View Full Version : Just couldn't leave it alone, could ya? (for a laugh)

Douglas Gould
15-Feb-2002, 02:43
So, proudly I open my bargain eBay purchase: Schneider Symmar-S 180/5.6...listed as "oh, its perfect!! not a scratch!! only driven by a professional photograhpe r to the lab and back on Sundays...." you get the idea. Ok, maybe there are some surface marks, known as "cleaning marks"...(what the heck are cleaning marks, a nyway? If you clean a lens the right way, it won't leave any marks)

So, my untrained fingers begin to work the shutter, to see if it "sounds" ok...I keep reading used lens listings, and folks say, "not tested, but sounds ok on a ll times"...well, darn if the 8 and 15 don't sound a bunch different than any ot her speed. Then it dawns on me; the speeds 1,2,4, 30, 60...they all sound the sa me...hmm, must be some old lubricant gunked up in there, eh? I know! lighter flu id! I read about that on the large format usenet. Lemme see...nope, no lighter f luid, but this de-natured alcohol should do the trick...lets see, unscrew the le ns...hmm...now the big 'hold open' knob is sticking, and the shutter vanes are s ticking open....and...and...


Maybe if I just remove this one little screw? (having built boats, fixed refridg erators and airplanes, I can figure this out). Yeah, I see, these 4 screws hold this thingamabob, which is connected to the ankel bone. I'll have this opened up , cleaned, and working before lunch! Or at least before I forget how it went tog ether...ok, maybe its 4 screws, but I can handle it...

POING-BOINK-PLINK...whasthat? was that a spring? damn, which screw held that lit tle devil in place? WOW!! a shutter leaf is just laying on the table, how did th at get there? And how do I get it back where it came from? Better just open this back part here, only 4 more little tiny screws and....holy clockmaker, Batman!! ! This looks like a Rolex mechanics nightmare!! There's more little tiny, teeny wheeny little itty bitty springs, screws, gears, levers, not to mention legitbob s, cretisramps and fregerbits than you can shake a stick at!!

So, now I'm looking at a pile of about 6 donut looking things, 3 spring like dev ices, 13 little tiny screws, 2 levers, 5 shutter leaves and a partidge in a pear tree...damn. And to think I coulda just gone to an early lunch.

So, I fess up to SK Grimes via e-mail. I threaten to send him a complete "I alre ady worked on this" basket case shutter, with unknown parts included. Guess what ?

Less than 2 hours later, I have his reply via e-mail: go ahead, he says, send it on! We'll have it fixed up in no time, and for less than you can buy a good use d one for. Forgetabout, he says, just put it all in one big bag, and we'll figur e it out.

Tomorrow, I think I'll change the battery in my Casio watch.


Steve Baggett
15-Feb-2002, 03:02
Been there, done that.

Victor Randin
15-Feb-2002, 06:18
LOL! Thanks, Dough.


Mike Mahoney
15-Feb-2002, 06:44
Funny stuff, probably a lesson learned - I ordered a lens overseas and the eager customs staff actually unscrewed the rear element, and the brass spacers fell out. Instead of trying to put it back together they just threw it all back loose in the box !!!!

SK Grimes will put things right for you.

Pete Andrews
15-Feb-2002, 07:03
Yep, a shutter's just a tad more delicate than a boat or an agricultural tractor, isn't it?For future reference, all the maintenance access you need to a Copal is got from undoing ONE screw, and a threaded collar. Make sure that any lighter fuel, WD40, sump oil, axle-grease, chisel, hammer, chainsaw, etc, is cleared for at least a radius of 5 miles from the scene of dismantling. That should make the temptation to use any of them resistable enough.I bet more shutters are killed by attempts to 'improve' their performance, than ever die of old age!

15-Feb-2002, 08:40
Doug, that was hilarious. Mostly so because I've made enough similar mistakes to recognize with dread the point of no return--one more screw and I'll have it ....

Thanks for the laugh.

15-Feb-2002, 09:23
I thought as little boys we'd all learned our lesson by taking apart Dad's old pocket watch, or our parents alarm clock... apparently not.

Kevin M Bourque
15-Feb-2002, 09:25
This reminds me of one of those jokes that went around the office a few years ago. Choosing answer "C" proves you're a real man.

A spaceship full of benevolent aliens lands in your back yard and offers you a device that will cure all disease and end world hunger. You accept the device and

a) present it to the governments of the world b) set up a non-profit corporation so that all may share it's benefits c) take it apart

I, too have several film cans full of bitty screws and springs and tiny broken things. The sickness has no cure but you can learn to live a nearly normal life (if you keep your spanner wrench under lock and key).

Ed Burlew
15-Feb-2002, 09:28
Instructon sheet???? I don't need no stinking instruction sheet!!

