Cleaning Up Rolleicords

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Huram, Jan 31, 2005.

  1. Huram

    Huram Member

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    Hey Ya'll,

    I need some advice. I have been a 35 mm shooter so far, but just recieved my first Rolleicord today from an eBay seller. I have been itching to shoot quality BW medium format, and this was a very affordable entry point for me; it is a Rolleicord IV. They say the Rolleicord V's are more sought after by collectors, and the IV's (and lower) aren't as wanted. They have the same lense, though as the V -- Schineder Xenar 3.5. Obviously the flexes with the better Planar/Xentar lenses were much more expenseive. All I wanted was a good lense that could the job in producing some quality 6x6 negs. I took a "gamble" on this (60 bucks is still a lot for me), but I have heard Rolleicords are simpler than the flexes as far as fixing and maintence goes. Here, check it out on eBay:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3869493425

    I got it for 53 bucks ("as-is"). Just opened up the box.

    I would love to hear any suggestions on things I can do to clean it up or help it function more smoothly (I like to fix and tinker with things). I have not shoot any film with it yet, but here is the quick prognosis:

    1. The body is in ok condition as seen in the pics, but would love any clean up tips.

    2. The shutter works on all speeds but is quite slow in the 1/2 - 1 second range. How can I get these shutter speeds happy?

    3. Both lenses are in ok shape. No scratches that I can see when holding it up to the light, looking through on the bulb setting. Specs of dust however, but no fungus. What is the best way to clean off the lenses as best I can? Will dust particles drastically affect the quality of the neg?

    4. The viewing screen is pretty dull and dusty. Thinking of taking of the top and cleaning up both sides of the view finder. I know you can get new ones off of eBay, but would like to get by on this one.

    I still have yet to run some film through it, but was wondering if anyone could give me any general initial cleaning tips. Thanks!


    Sincerely,

    Huram
     
  2. ian_greant

    ian_greant Member

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    shutter: leaf shutters need exercise. When I got my rolliecord everything below 1/60th was slow.. I meant to send it in for servicing but just started shooting it instead. Gradually all the speeds have come up to snuff.

    ground glass, just take it out and clean it... helps to clean the mirror as well, but be very careful while doing so.

    Enjoy,
    Ian
     
  3. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    The ground glass can be cleaned with Windex or similar, take the top out and clean the ground glass and the mirror. Be careful with the mirror as those are easy to scratch since the plating is on the "outside" of the glass.

    Specks in the lens, don;t even worry about those, if you want to be extra picky try "dusting" with a brush the inside element and the camera holding it "upside down" so the dust will fall off it..

    As per the shutter speeds, as Ian said, exercise the shutter many times. It may help.
     
  4. geraldatwork

    geraldatwork Member

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    I 3rd the advice above. I took out the focusing screen on my Minolta Autocord and cleaned the focusing screen and carefully the mirror. It made a pretty big difference. It was pretty easy to get out and back in. Small specks should not affect picture quality.
     
  5. elekm

    elekm Member

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    My thoughts:

    1. Leather clean-up tips: Get a soft-bristeled toothbrush and some saddle soap and clean it good, using the directions on the can. Afterward, dry, apply black Kiwi shoe polish and buff to a nice sheen. It might seem a bit tacky, but after a day or so, that will disappear, and the leather will be in very nice condition.

    2. The shutter works on all speeds but is quite slow in the 1/2 - 1 second range. How can I get these shutter speeds happy?

    3. Use either cotton balls, a clean 100% cotton T-shirt, or plain white facial tissue + optical cleaner. You can buy it from a drug store, if you're in the U.S., or from an optician. First, blow off any particles. Then clean the lenses, using as many cotton balls or tissues as necessary. They're cheap.

    4. There should be two screws on either side of the viewfinder. Remove them, taking care not to damage the heads. I think they're made of brass and are somewhat soft. Lift off the focusing hood, and you should be able to remove the ground glass screen. The matte side goes down, smooth side up, if you forget when you reassemble. Obviously, don't drop it.

    I usually use a toothbrush and dishwashing soap on the matte side. Windex is fine for the top shiny side.

    While you're at it, clean the mirror. Again, blow any dust out of the chamber first. Then use the cotton balls/facial tissue + optical cleaner. Don't scrub. Just wipe. If the surface seems like it's flaking, be very careful with it, as that means the mirror is de-silvering. If not, just clean it.
     
  6. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    That was a good price indeed!

    As the others have said, don't worrk about a little dust inside the lens, it won't hurt anything.

