'s anymore. This recent setup I replaced the chains. They are simply single speed bicycle chains. The best and cheapest chain was SRAM PC-! Nickel Single Speed Chain. Mine needed 3 of them. Depends on height. I also replaced the upper and lower chain attachments with modern bits.

    It needs to be assembled on the floor laying flat. First bolt the posts to the base without the wheel outriggers. Then I suggest small jack stands hold the posts off the floor at their top.

    Then slide the camera plate assembly onto the posts while still on the jack stands. Move stands to just get enough room.

    Now fish the cables from the top and hook them onto the weights, pushing the weights all the way in the bottom. Now hook the cables to the camera base assemble. Watch yous fingers!

    All this up to now can be done slowly by one old man. Like me.

    Have the camera plate parallel to the posts, easier to do the next step.

    The heavy weights are at the bottom, now two old men simply and carefully raise the assembly opright onto the base bottom which is flat and will stand up if the floor is level. Obviously don't let it fall. First time I was alone. The second time Peter De Smidt drove a 1000 miles RT to assist. Very grateful.

    Using a 4'-2X4 with a short one as a lever jack lift one end of the base up using your foot. Then block only one end up with another 2X4 on it's side.

    Now you can bolt on one outrigger with wheels mounted. Once one end is done, it will become stable after lowering it to the floor. Repeat for the other side.

    Easier than it sounds

    The cables carry all the weight. The chains just crank the camera plate up and down. The chains don't need to be tight, just even, which simply happened twice for me. Use a grinder and discard them for new.

    The chains are tough to feed onto the gears with bad hands. Take your time and it is easy. Sit in a chair and take your time. I used new turnbuckles at top, adjustment becomes obvious. I cut the chains at the bottom after all worked well, then fastened them rather loosely. Not a critical adjustment.

    Now load the camera and bolt it down to the camera plate with 2 -3/8-16 bolts as we can turn the camera upside down using the rotator drive handle.

    I believe the longer base legs should be to the rear, the screw drive chain hoist and the rotator handle be on the right side when using GG.

    Pictures upon request.
    sin eater

  4. #4

    Re: Rebuilding a Deardorff 11x14 Studio Stand

    Thank you Randy! Very helpful. I need to go look at the wheel outriggers, I didn't even realize they were removable.

    In the meantime, has anyone removed the rise and fall lock on the stand? There is a knob that loosens and tightens a clamp which prevents the rise and fall gear from moving. I can easily remove the knob and bolt holding the knob, but there is a screw which can't easily be removed on either side. It screws tighter, but not looser. See the small screw head above the knob in the picture.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #5
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding a Deardorff 11x14 Studio Stand

    That's a lock to control platform tilt/rotation and overall looseness in the fittings for platform.

    Mine has bigger knobs but the 2 locks are the same and clamp to the big gear, which is operated from front or rear with the handle in my pic.

    I never disassembled that area or anything on the platform. I like patina. I did paint the wood platform black and used thick white felt on the camera bottom to slow scratching of the platform.

    If it's not broke don't fix it. I was mechanic most of my life.

    Once you start dismantling all the bits, use baggies to store everything.

    Look at that beautiful rust patina on the screw which has not been removed since perhaps the 1930's.

    Life is short, use your time wisely.
    S II Rotator tilt clamp by TIN CAN COLLEGE, on Flickr


    Wide view platform tilt handle and gear lock by TIN CAN COLLEGE, on Flickr
    sin eater

  6. #6

    Re: Rebuilding a Deardorff 11x14 Studio Stand

    Thanks Randy, I will heed your advice, but still want to remove 80+ years of built up grease, dirt, and spider parts. I will go at it with a stiff brush in its place...

  7. #7

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    Re: Rebuilding a Deardorff 11x14 Studio Stand

    Beautiful stuff. Could be used to moor a Zeppelin. The closest thing I have to this kind of stuff is a Saltzman tripod with the neat low angle out rigger. I love this stuff it's simply beautiful.

  8. #8
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding a Deardorff 11x14 Studio Stand

    I have wanted a Saltzman tripod like yours for some time. I had the very heavy duty head, but sold it when I realized I would never find a Saltzman tripod FS...

    One was offered in a very weird sale near Nashville, but the presale conditions, date and weather shut that down.



    Quote Originally Posted by Duolab123 View Post
    Beautiful stuff. Could be used to moor a Zeppelin. The closest thing I have to this kind of stuff is a Saltzman tripod with the neat low angle out rigger. I love this stuff it's simply beautiful.
    sin eater

  9. #9
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding a Deardorff 11x14 Studio Stand

    Jason,

    2 images for encouragement, both shot 6 years ago after I got mine usable.

    That's a 5X7 back that came with it. Richard Ritter installed his 11X14 back on a blank I had, He also made 5-11X14 film holders.

    I also had 3 new bellows made and mounted on DIY frames, I made.

    1-Deardorff S11 Just set up by TIN CAN COLLEGE, on Flickr

    2-Deardorff S11 New Bellows by TIN CAN COLLEGE, on Flickr
    sin eater

  10. #10
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding a Deardorff 11x14 Studio Stand

    Last post until you need help.

    This was just posted on The Setup and the shot thread.

    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...=1#post1519217
    sin eater

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