Category Archives: Vintage Cameras

Nikon S Rangefinder CLA

Here are the simple steps to clean a 1951 Nikon S Rangefinder camera. I’ve read that the  Nikon One and Nikon M are similar except for the Accessory shoe does not need to be removed on the S. Also the film advance knob does not need to be removed, but for cleaning, simple loosen the set screw and unscrew the knob (ccw)

remove rewind knob-1

loosen but do not remove the set screw….
remove rewind knob-2

put something in the forks of the rewind rod and unscrew (ccw) the knob on top.
remove shutter button guard

unscrew guard (ccw) then with a gripper of some sort, unscrew the shutter button (ccw)
remove shutter speed dial

first set the slow speed dial to 1/20, then lift the shutter speed dial and turn it until you can see the set screw in the slot (looking from backside) loosen but DO NOT remove the set screw. unscrew the shutter speed dial (ccw).. I found it necessary to first advance the shutter.
slow speed dial-1

with a sharpie, mark a dot above the set screws on the inner flange. this is the slow speed cam that as you rotate the slow speed dial, it increases or decreases pressure on the slow speed linkage that is connected to the slow speed escapement, so this method will make sure you get it’s position back to factory setting on re-assambly
slow speed dial-2

loosen but do NOT remove the set screws…
slow speed dial-3

on top of the slow speed dial, there is a split-ring, carefully remove it, don’t let it fly across the room. lift off the dial…
remove body screws

now remove the perimeter screws from around the top plate 3 in back and 2 in front (1 on each corner) then remove this screw in front of the accessory shoe. it is not necessary to remove the advance knob or the accessory shoe
 top plate removed

with the top plate removed, there is a spring under where the shutter release button was, take it off so you don’t loose it.
slow speed cam

here is the slow speed cam you marked with the sharpie. see how it is graduated? that is why it is important that it goes back as factory set for proper slow speeds
 inside top-1

here is the inside of the top under the shutter speed dial area. the yellow arrow points to the lever that is in contact with the slow speed cam. the red arrow points to the shutter closing curtain release lever, the closing curtain release cam is resting against it. the crescent moon shape above the yellow arrow is the RF mirror housing. clean with lighter fluid and give a tiny spot of grease on the lever at the contact point (at red arrow) clean all gears with lighter fluid, being careful not to let it soak down onto the curtains.
inside top-2

under top plate in the RF/VF area. the boxy part is the prism cover, nothing to clean under there, the red arrow points to the cam that moves as you focus the lens. at the other end of the cam it is in contact with the Horiz. adjust screw. cleaning the optics is not that easy on the inside, basically I just did the external glass and the small mirror. It was good enough and a 90% improvement
remove front plate

unscrew the 6 screws, (circled) the two at the bottom are longer. lift the bottom first then slide up to clear the focus dial.
front plate removed

here, I cleaned the front of the VF/RF glass plates. I looked at it with a loupe and noticed spider web type fungus. use a 50/50 mix of household ammonia and hydrogen peroxide to clean fungus.
remove film plate

remove the 4 screws (circled) gives access to cleaning gears on the shutter curtains.
film plate removed

at the bottom of the curtain area I cleaned gears the best I could with lighter fluid staying clear of getting fluid on the curtains.
gear fell out

this gear fell out… [next]
 gear goes here

…simply set the gear with the forks down back over the shutter release button rod and rotate it until it seats flush with the bottom.
remove bottom plate

under here are the curtain tension adjust screws. I didn’t need to adjust anything. always clean and lube before determining if you need to adjust or not.
 bottom plate removed

under here is the curtain tension adjust screws. I didn’t need to adjust anything. always clean and lube before determining if you need to adjust or not. clean the gears with lighter fluid careful not to get the curtains.
one culprit

this is the second camera that this rod has been the culprit of a misfiring shutter (other was a Leica IIIa), . the rod that the closing curtain release lever rests on. it was loose, caused shutter to not close every time. usually have to wind film advance knob to close it.
replace top plate/slow speed dial-1

here is how it should look before putting the top plate back on. thinnest part of the cam as shown to clear the slow speed actuating rod on re-assembly. do the trick from image 10 in reverse to get it positioned properly…. while looking down on it after the top is put back on, rotate the cam itself clockwise so the cog clears the post it rests against.
replace top plate-2

with the slow speed dial set to “T” this is about how the dot line up. after slipping the top plate on, turn the dial to “20” and with your thumb or a screwdriver, rotate clockwise the inner cam until the dots line up with the set screws. replace the split-ring and tighten the set screws.
 finished

finished the partial CLA of my 1951 Nikon S. work done: partial disassembly, removed top and bottom and film plates, cleaned RF/VF optics, cleaned gears, moving parts lubed where appropriate repaired loose parts.

The slow speed dial is not as complicated as it may seem. basically you need to clear that linkage with the cam as you re-assemble. It’s a fairly easy camera to work on except I’m not sure how to get at the shutter curtains for replacement.

