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problems and dissasembly tips for an early RB Graflex Auto
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Carbo73



Joined: 15 Dec 2019
Posts: 12
Location: Catalonia

PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2021 9:51 pm    Post subject: problems and dissasembly tips for an early RB Graflex Auto Reply with quote

Hi, I've just bought a very early RB Graflex Auto in 4x5 format. I had already a c.1916 RB Graflex Auto and a c.1928 Series B Graflex Auto (in 3x4), both working quite well.

This earlier RB Auto it's from the much less common 1906 type model. It's in very nice cosmetic condition and the shutter works fine... EXCEPT that the release only triggers usually the mirror. The shutter link to the mirror release seems somewhat bent, and also a bit slugish. I've been able to take pictures (and they look great) with the camera, but only after some back-and-forth movements with the shutter release.

I think I can solve the problem if I could do some CLA just only to the wind plate. But I'm not sure who to disassebly just this part, without messing with the mirror nor the rest of the shutter mechanism (wich works quite well IMHO).

I've read the PDF about CLA of the Graflex reflex shutters that could be found arround this forum, but there are some differences with my camera. My mirror shaft/lever has no pin, but a screw in the front. Could I just unscrew that large lever screw and then the all-arround screws that hold the wind plate? Without any part jumping-flying arround? Obviously I will try to release all tension from the curtain.

Thanks in advance.

Looks similar to these, but with the screw in the middle of the mirror lever:

[img]https://www.flickr.com/photos/97603721@N00/28418380046/sizes/c/[/img]


[img]https://www.flickr.com/photos/kodakcollector/8129812940/[/img]
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 4039
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2021 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The RB Auto you have was made from model introduction through 1915, in 1916 the design changed.

The H lever is the lever that sets the mirror. It should be connected to the mirror shaft with a taper pin. While supporting the shaft end drive the pin out from the small end. I encountered one that was seized so I removed the mirror tension spring counting the number of turns to release the tension, removed the 3 screws holding the mirror frame to the shaft (requires ground glass removal), then pulled the shaft with H lever out.

Check the M lever for wear along the base where the pin in the I/T lever rubs against it. I have encountered a worn M lever that I had to add material to return it to original width.

The Graflex SLR pdf you found linked to on this site was written by me.
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Carbo73



Joined: 15 Dec 2019
Posts: 12
Location: Catalonia

PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2021 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the answer, 45PSS.

Well, following the information on R.P. Paine (1981): "The All-American Cameras. A review of Graflex", I think my RB Auto Graflex was produced from 1906 just to 1908, as the author says in p.24. It is almost a continuation of the original Graflex, and also quite similar to the later Telescopic RB Auto Graflex.

The one you mention produced until 1916 is my other RB Auto Graflex, which has the forward opening lid. I would love to upload pictures but I'm not great with this kind of links in forums.

And the H lever (mirror) has no pin at all. Just a large slot screw on the tip. So probably just unscrewing this will help in removing the wind plate from the camera. I've seen that ther's a small spring pushing the I/T lever so I will be cautious with that.

As you say, probably the only problem with this camera is that the M lever does not reach backwards enough in it's turn. Maybe adding materials as you said (but how?), but the main culprit is that the button P, which in fact can't be screwed and only "stands" in position, even a bit bent. Theres' even the danger of losing it, if falls. Somebody was rought here, I presume.

If I can disassemble the plate I will try to properly screw the P button, or maybe substitute it for some kind of modern "clone".

Many thanks
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 4039
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2021 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is the serial number of your camera? Likely stamped into the frame/edge of the view hood opening.
I have never seen a screw holding the H lever in place. Post a straight into the wind plate picture as you did before but without the img /img tags. I had to highlight the link without the tags to see the pictures.
The screw holding the M lever in place is likely braded on the inside of the plate making it non removable.
To remove the wind plate remove the H lever or H lever with mirror shaft; Release the initial shutter curtain tension with the curtain at closed after open counting the number of turns to reach no tension; remove the screws around the perimeter of the wind plate, lift the wind plate off. There may be a brass shim on the end of the top curtain roller that may stick in the wind plate opening and fall out later.
Clean the mechanism then apply a thin layer of light to medium weight grease to the gears and sliding parts.
Assembly is reverse of removal.

