$12 bellows repair

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In the recent posts on bellows repair and maintenance, I haven't seen anyone mention the liquid "Bellows Patch Sealer" sold by Bostick & Sullivan (perhaps because it's a relatively new product?). I just tried it with good success on an older Arca-Swiss bellows. The compound is thick and gray-ish (though it dries black). I decided to touch-up all the areas where three folds intersect (all my light leaks were in such intersections).

I applied four coats, letting each dry a few hours, then I let the whole bellows dry another 24 hours to be safe. The results were pretty impressive -- the light leaks disappeared, and the bellows remained flexible. I only did this last week, and so I can't speak about long-term wear. But it sure beats paying for a new bellows.

-- Gregory Bell (gbell@uclink4.berkeley.edu), May 23, 1999


There are two schools of thought on repairing bellows light leaks that are caused by aging (as opposed to some sort of accident). One school says it's cheap and easy so go for it. The other school says that whatever caused the light leaks you are repairing will continue to cause light leaks but you won't know about them until you've processed all the film from a particular session or trip, thus ruining what will no doubt in retrospect be the greatest photographs you ever made in your life. Personally I belong to the latter school and would rather buy a new bellows than take a chance on ruining a whole bunch of photographs before discovering the new leaks but that's obviously a personal thing. There was a long discussion between Richard Sullivant of Bostick and Sullivan (who advocates repair) and Patrick Alt (who advocates no repair) in the alt.photo news group about a month ago. You might find it interesting if you can access that group.

-- Brian Ellis (beellis@gte.net), May 25, 1999.

Here's the rest of the story: the $12 bellows repair didn't hold up too well on a hot day in Yosemite, recently. The corners which I had treated with the stuff got tacky, stuck to each other, and generally acted up. I now belong to the second school of thought regarding bellows repair (see Brian's post, above).

-- Gregory Bell (gbell@uclink4.berkeley.edu), June 02, 1999.

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