Vintage and Classic Cameras
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Project 15, Folding Pocket Kodak, sympathetic restoration. Kodak rot and its reversal.

Eastman Kodak produced many sizes of the Folding Pocket Kodak on a production line basis involving standardized sub assemblies being brought together, long before Henry Ford has been generally credited with introducing the Production line. George Eastman was in the business of selling film, the more cameras out there taking pictures, the more film you sell. Accordingly Eastman created cameras that could be used by the average person, some basic - others allowing full control. The first Folding Pocket Kodak materialized in 1899 and the construction design evolved until Kodak settled on the method illustrated by this example dating from around 1910, although the same basic construction appeared around 1904.

For these vertical folding cameras, Kodak used two mahogany wood sides, routed out with grooves into which pressed a folded aluminium assembly to form the main body. The backs were from rolled aluminium to complete the closure and the front panel was also pressed sheet aluminium riveted to the body via a brass hinge. Two adjustable struts set the front panel at exactly the right position to form the lens bed when open. This method was used through to the end of the 1920s when Kodak progressively switched to all metal construction. It was quite some undertaking as many skills and trades were employed to create these cameras.

Woodworking, coarse leather treatment, embossing and dyeing, fine leather treatment for bellows plus linen lining and stiffener creation, sheet aluminium stamping and folding, sheet brass stamping and folding, wire forming, brass bar forming, brass casting, brass turning, paint finishing, varnishing, chemical blacking and electro plating, this and more was all required to produce one of the thousands of FPKs turned out by Kodak. So this restoration will be a celebration of all that was put into one of these plentiful Kodaks.

At left is the camera as received, mostly complete but with a host of problems commonly found with this type of construction plus some very mangled bellows.

Rotten Standard Close up of the mechanism that holds the lensboard struts. As with all the nickel plated parts, corrosion has eaten through into the base metal, brass in this case. At this time I'm not sure what to do about this, initially I hope it will clean up to an acceptable level so that originality can be maintained.
rotten Koilos Some levels of rot are just obnoxious and this has reached that point. This Gauthier Koilos pneumatically governed shutter was likely the best shutter of the day back in 1906 when it was introduced in this form. The governing piston, although external, was sealed from dust and the pivots were finely made, solving some of the issues of the earlier pneumatic shutters. It could also be triggered pneumatically, the piston for this being built inside the casing. Despite the obvious cosmetic issues the shutter still works happily. The setting lever is steel, heavily pitted and originally nickel plated directly over base metal. The steel screw heads are all corroded and the aluminium casing heavily pitted with the engraving obscured in places.
lens fungus This, sadly, is not good news. Fungus has done it's work on the rear element of the Cooke lens and etched it. This is irreversible. The damaged surface of the glass is scattering light in directions Taylor & Hobson (the makers) never intended, producing these telltale patterns. The Cooke consists of two convex crown glass elements back and front with a flint glass biconcave middle element separated by air gaps. Sealed away from UV light with a nice warm dusty bellows lining to seed it, the fungus has worked away unnoticed. If caught in time, the fungus can be removed before the evil deed gets this far, but we are several decades too late. The middle flint glass element escaped, but both faces of the crown rear element are damaged. The front element largely escaped, probably due to having occasional doses of UV light, but one small patch is evident on the back face. It will be cleaned thoroughly, the fungus unceremoniously murdered and the elements put back, that's all we can do.
FPK rot

Enough looking, lets get this old Kodak back up and running. Hmmm, Kodak rot.

