Nikon, Nikkormat light seals and mirror foam

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by newcan1, Jul 10, 2012.

  1. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

    Messages:
    561
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2011
    Location:
    Chattanooga
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Hi all:

    I have several Nikkormat EL's and FTn's that are in good working order but need new light seals and, I assume, mirror foam.

    I bought an FTn light seal kit for one but it was about $14 and consists of just a few slithers of foam.

    Can anyone tell me exactly what type and thickness of foam I need for each seal part, and where I might get small sheets of it? And a template from which to cut? Are the EL seals the same as for the FTn? I am thinking that it could be much more economical to cut my own seals from sheets, but I don't know where I would get the sheets, let alone what exactly I need. I probably have 5 or 6 cameras that need the seals and mirror foam, and I want to get them spiffed up for a fashion shoot I plan to do for my daughter's new fashion design business.

    Thanks for any good suggestions!

    David
     
  2. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,921
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I gave up on the seal kits after putting one in a friend's camera. I replaced the seals in my Nikons with black wool and felt for the mirror.
     
  3. CGW

    CGW Member

    Messages:
    2,797
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I've found that the seal at the back hinge is prime suspect for light leaks on most MF Nikons. It's also the easiest to change. The seal/pad for the mirror is also prone to go to goo and is a no-brainer to change. I'd stop there and not muck around with seals around the prism and mirror box.The thin seals running the length of the back aren't critical as light leak sources.

    I'd look for thin adhesive-backed foam(black preferably) sold in most craft stores for south of 2 bucks for an 8x10 sheet. Get a straight edge and an Xacto knife or single-edge razor blade for clean, precise cuts.

    The real pain is thoroughly removing the sticky old seals. Lots of DIY pointers online.
     
  4. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,921
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    On mine, I left the residue. It's what holds the wool and felt in place.:smile:
     
  5. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

    Messages:
    561
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2011
    Location:
    Chattanooga
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I'd like to be able to do the light seal at the back hinge, the ones along the back, and the mirror foam. Isn't the hinge seal a different thickness from the ones along the back? Also, is the mirror foam a different type of foam? I do like the idea of using felt.
     
  6. CGW

    CGW Member

    Messages:
    2,797
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    The seals buried in the channel along the length of the body aren't critical as light seals. The hinge seal is, though, and should be changed. I use the same foam for the mirror. Felt doesn't compress as readily as foam and can strain the hinge and put unnecessary pressure on the latch at the other end.
     
  7. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

    Messages:
    561
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2011
    Location:
    Chattanooga
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Seems like I'll be making a trip to the craft store on the way home, I hope they have some of the foam sheets.
     
  8. Nick Merritt

    Nick Merritt Member

    Messages:
    419
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2007
    Location:
    Hartford, Co
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  9. LyleB

    LyleB Member

    Messages:
    379
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Location:
    Lower Michig
    Shooter:
    35mm
    +1 on the Jon Goodman kits and instructions.
     
  10. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

    Messages:
    561
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2011
    Location:
    Chattanooga
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I think the kit I did buy previously was a Jon Goodman one. However, I went to a craft shop on the way home last night and bought some felt and 2mm (and 3mm just in case) closed cell foam. Probably enough for all of my cameras, for a total of just over $5. We shall see how I do with that. I looked at one of my old Nikkormats last night, and the door hinge seal was completely missing but the area had been cleaned; it seems the previous purchaser had replaced the mirror foam, and had replaced the long door seals with what looks like black wool. So I will start with that camera and give some thought to using wool for the long seals, especially as it has been indicated here that they are not critical.

    The Goodman instructions posted above seem to indicate open cell foam for the mirror foam; I haven't found any thin such foam; maybe closed cell or the felt will work there.
     
  11. Jon Goodman

    Jon Goodman Member

    Messages:
    656
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Hi guys...thanks very much for the endorsement and for the nice words, by the way. Mirror dampers should be open-celled foam. They're principally a sound deadener and secondarily a light seal. In some camera designs the light seal aspect of mirror dampers is a very distant second. Hinge end seals are very important...probably over 90% of camera leaks begin here. Thickness is critical. Too thick and you can get the door out of whack and create more trouble. Compressibility is important, also. Using a craft foam (foamies) is a really bad idea for hinge end seals on cameras such as any of the Olympus OM series, Nikon FM series, Olympus XA first series, Minolta Hi-Matic series, most Konicas, some Canons and scads of other cameras designed to use a hinge end seal of 1mm thickness or less. Craft store foam is stiff and has very high compression set (meaning poor and slow rebound)...to me it is like putting tractor tires on a Ferrari. The long thin slots don't usually leak light, but in some camera designs they can. The other culprit to watch for is film canister window seals. In many cases these are worse than hinge end seals for being the first place to leak light. Please do not try to laminate craft foam up to a thickness that can be used for these seals. It is totally incorrect for canister film window applications and in the worst case will compress the film canister to the point where the back side of your film will be deformed, ruined, scratched when it comes out, hard to advance and next to impossible to rewind. Some cameras using film window canisters also used auto-advance and rewind, and this can be death to a plastic gear train. If you need foam to finish a job or for any application, please contact me. I keep "offcuts" I will send rather than see you use the wrong material. Piracy and fraud committed by another person have caused me to only sell pre-cut kits now. Those instructions I posted for everyone to use have been plagiarized and also sold by this person and others. Oh, one more thing: please don't overlook mechanical troubles. Many light leaks come from missing screws, broken camera bodies, etc. The most confusing case of this I've seen was a cracked/broken take-up shaft collar in a Nikon EM. Yes, it was plastic. How it got broken we can't say but it was able to let light in when light struck the rewind knob at a certain point, and it doesn't take much light to pollute film.
    Jon
     
  12. lxdude

    lxdude Member

    Messages:
    6,907
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2009
    Location:
    Redlands, So
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    Did you find it? :wink:
     
  13. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,921
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Don't even go there. After those puns in the metric thread you should be going to confession, or getting excorsised, or going on a long pilgrimage on your knees, or something.:confused:

    And if you must know, yes I found it. It was dark in there and now all my pictures are upsidedown and backwards.:blink:
     
  14. lxdude

    lxdude Member

    Messages:
    6,907
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2009
    Location:
    Redlands, So
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Did you hear about the guy who didn't pay his exorcist?

    He was repossessed.



    Uh-oh. It's installed upside down. Don't know what to do about the backwards part, though.:confused: