Tag Archives: Shutter repair

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.


Vintage Camera Repair Nicca 3S / Tower 43


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!



Here is a shot after the repair

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