The basics of camera and lens dismantling/adjusting/cleaning

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by dnjl, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. dnjl

    dnjl Member

    Messages:
    376
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2010
    Location:
    Switzerland
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Hello everyone,

    I'm looking for resources that will help me to understand the basics of camera repair. I don't aim to become a mechanical engineer, I just want to know the essence so that I can do the most basic CLA. Good repairmen are hard to come by where I live, and sending my gear out for CLA is very expensive. Last week I had a local camera dealer look at a sticky shutter in my Zeiss Super Ikonta. He told me he'd fix it and he did, but he did a very bad job. There are scratches on the lens coating and there's a lot of dirt and lighter fluid residue (I assume that's what he used) inside the lens. The camera is unusable as is, I ran a roll of film through it and the results look like they come from a Holga. That's not what I want from a Zeiss Tessar lens.
    As I see it, all I have to do is dismantle the lens and clean up all the crap this guy left behind (he must be blind not to notice). Obviously, this is going to be much harder than it sounds. That's why I'm looking for a good guide that'll help me understand the basics of camera and lens mechanics. By the way, I do have a disposable (SLR) lens to practice on first.

    In a nutshell, I want to be able to perform basic CLAs on my own cameras and I need good sources that can teach me the knowhow. I want at least to be able to do the following:
    - clean the interior of a lens
    - clean sticky shutters and aperture blades
    - calibrate rangefinders
    - apply lube where necessary (eg. squealing mirror on a Canon A-1)
    - I have already replaced light seals and mirror foam (yay for me!)

    Suggestions are most welcome :wizard:
     
  2. lxdude

    lxdude Member

    Messages:
    6,943
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2009
    Location:
    Redlands, So
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My first suggestion is to go back to that "repair" guy and smack him on the back of the head.
     
  3. dnjl

    dnjl Member

    Messages:
    376
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2010
    Location:
    Switzerland
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I'd do that, but he's a 70-year old paranoid cripple who recently announced in a local newspaper that he would personally chop off the legs of thieves with an axe he always has at hand (his store was broken into repeatedly). I know from experience that this guy cannot be argued with, and I'd rather not have him look at the camera again.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 2, 2011
  4. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

    Messages:
    1,148
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Location:
    Near Tavisto
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Pick up a copy of Tomosy's Camera Repair and Maintenance Vol 1. You might later wish to get hold of Vol 2 as well, but I wouldn't worry about it until you've familiarised yourself with the contents of Vol 1. You'll recover the cost of the book the first time you clean a lens or un-jam a camera, but beware - you'll soon find yourself buying all kinds of duff cameras that you'll feel an uncontrollable urge to fix!
    Best wishes,
    Steve
     
  5. guitstik

    guitstik Member

    Messages:
    1,098
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2010
    Location:
    Eads TN.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have been trying to locate both volumes but it seems that they are no longer in print and the secondary market hasn't been fruitful either.
     
  6. lxdude

    lxdude Member

    Messages:
    6,943
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2009
    Location:
    Redlands, So
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Like I said, smack him on the back of the head-that way he won't see it coming!
    Then run--what's he gonna do, chase you?:devil::wink:
     
  7. dnjl

    dnjl Member

    Messages:
    376
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2010
    Location:
    Switzerland
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thanks! That sounds like the exact thing I was looking for.

    By the way, I managed to clean the Ikonta. Apparently all I needed to do was unscrew the back element, open the shutter and clean all four surfaces. The lens looks clean now, though the scratches remain. I hate myself for trusting that guy, I really do. He actually filed down the slots where the lens spanner wrench goes and painted over the damage with black ink so that I wouldn't notice. I mean, come on :blink:
     
  8. paul ron

    paul ron Member

    Messages:
    1,864
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2004
    Location:
    NYC
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Google is your friend. There is so much information on the net that you can become an expert just by joining forums n asking questions. So many old repair guys are willing to help, even post pictures for ya.

    Check these out....

    http://www.kyphoto.com/cgi-bin/forum/search.cgi?method=last&number=7&units=1440&tree=ON&where=all
    http://www.nelsonfoto.com/SMF/
    http://photographic.co.nz/cameraworks/
    http://www.btinternet.com/~g.a.patterson/
    http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~Srawhiti/retinalist.html
    http://www.jollinger.com/photo/cam-coll/manuals/manuals.html

    Just to name a few.
     
  9. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,419
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    northern Pa.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  10. Mark Crabtree

    Mark Crabtree Member

    Messages:
    678
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2009
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Your Super Ikonta is likely a good place to start slowly getting a feel for this, though I don't know exactly which version you have. The Tomosy books are a nice reference, but not easy to follow if you don't already have some experience (and then sometimes not).

    You can see the Tessar lens design here.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tessar
    Front is on the left.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 3, 2011
  11. dnjl

    dnjl Member

    Messages:
    376
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2010
    Location:
    Switzerland
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Mark,

    Thank you for the detailed answer. I looked up some basic folder designs on the Internet and was able to restore my 533/16 BX. I unscrewed the back lens element with my hands (didn't have a lens spanner wrench), opened the shutter and cleaned all elements thoroughly using distilled water with a drop of dishwashing soap and a lot of Q-tips. Then I removed the focusing ring and unscrewed the front element and cleaned those surfaces as well. There was no need to remove the second element, as I could get at it from both sides. I loaded some wax paper on 120 rolls and used this as a ground glass to recalibrate the focus at infinity (courtesy of David Richert). Now all I have to do is put a tiny bit of lubricant onto the gears and helicoid (it's not as smooth as I'd like it to be), repeat the calibration and shoot a test roll. I'll also give the leatherette a nice rub and shine up the metal parts.

    As you can see on this test shot (before), the focus (infinity at 5-8m) was off by a large margin and the grime inside the lens had a very visible impact.

    6302898702_559dd82793.jpg

    I will post some test shots when my work on this camera is complete. I don't want to stop here though. I'll get the suggested readings mentioned in this thread and turn myself into a semi-qualified repairman.
     
  12. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,378
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Montgomery,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Careful with the lube. A white lithium grease works well but don't use the grease gun from the garage=) A LITTLE dab or two with a small brush will be plenty.
     
  13. dnjl

    dnjl Member

    Messages:
    376
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2010
    Location:
    Switzerland
    Shooter:
    35mm
    My calibration turned out to be a failure. I think I'll need a decent ground glass after all. Plastic just doesn't cut it.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  14. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,378
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Montgomery,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You can make your own GG with a glass from a picture frame and polishing compound. Do you have anything like a thrift store over there?

    Oh Boy, another project! =)
     
  15. jnoir

    jnoir Member

    Messages:
    109
    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2009
    Location:
    Mdz
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    When I started doing my own repairs more than 10 years ago (I'm on my late twenties now) I just started picking up cameras and simply taking them apart to understand how they work. Taking notes and recording on video everything, specially at the beginning of the learning curve, is one of the few good advices I got when I was on your situation. My advice for you'd be: start with easy, simple, cheap cameras. The Super Ikonta is a CRF and not one of the easiest designs to work with (although well documented on the net, which may be of help). Your approach also does not grant a clean Ikonta, but one where some glass surfaces are now more or less clean. A good CLA involves Cleaning (everything, not just the glass), Lubricating (a few shutter points, RF linkage, focussing helix, etc) and Adjusting (recollimation of lens, readjusting of shutter speeds as required, etc).

    Oh, and for focussing, I just had a glass square cut to size, and applied Scotch tape to one side.
     
  16. flatulent1

    flatulent1 Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,342
    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I just stretched some scotch tape across the gap, no need for glass. With that and a loupe I was able to fix the focus on my Nettar.