Compur (not so) Rapid

OK, so I am going back to do the things I shudda dun when I was younger, now that I am older. You can teach an old dog new tricks.

Four years ago I posted about the Rolleicord. At the time I did not have the knowledge to dig into the shutter, so I did not touch it. Recently I ran some shutter speed tests on it. The leaf shutter is running slow … so I need to investigate.

The Learn Camera Repair course covers servicing shutters … so now that I have gone through the course material, I can dig deeper … and so can you, AFTER you read the material.

With my Compur-Rapid shutter all speeds, except the two highest, are controlled through the speed escapement pallet and retard movement. If it is gummed up or not adjusted properly … or just tired, it will affect the shutter speeds.

So time to open it up.

The shutter does not have to be taken off the body … but I did so. To remove shutter … unscrew flash wire connection … then from the back unscrew the light baffle which is also the locking, with a spanner wrench.

Take note of the black slotted spacer + shutter release/cocking lever + copper spacer ring that sit between the shutter and body.

Ok, now unscrew the front group and rear element.

This one is a Triotar, a triplet, so a two element group in front and one in the back

The cover is held on by the centre plate

Turn the semi circle then rotate the plate to the cut-outs, to pull off.

Now the speed cam …

Note that there are three points that make contact with it … turn to different speeds and you will see the movement of these.

Also note the highest speed compresses a spring.

You can see the super spring on the left that is for 1/500s.

The shutter cocking ring (main lever) main spring is attached to the end of the speed escapement. Notice that this ring contacts multiple items in the shutter.

Unhook the end of the main spring and remove the main lever.

The retard speed escapement sits on the right side. It is secured at the top and bottom.

The retard escapement (which I also call the speed escapement) is what we are after. Remove it and clean it (ultrasonic).

Note that the top and bottom holes for the securing screws are oval … meaning that the escapement has adjustable positioning.

The retard lever, on the lower section has a special shape … feel the outside for any rough edges, as I had to lightly sand it to reduce the chance of the main lever catching on it when it pushes it.

While the escapement is out you can also check the movement of the shutter blades .. no sticking or slowness. If the shutter is not moving freely then this requires further disassembly to clean everything out … meaning no flushing.

Notice in the image above the retard has moved out of engagement with the gears, which will happen when the pallet lever is moved to its inward position.

Set the retard back in as noted in the Repair Course, and put it back in.

Note how both the pallet (red) and retard (green) ride against the outside of the main lever.

The position of the escapement (both top and bottom) control how the various speeds run.

You can put the speed cam back on, then check the 1 second speed … if the escapement locks up then the bottom section need to be moved more to the outside. If the shutter stays open then move the top section more to the outside.

Once you have free movement you can start adjusting. The pallet and retard are combined for speeds 1/10s and below … for higher speeds the pallet is not engaged, just the retard is used to slow the main lever … except for 1/250s.

If the ~ 1/10s speeds are all slow then move the upper (pallet) end closer to the inside. If the upper speeds are slow the move the lower (retard) end further away from the inside.

This shutter’s highest speed is 1/500s, which is controlled by a separate coiled spring. The 1/250s is controlled by the main spring and does not touch the retard.

Getting the speeds right is a delicate balance of the position of the upper and lower sections, as noted in the course material … so have patience, as it can get frustrating when you try to make a correction. It does not require much movement of the escapement to make a difference.

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A leaf brief

One thing that commonly find with the many cameras that I have worked on is the shutter … the leaf shutter.

Leaf shutter

The leaf shutter that we see today first appeared in 1890, created by Voigtlander. It had four blades. Bausch & Lomb also produced many leaf shutters just after this.

Steinheil, was an optical company that got into the shutter business. Christian Bruns, in 1899, made their first 4 bladed leaf shutter.

Friedrick Deckel and Bruns got together (after leaving Steinheil) and created the Compound shutter in 1905 … the speeds where pneumatically controlled.

1910 Bruns created a mechanical retard mechanism to control the shutter speeds, and this became the Compur shutter.

When you see references to a Compur # something shutter … it refers to it’s physical size … leaf shutters were made in different sizes.