So first up is a very common issue with these old Folding Kodaks, although not unique to Kodak. The aluminium oxidizes very happily. Now to be fair, the camera is well over a century old and has outlived the film it was designed for, so I don't think we'll be sending it back under warrantee. But if we want it to be presentable in another century, we'll have to stop this from progressing further. Most cameras that have leather over aluminium will develop this corrosion in time. Aluminium is looking for any excuse to rot and a nice porous covering that will hold damp, chemicals in the adhesive and air is all it needs. It takes the form of a hard white powder, that is highly abrasive, beneath which will be pits in the metal. It creeps under the leather breaking down the adhesive connection as it goes. It's betrayed by an irregular lumpy appearance and a crunching sound if you squeeze the area. Normally the adhesion is so well broken down that the whole covering can be removed with little encouragement. I generally soak it off though in distilled water as this makes the process gentler and eases the removal of the adhesive which is mildly water soluble on Kodaks. Also scraping the adhesive off the back of the leather when wet stretches it back to the original dimensions, as the aluminium oxide tends to shrink it somewhat.

More rot This is what you will likely find under a rotting Kodak's leather. The brown patches are traces of the leather left behind plus some discolouration from the adhesive. The smooth grey is unmolested aluminium and the white powder is the oxide as corrosion eats through the material beneath.
FPK back

Now for some of the restoration decisions. This is the inside of the back, there is mild corrosion on the copper pressure plates and it does look a little tatty. Ordinarily, I'd clean it up and polish off the corrosion leaving the original finish as it is. But in this case I already know that the rest of the body will need to come apart, brutal treatment that will require refinishing the inner aluminium tray, making this part look rather alien when the camera is completed. Accordingly it will be repainted, entailing de riveting the blanking plate for the red window. Also, the intention is to have this camera functioning again, so any source of dust and flaking paint should be removed.

These FPKs were available with two backs, one with a simple pressure plate and red window or this version. This has a sliding blanking plate and pressure rails to keep roll film flat against the focal plane edge, but alternatively allow a single glass photographic plate to be held in place for a one off photograph to be taken.

Dishing The back is dished, presumably to keep the glass photographic plate flat against the focal plane, what this might do to a roll film is open to debate... so I'm not sure if this is intentional by a previous owner, put in by Kodak or just the result of an accident at some point. This shows the back after all the corrosion had been removed.
Corrosion pits Some of the corrosion pits had almost eaten through completely, this one is fairly typical and was about a third of the way through. The surface is fairly rough now, but will give a good grip when the leather is put back later. Kodak didn't paint the surface where the leather would go, most camera makers didn't. When it comes to the repaint, the paint will be applied so that it runs under the leather for a short distance to help seal the edges where corrosion tends to start. It also starts around rivet heads as these are a different material. This sets up a tiny electric current at the junction of the differing metals providing another excuse for the aluminium to corrode. As an aside this seems particularly prevalent on many Zeiss Ikon cameras.
Distance Scale FPK Turning attention to one of this particular FPKs challenges is the combined focus scale and focus stop mechanism. Kodak tried multiple approaches and this would appear to be the worst of the lot. Of the FPKs in the collection, only this example has this type and it wasn't clear how it should work until a good look under a magnifier revealed a broken edge where something had snapped off. The break was dark and oxidized, so it's old.
FPK Focus stop Now there's a certain internet auction site that is primarily aimed at selling tat for vastly optimistic prices but brilliant for research. A quick look for No. 3A Folding Pocket Kodak turned up 29 examples. The sellers often take decent close ups and four of the examples had the same focus stop. Two of which were damaged and this one as it should be. This photograph being clear enough to show me what was missing. Interestingly this also demonstrates the interchangeability of mass produced products, as this Toronto CA built FPK is clearly all but identical to the subject Rochester NY built example.
Damaged FPK focus stop

This image from one of the two damaged examples was useful too. Here you can see why this design is a bit of a failure. Only supported one side, the focus stop gets folded flat should the user run the lensboard out a tad vigorously against it. Brass doesn't like being bent beyond it's elastic limits and any attempt to bend it straight is likely to snap it off... which is presumably what happened to ours.

But now I have enough information to sort this out.

Focus repair parts I wanted to keep as much original as possible, so elected to create a new stop then solder it to the original lever. Here is the replacement stop with a notch for the serrated lever to locate. I thinned the mating faces to avoid the material being significantly thicker after the repair. The over hang is deliberate so it can be filed flush to the original after the join.
repair 2 After soldering and cleaning up
test fit

Test fitting to the mounting plate after it had been cleaned of corrosion. The spring that closes the lever is a surprisingly feisty little fellow. I'm not ashamed to say it took several attempts and a watery eye following a punctured thumb before I got the little (insert preferred expletive) where it belonged.

Then I had to take it all apart again to paint it. Sigh, can anyone explain why I do this.

The solution is to tie a piece of cotton through the spring anchor to pull it around under tension before sliding the lever, but my advice is... if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

The pin looks copper but is actually steel, Kodak went to the effort of nickel plating it with a copper intermediate layer, they weren't cutting corners back in those days. It's a tiny part really, but the effort expended on it when manufactured is quite inspiring. It deserved to be repaired, even if the design is fundamentally rubbish.

back together After finishing. The look is deliberately age appropriate, by this time I had elected to restore it to a tidy but used look.

Now, those bellows. Ugh. One of the issues with large bellows cameras is the volume of air required to be sucked in when opened. Opening them too rapidly causes a number of issues, it can suck the film into the bellows ruining the focus for that shot, it sucks in dust that ends up plastered all over the film producing little clear spots on the negative and it can suck the pleats flat. (Actually it's atmospheric pressure pushing them flat according to my inner pedant). If you can't open the camera to pop the pleats back straight due to it being loaded with film, you may be tempted to close it up with them out of place... resulting in the mess this poor old thing has. Earlier examples of the FPK 3A B-4 had a screw on focal plane plate that held the bellows in place, making removal for repair easy, just like the one you see here. Later ones were held in with fold over tabs and are damn near impossible to get out. They were never intended to be, in fairness.

Guess which one ours is. Clue... the photo ain't the subject of this restoration.

The entire body will need to come apart if those bellows are going to get straightened up. The card stiffeners are clearly crushed and it's been sat closed with the lens rise set high for decades. This is going to get messy, the squeamish should look away now.

wrecked bellows

As the bellows are permanently attached to the inner tray, (itself screwed and tied with tie rods to the mahogany sides with the heads hidden under the leather covering), dismantling is a drastic step. The two ends are formed from rolled aluminium that suffers all the same problems as the back, so the leather needed to come off anyway, revealing the screw heads. The leather came off readily as corrosion was doing its thing. The leather won't come off the wood though, not a chance, don't try. Unfortunately there are two tie rods that are essential in preventing the sides from springing. One end of each rod is folded over, the other is threaded to a spreader disc. This disc needs to be excavated by slicing a cross in the leather where it exits on the side with the tripod mount. The centre is beneath the embossed decoration where it meets in a point by the film pintle surround. You'll know you found it as when you tease the leather back you'll discover a white disc let into the dark mahogany. This is actually a plaster of Paris in fill, the threaded disc is buried below. Dig it out and unscrew. I told you it was going to get messy. You can see the tie rods passing behind the film rollers from inside to give you a further clue, should you be bonkers enough to try. If you feel tempted to cut them to avoid damaging the leather, don't! I promise you, the camera will never close properly without them, they are in considerable tension, keeping the sides from springing.

I did take some images of the woodwork carnage, but seem to have deleted them. Maybe it was just too terrible an image to show.



Your reward for this carnage is the liberated aluminium inner tray with the attached bellows, plus a pile of parts you took off along the way...

