unsticking isolette lens

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by winger, May 4, 2008.

  1. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I just got an Agfa Isolette (first version, I believe). The shutter seems okay, as far as I can tell so far and I still have to check the bellows for holes. BUT, the lens does not turn to focus. I don't know for sure if it's stuck at infinity or at 3 feet. What's the best bet to unstick it? Send it out, or try myself?
     
  2. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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  3. jazzokny

    jazzokny Member

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    I bought one last year with the same problem.I had to have it refurbished. A new bellows and the lens had to be taken apart cleaned oiled . works like a brand new one. It cost me almost $ 100.00 . There is a man who has done this for years and only works on these types of folding cameras. I can try to find out his web sightfor you. James
     
  4. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    You may be thinking of Jurgen Kreckel aka "certo6" on the big auction site.

    I got a pretty nice Perkeo II from him recently, he enjoys an excellent reputation.


    DaveT
     
  5. Antje

    Antje Member

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  6. jazzokny

    jazzokny Member

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    It was Mr. Kreckel.
     
  7. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    Bethe,

    I got one unstuck by dint of a two day bath in naptha, a small drop of liquid wrench, a tap or two on the side every couple hours for a day or so with a small metal rod to help the liquid penetrate and then concerted and sustained effort with a tiny home-made strap wrench - not a task I would take on again if I could have somebody else do it. I almost gave up. It was not the "professional" way to do it to say the least. Mr. Kreckel's service is praised by all and seems reasonable if the camera is important to you. I simply wasn't willing to spend $105 on a $15 camera at the time. The whole camera will be clean and ready for good fun if he does it.
     
  8. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    Thanks all! I may actually try this one myself. Or I might try shooting with it first in case it's stuck at infinity. I only paid $25, Whitey, so I sorta feel the same. The wait for it to be done puts me off more than the cost, too.
     
  9. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I have one. I have just looked at the DoF table supplied. If it is stuck at infinity and the cost of getting the focus to function fully is more than the camera's worth then provided everything else is OK and you use f16 you'll get the kind of DoF that will enable you to take sharp pictures from 15ft and at f22 at 11ft which is close enough for people groups. Perfectly possible to use f22 on the sunny f16 rule and ISO 400 film which at 6x6 negs isn't going to show much grain. In fact there's an argument that if you want to use larger apertures and at close range, you'd have to use a rangefinder attachment for close ups anyway unless your ability to judge distance was above average. DoF becomes quite small at close range and it is easy to misjudge. At 5ft for instance and at f8 the DoF is only 4.3ft to 5.9ft

    For a camera that produces big negs, it's so easy and light to carry around.

    pentaxuser
     
  10. vdonovan

    vdonovan Subscriber

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    I just fixed mine a few weeks ago. It was easy. There are plenty of threads about this at Rangefinderforum.com.

    1. Remove lens assembly
    2. Soak in lighter fluid overnight.
    3. Heat with hairdryer (on high) for about 5 minutes
    4. Unscrew stuck threads. I was able to use my fingers. If still stuck, use more heat.
    5. Clean old green gunge lubricant from threads using lighter fluid and qtips
    6. Re-lubricate with synthetic grease
     
  11. filmamigo

    filmamigo Member

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    I had some success refurbing an Isolette a few months ago.

    My dad had used it last in the early 70's. By the time he gave it to me around Christmas, it was completely frozen. I didn't want to spend a $100 either, and had much fun learning how to disassemble and clean this camera.

    The frozen focus ring was solved in much the manner described above. It wasn't too tough. I removed the whole lenses assembly from the camera, then gave it an overnight soak, then wrapped the front and back of the lens assembly in hockey tape. Very gentle application of twisting from opposing locking pliers, and it unscrewed. Once apart, the whole thing can be soaked again. Every glass element was fogged (probably by the decaying AGFA grease) and had to be cleaned front and back, and every thread had to be scrupulously soaked and cleaned. Before reassembly, I gave the threads a wipe with silicone lubricant. It is now silky smooth.

    The shutter and self timer on it was also frozen. Further disassembly and soaking got much of the gunk out. It's amazing how much solid flotsam will come out of such a little device.

    The trick on reassembly is to VERY lightly oil the few spots which might need it. I found that the bare unit with no lube would freeze, so I experimented with adding fine camera/machine oil from the head of a pin. Too much, and it would stick again. So, I would soak it out in naptha, dry it, and try again with even less!

    The fast speeds >1/10 run smooth and in perfect time. The self timer works like a charm. Slow speeds are wonky -- occasionally perfect, but usually slow and sometimes stuck.

    In reading through Certo6's site (where he kindly provides a lot of details) the biggest thing I lacked was the ultrasonic cleaner. I think that would have done the trick to remove whatever is junking up my slow speeds. As cheap as the ultrasonic cleaner seems to be (at Harbor Freight) I couldn't justify having yet more crap hanging around the house after a single use.

    I got lucky on the bellows for my Jsolette - they seem to be the leather kind, and certainly don't have any light leaks.

    The exterior of the camera came up really nicely with Silvo taking the tarnish off the aluminum top and bottom. A little bit of Armor All wiped on the leatherette made it look like a 20 year old camera instead of a 63 year old camera!

    The lens is easily collimated, simply tape a piece of hampshire frost or wax paper in the film chamber. Then you can collimate the lens while looking right at the film plane.

