Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What Happened to my Camera!?!?

I used to have that question constantly bouncing around in my head when I would get a camera that wouldn't work. There's a LOT of broken cameras out there and it's very common for folks to get one that either "worked last time I used it" or "untested". Some don't even know what the hell it is (those are the ones I buy :) ). A majority of times it doesn't work or if it does, it doesn't work properly. Here's a little snag that my videographer (Dubbs) took a video of... I narrowed the problem down to faulty gears probably from packed dirt, oil, and dried up disco smoke and polyester carpeting in the geartrain.

The SX70 is a sweet little gadget. Every movement has a cause and effect and it's very efficient how it operates. But like every design things can be made better. Thus the evolution of parts on the inside and out. Stay tuned to see how the fix went.

I'm mumbling like Harrison Ford in this vid because this was actually a rehearsal... I decided to keep it. I actually have a very nice presenting voice. Seriously...

OK... it turns out the motor wasn't putting enough torque to move everyting along. I did a gear swap and it helped a little during cycling but didn't have enough umph to initiate the cycle to begin with. After about an hour of work, new gears, new motor... BLA-BLAM! Works like a champ! :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Model 2 Gets a Makeover

The Model 2 has to be one of my favorites of the SX70 family. It was a nice evolution of the camera from a cost standpoint. Eliminate plating and save cash but don't go skimpy on features or function. Yes, the "stainless" models are in fact only plated plastic(earlier models having a brushed steel/chrome appearance and later ones having a frosted less reflective look). The downside is that Polaroid got rid of the cowhide for a new material called porvair. There's no doubt in my mind that this material was primo back in the day but unfortunately it didn't survive the elements and time. There's a few survivors here and there, but any Model 2 I've held has some very nasty covering that pretty much disintegrate in your hands. The color was very nice though... almost like a Hershey's Chocolate maroon.

I'm very happy with my latest refurb for a customer not too far from me here in Buffalo. He was very kind to drop it off at my house and chat about Polaroid for a while. I love shop talk. This Model 2 was already in very good working condition... a few adjustments and tweaks needed but a very solid camera. So without further adieu, here's my model 2 makeover. I hope this camera takes some stellar pics and is admired by those that take a glance... Thanks Randy!

Before and after...

And some more beauty shots... (and promo)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The English Gentlemen

This was actually a name for an interior for one of the H3 (Hummer H3) special order packages I remember following when I worked at the GM Tech Center. Not sure why it was named that but the interior had a really nice brushed aluminum and dark leather combo with some sharp details like chromed switch bezels, bold stitching, and soft touch paint buttons. Very classy. On an H3 though? Pleh... Tonights cameras reminded me a lot of that interior though. There's something so beautiful and intriguing about Polaroid's decision to use cowhide panels on the plated shells. I don't think too may products would benefit from that today. It's definitely a 70s aestehtic... Ron Burgundy would have carried one. Everything clad with leather and smelled like old spice and mothballs, at least from what I imagine. From an overall design perspective however, it's brilliant. Why make the photographer uncomfortable with raw plated plastic. Why would someone want to hold a cold heavy chunk of what looks like solid aluminum? Ah... let's calm the senses and contrast the cold steel hide with a nice soft and warm leather, smooth to the touch with a pleasant new car smell. The elite at the country club will admire the bold leather look... "Who is that distingished handsome man carrying that marvelous sophisticated apparatus?!". "How foxy!"... I love it when product cost savings isn't an option.

So those were some of the things wandering around in my mind while I scrubbed away 40 year old adhesive with Goo Gone... That stuff is getting to me. I'm really happy... giddy... with tonights 2 new additions to the sales queue. Dark brown leather was the star of the evening and I used it on both and Alpha 1 Model 2 and a newer style Model 1. This was the version that began to use new cost reduced internals but a more robust flex circuit and electronics system. It's also recognizable by the distance marks on the lens. Happy Sunday and keep a lookout for my newly acquired SLR680 that's getting the 2nd Shot treatment! Plus there's some custom Model 2's that are going to get a "Pyrex" makeover.