The aluminium tabs holding the rear bellows pleats and metal support will need to be bent backwards. Some will snap, but it doesn't matter as they will all snap if you attempt to bend them back. The only solution is to attach the bellows post repair with adhesive or resort to the earlier method used by Kodak and use screws, which is our intention. Despite the mixed materials used the tolerances are pretty fine, there being very little room for error centering the bellows over the inner tray, leaving just sufficient to set into the routed slots in the side panels. The previously mentioned tie rods also apply a clamping force to the bellows when tightened up.

bellows liner The outer leather covering was detached from the liner to reveal the inner liner and card stiffeners. At this point the restoration started to fall apart, quite literally. I had harboured hopes of straightening out the linen liner and replacing those card stiffeners that were creased. About 30% were damaged beyond saving, but worse was the liner that had deteriorated and was crumbling in places. Whenever it was handled it would deposit a layer of black powder from the painted rubber light seal, crumbling assembly paste, dead mould and dust.
bellows stretcher

So at this stage I decided the FPKs photographic days were behind it and I would tidy it up and restore it cosmetically since the lens was pretty far gone too. It was a shame as I was hoping the Koilos shutter would get a chance to perform again. To this end I created a bellows stretcher to fit exactly, using the dimensions of the metal plates mounted back and front as the starting points, as these obviously don't shrink. Once the lining was installed the card stiffeners that couldn't be saved were replaced and the whole assembly straightened out. This is contrary to the order it was made. From the evidence uncovered during this process, during manufacture the inner lining was stretched over a circular cone whilst the seam was glued. The stiffeners were glued in situ onto the leather, which was then slid over the lining to attach to the still wet rubber light sealant before its own offset seam was glued shut.

Sadly all this effort was for nought, as it subsequently transpired that the lining and leather outer had shrunk and distorted in completely different directions and no amount of effort could get the memory of the original pleat creases to align.

However, the lining has been saved, and will serve as an illustration to how these old bellows are constructed as it's an object few will have seen.

bellows outer

Having failed to save the inner, now left me with a dilemma. The leather outer was in much worse condition than originally thought, with many holes. If I was going to save any part of it, it ought be the visible part I thought. One of the misfolds had cracked the skin for a considerable length. So I created a highly unorthodox solution and stretched a sheet of thin but strong brown paper over a board, in much the same way as you'd stretch water colour paper before painting on it. But I used black Indian ink instead of water. I then thinned some PVA and coated the rear of the leather skin before rolling it onto the paper and allowing to dry. As the paper dries it draws taught, until perfectly flat, pulling the leather with it, but supporting it at all the various weak points. This is the stage you see it here. Then it was given a good leather feed and a dose of the appropriate colour Venetian Cream still stretched on the board. When dry it was trimmed around the edge of the board, turned over, and stretched face down, with another coat of Indian ink on the reverse. Finally it was cut off, trimmed to the leather. As this makes it thicker than original I decided against putting a linen liner in, that would only serve to disguise an unorthodox repair, and would stretch the pleats, putting extra strain in the corners for no good reason other than vanity and to hide my embarrassment. The brown paper will hold a crease and support the pleats in much the same way as the individual strips once did, but also serves to seal off all the tiny holes in the skin. So whilst this is unorthodox, externally it is original and the approach will enable a few images to be be made with it.

Something else transpired when looking at the leather. It's clearly far from light proof, a distinct red glow is transmitted through the skin in bright sunlight. From my readings I was lead to believe that the almost universal change from red to black bellows around 1912 was purely a result of fashion. However I now suspect that the rising use of panchromatic films around this time lead to fogging as these films were sensitive to red, whereas the older orthochromatic films were not and it was this that lead to the demise of red bellows. I'll add that to my list of pet theories.

refolding the bellows Now comes the fun of re folding the pleats. It's a little fiddly but not that hard, I've not had to re fold that many over the years but the leather is quite supple after all the feed and cream it's absorbed and has taken on the original dark colour too. It's a good match for an unfaded example it will sit beside in the display case in due course. The pitch of the pleats changes twice along the length of the bellows, changing three pleats out from the lensboard end and then again five pleats from the focal plane, where they become much closer together, you can also see this on the original card stiffeners. Once the pleats are refolded the metal supports back and front were glued inside as before.
out of paint

Whilst waiting for the bellows to dry several times, work started on the aluminium shells. These were cleaned of all the corrosion, checked for bends and straightened out as required. Dismantling is a fairly rough process and the aluminium distorts easily needing to be remedied, or it won't align with the routed slots. After this they went into paint. The back panel had a light blow over to freshen it up, the inner tray was completely stripped and resprayed. Kodak did originally spray paint the interior, but the edging was put on by hand after the leather had been applied.

