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12-03-2021, 08:05 PM - 5 Likes   #1
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Project: Vest Pocket Kodak Model B c1928-1932

Hello,

Sorry for been away for a while. I've been really busy with work and stuff and haven't been as active online as I would like to.

In 1912 Kodak introduced a very innovative camera: The VPK or Vest Pocket Kodak.
In my humble opinion this camera was an important milestone in photography.
This camera was the first to introduce the 127 film format which became very popular for decades to come. The camera itself was a technical wonder: a miniature bellows camera with full capabilities. You could now take a camera everywhere and slip it in your pocket or purse. This camera became very popular and a top seller. The VPK became known as the "soldier's camera" because of its popularity with World War I soldiers.
Many different models and variations were made until 1935.
In 1925, a new model was launched: the Vest Pocket Kodak Model B. This camera had a folding bed design instead of the struts in earlier models. The autographic feature first introduced in 1915 was also incorporated but was dropped in 1932. VPK Model B was produced until 1934 and had a price of $5 for the base model with a meniscus lens and Vest Pocket rotary shutter with 2 settings: "T" for timed exposures and "I" for instant.

My specimen:
I recently got this really tired VPK. It features the sliding latch instead of the concealed button to release the back. That was changed in 1928. It also has the autographic feature. That was dropped in 1932. I need to do deeper research but as of now it is from a window between 1928 and 1932.




It is really small


How small? Here it is next to my smartphone, which is not a big one.


And that is the end of the good news. The lens/shutter standard is stuck. Doesn't move a hair forward. But I can already see the bellows destroyed. The shutter is stuck.


I immediately see a problem here. I wonder what happened to this camera. Maybe a fall or a hit?


Anyways, I haven't had much time to play with this one but it will take some fixing...
If it comes to worst it can always be a display unit in the shameful non-working section of my collection.

By the way, anyone know where to get cheap 127 film? I have over a dozen cameras of this format with no way of testing. I want to avoid the hassle of cutting and spooling my own.

Thanks,
Ismael


Last edited by ismaelg; 01-07-2022 at 07:52 AM.
12-03-2021, 08:18 PM - 1 Like   #2
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This pricing isnít too high: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1582606-REG/rerapan_201127_rerapan_is...981&
12-03-2021, 08:51 PM - 2 Likes   #3
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Again, I'm looking forward to your restoration, it is a beauty. The smart phone size comparison is kind of startling.
12-04-2021, 10:46 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
That price is not bad at all. I have been thinking I should put another roll through my Yashica 44 "Baby" TLR.


Steve

12-05-2021, 07:50 PM   #5
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Hello,

After a lot of studying and fiddling I tried removing the pin that keeps the handles with the front standard together and I was able to move them separately!

That doesn't solve the problem of misalignment but it is progress nonetheless.

As suspected, the bellows are shot.


These cameras were not meant to be taken apart or serviced. Almost everything is riveted together. Almost no screws.
This will be a long fight...

Thanks,
Ismael
12-05-2021, 08:59 PM - 1 Like   #6
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Youíre the man for the job.
12-08-2021, 05:16 AM - 1 Like   #7
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Lovely little cameras
Actually ran a roll through one back in the early '70's

Good luck

12-16-2021, 02:16 PM   #8
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Hello,

Bear with me for a moment:

I started to fix the bellows with liquid rubber. But this is like trying to empty an Olympic swimming pool with a tablespoon. Took over a week only to get the least damaged corner done.
There has to be another way...
Wait, why only try to fix from the outside? How about the inside? The inside of the bellows is a cloth like material not very suitable for the liquid rubber plus very hard to reach.
So, how about an inner shield? After all all you are trying to do is block any light source but the lens.
So what material is strong yet thin enough for something like this? BRASS!! of course!
So I started hand forming a brass bracket with the intention of eventually form an inner structure.


But after a few hours of work this was not going well...


Then I had an A-HA! moment that hit me like a freight train. "PAPER you fool!"

So after a lot of measurements I did an inner template out of paper (1), which was translated into a paper pattern (2), which was then transferred into a black thin cardboard (3) and eventually assembled into shape (4).




