My amazing Craigslist Speed Graphic find (sorry, pic heavy)

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Trevor Whitaker, Apr 10, 2014.

  1. Trevor Whitaker

    Trevor Whitaker Subscriber

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    I've been looking for a Speed Graphic off and on for a few months, taking my time looking for a good one at a good price while reading and learning more about them. I've only checked Craigslist once or twice and there were never any local, just ads up in Los Angeles for them but I was poking around on eBay and a few other sites and figured I'd check CL too. I'm so glad I did, two hours before I checked someone posted an ad for one local to me listed as being nearly new in box. I contacted him immediately and we made an appointment to meet so he could show me the camera.

    I went over to his studio this morning to take a look and there was no way I wasn't walking out with this. The Speed was in it's original box with all of the original paperwork and (for some odd reason) what looks like a brand new baby Speed film holder (this is a 4x5 SG) and came with a box of three brand new 4x5 holders, a brand new Graflite Reflector, a flash (not new) and a some bulbs (both blue and clear).

    The focal plane shutter works smoothly at all speeds and looks/sounds accurate but I'll test it later. The lens is a Kodak 127mm f4.7 in a Syncro-Compur shutter, it's going to need a CLA because it's sticky in all of the slow speeds.

    He said he's owned it for about 12-13 years and got it from a friend who worked at a small college. The college was cleaning out old storerooms and throwing everything away when they found a couple of boxes of photo equipment. His friend knew he was a photographer and called him and asked if he wanted any of it. He said he went over and took a look but most of it was junk except for the Speed. He only took it and the accessories here and has owned it since. It appeared to be brand new when he got it and he's never actually used it other than to unpack it and fire the shutter on the lens to see if it worked.

    Sorry, not the greatest photos, I was excitedly opening and taking quick shots when I got home. I can't wait to get this out and give it a go!
     

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  2. Paul Cunningham

    Paul Cunningham Subscriber

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    Nice score!
     
  3. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    I really, really understand!

    My Crown is the same vintage and was a similar deal. After purchasing a semi-beater just to confirm I'd like it, I waited for a nice one. It magically appeared on That Auction Site in the form of an original owner sale. He had bought it new for his son, who used it once or twice, then decided it wasn't for him. He wanted a Hasselblad instead. So it got packed up and sat in a closet just waiting for me.

    Everything on it is still shiny brand new and silky smooth. I had the Optar shutter serviced by Carol Flutot, who said it was one of the cleanest low mileage ones she had ever seen. I now treat this camera like it's made of gold. If it ever gets a scratch I'll just cry.

    It's the best out-in-the-open street camera you'll ever use. Strangers just love it. People still sometimes get upset, but only if I don't approach them for their picture. Use it with the flashbulbs, and eager worshipful subjects will appear out of nowhere and do whatever you ask...

    :tongue:

    I'm now hoping against hope that the New55 Film people can actually make that happen. I've pledged, and subsequently upped my pledge amount. I've also purchased a near-mint Polaroid 545 holder as a sign of cosmic faith. I can't imagine a more unique street portrait setup.

    Ken
     
  4. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    A great find!

    Jeff
     
  5. Axle

    Axle Member

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    Sweet Score! That Ektar Lens will not let you down.

    Lens is from '56 if you care :tongue:
     
  6. Trevor Whitaker

    Trevor Whitaker Subscriber

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    I'm going to have to get it repaired, anything under 1/25 the shutter sticks open. The glass is pristine so I'll definitely have it repaired or the shutter replaced.
     
  7. shutterfinger

    shutterfinger Subscriber

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    What is the serial number of the camera?
     
  8. Trevor Whitaker

    Trevor Whitaker Subscriber

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    926533
     
  9. shutterfinger

    shutterfinger Subscriber

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    926533 is #3 of an order of 2200 listed to be built in late August 1957. Possibly made September to November 1957, lens is most likely original.