Here the back panel and inner tray are seen straight out of paint with the red window set in place again.

FPK rear

The rear hatch was sprayed over the sides contrary to Kodak practice, and also allowed to go beneath where the leather will go back on later. This is to help prevent the corrosion returning as it tends to creep in from the edges.

The little pieces of waxed gummed paper are also a deviation. These are put there to protect the leather from the rivet heads as they've already worn holes in the covering, but also to deny the aluminium easy access to moisture at a point where it's looking to corrode given half a chance. A blob of black acrylic paint down the hole later will complete the aesthetic. The only thing that holds the red acetate window in place is the leather covering, but here I've given it a helping hand with a gummed paper tab too.

FPK rear leather clamping

Kodak used the same embossed pattern leather for all the wooden bodied cameras it churned out from the early 1900s until the late 1920s. It's fairly thick and usually responds to treatment well enough to go back on. If small sections need to be repaired a decent match from Hewitts in Edinburgh is available, Levant being the name they give it, if my memory serves me correctly. I bought a whole skin many years ago, and still have enough tp patch a few old folding Kodaks yet. But this example didn't need any major patches, just the short pieces covering the hinge. Mostly because it's easier to attach those small strips oversize, stretch them over the hinge and trim off when set.

Here the original skin is being persuaded to stay attached whilst the glue sets, I applied the skin damp so that it holds the curve as it dries out.

check fit The two sub assembles brought together for a fit check after all the beating. The bellows retaining tabs are still on at this point, but they won't make it to the end.
FRont Panel, FPK

Righto, back to some more rot.

The front hatch. Now this was a major mess on close inspection. The front is riveted to the inner tray via a beefy brass hinge. The front suffers all the aluminum rot issues as the other parts, only more so. There are several differing metals with wide mating faces, rivets passing through and tray like construction designed to collect any moisture in the air. This is the result after 113 years. When de riveting, I usually drive them out as gently as I can intending to put the same rivet back later and peening it back over. This usually works just fine. The hatch was separated from the inner tray leaving the hinge attached to the front. The leather outer cover was removed, putting up a surprising fight given the amount of corrosion that had spread beneath it. It came off in the end in one piece, stiff as a board having been drained of all its natural oil by the aluminium oxide.

front panel FPK

Eurgh factor nine. There are several wood screws passing through this assembly into the decorative mahogany inserts on the other side. They have to come out. Kodak helpfully buries them beneath plaster of Paris filler. it's there to keep the surface smooth so as to not spoil the look of the leather covering. Fortunately it also protected the screws from moisture, so once excavated they were clean and came out without a fuss.

Aluminium is one of those curious metals that forms a hard oxide layer on the fresh metal very rapidly. This grey layer then protects the underlying from further damage, which is why you can leave aluminium untreated. But, if it's in contact with something acidic, akali or has a different metal passing through it with a bit of damp thrown in for good measure it very happily turns to powder.

top down on front

With the mahogany inserts removed, this is what we have. It's certainly not pretty. This part will serve as a guide as to where we go from here. I will attempt to clean it with everything left in place, otherwise there are a lot of rivets to remove. Mercifully the tell tale blistering of aluminium rot under the leather is conspicuous by its absence. This is a much tighter looking material, it may not be leather in fact but a man made linen backed material judging by the fraying along the edges. Either way it looks to be in reasonable shape, if a bit filthy and has done a fine job of protecting the aluminium beneath.

If the bright work cleans up tolerably well, this will set the tone of the remaining restoration...

top down cleaned Amazing what some de oxidizing agent, soap, warm water and a toothbrush can do. Followed by lots of distilled water to clean out all those chemicals. I think we can treat the old leather covering to some leather feed and wrap this back up. The good news is that now I am set on a path to clean the remaining bright parts and no re plating will be needed. Well, I'm sure I can make a case for a couple of parts, I do enjoy a good electro nickel dip.
hatch cleaned

After all the corrosion was removed from the outer side of the front hatch. It's pitted and discoloured but will be hidden beneath the original leather, so no matter. The pitting will actually give a good key for the adhesive anyway.