Another name in shutters was Gauthier … created by Alfred Gauthier in 1902. They are known for their many shutters, including the well known Prontor shutter.

Now the Japanese came much later to market their own leaf shutters based on the Compur design … in 1935 Seikosha shutters appeared and later on in 1946 the Copal shutter.

Other names in the shutter business … Wollensak and Ilex, both American companies.

agfa, the history

I had posted some info about a Prontor shutter that I opened up … it came from an Agfa Isolette II.

The bellows need a serious replacement. The previous owner taped it up to seal up the light leaks, but what it really needs is a bellows replacement … anyway …

Actien-Gesellschaft für Anilin-Fabrikation = AGFA.

1867 Paul Mendelssohn Bartholdy, a co-founder of the German Chemical Society, and his friend, fellow chemist Carl Alexander Martius started a chemical company.

1887, AGFA included a photographic department headed by another chemist, Dr. Momme Andresen, who had developed several developer patents, including Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) and Paramidophenol, and Rodinal (one of my favorite developers).

1916 they started making stuff for colour photography.

1925 IG Farben mergers six chemical companies—BASF, Bayer, Hoechst, Agfa, Chemische Fabrik Griesheim-Elektron, and Chemische Fabrik vorm. Weiler Ter Meer.

That same year AGFA obtains Rietzschel camera works from Bayer, and had their first camera … The Standard

1928 Ansco merger to make cameras for the American market.

1936 they introduced Agfacolor-Neu … which was the first single colour with single exposure and single film development.

1945 after WWII the company was forced to breakup. Many of the processes where taken and given to Western film companies, like Kodak …. 1964 the East Germany plant officially changed its name to ORWO

1959 they made their first fully automatic 35mm camera, the Optima.

1964 merger with Gaevert.

2004 the imaging dept was sold off to become AgfaPhoto but it went bankrupt.

Sometimes, lifes a grind

Many years ago I picked up a Sigma AF 150mm f/2.8 Macro DG HSM lens for my camera. I was doing a lot of macro shooting while we were hiking around. I already had the Sigma AF 50mm, and a Tokina 90mm macro … but I felt the focal lengths were not enough reach.

Most of my shooting was handheld, so I did not notice a problem with this lens until I started carrying around a short tripod. The IQ of this lens is awesome but I started noticing that it had difficulty focusing when I was shooting on the tripod. My first thought was because of the lower light situations that I was getting into … but it was occurring even under well lit situations … hmm.

Then it stuck me … the tripod collar ring was causing it. Somehow causing resistance to the AF if it is tightened to the max. So I backed off from tightening it completely and everything was fine, except the lens revolving is not so secure.

I looked online and it appears that this was an issue that Sigma knew about … but my lens was out of warranty. So I lived with it … until today. I checked to see if the collar was out of shape … maybe pressuring one side. I made some (physical) adjustments to round it out … hmm, that wasn’t the problem.

OK, so what clamps this collar … there is a knob that is turned. The off centre hole engages a pin and pulls the two C arms together. When the knob is turned the pin is forced down, thus tightening the collar.

So if the AF is fine if the collar is not tightened full, then I just need to change the hole.

So to reduce the distance I took out my Dremel and slapped on a small grinding stone. Take some material off the hole very lightly … making it wider a bit … checking on lens … tighten collar … widen a bit more … check on lens … until the focus had free movement when the collar is fully locked.

… and most importantly there was enough tension to lock the ring on the lens to keep it from moving.

Stop reading this blog …

Until you read the rest of this post.

I looked back at posts that I have done in the past about a number of leaf shutter servicing that were described … one of the things that I did was flushing stuff out with fluid to get things moving better.

You might have noticed in the past couple of years that I have actually stripped down the shutters and cleaned up each component … no flushing, thanks to Learn camera repair !!!

So about those earlier posts … don’t do it. That is not the way to clean a shutter.

Now I have to go back and redo the posts on those shutters that I still have … maybe this one.

The adventures of this guy who tries to restore and repair vintage photographic equipment … and wins (most of the time).

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