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The trials and tribulations of keeping old Nikons going...

  1. John_Nikon_F
    About two weeks after the Nikomat FTn died, my F FTn's finder roasted at least one of its metering cells. It still responds to light, but also likes to show similar exposure values when the lens cap is attached. Currently, a "proper" exposure for the back of a Nikkor lens cap is 1/60 @ f/8 with the ASA set to 400. I suspect that it began frying itself in 2007, when it was on my first black F body, since, when I had it recalibrated, it was 4 stops off and iffy @ best, meter-wise. Recalibration did seem to get it back within spec, but, only within about 1/2 a stop, which isn't too terrible.

    I'll find out more on Tuesday, when I drop by the shop and have it checked out. Luckily, the replacement Nikomat FTn, the FT2, and the F2A seem to be working fine, meter-wise.

  2. Ralph Javins
    Ralph Javins
    Good morning, John;

    I need to watch how Doug does that, to make sure that my procedure that I use is valid for that purpose also. In addition, I am still working on a 2.25 Square sensor for my Kyoritsu EF-511NK1, but it might not come for the source I originally envisioned.
  3. John_Nikon_F

    Interesting. I'll be back @ the shop tomorrow, since it looks like the other FTn finder, that he overhauled for me last year, then put into stock, after I couldn't pay for it @ the time, has an iffy power switch. Unfortunately, that involves taking everything out, to gain access to the switch. Might have him use the nicer shell of the dead one for the guts of this one.

    BTW: my eCheck to the seller of the book has cleared. I suspect the book will be here either later this week, or sometime early next week.

  4. Ralph Javins
    Ralph Javins
    Good morning, John;

    In the continuing saga of the 1960's Nikon Project, an uexpected "find" suddenly popped up. A Nikon SB-1 "Speedlight" with the SK-2 quick release bracket and the SA-1 AC power supply/charger has appeared. It seemed to have an intermittent in the charging circuitry which has turned out to be a break in the cable from the SA-1 to the SB-1. It will require some careful work in this case, but it is repairable.

    The only shortcoming is no internal battery pack, and the lack of a flash sync cable. I think the cables are still available from Paramount, but I am not sure where to find a battery pack, in any condition. If there is still a reasonable percentage of the pack metal contacts remaining, it should be possible to rebuild the battery pack.

    Noting that the SB-1 had a Guide Number of 125 for ASA 100 back around 1970 is still impressive.


    Ralph Javins, Latte Land, Washington
  5. Barry P
    Barry P
    Assuming you find a good technician, what determines when it is time to send a Nikkormat in for overhaul, calibration, or whatever? I have had an FT2 since 1975. It was largely idle for maybe 15 years. Everything seems to work fine, but the meter is a couple of stops off, and I can correct for that using the ASA dial. Furthermore, it seems that sooner or later one is likely to lose the meter - the topic of most repair discussions. What about all the mechanical stuff? Is CLA on a definite cycle sort of like changing the oil in a car? Would appreciate commentary by that have used these cameras for a long, long time. I support the notion of keeping techs for these cameras available by giving them work - but what is overkill and what is underkill? I would appreciate commentary by experienced long term users of Nikkormats or similar old mechanical SLRs.
  6. John_Nikon_F
    Probably not a definite cycle, but, it might be a good idea to at least have the camera refoamed, since the light seals are likely deteriorating by now. At the same time, your camera tech can go through and check the other functions of the camera to see what does need work. I just recently had my late model black FT2 overhauled. Was originally only going to have the meter worked on, but the tech who was going to be servicing it noted that all the lubrication in the camera had become sticky, which explained why my self-timer didn't work properly, and why some other things had been occuring that shouldn't have been occuring. So, instead of having the meter repaired only, I also had the camera fully overhauled, including a focusing screen replacement with one from an earlier FTn. Gained a microprism spot, instead of the split-image with the collar around it. Camera's ready for pickup, so I'll have it back in the next few days. Will have a Nikomat FTn with a hot shoe. Literally. Except for the hot shoe, the serial number, and a couple other small details, it looks exactly like an earlier FTn. Complete with all-metal advance lever and self-timer lever.
  7. Ralph Javins
    Ralph Javins
    Good morning;

    While John has commented on the camera bodies and their indications for maintenance, there are other things you might consider for the lenses that go onto those bodies.