TA-DA!! So this will allow the camera to be used. According to my not really scientific approach, it should not interfere with the image. Of course it needs to be removed to be closed. DUH!


Next I was able to disassemble the viewfinder which was really dirty inside and unusable. I hope to get it like new again.


Coming up next: The shutter is not working. That is kind of important isn't it?

Thanks,
Ismael "the stubborn guy"
12-16-2021, 03:03 PM   #9
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What about gluing new cloth on the outside or inside? Tedious but perhaps possible? I like your solution as a pragmatic approach but it does turn the folder into a not as portable machine.
12-18-2021, 07:44 AM   #10
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Hello,

UncleVanya, I tried something similar on the outside but did not work. Then I played with the idea of a black cloth outside but could not make it to work. I'll keep experimenting.

As for the Vest Pocket Shutter, it was seized and not working. It was cleaned and lubed.


And it now works like this:

Thanks,
Ismael
12-18-2021, 09:25 AM - 1 Like   #11
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A useful site for bellows repair if you haven't already found it - https://pheugo.com/cameras/index.php?page=folders
12-29-2021, 07:22 PM - 1 Like   #12
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Hello,

Have you ever done something so utterly STUPID that you call yourself many names where STUPID is the mildest of them?
I mean, I'm so stupid I entered a stupidity competition and lost for been stupid!

The bellows are beyond hope. I tried many things: liquid rubber, tape, an external cloth cover, etc. At the end the only thing that may work is the black cardboard insert.
So, I was cleaning and putting the final touches to this project. I assembled the camera back and in a shear moment of stupidity I thought I'd try to close the bellows to see if my lubrication of the rail was successful. That is, I forgot the insert was there. "Hmm, weird, I don't remember this been so hard to close! What's that crushing noise?"



Go ahead, you are all allowed to laugh. Yeah, I already made another one as I have the template.

Thanks,
Ismael
12-29-2021, 09:03 PM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by ismaelg Quote
Hello,

Have you ever done something so utterly STUPID that you call yourself many names where STUPID is the mildest of them?
I mean, I'm so stupid I entered a stupidity competition and lost for been stupid!

The bellows are beyond hope. I tried many things: liquid rubber, tape, an external cloth cover, etc. At the end the only thing that may work is the black cardboard insert.
So, I was cleaning and putting the final touches to this project. I assembled the camera back and in a shear moment of stupidity I thought I'd try to close the bellows to see if my lubrication of the rail was successful. That is, I forgot the insert was there. "Hmm, weird, I don't remember this been so hard to close! What's that crushing noise?"



Go ahead, you are all allowed to laugh. Yeah, I already made another one as I have the template.

Thanks,
Ismael
I have another hobby - Rocketry. Many people add Big RED TAGS that say, "Remove BEFORE Launch" to their keyswitches and other items that should be removed before launch because... people forgot. Perhaps you should give yourself a similar reminder flag to add to the camera so that you have to remember to remove it and the insert before closing.
12-30-2021, 07:25 AM - 1 Like   #14
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Ready to go back into service!

Hello,

This challenging project is as ready to be tested as it will ever be. The bellows is a lost cause. I spent weeks trying to fill will liquid rubber, from outside, inside, different tape types, a cloth bellows cover, etc. At the end, short of getting new bellows which has been a dead end or making my own which will be very time consuming but not ruled out completely yet, it seems the best compromise to make it useful is my inner black cardboard insert (version II ). The deeper I got into this the more I realized what a tough life this poor baby must have had. It was really rough. But, while far from perfect, it has been rescued. The scars are now proudly shown as badges of honor.

So here she is!

Vest Pocket Kodak (~1928-1932)










Some closeup details:
Neglected nickel plating that is almost a century old still holds its own








The autographing windows was freed as it was stuck. Not that it will ever be used thou.


The viewfinder was carefully taken apart, cleaned and refreshed. Turned out better than expected.




And some size comparisons:











Big brother 620 which is considered compact in itself


The 127 Squadron!


And the 2022 starting lineup!


Wishing you the very best for 2022!

Thanks,
Ismael
12-30-2021, 02:07 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Can't wait to see images taken with the 2022 squad.
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