Rob Pietri
15-Feb-2002, 09:30
Try the cure all tool, BANG IT ON THE FLOOR. My condolences. The shutter on my ancient 120 super angulon fell apart one day but I was able to put it back together with all speeds working. There is a cam that sits ontop everything that has to be delicately placed, shifted, then with a jewlers screwdriver, a springed lever pushed into one of the slots.

However, I would still like to send it in for service but where to? Where are the reputable places. Also, does anybody have any experience with the Schneider repair services? What is the best thing to use to clean a shutter, lighter fluid, alcohol, or how about acetone? And lubricants?

15-Feb-2002, 10:08
I believe that so-called "cleaning marks" occur most frequently on older lenses that used soft coatings. The Kodak Ektars are a case in point.

Ben Hopson
15-Feb-2002, 11:02
I also went through the sticky shutter thing with an ebay 90mm Angulon last summer. It sounds like I was lucky the first screw I attempted to remove would not come out. I sent it to SK Grimes and it came back functioning as it should. "Sounds CRISP at all speeds." It truly does now after having the darn shutter repaired.

The watch now, that did'nt turn out so good. My advice is, stick to changing the battery and DO NOT go exploring while the case is open. It is a strong temptation, but resist it.


Hagai Kaufman
15-Feb-2002, 12:05
I once field stripped a washing machine down to it's chasis to find that it was not hooked up to the socket..

15-Feb-2002, 12:47
Did that to a small Canon rangefinder....its still in a hundred pieces 10 years later in its plastic zip lock bag!Bummer man!

David R Munson
15-Feb-2002, 13:00
I recently completely disassembled an old Canon VT rangefinder in an effort to repair a sticky shutter. I had it * completely* disassembled, and actually managed to get it all back together again without any leftover parts. Shutter still doesn't work like it should, though. Anyone want to buy a 35mm with speeds 1/60-1/1000 only? Actually, this was one of the few repair jobs that went right that I've done. I once killed a 50mm f/ 1.4 Nikon AIS that other than stiff focusing was absolutely perfect, by cross-threading the helicoid so massively when reassembling it after re-lubing it that I now have a beautiful, $80.00 paperweight. I "fixed" the meter on my Nikon F3 and now have to keep my exposure compensation dial set permanently on -2/3 stop. I've destroyed at least 4 radios, 3 alarm clocks, 5 thermostats, a lawnmower engine, a darkroom timer, and a bunch of other things. Probably the most spectacular was back in elementary school when I was into rocketry. My homespun revolutionary aerospace technology caused 4 different rockets to explode at various altitudes, which caused bits of cardboard, paper tube, and balsa wood to rain down over an impressive area.

And my mother wanted me to be an engineer.....

John Hicks
15-Feb-2002, 13:27
> change the battery

I've learned to limit myself to lightbulbs.

chris jordan
15-Feb-2002, 13:45
i once "repaired" an old ektar 127mm shutter/lens and had enough springs and gears and wheels left over to make a cute little music box. this was following my attempt at solving the sticky shutter problem in the most obvious "guy" way i could come up with: find the biggest opening in the mechanism and stick the red WD-40 straw in there and pffffffffff...

Steve Feldman
15-Feb-2002, 14:14
OK Doug. One more for you.

What's the difference between a "Standard Navy Fine Adjustment Tool" and a "Standard Army Fine Adjustment Tool"?

The "Standard Navy Fine Adjustment Tool" is a 5 lb. sledge hammer.

The "Standard Army Fine Adjustment Tool"? < < < < < < < Wait for it . . . . . . < < < < < < < < A 10 lb. sledge hammer.

Regards, S.

Eric Pederson
15-Feb-2002, 15:07
"I've learned to limit myself to lightbulbs. -- John Hicks" John, that's a brilliant suggestion! After I figure out where this ball bearing came from, I'm going to try rebuilding the filament in that incandescent bulb which burnt out last night.... :-)

Eric "Who cares if it voids the warranty? If I fix it I won't need a warranty" Pederson

Hagai Kaufman
15-Feb-2002, 18:53
"i once "repaired" an old ektar 127mm shutter/lens and had enough springs and ge ars and wheels left over to make a cute little music box"

If we take this theory to the extreme - if you'll take apart the lens enough tim e, you should have enough part for two lenses...

Robert A. Zeichner
15-Feb-2002, 19:27
Isn't experience a wonderful thing? It enables you to recognize a mistake when you've made it again!

David Willis
16-Feb-2002, 02:29
My mother knew an ear-nose-throat doctor who said he paid for his house with Q-tips. Seems people kept forgetting not to stick Q-tips in their ears and had to pay him a visit.

I have a feeling Mr. Grimes has seen this more than once.


Neal Shields
16-Feb-2002, 14:45
In defense of amateur camera repair.