    It's a great user camera. Handheld, I never want to go under 1/10 second anyway. I have an accessory rangefinder (unfortunately my Jsolette doesn't have a shoe mount, so I have to just hold the finder.) Using the rangefinder is much recommended -- I am spoiled by the deep DOF of 35mm and digital and have been off on my "estimated" distances.

    Does anyone know a good solution for filters? I read somewhere that they take a Series V push-on filter. I tried a surplus "Series #5" that I ordered from Camera Depot, but it won't slip onto the lens. I would love to have a yellow and red filter handy for this little marvel.
     
  12. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    I used the heat method a few times on some of the old folder cameras I own. Instead of lighter fluid, I used 100% alcohol. Then I used a heat gun with that. To get leverage without damaging anything, I used a Sorbothane pad and white artist eraser for grip. It takes time and effort, but the result is no damage. When I re-assemble the lens, I use extra hard helical grease, and a very thin application of this is all that is needed.

    My feeling is that these are too cheap to pay much for someone to repair them. Unless you end up with one of the more unusual folder cameras, I think it can be better to try working on it yourself. I also suggest buying one or two more folder cameras that are similar, because at some point you might want spare parts.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat Photography
     
  13. elekm

    elekm Member

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    There are varying degrees of stuck when it comes to the Agfa lenses. I just worked on a little Karat, and that lens was unbelievably stuck. Took lots of soaking and much effort to unfreeze it.

    Often, some lighter fluid will work. Other times, it's a real struggle. And when you do get the lens freed, you must clean the helicals of all of the old grease before regreasing and reassembling.;

    I agree that spending $100 on a $20 camera probably isn't worth it, unless that $20 camera has some sentimental value or is an Isolette III or a Super Isolette.
     
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  15. catem

    catem Member

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    I have an Agfa Prontori 11 that has always been stuck on 3 ft. It's amazing what you can do with it though. Having said that, I haven't used it for years but would quite like to try it out again - I'm a wary of fixing it myself, though these methods sound good (not sure of any good places to take it any more either). It's certainly worth trying it as it is before doing anything.
     
  16. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    OK, so how do I get the lens off the shutter? Do I unscrew the 3 very small screws in the side of the outer ring? Here are pics of it. I figure I'm better off asking first.
     

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  17. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    Bethe,
    If you unscrew the 3 very small screws in the side of the outer ring and remove that ring, you'll find a post screwed into the side of the front cell that limits travel while focusing. removing that allows the front cell to be screwed off - assuming, of course that anything is movable given the frozen focus. Don't lose those set screws! They're little buggers and easy to drop. With the cowl off it's easier to apply some torque to the front cell as well.
     
  18. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    Thanks, Whitey! I thought that was likely, but wanted to ask first. Yeah, those little screws are going to be fun to keep from losing.
     
  19. JPD

    JPD Member

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    Don't unscrew them compleatly. Just loosen them.
     
  20. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    A bit of heat, now that's a good idea. I have fixed a half dozen cases of green-gunk and keep the lens in a warm place between taps and drops of WD-40 (Liquid Wrench, as mentioned, may be a better choice), but getting it hot should work well. IIRC, you have to heat a lens in a frying pan to melt the balsam holding cemented elements together, and in any case the Agfa Apotars and Agnars are triplets without any cemented elements.

    As a replacement lube may I recommend stop-cock grease. It doesn't separate and it doesn't harden. The high-temperature/high-vacuum type is best if you can find it. The other good grease is disc-brake caliper grease. Every grease that I know of sold for optical applications dries out or throws oil - often both.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 18, 2008
  21. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    Work on a white terry-cloth towel. It will trap dropped and sproinged parts (most of them) and saves both the dining room table and the camera from scratching. A good magnet is useful for finding small things that drop to the floor.

    If you have a digital camera take pictures before/as you take things apart. Especially those wire springs that get wound around posts in odd ways.
     
  22. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    My father took something apart (I forget what) which had a lot of tiny screws. When he was ready to put it together again he decide to clear an area of his workbench and in doing so swept all of the screws onto the floor. This was followed by several hours of retrieving screws from the carpet. Don't do this!


    Steve.
     
  23. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    Some great advice - thanks all! I'll let you know how it ends!
     
  24. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    I have a styrofoam meat tray - you know, the white or yellow ones that chicken parts come in from the grocery store, that I use as a work tray. Little parts seldom escape and screws can be push into the foam to stay put - in the order (left to right for me) that they are removed. This often removes the question, "Which one of these little beggars goes in first?"
     
  25. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    OK, the outer retaining ring (with the focus distances on it) came off easily enough. I still haven't managed to loosen the lens at all. To take it out of the shutter, do I need to undo the apparent retaining ring? There are slots in a ring that look like a spanner wrench would work on them (both inside and out - see photos). Do I undo those?
     

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  26. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    The retaining ring inside will drop the entire shutter out for you - useful if you need to give the thing a bath in solvent, The arrow pointing in the other shot is a somewhat enigmatic to me... I don't get what it's really pointing at as it appears that no spanner wrench could realistically get around the top of the cell and down to a ring in that position. The removal of the front cell is what is giving you the problem in the first place. In order to get it off, you have to be able to unscrew it, just as you do when you focus, only more so. There should be a small pin extending out from the side of the front cell that hits a stop pin coming up from the surface of the shutter. That's the infinity stop. You have to unscrew past it, so remove that pin and save it.

    I'd undo the rear retainer (your bellows will back off the front standard - don't worry) and have the shutter and lens separate from the camera body in order to do any more work on it. Then try the various methods described above.