My nemesis – the broken screw

One of the things that camera restorers (and other people who repair small metal mechanical items) encounters is jammed or broken screws.

For those dealing with larger screws/bolts it can be easily dealt with by using left handed drill bits, or specialized screw extractors. For us dealing with such small metal screws, it becomes more of a challenge. How to deal with a <1mm screw? There is not much material to deal with and there are not many tools for this size job.

I recently acquired a camera in very poor condition. It obviously has been stored in a nasty environment as it was coated in crap and signs of corrosion … one screw had the head broken off, I broke off another screw head while attempting to remove it, and there are a couple of screws that just won’t budge (I stopped before stripping the slotted head).

So … what to do? Get more tools. I am thinking of attacking it in a number of ways:

  1. Drill out the broken headed screws … need to get a drill press for my Dremel.
  2. Use a precision screw extractor … Moody Tools has a tool set for this.
  3. Solder a lever to the heads of the stuck screws.

I will follow up after I attempt any of these … if anyone has another suggestion I would be happy to hear it.


The living dead

“It is not more surprising to be born twice than once; everything in nature is resurrection.” ― Voltaire

I thought I would post an image with all three of the cameras that I have worked on so far.

All three are now in working condition. Actually I have gone through four Autocords, three 35’s, and two chrome 50mm’s … these just happen to be the last ones that I have now off the bench.

The Minolta Autocord has new grey Griptac leatherette from The Minolta-35 has some nice brown leatherette, from eBay seller camera-shop-pl, that I custom cut. The Canon IIF didn’t need a recovering.

I will say that restoring/repairing is quite satisfying … cameras are supposed to take pictures, so having one that is just a broken mantel piece does not fit well with me. I would like to restore all the cameras that I have, but sometimes you just can’t … some things are just broken beyond repair or replacement parts no longer exist (though that leads to buying more cameras).

Canon IIF rangefinder – the inside out

OK, so back to the Canon IIF. This time I am going after the slow speed gears, as it appears that some of the speeds from 1/25s to 1s were off key and I needed to get a good look at the shutter curtains. Getting the inside out wasn’t too much of an effort, and is the only way to really visually check the shutter curtains … as this is a bottom loader Barnack style camera.

Tools: screw drivers, tweezers, Ronsonol, q-tips, and liquid electrical tape.

First remove the bottom film loading cover plate and set that aside.

Remove the bottom cover plate.



Unscrew the flash trigger wire terminal.

The lens mount has to come off as there are two retainers, behind the ring, that will get in the way in removing the body.

Unscrew the four screws on the ring, take the two left first. This will cause the retainer to fall into the body. Note that this will be different in shape than the one on the right.

Carefully pull off the lens mount ring as there may be brass shims behind it. Make note of exactly where the shims are positioned as they will need to go back in the same place.

The slow shutter speed dial will be removed next. There is a small lock screw on the side of the knob, loosen it and unscrew the knob counter-clockwise.

Unscrew the retaining nut with tweezers. Pull off the low shutter speed dial.

Remove the three screws that hold the slow shutter speed registration pin, and pull it off the body. Remove the spacer plate.

The body is held on by the four screws on the front (the short one was hidden under the slow shutter speed dial plate), and the six screws (three in front and three in back) connected to the top plate.

Push down the rangefinder coupling lever to get it out of the way and pull off the body … note that the film pressure plate will pop off, including the two springs.

The slow speed gears are on the bottom with a cover that is held on with two screws. The front screw is easy to take off, while the back one is in an awkward position. I tried to access it from the back with the shutter opened (bulb) but I could not get enough catch on the slotted head due to the angle. Possibly a screw driver with a long and thin shaft may be able to do it. I just put Ronsonol around the openings and soaked the general area, and it eventually got to the gears.

Note: refer to Graham’s comment about getting to the slow shutter box …

You can exercise the gears by pushing on the lever to the right (relative to the image above) of the gear box, which is attached to the arm that is pushed by the slow speed dial mechanism.

Now you can check out the shutter. Use a flashlight to check for pin holes and make sure to check both shutter curtain (this is best done in a dark area). I use liquid electrical tape to seal up the tiny holes … use a toothpick (or shave down the end of a q-tip) to apply very small amounts. Check for holes again. Make sure to let it dry before winding up the shutter so not to get it attached to the curtains when rolled up.

To put this all back together … put the springs and pressure plate on first. Press it down with your thumb while you slide the innards into the body, then press the rangefinder coupling lever down to clear the lens mount hole.

Then you can put the one body screw that is located under slow shutter speed dial. Secure the body with the ten screws.

Assemble most of the slow shutter speed dial … leave the knob off. If your slow shutter speeds are off then you can now adjust them. Take out the inner screw. You can then turn the inner slotted nut … clockwise to speed it up (and you can figure out how to slow it down). Put the inner screw back on then check the speed again, when you are satisfied put the knob back on.


Back IIF

Yeah, I haven’t posted much in a while. This winter has put the kobosh on doing much mentally. I have not picked up any “new” cameras for restoration, so I have kinda lost momentum.

Well it appears the my Canon IIF rangefinder was not all as it seemed to be … so I will be next posting further disassembly of it. This should be a good thing, as I cannot seem to find much information about taking this specific camera apart, so this would be handy for those that want to go through it.

… now, I just have to get my ass off the couch.