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Old Abbey Flashgun...Is It Worth Fooling With?

 
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Clay



Joined: 06 Jun 2007
Posts: 4
Location: Indiana, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 2:24 am    Post subject: Old Abbey Flashgun...Is It Worth Fooling With? Reply with quote

I recently became the proud owner of a Crown Graphic and have learned enough about it (mostly by scanning thru these forums) to at least take some acceptable Polaroids in daylight. But with a camera this, well, imposing, it would be really cool to take some flash pictures. At least I think it would.

So I dug out an old Abbey flashgun that my dad had used with his Retina to see if it could be pressed into service. It came with a bracket that will mount it to my camera but I don't seem to have a synch cord for it. I can probably rig up something for that but it may be the least of my problems. First, the top screws onto the bottom of the handle OK when there's no batteries in it. But load it up with D cells and things don't really go together right. The top doesn't want to go on squarely against the spring pressure and it feels like it's cross threading so I haven't forced the issue.

Then there's some funny business with bulb adapter socket. I've got a couple Sylvania P25 bulbs and they fit into the bayonet socket of the adapter but the threaded end of it won't stay in place in the business end of the flash handle. The spring tension of the center contact is just enough to push it up out of place. The thing is, I'm not 100% sure if these two pieces are even compatible. The top socket on the handle isn't even threaded; there's just a couple sections of a coil spring to hold one of the larger size bulbs in place. Shouldn't it also hold the adapter in place or have the springs just gone soft? You can see it all in the photo below.





Is it even worth fooling around with or should I just keep my eyes open for a better used flashgun? As you can see, I've got a roll of duct tape here so I might be able to make some repairs. I really want to take some flashbulb shots of some people under the age of thirty who've only ever had their picture taken with a strobe. They'll freak when they keep seeing that blue dot for an hour or two afterward.

Clay Blackburn
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3219
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 3:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I really want to take some flashbulb shots of some people under the age of thirty who've only ever had their picture taken with a strobe. They'll freak when they keep seeing that blue dot for an hour or two afterward.

Someone should takt that roll of duct tape and restrain your hands and mouth before you blind those poor unsuspecting people. They'll be seeing white dots for several days!

Quote:
Then there's some funny business with bulb adapter socket. I've got a couple Sylvania P25 bulbs and they fit into the bayonet socket of the adapter but the threaded end of it won't stay in place in the business end of the flash handle. The spring tension of the center contact is just enough to push it up out of place. The thing is, I'm not 100% sure if these two pieces are even compatible. The top socket on the handle isn't even threaded; there's just a couple sections of a coil spring to hold one of the larger size bulbs in place. Shouldn't it also hold the adapter in place or have the springs just gone soft? You can see it all in the photo below.

Yes the springs should hold the adaptor in place. Do you have a "screw base" bulb to test the flash handle's abality to hold the bulb in place?
Using a small slot screwdriver between the outer case and retainer coil at the ends of the retainer coil and press inward at each end where it go into the case, you may be able to increase the tension enough to get the adaptor to stay in place. The other possibability is that the bulb "eject" button or lever is stuck in the eject position.

Quote:
First, the top screws onto the bottom of the handle OK when there's no batteries in it. But load it up with D cells and things don't really go together right. The top doesn't want to go on squarely against the spring pressure and it feels like it's cross threading so I haven't forced the issue.

Practice, practice, practice installing the bace cap squarely to the tube with batteries installed is all that is necessary. If someone else has not mastered this necessary technique and partially striped the cap or tube then it will be more difficult.

Quote:
It came with a bracket that will mount it to my camera but I don't seem to have a synch cord for it.

These old flash guns used non-polorized household plugs on the flash gun end and what ever type of connector that is on the shutter, provided that the shutter is capible of "M" type flash sync, if not then a solenoid was used to trip the shutter 5 to 20 ms after the bulb was fired. Flash guns and their synchronization has been covered thoroughly on this site so give the search feature a workout.

Although I have several Graflite flash guns and a unaltered Graflex flash gun I use a Metz 45 series flash which covers 4x5 format adequately.