Here's the A1M2 all dressed up. Very classy...

Next up is the Model 1 also with the dark brown skins... love the contrast!!

And the latest 3 SX70s that will be for sale very soon. I'd like to post these all at once.

Custom Blue Sonar SX70

So I'm a night owl... I like staying up late and working on my cameras, drawing, cruising the net... anything to keep myself up. I guess I don't want to miss anything. I wouldn't call it insomnia because if I were to lay down I could fall asleep at the drop of a hat. This is usually when I get my best work done so in case anyone's wondering, that's why I post so stinking late.

I have a few cameras going up for auction in about 3 days. There's some more to clean up and work out some of the bugs on a few but overall I'm really happy with the latest bunch. I'm always looking for new ways to improve quality. I test all my cameras based on "the manual's" repair inspection procedure. It's about a 40+ step process that covers all things like testing for idler wheel backlash, light meter response, and even running an extensive amount of cycles in various light conditions. I end all tests with a single test exposure using PX70 film.

So for some pics, here's Gippy in his new blue outfit. This will be up for auction with 4 other cameras. Here's also a sneak peek at a model 1 that will be up for auction too... The new genuine leather panels add a great look!

I now have an online store open as well that have my services listed and I'll have a few cameras up for sale there soon. Check out 2nd Shot SX70 Service on Etsy!

Here's the blue Sears Special. I'm really happy with how nice this came out!

And the model 1... This one cleaned up very nicely... Look at that shine!!!

Ending with a little promo shot...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


I thought since this is the main page I direct folks with any questions about skins and examples, I think I need to show off some of my past work. I'm constantly working to provide better process and materials so a lot of my work is an evolution utilizing different resources. Here are some of my past sales that used my own faux leather handcut trim. It was a very long process to do each one but I loved the results. I just got a boatload of leather laser cut skins in the mail today... can't wait to try them out!!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tour the Shop

Well, not really a huge commercial workshop but my girlfriend (Dubbs) did an amazing job at setting up workspace so we can do stuff like this. We're both artists/designers/tinkerers/hobbyists and need space to play with our "stuff". So here's a quick glimpse at where I like to spend time and tinker... you can see my inventory starting to build up too. Some great cameras ready for fixin... Tonight I worked on a very special camera from NC I named Hickory (that's where it's from)... I'll have more on that one soon. I'm keeping that one. :)

Here's the mess... I'm always in need of boxes, bubble wrap, and parts...

Some faceplates and parts... (some color experiment in the works too!)

Here's the "graveyard"... camera chassis that are pretty busted up waiting to be stripped for parts...

And the waiting room... I dont actually write on the cameras. I put a piece of packing tape down and jot down notes like what the problem is or whom it belongs to. Some cameras don't need a reskin which is soooooo nice.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Seeing Red...

A lot really cool and exciting things happening. Just finished up a "buy week" and will have the postman cussing at me soon, finished off a stuck lens repair (Thanks Steve!), Dubbs set up my Etsy store and bought me some amazing business cards and notebook (post coming soon), and I'm just about ready to start accepting orders, requests, customs, etc! In the meantime, look below for a little sneak preview of my latest project! :)

Stuck lens from years of gunk and disco residue...

Got this Alpha 1 SE cheap. Had some candy jingling around inside O_O (the internal mirror was shattered). The shutter assembly was in awesome condition. This is a great parts cam! I can always use these!!!

And here's my latest project in progress...

Gippy gets some color... aw yeeeeaaaah...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Super Sweet...

I had to post this mostly to show it off. I don't have too many rarities or a gigantic collection like this dude but once in a while I come across something that makes me giddy. Here's a folding case for SX70 Sonar models. I don't know if this is a Polaroid issued case as it has a buckle instead of a snap like the ones I've seen but it is so freaking cool nonetheless and I'm really digging the color. I'm guessing it's a no name company as it's not genuine leather like the Ever Ready cases unless Polaroid cost reduced theirs at some point? Dunno. Anyway... Pics away!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gippy is Special...

