The Houghtons "Victo" Quarter Plate Project
 

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Back around 1992/3 I was given this camera by a photographer friend, she said it's no use to me - you have it. It sat like this on a mantle piece until May 2010 when I decided on the spur of the moment to try and restore it.

There was no front standard, a broken lens board, bellows that had seen their last days, a broken carrying strap, no focus screen and some missing screws & brass parts. A challenge, In addition I had no idea of the make or model.

Stripping the camera down to it's components, removing the bellows and all the screws and brass fittings, I cleaned the woodwork, sanded it down with #400 sand paper and then applied two coats of French polish. I'd repaired and polished the lens board some months before while restring a Thornton Pickard shutter so already knew how the camera might look.

With the French polish dry and the Brass work polished the camera was re-assembled. The next stage was replacing the front standard, bellows and the missing parts.

First it was necessary to ascertain the shape and type of fittings needed for the construction of new front standard. Looking in photography books from around 1900 there were plenty of wooden folding cameras most larger or too different, but one Half-Plate camera was obviously very similar, and in addition the space the standard has to fit when folded constrains the overall dimensions, having to fit with the stabiliser bar etc.

The Pembroke Outfit Half Plate camera (1902)

The front standard of a W. Butcher & Sons, Half plate camera, showing how the rise & fall is controlled. However on this Quarter plate camera the brass plate is attached to the standard (the opposite way around) and the knob for tightening is on the bottom of the lens board panel. It was then possible to have a new standard constructed based on information gleaned from these two images and the dimensional constraint mentioned above. A local joiners made the new standard fro oak, cutting a grooved profile to allow the lens board to rise/fall

This keys into the front of the focus rail.


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