Industar-69 Easy Infinity Focus Fix

This is my fix for the Industar-69 28mm 1:2.8 pancake lens famous infinity focus problem. I read several tutorials and pieced them together and came up with this non-destructive hack that still allows an infinity stop and close focus stop with only one minor setback of the aperture scale mark.

I used a digital camera for this fix which I suppose 90% of the uses for this lens is but, if you have an old 35mm film camera with the M39, Leica screw mount (with a hinged or removable back plate) you can use this lens too, just use a frosted glass plate of some kind, a removable SLR focus screen works good, or I’ve even used scotch tape pulled tight over the film guides to focus test lenses.

simply loosen (not remove) the three set screws on the side of the focus ring and lift off ring.

remove the stud near the bottom of the lens, (red arrow) it is the close-focus stop. leave the stud in the focus ring and the top stud next to the red focus mark (red circle) it is the infinity stop.

As mentioned above, leave the top stop-post and the post in the focus ring but remove the lower post.

screw in the lens group clockwise all the way until it stops. do not force.

turn the lens over and clean any grime and grease that gets pushed out while the lens group is screwed in. we don’t want any of this falling on the sensor.

mount the lens on the camera. with the aperture wide open, now back the lens group out (counter-clockwise) slowly until you see it is focused at infinity.
When you get the lens group where you want it, gently put the focus ring back on with the studs touching for the infinity stop and the infinity mark and red arrow are lined up. carefully tighten each set screw until the focus ring is secure.

all set! now the lens stops at infinity and it will stop the other way around now too but a much closer focus is now possible.
But wait! the aperture scale doesn’t line up with the red dot any more (red arrow). I simply made a new mark with a 1/16″ drill bit and painted it red and covered up the old mark with my silver sharpie.

The lens top won’t be pointing up, even before this fix because the depth of the mounting thread group is shallower than a standard M39 lens. This lens was originally on a Soviet CHAIKA half frame camera. The lens could also be mounted on an enlarger.

Here are a few images taken with this lens.

Redmen’s Hall, Jacksonville Oregon  @f/11. pretty good clarity.

some milkiness to the original, fixed here (above)

Redmen’s Hall back. wide-open @f/2.8 note the edge focus and there is some flare on the reflections

(above) This led me to believe the elements themselves needed to be cleaned. Indeed, I removed the rear element and with my loupe, found tiny spider-web fungus on the rear element of the front group just in front of the aperture blades, (a usual spot) I cleaned it with a 50/50 mix of hydrogen peroxide and household ammonia (put some on a Q-tip, wet area, let set 5 min. wipe dry, clean with fresh water, repeat if nec.)

in some cases the fungus had no effect, this is a nice clear shot.

This is a fun little lens. It is said that it’s glass is modeled after a Tessar. Great quality and uber cheap. I got mine on eBay from the Ukraine for $28 with free shipping. I could have got it cheaper but you want sellers with good feedback from Ukraine and Russia.

 

 

 

1937 Zeiss Ikon ~ Contax II CLA

my 1937 Contax II came to me in pretty good condition. it just needed the shutter mechanism cleaned and lubed. and the optics in the RF/VF cleaned.
my 1937 Contax II came to me in pretty good condition. it just needed the shutter mechanism cleaned and lubed. and the optics in the RF/VF cleaned.

Giving my 1937 Zeiss Ikon Contax II as best of a CLA (clean, lube, adjust) as I could without dismantling the mechanism itself, I doused with lighter fluid twice, avoiding the shutter slats, tapes and glue, which is fairly easy as, everything is on one side. then I oiled a few choice spots, avoiding escapements.

With the help from forum friends, I fixed a problem with the Infinity on the RF, the previous hacker put the longer screws on the RF side of the front plate and they were preventing the plano-convex lens from traveling all the way to the side.

I also removed foam light seals from the film back surround. originally there were no light seals (so I’ve read} around the camera back. The Kiev clones used Yak hair as a seal. I’m opting to use my smaller size black yarn just to be safe on this 80 year old camera.

I re-glued a loose flap of leatherette and cleaned with Meguiar’s leather foam. I touched up some rubbed off chrome on the top plate with my faux chrome plating kit.

Here are the steps to open it up, remove the shutter cage from the frame and clean. I did not disassemble the shutter mechanism itself, it is for experts and usually is not necessary to clean it.