To my mind, there is something special about anything as precision as a camera that was built by direct labor. People put part of their lives into these old shutters and camera bodies. In the late 50?s a friend of mine visited the Bolex camera factory and was shown a room where about 20 women sat around and talked and did final assembly. He said that they were so fast you could hardly see their hands move.

There are many old cameras that will never be fixed unless amateurs do it, because of the economics. It takes a long time to take these things apart and put them back together. And those that can do it consistantly are few and far between. When you can buy a new shutter or complete camera that some robot assembled cheaper than fixing what you have, very few people are going to spring (pun intended) for the repair.

However, your not supposed to start with your Linhof!

Ebay is an excellent source of junk cameras. If you can?t get one of those back together you just tell people you brought it for the parts. This is usually true, because if you don?t believe in a parallel universe now, you will after an essential spring disappears in to it. (Some German with a nasty sense of humor made tiny screws out of brass so you can't get them out of the carpet with a magnet.)

I repair cameras as a hobby, and fix more than I break. I have cameras that I couldn?t afford, if I had to buy them in working condition. Often however, I buy a camera for $75, put 20 hours of labor into it, and end up with a $200 camera. Obviously you can?t repair cameras to save money.

Tips: Don?t even try without a magnifying hood. Get good tools, some things just can?t be done without them. Take Polaroid?s as you take things apart. Have compartmented trays for screws. Cameras and shutters, are composed of many individual systems, take the time to understand what they do. Then when they don?t do it, why, will tend to be obvious. Beware, left handed screws (usually in the end of shafts.) Use the internet, there are some great, specific camera repair pages. Strap type lens wrenches are better than nothing, but just barely. The Germans used grease that turns to glue after about 50 years. (Try warming it, but not enough to break the front element on a Leica Hectar 135mm lens.) Remember, you can?t figure out where all the springs go, but you can figure out where a single spring goes. Look for witness marks on parts. After two parts rub together for thousands of times, they tend to mark each other. The only spring that I have found that will ?just fall out? is the high-speed spring. It slips down over a post and is engaged by the shutter speed dial on the curved end. Any other spring that just falls out, was probably the problem. Look for a small notch that doesn?t have the end of a spring captured in it and that is probably where it came from. When the little bird in your head screams "don't". Don't. He is always right.


P.S. anybody want to sell a basket case?

dan nguyen
16-Feb-2002, 15:54
Let me see... those 4 shoe boxes on the shelve there... in the #1 a 35mm reflex in pieces (can't remember what's wrong with it)..in #2 same camera (also in pieces) bought for parts for #1... #3 and #4 lenses in various state of repair... I'll make it...I'll make it... just give me the time would ya... LOL :)

Jim Galli
16-Feb-2002, 20:24
Ahh...Doug. Opportunity knocked and you missed it. After the thing's in pieces and a few are lost forever in the carpet etc. you scoop the remains onto a white background, take some digital pictures and put it BACK on Ebay! Be blatantly honest. Now you've got 98% of the rest of us who have too much testosterone to admit we can't fix it either and we all bid against each other trying to get this fabulous bargain to fix and make money on. You'd have probably got more than you paid in the first place. Best regards. Oh, David, the 50 f1.4 is a great focus loupe. J

Andrew Held
16-Feb-2002, 23:22
Steve Grimes can fix the shutter. Like the Library of Congress, he has the latest, the last, the rarest and most obtuse. Unlike the library he can do more than simply put things in piles, he can fix them. You might want to email him to see if he thinks it is worth it. www.skgrimes. com.

Douglas Gould
16-Feb-2002, 23:27
Obvioulsy, this thread is getting too long. As I stated in my opening post, I have already mailed the darn thing to SK Gimes...

Thanks for all the replies!!


Victor Randin
19-Feb-2002, 06:32
Shame on me! I began earning as a long-range driver on heavy tracks at Margin North and had repaired my tracks a lot. Yesterday I was in a hurry when changing a rear right wheel on my car 928 S2 and forgot to mount it properly. I have lost a wheel in a mile making a left turning. To my happiness nobody and nothing was damaged except my car. At least it?s sufficiently safely to change a wheel in the Compur :?)

Andrew Cole
19-Feb-2002, 19:07
I agree with Neil, there's nothing wrong with attempting to fix these by yourself, but you shouldn't start with an expensive piece of equipment (i.e. one that you would be upset to throw in the trash).

A large format shutter recondition is only $40 or so (I think), well worth it under most circumstances.

Brian Allen Kuehn
10-Dec-2003, 23:03
It IS possible to repair these things yourself. Several years ago, I ordered Ed Romney's book on basic camera repair. I started with simple, cheap folding cameras purchased mostly on EBAY. I progressed to more complicated leaf shutters, and got to the point where I can now competently service most leaf shutters. This evening, with about 20 minutes work, I cleaned and lubricated a gummy kodak flash supermatic shutter that came with a 101mm Ektar lens for 2x3. It is now working perfectly.