View Full Version : Installing a packard shutter

8-Apr-2004, 11:56
In reality, how hard is a packard shutter to install.

I have seen them go cheap on Ebay. Are these old used ones usefull, or is new the best way to go?

Has anyone built their own packard shutter?

Bob Fowler
8-Apr-2004, 13:23
Mark, there really isn't a simple answer to your question, but I'll take a stab at it anyway. Sorry if this gets a little wordy...

There a a couple of different types of Packards out there. The most basic model is the #5 which has only one setting - squeeze the bulb to open, release to close. Long time exposures can be made more comfortable if you squeeze the bulb for open, release your thumb (covering the air hole in the end of the bulb)..... long exposure time over, squeeze bulb with thumb off hole, release bulb with thumb over hole. Pretty dang simple and only 4 moving parts - 3 shutter blades and an air piston.

The #6 shutter adds an extra part inside which allows for an "instant" exposure of about 1/25th sec, depending on the shutter size and how the bulb is used. The "instant" speed is accomplished by inserting a pin in the shutter which trips a bar inside the shutter mechanism that completes the open/close cycle in one movement of the air piston. I should mention that Packards are also available with electric solenoids instead of air pistons, but the operation is the same.

Another option is a the addition of flash sync (X), usually only found on a #6 type shutter. It is simply a micro-switch that is activated by the shutter blades and terminated in simple screw terminals on the top of the shutter housing. It is possible to add flash sync to a non-synch Packard using parts found at your local electronics supply house or even Radio Shack.

As for installation...

I'm not a big fan of putting holes in cameras unless there is no other choice, therefore most of my Packard shutters are front-mounted - one on a 305mm f/9 Apo-Nikkor, one on a 9" f/5.6 Ilex Copy Paragon, and one on a 210mm f/5.6 Wollensak Copy Raptar. I made a special box lensboard to mount my 14" f/9 Red Dot Artar in front of a Packard for use with my 5X7 Eastman #2 View. My 305 Nikkor and 9" Paragon are used with Toyo monorail cameras and my 210 Raptar is used on a 5X7 B&J with a sliding split back.

Here's how I make a front mount:

First, make sure that you have an appropriate size shutter, i.e., don't use a shutter with a 2" opening if the diameter of the front lens is 3". I use shutters that have openings just larger, but as close to the size of the diameter of the front filter size as possible. On a related note, while it won't hurt to use a larger shutter, I don't recommend using a shutter with a 4" opening on a lens that's 3" in diameter. Get as close as possible. I go larger IF I plan on front mounting filters and want to be able to access the filter threads on the front of the lens.

Next, on 1/2" plywood, use a compass and draw a circle the same size as the outside diameter of the front of the lens barrel. 5 ply Birch from the hobby store is great for this, though you may need to use 2 layers of 1/4". If that is the case, laminate them using contact cement before doing any marking or cutting. Using the same center point, draw another circle about 3/4" to 1" larger diameter, just make sure your second circle is at least 3/4" larger than the opening of the shutter. Use a scroll saw, coping saw, or whatever you havc available to cut the circle out. This will form the basis of the lens mount.

Using 1/4" Birch plywood (once again, from the hobby store), make a blank square the same size as your shutter. Mark the center of the square and use your compass to draw a circle just larger than the size of your shutter opening. Cut out the circle from the center of the square. Place your shutter (felt side down) on the 1/4" thick square and mark for the mounting holes in the corners. Put the shutter aside for a while.

Here's the fun part. Take your 1/2" thick donut that you cut and see if you got the size right by GENTLY pressing the ring over the front of the lens barrel. If it's too tight, you'll know it - if it's too loose, you'll know that as well. You want it to be just snug that it won't fall off with the weight of the shutter on it, but not so snug that it'll scratch the heck out of the barrel. Use fine sandpaper to get the inside cut nice and smooth. If you go too far, you can glue some felt from the craft store on the inside surface to make up the difference. Come to think of it, GO too far and get some felt in there! I don't want to be blamed for people scratching their Artars! Don't glue the felt in yet, you'll be painting the wood parts first.

Once you have the correct inside diameter, use some yellow woodworkers glue to attach the ring to the 1/4" thick plate that you made for the shutter. You may want to use some small (#4) wood screws from the 1/4" side or short brads to help secure the square to the circle. Needless to say, center everything! (sheesh!)

Once the glue has dried, I sand the whole shebang with 150 grit sandpaper and use some flat black spray paint (Krylon is good) as a finish. All that's left is to mount the shutter with small machine screws, washers, and nuts (I use 4-40 size) and add the felt that will protect the front lens barrel.

Voila! Couldn't be easier and you haven't drilled holes in your camera.