The leather gets treated in distilled water and the old glue scraped away carefully, this has the added benefit of stretching it slightly which compensates for the shrinkage from being sucked dry by the aluminium oxide spreading beneath it all these years. When putting it back it goes on damp as this keeps it soft, and generally I use PVA as it seals the aluminium against air very nicely, hopefully stopping this corrosion from returning.

standard mount

Now to address the other assemblies associated with the lens bed or front hatch.

The lens standard struts are mounted to this nickel plated brass block, that runs along the track riveted to the lens bed. Seen as removed, it's tatty but judging from the way the lens bed cleaned up should clean up equally well. The rust on the steel arm has breached the obnoxious level ensuring it will be repainted. The camera nameplate is a bit too unsightly and given that it tends to be in close proximity to the repaired focus scale, will be refinished to an appropriate standard.

Nameplate repair 1 So first up the plate gets a good scrubbing in de-oxidizer. Any paint that is ready to fall off usually abandons ship at this point. A good scrub with an old tooth brush, a stiff one though, will remove anything lacking sufficient resolve to hang on. This is a far as I went. As mentioned before, I'm going for an appropriate look, not good as new.
Nameplate repair, re paint A quick blow over with matt black, one side as per Kodak, the rear was untreated.
polish off nameplate To reveal the raised lettering a piece of writing paper is placed over a glass sheet, a tiny lump of abrasive polish is smeared onto the paper with a finger tip, then the nameplate placed face down on the paper and with light pressure pushed back and forth over the abrasive to remove the paint on the slightly raised type. Finishing takes place by careful use of a sharp brass point and eye loupe. A quick coat of shellac seals the result. The few traces of the old finish subtly betray the age.
lans board panel The dismantled lens standard and lensboard. This has an array of issues. The corrosion on the nickel plated struts will clean up as per the other similarly treated components. The chemical blacked finish to the lensboard, could be stripped off and refinished and I was tempted. In the end I decided that this was more because I was curious to give it a go rather than any major need to do it. Most of the back face is obscured by the bellows and the front equally by the shutter, so I just cleaned it and left it as was. However the rack and pinion for the lens rise is mangled, so had to be taken apart to dress the teeth as best I could. To move the rise, the little knob first needs to be pulled out to disengage the lock. At some point in the past this hadn't been done and the teeth were partially stripped or bent over. A bit of heat treatment and judicious use of needle nosed pliers bent the teeth back, then some needle file work put the profiles back into a usable condition. A tiny mark on the strut indicates centre and the camera should always be closed with the lens rise in this position, otherwise the bellows will stretch.
stripped pinnion Removing the pinion shaft involved a bit of surgery for the tiny knob was riveted through the shaft requiring it to be drilled out since it refused the attentions if a small drift. The rivet is tapered to further enhance the fun. Once this is done the spring on the other end needs to be released by opening the clamping slot cut into the shaft, then it will all fall apart. There's no need to do this for a simple clean, but the teeth needed work. Here you can see the damaged teeth and the hole left from drilling the rivet out. Later when it was put back together a new brass rivet was ground to size, nickel plated and then pressed in and squished to hold it fast.
Waist finder The waist level finder reduced to component parts. This is grubby and has a patch of paint that is very unsightly and needs tidying up. This is on the far right part you see here, although the nastiness can't be seen in this picture. But to fix it meant the entire thing had to come apart. Also the red backing in the spirit level has broken down, you can just make that out in this image. There are ten components in this sub assembly alone. This same assembly is used on many sizes of Kodak cameras during this period.
spirit level

The spirit level is a sub assembly in itself. The sealed glass bubble guide is on the right, it will have the red backing renewed.

