Restoring a Deardorff 8x10

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by scott_atkinson, Sep 26, 2001.

  1. Does anyone know how involved it is to restore/refinish the
    typical well-used Deardorff 8x10? I'm pretty familiar with
    woodworking/refinishing basics, but I'm not sure what
    mechanical problems I might run across. Any first-hand
    experiences? Any shopping tips? Any websites that cover the ins
    and outs? Thanks!
     
  2. I found it to be relatively easy even with my meager skills. About
    the worst problem you'll encounter is stripping of the wood where
    screws attach, especially along the chrome plate along the rails. I
    found that about 50% of mine were in need of repair. Otherwise
    removing the old finish was about the most tedious problem.
     
  3. Scott:

    <p>

    First, take a look at the following article on the LF homepage. It
    covers B&J view cameras but the same issues will apply to Deardorff.

    <p>

    http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~qtluong/photography/lf/burke-james/restore
    8x10.html

    <p>

    Kodak also has a generic article on restoring antique cameras
    (http://kodak.com/global/en/consumer/products/techInfo/a511/a511kic.sh
    tml) and there are a couple of general books including:

    <p>

    Antique Camera Restoration for cameras before 1928, Compur, Compound,
    pneumatic shutters, wood, leather and brass refinishing. (available
    from http://www.edromney.com/)

    <p>

    Restoring Classic & Collectable Cameras
    by Thomas Tomosy (avaialble from Amazon.com)

    <p>

    If you are looking for parts (especially rack and pinion gears) take a
    look at the following web pages:

    <p>

    http://www.smallparts.com
    http://www.reidtool.com

    <p>

    In addition, see http://www.micro-tools.com for camera repair
    equipment,tools, and supplies.

    <p>

    There are also several articles on camera refinising in View Camera.
    Check their article index or drop me an e-mail and I'll give you the
    specific issue numbers, pages, etc.

    <p>

    Finally, take a look at the various posts on this forum listed under
    repair/restoration.

    <p>

    I hope this helps.

    <p>

    ....................................
     
  4. I refinished mine 2 summers ago. Like Chad, I had to replace some of
    the screws, but probably only about 5 or 6 total. Mine is a pre-1950
    that had front swings added later. Because of its age and what I
    assume was professional use at some point, it had seen better days
    but was still structurally sound. I took an approach to refinishing
    it that would probably make a collector cringe, but it yielded a
    wonderful user that looked much improved. Most people, when
    refinishing a camera like a Deardorff 8x10 will try to make it look
    as much like it originally did as they possibly can. This means re-
    plating metal parts, stripping and re-finishing the wood in a finish
    similar to the original. I had neither the time, money, nor
    resources to take my beater of a 'Dorff and make it a museum piece.
    So, what I did was disassemble it, strip the wood of its old finish,
    and refinish it with several coats of tung oil. Metal parts were
    gone over with #000 steel wool to remove corrosion and were then
    given a clear-coat. I put it all back together and while it doesn't
    look all shiny and perfect like a collector's item, I don't worry
    about it like a collector's item, either. If I get caught in the
    rain, I don't panic, I just fold it up, pack it away, and give it a
    good once-over with a towel when I get home. I bought mine to use,
    not to look at, and I use the heck out of it.
    <p>
    Make sure you keep track of where everything goes- it took me 3 tries
    to put it back together again. Some metal parts may not only show
    brassing and some corrosion/pitting, but be dented or bent and in
    need of repair. The focusing track on one side of mine had a good-
    size impression that carried through to the wood on the other side.
    While I had it disassembled, I *carefully* pounded out the dent in
    the focusing track using a couple pieces of wood (no direct contact
    between metal and hammer) and a small hammer. The impression in the
    wood was partly remedied by wetting the unfinished wood with water
    to get it to swell locally. This helped some, but I ended up using
    wood filler to fill it out (only about 1/16" total depth). Depending
    on what sort of bellows you have on yours, you may or may not want to
    try to restore them. If they're leather and in reasonable shape, go
    for it, but if they're synthetic and not looking too well, you're
    best bet is going to be to replace them. I've got the later
    synthetic crap-ass bellows on mine. Haven't replaced them yet, but a
    little bit of tape and a few applications of Armor-All to the
    exterior have made them usable for the time being.
    <p>
    For a lot of it, I think common sense should be enough to get you
    through the process successfully- worked for me. Don't rush it, keep
    track of everythig, take notes. If you run into a snag, stop and
    figure it out before you do something dumb like me and strip a few
    screws (3 of the 6 I replaced). Basically, just go about it in an
    intelligent manner as I'm sure you would anyway and you'll be fine.
    Good luck.
     
  5. Good info! Many thanks for all the responses. I have one more
    related question: anybody know how much one should expect to
    pay for a beater Deardorff--a "fixer-upper" that 's cheap but can
    be restored to look decent and operate at 100 percent?
     
  6. Sorry to respond to a question with a question but while the wood on
    my Deardorff is in good shape some of the metal isn't, mainly the
    front standard. It doesn't seem to be pitted so much as the nickel
    plating seems to have worn off in a lot of spots. I spoke once with
    Ken Hough about replating it but he was too busy at the time. I know
    absolutely nothing about replating except that it sounds like
    something a pro should do. Is this right or is it possible for a
    mechanical novice to do it? If a pro should, does anyone have any
    suggestions for someone to do it other than Ken (and Patrick Alt, who
    also was too busy to restore things in a reasonable time when last I
    checked with him). Of course I could be wrong about what I'm seeing
    too. Maybe what looks like wear is actually some kind of pitting. If
    it's pitting, can this be fixed by lightly buffing with steel wool or
    some such product?
     
  7. Brian, you should be able to take your hardware to a small plater in
    your home town to be replated. Look in the yellow pages under chrome
    or metal finishing. Nickle plate is a step in chrome plating, just
    tell the shop you wanr nickle.
    As for small gears inside the camera, I found mine in a hobby shop,
    from a Lionel train!
    Brad
     
  8. There are two useful articles in back issues of View Camera. You
    should be able to buy photocopies from them. The Nov 1989 issue has
    an article by Ken Hough "Buying the Used Deardorff". This gives tips
    on common problems to look for. The March/April 1995 issue has an
    article by Patrick Alt "Refurbishing View Cameras" which describes his
    procedure.

    <p>

    Re the plating question: plating is not advised as a do-it-yourself
    project, it is not easy and the chemicals and electricity make it
    dangerous. Take your piece to a local plating shop. They will
    probably be willing to advise you about what preparation you should do
    before they plate it.
     
  9. Thanks for the suggestions. I really wasn't anxious to try it myself
    so I'll look into having it done by a plating shop.
     

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