I added a piece of .020 inch brass to the bottom of the worn M lever by soldering it in place along the bottom edge of the lever.
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Carbo73



Joined: 15 Dec 2019
Posts: 12
Location: Catalonia

PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2021 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

I've not seen the serial number, but acording to the seller, it's the 12167.

I try to upload the pictures I took with my phone yesterday:

https://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffgallery/showphoto.php?photoid=302269

https://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffgallery/showphoto.php?photoid=302270

https://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffgallery/showphoto.php?photoid=302271

https://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffgallery/showphoto.php?photoid=302272

As you can see in the last one, the P button is not screwed at all, only stays in place if not touched. It seems somebody botched the screw and bent it slightly. I have to say that it's desing is much poorer that the later P buttons, larger and more able to catch the movement of the M lever.

Thanks for your advice. I have a bit of experience with similar shutters, as I "partially" repaired a No.1A Speed Kodak:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/7455207@N05/49907923723/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/7455207@N05/49908737997/
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 4039
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2021 12:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Before starting remove the camera back.
Set the tension to 1 and curtain to O.
Mark the position of the O opening top curtain stay on the edge of the camera body.
Proceed with the instruction in the previous post. On reassembly position the curtain as it was before disassembly then check after setting the initial tension.

This is the first example of the early RB Auto I've seen.

The P ring was likely twisted off by someone trying to unscrew it. The screw is braded inside. This is likely the cause of the curtain release failure.

Post some pictures of the wind plate gear side once removed.
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Carbo73



Joined: 15 Dec 2019
Posts: 12
Location: Catalonia

PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2021 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, I will try, but first I have to find some leght of calm time without no other hurries (and no children arround!), and that could be a little difficult from time to time.


As I said, the camera does take beautiful pictures. The lens is a B&L Protar f6.3:

https://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffgallery/showphoto.php?photoid=302273&showall
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 4039
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

According to A Lens Collectors Vade Mecum the B&L Protar and Double Protar were made under license from Zeiss. It states there is some minor differences in outer element curvature likely due to the difference in glass available at the time. First introduced in 1890 they were made into the late 1930's and possibly beyond. Definitely a good performer.
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Carbo73



Joined: 15 Dec 2019
Posts: 12
Location: Catalonia

PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2021 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, finally I've disassembled the wind plate in my early RB Auto Graflex. Without problems, quite straightforward. In fact some of the screws, specially in the rotating back, are barely staying in place, as it seems it has been disassembled many times.

About the wind plate, here are some pictures of before and after disassembly from the camera.

https://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffgallery/showphoto.php?photoid=302336

https://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffgallery/showphoto.php?photoid=302337

https://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffgallery/showphoto.php?photoid=302338

All parts appear to be in quite good shape EXCEPT the source of the problems. The screw that makes the P lever. I has been tampered heavily, as it was welded again a bit roughtly. Probably somebody damaged the camera here long ago, and they tried to repair the part. As is now, the P lever just "holds" in place nor can be screwed. And even in this position it moves back and forth just 1 mm or so, usually preventing the shutter to release. It's maybe a matter of 1/2 a millimeter of lever travel.

Options? I could try to weld it or cement it back in place with contact cement. Or put some extra angle to the "L" link between the mirror and the shutter release (but I have nothing to weld nor add metal). Or a combination of the two. Or maybe substitute the P screw with a modern equivalent in shape, and cement it also in place...

The rest of the camera it's in quite nice shape!
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45PSS



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

PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2021 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This linlk https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1eZp2WhDoWjF0yaS9jyiCP7tlF3fHkbKt?usp=sharing is pictures of an early RB Auto wind plate.

I do not know what you have available in your part of the world so I'm using what's available here as examples.

Get a mini butane torch and some butane.
https://www.amazon.com/Wireless-Portable-Heating-Soldering-Electric/dp/B07G5933KB/ref=sr_1_42?crid=QUWLSUZDP9X1&dchild=1&keywords=butane+soldering+torch&qid=1612903679&sprefix=butane+soldering+%2Caps%2C448&sr=8-42

Some silver solder. A new screw about the same diameter and length of the original.

Some wood glue and round wood toothpicks.

A pair of side cutters.

Using the torch melt and clean off the solder from the wind plate. Remove the remainder of the old screw.
Remove the screw from the shoulder the M lever contacts. Drill the screw out if necessary. Install the new screw through the shoulder and into the wind plate. Solder in place with the silver solder.

