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
remove rewind knob-2
remove shutter button guard
remove shutter speed dial
slow speed dial-1
slow speed dial-2
slow speed dial-3
remove body screws
top plate removed
slow speed cam
remove front plate
front plate removed
remove film plate
film plate removed
gear fell out
gear goes here
remove bottom plate
bottom plate removed
replace top plate/slow speed dial-1
replace top plate-2
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.
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
rewind knob removed
remove body screws
remove winding lever center
remove advance knob
remove speed scale
remove single screw
lift off chrome top plate
frame counter disc
remove cast top plate
remove cast top plate
cast top removed
remove shutter cover
remove screw here
remove this rod-screw
lift out cradle
self timer lever
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.
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.