Operation of Solonoid

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On some of the old pictures and in the for sale photo's I notice some lens boards have a solonoid for conection to the flash. Is this an "add on" item. When is it a necessity. What flash by graphlex, if any, is this required. Are they available should I need one. Thanxs.

-- Paul Florio (skweegee@skweegeephoto.com), February 19, 1999


The solenoid was used to trigger the old flash bulbs. They are not accurate enough to trigger electronic flash. They are probably still available somewhere, but only if you are trying to restore a camera, but not use it, as finding flashbulbs would probably be harder than finding the solenoid. They were used when the shutter assembly didnt have any type of flash sync built in.

-- Ron Shaw (shaw9@llnl.gov), February 19, 1999.

The solenoid was used to introduce a short delay (about 20 milliseconds) to allow the old flashbulbs to build up to their full output. It isnt needed for electronic flash. It is a handy way to trip the shutter remotely, however.

-- Tony Brent (ajbrent@mich.com), February 21, 1999.

O.k. guys. It's time for an old-timer who used 4x5 Speed Graphics in the newspaper business, to chime in. The solenoid was connected to to the battery case so that the shutter could be fired from the more cofortable and better balanced position obtained by having the left hand in the camera strap and the right hand up toward the top of the battery case. That was where the electric momentary switch was located. Pushing the switch would both fire the shutter and the flashbulb in sync. When we went to strobes, we kept the battery case and mounted the flash of the strobe on top, in place of the flashbulb reflector. We connected a second cord from the stobe head to the shutter sync bi-pole. This way, we continued to have the good balance, fired the camera - and the new strobe - from the same electronic switch on the battery case, AND MAYBE, didn't have to learn a whole new way to work. Oh, you young fellas should also remember that the strobe brought along the battery case. Initially, that was for a wet-cell. The darned pack weighed 20 pounds. I suppose you could consider the advent of the battery pack just more balance, since we already carried at least 20 pounds worth of film holders on the other shoulder!!

-- Dick Fish (dfish@javanet.com), February 21, 1999.

The solenoid had nothing to do with remote triggering. The solenoid was activated by the small arm located on a sliding bracket. The Speed Graphic has a shutter button located on the side, connected to a cable release, which bends around and comes out to a small bracket on the front standard. An arm on this sliding bracket depressed the arm on the shutter assembly to trip a leaf shutter, and also depressed the plunger on top of the solenoid, to trigger the flash bulbs.

-- Ron Shaw (shaw9@llnl.gov), February 22, 1999.

Ron, my boy, I beg to differ! The solonoid pulls the arm down when activated, not the reverse. You attach the solonoid cord from the battery case to the solonoid as Dick described and then activate everything with the button on the battery case itself, bypassing the cable release. Of course you can use a long cord with a release button [Graflex made one for the purpose - I have one] attached to the battery case so the camera can be activated from a distance - using the solonoid to trip the shutter. Been there - done that.

-- Alec Jones (alecj@bellsouth.net), February 22, 1999.

Well...mine doesnt. Maybe there were several types for different applications.

-- Ron Shaw (shaw9@llnl.gov), February 22, 1999.

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