View Full Version : Houghtons Ltd "Ensign" Reflex Model A info please

10-Aug-2009, 05:52
I have recently been given the above camera. It is very tatty but I am determined to make it work. It is 1/4 plate I think (4 1/4 by 3 1/4 - is that quarter plate?). It has an Aldis Anastigmat No.17 6.75" f/4.5 lens which looks to be in good condition. Apart from being tatty everything seems ok except the focal plane shutter. I would like to repair it but need to find info on the mechanism and how to work it. Does anyone know anything about this camera or know any resource where I could get manuals and further info. I have done searches on the web but there is very little info on this model amongst the Houghton/Ensign searc results. I will try and photograph some of the camera detail to add here later.
Lastly, the camera wood is clad in a leather/plastic material which is unsalvagable. Is it worth stripping this off the the base wood to clean up to make a better finish. Is it viable doing this?
Thanks for any replies/info.
Regards, Nigel.

10-Aug-2009, 06:41
Try talking to people at "deardorffcameras.0catch.com " They restore old cameras.
I have a Ensign reflex 1927 film camera, works great.

10-Aug-2009, 06:56
If you want to replace the covering of the camera: it can be done if you are handy enough. Take off the old stuff and replace it.

Covering can be bought localy if you are lucky otherwise have a look what Micro-tools (http://www.micro-tools.com) has to offer.
They have an European office aswell.

Looking forward to those photo's !


10-Aug-2009, 13:02
Ok, so I've taken a few pictures now and put them in a Flickr set which can be viewed here - http://www.flickr.com/photos/24301567@N08/sets/72157621877771829/
(The Nikon is there to give scale)
Regs, Nigels.

10-Aug-2009, 18:18
The camera does not look too bad, realy.
I would try to patch-up the bad parts with the same kind of material with the same texture to keep the authentic look and feel of the camera.
Scraping of the good parts would do more harm than good.


Ernest Purdum
11-Aug-2009, 10:39
Yes, 4 1/4 X 3 1/4 is quarter-plate.

The name Houghton Ltd. narrows the dating considerably. The Company dated back all the way to 1834. The name on your camera, though, was used betwen 1904 and 1925, at which time they became Houghton-Butcher and later Ensign Ltd.. Ensign had been a Houghton tradename for many years.

Reflexes of their make date back to 1904. Unfortunately, I haven't found any reference to a "Model A". Houghton's made several reflex cameras, very different to each other.

12-Aug-2009, 11:20
Thanks Ernest for the info. This puts it earlier than I thought. I have a H-B Mayfair which is a box Brownie style which I think is from the 30s. It takes 6x9s on 120 film and I managed to make that work. I suppose I can shoot something without fixing the focal plane shutter on the Reflex. So, I'll be cleaning up the film holders at the weekend and giving it a go.

Ernest Purdum
12-Aug-2009, 15:28
I can't see your pictures at all well because my monitor is dying. However, looking at the photo of the right side of the box, I see what appears to be the wind and control for a variable slit focal-plane shutter. You are right in guessing that the lever which raises the mirror should release the shutter also. When you look in the back of the camera with the back halfway between vertical and horizontal positions, can you see curtains? If you wiggle the wind knob, does anything happen?

Have fun on your "go".

Dan Fromm
13-Aug-2009, 01:47
Hmm. If the beast works like a Graflex (it looks much like one), with the "T-B-I" selector set to "I" as it is in your photo, pressing the shutter release will raise the mirror but not fire the shutter. If this is the case there has to be a second release lever somewhere on the box. Show us a view of the left side of the box, where I think the shutter release will be, and give us a better-exposed picture.

Ernest, you are too polite. The shots on flickr are way too dark to see much useful.

13-Aug-2009, 03:06
Nigels, I can possibly send you something on repairing the shutter. I'll have to find it first.

Surprisingly some of the UK Press camera's were way ahead for the time, some with revolving backs etc.

I may have additional information about the camera I'll look over the next few days.


Ernest Purdum
13-Aug-2009, 10:34
Dan, I'm eighty years old. Unless I'm polite, I'll get accused of being an old grump.

Dan Fromm
13-Aug-2009, 11:22
Ernest, what's wrong with being an old grump?