Graflex Service: Interview with Fred Lustig

Fred Lustig, RIP 2014

It has come to our sad attention that Mr. Fred Lustig, who repaired Graflex cameras decades into his retirement from the industry, has passed away. His knowledge and skill and his unique gifts to the community will always be missed.

The interview below is posted for historical reasons; please do not contact Mr. Lustig's family for Graflex-related matters.

Lustig expands Graflex service facility

May 5, 2000

Fred has a new facility with a wood shop, a machine shop, devoted exclusively to Graflex and Flomer & Schwing work. Fred's phone number and address has been changed (see below).

Fred is no longer making magazines for cut-film/plate "bag mags," but he is producing and installing new shutter curtains and main springs for Graflex cameras.

Midwest Sells Graflex WD Service Parts Collection.
Fred Lustig begins service business.

January 27, 1995.

When Graflex closed its doors in 1973, its Western Division Service Center in Carson City, Nevada began operating as an independent business, under the name WD Service. Two-and-a-half years ago, WD Service decided to call it quits. After valiantly repairing and reconditioning Graflex cameras from their vast storehouse of spare parts, Roger Adams, president of WD Service, retired and sold the parts to Midwest Photo Exchange, of Columbus Ohio.

Midwest is familiar to many Graflex users from their ads in Shutterbug, and from their fine supplies of Graflex cameras, parts, and manuals. Soon after purchasing the parts, Midwest realized that retailing the Graflex parts was a very technical operation, and began searching for someone to take on the role formerly played by WD Service.

At the July 1995 San Jose camera show, Midwest finalized the sale of its WD Service parts to Fred Lustig, of Reno, NV. The last shipment of parts, many still in their original packing crates, arrived in November, 1995, and Mr. Lustig has spent the past few months unpacking, sorting, and gearing up for opening a Graflex parts and service business based in Reno.

On November 1995, Graflex.Org interviwed Mr. Lustig by telephone. He asked that we not print the interview until he was open for business.

Q. What kinds of Graflex cameras are you interested in?
a. Folmer & Schwing, Folmer Graflex and Graflex Speeds and Crowns. I'm not focussing on the Auto-D or XL series.

Q. Is camera repair your main business?
a. No, I'm a successful corporate executive, and I don't need a job. It's a hobby: I collect and make parts for the cameras.

Q. What are your plans for your new business?

A. Right now I have 3 projects:

  1. Rear-curtain roll shutters. I'm making a cutting die for the fabric, and obtaining the material. The material I'm using is made to match the post-WW2 fabric; it's a high-grade modern material.
  2. Reproducing lens boards. Next Year [1996] I intend to manufacture reproduction lens boards to close-to-factory specs. They will be fine reproductions.

Q. When you say you're ``making a cutting die,'' that sounds like fairly specialized work, especially for a hobbyist. How are you able to produce such items so many years after Graflex has gone out of business?

A. Although I'm now a successful corporate executive, I'm a mechanical engineer, and a tool and die maker. I served my apprenticeship in the mid-1940's, in college. In fact, I'm a certified journeyman camera maker. My last test before getting the journeyman sticker was to fabricate a 5x7 triple extension bellows. That was years ago, but it all comes back.

Q. What are your other plans for rebuilding Graflex cameras?
A. I have a list of wants: I want to manufacture battery doors for the Pacemaker top-rangefinder, and for the Super Speed Graphics. The material is available, but there are no dies yet.

I like the rebuild cameras and put them back the way the manufacturer intended, not the way someone else later thought it ought to be done.

Q. Now that you've purchased the parts stock from Midwest, what is your relationship with them?
A. I've been together with Midwest for a long time. We're still going to work together. When I begin my repair and reconditioning business, they will have a notice in their ad in Shutterbug. [See the February, 1996 issue, p. 140. MidWest assures Graflex.Org that they will continue to sell Graflex cameras, both working and parts cameras.]

Q. Do you think interest in the Graflex Speeds & Crowns is waning?

A.No. I've been a collector, and involved since the mid-40's. It appears to me by the sales that cameras are coming out of closets and being sold, and yet, the price is going up. This I see as indicator of the demand.
Readers interested in more of the history of WD Service can read ``The Graflex Lives,'' by Michael McBroom, from View Camera magazine, March/April 1991, p. 56. Reprints are available from
View Camera Magazine

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