Seneca View 8×10 – Back (re)finishing

After finishing work on the ground glass frame, I move to the back itself.  Remember, the back started out looking like this:
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Stripped of hardware, I have the bare back:
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The end strip on the back is apparently applied rather than integral to the rail. On this back it had come loose:
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A little Titebond applied with a toothpick fixed that. The refinishing proceeded as before – scrub with 0000 steel wool soaked in lacquer thinner, wipe, spray new lacquer. With the back, though, I tape off the shelf the film holder rests against. My thinking here is that the original finish there has been worn smooth with time and use; to apply new finish would create a tacky layer that would inhibit smooth insertion and removal of holders.
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While the lacquer dries, I turn to the hardware. The brass is buffed with a Dremel and Flitz; the rusty steel mounting screws for the ground glass frame are soaked in CLR.
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Cleaned brass is lacquered; mounting screws are scrubbed and dried. After everything is cured, I reassemble the back. Cleaned up, it looks fine.
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Next step: Grinding down the peened rivets holding the side to the posts. That’ll be tomorrow…

Seneca View 8×10 – Refinishing the ground glass frame

I tend to start at the back and move forward when working on these old wooden cameras.  Since the glass is ground, it’s time to turn to the back, starting with the ground glass frame.

This frame was ugly, but solid.  Like the rest of the camera, the brass needed cleaning, the finish was damaged in places and crazing in others.

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Stripped of hardware and removed from the back, the frame was ready for work.
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Now, I’m a big fan of lacquer. It’s easy to strip, easy to level, easy to spray, and is a good, sturdy finish. The damage to the finish on the frame was easy enough to fix: Scrub with 0000 steel wool soaked in lacquer thinner. Once the steel wool is saturated with the old lacquer, use new wool. Repeat a few times as necessary. This doesn’t remove all the old finish, nor does it need to. New applications of lacquer melt into the old ones, creating a single layer of finish. So, after wiping down the frame a few more times with paper toweling soaked in lacquer thinner, the frame’s ready for four sprayed coats of gloss lacquer.

The brass gets the usual treatment: An application of Flitz and buffing with a slow wheel on the Dremel. Once the old finish and tarnish have been removed, the brass is buffed with a soft cloth and sprayed with three coats of lacquer to retard future tarnishing.

The final result:
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Time to move the the back itself.

Seneca View 8×10 – Grinding a new glass

Well, what I thought was spray-on frosting turned out to be just a really, really bad screen.  Rather than grind away on it for hours to remove all the micro (and mega) chips, I bought a 10×12″ sheet of single-strength glass at Ace Hardware.  $3.49 well spent.

I lay out a towel, sprinkle a few grams of 500-grit silicon carbide on the glass, and spritz a little water on top:
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I lay the lapping glass on top and start grinding in a circular pattern. I’ve done a lot of these glasses, and what I’ve found to be the trick is having just the right amount of pressure on the lapping glass, and just enough water to keep the grit from drying out completely. Too much pressure, and you cause the micro chips in the glass that create annoyingly harsh grain. Too little pressure, and you’re not grinding. Too much water, and the lapping glass floats. Too little, and you scratch the glass.
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After about 30 minutes of grinding, washing, checking, and grinding again, I end up with a very smooth, even screen:
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You’ll notice that there are a few major low spots on this glass that haven’t been ground yet. Luckily, they fall in the waste areas. Otherwise, I’d continue lapping until the glass had been worn to the lowest level, creating an even grind.

Next, I trace the old glass on the new, and lay a straightedge on the new screen:
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Even pressure on the cutter, snap on the edge of the table, and you have a clean cut:
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The final screen, with clipped corners:
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You can see, side-by-side, just how much finer the new glass is than the original:
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So, the ground glass is finished. Next will be stripping the ground glass frame, regluing it if necessary, refinishing it, polishing the brass, and lacquering it all.

Seneca View 8×10 – Work begins

Several weeks ago, I received in the mail a Seneca View 8×10.

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This is an early model, pre-dating the Improved View.  According to Mathew Brady, the Seneca View was made between 1901 and 1905. I have noted, though, an inaccuracy in his description, though: He states that the Improved provided corner brackets which served to reinforce the joints; my Seneca View also has such brackets. Minor nit-pick, but, aside from missing hardware on my Improved, this camera is mechanically identical.

Aesthetically, though, this camera is aces. The mahogany woodwork is beautiful and elegant, rather than just functional and utilitarian. The brass, though tarnished by the years, has an attention to detail unlike any other cameras I’ve seen:

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There’s plenty to do on this camera: First, it’s missing the bellows and the front bellows frame. The frame is no problem – 3/8″ mahogany half-lapped at the corners. For the bellows, I’ll again be leaning on Sandeha Lynch. We’re discussing color options – red and black are classic, but I’m thinking a deep shade of green on this one.

Next, the finish of the wood and brass needs some work. The wood will need little more than careful renewal with lacquer thinner; the brass is due to be completely polished with Flitz on a buffing wheel and then relacquered. Then, the extension rail is missing. This will require some parts from McMaster-Carr and dimensions from the rail I have for the Improved View, which fits this cameras. Finally, the ground glass is in pitiful shape. It appears to be a replacement, made with glass sprayed with frosting medium:

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You can see the unevenness of the coverage, with light peeking though:

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Now, I’ve piddled with this camera here and there for a while. Polished a little brass, spent a lot of time looking at it. I’m fairly sure it will replace the Improved when it’s done, as they have identical movements available (geared rise/fall, geared rear swings and tilt). I just find the overall look and feel of the camera much more elegant.

First thing’s first: I think, today, I’m going to try regrinding the glass to remove the sprayed-on frosting and produce a true ground glass. Stay tuned.

Adapter board – brasswork

Metalworking is not my favorite thing to do, but I’m happy with how this project turned out:

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The brass is 1/2″ x 1/16″ strip, cut to length. The top retainer is secured using #4 x 1/4″ wood screws, countersunk, while the spinners are secured with #4 x 1/4″ roundhead screws. Everything is nice and secure with this simple configuration.

Finally ready to finish: Will attack the brass with Flitz, and stain and finish the wood.

Lensboard Adapter – Technika board fitting

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After allowing the polyurethane glue to cure fully, the board is sized to final dimensions.  I then rout the rebate along the back side and round the corners to fit the Deardorff front standard.

Layout for the Tech board shows that the top and sides have a 1/4″ x 1/16″ rebate; the bottom edge width is 5/16″.  Routing with a rabbeting bit leaves round corners; the top two are squared, and the bottom two are angled to mate with the Tech board profile.  I the past, I’ve also squared these edges, but that decision lies with the customer.

Once the Tech board fits properly, the rebate needs to be relieved to accept the circular light trap on the back of the Tech board.  I lay out the curve and strike the edges using a #5 sweep chisel.  Excavation is with a 1/4″ Ashley Iles. The final configuration looks like this:

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All that’s left is some clean-up of the rebate, some final sanding, and then finishing. While the finish coats are curing, I’ll fabricate the hardware.