    Many of the lenses from back in the 1960's through the 1980's used lubricants in their focusing systems (helicoids) that tend to separate over time and become more oil than grease. Other lubricants seem to just harden over time. A lens that has been stored in a car in the summertime seems to be one that will show this tendancy more often. The zoom lenses from that period seem to be particularly prone to long term lubricant deterioriation, for some reason. One obvious indication is the presence of oil on the aperture leaves causing a slow, sticking, or totally nonworking lens aperture. The lenses from the 1990's do not seem to show this problem very often. The lubricants developed in that time period do seem to be better. Or, at least they take much longer to develop that problem.

    The real cure is to have your experienced camera technician take the lens apart, clean out the old grease and oil from the focusing and zooming mechanisms, and off the lens aperture leaves where required, replace the old grease with one of the new formulations that seem to be longer lived in this respect, and reassemble it checking lens element alignment as they go. Getting back from the shop a lens that has been overhauled brings back memories of how the lens felt when you opened the plastic bag containing the lens and the little packet of silica-gel with the warning that you were not supposed to eat the silica-gel. Feeling how the lens focuses and zooms with just the right amount of resistance is a testament to just how well the engineers and machinists did their jobs 20 to 50 years ago.

    Enjoy; Ralph, Latte Land, Washington
  8. Ralph Javins
    Ralph Javins
    Good morning;

    In the continuing saga of trying to keep our Nikon F and F2 cameras going, I have encountered a subject that is one for which I do not have a quick answer. I wish to pose this to the group for suggestions:

    I have just received a Type "R" Focusing Screen that I hope to put into my Nikon F2AS. It looks like it needs to be cleaned. How do we do that? I have heard warnings about the cleaning procedure for laser etched plastic focusing screens, but I do not recall any specific instructions. How do you clean a Nikon focusing screen? Can we dismantle it taking it out of the metal frame and put it into an ultrasonic bath cleaner or something similar?

    Enjoy; Ralph, Latte Land, Washington
  9. Iantoz
    Just joined and I have a question about my FTn.

    I have an FTn in good condition, not heavily used, the shutter makes the right sound, and every thing works, but the shutter speed readout in the viewfinder is always 60.

    I have recently purchased (for spares) another FTn, the wind on and shutter release are intermittent (more not than there) but the shutter looks in very good condition.
    is it a straight forward operation to switch the lens blocks complete? By this I mean are there any adjustments to make that need specialised tools or equipment?

    The outcome I'm looking for is one good working camera and one "I can play with this and if doesn't all come together no tears" camera.

  10. John_Nikon_F

    Is this a Nikomat/Nikkormat FTn? Or a Nikon F Photomic FTn? If the former, what likely has happened is that the string that operates the shutter speed indicator has broken, so it's stuck at 1/60th. If it's an F with the Photomic FTn finder, you might be better off getting a better FTn finder, have that recalibrated for 1.5 volts, and use it instead.

  11. Iantoz
    John, it's the Nikkormat FTn, and a broken string is not what I wanted to hear !
    Do you know what's involved in changing the lens mount / shutter assembly complete ?
    Would that be a viable alternative to trying to replace the string ?

    Many thanks Dai.
  12. Ralph Javins
    Ralph Javins
    Good morning;

    Usually John is pretty prompt in responding to inquiries about Nikon maintenance. Perhaps when I see him next I can ask also. I am not sure what to say about that string. I can do it with the tuning indication dial cord for older tube type radios, but I have no such experience with similar arrangements in cameras.

    Under the heading of maintenance, one of the nice things about Latte Land is the number of shops here who still work on older mechanical cameras. Just today the recently received Nikon Nikkormat FT2 Black Body came out of the shop following a normal CLA procedure. It is nice to open the camera and look at the brand new seals with no preformed depressions in them from the back of the camera pressing against them for years at a time. The shutter speeds all have a nicely progressing sound as I go from one speed to another. No, I have not hung it onto the Kyoritsu camera tester yet to see what the shutter settings actually measure out to at this time. Right now I am just enjoying having this very nice looking, clean, shiny, 35 year old camera that I know works again, and will continue to do so for several more years.

    Enjoy; Ralph, Latte Land, Washington
  13. Uncle Bill
    Uncle Bill
    Skill testing question for the group. Ftn meter head for a Nikon F, not converted to silver oxide, what works better, CRIS adapters or Wein cells?
  14. Ralph Javins
    Ralph Javins
    Good morning, Bill;

    I do have an MR-9 Adapter here for the 386S battery, and I think I can get an appropriate Wien Cell to put in for comparison. I will need a couple of days or so for doing this. In one of the Nikon bags is an FTn that can go onto a Nikon F. There are also things here that can be used as a repeatable standard for comparison readings. In actual practice, I do not think that there will be much difference between the two power sources. It will be interesting to see if this assumption is valid.


