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RB Graflex - Repair and other questions

 
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jkiolbasa



Joined: 03 Aug 2003
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2003 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've recently come across my grandfather's old camera and would like to fix it up and try to take some pictures with it. The camera is pretty beat up and has some things falling off, but is otherwise in working condition, as far as I can tell.

How can I better identify the model, and when it was made? The bottom plate only has "R. B. Graflex" with a list of patent dates, ranging from Dec. '02 to May '13. I found what I suppose is a serial number on the inside of the front door, near the hinge: 117264. I can't find any reference to a specific series on the camera. The film format is 3 1/4" x 4 1/4". The lens that I have is marked: "Wollensak-Rochester Verito 8 3/4 inch diffused focus F4 No. 8861." The film magazine is the leather bag type with 12 plates.

If it turns out this camera is worth something, I may have it restored professionally, but I doubt it, considering the condition. It would be more fun to do it myself. Does anyone have recommendations on the best way to clean the surfaces, or could anyone point out some other repair resources for this camera?

Mostly, I need to replace screws. The front door hinge is detached and the holes are stripped out, so I need to fill them or use bigger screws. Some corners and edges are scuffed up a bit in places. The leather handle on the top has broken off on one end.

It seems like I am missing a part of the back that holds the magazine to the camera. There's a sliding piece that holds one edge but nothing holding the other edge, and the magazine falls off. Can anyone tell me how it is supposed to be back there?
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jkiolbasa



Joined: 03 Aug 2003
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2003 4:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

After some more looking around, I think this is a RB Auto Graflex. The front door opens down, and I can extend the lens out onto a second focusing knob. Also, it has the two thumb screws to raise or lower the front stnadard.
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clnfrd



Joined: 26 Mar 2002
Posts: 616
Location: Western Kentucky Lakes Area

PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2003 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Graflex back has only the one sliding piece of metal. On my Auto Graflex Jr. ( and I assume other Graflexes) the sliding metal piece is on the bottom. The upper edge is a lip. You slip the bag mag or grooved Graflex film holder under the upper lip and secure it with the sliding piece on the bottom. Fred.
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3159
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2003 2:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If it has a second focusing knob, riseing front and drop bed, then it is a RB Auto.
Now, is the front square with the viewing door hinged at the front or is the body curved with the viewing door hinged at the rear? What size is the lens board, 3x3 or 3 1/4 x 3 1/4?
In my reference book s/n 117181 is a 3x4 with curved front, rear hinged view door, and 3 1/4 lens board, from the early '20's. The design stayed the same until it was discontinued in 1941. Nice camera if all is there.
Charles

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The best camera ever made is the one that YOU enjoy using and produces the image quality that satifies YOU.
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Gandolf



Joined: 26 Dec 2001
Posts: 328
Location: middle earth

PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2003 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RB Auto 1921
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Les



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

PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2003 3:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now that others have focused on the camera, let me draw your attention to the lens.

You'll find that the center of the image will be almost sharp and the edges will be blurry. Fine detail will be hard to find and you may think gramps had a bad lens.

You'll be very very wrong.

An 8 3/4" Verito is a soft focus lens.
Your Grandfather took portraits.

LIke a professional concert quallity musical istrument, the Verito is hard to master. If you're just starting out in large format then I suggest you by a second lens, say a Tessar that's about 7 or 8 " long. This will give you the predicted results, then when you've gained experience, try the Verito.

Soft focus lenses were popular up until the 20s and during this time contact printing was the norm. Hence most soft focus lenses went on large portrait cameras and were usually 12" or longer. Soft portrait lenses shorter than 10" are collected, horded and prized as they can still be used relatively easily.
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bertsaunders



Joined: 20 May 2001
Posts: 577
Location: Bakersfield California

PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2003 5:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Email me at bsaunders1@bak.rr.com I will walk you thru some cleaning and restoration tricks
THATS
BSAUNDERS1@BAK.RR.COM
Bert
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jkiolbasa



Joined: 03 Aug 2003
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2003 5:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pictures being worth a thousand words a piece:

The whole camera
Lens
Back
Bottom plate

Thanks for all the replies. Above are my "before" pictures. It's not in pristine condition, but good enough that I think some repairs and cleaning will yield a fine camera. Hopefully it can still take some decent photos.

Notice what I was talking about in the back of the camera. On the top of that picture there are the two holes and some diagonal scratches on the black surface, which is where the sliding metal strip needs to be re-attached. On the opposite side there is a metal piece but no lip to hold the magazine in place. Am I missing a piece back there? It looks like I can unscrew and reverse the metal piece there, but that doesn't seem right.

I'm not too sure what photos he primarily took with this camera, but I do have a handful of his old prints which are mostly landscape and architecture photos. Maybe he had another lens he used as well. I was planning on looking for a second lens.

I'm wondering if there are any issues with taking it apart to clean out the dust and gunk. What should I watch out for, and what can I oil or tighten to assure best operation?
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3159
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2003 2:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Contact Bret for the repair info.
I tried to pick one of these up on Ebay and kept being beat, worse condition than yours $300-$350; better than yours, but not much, $550-$625.
Clean, patch, and enjoy!
Charles

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