You should have a 5 or 7 inch reflector behind the bulb also.
Charles
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Clay



Joined: 06 Jun 2007
Posts: 4
Location: Indiana, USA

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 12:29 am    Post subject: It works, at least sort of. Reply with quote

The best news probably is that I've found the forum search feature and picked up some more info there.

I put a little parafin wax on the external threads of the socket, loaded up some batteries and got the handle screwed together a bit better this time but it still doesn't seem right. It looks a little crooked and the threads do look kind of boogered up. Hooked up a voltmeter to the bulb socket and pressed the button on the side of the case and got like 7+ volts out of it which seemed odd since with 3 D cells I thought I might get more like 4.5 volts. Is there a capacitor or some other electronic bits in there that I'm not aware of?

I pried a bit on the spring sections in the socket but it still won't securely hold a regular threaded light bulb in place. And there is no bulb release button or lever. But I did manage to get the adapter to generally stay in place after some futzing around. I hated to but I stuck one of my two P25 bulbs in it and stepped out into the back yard. I'd put the reflector on it, pointed it away from myself, pressed the button and off it went. It pretty well lit up my back yard and the neighbors too. My biggest fear was that the threads would fail and all the spring tension would push all the pieces apart. I kept visualizing one of those gag cans of salted nuts with the spring loaded snakes stuffed inside, but it all held together. I wouldn't have trusted it all mounted onto the camera though.

Still concerned about getting it to fire from the camera anyway. There are bi-pin terminals on the lens and they do work to fire my Vivitar 283. But the bulb flash has two pairs of female pin terminals on the side of it about 90 degrees apart. I tried shorting across them but got no output at the bulb socket. Going thru some of the stuff that was packed with the flash is a Vimo flash solenoid/synchronizer and a couple pages of instructions for it but I get the impression that it was designed mainly for use on the Retina which didn't have any built-in flash capapbilty. Maybe the flash was designed to work specifically with an extenal solenoid. I did find the warranty card for the flash packed in there too and it says that after the 1 year guarantee I can have any other repairs made for the cost $2.00 per year. LOL! Maybe I'll just box it all up and send it back to them.

I've got 20 or so M3 bulbs that came with a box of old Polaroid stuff but I doubt that anybody makes an adapter to fire 2 or 3 of them at a time. Maybe this is just one of those old flashes that you just look at instead of use.

Thanks again for your help!
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3219
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 4:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I put a little parafin wax on the external threads of the socket, loaded up some batteries and got the handle screwed together a bit better this time but it still doesn't seem right. It looks a little crooked and the threads do look kind of boogered up. Hooked up a voltmeter to the bulb socket and pressed the button on the side of the case and got like 7+ volts out of it which seemed odd since with 3 D cells I thought I might get more like 4.5 volts. Is there a capacitor or some other electronic bits in there that I'm not aware of?

3 D cells should produce 4.5V so there must be some type of booster inside.
Quote:
I pried a bit on the spring sections in the socket but it still won't securely hold a regular threaded light bulb in place. And there is no bulb release button or lever. But I did manage to get the adapter to generally stay in place after some futzing around. I hated to but I stuck one of my two P25 bulbs in it and stepped out into the back yard. I'd put the reflector on it, pointed it away from myself, pressed the button and off it went. It pretty well lit up my back yard and the neighbors too. My biggest fear was that the threads would fail and all the spring tension would push all the pieces apart. I kept visualizing one of those gag cans of salted nuts with the spring loaded snakes stuffed inside, but it all held together. I wouldn't have trusted it all mounted onto the camera though.

I do not know how to increase the tension other than taking the unit apart and removing (shortening) the springs so that they put more tension on the bulb or adaptor.

Quote:
Still concerned about getting it to fire from the camera anyway. There are bi-pin terminals on the lens and they do work to fire my Vivitar 283. But the bulb flash has two pairs of female pin terminals on the side of it about 90 degrees apart. I tried shorting across them but got no output at the bulb socket. Going thru some of the stuff that was packed with the flash is a Vimo flash solenoid/synchronizer and a couple pages of instructions for it but I get the impression that it was designed mainly for use on the Retina which didn't have any built-in flash capapbilty. Maybe the flash was designed to work specifically with an extenal solenoid. I did find the warranty card for the flash packed in there too and it says that after the 1 year guarantee I can have any other repairs made for the cost $2.00 per year. LOL! Maybe I'll just box it all up and send it back to them.