Most of these parts will just be cleaned and put back as they are. That lovely bit of bright felt must surely be as vibrant as the day it came out of Kodak's Rochester factory.

pintle Of the four film spool pintles this one stood out as badly pitted, giving me the perfect excuse to bring out the nickel plating gear.
re plated pintle The pits turned out to be pretty deep, but after polishing and re plating it no longer fails the obnoxious test.
bellows and tray assembly Things are coming together now. The refurbished bellows are reunited to the inner tray and ready to have the front panel riveted back in place. The original rivets were reused by rolling the punched end parallel again then re punching to spread them. A dab of cyano glue was placed at the junction as the original holes had stretched a bit during extraction, this will stop them pulling out and you'd never know if I hadn't mentioned it. Only after this can the side panels pressed back on. This is trickier than it sounds. Once it's all in place and the wood screws tightened holding the ends in place the tie rods needs to be tightened down progressively. Testing the fit of the back plate as you go. This example needed a fair bit of tension in the rods before the back would clip in and release nicely.
carcase The front leather panel was treated before the hatch was riveted to the inner tray, so it looks to be in better shape than the yet to be treated main body as it all goes back together.
carcase 2 Nearly there with the leather work. The brutal treatment has left a few scars on the leather, but this way it retains the originality. The scars don't jump out at you and now just form part of the camera's character. I gave the leather a light dyeing and sealing to knock back the abrasions but they are still all there to be seen. All the leather is original except for the short pieces wrapped around the the hinge but I have a perfect match in my stock of leather and you'd never know.
koilos shutter

Are we there yet?

Not a chance, but the lens elements have been cleaned so far as possible, now it's time to look at that Koilos.

Kodak can't claim any credit for the Koilos shutter other then the wisdom of choosing it from a third party supplier. Made by Gauthier in Germany, this shutter really was rather special in the day. This one looks a bit forlorn though. That nasty corrosion on the setting lever means it's going to have to come off for polishing and re plating. Which inevitably means the entire thing has to come apart.

koilos Shutter strip 1 The innards of the Koilos shutter are accessed from the back. Three screws hold the back plate on which is a snug fit into the casing. The back plate comes away with the entire aperture mechanism in situ. That follows fairly standard practice and is relatively easily dismantled and cleaned, which we did. It consists of ten vulcanite leaves, the pivot pins are fairly deep so it doesn't put up much of a struggle when putting it all back. With that out of the way you are presented with the three spring steel shutter leaves. These have been marked I, II and III in pencil at some point and during my research I found images of others similarly marked, so maybe original. Each leaf also has a different number of holes punched in it. The leaves are held captive by the back plate and will drop out with it removed. Also noted was graphite pencil rubbed into the leaf tips. This is a common cure for recalcitrant shutters. Although these spring steel leaves were blued they were also painted, it appears to be original. This paint was breaking down and had become rough over time. This will be polished smooth again, hopefully avoiding the need for the graphite pencil fix.
Koilos-Shutter_02 With the shutter leaves out of the way we can appreciate just how wonderful this Gauthier shutter is. This model first arrived in 1906 and looks way ahead of it's time, even though pneumatically governed. Pretty much cutting edge at the time is the cast aluminium shell, possibly gravity fed as it looks to be low pressure rather than die cast. The feed would likely been on the other side and machined off. Internally there is no machining other than smoothing of the running faces and tapping for screws, it's very nicely done.
Koilos-Shutter_03 One of many documentary images I take during a strip down. Note that the left hand screw is longer, for it passes through the trigger lever acting as it's pivot. Oddly the lever runs on the threaded part of the screw, rather than a reduced plain section. The shutter can be triggered with a small press down lever on the front, a pneumatic bulb or two types of screw in cable. The pneumatic governor is the black cylinder running along the top, the pneumatic release piston is the silvered cylinder inside near the bottom.
Koilos-Shutter_04 Just another shot showing the arrangement of various springs before I disturbed them, it's way easier to just take a quick image with a mobile phone than to try and make all the notes you might need later. The bright inverted hooked assembly a third of the way in from left is the speed setting cam.
Koilos-Shutter_05 This is the mechanism that holds the shutter open during the delay governed by the pneumatic timing piston. Everything is a bit grubby with spots of corrosion but internally it fared better than outside. There are several pencil annotations inside the casing, presumably added during manufacture. These have been retained.
koilos repair 6 The shutter setting pawl. The shutter spring was pre tensioned three quarters of a turn. The grease is dry and stiff but has protected the mechanism for over a century.
koilos repair 7 The release piston. The visible outer part consists of two pieces, a fine taper holding them together tightly. I've seen several examples with the taper insert missing, so it may be that this is the just the end of the release tube left behind, the threaded bit passes through the casing to hold the piston in place. This piston still runs smoothly and In due course we will create a replica bulb release for this camera as it works so nicely. Unlike the earlier Unicum shutters it requires far less pressure to set it off and there is very little leakage as the tolerances are so fine.
koilos repair 8

