View Full Version : What Graflex do I have?

tom thomas
16-May-2010, 16:33
I just won a Graflex on E-Bungle, hoping for a 4X5 with the Graflox back. I have a couple 2X3's which I'm preparing to experiment with, but 4X5 sounds so much better from your descriptions and displayed photos. The photos of the camera on E-B make it difficult to do much more than imagine. Typical E-Bungle sales pitch, ie "I don't know anything about it?" I know it is a late model as has the battery powered range finder on top.

I'm hoping it is a Pacemaker 4X5, not a 3X4. From the model descriptions at graflex.org, it does appear to be a Pacemaker but I can't tell from the side photos if the pop-open view window may be large enough to be a 4X5. See photos. I can hardly see what appear be to chrome Graflox levers in each photo. Am I right?

Serial number appears to be 894304 in one fuzzy photo. I tried but can't seem to find the serial number listing anywhere. Does anyone know when this camera was made? The lens is a Graflex Optar f4.7, 135mm with Wollensak (X) Synchromatic shutter. Serial number on the lens is 922444.

It doesn't seem to come with any film holders so I'll be hunting later for them.

I went to the Mayfest in Tulsa, OK this afternoon. The downtown buildings are so "art-deco" and just waiting for some photos. One seller had fantastic prints for sale (not necessarily from Tulsa but US wide stuff he'd done) which he'd taken with a Lindhoff 4X5. Crystal sharp, so contrasty. Beautiful work.

Thanx in advance for any help


Vick Vickery
16-May-2010, 19:57
Its hard to tell much from the side views of the camera, but its definately a Speed Graphic and it looks like I can see the sliders that indicate a Graflok back. With the 135mm lens, I'd also guess it will be a 4x5 when you get it and can measure the glass. Have fun with it!

16-May-2010, 20:42
You have a late-model 4x5 Pacemaker Speed Graphic.

Ivan J. Eberle
16-May-2010, 21:20
All of the top mount RF versions were 4x5 with Graflok backs and date to 1955 or newer.

You may also find that Optar to be a particularly sharp lens, stopped down to f/22. Although it won't have much room for movements, neither will your Speed.

Lynn Jones
17-May-2010, 11:05
I concur with Bill,

It is a Pacemaker Speed Graphic


tom thomas
27-May-2010, 14:36
Hi, thanx for the help. I received the camera and am pleased to find it in great shape, just sticky shutter at low speeds and some sticky dried liquid between the fresnel and the ground glass (Spilled 7Up probably or gin martini.) The glass/fresnel cleaned up nicely, but I do have a nice scratch in the upper right quadrant of the fresnel lens. Wont' affect focus probably, just distract me a bit with reflections if I use the ground glass to focus.

It is definitely a late model Pacemaker Speed Graphic 45 with Graflok back as I'd hoped. The serial number is 894304 is someone has the lookup tables to see what year it was made.

I do have a question. It came with batteries (Eveready Leakproof Photoflash No. 815, AA) batteries mounted in the Graphic Rangefinder on top. The batteries power the Rangelight. Looks like a nice feature to have. Much easier to use than the Focuspot feature I have on a 23 Pacemaker.

I chuckle as the batteries are priced at 25 cents each, printed on the battery. Luckily they are leakproof I guess, no damage in compartment. No swelling on the batteries either. Good old Eveready. I removed them and now have an enigma.

Which way do they go back in?

The nice bright pink-colored Graflex operators manual offers this advice. "Position batteries so that they are lined in series, positive to negative as shown." The photo shows the compartment but only the the nearest battery is visible. Positive pole is to the right in the photo of the visible battery.

Normally, I'd think the back battery faces the opposite direction but the design of the metal contacts in the compartment makes me think otherwise. Both positions on the right have sharp pointed posts while there is a bar contact on the opposite end. This makes me think that both batteries should have the positive post to the right.

I could just try it, but don't want to burn out the internal light bulb as there doesn 't seem to be an easy way to replace it or even what kind of bulb it might be.

On a historic note, the warranty card is still in the manual, never been filled out nor removed. The mailing address for Graflex in Rochestor, NY includes a Zip Code 14603. From this, I gather that the manual was printed in 1963 or later, so the camera may also date to that year and obviously later. According to the card, I have no warranty on the camera as the card was never submitted. Darn.


27-May-2010, 14:49
I disposed off the rangefinder in my crown long back to reduce on the weight. But I think I remember that both the batteries goes in the opposite way and it does not matter which ever way the polarity is. Go ahead and remove the two screws on top of the rangefinder. You can see the whole mechanism inside. One of the nicest things I liked about my crown is the ease of disassembling and putting it back together, almost as if there is nothing proprietary in it and the manufacturers have nothing to hide. Hope it helps.

tom thomas
28-May-2010, 15:52
Thanx Arun.

I took the top off, cleaned the contacts, polished the #14 bulb, put in fresh batteries and find it does work. Seems to be accurate too, out to about 12 feet. I'm inside so cant' check longer distances.

