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Using and Repairing a Thornton Pickard Roller Blind shutter

When I bought my new camera (see my last blog post) It came with a slightly sorry-looking TP roller blind shutter. Granted, there was no name stamped onto this thing, but the basic principles seem to be the same. Personally, never having owned one of these shutters, did not know how to operate one, so it was hard to establish which parts were there, and which were missing. After a good bit of digging the internet I found a few well-illustrated articles on how to replace the blinds and this helped me a great deal in figuring out how this thing works. So how does it work? When the thing functions properly, you just have to set the required shutter speed, you pull the spring to wind the mechanism and you press the shutter. Presto!  
The shutter with lens

The shutter with lens

The lens removed. I had this little block in there, not sure it's really needed although it will help guide the string and blind

The lens removed. I had this little block in there, not sure it's really needed although it will help guide the string and blind

This side shows the shutter speed it's set to

This side shows the shutter speed it's set to. The gap in the middle might just be for a screw that's gone missing.

this side shows the shutter mechanism

this side shows the shutter mechanism

 

To Operate:

 
wind this bottom brass know clockwise to increase the shutter speed

wind this bottom brass knob clockwise to increase the shutter speed

To decrease the shutter speed, push the little level downwards. The spring inside the bottom roll with release it's tension and the dial on the other side will drop to a slower speed.

To decrease the shutter speed, push the little level downwards. The spring inside the bottom roll will release it's tension and the dial on the other side will drop to a slower speed.

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If your speed setting is not decreasing, help it along by pushing this little toggle gently upwards.

To cock the shutter, pull the string. Mine clicks once into place for an opened setting (handy for long exposure times) but keep pulling to the second click and you're good to go.

To cock the shutter, pull the string. Mine clicks once into place for an opened setting (handy for long exposure times) but keep pulling to the second click and you're good to go. Keep in mind to set the shutter or keeping a lens cap in place before opening your darkslide!

To fire the shutter, push this little tab outwards. I'm sure there used to be a firing mechanism attached at some point in time, but that's gone.

To fire the shutter, push this little tab outwards. I'm sure there used to be a firing mechanism attached at some point in time, but that's gone. The brass bits directly underneath might be part of a timed or remote shutter release.

  And that's it! Not that hard, until you find a few bits missing. I found mine like this:   IMG_2507 IMG_2547 IMG_2548 IMG_2560   It needed some wood repairs (which were my own fault as I could not get this darned thing off the front of the camera), the string and some screws replacing. I'm missing the original loop that holds the string into place, the (remote) shutter mechanism and something that once lived just over the shutter speed setting dial, which may have just been a screw. Lucky for me, the spring mechanism for the shutter speeds and most of the curtain were still intact, and, as it turns out, I had all the needed parts to make it work again. First, I repaired the wood as that was the easiest part.
wood repairs

wood repairs

Second, the roller blind. I used pieces of adhesive bandage tape, then, when they tore again after only 1 day, I re-enforced them with fabric glue. I forgot to do this at this stage, but this is also a good time to check for fabric integrity and any light leaks. Make repairs where needed and give your blind a fresh coat of acrylic black paint.
remove the brass on the shutter side so you can take out the top roller

remove the brass on the shutter side so you can take out the top roller

Repair the break(s). I used bandage tape, re-enforced with fabric glue

Repair the break(s). I used bandage tape, re-enforced with fabric glue. Clamp them down and leave to cure for 24 hours.

finished repair

finished repair

  Then, the chord. I had a spindle of green chord of a similar thickness of the remains of the pull string in the shutter. I pulled it through, knotted it to keep it in place and wound a good part of it onto the string (anticlockwise, so over the top towards yourself). You'll need about 30 cm as you'll need to accommodate the full length of the shutter and then some. Guide the string into the little groove on the side of your shutter and pull it through the little hole at the bottom. Traditionally, the end would hold a ring or wooden toggle to secure the thread, I've used a safety pin till I can find something better.
My old cord was knotted at the top so I did the same with my thread.

My old cord was knotted at the top so I did the same with my thread.

wound and guided

New thread wound and guided

thread guide

thread guide. The damaged wooden part shows where once sat a little brass loop.

Secure the end of your pull string

Secure the end of your pull string

  Finally, I was ready to build this thing back up. Make sure all your repairs are done and dried. Insert your top roller back into it's place (you will have done this already if you repaired your string) and make sure you got the left side in its little hole. Slide the brass plate over the other, radared side and screw it down. Keep the top roller into place with that small brass plaque that looks a little like a duck face.
brass 'duck face' toggle, here shown with the shutter cog behind it

brass 'duck face' toggle, here shown with the shutter cog behind it

On top, screw the shutter cog into place. Make sure you align this properly, so that your first click actually fully opens the shutter and your second click fully  shuts it. It will look like this:
The little snag nearest the biggest needs to point straight west.

The little snag nearest the biggest needs to point straight west.

Then, place the shutter back onto the whole thing. The lower end sits just underneath the brass plate (look for the slots) and the top screws into place.
this side shows the shutter mechanism

shutter placement

  And that's it! Congratulations on your repairs and have fun using your new (old) shutter. If you want to read an excellent tutorial on how to make and replace your roller blinds, I'll gladly refer you to paulewins.com and Lungov.com.    

making a glass negative storage box

IMG_9358   So far, I've made a few storage boxes, in different sizes. This time, I'll show you how to make one for yourself, step by step. It's easy! I don't even have table to work on and I can do it! I'll provide the measurements to make a loose lidded storage box for plates sized 16,5 x 21,5 cm (full plate) but obviously you'll need to adapt these if your plates are bigger or smaller.  

