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Thread: Wollensak Shutters

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Frisco, Texas

    Wollensak Shutters

    Recently, I acquired two Wollensak shutters:

    (1) a Rapax with 108mm. f 6.8 Raptar wide angle (Wocoated). The smell of fungus or mold was overpowering but the glass is pristine; perhaps they were not always together. It did not work "right." I cleaned, lubricated and "adjusted" it and freed-up the lever keeping the shutter open at all speeds. I fussed with it until I figured it out. A small round spring fell out; I recognized it as being the spring that always falls out of a Kodak Supermatic. Cleaning included use of Isopropyl alchohol and much sunlight to kill fungus. It works well on all speeds, all functions: see below.

    (2) a Graphex with a coated Graflex Optar W. A., 90mm. f6.8 that I think is a Wollensak wide angle. It too did not work well but there were no excess parts and no mold or fungus but after cleaning, lubricating and "adjusting" including the lever that keeps shutter open at all speeds it got the sunlight treatment for ultraviolet to kill fungus & mold. Works well now.

    Reason for this note is to state that I think they are superbly made, well conceived and well executed; my experience to date has been on Compurs and Kodak Supermatics. The Wollensak may be more difficult to take down and reassemble but what I saw is well made.

    The only negative is that when screwing into place the black label plate on the 90mm.,, it is too close to the rimsetting speed selector and binds it. Either Wollensak or an aftermarket craftsman figured out how to avoid this using two spacer rings that look like lens flanges including the outside notches but without threads; the two stacked on each other are less than 1/8" and the two retaining screws fit into and through the notches to screw into the body.

    To hold it all (two spacers, label plate, shutter, screw driver and small screw) in place while reassembling, I used a seamstress trick: twice as tacky white glue to hold the shutter and two spacers in place but movable and better than a magnetized screwdriver (in my opinion) a dab on the screw driver or screw head. The glue is not waterproof and metal to metal parts can be separated as a dentist removes a cap but I forsee no need to ever remove the two spacers thar are not covering the works.

    Again, the quality of these shutters was a pleasant surprise.


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Minneapolis, MN

    Re: Wollensak Shutters

    But if one of your shutters smells like fungus it will almost certainly infect any glass, cameras, etc you put on it unless you clean it thoroughly with serious solvents. Some people would rather toss out equipment with fungus infection rather than let it spread to the rest of their gear.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    now in Tucson, AZ

    Re: Wollensak Shutters

    I don't know about fungus, but I'm not surprised that Wollensak shutters were well made. They were pioneers in leaf-shutter design, and their shutters were meant for hard professional use. Of course Wollensak also made many fine lenses; most lenses labelled 'Graflex Optar' were made by them, your 90/6.8 among them. Congratulations on resurrecting two fine vintage pieces!

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