View Full Version : Front swing modification for Pacemaker Graphic

Brian Wallen
28-Jun-2009, 20:00
I've been searching unsuccessfully for an article I've seen, here or elsewhere, describing a modification that can be made to the clamping pads for the front standard of Pacemaker Graphics that allow front swing. As I recall, this involved rounding off the corners of the clamping pads, accessible by removing the front standard from the rail. It appears that this could be done with a small grinder wheel.

There have been earlier posts here looking for this information unsuccessfully.

29-Jun-2009, 02:10
Sorry to ask for, but why don't you post a pic, there is a diference between not knowing the camera and not knowing the basic's, in other words the solution can come from diferent sources.


29-Jun-2009, 06:30

Here is something, but not the details:


"A number of creative photgaphers have devised methods to augment the front movements on a Crown Graphic. Here are two examples: Example 1, Example 2. (These examples call for physical modifications to allow for front and back tilt, or partial disassembly of the camera to reverse the front standard so that it tilts forward instead of backward. Of course, the latter option limits you to lenses that do not require use of the drop bed because you will no longer be able to correct the front tilt.) Another similar source is the article "Make Your Press Camera Behave Like a Field Camera" by Bertram W. Miller in Photo Techniques Magazine, Vol. 17, No. 4 (1996)."

I also seem to recall this information being published in View Camera Magazine but can't recall if I'm correct on that or not.

another Brian

29-Jun-2009, 06:35
or... just thinking out loud...

here's another solution to your problem:


Brian Wallen
29-Jun-2009, 13:43
archphoto, I had seen an article that described what I wanted to do and it seemed like a reliable procedure. Before attacking my Crown, I wanted to review the details. Last night I had spent a couple of hours searching here, at graflex.org and photo.net. I think I tracked down most promising links that described the "no shift" limitation, without finding the article I'd seen.

<br /><img src="http://www.bnphoto.org/bnphoto/LFN/CrownShiftMod1.JPG" border="0" alt="" />

Here is a shot of the undercarriage of the front standard removed from the rail on a Crown 45. I've circled the area of the pad that must be modified. Apparently by rounding the corners, these pads allow the front standard to "rotate" on the swing axis. Seems like the secret is in how much to remove to achieve a balance between the degree of shift and continuing to maintain the stability of the front standard. The pad sits very close to a chrome shroud, so this would be a tricky mod requiring a steady hand with a grinder and probably the need to detach the bellows so the front standard could be clamped on a decent work surface. I'd hoped that the writer of the article I'd seen had made some comments on technique.

The Other Brian, yes I found David Karp's excellent and well illustrated appreciation of the Crown ( http://www.largeformatphotography.info/cameras/pacemaker/ ) and his assessment of its limitations. In his section on movements, he notes that the Pacemakers had no front swing, but with no comment about a modification. Your second reference is an article I wrote on the Super Graphic ( http://www.bnphoto.org/bnphoto/LFN/CamProf_SuperGraphic.htm ), which had a redesigned rail clamp with a swing pivot. Your note prompted me to look at its design and see how the Graflex designers had solved the problem; attempting to replicate that redesign on a Pacemaker would require days of a machinist's time experimenting with different designs.

The Super Graphic does solve the swing problem, but introduces a related one -- the designers gave up the articulated focusing rack that allowed the Pacemakers to focus while the front standard was still in the case ( http://www.bnphoto.org/bnphoto/LFN/RecessedLB1.htm ). This is a very attractive feature when using short focus lenses, since you can drop the bed without affecting front movements. I've seen claims that Crowns and Centuries are able to focus 38mm lenses at infinity. Supers were made in only 4 x 5 models, so we tinkerers still have Pacemakers in three sizes to experiment with as superwide bodies. The Crown 23 with 47mm, 58mm or 65mm lenses that were offered in #00 Compurs makes a very attractive, lightweight and affordable superwide, within its limitations of having no rotating or reversible back and its modest movements.

29-Jun-2009, 14:38
Basicly, if you can remove the two plates, you could make a version in yellow copper that has an arc from top to bottom with the centre-point remaining the same and testing that one.

The propperties of the arc is dependant of the posible movement of the 2 plates/clamps.

If you measure the posible movement of the clamp you can apply that to top and bottom and draw an arc between the top arc-point, the centre-point and the bottom arc-point and apply that to the copper clamp for testing.
A job you can do with a piece of copperplate, a jigdaw, a file, a drill and something to make the threads for the 2 srews. (sorry don't know the word for it in english)


29-Jun-2009, 14:42
This site should solve it for you:

John is a very nice fellow and should be able to advise you.


