How to fix leaky bellows?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by focusonnewfoundland, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. I finally started feeling a wee bit better lately, (permanent spinal injury; long story) and a good thing too, because I'm really tired of laying flat on my back in bed for days/weeks at a time, so I decided to get up and about, and attempt to find a way to adapt my lovely 1917 Kodak Autographic 1A folder to accept 120 roll film. Turns out it's quite simple really; just a matter of sticking plastic wall anchors into each end of a 120 spool, and then make a mask to support the narrower film. Piece of cake.

    Then I got the bright idea that I should at least shine a light into the back of the camera to check for any leaks in the bellows, although the camera looks absolutely flawless; as if it is brand new. So how bad could the bellows really be!

    Well, quite bad, it turns out. Although it shows no signs of wear on the exterior, the flashlight clearly tells a different story. So my question is... what can I do to fix these multiple leaks? I assume (hope!) that there must be some product out there that can be applied to fix light leaks in bellows, (I'm about to Google this shortly) and I'm hoping that some of you may have some personal experience with fixing these; that you may feel like sharing some of your wisdom?

    I really, really want to use this camera. It's a real beauty; the finest I have ever seen. (well, aside from the bellows, that is!) The Anastigmat 130mm f7.7 lens looks like brand new. The leather is immaculate. The shutter is perfect. It even still has the original engraved stylus for "texting" a message onto the film. If there is any (affordable!) way to get this fine camera back to being light-tight, I know that it will take beautiful pictures. Any and all help will be greatly appreciated!

    Thank-you all!


  2. ok I think you are the person who lives way up in Canada miles from anywhere /
    there are several methods
    the simplest is " liquid electrical cement"
    In the US is is sold in Home Depot
    bit a good hardware store may carry it
    ir is in a round can with a screw off top and a brush.
    it is very liquid and messy be careful.
    use something small to put it on.
    If your spinal condition causes motor problems.
    Like can you take apart an old appliance, not a small watch?
    a small brush or Q-tip may do
    let it dry for a few days. it stays flexible.
    oit comes in colors. get the black.
    I fixed the shutter curtain on a 35mm slr. let it dry for a week.
  3. I have fixed several bellows over the years, using black color "puffy paint" designed for writing on t-shirts. You can find it at most craft stores. Just extend the bellows to full length, apply carefully on the inside of the bellows using a toothpick or q-tip, and let it dry. It will stay flexible and should last a long time.
  4. I've had good results using a black silicone RTV, such as linked below. It's flexible when dry, so application to holes on corners of a bellows can move easily.
  5. paul ron

    paul ron NYC

    All of the above will work fine.
    If you have a shutter curtain from an old 35mm camera you can use that as patch material sticking it on with contact cement. TO get into corners with a patch you'll have to flatten the corner so the patch will lay neatly. If the Bellows are crumbly or too small to flatten, then go with the liquids listed above.
    When using any of the above liquids on corner leaks, I stick a fine needle into the hole, apply the RTV or whatever to the tip inside n retract it leaving a nice small blob inside to seal the hole. Once cured, apply a small amt to your finger n seal the remaining hole from outside, rubbing it in gently to smooth it over to make an almost invisable patch.
  6. Here is a couple of interesting examples from's Large format camera forum. Might be of use. Gaffers tape does sound like a good choice, something that isn't going to be brittle or sticky in any way. It is thin enough not to interfere with closing the bellows all the way and still flexible.

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