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First post Hello and a What the heck have i bought question

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Joined: 02 Dec 2006
Posts: 6
Location: USA

PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey everyone new here and to LF.

Made a recent purchase a few days a go which i doen't know if it was so good and am kinda concerned about it - and was recomended to come here to ask you guys and gals for help discerning my new camera issue.

Here the story in short form:

Local camera store dealing with older cameras stated the camera in question (which i bought) was a Graflex Crown Graphic Special. Says Special on the camera lens board too... simple enough. [He]stated that there was a problem with the range finder somewher down ther pointing a finger to the tube in back at the bottom of the camera - (i since discovered the tube was empty and the lower plunger missing and cap.) - okay i'll have it fixed. You guys stated great things about Fred L. - so i'd have him do it.

And then it gets interesting - after visiting here and a couple other places to learn about my new camera - i printed a copy of the Graflex Crown Graphic Rangefinder service manual - no problem looking up and seeing whats wrong with my camera before sending it to Fred L. so i kinda know what the heck he might be refering to and i know what i'm refering to when talking about the parts. I also called S.K. Grimes about shutters etc.

I looking at the Range finder Service manual and after talking to Fred and SK Grimes - i haven't a clue what Rangefinder i have!! Nor do they!

It's on top - plastic - stamped Graflex but!!!! when i look through it it has a blue circle and a smaller pink circle and when i manually move the mirror arm the little circle shows a double image which wehen moved slightly converges with the blue image to make one image.

There is a silver curved arm with a hole in it (best i can discribe it) in the larger viewer (Farthest right viewer facing back to front of camera)that moves when i manually move the mirror arm in side the camera. Like a Kal? somethign sorry can't rember thename of the other rangefinder usually found on the side of the Crowns.

So what the heck Range finder is it? Every thing states it supposed to be a Graflex Rangefinder since it's on top and its stamped Graflex - inside - seems to be another story according to the service manual. It also looks like it came with the camera - all the linkage with the exception of some of the guts and the linckages seem to be attached factory like...

Though hoping not, I'm having a real strong feeling i kida got screwed by the camera store with this purchase - but want to be sure, personally, i don't know just looking at a Crown Graphic what's what - what belongs to what and where? So, i'm a little concerned. Like this was a camera with some miss matched rangefinder parts - and i, the sucker that bought it because i trusted the guy that owns the store.

As stated, Fred L. didn't know what it was after discribing it nor did SK Grimes - so that has me even more worried.

So i'm coming to you all hoping you'll know what the heck i might have purchased - best find out now before sending it off to get fixed and/or possibly dicovering more serious bad news. Or taking it back and waiting to find another one. Could use some pro honest help here folks.

- chase -
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Joined: 24 Nov 2003
Posts: 715
Location: So Cal

PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 3:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Being new to the posting here, someone will probably suggest charcoal in your stocking for placing the Crown Graphic under the View camera section of the forum, but don't worry about it for now.
If you have a later model Crown Graphic Special, it should have a Schneider Xenar 135 Lens in a Compur shutter (a few showedup late with Copal shutters), and a top mounted rangefinder with a plastic molded cover, a battery door on the back, and a red button located on the side for the night spot (thus the batteries).
The Earlier Pacemaker graphics had the standard side mounted Kalart rangefinder. If the images you are seeing throught the rangefinder are pink and blue your mirrors are probably in pretty good shape.
The top rangefinder uses cams that canbe interchanged, and there is a flip down black metal cover on the inside ofthe camera body just underthe RF. If you hold the camera in your lap, you can hold this cover downand look in there and see the mechanism moe when running the focus in and out. There should be a flat metal cam locate in a narrow slot in something that looks like a tube. The tube is full of very many littel balls and special spacers. Anyway, there is a lever that rides on the cam and moves the prism that alligns the split image. a properly set up camera has the rails, RF, and bed scale adjusted so the when the rails are all the way back in the camera (the proper position before running the front standard all the way back and locking it before closing)so that the rails need to be run forward 1/16 to 1/8" (from all the way back) to be at infinity. Set the camera up on a tripod, fold theinfinity stops on the rail to thier down position. If the RF images coincide all the way back or as I mentioned above, then open your lens and move the front standard to where the image on the Ground glass is in sharp focus and lock it down. now try using the RF to focus on something at 15-25ft and see if the lens focus coincides with the RF. There's no telling what you have there without I have it in my hands but there may or may not be a cam, it may be the right or wrong one for the lens etc... Many a thing can have happened to one of these cameras in twenty to forty years.
I hope this might help you identify what you have there.

[ This Message was edited by: troublemaker on 2006-12-07 19:14 ]

[ This Message was edited by: troublemaker on 2006-12-08 21:25 ]
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Joined: 02 Dec 2006
Posts: 6
Location: USA

PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 12:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks troublemaker - sorry about the post being in the wrong spot - perhaps the admin will move it.

as for the camera - i took a closer look at it and the service manual i had printed, i'm cool with the purchase now - more relaxed i should say. From what i see via the service manual and the camera, it's a special with a Graflex range finder all right. The bearings and the tube spacers are missing as well as the tube assembly cap and lower plunger.

Fred L is going to fix it and make it right after the holidays for me and i'm pretty anxious to try it out - i noticed some aberations in the lens i hadn't when i bought it but they are not to too bad. so as stated - io'm okay with the camera - it looks good and i'm clening it up to get it back to new looking and with Freds help and expertise - it'll be working like new shortly.

Again thanX for the help and sorry for posting under the wrong heading. I have some more questions that conserning the CG Special i'll be sure to post under the right one.

and Merry Xmas all.

- chase -
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Joined: 13 Nov 2003
Posts: 211
Location: Yorkshire, United Kingdom

PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the forum chase. If you have just parted with hard earned pounds/dollars you can't help but worry if you have got a lemon.
If the shutter of the camera fires properly on the slower speeds (8th down to 1 sec) it doesn't need a service just yet. You will mostly be using the slower speeds.
You will need a loupe for focussing, plus film holders.
At this stage I am unaware of what sort of film you intend to shoot or if you plan to develope black & white yourself.
I have fed my Crown Graphic with some very tasty slow speed copy filmn (re-rated at 6ASA). Enlarging images is a pain as there was no grain at all to focus on!
The standard 127mm Kodak Ektar or 135mm Optar should be OK stopped down at f16/22 up to 16x20 exhibition size prints, but the very corners will possibly be softening.
The press guys only wanted a cropped image enlarged to 8x10 anyway.
Using a Graphic or any large format camera demands you slow down.
One sheet of film is equivalent to twenty exposures of 35mm so you take twenty times as much care over planning a shot.
It is worth it, believe me. And if you have a decent flash and you take the Graphic to photograph a local event people will still think you are a journalist. Or they'll assume you are someone who knows what you are doing.
The basic Pacemaker Speed or crown Graphic doesn't have the complicated movements of a view camera to concern you.
If you need more help, you have found the right place.
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