Tag Archives: Autocord

Finally … tech and Tse converge.

I have been waiting for someone to do this … with the advent of 3D metal printing it was just a matter of time before we would get access to new replacement parts, for cameras that are no longer supported, built on order.

One such part is the focus lever on the Minolta Autocord. Due to the crap pot metal they used, there are many Autocords just sitting on shelves (Minolta Autocord – the knobless one)… relegated just for show and tell. Now they can come back to life taking pictures like they were born to do.

Recently, a fellow film camera user decided to take advantage of his skills and produce a 3D model of the lever!!! I give much credit to Edward Tse for his efforts.

Thingiverse – Edward Tse

Note that he designed the knob shorter than the original to reduce the knob smashing effect by the back door.

eBay … Autocord.

Hmm, was just hunting eBay for Minolta Autocords … I don’t know why I keep looking for these cameras … and I notice that the price has been really jacked up.

I just saw one that commented on a fugly one that it has great patina ? Really ? It really is need of a thorough CLA … and it has the classic bent focus knob … way too much $$$ for a starting price.

I wonder if this has anything to do with my blog … hmmm, maybe I am thinking too highly of myself … but I do constantly see that my Autocord posts are still the most actively viewed ones.

Yes, it is a great camera … but not worth that much (that some of these people are asking), its almost like Rollei prices.

FYI: for those that want a great TLR, you should hunt for a Ricoh Ricohmatic 225 … it has a great lens and can still be found cheap (most of the time). I still keep my eye out for one with the Color-Back 225 35mm film adapter kit.

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 Cameraleather.com. 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).

Minolta – winder side

I have not had an Autocord that I needed to repair the winding gears, but I do clean the gears underneath.

Tools: dental chisel, pointy tweezers, and slotted screw driver.

You will note that my Autocord is missing the knob on the winding arm. I used my parts camera to replace it.

Unscrew the strap lug and the back door hinge.

Use pointy tweezers to unscrew (anticlockwise) the locking screw for the winding arm (note that there is a washer underneath it) and the winding reversal button.

You will need to remove the leatherette covering from this side to reveal the five screws. This will take you some time if you want to remove all of it, so you can just work on the areas around the screws and come back to it later.

Remove the five screws and pull off the cover plate.

Note the bottom will lift up as there is a spring underneath.

The indicated area is where you will find the winding shaft spring, set plate and gear.

You can clean off the gears with Ronsonol.

Before you put the cover plate back on, clean the backside of the windows and add a dab of Super Lube around the center wind post.

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.