If you're interested, I'll make another post about building a box lensboard that houses the Packard and doesn't require drilling holes in the camera body.

Bob Fowler
8-Apr-2004, 13:33
OK, I don't know when to shut up...

I should add that I had originally front mounted a Packard to my 14" R.D. Artar, the box lensboard is a new addition...

Jim Galli
8-Apr-2004, 15:29
Mark, Bob's words and experience is excellent. First though, what is your camera. Things get a lot easier with a 5 1/4" and bigger lens board. If you've got a little tiny Nagaoka 4X5, fuhgeddit. If you've got an old 5X7 B&J Grover it'll just about fall into place like it was made for it. For old cameras with roomy wood boards it can be as simple as spacing it back a quarter inch or so with washers and screwing it down. Finding a metal fitting for passing the air through the board is worthwhile. They're very intuitive and user friendly for B&W shooters that can afford some small amount of exposure latitude. I find I can listen to my Nikon FM at a quarter of a second a couple of times and nail it with a Packard. As to buying new...it's not really necessary. In fact the only packard I ever had a problem with was a NOS late one. I had to take it apart and trim a tiny bit from one of the blades before it started working right. So much for new. I've got some that are 90 years old and only required a dis-assembly and cleaning. Buff that brass piston with a little furniture wax and it'll almost work too good.

David R Munson
8-Apr-2004, 18:01
FWIW, when I had a gorgeous Artar once before I got broke in college and had to sell it (*sob*), I front-mounted a packard shutter using the shutter, part of an empty 4x5 film box, and black gaff tape. Cut a hole in the film box such that it would just fit over the outside of the front of the lens and stay there pretty solidly when it was on, and attached the shutter to the front via gaff tape, making it light tight. Simple, easy, and less than a buck in materials to mount the shutter. Perhaps not the most ideal arrangement for certain long-term uses, but it seemed sturdy enough to be servicable for at least a few years, and even after that it only would require a new film box and a couple feet of gaff tape to re-do it.

Jon Wilson
9-Apr-2004, 12:22
Yes, Bob, please supplement your post to describe how to make a lensbox board for a Packard Shutter. I have a 10" Kodak lens attached to a 6x6 Packard Shutter I am fixing, but would like to use it on my 4x5 Korona (which has a 4x4 inch lensboard opening) and my 5x7 Korona (which has a 4.5 x 4.5 inch lens board opening). In fixing my Packard, one of the brass brads needs to be replaced on part of the shutter blades, I was thinking about cutting down a brass nail and carefully hammering it into a replacement brad for the shutter blade, will this approach work or does anyone have a alternative method. Thanks for your help and just wish to express my appreciation for this excellent forum.

Bob Fowler
9-Apr-2004, 19:09
Jon, since you asked, here's part 2 - a box lens board.

First, a little background is in order...

In traditional internal installations of Packard shutters, the shutter is mounted behind the front standard, often with a short spacer between the shutter and the standard. The problem with this type of installation is that it requires you to bore a hole in the standard, or as I've seen on some cameras, putting a hole in the bellows, for the rubber tube. That is not, in my opinion, a viable option if you want to keep your camera in collectable condition. The internal installation can also cause problems if your lens has a rear cell which protrudes rather deep into the camera body. It is for these reasons that I usually front mount Packard’s, but I have come up with a suitable alternative for rear mounting - a box lens board which carries both the Packard and the lens.

Since each camera and lens combination is different, I'm going to explain the basic concept and you can fill in the blanks yourself (read that as necessary dimensions), to fit your equipment. You don't have to be a Norm Abrams in the woodshop, but you WILL need to have decent woodworking skills to make a usable box lens board.

The box lens board will protrude from the front of your front standard a little. This is great is you're going to use a long focal length lens as it adds a bit of extra extension. Since the box lens board is married to the Packard shutter and to the lens, it won't interfere with your other, modern shuttered, lenses.

The downside to the box lens board is that it can cause problems if you use large degrees of tilt or swing. If you often use extreme movements, I would suggest either spending the money to get the lens shuttered or front mount the Packard.

With the traditional internal installation of a Packard shutter, the felt covered side of the shutter goes towards the lens and the air piston side goes towards the film. In this situation, we will install it bassackwards. This creates an issue with the pin that is used for "instant" exposures. To rectify that, it is necessary to take the Packard apart and drill out the nub that the pin stops against on the piston side of the shutter. We will use brass tube to make an extension that will extend out the front of the box lens board assembly. The shutter doesn't care from what side the pin goes in, just as long as it bottoms out and allows the pin to trip the bar.

The first thing you need to do is determine if this is even possible with your camera/shutter/lens combination. Needless to say, if your lens requires an opening larger than the lens board size, you're screwed. If your camera has a 6X6 inch lens board, there isn't much you can't do. For those 4X4 boards, life isn't so easy and your options are somewhat limited.

