View Full Version : Grafmatic "45" film holder How tight shoud it be

emo supremo
28-Mar-2009, 05:48
How tight should the drawer on a Grapfmatic be? Could someone impart their experience with my first Grafmatic that arrived yesterday. Having embarassed myself loading a Hasselblad incorrrectly (until I saw the error of my ways in Youtube) I searched without success for someone using this on Youtube. I have of course gone to a couple sites to acquaint myself how to use the fiddly things because it's obvious that one can easily jam the septum etc. Actually, we have a system not unlike the Grafmatic in our lab camera which cycles 50 of these plenum so i'm sensitive to their fragility.

My point is that the after the dark slide is removed to place the film for exposure, exposure takes place and the slide is reinserted....this is the part that messes me up...I'm supposed to PULL THE DRAWER OUT (?)
It's not going to happen, at least not with the Grafmatic in the camera on the tripod because the drawer is very VERY tight. I read several sites to confirm this "pull the drawer out to cycle the plenum" or some such but this would require me to manhandle the ring. I suppose this is a normal condition bec the sleazebay auctions seem to have 'holder lacks ring' descriptions frequently enough for stupid me to take notice. So is the Grafmatic designed to break or do you refocus the camera each time because I can assure you there is no way the drawer is coming out and in to bring up the next septum without disturbing the camera. the ebay site states "It should work smoothly without sticking." re: reviews.ebay.com/GrafMatic-Basics_W0QQugidZ10000000002352428

1. So, did I get a crappy one or is this the normal condition in Grafmatic-land? I thought I might even ask to return it to the seller for one that works.
2. Are you supposed to lubricate the drawer and, if this is so, do you use a silicone, a graphite, or spit?
3. What is the "X" for? I haven't run into an explantion for that yet.
4. As an aside, I'm assuming the counter-wheel-thingy does nothing in this sequence and is not part of the problem. Correct?

Larry Gebhardt
28-Mar-2009, 06:09
First, the darkslide must be pushed back before you make the exposure. Then press the silver lever into the ring handle and gently pull with one hand while holding the camera to keep the thing from pulling out. It should slide easily. Some of mine are better than others. I have thought about but never tried lubricating one. I expect it could be bad and ruin some film.

The counter wheel does nothing in this step. It is activated by the little internal lever that is pushed when the recently taken plenum is pushed to the back.

The X is to show you that you are at the end. Once it is on the X the whole thing is locked. Turn the wheel to the number 1 to unload. Only the newer ones have this lock. If it is on X this is most likely your problem.

Henry Ambrose
28-Mar-2009, 06:12
1. Hard to tell without handling the one you have.
2. A little dry lube might help
3. The "X" means you have shot 6 sheets (assuming you started on 1) and locks it so you don't double expose.
4. Correct.

Look at this:

Service manual is here:
- http://www.southbristolviews.com/
- Scroll down the left frame for "Graflex Manuals"
- Scroll down the main frame for "Grafmatic 45 Service Manual"


Henry Ambrose
28-Mar-2009, 06:13
And it helps to steady the camera with your left hand, maybe even holding the back tight with your thumb. Pull and push the handle --straight-- in and out.

emo supremo
28-Mar-2009, 06:21
Thank you Larry for reminding me about the darkslide. I had read that one can inadvertantly allow light into the other septum/film units which I probably would have done that the first time out.

How tight is your drawer? So tight that it would be pulled out of the grip of the graflok/ground glass of the camera? Should I ask for a return? I agree with the lub but am tempted to use locksmith graphite. It is very tight. There is no "sliding" going on on this end, but rather a pulling necessitating a very firm grip in both hands.

emo supremo
28-Mar-2009, 06:26
Thank you Henry, that is exactly the first url I opened in my initial search I guess I got lucky). Pretty mountains in South Bristol. Gotta go and read where you pointed me. Bye.

28-Mar-2009, 06:28
No, when you pull the darkslide out, you listen for a click - THEN, you push it back in - THEN make the exposure, the darkslide protects the next sheet of film from light. Then, gently gripping the holder with your left hand, click down the little chrome lever with your right thumb and, holding it down, pull smoothly with you right forefinger on the handle and the inner box will smoothly slide out, stopping with a click (allowing the just shot film to be pushed to the the bottom of the stack), then, slide the inner box back in till you hear a click, and you are ready for the next shot. All the 6 shot Grafmatics I have operate as smooth as silk, and I have never had a moments trouble. They are perfect with a Jobo Expert drum, as they both hold six sheets of film and you can dedicate each Grafmatic to N, N-!, N+!, etc. There should be NO difficulty!

28-Mar-2009, 08:26
I once bought a couple of Grafmatics, both of which were tight to the point of binding when I tried to cycle the septums. I removed the septums and lubricated the mechanisms with a product called "Elmer's Slide-All (http://www.amazon.com/Elmers-E450-Slide-All-Lubricant-4-Ounce/dp/B000BXOESU)" (as in "Elmer's Glue" with the picture of the happy cow). This product is microscopic particles of Teflon suspended in an aerosol base. Once the propellent evaporates, it's a dry lubricant. My technique was to spray the areas of the Grafmatic where there was sliding metal-to-metal contact. I then went back with a dry rag and wiped away any overspray which might possibly flake off and compromise a sheet of film. Once I worked the Grafmatic three or four times, it was a smooth as butter. The difference was remarkable and I would venture to say that unless your Grafmatic is bent, the same would work for you, too. I would NOT use powdered graphite as it's sure to end up on your film (and it's a mess anyway).

