issue with kodak flash supermatic shutter

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by erikcameron, Apr 4, 2012.

  1. erikcameron

    erikcameron Member

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    Hi all. I'm having an issue with the No. 2 Flash Supermatic (image attached) on my Pacemaker Speed Graphic. (It's a 2x3 SG, so technically medium format, but given the shutter, it seemed like the thread belonged here. Let me know if I should repost in Medium Format.) The shutter works fine, except that it doesn't seem to close its flash contacts. Here's what I've got:

    1. I don't have much to test with, so I opened up my Holga and attached jumper leads to the hot shoe wires. I then hooked up an el cheapo flash to the Holga. Just to be sure, connecting the other ends of the jumper cables caused the flash to fire, as it should.

    2. I clipped the other ends of the jumpers to the flash posts on the Supermatic, fired the shutter, and... nothing. No flash pop. Unless I'm mistaken, this should have caused the flash to at least fire, even if the sync was off. (Am I mistaken? And yeah, I made sure I was tripping the front shutter.)

    3. The flash did go off a few times when I was futzing around with the Supermatic: at least once when I tried cocking the flash delay, and then at least once when I cocked the shutter itself. (Not when I fired it, though.) I couldn't reproduce it though, and I'm not sure what was going on there.

    I'm hardly an expert on this stuff, so it's completely possible I'm doing something wrong. If not, any advice for proceeding? I have your basic technical inclinations, but I've never opened a shutter before. (Also, if your advice is to just have it CLA'd, any good recommendations, particularly in the Chicago area?)

    Thanks all,
    -Erik

    P.S. The end goal of all of this is to use an electronic flash with the Speed Graphic. I'm aware that the Supermatic doesn't have any labeled X-sync---only M and F in the little window---but I've read in several places that firing this shutter without cocking the flash delay should provide X-sync. If anyone has comments on this, I'd love to hear.
     

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  2. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Erick... here's one thing to consider. Makeshift cords often result in frustration when testing a shutter. Get a real cord and re-run your tests... your results will be a lot more consistent and easier to interpret.
     
  3. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    p.s. M and F is for flash bulbs and cannot be used for strobes. You will need to have X to use a strobe. The manual for that shutter is easily googled and should answer your question about X synch capability. I don't know off-hand if you are correct or not but seem to remember hearing that too. But for testing purposes you can use a strobe to find out if the shutter synch mechanism works. The only thing you will not be able to determine is if the delay time is correct.
     
  4. erikcameron

    erikcameron Member

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    Thanks. I wasn't too worried about the cable---as I said, shorting the jumper ends fired the flash consistently, but maybe there's something else I haven't considered. About the manual, all I've been able to find online are hardcopy repair manuals for auction. (I think it's probably best for both me and my shutter that I don't start there...) I haven't found any operation manuals for it. Presumably when you went and bought one new in '49, you'd get an operations manual with it; the service manual is for the repair folks, right? butkus.org has a general thing on Kodak shutters, but nothing for the Supermatic in particular.

    If I can actually get the thing to fire, my plan is to get under a darkcloth, look into the lens from behind, and fire the flash at a blank wall. I should be able to see if it's syncing properly that way. But, like I said... Have to get the thing to fire at all first.

    -E
     
  5. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I might be wrong about the manuals. I thought I had one but it might be on my home computer... or maybe my memory has failed.

    I recently (re)learned the makeshift flash cord issue all over again. After getting a gen-u-whine cord my shutter magically started working reliably. Give it a try!
     
  6. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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  7. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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  8. erikcameron

    erikcameron Member

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    Brian---many thanks for the Graphic manual. (I was looking for a manual for the shutter, rather than the camera---thinking too much for my own good again, apparently.) And yeah, I'd seen those two forum threads. Those, the manual and other sources seem to confirm that the shutter has "natural" x-sync.

    And about the cord, I'll try to track one down and give it a try. Mysterious creatures, cords are sometimes.
    -E
     
  9. erikcameron

    erikcameron Member

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    Update: a little more digging turned up another possibility. (I just signed up, so I don't think I can post links yet?) Flash Supermatics apparently contain a 10K resistor between one of the posts and chassis/ground, designed to prevent accidental flash bulb pops while setting up the lens. A few sources, including one quoting a 1958 copy of Graphic Graflex Photography, suggest that in order to use electronic flash, this resistor should be shorted out. Same source details a non-destructive way of doing this by loosening the correct flash post, and running a little copper wire from the post threads to the screw holding the flash post block.

    If I can confirm 10K ohms between one of the posts and ground (i.e., using a multimeter to verify the resistor is there without cracking open the shutter) I'll give it a whirl and let you all know how it goes. (That should also bring me up to five posts, so I can link to my now-mysterious sources.)

    -E
     
  10. erikcameron

    erikcameron Member

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    Success.

    As expected, the top flash post read 10K ohms to the shutter dial. I shorted the top post to the dial, repeated the experiment, and I now appear to have functioning x-sync. I put the flash and camera facing a whiteboard in a dim room, opened the lens all the way and looked straight in under a darkcloth---the flash was obvious.

    I'm now going to semi-permanently connect the top post to ground. In case anybody stumbles on this thread trying to do the same thing: if you perform this modification, really don't try to then use flashbulbs with the sync posts. The 10K resistor is apparently there to prevent flashbulbs from exploding in your face while you're setting the shutter speed. (In M/F sync mode, the resistor is cut out of the circuit at the decisive moment.)

    I'm constantly impressed with this camera. Every time I think it's broken, I'm just using it wrong.
    -E
     
  11. erikcameron

    erikcameron Member

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    ...aaand now that my post count is up to 5, I can post this link. Here's the Graflex-approved method for doing this non-destructively, and without disassembling the shutter:

    http://graflex.org/helpboard/viewtopic.php?t=389

    Also: everyone remember to be careful around trigger voltages on old flashes!
     
  12. erikcameron

    erikcameron Member

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    By the way, (sorry! last post!) a few notes on actually performing this modification, as opposed to reading about it:

    1. When they say "don't unscrew the flash post all the way," they're serious. Mine came off, revealing a tiny metal bushing. I didn't realize it was (a) spring loaded and (b) spring-extended with the bushing outside the body. I took one little tug at it to free some wire from a botched wrap, and it retracted back into the shutter frame. I spent the next 30 minutes trying to coax it back out again.

    2. Because the bushing is spring loaded, the post will not appear to move out from the body as you unscrew it. So: unscrew it a little, and then gently pull up on the post; the bushing will extend from the body and give you space to slip in a little copper wire. You can then just screw it back it to tighten.

    3. The wire needs to be pretty small, and flexible. I pulled a single strand out of some bundled speaker cable from my stereo.

    Anyway, it works great. In my test setup I got a nice, big bright circle of light at 1/400s. This should work for any Kodak Flash Supermatic. Here's a pic, before I cover the vulnerable part. flash_mod.jpg