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  1. #1

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    Canon AE-1 shutter problem. Not Battery, not electromagnet

    I have a Canon AE-1 (not a program), it won't fire. Period. I have tried a brand-new battery-that I bought 25 minutes ago, the meter works and meters correctly. I have read whatever I could find, which led me to take off the bottom cover and test the electromagnet release. It works fine, and is clean.

    I have no shutter squeak, I have no other issues.

    I have taken the top cover off, and is all down to the shutter button. When depressed, it meters, but it just will not fire!

    Any ideas? Suggestions? How does this shutter circuit work?

  2. #2

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    Try cleaning the surface of the release magnet. I used to clip a narrow piece off a $1. bill. put a little alcohol on it & hold the mg closed while pulling the strip through the magnet.
    If you can trip the shutter by pushing the arm away from the armature that will tell you if it's mechanical or electronic.
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

  3. #3
    Markster's Avatar
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    That's the EXACT problem I was about to report with my used A-1!!

    I wasn't sure how to phrase it but I had the exact same issue with triggering the magnet manually (mechanically) and it works per the time selector dial (i.e. 30 seconds, 1/60th, etc, seem about right).

    Mine has this plastic guard/shell over the entire magnet. Can I safely try to remove that? Or is it more complicated?
    -Markster

    Canon AE-1P 35mm | 50mm/f1.8 FDn | 28mm/2.8 FD | 70-200mm/f4-5 FD | 35-70mm/F2.8-3.5 Sigma FD

  4. #4

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    When I was working on these, we would slit the shell on one edge and reinstall it when we were done.
    Is the coil OK and are you getting power to the magnet?
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

  5. #5

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    Hi John! you have time for a cup of coffee this weekend?

  6. #6
    Markster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Koehrer View Post
    When I was working on these, we would slit the shell on one edge and reinstall it when we were done.
    Is the coil OK and are you getting power to the magnet?
    Mine looks to be in excellent shape actually. No muck, no gunk, looks very clean. No shutter squeak when I manually trigger it.

    It really is a good camera, except the shutter won't trip.

    So you're saying cut along one edge of the plastic sheild, and fold along the opposite edge, like a door/flap? Then fold back down when I'm done? I think I can do that.

    I'll try some rubbing alcohol as mentioned.
    -Markster

    Canon AE-1P 35mm | 50mm/f1.8 FDn | 28mm/2.8 FD | 70-200mm/f4-5 FD | 35-70mm/F2.8-3.5 Sigma FD

  7. #7
    Markster's Avatar
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    Well I've opened it up and I have to say there's not a single blemish or smear or smudge on the magnet surfaces. The copper is shiny and the only way I can describe this is "pristine" (for the most part, few external dings here and there).

    Bottom plate off:


    Lifting the plastic cover:


    The magnet surface:


    Any other suggestions? There's nothing to clean here.
    -Markster

    Canon AE-1P 35mm | 50mm/f1.8 FDn | 28mm/2.8 FD | 70-200mm/f4-5 FD | 35-70mm/F2.8-3.5 Sigma FD

  8. #8

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    If you can't figure it out, you could send it to Ken Oikawa. He services Canon cameras.

  9. #9
    Markster's Avatar
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    I was really hoping to try something myself. I am having a hard time finding a reference on opening the top cover. It's the rewind and advance levers keeping the top on right now. Doing copious internet searching before I do anything. I'm being careful but at the same time I grew up taking all my toys apart and putting them back together so I have a bit of mechanical experience to fall back on.
    -Markster

    Canon AE-1P 35mm | 50mm/f1.8 FDn | 28mm/2.8 FD | 70-200mm/f4-5 FD | 35-70mm/F2.8-3.5 Sigma FD

  10. #10

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    Markster,
    Clean the mg surfaces with the $$ bill. Not everything is visible on the surfaces. (oil)
    You can test the mg by unsoldering one of the wires and applying a voltage to it to see if it will release. 1 1/2, 3, 4.5, 6V. It shouldn't need 6V. While you have the wire off check the V to the wire.
    Really want the top cover off?
    Set the shutter speed to B and the ISO to the highest available.
    There's a cover around the lens mount, 4screws. Two screws under that.
    Rewind knob, c clip holding the plastic cover on.
    Wind side...Wind lever, spring washer and plastic washer, spanner nut, shutter speed dial. Be careful with the ss dial, there's a peg on the bottom that holds a spring loaded dial beneath it.. if it's allowed to snap it may break the tungsten wire that connects to the ISO resistor on the wind side of the camera. Lift top off. Gently.

    On reassembly, the ss speed dial need to engage the notch on the lower dial. Engage it and turn it CCW. It will drop into place. The it's just a matter of putting screws back in.
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

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