remove rewind knob

remove the single center screw
rewind knob removed

here are the rewind knob parts. the wavy washer goes back on bumps-up
remove body screws

remove the 2 body screws that were under the rewind knob (circled). note the excess grease put on by a previous owner (blue arrow), The knob had it too. There is no need to grease this knob here.
remove winding lever center

there are 3 screws around the knob. remove all three, not just loosen. carefully lift off the center disc, there is a spring for the shutter button underneath.
shutter buton

here is how the shutter button goes back in the knob for reassembly. note the grooves and blade spring
remove advance knob

remove the 3 screws (circled) for the film advance/shutter speed select knob.
remove speed scale

remove these 2 screws (circled) and remove the shutter speed scale disc. There is a washer under (2? mine had 1 but the Kiev had 2)
remove single screw

this screw (circled) is under the frame advance/shutter speed select knob.
lift off chrome top plate

gently lift off the chrome top plate, watch out for the frame counter disc, it may fall out.
frame counter disc

here is how it goes back on for reassembly if it fell off. remove it now if it didn’t fall off
remove cast top plate

remove the 2 black screws (circled)
remove cast top plate

remove these 2 black screws, the one on the upper left is different than the other so make note.
cast top removed

carefully remove the cast top plate. there is a gear that might fall out.
loose gear

this probably won’t fall out but here’s where it goes on reassembly if it did. if it didn’t fall out, remove it now.
remove shutter cover

remove the 4 screws (circled) and make note of any size differences. there is a persnickety screw inside the hole (blue arrow) that holds the sprocket roller bracket. It must be carefully removed so the bracket is loose so you can slide the cover downward as you lift. like I said, lift the bottom of the cover slightly as you slide downward on the shutter cover box, then lift off.
sprocket bracket

you may want to put it’s screw back in temporarily so you can play with the shutter later while cleaning and testing.
 remove screw here

notice I put the winding knob back on. this makes a nice handle to hold onto as you lift out the shutter cradle. you can take the screw out (circled) first if you like, it was kind of tricky with the knob in the way.
 remove screws

remove these 2 screws and make note of the size differences
remove this rod-screw

from the film chamber side, remove this support rod-screw
bottom screw

remove this final screw on the bottom
lift out cradle

gently lift out the shutter cradle, there are no springs or anything that will fly across the room so don’t worry. You will however hear a slight click, this is the arm of the self timer coming free.
self timer

here is the self timer. feel free to test it and clean it if necessary. mine worked fine so I left it alone
shutter gears

contax_cla-27e
I doused everything you see here with Zippo fluid, avoiding the shutter tapes and glued areas of course. later I oiled a few choice spots with singer SM oil. (red arrows) use just a tiny bit, like half of a drop and work the gears after each drop. Avoid the slow speed gears (yellow arrows) you don’t want them to gum up.
shutter gears

contax_cla-28e
other side, here too I doused everything you see here with Zippo fluid, avoiding the shutter tapes and glued areas of course. later I oiled a few choice spots with singer SM oil. (red arrows) use just a tiny bit, like half of a drop and work the gears after each drop. avoid the slow speed gears (yellow arrows) you don’t want them to gum up. while testing the shutter, you may want to hold the shutter cover box on over the back as if it were screwed on, otherwise you have to keep manually putting the lower and upper shutter back together to wind it (you’ll see what I mean, don’t let it scare you, you can’t break it really)
self timer lever

when putting the shutter cradle back in, make sure you slide the lever all the way against the wall so it clears the cradle’s release lever
release lever

here is the shutter release lever associated with the self timer, just make sure the screw (previous photo) clears this notch as you put the cradle back in. It’s not as difficult as it sounds, just start on the far side with the cradle, then peek in and slide the lever over with your screwdriver as you lower this side
mystery solved

made in 1937. the serial number chart states this as “1936 to 1937”. here is the date stamped on the front plate I removed, it was also under the top chrome plate

I use Zippo lighter fluid (any brand will do) for flushing and cleaning the gears and other parts. just be careful to keep the fluid off of the shutter curtain ribbons, they are glued on and could become unglued by the lighter fluid.

For the oil, I use sewing machine oil. You can use watch oil or any light oil of that type. use very sparingly and never use it on the gears of the slow speed escapement.

Cleaning E. Leitz Wetzlar Summar Haze

Exterior mystery crust

The Leica lens, E. Leitz Wetzlar “Summar” 50mm (5cm) f/2 is notorious for having internal haze, clouding images sometimes giving a desired warmth called “Leica Glow”. Some desire it for using as a portrait lens or other such use as the effect is warranted.

Before I show you how I got my 1939 Leica Summar lens apart to clean the haze, I first cleaned some kind of dried gunk on the front element that resembled very bad cleaning marks.

I had seen it before on my former 1936 Summar and other people complaining about their’s calling it cleaning marks, so it must be a somewhat common thing. This time it was more crusty, uneven looking that led me to believe it wasn’t just the glass itself.

my former 1936 Summar with mystery crust around front element
my former 1936 Summar with mystery crust around front element

 

I looked at it with a loupe and could see it was raised, some kind of crust or crystallization. I scratched at it with my fingernail and sure enough it flaked slightly. Perhaps a buildup of years of cleaning fluid?

summar_gunk-01
here is my 1939 Summar with back light showing the mystery crust

 

I knew conventional cleaning wouldn’t work so I tried the method for removing Fungus on a lens. A 50/50 mix of household Ammonia and Hydrogen Peroxide then rinse with tap water. It immediately started working, almost foaming around the edge where it was thickest.

after cleaning the mystery crust
after cleaning the mystery crust

I had to repeat twice, as is usual, but a nice clean outer lens now with just a few true cleaning marks.

