Limber B&J standards : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Someone used the word "willowy" the other day to describe the lack of sturdiness of the standards on an 8x10 Burke & James that I'm referring to. I was out working on a series of surf studies in a pretty good breeze; the tripod and the camera base were solid as a rock but the standards themselves were shaking back and forth in the wind, and of course what pictures I tried were ruined from the vibrations. Is there a way to make these standards solider?

-- Katharine Thayer (, March 15, 2002


Hate to say it:

Hot Glue!!!

(Actually you can try to carry a bunch of clamps with you. Attach the clamps to every moving part... - a pain but it may work)

-- Per Volquartz (, March 15, 2002.

Are the standards themselves wobbly or is it the clamp from the standard to the base that's troublesome? If the standard itself is wonky, it may be that the corner joints are loose. If so, you'll have to take them apart and reglue them. Or, work them loose enough so you can blow some glue into the cracks. Then clamp it and let it dry.

You can increase clamping friction by sticking some kind of textured surface in between the wood surfaces where they meet. Wood to wood can be pretty slippery. I used some peel-n-stick phony leather. Works good.

The standards really shouldn't be willowy. They're made from maple, which is much too unpretentious a wood to be willowy.

-- Kevin Bourque (, March 15, 2002.

Not sure how the B&J is constructed exactly, but I greatly improved the sturdiness of my aluminum Gowland 8x10" monorail camera by adding some large flat fender washers to all the clamps and tightening points. They add a few ounces of weight, but well worth it. The camera is much more solid now.

-- David Goldfarb (, March 15, 2002. 8x10.html

-- David Stein (, March 15, 2002.

Minor correction to the previous URL: restore8x10.html

Remove the space between "restore" and "8x10.html" if you cut and paste from the post...

-- Paul Coppin (, March 15, 2002.

Spring clamping a wooden strip from the top of the rear standard to the top of the front standard does wonders to stiffen up a shaky view camera. Hardware stores used to sell wood strips approx. 1/4" X 3/4" that work fine (you don't need anything very thick and heavy). There are a a lot of different size plastic spring clamps available (try finding some with weaker springs; they will be easier to operate). You might want to take your B&J to the hardware store and experiment (it will certainly give the clerks something to talk about). Since your rear standard is bigger the the front, you'll probably have to clamp to the front edge of the rear "box" so the strip can angle down to the front. You may have to come from the side of the rear standard to one side of the uprights on the front standard. Whatever combination that works with your camera. Two or three different length strips for different extensions is handy. You will need to be watching your focus as you put the second clamp on to be sure you don't tip the standards out of focus. You can also clamp from either standard at an angle down to the bed, and from the bed down to a tripod leg if you are at long extension and the bed gets shaky. I know this is just one more thing to have to do when setting up to take a picture, but it is a lot cheaper than buying a Sinar.

-- Leonard Robertson (, March 16, 2002.

Bring your umbrella!

-- Donald Brewster (, March 18, 2002.


If I understand correctly from your description, this is an older BJ with all wooden front standard and not the later version with the metal angled corners?

I have used and rebuilt a number of the older BJ's (4x5 and 5x7, but they are the same design)- if your camera is a tailboard design (not the triple extension) it is almost certainly the locking knob at the base of the front standard - the one used for swing movements.
Under the knob is a metal plate that the knob threads against - if you have a metal washer between the knob and that plate it can become difficult with wear/age to tighten sufficiently to keep the two metal surfaces from moving because they are so smooth (especially so, when you add a little salt water spray) ;)
Check it - and if that is the case, here's a quick fix - take the knob off, and lift the standard out of the way. Cut a strip of gaffers tape the same length as the standard base. Now cut that piece of tape in half the long way (into two strips, trim if necessary so they are the same width as the standard base)and apply one to the camera bed exactly where the standard rests and the other to the bottom of the standard. Take a razor knife and carefully cut the tape out of the slot. Then apply a piece of tape in the same manner on the top side of the standard base (just large enough to cover that metal plate - repeat the razor knife trimming of the slot for the top side.
Reinstall the standard and bolt, but replace the metal washer with a hard rubber one of the same size (or add one if there wasn't one there).
This work fairly well - you just need to remember to loosen the knob sufficiently before applying swings, so as to not drag against the tape.
If it is actually the wood joint at the front standard corner (i.e. the joint is slightly loose) - there's a quicky for that too but it would involve some wood finish touch-up-
If you want to tackle something like that email me for details.

-- Matt O. (, March 24, 2002.

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