I did find a floating piece of metal under the rangefinder cover however and I can't figure out where it goes. It could be a spring tensioner for one of the mirrors. The piece is black spring steel, about 1/2 long and it has two bent tabs on one of the long edges. It is tensioned/bent so probably meant to wedge in somewhere.

Does anyone have one of these top mount rangefinders with this piece in place so you can tell me where it goes? I hunted the web for adjustment procedures but no one includes photo of the top mount assembly which might show the location of the part.


Dan Fromm
28-May-2010, 16:53
If you look around on www.southbristolviews.com you'll find a number of Graphic and Graflex service manuals. I don't recall whether there's one for cameras with the top RF, but looking won't cost you much.

28-May-2010, 18:28
Have you checked out graflex.org? Nice site with lots of info. I have a Speed that I've used for about 35 yrs, but mine dates from about 1950 or '51.
Hope you get good use out it!

tom thomas
29-May-2010, 18:18

Thanx for the URL of SouthBristol... I found the service manual for my camera but the little piece isn't clearly identified anywhere. I will download the manual to read through the entire manual later, but the photo where the part should have been identified is poor quality so I can't identify the piece.

I do think it is a spring clip holding one of the mirrors. I just need to figure out which one. It may be for the clear lens in the removable top part where the light would shine through the rangefinder. I found it held in place by a small piece of paper so looks like someone did some home style adjustments at one time.

I also found a small piece of card stock under the light bulb which probably put some additional tension on it to keep it from moving when the power switch was pressed. I did have to clean the contacts and reseat the bulb so a previous owner probably had some problems with it.

Thanx, tom

30-May-2010, 16:40
It's imperative that you find out whether the spill on the camera is 7UP or Gin Martini. Sit down in front of the TV one night with the camera, and repeatedly lick across the spill marks in both vertical and horizontal modes. If you get a hint of Juniper taste, it's clearly Gin Martini.

Otherwise, it looks like, with a little cleanup and a CLA on the shutter/lens, you are good to go.

tom thomas
7-Jun-2010, 16:41
It doesn't taste like gin martini. I also found some of the sticky residue on the flash bracket which is probably 7-UP. Cleaned off now.

Here is a photo of the camera after a bit of spit and polish. Didn't take much as it apparently had been well taken care of. No Zeiss bumps at all. Perhaps those were only "featured" on the older ones anyway. My 23 Pacemaker has some on the front cover. The only wear is on the rear cover where the paint is rubbed along the edge. Probably a common thing.

I took this camera to a ball game in Tulsa last Saturday night. Special night for us cancer survivors so I had to get out of the house for once. My son kept saying that I should have brought a tripod.

This thing is heavy when equipped with the 23 4X5 Roll Film Adapter. It would have been tougher with the big tripod I have for it. Hopefully I suceeded in taking a couple decent photos. I found that my left forefinger fit just right in the semi-circle focus knob cutout when I was holding the camera by the strap. That helped a lot.

I have to take the film to get it developed so later this week probably. Tulsa lost.

I'm not set up to develop at home and would hesitate to do it anyway as inhaling the chemicals wouldn't do me any good. One pro shop just stopped developing B&W too in 120 size. I'll check another tomorrow. I have one roll in color and one BW.

I committed the classic newby errors. Double exposed one shot, left the dark slide in for another. Hopefully something will come out which includes ball players with the Tulsa downtown skyline in the background.

Thanx for all the help to date.


Michael Cienfuegos
8-Jun-2010, 23:17
Nice looking rig. Glad you were able to use it at the game. My problem is the same as yours, forgetting to advance the film and/or forgetting to pull the dark slide. I have two Grafmatic changers for mine, they are really cool. Gives me 12 shots with only two holders.

tom thomas
10-Jun-2010, 19:34
I picked up my color negs from the baseball game and I'm thrilled that the camera really works despite my double-clutching it once. The double exposure actually came out very artistic looking.

I feel really stupid though as I neglected to record my film type, ASA, speed and apertures of exposures. Since I was testing, I should have done that. Excited I guess.

First photo is of a Jim Galli special, big old truck tricked out as a DJ stand and boombox. The gas cans are German WWII cans hiding the speakers. I remember that I used 1/200, F16 for this one as it was in a bowl of afternoon sun.

Photo 2 is Tulsa skyline down the first baseline.

Photo 3 is the double exposure I mentioned in my earlier post.

Photo 4 is color, color, color, balance and saturation. Sure came out rich. I think I was 1/100th at F16 on this one. Check out the image on the monster LCD display on the left. It's amazing how clear it actually showed up in bright sun. Such technology.

Tomorrow evening I'll go pick up my BW negatives. It takes forever for them to get done. Batch processing I guess.

The photo quality is greatly restricted by my scan. I only used 600dpi at the moment, and scanned original size 2.5X3.5, the size of the negative. I have an Epson 3170 Photo scanner with slide/negative holders and was so happy to find that one of the holders actually fits 2.5X3.5. Yeah!!!! I don't have to pay to have the negatives scanned. I was ready to make a negative holder to fit, hoping I could. I don't need to after all.