Found this little beauty for £5 in a local charity shop a couple of weeks ago. and could do with a bit of help as its the first folder I've ever had (got an Isolette I last week as well.) I've given it a bit of a clean up, the shutter is working fine (as far as I can tell), the focus adjusts as it should and the iris stops down cleanly. I've checked the bellows with a torch and there doesn't appear to be any holes. What I'm not sure about is how the bellows should extend properly. The hooked bits at the bottom of the shutter mount don't engage with the silver coloured spring loaded mounts on at the end of the frame, I think this shows what I mean: Is this because the camera hasn't been used for a while and the bellows have compressed? If I work keep working the bellow in and out will this loosen it up? Or is there something I've missed? Also, is there anyway I could find out the year of manufacture for this model? Its a Billy Record 7.7 and has Agfa and Made in Germany stamped on the cover so I assumed it was a post war model. Thanks Matty
The Agfa Billy Record was made between 1933 and 1942. the 7.7 was available in the US and UK as the Speedex Record in 1949 probably with prewar parts. I could only find a small picture of it in McKeown's where I got this information.
From your first picture it looks like the lens is not parallel to the film plane. If that is the case you might try gently pushing the bottom of the lens mount toward the front of the camera. The hooked parts might then engage with the "V" shaped cutouts in the chrome pieces. But first check to make sure the drop front is open all the way. Does the camera open and close properly other than being a little stiff? You might try a little WD40 on each of its moveable joints. Wipe off the excess.
Last Edit: Nov 7, 2012 17:28:43 GMT -5 by mickeyobe
The shutter release on these links to a button on the camera. When closed, the linkage between the two is disengaged. If the camera is not opened carefully, the two do not engage properly and will stop the lens fitting into place. You can see this clearly from the front - guide the linkage with your finger as the camera opens.
Thanks guys, I've had another look at the camera. The lens is definately out of true with the film plane, the door opens out to 90 degrees but I've noticed that some of the rivets are loose and think this might be the problem. Has anyone had any luck in replacing these? I did wonder whether pop rivets would work or should I just have this one for a display model. Regards Matty
I very much doubt it is the rivets, the full extension should erect it up right, it is not a complex linkage like some of the Zeiss et all, very like Voightlander. I suspect the release lever has been bent to the wrong position, maybe a previous owner struggled with it, or a kid has had a go and bent it.
The loose rivets might mean a bit of play but should not stop it going to the vertical and parallel position with relation to the film plane.
The bottom of the lens board is in position when the tab is fully into the jaws of the prongs on each side, from memory these prongs are fixed to provide the positioning. The prongs take up any play, as it locks.
As the camera opens two levers and bars on each side erects the lens board, and as it get nearly open the final movement engages the lens board tabs with the prongs on each side.
If the movement to full position does not engage the prongs, and it looks like it in the shots, then the tabs may need bending to position.
It needs study as to it's operation, but I doubt if play in the rivets would be enough to disturb it.
One very careful check, is there anything totally missing? by this, I mean at the bottom of the board, have a hard look and see if there are any broken edged to the metal parts or spare holes there for no reason. There may have been a plate or rod that engaged the prongs, but I think from memory it was the edge of the board, with tab like extension pieces that slide into the prongs.
I do not have a Billy Record to hand for comparison, sorry, maybe another member?
have a check on the prongs, they move, backed by a spring to keeps them pressed in the right direction, check the prong pivots are loose, not tight, and the springs are engaged. The prongs move up wards as it goes to the final position, and I have check, the tabs on the board are the parts that engage with the prongs.
One other check, are the bellows original?, they might be from, say a Kodak, and not allowing full extension? It may be a half done effort at a bellows repair in the past, left because it does not fit properly Stephen.
Last Edit: Nov 14, 2012 13:34:08 GMT -5 by Stephen
Thanks Stephen, Have double checked as you suggested, there's nothing obviously missing from the the front of the camera, the prongs move freely and nothing looks bent. I am beginning to think you might be right about the bellows not being right. Ah well, I'll have to think about sourcing a new set of bellows at some point. Regards Matty
Are you able, with your fingers, to swing the lens to a vertical position? Can you make it vertical by putting pressure on any of the struts? If so, does it stay vertical? Is the viewfinder that is attached to the lens mount pressing on the bellows. Does it come into proper viewing position? Does it swivel freely from horizontal to vertical? Is the mount that connects it to the lens mount bent? In your photo it looks like it might be squashed down too close to the lens mount. If it folds when the camera is closed does it open all the way when the drop front is opened?
Last Edit: Nov 14, 2012 16:08:07 GMT -5 by mickeyobe
Is there a locking action on the struts that is being missed here, I suspect the rear of the arms moves from a pivot hole to a different locked position, till the arm is pressed down to release the struts.
This movement must occur, other wise there would be no locking action.
Examine the pivots in the body end, and see that they are able to move if there is a slot they run in. The slot would adjust the pivot position from opening to the locked position.
Sorry this sounds complex, the action of these folders struts is often very complex, but the Agfa is fairly simple, although it is noticeable that later Billy Records had a far more conventional folding strut system, so they had issues with this pre-war design!!!
The bellows looks correct compared to others on the net. Stephen.
The lens can be pushed into the upright position but springs back when I let go, pressure on the front supports brings the lens into the correct position. The viewfinder seems to move properly and doesn't catch on the bellows. The front supports look out of true, so possibly need bending back into position. Unfortunately, when I went to check out the chromed struts at the rear of the bellows (they lock on pegs in the body when the camera is opened) one of the rivets broke so further investigation will have to be put on hold until I can get a replacement. Regards Matty
I had a look at my Billy record to see if I could offer any further advice. Now mine won't close!
What I did discover is that on opening, there are small pegs on either side of the shutter housing that locate in a groove on a fixed arm on the base plate. With mine, the pegs will sometimes fail to locate in the groove which stops the lens/shutter clicking into place. Unfortunately, mine is clearly a different model Billy Record as the design of the struts is very different.