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3A Graflex, getting it running

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Joined: 20 Jul 2003
Posts: 1
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found a 3A Graflex while on vacation in upstate New York. Exterior leather was pretty beat but the curtain looks good and the bellow sound. Lens (Kodak 7 1/2" f4.5) good except for two diaphragm blades off. This is the Autographic version maiking it is post World War I

So a new project!

The lens was easy to fix. I took the elements out and cleaned them. I couldn't get the retainer for the blades out, but I could bow them gently and get the pins back in the slots, but first I noticed that the approximate apperature and the markings didn't seem to correspond and the apperature ring didn't turn. It turned out that all the blades had been shifted one slot off (sticky with oil, someone in the antique shop must have given it a good strong twist!). Still an easy fix and some Ronsinol got them clean and turning quite smoothly.

The rough leather was tackled with a lot of leather cream, then glued down with hyde glue. I would glue a section a night, cover it with plastic sheet, place a dry sponge over the area (to distribute the pressure) and then put a pile of books on. I think hide glue sticks better. Every time a try the (usually) recommended rubber cement it seems to peel over time. Comments? Also, any thought on how to revitalize leather? Most leather products don't seem to soak in very far.

The lens is now quite clean and the view in the finder is brighter (and more even) than I would have guessed. With the lens board off I can see that the mirror is NOT first surface. I assume it is a replacement and wonder about the focusing distance??

Shutter seems to be in good shape. It might be a replacement. The sides at each apperature are cut a little rough. Also the metal stays tend to bow a little but I have been able to coax them back to nearly straight. I don't think the bow is enough to effect exposure except perhaps on the narrowest slits were it is a greater percentage of slit width.

And for film... I called up film-for -classics. (Very pleasent fellow on the phone.) It just so happens that he was about to roll some 122 (post card size, 3 1/2 by 5 1/2? and only 6 shots per roll). Anyhow, film is on the way and I'll let you know how the first shots turn out.

Does anyone have good experience with these shutters? Without a total teardown, is there access to any of the pivot points for clean and lube? Action of the shutter seems fairly lively, should I expect the speeds to be roughly close?

Anyone else done any shooting with a 3A?

Smitty (Toronto)
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Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3560
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For glue I suggest Elmer's Contact Cement product number E-753. It is a neoprene/ latex base that works and cleans up easily. I've used it on Mamiya RB and Super Speed Graflex to reattach covering. It will be a few more years before the time tese is complete. As a subsitute try Weldwood nonflammable Contact Cement, a neoprene/latex based product that works like Elmer's but comes in BIGGER containers.

The best camera ever made is the one that YOU enjoy using and produces the image quality that satifies YOU.
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Joined: 20 May 2001
Posts: 577
Location: Bakersfield California

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 6:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

3A takes beautiful photos, unique in their look! The covering on this camera is genuine leather, and Elmers white glue will hold it down forever! Not much access to anything to lube, and I suggest that you not try to tear it down, as it can get very problimatic to get it all back together again! These cameras were manufactured until 1926! Neatsfoot oil is the only leather conditioner to use, cleans and conditions....have had some of my collection for 25+ years, and the leather is still like new...all neatsfoot treated! Have used Lexol on occassion to clean, but it sometimes leaves a sticky residue on the surface! Buff with a shoe brush after application! Bert
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