Clean the interior haze

Now I must say, while searching for tutorials and methods of cleaning the haze, it was kind of confusing because it was rarely stated that, in fact, the front name plate is attached to the front ring and the element itself.

It was also stated several times to unscrew the front element right from the lens base and people were having trouble because it would just unscrew the front group. I came up with a way to easily remove the front element.

 

First unscrew the front lens group from the base, just above the aperture ring. Extent the lens tube fully so it won’t spin in the base and grasp the outer knurled ring and turn it counter-clockwise ‘ccw’ it should unscrew fairly easy.

hold the outer knurled ring in one hand and the base in the other (with lens tube fully extended) and turn ccw (counter-clockwise)
hold the outer knurled ring in one hand and the base in the other (with lens tube fully extended) and turn ccw (counter-clockwise)

 

Unscrew fully and remove from lens base.

after removing the front lens group. Mine could use some new black paint around the edge of the element (red arrow)
after removing the front lens group. Mine could use some new black paint around the edge of the element (red arrow)

 

NOW is the time to unscrew the set screw ‘ccw’ in the nameplate (red arrow) so it will separate from the front lens group. It’s tiny don’t loose it.

remove the set screw (red arrow)
remove the set screw (red arrow)

 

Now you need some kind of grip tool to aid in holding the front group housing while removing the front element. I used an electrical cable, about the same diameter as a pencil or slightly smaller but not too small.

‘Fire Wire’ cable I used as by grip tool. any cable with a rubbery shell will work.

 

not clear here but, the front lens group housing extends backwards with a nice metal tube to grab onto with your tool just behind the front element ring. Firmly grip your tool around the group housing and firmly grip the front ring and unscrew ‘ccw’.

make a loop and wrap it around the rear of the front lens group, behind the front element ring
make a loop and wrap it around the rear of the front lens group behind the front element ring

 

The entire front knurled ring, nameplate and front element are attached together. Mine came right off, I’ve read it could be difficult and a good soaking of the front element in isopropyl alcohol might help.

front element removed. now clean backside of front element and both sides of rest of the group front group
front element removed. now clean backside of front element and both sides of rest of the group.

 

Again, I used the 50/50 mix ammonia / hydrogen peroxide to clean the haze from all inner elements except the lens behind the aperture blades as I didn’t want to risk damaging the aperture unit/blades.

here is the aperture blade unit ij the lens tube. I cleaned this lens behind it with isop. alcohol
here is the aperture blade unit in the lens tube. I cleaned this lens behind it with isop. alcohol

 

Blow out any dust and fuzzies from cleaning before reassembly. I found what looked like dust in mine that turned out to be bubbles in the lens glass. I’ve read this is normal.  Here’s a before and after the cleaning shot.

before and after. big difference
before and after. big difference.

 

It looks great mounted on my 1953 Leica IIIf. It does have a few cleaning marks and some mishandled scratches in the middle but it was cheap and it’s mine.

Summar mounted on my Leica IIIf
Summar mounted on my Leica IIIf

Leica IIIf Beamsplitter Replace

I’ve given my 1953 Leica IIIf “red dial” a CLA, or Clean Lube and Adjust and now I need to replace the half-mirror, or beamsplitter in the rangefinder. The beamsplitter gives the double image that moves back and forth as you focus the lens until the two images become one, then it is focused. On older cameras, the beamsplitter, which is a half-mirror, or partially silvered so it is transparent as well as reflective, looses some it’s reflectiveness and is hard to focus.

After getting the top off (see the procedure here) I was able to get to the rangefinder.

leica_IIIf_splitter 002
remove the end cap by simply prying off. It is held on with lacquer

 

leica_IIIf_splitter 003
remove the three screws on top of the RF (circled)

 

After I got the beamsplitter housing bracket loose, I noticed there were two objects in the way to prevent it from sliding out…

leica_IIIf_splitter 005
pry up the focus cam, it comes up quite easily. there is a screw from inside the film chamber protruding up (circled) loosen it.

 

leica_IIIf_splitter 004
loosen but don’t remove the screw holding the RF housing. just enough for the mirror housing to clear the screw.

 

Now the beamsplitter housing can slip out

leica_IIIf_splitter 006
here the beamsplitter housing is out, take note of how it goes back in.

 

leica_IIIf_splitter 009
the half-mirror beamsplitter is glued on with lacquer(?) simply pry it off.

 

I got my beamsplitter pre-cut from a fellow on eBay (nobbysparrow) and it was only $10. I say only because it is way worth it, not buying some stock and trying to cut it myself. let alone send it off to have it professionally done for around $110 or more.

Plus it is a modern process (the silvering) from Japan and less likely to rub off and fade through time.

leica_IIIf_splitter 011
gently clean the old glue from the housing. be careful, it is soft brass.

 

leica_IIIf_splitter 012
here is the new beamsplitter half-mirror glued onto the housing. I used Elmer’s white glue. never use CA, or super glue as the fumes fog lenses and mirrors permanently.