Coat the gear teeth and sliding parts with https://www.amazon.com/Finish-Line-Premium-Grease-Fluoropolymer/dp/B002L5YYYA/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=teflon+grease&qid=1612904155&sr=8-3

Using the side cutters cut the pointed tip off a round tooth pick back far enough so that the tooth pick just fits into the stripped screw hole. Dip the toothpick into the wood glue then push into the screw hole. Cut the toothpick flush with the body edge. Make a start hole in the toothpick while wet with the glue by pressing a small slot screw driver into the glued in place tooth pick dowel two times 90 degrees apart. Install the screw before the glue cures. Some screw holes are in a thin edge so don't push the tooth pick in too far.
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Carbo73



Joined: 15 Dec 2019
Posts: 12
Location: Catalonia

PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2021 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I've never used a butane torch, so I will have (apart from find some), do some practice runs with non camera screws.

But I think I will try with the original screw, as it is already detached from the main gear. what would be difficult is to weld it in place without fusing altogether the machinery, as it's tiny space to work. That's why I considered cement. Maybe a purpose metal-to-metal cement.

Many thanks for all the advice! I hope to really use this camera. In fact, before the disassembly I did take some more pictures (still wet from development) and it's nice to use, but I have to first relase the mirror and then, blind, manually release the shutter. Barely able for general landscapes but not useable with portraits, at least without tripod. And I have already better options for that static work, like a Gundlach Korona View in 5x7 or a GOMZ FK 18x24!
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45PSS



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

PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2021 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A 100 watt soldering iron will not get it hot enough to solder properly, which is what someone else likely used.
Use the torch without a tip, just the pencil point flame. Put the tip of the flame where you want to solder, then touch the solder next to the flame but not under it. When the solder flows into the joint remove the solder and flame. This should take 30 to 45 seconds on average.
Silver solder is for dissimilar metals. It should come with flux. Apply the flux to both surfaces the heat and solder. You may need a new screw to screw into the hole with the solder holding it in place as the solder may not hold on its own.
Glue, including JB Weld will not hold. Automotive panel bonding adhesive might work but finding a small quantity may be hard.
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William Hallett



Joined: 07 Jan 2012
Posts: 77

PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2021 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

45PSS, could you clarify whether you are speaking of traditional silver solder, which melts at about 600C (about 1100F) or no-lead plumbing solder (also called soft silver solder) which melts at about 230C (450F)?

I would be very careful working with a torch around an assembly like this. Apart from the obvious danger of charring the wooden parts, there is a risk than the springs may get heated and lose their temper. I would suggest trying to melt the solder with a soldering iron first. Whatever you do, slip a sheet of thin sheet metal such as aluminium behind the assembly first as a means of heat protection.
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2021 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Standard silver solder not the plumbing solder. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Forney-6-Silver-Solder-Kit-with-Self-Fluxing-Silver-38116/206471780
I recommend silver solder as its for dissimilar metals.
A small torch will heat the area to be soldered faster before the heat travels to the adjoining areas where a soldering iron will not.

The plate is removed from the body therefore there is no danger of burning the wood or its leather covering.

Allow the soldered joint to cool slowly as quick cooling will cause the solder to crystalize and fail.

Polish your skills if you are uncomfortable using a small torch.

I use a previous version of this torch that is not self igniting without the soldering tip, just the flame adjusted as needed for the project at hand.
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Bernzomatic-ST500T-Auto-Ignite-Butane-Torch-335258/301127226
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Carbo73



Joined: 15 Dec 2019
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Location: Catalonia

PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2021 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I'm gathering materials for repairing the wind plate with solder, but it's not easy. There are almost no hardware shops left in my hometown (and it's 200.000 inhabitans in size) and those left had almost nothing I could use. So my almost only source, in this era: Amazon. But then, trying to find the right materials in Amazon... in spanish, considering I have no idea nor experience in soldering... I think I have the right butane torch, I've found flux and what seems "silver solder", but it's only partially silver.

I will do some trial runs with scrap metallic parts, and obviously the mechanism is disassembled from the camera. I will be cautious with the springs, anyway.

I presume that if the joint is not correct I can re-heat the solder and try again, right?
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