The Memoirs of Jim 'ung

Box Brownie Woes

Box Brownie Woes

This blog sometimes gets hits from weird places (the record being a tie between people looking for a speech bubble graphic, and when it got linked on the No Mutants Allowed Fallout fansite front page). It always surprises me when people find it when looking for vintage camera stuff, seeing as I can’t even find it when I input the exact search terms they have used in the first 10 pages.

A nice chap called Mike (who has a lot more perserverance than I do for browsing search hits) found the post I made about getting a Kodak Box Brownie and has kept me updated on his own Box Brownie adventures in the comments here.

He’s linked to his really great walkthrough of his efforts in reconditioning a Kodak Box Brownie Six-20 “Junior”, which is pretty much the same as mine. His results are very impressive, particularly the replacement mirrors for the viewfinder – it inspired me to put mine to use and get some rolls put through it.

Unfortunately, while shaving a mm or so off the edges of the 120 spools allows it to fit (reasonably snugly!), the winding key is designed for 620 film and is a little too small for the plastic 120 winder slot. After the first exposure, winding the film on resulted in the metal key slipping and carving out the lip of the plastic hole so now it just spins. I think if there was perhaps a little less friction to overcome with the tight-fitting spool I’d be ok, but as it is the 620 winding key isn’t up to the job.

I’ve been thinking about a solution to this problem (apparently a reasonably common one encountered by people who want to use 120 in 620 cameras), it seems I have the following options:

1) Respool 120 on the 620 spools I have, then back when it’s exposed.

2) Augment the winding key so it can properly engage with the spool.

3) Alter the spool keyhole so the smaller winder will be a tighter fit.

Option 1 is sure to work but is a fair bit of hassle, I don’t have a changing bag or anything like that. I’m sceptical about Option 2 as I doubt the contact adhesives I’d have to use possess the shear-strength to not break off in the winder hole. Option 3 is the best I think, although I’ve tried padding out the hole with paper and card with no luck.

Now, I came across this page on the awesome Junk Store Camera’s site which describes some simple drilled washers to solve the problem. I reckon this should do the trick! I’m going to try and pick some up this coming weekend, drill them out and use Epoxy to bond it to a fresh roll of 120.

Fingers crossed that this will work, if not at least I’ve got the Matchbox Pinhole project to keep me ticking over…


4 thoughts on “Box Brownie Woes

  1. Mike Jones

    Thanks for the mention buddy!

    Interesting!…. My girlfriends Brownie Model-C had the same winding problem however, I bought her a replacement brownie (managed to source an identical camera for her) and this one does not have the problem! – I appear to have been lucky and do not have this setback –

    However there are some things you can do to make it easier that i have noticed and done to mine-

    ** You notice that the half of the cradle you load the fresh film into has a small cylindrical nodule on the winding side – as far as i can see this should be the only thing stopping you loading 120 straight on, I’ve ground the lump off and can fit 120 no problems.

    ** the film tends to get a little caught on the edges of two rollers on the cradle…. I’ve bent the little tabs that the rollers sit in open slightly… this helps the film roll smoothly, though yours might be ok already. mine had been bashed about a bit.

    Where did you see the method using washers? I’d be interested to see that if you have a link.

    I’m off to Sweden for Christmas – I will be picking up my developed pictures from 6 weeks ago and bringing them home with me to scan onto the computer. Keep your eyes peeled,.. I think you’ll be impressed!

    Have loaded another film onto it for this christmas – And have just bought a Canon AV-1 – my first SLR. Wish me luck!

    oh,.. sorry for the essay!

  2. Jim

    Ahh nice, an AV-1! A friend of mine has a similar Olympus OM-10 (aperture-priority Auto-Exp) SLR, I hear his results are great.

    I’m glad you mentioned the little punched nodule thing on the cradle, I had noticed that before and reasoned that it was Kodak’s attempt at forcing you to use 620 – annoying. If you were able to grind it off with no problems then I think that might well be my next port of call – IIRC it’s contributing to the friction problem with the 120 spool at the minute.

    The washers don’t have a great reputation it seems (probably due to the con-artists on ebay!), but I think in the case of the Brownie the tension clips that hold the film can deal with an extra millimetre or so.

    Do you have a website or flickr that I could make a note of?

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