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Thread: Rochester Optical Co. Premier Repair & Resources

  1. #1

    Question Rochester Optical Co. Premier Repair & Resources

    I can find the cameras online but not a lot of information. I'm beginning on a repair project of one of these where the condition is lacking. The bellows are more hole than bellows and the front standard is broken off at the base.
    The tripod is also just the legs and little else, so I need to find a way to rebuild that.
    Does anyone perhaps know of some resources for repair information, parts, or original diagrams and dimensions before I remove the remnants of the bellows to make gluing the front standard easier?
    When I say rough condition I mean it has sat around for decades as a display antique camera on the tripod before it came to me because "I like these old cameras". Rather than regift it and have it be someone else's problem I decided to just fix it up myself with the hope to bring it back to usable and acceptable aesthetic condition.
    The particular issue this one faced is the previous owner fell down a flight of stairs that the camera happened to be on display on the landing of. Condition is better than expected of that.
    Given all that (and this will be a stop-and-start project as finances permit, restoration is rather a luxury in the covid times) what is out there for resources? My searching only turned up sale listings and some pictures of the shutter, but the one on this camera differes. Likely it being a display antique means it could be missing parts that have been gone for who knows how long, so I can supply pictures and additional details if needed.
    Thanks!

  2. #2

    Join Date
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    Re: Rochester Optical Co. Premier Repair & Resources

    If you go to the Lenses and Accessories subforum, one of the first entries is a wealth of information about cameras, lenses and accessories...the cameraeccentric listings are excellent.
    Highly recommended.
    Also, check piercevaubel.com
    Happy researching!

  3. #3
    jim_jm's Avatar
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    Re: Rochester Optical Co. Premier Repair & Resources

    Welcome! Is this a "Premo" or "Premier" model? The ROC cameras were manufactured over many years, but many models share common features and materials during that time. Same goes for other manufacturers like Eastman, Seneca, etc.
    Many folks here on the forum have restored antique wood cameras to working condition and better, so you'll be able to get plenty of advice about how to proceed.
    Some photos of the camera would be a big help.

  4. #4

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    Re: Rochester Optical Co. Premier Repair & Resources

    And for manufacturers to check, don't forget Seroco (Sears Roebuck Co.). They apparently sold thousands of 4x5 and 5x7 cameras with lenses and shutters.

  5. #5

    Re: Rochester Optical Co. Premier Repair & Resources

    Quote Originally Posted by jim_jm View Post
    Welcome! Is this a "Premo" or "Premier" model? The ROC cameras were manufactured over many years, but many models share common features and materials during that time. Same goes for other manufacturers like Eastman, Seneca, etc.
    Many folks here on the forum have restored antique wood cameras to working condition and better, so you'll be able to get plenty of advice about how to proceed.
    Some photos of the camera would be a big help.
    The tag on the inside says "Premier", the only date I have is the patent on the shutter. If they had any external markings when new, I cannot tell as the outer leather is rotting and has mold.
    I've got some photos of it below, I cannot really extend out the front as it completely falls apart.
    As advance warning it does show it was a display piece and was fallen on. It also looks like someone attempted to hide a firecracker in the bellows.
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    My plan right now is to try to unscrew the top brass piece so I can lift out the lensboard (lenscarrier?) and remove the front base and glue it up, clean out the other side where a chunk got ripped out and glue in the other side to put off cutting out the bellows remnants in case I need them for a pattern or there is a better way to remove them.
    Would it be bad in terms of authenticity or anything to remove the leather on the outside? It's actually leaving stains on whatever it touches, especially fingers and the condition is not great. The wood underneath seems fine so would it be wrong to pull off the bad leather asap and use something to protect the wood until new leather can be sourced (or not, perhaps)?

  6. #6

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    Re: Rochester Optical Co. Premier Repair & Resources

    The leather was put on with bone glue. If you want to remove it, cover it with damp paper towels and plastic wrap. In 10-15 minutes you can peel it off. Wipe with clean damp paper towels to remove as much of the glue as you can. Let the wood dry, then you can sand and refinish it. There is nice mahogany underneath.

  7. #7

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    Re: Rochester Optical Co. Premier Repair & Resources

    Wow, that's quite a project!
    If it were mine, that old leather would be gone in a heartbeat, after using it to make a pattern from.
    There might be nice mahogany wood underneath...maybe. If so, shellac'd mahogany with a red bellows is a nice combination.
    Best of luck!
    Go slowly & take lots of reference pics along the way, and bag & label the parts as you go.
    Titebond wood glue works well.
    Custom Bellows in the UK is a great source for bellows...(save the old ones, with the frames, to send to them.)
    Have fun!

  8. #8
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Rochester Optical Co. Premier Repair & Resources

    Love these cameras, I have a few

    Michael Roberts, I did not know how to remove the very thin leather!

    Have fun!
    image

  9. #9

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    Re: Rochester Optical Co. Premier Repair & Resources

    Just for reference for the OP...

    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...=1#post1543467

    And btw, the brass plate is lacquered. Lacquer thinner will remove it, then Brasso or Bar Keepers Friend to clean and polish. Have to get the lacquer off first.

    A little elbow grease, TLC, and these restore beautifully. I don’t do bellows, though. I would buy a replacement. Don’t have that much patience. YMMV.

    You can also modify the back to accept modern film holders to put this antique back into service, if you like.

  10. #10

    Re: Rochester Optical Co. Premier Repair & Resources

    The good news so far is some of the leather removed nicely, as it was completely rotten. Some bits also appeared burnt along with the underneath wood and are still stubbornly in place. A large crack in one side piece was discovered.
    Unfortunately the decaying leather meant it didn't remove nicely even with softening the glue and mostly dissolved into dust. Some bits remain stubbornly stuck behind and will get a round two after some disassembly to get better access to the panels. Some of the metal that was hidden will get cleaned and polished.
    I cannot currently really tell what the wood is, it has a couple different colors.
    On the interesting side, I found the number "8870" written underneath the leather on one panel.
    I'll definitely go with buying a replacement bellows since I don't have enough of the leather to make a pattern from.

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