In part I of this series, we removed the leatherette and the door mechanism from the die-cast alloy body of the Weltur. We also removed the old, worn bellows.
You can see below the disassembled body and the old bellows. The articulated chromed door struts are riveted to the alloy body, I chose not to remove them as I’m unsure how I would reattach them!
Visible also is the rangefinder control armature, tucked into the inner edge of the inside top of the body.
It proved to be impossible to remove the brass tripod collar on the bottom of the body.
We are now ready to begin the reassembly. In the meantime, I received a replacement bellows from China, and leather from Italy to replace the leatherette.
The new bellows is slightly smaller than the original. I’m hoping it won’t make reassembly too difficult, however I will encounter some problems later on, as you will see.
I started by gluing the bellows using contact cement to attach them to the film plane exterior surface.
Then I used a scalpel to trim extra bellows material from the film gate.
The next step is to reassemble the lens bed, which includes the focus mechanism and front standard.
The only difficulty in reassembling the focus mechanism is making sure the infinity position matches the small ball bearing in the focus knob assembly. Once I realised this, I was able to rotate the assembly into the correct position before screwing the entire bed back together and re-attaching it to the chromed door struts.
It took a while to get the main bed attached to both armatures, with the focus bed in its rails and rolling smoothly. I then connected the folding struts, carefully attaching the high powered springs at the rear of the body so that the unfolding action performs correctly.
Next I refitted the front standard. This attaches to the folding struts with two screws. It is supported from the rear inside the bellows by a metal ring with tabs to secure the bellows to the standard.
Next I began hand painting the body with black metal paint to protect from corrosion, being careful to leave the bare metal edges.
I began making paper templates of the leather panels, then used these to cut my leather into sections.
Using contact cement, I coated both the body sections and the rear of the leather panels.
The front of the camera with all leather panels attached.
The back of the camera has two red windows for checking the film advance. I carefully cut circles to match those on the original leatherette.
The rangefinder is a unit, so it easily drops back into place. Rangefinder calibration however deserves a whole article in itself!
Once the calibration is done, the rangefinder cover goes back on. It is held on by three screws and the rear diopter and front viewing lens.
The final step is to reattach the shutter and lens. The retaining ring needs to sit inside the last fold of the bellows so it does not pinch the material.
Due to the fact that my replacement bellows are smaller that the originals, this proved to be quite tricky. However I was eventually able to get it fitted and the shutter attached firmly.
In all this project took around 20 hours over a six month period. I learned a lot about camera restoration during the process, and I’m reasonably pleased with the result.
Generally collectors want their cameras to be original, and it was a shame to sacrifice the original leatherette, but it was in very poor shape. The body certainly looks a lot nicer now.
Functionally, it turns out that the smaller bellows mean that a vignette is introduced around the edges of my frame. I don’t mind this, personally, but it also means the resale value is probably lowered.
I also seem to have introduced a few light leaks, so I’ll need to address that before I can make the best of this little gem.
- Custom made bellows: https://www.ebay.com.au/usr/mytongguy