At any rate, use caution. YMMV. And keep in mind that while this product works well for metal parts, it's really not a good idea to use it on old wooden cameras as the propellent is a solvent which will dissolve old finishes. Don't ask me how I know.

Chauncey Walden
28-Mar-2009, 09:01
Ice Wax for bicycle chains works great. It dries hard. Anything that doesn't will end up on your hands when loading film and thus end up on the film. The worn spots on the septa, springs and slides will show you where it is needed. And, don't forget to push the interior latch in when you replace the septa after loading film.

28-Mar-2009, 09:05
Ice Wax for bicycle chains works great. It dries hard. Anything that doesn't will end up on your hands when loading film and thus end up on the film. The worn spots on the septa, springs and slides will show you where it is needed. And, don't forget to push the interior latch in when you replace the septa after loading film.

Interior latch? Which one is that? I've had great success with my two grafmatics on my speedgraphic, but I don't know what latch you are referring to?

Frank Petronio
28-Mar-2009, 09:08
Some are better than others, I rubbed a little paraffin on the edges and it helped but I think some of the metal gets slightly bent from aggressive use and things slightly bind over time.

I've found that you need a sturdy camera with strong back springs to really take advantage of a Grafmatic. It is not the holder to use with a light wooden field camera.

Buying them is a crap shoot. Knowledgeable sellers are off-loading their dogs. Ignorant sellers don't know what they are selling. The best place to buy them is here, where you can shame the seller if they mislead you and there is a greater incentive to be 100% honest with your descriptions.

The other strategy is to buy 10 and keep the best 5, etc. as larger lots are usually a good deal and come from photographers' estates, i.e. usually people who took care of their gear.

Paul Ewins
28-Mar-2009, 16:32
Most grafmatics are going to be around 50 years old and feeling their age. A little lubricant on the drawer sides will be a help and "Ice Wax" worked for mine. I would also suggest that *every time* you go to load you should first inspect every septum and straighten any bent edges. Unless there is a permanent kink most can be successfully fixed with a pair of fine pliers. The tips on the open end of the septum are prone to bending and are likely to jam if you don't straighten them up again.

The drawer of the grafmatic should slide in and out smoothly but without noticeable side play. Some of mine are pristine looking and are smooth as silk, others look like they have been dragged behind a truck but still work just fine.

When the counter on the bottom gets to "X" the dark slide should lock. On newer models this will also lock the drawer tight into the body.

I've written up a whole lot of related grafmatic bits and pieces here: http://members.optusnet.com.au/~paulewins/resources/grafmatic.htm

al olson
28-Mar-2009, 18:36
I have acquired five Grafmatics for my 4x5s and a couple for my 2x3s. In almost every instance I find that a certain amount of force is required to move the drawer to replace the septum.

Because of my concern that this rough action will result in some separation between the camera and holder causing light leaks I now use the Graflok to hold it in place. The drawer seems to move easier if I give the ring a sharp tap inward with the heel of my hand before attempting to pull it out.

Neal Wydra
29-Mar-2009, 05:44
Dear emo supremo,

One bit of advice I have is don't point the camera down when operating the Graphmatic. It is much more likely to jam. I find that if I hold the camera level (approximately) all of my Graphmatics (I have 5) work smoothly.

Neal Wydra

Chauncey Walden
29-Mar-2009, 09:23
Daniel, look at Heny Ambrose's first link, diagram number 4.

emo supremo
15-Apr-2009, 21:50
I tried the teflon spheres. Wax. Lithium grease. Finally, I took the dremel with a grinding stone and kissed the areas that gleamed silver.I did this milling in small increments, each time covering over the milled area with a large sharpie pen. after three iterations I got it to the point where i felt the ring would not be torn off.

Yet another bad experience on ebay. I'm telling you, if you people keep nambipambing these sellers who 'forget' to mention flaws etc in their descriptions it will continue to go down hill. If the seller omits a fact its a cover up plain and simple no matter how 'honest' or 'ignorant' the mistake was. This is alot like what happened to your University system in the states: scaling grades lowers standards and once on the slippery slide it's hard to give an honest grade to a seller, student or scoundrel.

Oh yes, and that "I'd take it back" is a pile of nonsense too: why would I pay shippping a second time to send something defective back to a person who was dishonest in the first place? That is really stretching my gullibility.

Tell the truth!

emo supremo
29-Apr-2009, 19:13
Just got my second of the two Grafmatics. It is smooth as silk.

For those who are new, my study with n of two shows that tugging on the ring of the second shows that Gramatics need not/should not be so tight as to pull it out of the spring back. The seller of the first one was a scoundrel who lambasted me for negative feedback. Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

emo supremo
15-May-2009, 19:50
Just wanted to update you folks on this issue of a bad seller. I finally got so p*** off losing negatives I took this puppy apart. the light trap had worked its way loose and was jamming the unit. Crazy glue fixed that. Also, the counter jumped the race it sits in and by carefully putting it all back together it slide smoothly and made an acceptable negative in broad daylight today.

Thanks for your help. And to the next person.....no, the slider should not be tight.