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Thread: Treat stiff bellows with Pledge (or other)?

  1. #1

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    Question Treat stiff bellows with Pledge (or other)?

    I need to treat some very stiff bellows on an old Kodak Vest Pocket folder circa 1934-35 (not LF, but I thought of asking here).

    The common recommendation is "Pledge, yellow can". Great, except that Pledge seems to be renaming its products to make them more sexy or such.
    So, what quality do I want from the Pledge product of choice, and what current Pledge product fits the requirement?

    I am also curious about alternate products other than Pledge, if any

  2. #2

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    Re: Treat stiff bellows with Pledge (or other)?

    I claim no expertise, but I purchased Lexol All Leather Conditioner, based on a number recommendations here, for my former leather bellows.
    Philip Ulanowsky

    Sine scientia ars nihil est. (Without science/knowledge, art is nothing.)
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/156933346@N07/

  3. #3
    Embdude's Avatar
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    Re: Treat stiff bellows with Pledge (or other)?

    I think pledge works on dried rubberized material like the speed graphic shutter. Pledge works very well at returning the pliability but often people who use it complain of light leaks. I don't believe the light leaks are actually caused by the pledge treatment but rather occur while shrunken and dried out only to be apparent once rejunivinated and expanded to normal.

    If it is leather then I recommend using a leather rejuvenator that can be found at a Tack & Feed shop for horses. Leather Therapy is my favorite, but they have a good variety at my local shop and I have not tried them all. This works great on exterior camera leather as well as old camera bags. I apply to bellows with a sponge paintbrush. Go slow with bellows and do several paintings, they can be very thirsty but too much product can cause them to become heavy and sag if a good sized bellows.

    Lexol is another brand and they make a variety of products including 2 and 3 step products to clean treat and protect leather. The cleaner one is very powerful and has removed the black on black painted parts on my camera that were next to the leather! I recommend diluting the Lexol cleaner 1:1 and not using at full strength.

    For plastic material bellows like the later speed graphic and Technika cameras they don't really dry or shrink much so I just condition them with a gentle wipe down with 3-in-1 Silicon... seems to keep them happy.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  4. #4
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Treat stiff bellows with Pledge (or other)?

    Pledge contains silicone and actually promotes decomposition of natural cellular materials like leather (and real wood too) if that is what the bellows is made of. Get something intended for actual leather instead, like at a tack & saddle shop, or at the shoe repair shop that knows what they're doing. Pledge style nonsense was designed for household synthetic veneers.

  5. #5

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    Re: Treat stiff bellows with Pledge (or other)?

    Note that most all old Kodak pocket folder bellows are made of paper, but look like other materials... Most treatments will destroy them, but check camera collecting sites for info... There are new replacement bellows now made for not expensive cost... Good for a camera you will use a lot...

    Steve K

  6. #6
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Treat stiff bellows with Pledge (or other)?

    I had a really nice 8X10 in my hands

    The really nice leather bellows was completely stuck together

    I did not buy it

    I have 125 years old Red Russian THIN leather bellows

    Perfect still, not 'treating' it as long as I live
    Tin Can

  7. #7

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    Re: Treat stiff bellows with Pledge (or other)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Pledge style nonsense was designed for household synthetic veneers.
    Pledge is not that good for furniture, as it builds up over multiple uses. Better to use a paste wax.

  8. #8
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Treat stiff bellows with Pledge (or other)?

    I use Obenauf on my leather. Not cheap, made in USA Idaho

    Look it up, I have posted it twice
    Tin Can

  9. #9

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    Re: Treat stiff bellows with Pledge (or other)?

    Any easy way to tell if a bellows is really leather? I'm restoring an 1950s vintage Linhof 5x7 and I think the bellows may be vinyl, but they could also be leather I suppose.

  10. #10
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Treat stiff bellows with Pledge (or other)?

    I have several Linhof 50's 5X7 and 8x10 I think my OE is very thin and very good leather

    Look up the Leather Burn Test .


    Quote Originally Posted by domaz View Post
    Any easy way to tell if a bellows is really leather? I'm restoring an 1950s vintage Linhof 5x7 and I think the bellows may be vinyl, but they could also be leather I suppose.
    Tin Can

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