Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.
|Posted: Sat Dec 24, 2016 6:02 am Post subject: National Graflex Shutter Servicing
|An instruction manual for the National Graflex Series II is available from
as of this writing. Please download a copy as the controls descriptions in figure 1 will be used in this discussion.
Being this site does not host images and off site image hosting sites keep being closed or hacked this will be a text servicing directions only.
1. Remove the lens as per the instructions on manual page 13, store in a secure place.
The following steps are preformed with the top cover open and mirror set for image viewing.
2. Remove the view hood by removing the screws and retainer clips in each corner of the view hood.
3. Remove the ground glass by lifting up on the rear of the ground glass and pulling it out of the camera. There should be a
an aluminum frame piece on each side, the angled end facing the rear of the camera.
4. Removing the mirror setting lever knob by unscrewing the two piece screw. Figure 1, item E.
5. Remove mirror release button figure 1, item F by unscrewing it.
6. Remove the two take up plate screws.
7. Turn Film Winding Knob, figure 1 item D clockwise until the take up spool key aligns with the slots in the camera frame then lift the
take up plate off the camera frame.
7a.There are two nuts, 3/16 wrench size, now visible. They are the shutter tension springs setting lock nuts. They should have a star washer under them.
8. Remove the Frame indicator Knob and indicator, figure 1 item H, by removing the center screw and lifting them off the shaft.
9. Remove the bulb positioning arm, figure 1 item I.
10. With the Shutter Winding Knob at 1, figure 1 item K, unscrew the center screw and remove it by lifting up. It consists of the inner dial with the numbers,
the index plate with a pin protruding, the curtain aperture spacing plate, spring, and outer shell.
11. Remove the 2 shutter setting plate screws and lift the shutter setting plate off the camera.
12. The shutter winding gears and the film counter gears will now be visible. Make pictures of the gears and their positions.
Lift the wind gear with the outer shell of the wind knob ears up and turn over. Note the extended plate made onto the under side of the gear,
the long edge faces the wind lockout lever. Remove the spring from the lockout lever, series II, and setting latch arm spring.
Remove the screw holding the wind lockout and setting latch then lift the lockout and latch out of the camera.
Note the position of the plate attached to the shutter curtain wind gear with the long shaft and flats for the aperture spacing plate, it has a long protrusion and a shorter protrusion.
The longer protrusion is the set latch catch and the shorter protrusion is the Bulb latch catch. The bulb latch is next to the view opening, and has a spring that attaches around a busing.
It is not necessary to remove the bulb latch but it needs to be moved by its lever to facilitate lifting the wind gear out, lift the gear out, a brass washer/bushing may be under it.
Release the mirror, close the Top Cover and remove the bottom case by releasing the Bottom Catches, figure 2 item W. Hint: holding the camera with your fingers on the top cover and your thumb close to the catch to be operated
and applying pressure with your thumb makes operating the catch easier. O for open, C for closed. O is toward the front of the camera, C is toward the rear of the camera.
13. Stand the camera on its top with the rear of the camera facing you. You will now see 16 #1 x 1/8 inch screws, 12 holding the bottom plate to the
image frame, 4 holding the mirror lock/lower case catch slots to the bottom plate. On each side at the rear are #1 x 1/4 screws with square nuts holding the curtain covers to the base plate.
14. Remove the curtain cover to base plate screws and nuts.
15. Stand the camera on end and remove the two screws holding the curtain cover to the image frame and the screw and nut holding the cover to the base plate, repeat for the other side.
16. Remove the 16 screws from the base plate at the image frame.
17. Lift up on the rear of the bottom plate, disengage and remove the film guide rollers paying attention to their positions. The only series I I've seen has larger diameter (.002 inch larger)
rollers next to the image gate and the only series II I've seen has equal size rollers in all positions.
18. Lift up on the rear of the bottom plate, disengage the curtain rollers, curtain guide rollers, and curtain from the lower lip of the bottom frame then slide the bottom frame out the rear of the camera.
The curtain rollers on the gear side and curtain guide rollers will now lift out of the camera frame. There may be bushings that resemble flat washers under the guide rollers and the base plate side will have a cup shaped spacer
under each roller.
19. Stand the camera on edge, gear side down, and open the top.
20. Holding the tension spring slot with a screwdriver loosen/remove the lock nut and washer then release the tension on the spring.
21. Remove the curtain tensioning rollers from the camera frame. There will be a brass bushing on each tensioning roller top end.
22. Clean all parts in a suitable degreaser such as Naphtha or 90% Isopropyl Alcohol.
23. Lube all roller ends and bushings with light weight oil such as clock oil. Light grease can be applied to the gear teeth.
The image box is pined to the camera frame top. The pins look like rivets on the image frame side. The image frame separates from the camera top causing a light leak and the film rollers not staying in place. I assume the separation is from pulling on the bottom cover without it being fully released when loading or unloading film.
Take a 2 inch C clamp, place the fixed base over a image frame pin or as close to it as possible and tighten the clamp allowing the screw pad to contact the inside of the shutter wind or film take up compartments. Use a block of wood to tighten the moving pad against to prevent marring the shutter wind gear mating holes. Inspect the image frame to top plate gap inside the mirror opening once the outside is flush with the top frame. If more than the sharpened edge of a razor blade will fit in the seam fill it with black paint or silicone rubber.
The under side of the camera top to base plate should be 2 48/64 inch next to the image frame.
The long curtain has the short gear roller and is installed first, closest to the image frame.
The short curtain has the tall gear roller and is installed second, closest to the film.