 

It really isn’t hard to do this yourself. follow my instructions on how to remove the top plate and you can have a new fresh beamsplitter in your Leica for a fraction of the cost and a few hours, not weeks or months

 

Images from my 1936 Leica IIIa

After completing the service, cleaning, repair, adjustment on the 1936 Leica IIIa, I shot a test roll to see if everything was working as it should. There are a lot of things that can be wrong on an 80 year old camera. A test roll can show if the film is advancing correctly, getting the proper space between images on the negative, shutter speeds are correct, the rangefinder and lens are in good sync so the images come out good and clear. etc…

The first test roll showed that the shutter  was at the right speed but on the faster speeds, it was not adjusted correctly. The second or “closing” curtain was catching up with the first curtain part way across the film area.

The dark area on the right means the closing curtain caught up with the opening curtain, and is called 'capping' Here at 1/500 speed it is about 75 % at 1/1000 it was almost 100%
The dark area on the right means the closing curtain caught up with the opening curtain, and is called ‘capping’ Here at 1/500 speed it is about 75 % at 1/1000 it was almost 100%

 

at 1/200 speed there is slight capping
at 1/200 speed there is slight capping

On this type of camera, there are two curtains that act as the shutter. First the opening curtain starts it’s travel then, depending on the shutter speed you choose, the closing curtain starts it’s travel. On this model, at 1/20 of a second  the opening curtain has exposed the entire film area before the closing curtain starts it’s travel. At 1/500, it only gets about 1/8th of an inch before the closing curtain starts it’s travel. They travel together at 1/8″ across the entire film area. No matter what speed you set it, the curtains physically travel at the same speed, (about 1/20th sec.) it’s the size of the opening that determines the shutter speed. At 1/1000 shutter speed, the opening is about 1/16th of an inch, 1/200 about 3/16ths and so on.

So you can see, the curtains have to be adjusted so they travel at the same speed. After the first test roll, I had to take the camera apart again so I could see the shutter at work. (this camera and many others like it doesn’t have the back open to put in the film, you load it from the bottom so you can’t see the shutter working unless you take the outer shell off) I was able to tension the curtains so that the closing curtain wasn’t catching up with the opening curtain.

Old building in Jacksonville, Oregon Shady side of the street

McCully House Inn 1860  Beekman Bank

Lithia Creek  Pioneer cemetary  quiet streets

Shakespeare Elizabethan Theatre  Old and new

It’s very rewarding to take an instrument almost 80 years old and repair it and know it’s good for at least another 10-20 years before it will need to be cleaned and adjusted again.

 

Leica IIIa CLA, Clean the Slow Speed Escapement

Before giving my Leica IIIa a semi-complete CLA, I want to tackle the slow speeds being sluggish problem. Thanks to the Internet, I found a few sites that explained how truly easy it is. I mean, anybody can do this task and perhaps bring their 75-80 year old camera back to it’s former glory.

Two screws to get started is all it takes. The hardest part is putting it back in and that just takes some dexterity. This method is possible without a complete removal of the body shell as is needed for the newer IIIb. IIIc, IIIf, IIIg, but if you are planing a shell removal for whatever reason, CLA, investigation of a problem or the like, then by all means, wait until then, it would just be easier to put it back in but taking it out makes no difference.

On the model III and IIIa, the slow speed escapement is easy to remove by just taking the lens off
On the model III and IIIa, the slow speed escapement is easy to remove by just taking the lens off

remove the bottom film plate and remove these two screws. Be careful, they are one flat head and one roundish head remember where they go
remove the bottom film plate and remove these two screws. Be careful, they are one flat head and one roundish head remember where they go. The escapement will practically fall out of the lens opening area.

remove these two screws to take the escapement cover off
remove these two screws to take the escapement cover off

slow speed escapement with cover ermoved. I cleaned it in a bath of Isopropyl alcohol, letting it soak and working the gears then letting it dry
slow speed escapement with cover ermoved. I cleaned it in a bath of Isopropyl alcohol, letting it soak and working the gears then letting it dry

This fork goes onto the post on the escapement. It's a little tricky getting it back on but not too bad.
This fork goes onto the post on the escapement. It’s a little tricky getting it back on but not too bad.

after drying, give these bearings (red arrows) a touch of oil. Sewing machine, watch oil or equivalent. I just put a drop on a piece of paper and touch it with my smallest screwdriver and then touch the bearing and let it wick in. never over oil.
after drying, give these bearings (red arrows) a touch of oil. Sewing machine, watch oil or equivalent. I just put a drop on a piece of paper and touch it with my smallest screwdriver and then touch the bearing and let it wick in. never over oil. the (red circle) shows the post that goes on the fork in the previous photo

same procedure for oiling these bearings
same procedure for oiling these bearings

 

