About “About the tools” …

I thought I would add some more info about tools … since my last post was about figuring out how to repair cameras for the first time.

My first tool was a set of precision screw drivers. These I have always had since I also do/did Laptop repairs (another one of those hobbies that I picked up). Out of all the tools that I have, these are the most essential … and I have picked up many sets over time (like those damn torx heads). You can never have enough, and you will encounter a screw that you just don’t have the right size to fit. Reminds me of a friend of mine … his workshop has hundreds of different screw drivers, just because he has encountered all these damn sizes in his time.

If you don’t have the right sized slotted screw driver, you will curse yourself for stripping the head of of that last one you just tried to remove !!

Web sites like Favourite Classics offered tons of information from their posts and through the forum. Sadly the forum is dead now, but you can still get info out of the site: http://www.kyphoto.com/classics/articles.html. Google can still find the archived articles but eventually they will disappear. The Rangefinder forum is attempting to integrate the archives … but they have run into a snag which I hope they overcome.

A couple of high end stainless steel pointed tweezers (large and small) are also another tool that is essential. Picking up or holding those tiny screws … or using them as a spanner wrench (when you do not have one). Don’t bother with the cheap ones as they aren’t that strong.

One shop that I have used a number of times is Micro Tools http://www.micro-tools.com/store/home.aspx. They have a number of camera specific tools, and many other items. Almost all of the items on my About the Tools page can be purchased from this single shop.

Watch/Clock repair shops also sell a number of precision tools.

The local hardware store is where I have picked up cleaning chemicals, though I am not too happy about the volume … 1L of Acetone will last me more than a lifetime.

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How to start repairing

First, go to your local Thrift store and buy all the cameras/lenses that you can for $20.00. The older the better. This should give you at least two items … possibly five.

Look at the size of the screws holding the items together.

Go to Radio Shack or your local Home Hardware, and get some precision slotted screw drivers or other mico slotted type.

Get some pointy tweezers from somewhere … not sure exactly on that one.

Clear a nice desk area to work at.
Get a good lamp on an arm cause you will need to move it around.

Get some duct tape. Drink some beer, a 6 pack of bottles. Rip 4″ of duct tape. Stick the 6 beer caps on them. Now you have some cups to hold the various screws that you will remove in an orderly manner.
OK, you could probably find something else to organize the disassembly.

Surf the Web … If you are lucky you can search the Web and will find someone else that disassembled the same camera.

Take the camera apart.
Then put it back together.

Note what problems you had with your tools or lack of them. You probably were not able to take it all apart (at least without breaking something).
In order to get experienced in this … you need to know about what not to do and what you can do … you need to make the mistakes now so you don’t do it to an item that you really want to repair.

Fungus / haze

“… and that’s all I have to say about that.”

Many old rangefinder lenses that I have purchased cheap were due to haze or fungus on the lens elements. Removal of this stuff is sometimes hit or miss. I’ve had lenses with obvious haze that cleaned up easily with Isopropol Alcohol … and then there was one that I could never get cleaned as it etched the surface of the element/coating.

Lots of cleaners have been suggested … Isopropol Alcohol, Hydrogen Peroxide, Ammonia, Acetone, Bleach, Vinegar and even some harsher Acids have been used.

Luckily I had a couple of lenses that had fungus were the light surface type that were removable. One I could not remove completely, but it ended up very thin that it had a minimal affect on the incoming light to the film … though I did not try the Ponds Cold Cream rub which is noted by many.

As the lens coating is already damaged by either, I have tried using Acetone:Ammonia (others use Hydrogen Peroxide instead of Acetone) mix to attempt the cleaning. You have to work at it numerous times to slowly, and even leaving it to soak for a day or two, to get it removed or at least less damaged … at worst it will remove the coating (if the lens is coated) … but hopefully makes the lens usable.

There are many discussion posts about extreme haze cleaning … the last resort being polishing the lens with a very mild abrasive. Some have reported using toothpaste, silver polish …

So if you are going for those cheap fungus/haze lenses … do expect to lose 1/3 of the time. It will either come off easily or it just won’t come off.

Note: one time I did inquire to how much a lens polish would cost … the element was a doublet to it first has to be separated, then polished, then recoated, then recemented … estimated cost $375.00.

Seikosha MX shutter

One thing that I have commonly encountered are cameras with shutter problems. Shutters that don’t work at all, ones with incorrect speeds, or ones that don’t have working slow speeds.

Many older cameras had Copal or similar type shutters.

Restoring these to working order is not that difficult … though getting into them may be difficult in some cases.

SONY DSC This is a Seikosha MX shutter. Very similar to a Copal.

The lower section controls the slow shutter speeds, usually less than 1/30x. These gears get gummed up. The easiest way to clean them is to use Rosonol. Apply the lighter fluid and then work the slow speeds. You probably will have to do this numerous times … and then you might have to do it again after the Rosonol evaporates.

The beginning

Hmm, this adventure begins with a story that was told by my Grandmother about the time when I took the bolts off her toilet … I was going to figure out where the water went.

My family figured out that if they gave me things to take apart I would not damage essential items such as the toilet. I also had a flair for drawing … not sure how these two things connect, but somehow they do now. The interest in “Art” lead me to photography, and the interest in finding out how things work lead me to dismantling many cameras.

Now I am here. I will tell you up front that I have no formal training in camera repair (I always did want to work at a camera repair shop … like Komineks), so all this stuff that I blog about is really an adventure in photographic equipment restoration. Most of my knowledge has come from others on the Web that were kind enough to pass on their knowledge to others like me that have an interest in repair … the other side is the ability to figure out why that thing you just did was the wrong thing to do.

Repairing old photographic equipment requires some creative construction, as parts are not easily available. Cannibalism is extremely common and required in most cases.

The advent of eBay has played a big part in the stimulus to bring back the dead. There are so many items that are dropped onto auction from those that have no knowledge of the history of photographic equipment. These items are now accessible to millions of people that would never have seen such items … though many are purchased as trinkets from the old days, many are purchased from buyers that will actually use them to produce images. In the olden days I remember getting stuff at garage sales that my mom brought me to. Lots of travelling to get stuff cheap … though there are still always the local thrift stores.

Anyway … hmm, where was I going with this … ahhh, hmm.

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

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