I start my planning with a blank lens board, the Packard shutter I plan to use, and the lens that is the root cause of this whole operation. I like to start at the camera end and work forward. I'll use my 5X7 Eastman View #2 (4 1/2" square lens board), 14" Red Dot Artar, and a 4" square (2" opening) #6 Packard as an example.

For purposes of this description, I'll call the actual lens mounting surface of the box lens board the lens plate and the part that attaches to the camera will be the lens board.

The essential numbers:

1) The rear cell of my 14" R.D. Artar extends 9/16" beyond the rear surface of the mounting flange.

2) My sample Packard requires 13/16" mounting depth as measured from the felt covered surface to the end of the actuating pin.

3) The required clearance from the back side of the shutter to the end of the pin is 1/2". A little extra meat here wont hurt so we will call it 5/8".

4) The dimensions of the lens board are: 4 1/2" square, 1/4" thick, with a 1/8" deep - 3/16" wide rabbet cut all around the back face.

5) The distance between the vertical members of the front standard is 6 5/8". This is an important dimension to keep in mind if you camera has lens axis front tilts. For a camera with lens axis tilts, you have to remember that you can't have a box wider than that inside dimension if you plan on tilting the lens. This isn't an issue with the Eastman #2 as it only has rise/fall on the front standard (hey, it's a portrait camera...).

6) The lens board secures to the front standard with a sheet brass slide lock.

7) I want a bit of air between the lens board and the shutter mount so that my slide lock will still be functional. 1/4" is more than enough.

Okay, now that we know what we're up against, it's time to design the box lens board...

Start with a fresh lens board - they're easy to make. If you don't find it easy, don't bother to try the rest of this project! :-) Since my shutter is 4X4" with a 2" hole and my lens board is 4 1/2X 41/2", I'm in good shape. Because the 14" R.D. Artar has plenty of coverage for using all of the available rise on 5X7 film, I'm going to make sure I don't squander any of that by making my hole in the lens board too small. In this case, a 3" hole is fine.

Even though the shutter is only 4X4", I'm not going to be cheap with the materials. We'll make a 6X6" shutter mounting plate from 1/4" Baltic Birch plywood with a 3" diameter hole in the center. While we're at it, we'll cut another 6X6" piece of Baltic Birch plywood for the lens plate. In the case of my 14" R.D. Artar, the lens plate will get a 2 1/4" diameter mounting hole.

Going back to (7) above, we'll cut a spacer ring 4" in diameter with a 3" hole in the center out of 1/4" Baltic Birch plywood. Using yellow carpenters glue, attach the spacer ring to the lens board. While that's drying, mark and drill the shutter mounting plate for the mounting screws for the Packard. I like using 4-40 cap screws and blind nuts. If you're not familiar with them, blind buts look like inverted top-hats with little teeth that come off the face of the flange. They are press fit into the back side of the mounting plate and the teeth dig into the wood. Using them makes any maintenance required later a bit easier. You can get them in just about any good hobby store. While you're drilling and installing blind nuts, install one in each corner. To mark for the corner blind nuts, draw diagonal lines from opposite corners of the shutter mounting plate. Drill for the nuts 3/4" down the diagonal lines from each corner. Grab the lens plate that you cut and mark it as you did the shutter mounting plate and drill for the 4-40 machine screws (hint, it's NOT the same drill that you used for the blind nuts, it's smaller). Sandwich the lens plate and the shutter mounting plate together and the corner holes should line right up. Put the lens plate aside.

Now that all 8 blind nuts are installed, it's time to build the box part of the box lens board. If you live next door to Norm, buy a 6-pack and knock on his door. If not, have some fun!

THE most important thing here is that our box is even - NO ski slopes allowed! Without going into a bunch of math (and unless you're building for the exact camera/shutter/lens combo you'll need to do a bit of figuring), I've determined that I want the rear surface of my lens plate to be 7/8" from the front surface of my shutter mounting plate.

An elegant solution would be to make the sides of the box 1 3/8" wide and cut a 1/4 rabbet on both long sides. This serves several purposes: 1) it hides the edges of the shutter mounting plate and the lens plate, and 2) provides more surface area for the glue, and 3) shows off your woodworking skills. The downside is you'll need something thicker than 1/4" ply for the sides and this thing will start to get heavy - and that's before the lens is even mounted.

A not so elegant, much easier, and very practical solution is to do what I did, not worry about the damn edges. You can always use some iron-on veneer later and cover them up. Cut 2 pieces 7/8"X6" and 2 pieces 7/8"X5 1/2" from 1/4" Baltic Birch plywood. Glue the 6" long pieces to what will become the top and bottom sides of the shutter mounting plate, and the 5 1/2" pieces to the left and right sides. You'll want to use something to keep the pieces square to the shutter mounting plate. It's a good idea to do these one at a time. Wipe off any excess glue that oozes out of the seam - neatness counts.

