Restoring The Graphic Crown

it can be done!

Some time ago I purchased this used Graphic Crown. Besides the fact that it has had a bad time and probably due to that, was held mainly together by glue, I was intrigued by its very rare attributes mounted inside and outside the camera body. There was a huge electric switch, including two plugs  found on the right side of the camera, right behind the Kalart Rangefinder and a strange aluminum part inside the housing, what later appeared to be a battery holder. The camera seemed to need a good cleaning, so I decided to dissemble the camera to  all its parts. Not at least to find out the meaning and working of these two unknown attributes.



I had to disassemble the camera completely to  remove all the glue, dust, dirt and rust



The two unknown attributes

On the left: Dismounted battery holder and Focuspot switch.              On the right: The battery holder inside the camera body.


Resulting in the

The Night Hawk 

This modified Crown, probably personalized for night photography by a former press photographer, was equipped with an electric release button on top of the camera and a huge switch, located behind the Kalart rangefinder to control the Focuspot. To power the shutter solenoid, this camera had an extra battery pack inside the housing with an output of 3 volts. The solenoid operates independently from the flash battery holder.

A =  almost hidden behind the solenoid, we find the plug coming from the electric release on top of the camera.

B= Shutter release lever controlled by the solenoid.

C= indicator shows the selected bulb ignition 

D= fires bulb when shutter is open on selected peak by C

There is an extra battery holder attached inside the housing against the top of it. This unit powers the electric release knob on top of the housing which makes the shutter goes off by tripping the Graflex solenoid. (A ) which opens the shutter by release lever ( B). The shutter on its turn makes the flash goes off (D)

After cleaning, rewiring and adjusting, I replaced the electric button on top. Instead of the Heiland, I replaced a Graflite battery holder. I found new parts for the electric switch and after repairing, cleaning  and repainting it, I mounted it on its original location. I connected the Focuspot switch to the BATTERY outlet and the Graphex shutter bi-post to the SHUTTER outlet of the Graflite Flash.

Main switch of the Graflite on


Well, now it is quite easy to take pictures in dimmed light. The photographer can switch on the Focuspot to focus on the subject with  the focus knob using his right hand. Once the subject is in focus, he just has to push the electric button with his left hand forefinger, making the shutter and flash to fire. I believe this is even more fast and secure than the original Graflex configuration, as there is no time lost by moving the right hand and loosing grip of the camera after  focusing, just to find the main switch on the Graflite . Another advantage is the hidden solenoid release cable and  the short Kalart Focuspot wiring. Imagine two more coils hanging around the lens trying to sabotage your picture. Really a very smart construction I'd say !


The Focuspot controlled by the earlier mentioned switch (photo on the right) is powered by the flash battery holder. 

 Now it all works fantastic. Focusing and shooting ...perfect synchronised, swift and reliable.


More about this restoring project



Home Jo Lommen Cameras  Any questions feedback