WOW! I do thank all of you for your prompt and thorough responses!!!
I think I hit gold here - this web site seems to be the virtual hide out of all the film and old camera junkies!
Thanks for all the info, I think I will try a Alk. replacement and see how it goes, perhaps checking it with a modern light meter as a reference (It will be mainly used for B&W print film, so I do have some latitude to play with). I am glad to hear that my choice of first rangefinder seems to be well supported by so many of you. I am also glad that Ms Nakamura's writing is as good factually as it is to read - I will keep an eye out for her name, a really, really good read!
And yes, I did go to the Kyle Cassidy page... and my sides still hurt. My wife and I sat there and read everything on his site, laughing our posteriors off well into the wee hours of the morning! The Leica story with Hemingway in it is especially priceless!!!