    As for the slow shutter speeds... If a bit of exercise doesn't help, contact Carol Miller at Flutot's Camera Repair (flutotscamera@earthlink.net) for a Clean, Lube, and Adjust. She does excellent work on leaf shutters and is very reasonable.
     
  7. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I forgot to answer No. 2. To correct stuttering slow speeds, you would need to do a partial disassembly of the shutter. That would involve removing the front plate of the camera and then the face ring of the shutter. If you've not done it before, it can seem intimidating.
     
  8. Huram

    Huram Member

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    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thanks all for the great suggestions!

    Last night after cleaning up this tank of a camera (I cleaned the viewing screen, mirror and the body), I ran a roll of 400 speed through the camera and shoot 12 exp. in my apartment. I developed them, and they turned out great! I have yet to enlarge and print any, but the negs. seem sharp and crisp. Amazing what 60 bucks can get you!

    Anyhow, I did come across a couple minor annoyances. Maybe any of ya'll could over info.

    1. On the 7th frame of my rendevous last night, I took a picture, and tried to advance the film to get to the 8th frame. I got it a little past the "7," but then it didn't want to budge! To get it to move on, I had to take another picture (which resulted in a double exposure on half the 7 and half on the 8th frame). After that, it rolled fine.

    After I took out the film, I did a "ghost" run with the camera (without any film). This time, the same thing happened on the 9th frame. I tried again and succesfully managed to make it to the 12th frame with out a hitch. Any ideas what is going on, and how I can fix it?

    2. The only other annoyance I have detected is this -- the back of the rolleicord detaches from the camera body quite easily. It looks like the pins which should hold the swing door in place have been pushed into far into their holes, and they don't really serve the purpose of holding the swing door in place. I can't find any way to pull out these pins (tried a needle nose plyers), but they are too far in to get a real good grip on them? Any ideas? Maybe find a similar size pin/nail shaft to push in there? Even though the top of the back sticks out a little when I clip the back on, the box seems to be light tight as I did not detect any leaks on the film. It just annoyes me though.

    3. One last q on cleaning the mirror in the camera: is using windex a bad idea when trying to clean this or do I have to get an "optical solution" ? Would a dry swipe with cotton be best?

    Well, besides these two issues, I am very happy with the images it takes. I think it will be a great intro for me into the world of MF. Thanks again for all the great tips, and please give me some more feedback!

    Huram
     
  9. Emile de Leon

    Emile de Leon Member

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    You have a great camera! The Rolliecord 4 with Xenar 3.5 has a fantastic resolution lens at f8. I think it is better in B&W than my Planar 3.5F. Have fun. Emile. www.deleon-ulf.com
     
  10. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Regarding cleaning the mirror. If it's hazy, just try breathing on it and wiping with a cotton ball or tissue. If it's dirty, I'd go with optical cleaner. I'd try it first on a corner to make sure the coating is OK. Spray the optical cleaner on the tissue or cotton ball, not onto the mirror. Wipe once or twice only and throw out the cotton ball/tissue. Use another to clean and dry the mirror.

    I've serviced about a dozen Rolleiflexes, and luckily the silvering has been very good on all of them.
     
  11. Huram

    Huram Member

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    Elekm and everyone else,

    Thanks for the help. Funny how each of these posts leads to a new question:

    What type of optical cleaner is the best to use? Will anything due (even something for cleaning your eyeglasses)?


    Huram
     
  12. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Huram
    RE:stuck pins, Usually this is caused by dry lube or dirt in the retainer.
    You might try a very small application of oil(a drop on the end of a toothpick) & then work the pin in & out. there is a spring behind them so it shouldn't be difficult.
    The advance problem is also Probably dry lube, and needs to be serviced. There's a lever that's not free enough to work smoothly & is causing you're problem. Working the camera through several cycles may clean it up but I doubt it.
     
  13. elekm

    elekm Member

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    The kind for eyeglasses is ideal. It's nonabrasive, and it won't damage the anti-reflective coating on the lens.
     
  14. Dimitri

    Dimitri Member

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    If you can dismantle the front of the camera and access the shutter blades you can try the "lighter fuel" treatment (Graflex owners have been using this trick for long time). What you do is squirt a few drops of lighter fuel on the bladew and mechanism and operate the shutter a few times. It should work OK at the lower speeds. Then let it dry and using a toothpick oil the pins and springs. Use machine oil (sewing machine oil is very good) and only use minute amounts.

    One word of warning though. If you do not feel confident about this do not attempt it. Better sent the camera for a proper CLA