1936 Leica IIIa CLA and Repair

Giving my 1936 Leica IIIa a CLA. It basically works fine, the shutter fires on all speeds but the slow speeds are sluggish. The curtains have previously been changed, maybe even twice in it’s 78 year history and look good. Overall there is brassing on the top and bottom plates but from normal heavy usage telling me it was well loved. From what I can see, the inside looks clean-ish, no major rust or anything like that.

leica_IIIa-cla-01
overall ‘before’ shot

leica_IIIa-cla-05
dirty vulcanite

leica_IIIa-cla-06
filthy around hard-to-clean places

Above, showing the external condition, dirt and a reddish oxidation to the Vulcanite (red circle) and dirty internal glass.

remove these 4 screws (red circles), carefully remove the lens flange as there may be shims between it and the camera body. Mine had none but there were several on my Nicca when I worked on it.
remove these 4 screws (red circles), carefully remove the lens flange as there may be shims between it and the camera body. Mine had none but there were several on my Nicca when I worked on it.

when you remove the 4 screws, these brackets come loose. The upper one is held by the RF coupling arm, that comes in handy when putting it back on.
when you remove the 4 screws, these brackets come loose. The upper one is held by the RF coupling arm, that comes in handy when putting it back on.

remove the slow speed dial by removing the screw (red circle) but ignore the small set screw (red arrow), it is not necessary to loosen this, it will come off with the speed scale disc, making adjustment later unnecessary, but before lifting the dial off, make some kind of mark on the square shaft to indicate which edge is up for reassembly.
remove the slow speed dial by removing the screw (red circle) but ignore the small set screw (red arrow), it is not necessary to loosen this, it will come off with the speed scale disc, making adjustment later unnecessary, but before lifting the dial off, make some kind of mark on the square shaft to indicate which edge is up for reassembly.

I found it helpful to just loosen this screw rather than remove it. It's got a very short shaft so only 1/2 to 3/4 turn and the clicker disc will be loose enough to remove
I found it helpful to just loosen this screw rather than remove it. It’s got a very short shaft so only 1/2 to 3/4 turn and the clicker disc will be loose enough to remove

remove these 3 screws (circles) then lift off all the discs, remember their order they came off and the post.
remove these 3 screws (circles) then lift off all the discs, remember their order they came off and the post.

remove all these screws (red circles). the two dark body screws on the right (rewind side) come out and a bracket will fall out the bottom. It's easy to figure out how it goes back in
remove all these screws (red circles). the two dark body screws on the right (rewind side) come out and a bracket will fall out the bottom. It’s easy to figure out how it goes back in

remove these screws (circled)
remove these screws (circled)

hold down on the RF coupling arm so it clears when you remove the shell
hold down on the RF coupling arm so it clears when you remove the shell

remove the shell simply pull it down, it shouldn't be hard to remove
remove the shell simply pull it down, it shouldn’t be hard to remove

shell removed, the film pressure plate will fall out with it's leaf springs (arrows)
shell removed, the film pressure plate will fall out with it’s leaf springs (arrows)

 

After getting the shell off, that’s a good time to observe the shutter action. Look through it against a florescent light. When I did mine I discovered the 1/500 speed had just a blip of light and the 1/1000 speed showed no light at all so now it’s a CLA and repair as well.

Lets remove the top plate to see the Timing Mechanism and RF glass. (on the III and IIIa, only the smaller plate over the RF comes off, on the later IIIc, IIIf and IIIg, the entire chrome top plate comes off.

remove the two round front RF windows. The right one (red arrow) may or may not come off in two pieces. mine came off in one piece. The left window (yellow arrows) should come off in two pieces, the outer ring and the inner window that also adjusts the vertical RF view. Use a spanner to remove it's outer ring, the inner spanner slots adjust the RF. If your RF vertical view is already correct there should be no need to adjust it later
remove the screw between the RF round windows and remove the two round front RF windows. The right one (red arrow) may or may not come off in two pieces. mine came off in one piece. The left window (yellow arrows) should come off in two pieces, the outer ring and the inner window that also adjusts the vertical RF view. Use a spanner to remove it’s outer ring, the inner spanner slots adjust the RF. If your RF vertical view is already correct there should be no need to adjust it later

remove this rear viewfinder window
remove this rear viewfinder window

remove the rear screw (oblong circle) and the Diopter adjust post (circle)
remove the rear screw (oblong circle) and the Diopter adjust post (circle)

pull out the Diopter / RF window. It will need cleaning and greasing
pull out the Diopter / RF window. It will need cleaning and greasing

remove the 3 screws on the cold shoe (circles)
remove the 3 screws on the cold shoe (circles)

set the shutter dial to whatever speed, it won't matter, on the IIIa, it screws off and can only go back on one way. Loosen the set screw (circled), turn the shutter dial lefty loosey. it may be helpful to wind the the film advance first (also when reassembling)
set the shutter dial to whatever speed, it won’t matter, on the IIIa, it screws off and can only go back on one way. Loosen the set screw (circled), turn the shutter dial lefty loosey. it may be helpful to wind the the film advance first (also when reassembling)

view of the top plate area
view of the top plate area

While I was cleaning the old grease I noticed a stop-post on the second shutter release arm was leaning. I poked it and it wiggled. I tightened it and all speeds work now!