While your handiwork is setting up, take your Packard with you to the hobby store. You've been inside with dust and glue fumes and you can use the break. We're shopping for brass tube, we'll need at least 2, but maybe 3, sizes. You want a piece that will slip over the "nub" that you drill out on the Packard, and the size immediately smaller that will telescope into the "nub" size. You'll also need some tubing that is the right size for the rubber tubing that actuated the Packard. If you're lucky, the "nub" size may work. While you're at it, make sure you have some kind of tool to cut the tubing without crushing it.

Back in the shop: Temporarily mount your Packard in the box - use cap screws washers. Cut a piece of the "nub" size brass tube the height of the nub + 1/4" and slip it over the nub. Put a length of the smaller tubing into the "nub" tube. Place a straight edge across the front of the box and mark the smaller tube 1/8" beyond where it meets the bottom of the straight edge. Cut the smaller tube at the mark.

Set your "nub" tube and the smaller diameter tube aside. With the Packard still in the box, make sure it is completely closes (piston down). Take something that will fit in the hole you drilled for the trip pin (a small drill bit will do), and press it through the nub gently and make a mark on the shutter mounting plate - don't go boring holes, just make a mark.

Take the Packard out of the box. Here's where you get to use some of the geometry you slept though in high school - measure where the mark you made is on the shutter mounting plate and transfer it to the lens plate. On the lens plate, drill a hole the size of the tubing that telescopes into the nub tube. While you're playing with the box, determine where you want the rubber tube to attach (keeping in mind how you'll route the tube inside) and drill a hole for that tubing. Cut a piece of brass tube for the pneumatic system about 1" long.

Use some 5 minute epoxy and attach the nub tube to the nub on the Packard. You'll need to rough up the surface of the shutter and the brass tube with a bit of fine sandpaper. When attaching the nub tube, epoxy it from the outside - you don't want anything getting in the hole. It doesn't have to be pretty, but it has to stay put.

While you've got the epoxy mixed, attach the telescoping tube to the lens plate so that it is flush with the front surface of the plate. Go ahead and epoxy your pneumatic system tube to the box before all the epoxy cures up...

We're almost done! Once the epoxy has cured, paint the entire inside surface of the box and the back of the lens plate with flat black paint. Paint the exposed brass tube black while you're at it - to include the tube you epoxied to the Packard. If you are going to paint or stain the exterior of the box, now's the time. When that's dry, glue a strip of black felt to the forward edges of the box. This will act as an extra light tight seal when the front of the box is attached.

Install the Packard in the box and attach some rubber tube from the piston to the tube you epoxied to the side of the box. Attach the lens plate to the box - be careful that the telescope tube slides into your nub tube - using 4-40 cap head screws and washers. Attach the mounting ring for your lens to the lens plate, screw on your lens, and you're ready to rock 'n roll. You may need to make a longer pin for the "instant" setting - if you've gone this far, that's easy enough.

Oh crap... I didn't mention flash sync... OK, you've got the idea, if your Packard has sync, come up with an elegant way to get that connection to the outside of the box.

The beauty of this system is that you can make additional lens plates IF the shutter will be a good size for the extra lenses and if you have enough internal clearance.

OK, I'll shut up now...

Bob Fowler
9-Apr-2004, 19:26
I can't believe I forgot this... Before you paint the inside of the box, glue the box to the lensboard/spacer ring assembly. Make sure it nice and square...

I just CAN'T believe I forgot to add that...

Oh well...

Pete Watkins
10-Apr-2004, 01:11
I would like to thank Bob for answering every question that has entered my head since considering buying a Packard shutter. I'm gonna buy one. Pete

Jim Galli
11-Apr-2004, 00:09
Cribs, Red light district, Tonopah, Nevada.
Kodak 2D 8X10, 8 1/4" Ilex WA Process Paragon, Packard shutter.
1/4 second f 32 1/2. Taken 04/09/04.

12-Apr-2004, 07:24
Thanks folks. it definately looks like this will be doable-unless I can find a working #4 ilex for the same price.

Richard Årlin
27-Sep-2004, 08:35
I had the idea I could mount a (Packard) shutter in the grove for the bellows behind the front standard, 4x4", then reattach the bellows in a grove on the back of the shutter, lenses would be in i the normal Linhof panels. I know nothing of Packard shutters really, I got the tip when I was looking for a drawing of a shutter you could make yourself. The beast I chase should obviously be operated from the edge and have no parts on the outside of the front or rear.