Speed Graphic 1: The beginning of an overhaul.

So my plan, at present, is to strip SG1 down, and see if I can rebuild her into a modern machine, or rather, a machine that is better than anything currently made. I do not intend to re-invent the camera, nor re-design the Speed Graphic, but there are a few issues that I do wish to address and improve. So I am also not planning to restore the camera, but rather re-build her. And my hope is that, if I get it right, I shall be able to rebuild these for other people, in a similar manner to the way that the Byrons are marvels of a camera built out of a completely obsolete Polaroid Pathfinder. SG1, however, is a late (circa 1945 – all black) Anniversary Speed Graphic.

This all should be possible, in my mind, since I do have degrees in furniture design, and have a fair amount of experience working with wood, metal and cameras.

First off, I removed almost every screw from the carcass and bed, then proceeded to the removal of the leather and animal skin glue. Yes, the glue used is probably a rabbit skin, and it is likely that this is also what holds the finger joints together. Thus it is removed with hot water, and no solvent.

But first, to get the leather off and cause as little distortion of it as possible (to make a pattern, later), I used a dental tool to nudge it off the surface of the Honduras Mahogany (kind of extinct).

This is the leather sitting on the balcony next to the carcass.

And this is the desk with the parts of the machine dismantled.

The carcass after I removed the glue…

And this is it laying with the bed, now also de-gunked, out to dry.

The next stage shall be repairing the actual timber, and re-finishing it in a cellulose lacquer.

Tobias Feltus: