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.

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