    While the FPS may be running smoothly it would be a good idea to inject some fresh medium weight graphite grease into the hole in the center of the curtain roller bushings or remove the bushings, clean them out, lube, and reinstall them. They are the chrome things on the left (handle) side of the body, they unscrew from the body.
    Service manual: http://www.southbristolviews.com/pics/Graphic/manual-pdf/servicemanual.pdf
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 10, 2014
  10. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Great find! You really lucked out! Finds like these are so rare, it's nice to see the original packaging. Happy shooting!
     
  11. jimjm

    jimjm Subscriber

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    Great find Trevor! That's got to be the cleanest Speed/Crown Graphic I've ever seen. Many of these cameras have had a hard life as press photographer's tools and it's a testament to their quality that so many are still in use.

    I just picked up a '54 Crown Graphic in very good shape (not as nice as yours), but very easy to re-calibrate the rangefinder, clean the VF and lube the focusing rails. It's been great for some informal portrait photos and street shooting and always gets comments from people. I have the same flash unit and it works perfectly. I have a 127mm Ektar on another 4x5 camera and it is a very highly regarded lens, although it has a small image circle - so limited movement on 4x5.

    We actually have a APUG group here in SD and had a few meetups last year, so hopefully we'll get another one going before summer arrives (check out APUG Groups > Regional).
     
  12. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    Great find!
    Keep the poor thing out of that cardboard prison and let it finally make pictures, it's been waiting around too long:smile:
     
  13. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Wow, a great deal. Nice camera, I have one like it and love it.
     
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  15. Trevor Whitaker

    Trevor Whitaker Subscriber

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    I guess the rangefinder and rangelite don't work correctly. Inside there's a small round spring that's supposed to hold the lever up against the installed cam but it came loose and is just sort of hanging there. I see the spring in the repair manual but it doesn't indicate how it's supposed to be installed, does anyone have any pointers on that?
     
  16. shutterfinger

    shutterfinger Subscriber

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    what figure and index?
     
  17. Trevor Whitaker

    Trevor Whitaker Subscriber

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  18. shutterfinger

    shutterfinger Subscriber

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    Take a look at pdf page 6 manual page 4 (service instructions) Parallex Lever section of fig 4. If it does not become apparent where the spring ends connect post a picture. Does the spring look like the IPB fig 2 index 16?, if not it may be broken.
     
  19. Trevor Whitaker

    Trevor Whitaker Subscriber

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    That diagram doesn't show this spring, it only shows the one on top attached to the parallax lever. There's another spring on the inside of the camera that goes around the post attached to that same lever (the post is shown in dotted lines in that diagram) and the lower lever that is up against the "rangefinder arm" there.

    This is a picture of the spring I'm talking about that has come loose:
     

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  20. Trevor Whitaker

    Trevor Whitaker Subscriber

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    I should add:

    Its a round spring that goes around the post. One end is attached to the lower parallax lever and the other looks like it should hook onto something but it's just loose so the spring is also loose.
     
  21. shutterfinger

    shutterfinger Subscriber

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    Spring-Rangefinder arm should connect the clip end to either the rangefinder arm or the parallax actuator. The parallax actuator should be secured to the shaft and operate the shaft. The plain end of Spring-Rangefinder arm should go between the shaft and the case or to the rear of the shaft and against the screw/washer to the immediate left of the parallax shaft.
    Spring-rangefinder arm appears to be deformed suggesting it was snagged when removing a cam at some point in time.
     
  22. Trevor Whitaker

    Trevor Whitaker Subscriber

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    Got it, thanks.

    I was thinking of getting it a CLA anyway, I guess I'll see if I can get this fixed at the same time.

    I'm new to Speeds, any recommendations on someone to do a CLA/repair?
     
  23. shutterfinger

    shutterfinger Subscriber

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    Me.
     
  24. Zathras

    Zathras Subscriber

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    Do you work on Graflex SLR's?
     
  25. shutterfinger

    shutterfinger Subscriber

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    Yes.
     
  26. Shootar401

    Shootar401 Member

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    Download the maintenance manual and do it yourself. It's fun easy and doesn't require any special tools. I rebuilt both of my Speeds over the winter.