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.
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.
Above, showing the external condition, dirt and a reddish oxidation to the Vulcanite (red circle) and dirty internal glass.
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.
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!
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.
12/23/14: cleaned the Vulcanite. a 3 step process and it looks great now. Reassembled the camera shell and slow speed dial.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Here is a shot after the repair
See the entire repair with step by step photos at my Flickr site
I’ve recently acquired a new hobby, collecting vintage cameras, repairing them and taking pictures with them then burning the negatives into digital. It started when I was posting some pics on my Pinterest account/board. I saw someone had posted some pics of an old camera. I followed the link and did some reading up on the subject. Apparently there are many “pro’s” out there that believe the image results are equal if not better shooting film than digital, and there are certainly many things you can’t get away with shooting digital that you can with film, like better detail in a back-lit subjects.
I Updated my website with new pages about my collection and some fixes. Stop by and get nostalgic. there are some links to other sites about the subject. Also I explain how I fixed the above Yashica Electro 35 GSN, it was quite a task.