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3X4 Auto Graflex

 
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disemjg



Joined: 10 Jan 2002
Posts: 469
Location: Washington, DC

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 7:31 pm    Post subject: 3X4 Auto Graflex Reply with quote

Recently I acquired a 3X4 Auto Graflex from the infamous auction site. When the camera arrived it became clear that it was going to be a project camera, as it had a number of shortcomings. Among these was the fact that it had been given a good thick coat of black paint. Some small parts, such as the lid struts, were gray, and that was not correct either. The camera dates to 1914 and should of course have the oxidized silver finish on its metal components appropriate to that age.

I removed the paint with denatured alcohol, and was surprised to find gray paint under the black. Still more surprising was that under the gray paint was a strange sort of tan surface. All the metal parts showed this final finish, under which was bare metal. Except for a few small spots, the tan finish resisted the paint stripper and survived the cleaning process intact.

My guess is that the camera was rebuilt by Graflex, probably under their ReNew program during the war. The original silver plate was removed, the tan finish is a primer, and the gray finish normal to that period was applied. Credibility to this thought is provided by the lens that came with the camera; it is a Kodak No. 32 Anastigmat, dated to 1940 by the serial number. When I first saw the lens I just assumed that it was a late replacement to whatever the camera had been equipped with before, but on further thought I'm pretty sure that it is proof of the rebuilding in 1940 or thereabouts.

So has anybody noted this tan primer before? On the off chance that there is some other explanation, I'm holding off on repainting the metal parts gray for a while. I'll ask Les to add some photos so you can see what I'm talking about.

And as you can see, the leather under the paint was in excellent condition. I had to remove paint from another Graflex a while back, and it also had good leather, although not this nice. Makes you wonder why people paint cameras in the first place. I suspect that it has to do with the availability of beer, a camera, and black paint.

The lens required a diaphragm repair, which I photographed extensively. I'll ask Les to show those photos as well.


John
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Les



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 2682
Location: Detroit, MI

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 1:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

John's photos:







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"In order to invent, you need a good imagination and a lot of junk" Thomas Edison
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disemjg



Joined: 10 Jan 2002
Posts: 469
Location: Washington, DC

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for posting my pictures, Les.

And I goofed when I called the camera a 3X4; it is a 4X5. I'll blame that error on the fumes from the alcohol used to clean the paint off!

Got several shades of gray paint at the hobby store this morning, and will apply it in a few days unless someone says that "tan" is right, which I do not think is likely.

John
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