Drew Bedo
29-Jun-2009, 15:21
There were two articles in View Camera Magazine ( between 2000 and '05 I think) that described mods for both front swing and tilt.

Brian Wallen
29-Jun-2009, 18:13
Sorry, I didn't understand that html was globally disabled on the forum.

Here is the shot of the undercarriage of the Pacemaker front standard.


Archphoto, you are clearly more of a machinist than I am.

The image above shows the clamping plates that allow the front standard to move on the rail or fix it in a stationary position. These plates are sprung and are fastened to the bottom part of a U-shaped standard with four stainless rivets that pass through that part of the standard. This arrangement is complicated enough that I wouldn't want to disturb it. Drilling out the rivets would require having new ones to replace them.

Drew, I have some but not all of the issues of View Camera you mentioned. I'll dig up the index. That is likely where I saw it.

29-Jun-2009, 18:59
Sorry Brian, I have been into camera repairs since 1978 or so and have done my share of modifications over the years.
I did not see the rivets, thought they were screws, and if the clamps are springloaded you don't have much to play with.

I would need the camera and my Shen Hao in my hands and see if you could make a new front standard for the camera based on what is now and what is needed to get the extra movement.
It will not be easy though and you will need (some) experience in metal working and tools if you are planning to do it yourself.

And I am not living close by and my shop is in Holland.

Interesting problem though, if you can implement some parts/idea's of the Shen Hao HZX45IIA front standard you would be on your way.


Mark Tweed
1-Jul-2009, 14:09
Hi Brian,

I read the same article years ago and you're right, it's a very straightforward operation albeit, a delicate one. The idea is to gently round off the 4 outside corners of the two tabs that clamp the front standard to the rail.

A couple of suggestions before you proceed. To determine how much metal to grind off the corners I cut 4 rectangular pieces from typical picture framing matboard (which luckily has the same thickness as the metal plates from the front standard. They were cut to match the same footprint as the two combined plates. I then cut different sized radius corners (an Xacto knife works fine for this) on each of the 4 'matboard plates'. Going from a very slightly rounded edge to a more dramatic radius. You can then take these sample plates and slide them into the rails, moving them with your fingers to see which one gives you the movement required, but not so rounded that the plate becomes sloppy in the tracks (or if the corners are rounded too much, the plate can easily becomes dislodged from tracking between the rails).

I think you'll find that it takes very little rounding of the corners to give you the swing movement you're after. I'd also suggest removing the front standard from the bellows (it's attached with 4 screws) - this gives you much more flexibility in handling the standard as you grind the plates. A slender grinding bit for a Dremel makes the perfect tool for this grinding operation.

Also know that if you mount the front standard in reverse, this gives you front tilt instead of rear tilt which makes the camera much more useful in my opinion. The locking finger tab can also be reversed so that it still faces forward.

good luck with the modification,


Brian Wallen
5-Jul-2009, 22:34
As a followup to this discussion, I've found the information I was looking for. There are several articles in older issues of View Camera:

Jan/Feb 2005 and Mar/Apr 2005 have articles by Gordon Osmundson generally describing the history of Graflex and Graphic cameras, lenses that can be used on them, and their strengths and limitations.

May/Jun 2005 had an article by John Blackford outlining the information I was looking for--a relatively simple modification that allows shift movements for Pacemaker Graphics. John didn't state and I have no way to determine if this modification might also work with Anniversary or earlier Graphics.

In May/June 2006, David Keil described a procedure to increase the amount of front tilt for Graphics.

The modifications appear to be ones that a careful worker with a hand grinder could manage with limited risk to the equipment. Mark's ideas for a template should reduce the guesswork of how much material to remove from the corners of the clamping plates and his suggestion for minimal reduction seems in concert with John Blackford's images of the finished modification.

7-Jul-2009, 06:36
This site should solve it for you:

John is a very nice fellow and should be able to advise you.


More specifically: http://www.johndesq.com/graflex/swingmod.htm

7-Jul-2009, 08:01
I LOVE my Crowns (hate my Super) -- they were (and are) darn near perfect for their job. I see no reason to butcher them for such a minimally useful feature.

8-Jul-2009, 06:10
I LOVE my Crowns (hate my Super) -- they were (and are) darn near perfect for their job. I see no reason to butcher them for such a minimally useful feature.

The world's a funny place, one person's minimally useful feature is another person's must-have.

Let me know if you need a nice home for the Super, I'm tired of holding my Crown sideways.