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08-20-2021, 12:52 PM - 10 Likes   #1
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Restoring a 1954 Tower 23 (Asahiflex) leather case

X-posted from my Tower 23 (Asahiflex) thread

Hello,

I recently acquired a Tower 23 (Asahiflex IIB Model 1) from 1954 with its original lens and leather case. After the camera and lens were restored to working condition (real world testing pending) the leather case received some TLC as well. After all, it is 67 years old at the moment of this post.

The case was dry, stiff and dirty. The belt had an electrical tape repair but otherwise complete.





I had the opportunity to go to a shoemaker's shop. I think he is the last one in over a 50 mile radius and probably more. The guy is a good friend and fellow Boy Scout leader. He was gracious enough to allow me access to his cool shop so I could restore the case. I wanted to do it myself. I was like a kid in a candy store with all those cool tools. I've never claimed to be normal
The case and the belts were very stiff and dry. The broken belt was fixed with a "wrap" of very thin leather. A common period repair. Everything was cleaned and conditioned with proper materials. As I have stated multiple times before, I don't want to make these restorations look new. I want to get them the best they can be but keeping their character and patina.
The leather is now flexible and the case looks great! Most importantly, it works!









Back home, the bright metal parts polished out nicely without any drama.




And the money shot



Hope you like it.

Thanks,
Ismael

08-20-2021, 02:57 PM - 1 Like   #2
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stunningly impressive....

bravo!
08-20-2021, 03:47 PM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by ismaelg Quote
I had the opportunity to go to a shoemaker's shop. I think he is the last one in over a 50 mile radius and probably more.
Based on my experience - it might be more like 5000 miles!

QuoteOriginally posted by ismaelg Quote
I was like a kid in a candy store with all those cool tools. I've never claimed to be normal
I understand the tool euphoria, and I'm not sure most of the forum members are "normal"!
08-20-2021, 05:29 PM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by ismaelg Quote
X-posted from my Tower 23 (Asahiflex) thread

Hello,

I recently acquired a Tower 23 (Asahiflex IIB Model 1) from 1954 with its original lens and leather case. After the camera and lens were restored to working condition (real world testing pending) the leather case received some TLC as well. After all, it is 67 years old at the moment of this post.

The case was dry, stiff and dirty. The belt had an electrical tape repair but otherwise complete.





I had the opportunity to go to a shoemaker's shop. I think he is the last one in over a 50 mile radius and probably more. The guy is a good friend and fellow Boy Scout leader. He was gracious enough to allow me access to his cool shop so I could restore the case. I wanted to do it myself. I was like a kid in a candy store with all those cool tools. I've never claimed to be normal
The case and the belts were very stiff and dry. The broken belt was fixed with a "wrap" of very thin leather. A common period repair. Everything was cleaned and conditioned with proper materials. As I have stated multiple times before, I don't want to make these restorations look new. I want to get them the best they can be but keeping their character and patina.
The leather is now flexible and the case looks great! Most importantly, it works!









Back home, the bright metal parts polished out nicely without any drama.




And the money shot



Hope you like it.

Thanks,
Ismael
Nicely done. Not often you see a true classic case restored to near new condition.

08-20-2021, 07:08 PM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by ismaelg Quote
X-posted from my Tower 23 (Asahiflex) thread

Hello,

I recently acquired a Tower 23 (Asahiflex IIB Model 1) from 1954 with its original lens and leather case. After the camera and lens were restored to working condition (real world testing pending) the leather case received some TLC as well. After all, it is 67 years old at the moment of this post.

The case was dry, stiff and dirty. The belt had an electrical tape repair but otherwise complete.





I had the opportunity to go to a shoemaker's shop. I think he is the last one in over a 50 mile radius and probably more. The guy is a good friend and fellow Boy Scout leader. He was gracious enough to allow me access to his cool shop so I could restore the case. I wanted to do it myself. I was like a kid in a candy store with all those cool tools. I've never claimed to be normal
The case and the belts were very stiff and dry. The broken belt was fixed with a "wrap" of very thin leather. A common period repair. Everything was cleaned and conditioned with proper materials. As I have stated multiple times before, I don't want to make these restorations look new. I want to get them the best they can be but keeping their character and patina.
The leather is now flexible and the case looks great! Most importantly, it works!









Back home, the bright metal parts polished out nicely without any drama.




And the money shot



Hope you like it.

Thanks,
Ismael
That case was in good condition considering its age, normally the stitching has rotted in places. Good for you being able to soften up the leather. About the strap, many I have tried to "restore" had decayed internally. I would test them with a reasonable pull. Many times they came apart. I suggest you don't rely on the strap for strength.
08-20-2021, 10:32 PM   #6
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Awesome restoration!
08-20-2021, 10:56 PM   #7
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Hi,
Congratulations on a fine restoration.
Regards,
Gordon.

08-21-2021, 04:16 AM   #8
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Wow, hats off to you again on another well done restoration !
08-21-2021, 01:04 PM   #9
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Thank you all!

@AstroDave, you may be right about the 5000 mile radius I was totally amazed at the amount of customer traffic walking in and the phone going off the hook. He told me he is opening a second shop in the next town to keep up with demand. His son will run that second place.

@Arnold, you are absolutely right about the strap. While I was able to get it to look better and did some pull tests, I won't trust it for strength. Most likely I'll use a neoprene strap on the camera while in use.

All I need now is time to use the camera in the wild.

Thanks,
Ismael
09-10-2021, 08:04 PM - 1 Like   #10
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Here is my friend Ismael (ismaelg) in the wild (Indiana Jones style) with his restored 1954 Tower 23.





---------- Post added 09-10-21 at 11:06 PM ----------


Last edited by e_nogueras; 09-10-2021 at 08:14 PM.
09-10-2021, 08:12 PM - 1 Like   #11
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That's me alright! Testing the Asahiflex. Hey! I don't look that fat in that first picture!

Thank you Edgar and Orlando! We had a blast!

Thanks,
Ismael
09-11-2021, 03:34 PM   #12
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Many (most) Japanese camera cases from the 1950's by now are in dry brittle condition.
I have often wondered what might be used to soften them without leaving a greasy residue.

Lexol leather cleaner and conditioner would probably do no harm.
Are there any consumer products the shoemaker recommends?

Chris
09-12-2021, 04:11 PM   #13
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Hi Chris,

For this I used some european products he got from Spain if I am not mistaken. It was similar to a saddle soap I guess. I'll check with him and let you know!

Thanks,
Ismael
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