    Latte Land, Washington
  15. John_Nikon_F
    Robert Decker said that the CRIS adapters don't provide the right voltage regulation with the FTn finder. Recommends Wein, or just fudging the ISO.

    Anyway, looks like I've another FTn finder with roasted cells. Yup. Just checked. 1/60 @ f/8 with the lens cap on and ISO set to 400. *sigh* here we go again.

    With respect to the Nikkormat FTn question, didn't see it until now. I usually frequent the forums, and occasionally check the groups these days. With respect to the string, it's easier to get it restrung than to swap a mirror box assembly. Much easier.

  16. puderse
    This Nikon meter mechanic has updated 3 of my FTn heads. The last one was a thrift store find that had a battery cap that would not budge and pliers had been applied. CLA and calibrate for modern batteries.

    FTn meter repair


    $75 to repair/replace battery box and screw cap and CLA for new 1.5 V 76A batteries
  17. Iantoz
    John, many thanks for the reply, but unfortunately (or fortunately) I do all these things myself, so yes it it's always easier to get someone else to do things for you, but I find no fun in that.

    If I can find some guide lines as the best way to approach the task, that would be very helpful

    Anybody have any ideas?

  18. John_Nikon_F
    On second thought, maybe go ahead and swap the mirror box, provided that the donor FTn is one with the threads for the AR-1 and AR-2 on the shutter release. Those also have the meter coupling ring that goes to f/32. I've tried to remove the string from the pulleys on the mirror box, and it's darn near impossible with the tools I have to do so. If not, an FT2 mirror box should work, and I know that Pacific Rim Camera in Salem, Oregon has a few that are new old stock.

    In other news, went through three FT2's to find one worth overhauling. Now am using a black FT2 with a serial in the 516xxxx range. Has had a few FTn items moved to it, like the microprism spot "J" focusing screen, some of the meter repair parts, and a "Nikomat" nameplate.

  19. Ralph Javins
    Ralph Javins
    Good morning;

    There is still work progressing on this topic. John-Nikon-F and I have sent two Nikon F2 bodies off to Sover Wong in England for restoration and repair. John's was to be repaired. Mine needed the restoration. It turns out that my F2SB might have been a practice or test camera body in a camera technician school. Sover reports that it had parts in it from at least three different production time periods. He could tell just by the appearance of the parts from what era they had come. At his recommendation, we have compromised and he is selling to me another F2 body that has been given a full CLA, and all the parts match. It is even only a couple of thousand numbers different in serial number from my old one. It is intended to be a working camera, so I am not really too worried about its provenance. The main point for me is that it has been maintained and is ready for another 25 years or so of service. And the DP-1 light metering pentaprism from my camera has had the old wire-wound resistance element replaced with one of Sover's longer life ceramic resistance elements and it has been recalibrated. Sover did say that the inside of the DP-1 really did need cleaning with all the dust there was inside it. I will admit that I had noticed some dust also. Perhaps at some time it had been left sitting out in the open air with its bottom aimed up. Glad that is done. When I get this one back, than I can contemplate sending to Sover the Nikon F2AS.

    Enjoy; Ralph, Latte Land, Washington
  20. Ralph Javins
    Ralph Javins
    Good morning;

    A Status Report: The two Nikon F2 bodies that went together to England have come back.

    It is impressive. Both of these cameras really do work "better than new" after this trip. I can say that because Sover Wong uses tighter standards for the shutter than Nikon did at the time of original manufacture. And in my case, really, I can indeed say that the Nikon F2 that I have now really is "new" to me, and it performs like new.

    And the DP-3 light metering pentaprism has had Sover's replacement ceramic variable resistor installed in place of the worn wire-wound variable resistor that was in the DP-3. It really does work more smoothly now, and there is the prognosis that it will continue to do so for many more years than would be expected of the original equipment wire-wound part.

    So, am I happy with this work and the "new" camera? Yes. The communication with Sover Wong was informative. The CD-ROM disc that came back has the pictures of the things that he saw inside the camera, what he did, the results of his testing -- before and after -- and some other publications on it. A nice touch in comparison with any other camera tech who has worked on my cameras. With the documentation and the commentary received, I feel much more confident of this work. Yes, it was more expensive that what I would have paid locally, plus there was the shipping also. Still, I am glad that I did it.

    I will probably send my "EXC to LN condition" Nikon F2AS to Sover Wong next.

    Enjoy; Ralph, Latte Land, Washington
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