1. Install curtain tension rollers into the camera frame and start the locknut with star washer under it.
2. Close the camera top and place the camera on its top with the rear facing you.
3. Set the gear end curtain rollers into place.
4. Align the curtain into the slot at the camera top.
5. Set the mirror/lower case lock plate onto the bottom plate by sliding it under the spring tabs.
6. Slide the base plate assembly onto the camera image frame ensuring the mirror lock plate in under the edge of the image frame and in the fully extended position
with the lens door open.
7. Align the curtain gear rollers onto their pins on the base plate, the curtain guide rollers onto their pins with cup spacers in place, then slide the curtain tension rollers into their slots.
8. Start the 16 #1 x 1/8 screws starting at the base of the lens door and working outward. Start all screws 2 to 3 turns before tightening any of them.
Verify all curtain rollers are in place, adjust as needed. Starting at the front center and working outward tighten the screws.
9. Open the top and set the mirror, it should lock in the viewing position.
10. Close and open the lens door and verify it opens and closes properly. If the mirror lock was flat against the bottom of the image frame with the lens door open the mirror will not lock in the viewing position
and a lens door spring will bend on closing/opening. If this happens remove the base plate, push the lens door spring back into position then reinstall the base plate.
11. Loop the outer curtain over the top of the camera with the door open and gear side down.
12. Guide the inner curtain in the slots at the top and bottom of the image frame opening.
13. While turning the tensioning screw counterclockwise turn the locknut in sequence until the curtain is taken up on the tension roller. Turn the tension
an additional 3 or 4 turns and tighten the locknut.
14. Align the outer curtain into the slots at the top and bottom of the image frame.
15. Turn the outer curtain roller tensioning screw counterclockwise and in sequence snug the lock nut until the curtain is taken up on the tension roller then add 2 to 3 turns ( 1 turn less than the inner curtain tension) and tighten the locknut.
16. With camera upright and top open install shutter wind gear with the tall shaft into its place. Operate the bulb lever as needed and position with the long protrusion on the gear top at the left edge of the tall curtain roller gear and meshed with the inner curtain gear.
17. Install the set catch lever, wind lockout lever, and screw. Tighten so both levers move sideways freely with no up and down movement.
18. Install the catch spring and wind lockout spring if equipped.
19. Install the shutter wind gear with the ears so that the protrusion on the under side is aligned with the wind lockout.
20. Install the shutter cover plate with the mirror in the down position. The film lock release lever, figure 1 item G must be toward the front of the camera.
21. Install the Shutter winding knob outer shell with the index dot to the left. Insert the spring into the winding knob shell. Install the aperture width plate with the #1 slot to the left. Turn the plate clockwise as needed to align the #1 notch with the pin on the shell,
press down and hold, slide the index plate on top of the width plate then install the numbered plate and screw aligning the pin and recess in the two parts. Secure the screw.
22. Wind the shutter until it locks. Release, and repeat several times. This packs the curtain on the tension rollers.
23. Correct position of the curtain wind gears is when the outer curtain stay is at the left edge of the image frame with the curtain fully released; the stay of the inner curtain at the right edge of the image frame when wound and latched.
If the outer curtain stay is to the left of the image frame then the #9 aperture will be too narrow or the curtains will overlap. Adjust by turning the curtain take up roller 1 or 2 gear teeth of the roller toward the wind position before meshing the winding gear.
If the inner curtain locks left of the right edge of the image frame then start the inner curtain wind gear 1 to 3 gear teeth or the winding gear to the left of the latch position or wind the inner curtain 1 to 3 roller gear teeth toward the wound position then mesh the winding gear in the latched position.
Correct shutter operation is obtained when the inner curtain stay is at the right edge of the image frame when the shutter is wound and latched; the outer curtain stay is at the left edge of the image frame when the shutter is released.
The inner curtain initial tension should be at 4 to 6 turns of the tesioning screw from neutral once the curtain is wound tight on the roller with the curtain in the released position and the outer curtain tension should be 1 to 2 turns less.
Wind the shutter, adjust to position 2, release, wind, reset to 1, release and verify the curtain aperture returned to full frame width at release. Repeat setting the shutter to each of the higher numbers in succession and verify the aperture width changes to the set aperture width.
Adjust tension roller tension in 1/2 turn increments until correct operation is achieved. 1/4 turn may be necessary.
24. Close the camera top and place the camera on its top.
25. Loosen the outer 3 base plate screws along each side of the image frame 1 1/2 turns.
26. Install the curtain roller covers and screws, do not tighten.
27. Install the film guide rollers, long pin end into the camera frame.
28. Tighten the curtain roller cover screws and the base plate screws.
29. Reinstall the wind plate in reverse order of disassembly.
30. Install the ground glass ground side down, guide plates with the angled end towards the rear, front edge of the glass just under the lip the view hood sits on at the front then slide down the rear.
31. Install the view hood, retainer clips and screws. The flat edge of the clips go toward the outside of the camera, curved edge in, cupped end down over the view hood frame.
Load with film and test. A light leak may occur with the mirror in the down position on the film take up side at the mirror shaft and roller cover to frame seam.
Seal as needed with black paint or felt as needed.
Series I cameras did not have the wind lockout lever spring. Without the spring the lockout lever may not set and allow shutter winding with the mirror up fogging the film.
I formed a piece of .035 music wire to lay on top of the lockout lever and catch the front side of the setting latch lever then secured with JB Weld. When the shutter
is released the setting latch lever moves the wind lockout into the lockout position the same as the latter version spring does.
The film winding, figure 1 item D, is open for servicing by removing the center screw and lifting the knob off. The clutch mates with slots in the wind plate.
The clutch is one direction only and has 6 very small springs and 3 small rollers, 2 springs per roller, springs first, rollers toward the narrow end of the openings.
The best camera ever made is the one that YOU enjoy using and produces the image quality that satifies YOU.
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