The Rollei 35 … fix

The Rollei 35 is not all that difficult to disassemble, that is after I guessed at what to take apart … though putting it back together is a different story. My main purpose for the fix is to figure out what is jamming the lens mechanism.


  • Slotted screw drivers
  • Pointy tweezer
  • Pliers
  • Ronsonal
  • Q-tips


The first Remove the top plate

Unscrew the winding arm cap. There are two washers underneath. Remove the three screws holding the arm on. Pull off arm.

Remove screw from rewind release. The shaft is held by tension spring wire – turn it the so the flat edge can pass by the wire, then pull it out.

Remove the three screws holding the top plate.

Turn the camera sideways while pulling off the top plate … you will probably have to wiggle it on the viewfinder side first. Note that there is a small slider pin and washer underneath/within the shutter button and it may fall out.

If you are not taking out the viewfinder, put the winding arm screw back on to keep the winding gear from falling out. if you do want to pull it out, then put two marks on the big gear to register its position.

If you want to pull out the viewfinder (which is not actually attached to the camera), first take off the large winding gear and the bits underneath. Then unscrew the plate and remove it.

Note that there is a spring arm attached, that keeps the winding mechanism under tension (this tension is used to pull the winding arm back).

The viewfinder is housed in a plastic case. You can get in between first two viewfinder lenses, so it can be cleaned without removal.

Put this all back together. You will probably have to fidget a lot with the spring to get it under tension … just be patient and it will happen.

Then (as I mentioned earlier) put the winder cap screw on the large winding gear to keep it from falling out.

Unlock and pull off the back of the camera

Now we need to take the front of the camera off. Luckily, the leather is not the flakey leatherette material … so the first thing to do is to neatly peel back the leather in the front corners to get access to the four screws that hold the entire front plate on

My picture shows all the leather has been removed, but you do not need to go that far … and also the shutter speed and aperture control dials have been removed, which you do not need to do either.

There is a differential arm on top that slides behind a screw, so you will have to remove screw. There is also a spring under tension between the arm and the upper body, so pop one end off.

Now you can pull off front and look at the back.

The back is filled with gears, arms, levers, do dads, and thinga majigs, that couple everything together.

The shutter gears are also here.

In my poking around I found that there was a loose screw jammed close to the shutter speed mechanism (you can see it at the 10:30 position). When the screw moved around it would get caught by the lens as it is extended, and also would stop the lens from rotating. I never did figure out where that screw actually originated from.

Ok, so now put it all back.

For the dent that I had in the top plate I used a hammer … no, not directly against the metal … I placed the plate on a hard flat wood surface, then I used a bamboo chopstick (from my local famous Chinese Food restaraunt) to use as a punch. Work softly and continuously move around … patience Danielson … and eventually you can get to an acceptable flatness.

Reassembly note:

  • Do not over tighten the winding arm top plate screw.
  • When putting the rewind release shaft back in, note the position of the pin, then put it in half way, then turn the shaft so the pin is at the bottom, then you can push it in all the way

8 thoughts on “The Rollei 35 … fix”

  1. Hello, I know this is from a while ago, but I’ve found myself in the situation where I stupidly (because it turned out I didn’t need to) removed the aperture dial, and then the locking pin underneath lost its tension. Apparently there’s a spring somewhere that needs to be engaged, but I have no idea what it looks like, or where it is/it goes. Since you also opened it up at some point, do you have any recollection/idea of how that looks? Thanks!

  2. Ah, yes … I do remember a spring. I did not take any images when I took that apart … but I do recall that it was a pain to put back together.

    Click to access Rollei_35_Service_Manual_1972.pdf

    I believe it is noted as item #63
    It pushes that toothed aluminum thing/lever down (shown in my image of the front). You might have to take the entire front off to get to the spring as it sits on the back of the front cover.

  3. what version of the viewfinder did u have on ur rollei?
    theres a .8x and a .6x.
    i saw that on other threads people mention that the viewfinders were sealed
    and cant be cleaned?

    im looking to clean out the .8x version which i believe was the early builds..

    and thank u so much for posting this btw.. extremely helpful!
    ive fixed about 4 rolleis now (mostly shutter speed and light meter issues).

    thankfully ive never had to go beyond taking the top off.

    i did however accidently pop the rewind gear off and putting it back was no joke.
    but now that i feel quite confident in puttin the rewind gears back together,
    i think im ready to take on the next steps of cleaning the viewfinder.
    one step at a time! haha

    ur post has really helped me along the way.
    so thank u again!

    1. My camera is made in Singapore, which I believe makes it built after 1970, and I think that was when they changed from 0.8x to 0.62x. Most of the viewfinder is sealed on mine and there is a thin separation between the rear element … enough to get a cleaning cloth through. I did not try to figure out if I could disassemble the sealing.


  4. Hi there, I’m hoping you have the answer to my problem because I so desperately want to fix it. I just got this this camera yesterday. It is in mint condition and my light meter even works! I was certain that this was going to be my new favorite camera.. BUT I was so eager to put it to use that I skipped watching YouTube videos on how to use the camera and I accidentally cranked the winder lever without locking the lens. Now my winder lever does not want to advance my film.. how can I fix this? Thank you so much. – Sara Oliva

    1. Hmm, I don’t have any specific experience with that problem.
      My typical reaction would be to take the top plate off and look at how the mechanisms/gears operate … or are not operating.

  5. Dennis
    I wonder whether you can help me. I removed the finder of my Rollei 35S to clean it and now I cannot figure out how to re-engage the film advance lever (the large metal gear actually) to the black plastic gear. My camera has now a double-stroke film advance!
    Is there a way to put the gears properly in place?

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