red arrow shows the post that was loose, causing the 1/500 and 1/1000 speeds to not work. That's the second shutter release lever that rests on it. Note the old dried grease (yellow arrows)
red arrow shows the post that was loose, causing the 1/500 and 1/1000 speeds to not work. That’s the closing curtain release lever that rests on it. Note the old dried grease (yellow arrows)

I cleaned old grease and re-greased the Timing Mechanism, winding knob, rewind knob shaft and Diopter adjust. I cleaned the gears at the bottom of the shutter drum.

cleaned top plate and fresh grease on the Timing Mechanism
cleaned top plate and fresh grease on the Timing Mechanism

12/23/14: cleaned the Vulcanite. a 3 step process and it looks great now. Reassembled the camera shell and slow speed dial.

Vulcanite all cleaned. It was a 3 step process, well, a 5 step actually because I had to do step 1 and 2 twice. First I cleaned it with Isopropyl alcohol. That left a whitish dry looking coating, I cleaned that with Windex. It may not take 2 or 3 tries with your vulcanite, mine was pretty bad. I did the first 2 steps at least wice then I finished step 3 with Mothers Back to Black
Vulcanite all cleaned. It was a 3 step process, well, a 5 step actually because I had to do step 1 and 2 twice. First I cleaned it with Isopropyl alcohol. That left a whitish dry looking coating, I cleaned that with Windex. It may not take 2 or 3 tries with your vulcanite, mine was pretty bad. I did the first 2 steps at least twice then I finished step 3 with ‘Mothers Back to Black’

Lets put it back together. The film pressure plate rides in it’s own groove milled into the back of the body shell. The two leaf springs have their own slots as well.

the flat leaf springs in their slots (red circles) note the round groove milled into the back around the springs. this is the pressure plate groove.
the flat leaf springs in their slots (red circles) note the round groove milled into the back around the springs. this is the pressure plate groove.

put the pressure plate back into its groove, I held mine with pressure down with a Kemwipe so I didn't leave a thumb print. hold it down as you slide the shell back onto the body. Once it clears the framework, you can let it go, it will stay.
put the pressure plate back into its groove, I held mine with pressure down with a Kemwipe so I didn’t leave a thumb print. hold it down as you slide the shell back onto the body. Once it clears the framework, you can let it go, it will stay.

be sure to hold down on the RF coupling arm as the shell passes over so it clears.
be sure to hold down on the RF coupling arm as the shell passes over so it clears.

shell back on. when you put the screws back in leave the center silver screw out until after you get the lens ring back on, that way it won't interfere with the bracket that goes under the RF coupling arm
shell back on. when you put the screws back in leave the center silver screw out until after you get the lens ring back on, that way it won’t interfere with the bracket that goes under the RF coupling arm.

Now put the lens ring and slow speed dials back on. If you had shims under your lens ring, remember where and how they went.

this mark goes to the left side
this mark goes to the left side

the slow speed dial parts in order of replacement. First the brass washer, the chrome spacer, the post with it's mark where ever/however you marked it, the plate with the clicker disc attached (mine shows them still separated), put some fresh grease in the groove on the back of the speed dial and replace it. If you separated the knurled knob from the speed dial, you should notice there is an indentation where the factory set the set screw. if your slow speeds were adjusted before, just put this back as it was and replace the speed dial with the post as marked.
the slow speed dial parts in order of replacement. First the brass washer, the chrome spacer, the post with it’s mark where ever/however you marked it, the plate with the clicker disc attached (mine shows them still separated), put some fresh grease in the groove on the back of the speed dial and replace it. If you separated the knurled knob from the speed dial, you should notice there is an indentation where the factory set the set screw. if your slow speeds were adjusted before, just put this back as it was and replace the speed dial with the post as marked.

finished
finished

Here it is with my Nikkor-HC 1:2 5cm lens from 1953
Here it is with my Nikkor-HC 1:2 5cm lens from 1953

This camera was fun to work on. It may seem intimidating but is actually easier to work on than the later Japanese rangefinders where you, a lot of times, must remove  the leatherette to get to the lens plate to get to the shutter to get to the …blah blah.

1957 Canon L2 top plate removal

 

canon_L2_clean-26

I recently acquired a 1957 Canon L2 from a fellow in Japan. As the listing stated, it is fully functional in every way. It is a joy to use. Smooth, well built, balanced. It’s only flaw is the same as every camera I’ve gotten, Hazy viewfinder. I did some research and found not much at all on this model but similar models share the same rangefinder set up, but the top plate is slightly different on them. The following is the method I used to get at the insides of the top plate.

canon_L2_clean-01  start by removing the front RF collar. It unscrews counter clockwise (ccw) with just your fingers After removing the collar, remove the lens, it should be tight but it just slips out and under that is a ring that holds the lens. A spanner wrench is required to remove it. The lens has spanner slots too, this can be aligned with the ring underneath and both unscrewed at the same time if you have the right tool. Also the lens spanner slots makes it possible to realign the vertical RF image by rotating it until the image is correct.

canon_L2_clean-03  Next remove the thumb film advance lever. It takes a pin spanner but I use a pair of pointed tweezers (file down the sharp tips slightly) remove CCW then you get these parts, remember the order in which they come out.

canon_L2_clean-04  remove the screw next to the viewfinder. This has the horizontal adjust screw inside it for later if needed.

