Tag Archives: 1939

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