Posted 8 months ago
After almost 7 years since I found the giant Rolleiflex dummy, I decided it was time to man up and restore it. To start the restoration wasn't an easy task, as a rare item like this can easily get its value ruined by a bad planned approach, wrong materials, the lack of a reference to start with and ultimately, a bad restorer.
I started by the easy part: the research of the history of this object. I was lucky enough to find some people, Rolleiflex collectors and enthusiasts that pointed me in the right direction. Mr. Frank-Peter Hoffmann was one of these people and he was kind enough to provide me with detailed pictures of the two giant cameras he owns. The last picture in this post was sent me by him and it shows how these almost centenary objects look like today. These pictures and the advice of other collectors were invaluable.
Now, for the materials used, I chose those which were reversible by nature, making it easy to remove in the future, if a new restoration is needed or if new and better materials get available. I used water-based markers, covered with archival fixative spray. the camera was fully disassembled, cleaned, lightly sanded to eliminate old paint (except on the parts painted with the original crackle paint, that doesn't exist anymore as it contained lead), degreased and carefully and patiently hand painted.
At this point, I am testing the materials that will replace the original leatherette (actually a textured paper that resembled the leather used in real cameras). In the pictures you can see the mock-up camera disassembled, all the parts painted and ready to reassemble, the third pic is my camera in its original "destroyed" condition. The last picture shows Mr. Frank-Peter Hoffmann's giant dummies, that are in a very good original condition. The second part of this post will be, hopefully, the final product. Thanks to all that helped me with advice and information during my research.