I used the following materials:

 
  • grey bookbinders board of 3 mm thick
  • a large sheet of paper to cover the box and lid once assembled
  • standard white wood glue (PVA glue)
  • a stiff haired brush
  • a small paint roller + tray
  • scissors
  • a ruler
  • pencil
  • a box cutter knife
  • a cutting mat
  • (optional) a bone folder (folding bone)
  • (optional) a metal/ wooden square, a little thicker than the glass plate
  • (optional) small amount of water, to dilute the glue

 

 1. Measure and mark the parts you need onto the bookbinders board, cut them out.

Start with the bottom: 18 x 13 cm The width of your plate + spacing + 0.6 cm for the side boards = 16.5 + 0.9 + 0.6 = 18 cm. the depth can be whatever you want it to be, I chose to make it 13 cm, so it would fit a minimum of 10 plates. Then the front/ back: 18 x 23 cm The width is equal to the bottom plate. The height is your plate height + spacing, so anything over 21,6 cm would have been fine. Next, the sides: 12,4 x 23 cm The sides are sandwiched in between the front and the back, so substract (2 x 0.3 cm) from the width. The height remains equal to the front/ back. Now, the lid, starting with the top: 18.6 x 13.6 cm The lid is the size of the bottom + a little bit of space for the paper and movement (0.2 cm, increase this if you are using thick paper or fabrics) + board thickness x2 (0.6) and the lid sides: The front / back of the lid are the lid width x however deep you want to make the lid = 18,6 cm x 3,5 cm The sides of the lid are the lid depth - 2x board thickness (0.6 cm) x lid depth = 13 x 3,5 cm Finally, you'll need a lot of spacers: 19 x 1 cm The size of the spacers is not really important. Just mind that you do not make them too wide (too much contact with the plate is not necessary and could damage the image) or too narrow (if you put too much spacing in the width of the box, the plate could slide past the spacer and bump into another plate). Lengthwise I would suggest covering half the plate or more, leaving a couple of cm at the top so that plates can be taken out easier. I used about 36 spacers in total.  

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2. Assemble the sides with the spacers.

To assemble the box, start with placing the spacers. I had a lot of help using a carpenters'  square, but anything else which is straight and flat (and a little bit thicker than your glass negatives) will do. Start with the sides, paste 2 spacers together and glue them at the very end of the side. All the ends should meet up exactly on the lower edge as you'll paste this to the bottom later. Now place your square or other tool to help you place your spacers and work your way across, gluing them neatly in their spots. Finish with another double spacer at the end.  

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3. Assemble the box and lid

Now, glue the sides to the front/ back and to the bottom. Again, a carpenter's square may help, but you can always use another square, a corner, floor-wall etc. The sides should be sandwiched in between the front and back and the bottom placed underneath, turn it over, make sure it's square and weigh it down whilst it dries. Assemble the lid, and test carefully if it fits the box. You can cheat a little with the placing of the sides to the top of the lid to make it a tiny bit bigger if need be. Then set aside and weigh it down to dry.  

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4. Covering the box with paper

I've covered my boxes from 1 sheet of paper per box. It might have been easier to use several little scraps, but hey - it looks nice! For this one in particular I have used a sheet of acid-free paper I still had, which is a bonus since I want the box to be as archival safe as possible. Covering the box is a lot like wrapping a gift. Make sure that the paper fits all the way around your box, both in length and width. Glue the bottom onto the center, using either a brush or a roller. Make sure to flatten out the paper with your hands, or a folding bone before the glue sets or it'll be all wrinkly. Fold the paper up and around where it needs to be, cutting away any excess. Since this paper was long enough, but not wide enough to cover the box in the most simple manner, I've cut it slightly differently. Glue the sides, with help of the roller/ brush and the bone folder, then clip the paper in at the top and fold the paper over the edges, gluing it in place. Cover the lid in the same manner and you're done! Good luck with making your own storage box 🙂  

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Boxes! Millions and millions of boxes!

The people around me know I have a bit of a quirk. Well, actually it's one of several - but I just love boxes! My latest venture into wet collodion photography has provided me with a brilliant excuse to go and find/ make some. A few weeks ago, Dusseldorf hosted a small bookfair along the Rhine. The day we went the weather had turned foul (just after I picked up 'Fashion: Theory - photographs and Essays by David Bailey, Anthony Barboza, Arthur Elgort, Horst, Erica Lennard, Jimmy Moore, Jean Pagliuso and Chris von Wangenheim', Edited by Carol Di Grappa, Lustrum Press, 1980). It provides the reader with the photographer's background and technical information, as well as some stunning fashion images. It is available on Amazon should you be interested in getting it for yourself.   IMG_9087   But, as I said, the weather turned foul - into a full-blown storm even, that the moment we decided to flee into the town center, social convention forced us to stay in the book dealer's tent, holding up a few of the bookshelves amongst those that were tumbling down all around us. After that gale had passed - most of the tents were shut! I had to return the following day to pick up the gorgeous paper I had spotted earlier. I got these from Buch + Papier where bookbinder Annette Engels sells all sorts of papers and ways to present paper materials including frames, albums, calendars etc.  

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  Seeing I have already shot a few Ambrotypes I wish to keep, I decided to make a storage/ transportation box for them. The first time I hauled my glass plate positives over to Germany, I wrapped them in acid-free white paper sheets, but found that the paper stuck a little to the varnish. Since then, I have made and used these boxes, which makes me feel much more at ease.  

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  They may not be perfect yet, but they serve their purpose. In this size, the glass plate still fits into the lid, which - covered in a black newspaper clipping - serves well as a presentation method.