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Thread: Graflex bagmag restoration manual

  1. #1

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    Graflex bagmag restoration manual

    Guess its time for me to translate the expierence i accrued into DIY manuals. I'm going to post my manuals here from time to time
    I'm a semi-professional camera repairman and Grarflex has always been my sincere love, although these cameras are extremely rare here in Russia.
    This manual is intended for beginners, so let's start from the begginning.
    The Bagmag.
    I'm pretty sure that after buying a Graflex SLR you will eventually encounter one of these. Graflex SLR are primarily intended to be used with these somewhat bulky boxes. Although these days Graflexes are almost exclusively used with rollfilm adapters, i strongly advocate using sheet film. Largest adapter size is only 2x3 inch, which is substantially smaller than 3 1/4x 4 1/4 frame size, not to mention 4x5. With a rollfilm your Graflex essentialy becoming a mediocre, heavy and cumbersome medium-format camera equipped with pretty long lens. Is it worth it? I don't thinks so. Another option for sheet film is slotted film holder, but it only holds 2 exposures, while a bagmag contains 12 (or even 18!), which you can swap fairly quick.

    I consider before proceeding to a DIY section, a short Q&A is necessary.

    Q: I’m afraid of that red glass counter window on a bagmags lid. Modern emulsions are mostly sensitive to red light, so i wonder if it can fog my film? Do i need to seal it with lightproof material?
    A: No. It is true that most films used during Graflex heydays were orthocromatic, i.e. insensitive to red light, but it does not make this red windows a trouble-maker since the magazine is very light-tight. I’ve shot hundreds sheets of fast panchromatic film without any traces of fogging. However, keep in mind that it is recommended to check counter in subdued light.

    Q: A few septums in my bagmag are missing. Can i still use it?
    A: No. Sufficient number of septums is necessary to ensure firm pressure of the film and light-tightness. You can try replace missing septums with cardboard plates, but do not better try to pull it out into the bag.

    Q: My bagmag’s leather is worn, but still seems to be light-tight. Can i still use it?
    A: No. Seriously, don’t do it.
    Even finest leather becomes more like paper after 70 years. No exceptions. I’ve had over a dozen of bagmags and even those which looked like new had disintegrating leather. You may swap septums a few times without an issue (even hundred times), but rest assured, a corner of a septum will eventually tear the bag, ruining expensive film and your photography session. There is no way to restore the leather to its original suppleness. I’ve tried many different approaches and none of them worked. Even if it was possible, you still had to separate your bag and your mag, which is impossible without damaging the former.

    Basically, this is what this manual about. Replacing the bag is an unavoidable step. So let’s make one! You will need a piece of leather and a strip of black-out fabric. Check light-tightness of all materials before you start.

    Remove an old bag carefully. You will need to unscrew metal pieces, then start tearing the bag off. Leather is fastened with two tiny nails - remove them. A forward piece of the bag is tuck into a copper plate, which is located under a forward wooden frame. You will need to remove 4 screws on the frame, the slide it out of the mag together with copper plate.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Use a flat screwdriver to unfold a crease on the copper plate, then remove the bag completely.
    Before cutting your leather you will need a template. I’ve attached templates for 3x4 bagmags as the most widespread type, both for 12 and 18 sheets. I currently do not have a template for 2x3, 4x5 or 5x7, but you can easily make them. Cut seams on your bag with a sharp blade, remove the black-out fabric strip and threads, apply glue on the inner surface of the bag and stick it to a piece of white cardboard. You may scan it now, then trace the shape of the bag in any vector software to make a template.
    Strips of black-out fabric used as a wadding in the seams to insure it light-tightness. Cut a wide strip, then fold it and secure it folded condition with duct tape. You will need them to stay on the place when sewing, so use leather glue. Apply glue along the edges on an external side of your bag and attach your strips, then apply glue on strips and stick the upper part of the bag. Strips' folds must face outwards. Trim off the excess.
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    Use a sewing machine to make seams along the edges. Use a smallest needle you can to keep needle holes as small as possible. Bagmag is designed in that way so seams always face the backside of your septums, so minor pinholes usually do not matter, but better avoid them. After this is done, turn the bag inside out and glue it to the mag.
    Hope this helps people to keep shooting on these great cameras.
    Best regards,
    Alex.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by Bolshoi; 29-Nov-2019 at 09:00.

  2. #2

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    Re: Graflex bagmag restoration manual

    The forum resctrictions only allow me to post 4 attachments at a time so i have to use another post.
    An old bag peeled on a piece of cardboard.
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    A new bag. You have to trim off all the excess before attaching it to the box.
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    A new bag attached and ready to shoot.
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    Click image for larger version. 

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  3. #3
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Graflex bagmag restoration manual

    This is great Bolshoi!

    Downloaded the first 2 but your attachments failed

    I am interested in replacing MagBag bags!
    sin eater

  4. #4

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    Re: Graflex bagmag restoration manual

    Quote Originally Posted by Tin Can View Post
    This is great Bolshoi!

    Downloaded the first 2 but your attachments failed

    I am interested in replacing MagBag bags!
    Thanks! I've re-uploaded them.
    I will also upload a 4x5 template soon. Would be great if other people added templates for 5x7 and 2x3.

  5. #5
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Graflex bagmag restoration manual

    and just bought another 3X4 Bag Mag for parts, missing the bag, but looked very good in pics

    Lot's of 5X7 Bag Mags FS, but the 5X7 RB is way too big, heavy and clumsy

    IMHO
    sin eater

  6. #6
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Graflex bagmag restoration manual

    Very good

    I have too many projects right now to dissect any Bag Mags

    Maybe in winter

    Quote Originally Posted by Bolshoi View Post
    Thanks! I've re-uploaded them.
    I will also upload a 4x5 template soon. Would be great if other people added templates for 5x7 and 2x3.
    sin eater

  7. #7

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    Re: Graflex bagmag restoration manual

    Quote Originally Posted by Tin Can View Post
    and just bought another 3X4 Bag Mag for parts, missing the bag, but looked very good in pics

    Lot's of 5X7 Bag Mags FS, but the 5X7 RB is way too big, heavy and clumsy

    IMHO
    Great! Guess i saw it on ebay, but seller wouldnt answer me for some reason.
    5x7 is big indeed. It is sad they do not make 3x4 film anymore. I'm about to write another DIY manual about making a simple film cutter, what do you think?

  8. #8
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Graflex bagmag restoration manual

    The seller is a huge bulk seller on automatic, sells 1000's of items at once

    I bought 200 sheets of Shanghai 3-1/4 X 4-1/4 from a seller on this forum this year. Shipped direct from China

    I also cut X-Ray to any size, even for Hasselblad sheet

    Have 100's more 3x4 sheets in a variety of age and manufacture

    But 3X4 is not LF so be careful where you post here

    I do not post 3x4 in silent protest...almost silent...

    and as you wisely advise I don't use roll film on sheet film cameras, but I do use sheet film on Mamiya RB67 SD!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bolshoi View Post
    Great! Guess i saw it on ebay, but seller wouldnt answer me for some reason.
    5x7 is big indeed. It is sad they do not make 3x4 film anymore. I'm about to write another DIY manual about making a simple film cutter, what do you think?
    sin eater

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