National Graflex – didn’t win

I was a little hopeful that I would be able to get this one working based on the description of the item before I purchased it … well, I was too hopeful. This is still a cool looking camera to add to my collection, and it is a Graflex !!

The lens is removable so that made it fairly easy to clean. Just pull off the U clip from the back of the lens … then push the lens forward until it can be pulled up-off.

Access the interior lens elements by screwing off the ring in the back and unscrewing the front cell.

There was some slight haze that was easily cleaned off.

Now the main problem with this camera was the shutter. I was anticipating that the shutter curtains were torn … but it appeared that at least the rear curtain was intact. I was able to turn the winding knob and saw that the front curtain was also intact … but the shutter winding would not stay cocked.

Time to open it up …

First remove the hood by removing the four screws at the corners.

There will be a clamping bracket under the screw that also come off.



I removed the plate on the left side and figured out that it is not necessary … but I will show you anyway.

Unscrew the small shutter release knob.

Remove the screw on the rewind knob and remove.

Remove the screws that hold the plate on.

The two bolts you see are holding the spring loaded shutter curtain take-up reels.

Now on to the right side

Remove the screw from the film counter dial. Pull off the dial. Remove the pointer arm.

Remove the screw from the shutter winder dial. Pull off the dial … note that there are multiple parts within the dial.

Remove the screw from the Bulb switch and pull off the little arm.

The mirror set lever has a screw and bolt through it … unscrew both.

Remove the four screws that hold the plate off.

These are the parts for the winding / shutter speed setting knob (including the gear that sits under the plate).

Not much here … and I did not find any info on the web to help me figure this out … so I moved stuff and guessed.

The golden gear at the bottom of the image (that sits under the winding knob) appeared to be the cause of the problems.

I can turn it to cock the shutter, but it would just freely wind back.

I pulled it off to take a look at what was happening underneath.

Ok, some more turning and guessing.

The gear underneath is responsible for moving the front shutter curtain. It was locking in place fine.

The gear that I removed (that was on top of it) is responsible for the rear curtain … and also locks it in place.

The toothed lever on the bottom looks like it locks the top gear.



Looking under the top gear … I can see that the tooth was worn down, so it no long could catch.

I would have to either mill a new part (I don’t have a mini milling machine) or get a replacement part.

Hopefully this will be of help for anyone else that is going to tackle restoring one of these … this one is sitting with the rest of my camera collection.

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