The pins on the shutter are formally called a BI-POST connector. Before hitting the post button I did the following search flash synchronization, all the terms selected, and got 48 hits, including:
http://www.graflex.org/helpboard/viewtopic.php?t=2651&highlight=flash+synchronization
and this one that I had to search my posts to find:
http://www.graflex.org/helpboard/viewtopic.php?t=1453&highlight=

I'm sure that Mr.Peabody will be glad to let you use his wayback machine to find the service center that can fix it for you if needed.
Charles
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Clay



Joined: 06 Jun 2007
Posts: 4
Location: Indiana, USA

PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And the educational process continues.

I'd already read the post from that first link you listed and by mustering up every bit of denial I could I decided that it probably didn't apply to my flash because mine's a 3 cell instead of a 2 cell. And then I decided to prove myself wrong.

For starters I think my VOM was a little flakey. I thought I'd put in a fresh battery and when I did I found that the battery terminals were loose. Tightened things up some and now I seem to be getting better readings. The output at the at the bulb socket now reads a more believable 3.9 volts with some used D cells.

Then thinking about that other post and the fact that there was this solenoid packed in with the flash and the fact that my dad had seemingly used it with his Retina I decided that there was one more test I had to rig up. I ran some jumper wires from the terminals on the side of the flashgun to the terminals on the solenoid. Next I pressed the button the flash and what do you know, the plunger on the solenoid extended. This flash rig works backwards from the way I'd expected. I thought that you tripped the shutter release on the lens which moved the plunger on the solenoid that was screwed into the cable release socket which in turn closed the circuit to the flash gun and set off the flash.

But now it appears that the whole process actually starts when you press the button on the flash. This sends current to the bulb which begins ignition and before it peaks it also sends current to the solenoid. The plunger extends and trips the shutter and if everything is synchronized properly it does this when the flashbulb is putting out its maximum amount of light. The shutter then closes and the light output diminishes. At least this is the way it would work on the Retina which had no built-in flash synch ability.

At least that's the way I think it works. Feel free to set me straight if I'm still working under a delusion. In the meantime I'm thinking that this flash isn't really worth using on the Crown Graphic without a lot of reworking.

Isn't learning FUN???
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3219
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 4:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But now it appears that the whole process actually starts when you press the button on the flash. This sends current to the bulb which begins ignition and before it peaks it also sends current to the solenoid. The plunger extends and trips the shutter and if everything is synchronized properly it does this when the flashbulb is putting out its maximum amount of light. The shutter then closes and the light output diminishes

Congratulations! You're batting 1000

If the camera had enough room under the lens to mount the solenoid then a pull type solenoid was used to pull the shutter release; if the camera did not have enough room under the shutter then a push type solenoid was positioned horizionally above the shutter with linkage to push the shutter release lever. There were/are test bulbs that fit into the flash for use when synchronizing so that one did not use a lot of flash bulbs. You could make a test bulb by taking the base of a spent flash bulb and soldering a 3 cell flashlight bulb to it.

The Graflite 2772 (2cell) or 2773 (3cell) flash will synchronize with the shutter contacts or with a selonid.

To test a shutter's synchronization, attach the flash to the camera and selonid or shutter contacts depending on the set up, set lens to minimun aperture (smallest f number), open the camera back (view hood on a Graphic), point the camera/flash toward a white or light colored wall in dim lighting, while looking thru the camera back trip the shutter: clean bright circle of the full shutter opening=correct synchronization; shutter blades visible in the shutter opening=timing slow or fast.

Quote:
Isn't learning FUN???

Les is attempting to write a new Graflex Graphic Photography book based on reaserch of old Graflex doucements, books, and remaining company emploies and every time he thinks he has it complete, ready for press, up pops another rare camera that defies all aquired information.
Learning is a piece of cake compaired to reverse engineering what a coporation did over 70 some odd years.
Charles
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