The shutter

As I mentioned, in the lens post, I also got a shutter for my beast off that auction site. It’s a 50′s era Ilexpo, Packard shutter. It was a lucky find, because it is one of the few shutter designs that would work with my monster lens, and has a built in mounting system. This particular type of Packard shutter isn’t quite as common as the other newer ones. Packard shutters are still built and the company is still around, but the shutters aren’t built in to an systems anymore, so you have to figure out how to do it yourself if you want a new one, which are quite expensive by the way. For the size I need, it would have been up around $500 for a new shutter. Too much is going into this camera as it is, so I am stoked that I found this.

The shutter is a bit worn, but once I took it apart and figure out how it worked ( a simple yet ingenious design) all I had to do was remove one limiting screw to get the full range of motion back. At some point, I might want to remake one of the brass parts to compensate for the wearing, but as it is now it should work pretty well, and with a little Teflon grease it will probably be smother than it ever has been.

The shutter mount has a pretty standard lens plate setup, so that I can remove the lens on its own plate without having to remove the shutter. This is hugely better than most of the home brew mounting systems I have run across. This gives me the option to use more lenses, if I ever find more, or can afford the restored ones that are sold in boutiques out there.

I am starting to really grove on the idea of using a 100 year old lens with a 50 year old shutter on a home built camera using both traditional materials, and modern building techniques.

As for the camera build; I am starting to move out of the planning stage. I think I have a lot of the problems sorted out at least in theory, so I am beginning to work on the parts I know I have sorted out, like the film holders. I have already purchase my cherry wood, and planed it down. There really isn’t any such thing as rift cut, or quarter sawn cherry anymore, at least not at local lumber shops. Apparently the Chinese furniture factories have been buying up everything, so unless I want to spend 10x the $ and wait for months to track down what I want, I am going to have to settle for what I can find. This isn’t as bad as it sounds though, because if I buy big enough boards I can cut out the best parts for those pieces that need to be milled to 1/64 of an inch tolerances.

I also ordered and received, in a day, my garolite, A.K.A. Phenolic plastic, and 1/8th inch aircraft grade, corrosion resistant aluminum sheeting ( I also got some 0.001 stainless for a pinhole “lens”. another project I want to tackle at some point) from They ship super fast and their rates are quite low. I think I will buy my exotic raw materials from them from now on.

The materials I chose are a bit on the steep side, but getting them from McMaster made it doable. Phenolic plastic is very rigid and quite strong, plus light opaque. It makes the ideal dark slide, and septum for the holders. With this plastic I can do with 1/16 material that probably would require 1/8th in other materials, and at a much lighter weight. The aluminum, if I can find a good laser cutter, or learn to mill it, is way high on the material grade-sheet, but it is so strong that once I anodize it, it will provide that super strength, and light weight in the critical areas of the camera that will need it with its huge stresses. With a 5lb ( I weighed it finally) lens I will need all the strength I can muster out of my materials without making it so heavy that I won’t want to use it. PLus I am learning that stresses don’t scale up linearly as you might figure. Going from 8×10 to 12×20 doesn’t multiply the stress by 2 or 3 as you might guess, but maybe up to 10xs more. Everything has to be overbuilt, but with the same tolerances. ITs just like me to take on the hardest type of project on my first attempt. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. If I am going through all the trouble, I might as well make it big and bad ass right?

All in all, I am making progress, and I can see the camera taking shape in my mind, but I can also see I am going to be in for a lot of work, and a LOT of trouble shooting. I am very glad my schedule has lightened up a bit for the next few months, cause I am going to be in the shop a lot.


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