Service guides

“and I just can’t get enough … and I just can’t get enough … and I just can’t seem to get enough of …”

Always good to collect these whenever you can … never know when they will disappear from the web.

Leica IIIF ->

Rollei 35 ->

Hasselblad 503CW ->

A number of others ->



As a “fə-ˈtä-grə-fər” I thought I would add a photograph.

This I have shown before on TPF, but it happens to be one of the few handy scans that I have.

This was taken with the Ricoh Diacord G. The Rikenon lens on this TLR is excellent … knob winding camera, with manual cocking shutter, and two thumb focus lever. I believe the film was Ilford Delta 100, developed with Rodinal/Blazinol and scanned on a Minolta Scan Multi … tweaked in Adobe Lightroom.

The Diacord came with a sticky shutter button and the slow speeds where off.

I’ve always found the “feel” of pictures taken on film more visually appealing than digital images. Not sure if that is my ego saying that … I think that film photographers have this attitude that tells them that film is “better” than digital … or that the images are so familiar looking it makes them “feel” right. Not sure.

The above image has that “rightness” to me, and the Minolta scanner did a great job of reproducing the tonality of the negative. Maybe the tones, or the subject … or just the fact that I shot and developed that thing myself … there’s that ego thing again.

Minolta Autocord – the knobless one

Minolta decided to use a poor choice of metal (pot metal to be precise) for the focus lever. Not sure why they did so as the rest of the camera is constructed with stronger metal.

This became the weak point of this camera. If the focus lever is left sitting in the middle focus position it becomes vulnerable to the back film door as is swings open … which is why you will find many Autocords with a slightly bent (upward) focus knob. Those bent ones that develop a crack in the metal are doomed … those that survive the attack will just continue on their way as if nothing happened (except being a little horizontally challenged).

Hmm, now that I read over that last bit it sounds a little phallic … actually this whole post sounds like that.

Combine this with an old camera that has not been used in a while you can end up with disaster … the knobless Autocord.

If the lube on the focus set is stuck/gummed up and some fool (I pity the fool !!) tries the focus lever movement with a lot of force, this may cause the cracked metal focus knob to snap off (due to the force + weakened bend in the metal).

So far in my research there is no perfected way of repairing the focus lever. Luckily my knobless Autocord still has the knob (many are sold with it missing), so I started researching any ideas on fixing it back to the arm.

Epoxy glue ? Soldering ? Tap n die new knob ? Manufacture a new one ?

I did find out that it is very difficult to solder pot metal as it has a very low melting point, almost the same as the solder being used to weld it. I did find info about Muggy Weld Super Alloy 1 which they say melts at 350, so this may be a way. I might try this at a later time.

The epoxy glue idea is possible but it would mean the removal of the distance scale (not enough room for a glued knob) and it would not look too good (large slop of glue holding on the knob) or it would not be strong enough under continual use. There is a website somewhere that shows someone who did do this.

The tap and die idea to attach a new knob would be a better idea than the epoxy … assuming the pot metal is strong enough to handle a new drilled hole and threaded which I suspect would not be. This also would require that the distance plate be removed.

Manufacturing a new focus lever with knob would be a great idea if I had the tools to do this, though I do know someone who may have the capability of doing such a thing. This would require a lot of work, but it would pay off by selling this custom part to others. Possibly in the near future when a 3D metal printer becomes available, this would be easy.

In any case I decided not to bother figuring the best solution. I got a parts camera instead and replaced it … you can refer to my last post about that.

Minolta Autocord – focus helicoid and lever

A common problem with many old cameras is the focus mechanism. Over time the lubricants on the focus helicoid gets stiff. This makes focusing difficult or not possible.

A couple of the Minolta Autocords that I have had displayed this problem. When the lube gets really gummed it makes it really difficult to move the focus lever.

This stage of the repair gets into lubricating the helicoid.

So, on with the show.

Tools: tweezers, spanner wrench, slotted screw drivers, a scribe, Ronsonol, Super Lube.

