At it again – The Bellows

Its been just under 10 months since I last posted, and I have to admit that it’s  been that long since I have made much headway. Being a father takes up a lot of time, and any free time I had after that went into … well.. life, school and work.

I did do research, and think off and on about my design through that time, though. The design had some flaws in how I was going to build the mechanical joints. It occurred to me that when dealing with 5 lb lenses, and huge fulcrums, there will be quite a bit of force involved. So you might say that part of my down swing in activity has also been due to consideration of my plans.

Alas, I have begun tinkering again, and have been trying to get going on the parts that are a little more straight forward . The ones that will require less engineering, like the bellows. I have waffled about whether to buy one or not, and have decided to make one. New bellows run in the hundreds of dollars, and are hard to find in ULF sizes, if they aren’t custom made. Beyond money, I figured I was putting in the work to build the rest of this behemoth, so why not the bellows too.

In visiting the bellows again, I went back to search for materials, and discovered that Porter’s doesn’t have the blackout cloth anymore. There is an organ repair place in Montana that does, but at $30 a yard I wouldn’t be saving much by building it over buying a new one. I decided to see if I can use leather as the main material, and think I might be in luck. Full hides seem like they might be just big enough to cut a bellows pattern from in the 6 foot by 7.75 foot size I need. At around $100 for a discount hide, it is not cheap, but cheaper than two layers of blackout cloth, or other material, and will look and feel that much better. Plus it should age pretty well , and  be more historically accurate. We’ll see how it goes.

Next, I’ll be posting pictures of the paper models I’ve been making, and more on materials, and bellows math and design


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