Preserving a Nettar's bellows

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by tony_eaton, Jul 9, 2007.

  1. I have just bought a Nettar with a 4.5 Anastigmat lens, which is presumably
    just over fifty years old. Its bellows seem light-tight, but look very dry,
    especially along the outwards fold-creases, which appear a bit tired and
    getting towards fraying. Can anyone tell me what these bellows are most
    probably made of, and what the best substance is for preserving them? (E.g., if
    they are leather, could I put neat's-foot oil on them?) All information and
    advice will be most welcome. (The camera is a lovely device. My father had a
    6.3 version in the fifties and I'm very pleased to have my own now to join my
    35mm SLRs and Fujita 66.)
  2. Talking from my own experience with neat's-foot oil on a leather holster and on shoes, it will make the leather more supple, but if used often it will rot the thread of the stitches. So I can only advice caution.

    I've got a Nettar from the 1930s myself, wonderful little cameras. I'm sure you will enjoy using it.

  3. I uses a liquid which is used for preserving old book leather covers. Not as oily as neat's foot oil. Ask a store selling antique books.
  4. I have used a product called Sno Seal. They have a good website addresing issues with leather preservatives. I have used it on Kodak bellows which seem to be a 2 ply material with a fabric inner ply. In any case I would avoid putting anything on the inside of the bellows which might outgas and deposit on the lens or film. However after 50 years the best you can hope for is to prevent further damage. There are firms which will replace bellows.
  5. Unfortunately, Nettar bellows aren't leather - they're, depending on your worldview, fabric-backed plastic, or plastic-coated fabric. You can use any variety of things to improve their cosmetic appearance, but I don't know of anything that will actually help to preserve them...
  6. I use a lot of products that would be used in your $30,000 car. For bellows I have been using Turtle Wax F21 super protectant it restores both leather, vinyl and plastic. Use Q-tips and apply sparingly use a couple of coats if needed.
  7. I you decide to have the bellows replaced, there is a fellow in Hawaii that does this. He uses synthetic materials I believe, which should be long lasting. I have seen a sample, it looked very good. Here is his e-mail:
  8. Also a car guy here as well as LF - I highly recommend using this:

    It's Vinylex - Made by the same people as Lexol leather care products & if you have leather bellows try their products for this as well.

    I have no involvement with the vendor but have had no problems with them at all - great customer service.

    Whether it be your car or camera it really cleans the dirt & preserves without a tacky residue.

    Good luck.

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