Thornton Pickard Field Camera Restoration

Ian-Barber

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I have been give what I believe is a Thornton Pickard Field Camera.
It looks as though it requires some work to bring it back to a working camera.

The question is, is it worth it or is it only good for spares

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Ian Grant

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We need to see more photos. I've restored a Thornton Imperial,half plate camera it is waiting for new bellows and I have a second a Triple Imperial Dual shutter half plate camera to restore. The second camera has a Focal Plane shutter 1/100 to 1/1000 as well as the Between lens front shutter for 1/10 to 1/90 + T. Then I also have all the wood and case for a quarter plate TP camera no brass work, and 3 or 4 TP SLRs.

Ian
 

Alan Clark

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Ian, as Ian G says, we need to see more photos. But the beauty of these old wood and brass cameras is that broken or worn parts can be replaced, and a camera would have to be in a shocking state before you wrote it off. I suppose a lot depends on how much you are prepared to do, or have the facilities to do. I once bought an unnamed mahogany and brass half-plate field camera for £13. The bellows were coming off and had completely stiffened up. Some of the brass struts were a bit bent. But the focussing mechanism was tight and smooth, thanks in part to excellent Victorian craftsmanship, and also to the fact that Honduras mahogany has very little expansion or contraction in variable humidity levels. I made a new set of leather bellows, refurbished the brasswork, converted the camera back to 5 x 7 and now have an excellent, useable, camera. It came with an unnamed 8 inch brass barrel lens fitted, plus another similar 8 inch lens - a Beck symmetrical. I did give these a try, but decided that they weren't really my cup of tea, so I use the camera with a Kodak Ektar 203mm lens.

Alan
 

David M

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What's visible seems to be in good condition, but that's all that can be deduced. Based solely on that, it looks like a realistic proposition. As everybody else has said, more photographs, please, particularly of areas that you think might be a problem.
 

Ian Grant

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Well it's not a Thornton Pickard, it looks like it's probably a Houghton Victo as the front standard from what I can see is very similar to my Victo whole plate camera, and matches a catalogue illustration as well.

I assume the end of the front focus bed had come apart, are all the brass thumb wheels present ?

Ian
 

David M

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Looks like Houghton to me too, judging by those springs.
The bellows look surprisingly good. The woodwork looks repairable and seems to be in good condition but some knobs are not visible in the images
Do you have the book-form holders to go with it?
You can still find the proper individual legs for it on eBay, although there are various different fittings, so you'd have to be careful. Alternatively, there are triangular or Y-shaped adaptors, which fit onto the turntable to provide the more usual centre fitting.
I can't comment on the shutter.
Best of luck. Keep us up to date with progress, please
 

Ian-Barber

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All the brass knobs appear to be here and also some string which I guess has broke away from the shutter.

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Ian Grant

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I was right a Triple Victo, so 100% Houghton's. The Triple means 3x the bellows extension of a standard lens usually *" for Half Plate

The shutter's the easy bit, I restore quite a few every year, usually fitting a new curtain.

I've made adapters a few times to allow 5x4 DDS to be used, the film holder sits in the adapter and that in turn inserts like a book form holder. Alternately I'd fit a spring back, I've bought them at camera fairs in the past and one off ebay recently, the latsts is missing fittings and is a 10x8 to Half Plate reducing back can only be Kodak as it's not Gandolfi :D, but being Kodak it means it'll take modern 7x5 DDS as the outside dimensions are the same.

I do have a spare Half plate spring back but that is Gandolfi so worth too much :)

A very easy restoration, the screen will be dim but that can be fixed.

Ian
 

Ian Grant

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No quite inexpensive, the shutter £15 to £20 plus a new lens panel, the screen could stay as it is, the bellows need a touch of work to stop them deteriorating and the front re-gluing, actually it wouldn't originally have been glued but the wood dries out and ages over the years so a tight fit joint becomes loose.

You need to find an 8" Rapid Rectilinear brass lens to go with it, they can be quite cheap if you're patient.

Ian
 

Ian Grant

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Here is something that seems to confirm Ian G's identification.


It says Triple Victo on the Front standard David, so no uncertainty. My Whole plate Victo is unmarked, they do vary slightly over time they were made from around 1898 to around 1920.

Houghtons by 1904 was really an amalgam of coompanies which is continued and mirrored by the shareholders listing in a1930's Monopolies Commission report into Cine film production. Houghton's had strong links with Butchers and they made the field cameras, later they set up a joint manufacturing company before eventually merging.

Ian
 

David M

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Yes, I saw that too. This was merely confirmation.
I was struck by the coincidence of my automatic eBay search throwing up this particular model. I have a similar camera so I wasn't deliberately searching; I don't need another one.
These eBay pictures might be useful for restoration as they are comprehensive and clear.
 

Ian Grant

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A couple of years ago maybe more I bought 3 sets of tripod legs, two are Thornton Pickard the third not identifyable, all similar fot though. I tried a set with one of my half plate cameras and was expecting they'd alck rigidity, I was surprised how remarkably stable the camera was on what are essentially quite flexible tripod legs. I was lucky I think I paid £25 for all three sets at a camera fair but the seller had brought them for me after a previous discussion.

Houghton cameras are well built and the bellows seem better naterial compared to many other manufacturers. I have a Houghton King enlarger, Ensign candle safelight, two Ensign glass safelight to take light fittings, Ensign contact frames. Everything an Edwardian photographer needs :D

It's worth restoring as it's in good condition save for minor issues, I've regularly restored far worse, even basket cases :D

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Including this Quarter plate Victo, which Ian has seen.

Ian
 

Ian Grant

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I acquired this camera for an exorbitant fee plus a litre kit of Pyrocat HD :D Jesus new it would only have been £8 12s 6d with an expensive combination 3 Foci lens, and more like £3 15s with a Beck RR and that included TP shutter, Tripod legs and one Book-form DDS..Extra book-form DDS were quite expensive 8s 6d.

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It came with lens or tripod legs :D

More seriously it was a good price and typical of what I'd usually pay so thanks Ian and as I buy chemistry in bulk, often 25 kg bags :)

The bellows have been restored externally, some re-blacking will help internally:

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Before

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After, and I had fiundsome tripod legs that fit. The TP shutter is missing it's lens panel, and shutter speed dail but tose are not an issue, I've been losing count on how many TP shutters I actually own, it's well over 50 in various sizes, including stereo.

It's a great camera needs a new/replacement bit that the front standard is screwed to, what's there is bowed and the wrong thicknessan not origib=na;, but no big deal. Made beteween 1904 and 1920.= ad still fully functional . . . . . . . .

Ian
 

Ian Grant

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I now have Quarter, Half & Whole plate Victo cameras Plus. Houghton King horizontal enlarge, Ensign candle and electric safe lights, and contact frames up to 12"x10". In addition I have a Dallmeyer badged Ensign Press reflex f3.5 lens, and. 6x9 roll film relax.

ian
 
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