So I reasoned if I could somehow take the lens off it I could turn it into a lens for my Canon 300D DSLR. First step was feasibility; could I take pictures through the lens? Offering the lensless body of the Canon up to the innards of the Ensign proved this to be a yes.
So the first step was the most daunting: the first cut. I peeled the bellows away from the body with a penknife, easy since the 1933 glue was ancient and brittle. I wore a mask so as not to inhale any 80-year-old dust.
Having detached the lens from the camera the first task was to make sure the shutter stayed open at all times. Just whip the two screws out of the face and remove it.
Arrange the levers to open the shutter so that it stays open and then hot glue them into place to fix the lens opening at maximum.
Next you need to shorten the bellows. At the back it's 3.5" wide which makes it hard to mount on a body cap. I figured out I only needed 2" length to get focus, which made it the perfect size at the back. So I cut the stiffened fabric with first a knife and then scissors.
Next you must prepare the body cap. Find the centre and mark the top so you can find it later. (I realised afterwards it would have been better to mark this on the BACK.)
Using a hole saw or a spade drill bore out a large hole in the middle of the cap. I chose about a 1" hole to allow for a bit of extra light and wiggle room. Smooth the edges with a file or abrasive paper.
Hot glue the bellows to the outer rim of the body cap. You may have to use tweezers to pull the multiple layers of fabric around the cap. Trim the glue flush with the cap or it will not turn onto the bayonet.
Screw the lens into the camera and voilà! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the 1930s FrankenCam.
For Version 2.0 I want to open up the possibilities for using the lens for video, but to do that I will need to lose the original bellows and add a modern one which you can pick up on eBay for about £20 or $30.