I am assuming that you have taken off the front cover (if not, look at my other post). Make sure the focus lever is set to min or infinity.

I forgot to mention in my Shutter post about the back of the front cover.

Turn over the cover.

You can now clean out this area with Ronsonol.

With a thin cleaning paper you can get under the Aperture/Shutter windows.

Now back to the focus of this post … literally.



The first part is removing the shutter/taking lens.

Open the film back.

The rear of the shutter/lens is secured with a single ring screw.

There is a light shield around this, so just pull it out (you can turn it to loosen if it is not just pulling out).

Now you will have to use the spanner wrench to turn the outer ring (counter clockwise) off.

Note: The brass part in this image is the inner focus helicoid. Some people will just clean the outside of this, it really does not do a good cleaning, but it may be good enough to get the focus working again.

At this point there is nothing holding the shutter/lens from falling out, so don’t just lift the camera suddenly.

The shutter/lens has a connection to the body because of the flash sync wires.

Hold the shutter/lens while turning over the camera.

Place the shutter/lens aside.

Note: Try not to break off the wires, unless you have a soldering iron.

NOTE: there may be shims. Do not lose these as these calibrate the lens for optimal focus on this particular body.

From top to bottom there are four layers.

There is probably is a focus adjustment washer, which may be stuck to the bottom of the shutter/lens when you pull it off.

The top reset ring and bottom charge ring washer are hooked (on the left) to levers.

There is a shutter seat spacer ring in between.

Pull out all three one by one as you will have to slightly angle the top/bottom rings to unhook them. You can turn the film winder to change position of one lever.

There will be a charge ring washer on the bottom.

Remove the three heavy duty screws.

Put the shutter/lens back in the hole for safe keeping.

You can now pull straight up to remove the lens plate.

Note that the viewing lens is attached to this plate.

If the shutter button is not moving freely you can take the opportunity to put some Ronsonol on it and work the gunk out of it.

Note: the outer ring turns to lock the button up/down.

Remove the four screws holding the lens plate guide.

The top set also secures the rail guide.

Put the lens plate guide and rail aside.

Remove the focus distance scale that sits above the focus knob (my images above show that I removed it sometime before).

Turn the inner focus helicoid until it is flush.

Make a couple of marks across the three for reference with a scribe. This will be used as reference when you put it back together.

Loosen the three large screws that hold the entire focus set, and remove it.

You will need to remove the focus lever. This lever is held on by four tension screws around the edges. Loosen them and pull of the lever straight up.

WARNING: as I mentioned before, the focus lever is made of pot metal. This is a brittle metal so be careful of it. In one instance the screws were also brittle.

Now you can take the rings and helicoid apart. The helicoid will just turn out.


Dab a little bit of Super Lube on the helicoid.

When turning the helicoid back in it should do so freely. You will probably spend some time here as it may take some time to get it to catch a groove.

Twist it down flush and check your reference marks. It they don’t match up you will have to twist it out, and turn it slightly so that it catches a different groove.

Note: be patient. One time it took me 15 minutes just to get it to grab a groove. Don’t force it !!

Once you have that done you can put the focus lever back on … make sure to match your reference mark !!

Warning: Do not over tighten as this may break the pot metal.

Now you can go backwards through this post to put everything back together again.

The rings will need to be hooked back to the levers on the left. You can turn the winding lever to make it easier.

When putting the shutter/lens back on there is a small registration hole that fits the pin in the back.

After tightening everything, check the focus. Set the focus to infinity and view a very distant object. If this is not in focus then you will have to go back to adjust the position of the focus lever.

My thought of the moment

Yeah that happens … it just appears and if I don’t do anything with it … it will go away as fast as it came.

Was just thinking that it’s good to use a rubber no-slip pad as the base of your workspace. More than once have I been removing a tight screw on the outside of the camera when it slips due to the force I was putting on the screw driver, and it end up scratching the body. That sucks as you cannot fix that.

There was another one, but I think I have forgotten what it was … see, I waited too long.