Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Isolette III Overhaul Part 4

Well, first let me apologize for dragging this out so long. Making bellows turns out to not be recommended for the faint of heart. The first one I made (see Part 3) was really a 'learner'. I didn't really expect that one to work, but it would have been a nice surprise if it had. Mainly, what I learned was that my materials were right on the edge of being too thick, especially on the seams, and the glue I used to attach the outer covering was too goopy and I couldn't spread it evenly. Also, it was hard to get it to fold neatly. Partly this was my fault because I made the inner seam and outer seam on the same side, so it got really thick there. So here is what I did differently...

First, I changed the stiffeners template to include trapezoids for the top and bottom instead of using plain rectangles all the way around. I decreased the thickness by making the seams on opposite sides (top and bottom) and also by cutting a piece out of the middle of the stiffeners right where the inner seam was. That is the thickest part of the bellows, so every little bit helps. Cutting and gluing all of those pieces on individually was a pain. I will find a better way next time.

Next was gluing on the outer cover. I made sure to position the seam on the opposite side from the inner seam. Also I diluted the glue 1:1 with water and used a broad brush to apply it to the cloth. That made it pretty wet, but not dripping. That actually helped to spot and press out any air that was trapped between the layers. I let that dry overnight. I know it doesn't look that good here because the fabric is wet and nearly transparent.

Once it was dry, I went about folding the pleats. Remember, the wide stiffeners go 'up' from front to back. That's partly how it gets bigger at the rear. It folded up pretty easily with the new improved stiffener shapes. Once folded, I put a piece of paper over it and a heavy object on top of that to help set the creases. That sat for a few hours that way. Now for installation!!

It was pretty straightforward, just a reversal of the disassembly process. I started at the front, putting the brass plate in place. That was a pretty tight fit and I ended up cutting off the front most pleat. Then I put the lens/shutter in place on the front plate/standard and screwed the rear retaining ring (inside the bellows) to the threads on the rear lens element. Then I applied a little contact cement to the back flange where the other bellows was attached and folded over the back pleat of my bellows. Again, I cut off the rear most pleat for a better fit. There is still plenty of length for the camera to extend. I had to wrestle the mask back into place, but once there, it lined right up with the screw holes in the film roll wells and I got it screwed down. Finally, I replaced the film roller rods and folded the camera. It worked!! The camera folded up and closed. It's a little tighter than the original, but I was very excited that I got this thing to work at all.

Now all that is left is to collimate the front lens element, so that it is focused on infinity and replace the front focusing ring. Once that is done, I will have a fully functioning Isolette III. Stay with me for one more post!