...Sears Special that is. I have no idea where the name came from but Gippy is a lucky little camera. I had about four cameras that I had from a while back that I designated as "donors". I used these cameras to dissect and study and figure out how these suckers work. I was cleaning my work room today and found one of my first attempts of a repair under a pile of papers. It was all hacked and the shutter solenoid an components were already torn down. There was no exposure wheel and the electronics were all removed. I was about to tear it down for hardware parts and throw all the rest away. I guess I gave up trying to fix it at one point. So for S's n G's I ran an empty pack and sure enough the darkslide mode worked great but no Sonar or shutter response. I had a few Sonar assemblies that I never really checked to see if they were good and sure enough, I had one that tested fine. So after some assembly and a few glops of solder, there ya go. A great working Sonar AF Sears Special. I think I might keep this one.

In other news, There's another batch of cameras are ready to ship out. I love to sell these but hate to part with them. I hope they continue to work well for their new owners and keep on spitting out great pics!

Here's Gippy...  He's a lucky camera. I'm gonna give him tan panels.

SX-70 guts... eeeeew!

Another batch of cameras ready for the post office..

Choco SE

Add another repair to the portfolio. Another Sonar SE needed some love. When a film pack was inserted the dark slide mode functioned well but when I went to take a pic, the thing went friggin screwy. I did some troubleshooting and tested switches etc. I narrowed the problem down to a bad Sonar circuit board and installed a new one from my donor pile. Works like a charm and the focus is now working just fine! Quite a rewarding feeling. :) So a little cleaning, adjustments (finally figured out how to adjust the prop arm), and testing and KER-BOOSH! I'd say this little guy is now near mint.

I'm just about to ship my auctions out... while I'm waiting to ship, I like to display my latest cameras. I finally got to putting up my display collection in our new house. I have a lot more but these are my favorites and I have limited wall room. I'm gonna miss these SX70's... *sniff* I'm gonna have to dig out the colorpacks and my J66 conversion to fill in the gap. More to come with an Alpha 1 focus wheel repair.

Here's the latest repair/refurbish. Chocolatey goodness...

Here's some of my collection (well the auction sx70s aren't mine)... So nice having these hanging up again...

Friday, February 1, 2013

Vicious circle

So I'm starting to see a trend in my habits. I buy a group of cameras, I fix em up, play with them for a while, then sell them. The buying part is easy and lasts for about a week... everything's chill and I'll do an occasional scan for cameras to buy on the www. Then I get the cameras and pretty much neglect everything else I'm supposed to do, stay up till the wee hours of the morning, eat breathe and poop repairs and skins. Obsessed? Yeah, probably. I think Dubbs digs the "buying" weeks better than the "fixing" weeks.

Today I got a battered old model SX70. It's a very nice first gen but with the split viewfinder and had the old stripes on the lens. Someone did the genius move of forcing open the camera with a screwdriver bending the erecting arm (snicker snicker) and putting a crinkle on the body. Not only that, but the geartrain was out of sync by a tooth. It prevented the recock arm (snicker snicker) from returning to its resting position thus screwing up the shutter and the camera's ability to complete a full cycle. I'm thinking this was dropped at some point in time and someone second hand never had a users manual to learn how to open it up. So, a full chassis and geartrain teardown was done. I rebuilt the geartrain using some donor parts, replaced the mangled erecting arm, and adjusted some fit and finish, did a reskin, and BLAM! A second chance for a beautiful little camera. He still shows a little ding on the back hood but that's a HUGE fix that requires a donor. The pukka bump adds character if you ask me. I still need to do some cleaning and some minor adjustments but this one's just about ready for a new home. :)

Here's the operating room... I need a good soldering iron. the one I have isn't bad but I've used a sweet Weller before. Soldering heaven. I need to get out more.

 Doing a few test shots..

 New skin! Love it!!!