 

canon_L2_clean-05  remove the shutter speed select knob and the collar around the shutter release button. These both have 3 tiny screws but only loosen the screws, no need to remove the screws. They both then pull straight off. I set mine to ‘B’ to remember where it was when I put it back.

 

canon_L2_clean-08  remove the cold shoe with the 4 screws and then remove the Parallax correction post. This is a device that gives parallax correction to the series of Canon Brightline Viewfinders that go with their corresponding lenses, 28, 35, 50, 90 135mm etc. To remove the post, I found it helpful to press in on the rangefinder coupling arm in the lens cavity, this pops the post up above the cold shoe. There are 2 tiny spanner slots, get it started with a small spanner wrench and then finish with the tweezers.

 

canon_L2_clean-11  remove the flash PC socket and flash bayonet mount bracket. Unscrew the PC socket (ccw) with your pin spanner or tweezers, then just pull out the bayonet bracket.

 

canon_L2_clean-12  remove the screw on the opposite end.

 

canon_L2_clean-25  remove this spring collar from around the shutter advance post. I would put a strip of scotch tape over this area while prying the spring to prevent it from flying across the room.

 

canon_L2_clean-13  After removing the top plate, this is the frame counter ring with it’s collar. (and a few surprise washers I didn’t know were still on the post)

 

canon_L2_clean-14  here it is with the top removed.

 

canon_L2_clean-17  this is the large rangefinder prism. Remove the 2 screws and retainer bar. It’s a tight fit but a gentle tap and flip the camera over and it will pop out. Clean it with soapy water and buff with a cotton rag. (don’t soak or loose the paper wad on top that gives tension while screwed down) While the prism is out, you can reach in with your Q-Tip and clean the 3 rotating parallax lenses one by one.

 

canon_L2_clean-16 this is the small RF prism that moves back and forth as you focus. Clean the two surfaces of it carefully

canon_L2_clean-21  on the back, unscrew the viewfinder lens (ccw small spanner to get it started, fingers once it’s loose) reach in with your Q-tips  and clean each parallax lens one by one.

 

canon_L2_clean-22  when putting the top plate back on, the Canon engineers were thoughtful enough to provide this little shelf for the one side of the frame counter ring to rest on as the other side is in the slot in the side of the plate.

 

canon_L2_clean-23  align this set-post at a 90 deg. with the back of the camera. This coincides with a small hole in the frame counter ring.

 

canon_L2_clean-24  a slot in the top of the plate makes it easy to align the hole in the frame counter ring with it’s set-post. Snap on the collar ring. Reassemble the rest the same way you removed them. Remember to align the shutter select knobs middle part with the line in it so when you read the selected shutter speed it isn’t upside down. Yes it will work either way. In fact the shutter speed can be selected while the shutter is cocked or not and you can completely rotate the knob in either direction past B.

Vintage Camera Repair Nicca 3S / Tower 43

T3S-shutter_repair-47

After film testing my Tower 43, I was getting pictures back from the Lab that the frames were only half exposed and with an obvious hunk of broken film wedged in the area between the image aperture and the pressure plate. It was possible that the film piece was fouling the shutter curtains, so after removing the film piece I tried another roll but got the same results, just not as bad.

tower-3s_test-04 tower-3s_test-08

After doing some research and advice from forum friends I decided to tear it down to see if there was a small piece of film lodged in the curtain area somewhere or if it was just needing an adjust.

I got it opened up and couldn’t find any film pieces lodged anywhere so I decided to brave adjusting the curtain tension. I read a couple Leica curtain replacement instructions online and after holding it up to a florescent light at 1/500, I could see only partial opening of the shutter.

T3S-shutter_repair-19 T3S-shutter_repair-22

The following Flickr Set is the method I used to adjust the curtain spring tension. I assumed you could simply turn the sprocketed wheel to tighten the spring but after just a slight turn it seized up.

What you’ve got to do is release the Pawl, *WHILE HOLDING THE CENTER SCREW SO IT DOESN’T SPIN LOOSE, IT’S SPRING LOADED*, back off the sprocket shaped nut clockwise  a little and then turn the center screw counter clockwise to tighten the spring, hold it there while turning the sprocket nut counter clockwise, this puts tension on the center screw preventing it from spinning loose.

T3S-shutter_repair-28 IF

This worked finally and an added bonus to this repair is, I now have use of my slow speeds which I didn’t have before!

tower_43-test3-08

 

Here is a shot after the repair

See the entire repair with step by step photos at my Flickr site