My first shot with a new camera has ALWAYS been of my daughter. Today, I burned my first sheet of 8×10 in years on – guess who – my daughter! Rajah 8×10, Arista.EDU Ultra 100 in HC0-110 dil H, B&J Ajax #2. Seemingly, the camera performs well. Time will tell.
I’ve been reading about the Rajah lately. Largely negative comments, though the few people I’ve found who are actively using them seem to love them. I still like the camera, and plan on rehabbing and using it, but I’m holding off on new bellows until the camera proves itself. In the meantime, I’m going to try to engineer some fixes to what seem to be common complaints. More on that to come.
In the mean time, and on a whim, I slapped one of the 10×12 lensboards onto the Rajah tonight. Must be clean living – it fit like a glove. So all of my 10×12 lenses are now serving double duty as 8×10 lenses, and I don’t even have to make any boards. I’m happy with that coincidental commonality.
After a bit of research, I identified the camera as an Indian-made Rajah 8×10. Basically a Deardorff clone, the camera may have been made as recently as the mid-80s, though I suspect, given the condition, it’s a somewhat earlier.
I took some before pictures of the camera and started in to polishing. I’m thinking now that the camera will be completely parted-out, all the hardware (which is solid brass) will be polished, and I’ll darken the finish. My thought is that I’ll level the existing finish by scrubbing with solvent (alcohol or lacquer thinner, depending on what’s on it), then build up color coats with tinted finish. I’m going for a more traditional dark red. I’ve contacted Joe at Snakebite Leather to make a new strap; we’re discussing tooling options now. And the gearing will need to be sorted, but I’m thinking some shimming will do the trick.
A little progress. Polished the latch:
Started polishing the lensboard retainer:
And I replaced the weird little wingnut on the front panel slide with a brass knurled nut:
On somewhat of a whim, I traded off the Grubb this week. I’d developed a strong desire for a new project, and me and the Grubb haven’t been getting along. Quite by chance, I happened into a fellow LF enthusiast who had a treasure trove of project 8×10 cameras. After some hemming and hawing, I decided on a presumably Indian-made 8×10, self-casing, and triple extension:
Even picked up some holders that, like the camera, need a little work, but will prove to be nice.
The camera seems solid enough, no featherweight, but nothing like the 10×12. The bellows may pass the flash test (have to try that yet), which would be a bonus. The gearing, front and rear, slips a bit on starting, but works fine otherwise (need to ponder on that). A little tightening here and there and it will be ready to shoot!
The only thing I have to decide is whether I want to refinish this one. I’m kind of thinking of stripping it down to bare wood, buying some mahogany TransTint, and hitting it with lacquer. Have to think on that, too…