Star Camera Company 10×12 – cleaned and waxed


Most of the actual work on this camera is now done. There’s a little tweaking left to do on the bottom tambour panel, and I want to dye the new handle. The body has been scrubbed and waxed, all running parts cleaned and waxed, and the inside scrubbed with naphtha. It’s clean, everything is working smoothly, and now just needs a new bellows. And lensboards. While I wait for the bellows to (a) arrive in Wales, (b) be fabricated, and (c) make it back to the States, I’ll make some boards and mount some lenses. And fidget.


Star Camera Company 10×12 – Bellows are OUT!

Bellows are OUT!

About 80 1/4″ tacks held the bellows in the rear; 16 screws held the front frame in place. Took better than 45 minutes to get the thing separated. But they fit in one of those huge padded envelopes they have at the post office, so should be fairly cheap to ship off to Wales.

Camera needs cleaning, bad. Can get to that now. Sandeha can start building the new, red bellows as soon as the old ones reach him. I’ll start in to scrubbing the shellac and waxing everything this week; the repairs to the tambour should be finished shortly.

Star Camera Company 10×12 – starting progress…

After removing the damaged bottom tambour panel, it’s apparent that reversing it will allow almost complete functionality again, losing only about 3/8″ of rise. The camera has, maybe, five inches of rise available, plus about another 1-1/4″ that can be cheated with the tilt lock mechanism, so I’m not concerned about losing that little bit. I applied a coat of paste wax to the slats, and the action is buttery-smooth. As part of the restoration, I’ll thoroughly wax the wood on both panels.

I’ve decided against polishing all the metalwork. This is partly an aesthetic decision, and partly a practical one. Practically, I don’t want to tear this camera down completely to parts. It’s simply not necessary, and would increase the length of the project dramatically with diminishing return. Aesthetically, the metal has a nice patina (once the grime is scrubbed away), and the wood is scarred and dented enough that polished metal on the worn wood would look very out of place.

In fact, I’ve decided on a cleaning/finishing protocol for the project: I’ll scrub the wood and metal with 000 or 0000 steel wool soaked in lacquer thinner to remove most of the crazing, yellowed lacquer, and level the remaining. This also effectively cleans the metal without removing the patina. Then, a coat or two of paste finishing wax will bring the finish to a nice, satin sheen. It’ll look and feel appropriate for this camera.

Also, I’ve investigated the bellows attachment a bit more: The front is attached via an internal frame. The rear, though, is tacked directly to the inside of the standard. Going to be slow work removing all those tacks…

[EDIT] On a suggestion from a fellows LFf’er (thanks, Jim!), I scrubbed some of the finish with denatured alcohol. Turns out the existing finish is shellac, not lacquer. Scrubbing with 0000 steel wool in alcohol makes short work of cleaning and leveling the old finish, and paste wax will bring up the sheen.

Star Camera Company 10×12 – more details

Okay, a few more details, complete with photos:

First, it’s too big for my Slik Master Classic:

This one’ll live on the Ries.

Second, in order to minimize the size of the extension bed, there are brass strips on the bed with little detents every few inches:

There are two locking tabs on the front standard, one on either side, that snap into the detents. The tabs are tightened against the strips then by means of knobs at the top of the standard. A little slower to set up, maybe, but makes this behemoth a little more compact.

The ground glass is gridded, and the grid is silk screened on:

And, a unique feature of this camera, the bottom of the back is angled:

I think this allows for back tilt when the rear box is moved forward a bit. Regardless, it keeps the camera from sitting upright.

As near as I can measure, the bellows aren’t tapered. I measure a slight difference (maybe 1/4″) between front and rear, but the bellows are in very poor shape, and I think this is just error. When they come out, a measurement of the frames will be more indicative. And the camera, without lens or holders, weighs in at 14.5 pounds, which, I think, isn’t bad for such a beast.

The removed bottom tambour panel is in clamps right now, tacking down some loose strips. The separated strip is staying off the panel for now…

Star Camera Company 10×12 – it’s arrived!

Well, after some research on, it turns out my new 10×12 is a Star Camera Company view camera. And it arrived, moments ago!

First impression: It’s huge. Dwarfs the Asanuma half plate:

New toy (2)...

It’s in fine condition, brass is tarnished but serviceable, and there appears to be no damage to the woodwork. The front rise operates on a tambour panel, and some of the slats need to be reglued. Okay. Needs new bellows. Fine. And one of the leaf springs is a little bent on the back. Easy. Glass is intact, has a lensboard. And three holders, all in good nick.

Even more impressive to me, and a complete surprise, is that this camera has front tilt! Who knew? Front rise/fall, front tilt, rear tilt, rear swings. Sounds good to me.

New toy...

New toy (3)...

Interestingly, the knobs are all aluminum, and fairly pristine. I guess aluminum was considered cutting edge in the ’30s.

I need to consider how much I want to polish this one up. There’s actually relatively little brass on this to clean up, so I’m tempted to leave it. The finish on the wood is clean and nice, so other than the tambour, I’m not sure much needs to be fixed. Sandeha will be providing me a new bellows for this one (red? blue? green? black?). And I have some film coming soon, too (thanks, Sanjay!). I want to shoot it. Now.

10×12 Project camera – new project!

Well, after completing the Asanuma 4×5 project, I haven’t done much in the garage. I have a few other little projects going on, mostly for other people, but haven’t had two minutes to work on any of it. So, today, I picked up a new project for myself, regardless (photos by the seller):





It is, according to, a Star Camera Company 10×12 view camera. Needs a new bellows, natch, and some clean-up and minor fixin’. But it has this cool tambour front rise, and plenty of draw. And it came with three DDS’s! I already sourced some film for it, and once I make some stops, my Euryscop IV #3 should cover the format fine.

Now, if you’ve been following along, I also have the Seneca 8×10 project that’s waiting on me. And truth be told, the 10×12 will have to wait, too, until work on other people’s stuff is complete. But it’s 10×12, fer cryin’ out loud! How cool is that?!

Now it’s a waiting game. S’posed to ship tomorrow. Fingers crossed for quick delivery!