, Jo Lommen collecting, using, restoring classic press cameras Restoring The Crown Graphic

Pacemaker Crown Graphic

more about the restoring project

By Jo Lommen

Unpacking the new purchased camera is like a birthday present. On the other hand it is not a surprise to find your new purchase in a filthy and neglected condition. Especially if the eBay offer reads  "Sold as is" and " I'm not familiar with old cameras". These are definitely expressions which should make you suspicious about the condition. However for some people like me, it can be a challenge. A challenge for the real restorer. In this particular case the 4x5 Graflex Crown seemed to be personalised by a professional press photographer as it was equiped with a home made electric circuit housed in socket next to the Kalart rangefinder to power the focuspot. This accessory was useful to focus in dimmed light. Another very interesting self-made device was the electric release knob on top of the camera to fire the solenoid trigger on the lens board. All together a real personalised press camera. As it is a Crown and thus lacking a focal plane shutter the camera is not very useful for fast moving  objects such as motor sports, but thanks to its light weight excellent for street and society work.

Obviously, the camera  has been used over several decades. Repair marks, personal adaptations and for all, hard treatment were clearly visible on the camera body. The fact that the camera was still in working order, proves the ultimate quality of these Graflex cameras.  Carefully removing dirt, dust and rust was the first action and it was no surprise to find the electric wires completely brittle and even burned due to a shortcut. Reason why I decided only to clean the camera and further leave it in its "original" state by using its electric shutter release system. I used the home made battery holder inside the housing and the electric push button on top of the camera. It this case cleaning means a complete overhauling and restoring. Most of the projecting parts were affected by rust and I had to clean and sand them and finally spray them matt black. Here below some photos of the restoration work.

Left, the home made socket with the power cord to the Focuspot.
Middle, socket inside worn wiring and on the right the power case.

Left, inside the top housing. Middle and right, the socket connected to
the flash battery case.

Worn parts not usable anymore.

Complete overhauling of each part separately.


Watch this video to see how the electric release does it job.
It enables the photographer to concentrate on the subject while his left index-finger almost automatically finds the electric release knob.
No shaking, no lost of concentration. Easy does it.



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