This innocuous looking spring shouldn't be taken lightly, that 10mm diameter packs a punch you don't want to be messing with. It's the mainspring responsible for opening the shutter leaves and overcoming the pneumatic governor whilst the air escapes, determining the exposure time. The setting lever locates in a slot and can be removed by backing it off, the lever itself then needs to align with an exit slot in the front before it can be withdrawn, the dust cover taken out and finally this mechanism can be removed. This whole strip down was undertaken just to get the lever off, well that and to satisfy my insatiable curiosity. The spring was blown through with solvent and re greased in situ. You'd really need a spring winder cylinder to take this out and put back in, identical to clock making practice.

The material is blued spring steel, but the anchor end is left mild steel and distorts easily, so a little caution is required.

koilos repair 9 Under the speed setting dial sits this spring steel braking washer, It gives the control some end float without being loose. The speed cam is notched so each major setting engages as a positive detent. The washer was treated, polished and used again.
The speed cam removed for cleaning and to give access for the jet of brake cleaning fluid this is about to be subjected to...
koilos repair 11 Turning attention to the outside. The Koilos is referred to as being engraved. Apart from the fact that this example is rather badly corroded and pitted, this term is a little optimistic. When manufactured the casing was taken from the mould and machined front and sides, there are clear marks to indicate this. Then it appears to have been placed in a chemical bath to accelerate the formation of a matt oxide layer on its surface, this has then been scraped through with a metal stylus, freehand to reveal the bright metal beneath. The scrapes are reminiscent of Islamic script but are meaningless. Finally a coat of lacquer went over to prevent the freshly revealed metal from dulling to retain the subtle contrast.
koilos repair 12 Much of the pattern is now so faint it's hard to see. The pitting has broken through both the original oxide layer and the casing. This will be difficult to replicate, to polish out the pitting would remove any trace of the pattern. I photographed every side to keep a record of what was there though. For now I will clean it all up and chase the markings back in so far as I can. I was toying with finding the Islamic script for "Shine through me" and making that my pattern, that would hold an appropriate dual meaning for such a device. I imagine that each worker at Gauthier had their own pattern so I would be doing the same. But not for now.
FPK unrestored FPK restored

The various plates and dial were cleaned, the shutter reassembled then reunited with the camera itself. Up close all the age, wear, pits and scrapes are still largely there, just much tidier now. It works and a quick if unimpressive test sheet shows it can take photographs. For this an undersize sheet of 9x12cm sheet film was placed in the back as the single glass plate would have been, so now I need to dream up a suitable subject for it.

This Folding Pocket Kodak came from the golden era for Kodak. The cameras were well made and well equipped in this instance. This was a hard but thoroughly rewarding journey and I hope it's given you some appreciation for these humble old Kodaks.

I am keeping the 360 view for this camera in it's unrestored state, so that is preserved too, you can see that via the button below.

Go to 360 degree view

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