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Newbie Question - Help With Leitz Vasex Enlarger Find

Matthew Guenther , Mar 02, 2012; 09:19 p.m.

Just wanted to get opinions on a Leitz Vasex enlarger that I recently came across
Are parts for this difficult to come by? Would this be something that should/could be restored without much difficulty?
As I search the internet, I am not finding much on them.
Am I correct that these are from around / about 1936 or so?
Any help on this would be much appreciated.
Thanks!
MG

Responses

Michael Axel , Mar 03, 2012; 02:07 a.m.

Matthew, I'm not a big fan of the older enlargers, because I don't think they offer that much, compared to newer models. Parts availability is probably more dependent on where you live, than any other factor. You will find more of them in Europe, less in the US, and non-existent in Asia. They are of nice quality, but I personally would not go overboard on the restoration, as they don't have a lot of value. I'd "guess" your dating is in the right range. There are is a lot of info on this enlarger if you google it.

Arthur Plumpton , Mar 03, 2012; 05:49 p.m.

Matthew, I knew not this Leitz model until you mentioned it. Googling Leitz Vasex brings up some information. I have the later Leitz Focomat enlargers (1c and 11c) and they are rock solid and beautifully built instruments, and highly useable within certain restrictions unless you have a parts servicing problem, which is pretty rare unless the unit is missing a part or parts. The Vasex was indeed 1936, which places it at about the same time as the original Valoy 35mm enlarger model, which is still being used today by some. Nice thing about the Vasex is the range of negative sizes you can use with it (35mm to 6 x 9 cm) and (I would imagine) its adaptability to modern optics.

If you are not missing parts it might be worthwhile to use it. You won't have the use of a variable grade color head, I think, unless the upper light housing can accept Dunco or other light heads. The first thing to check is whether you have all the parts needed, or not. If some are missing you might be best to find a more recent Leitz enlarger, or another equally solid make.

Robert Marvin , Mar 03, 2012; 05:50 p.m.

If the restoation just involves new wiring and a new socket, that's no more complicated than rewiring a lamp. Other parts for a 75+ year old machine might be a bigger challange, but the thought of a 6 X 9 Leitz enlarger that (presumably) costs far less than a Focomat 2 is interesting.

Arthur Plumpton , Mar 03, 2012; 11:03 p.m.

Even if you have all the parts, you should check the bellows to be sure it is not dried out and leaky. Replacing it would be quite expensive as almost certainly no bellow parts are still available from Leica (I got the last Focomat 1c bellows a few years ago from a Leica authorised service centre) and if they could not supply it you would have to go to an independent bellows repair/remaking facility.

Robert Marvin , Mar 04, 2012; 01:50 p.m.

Even if the bellows is leaky, an enlarger lends itself more to a makshift repair (with black tape, or whatever) than a camera. A slight light leak might be of no more consequence than light leaking from around a negative carrier.

Arthur Plumpton , Mar 04, 2012; 06:14 p.m.

Robert, that is true, as the enlarger bellows will see some movement, but that of a linear type and not torsion, so electrical tape can sometimes solve the problem. I bought my 1c in a garage sale and it was fine overall, except for the bellows which were in a highly disintegrated state and not suitable as a base for tape overlay. A good inspection of the Vasex and its complement, or not, of parts is the first step for Matthew, I think.

While Kienzle in Germany (developers and probably the producers of Leitz enlargers) still produce great enlargers, their availability of Leica parts seems limited to Valoy and Focomat series of enlargers and I saw no Vasex parts listed.

Lex Jenkins , Mar 05, 2012; 07:25 a.m.

Bellows can sometimes be patched up well enough to continue using for awhile. When I serviced a 1940s vintage Agfa folder several years ago I patched a few pinholes in the bellows with black paint used by folks who decorate fabrics like t-shirts. Very flexible, durable and easy to work with. So far, almost 10 years later, the bellows is still in good shape. But eventually it'll disintegrate enough that patching won't help.

Wendell Kelly , Mar 05, 2012; 07:39 a.m.

For repair of bellows, I've found "liquid electrical tape" to work quite well. It's a thick solution of rubber in a solvent that goes on like paint but remains flexible when it dries. Home Depot has it.
Once applied and dry, the stuff adheres well and doesn't lift off as roll electrical tape can do. If the light leaks are at the bellows corners, its simple to put a dab of this sealer just where it is needed.

Robert Marvin , Mar 05, 2012; 04:20 p.m.

The point I was.trying to make was that a few pinhole leaks in an enlarger's bellows shouldn't really matter. My Omega B-8 leaks at the negative carrier, filter drawer, and lamphouse ventilation. It looks like it must always have done so. A previous owner had placed black cloth over the vent holes, but I removed that when I bought the machine, assuming it wpuld cause overheating. Every other enlarger I've owned has had similar leaks and they've been of no consequence. Why would a few pinholes in the bellows ne any worse. It's NOT like it's a camera, containing film, and the paper is quite some distance from the enlarger head.

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