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Cleaning: An Easy Fix

Sometimes, cleaning will not only get your camera sparkling clean, it will actually fix it when (seemingly) broken!

Years ago, I bought a nice looking camera on a flea market, only to find out it didn’t work. It seemed to be stuck. I threw it in a corner and forgot about it. Until the day I decided to practice (dis)assembling a camera on this old thing. I figured it was already broke, so I couldn’t do any more harm.

Stuck aperture blades.

Disassembling it was fun. I made sure I took lots of pictures with my digicam as I went along, as a reference for assembling it again (and was very glad of that later on). When I unscrewed the lens, I noticed huge amounts of sticky oil. I figured that might be the cause of the faulty shutter: the aperture blades were glued together by oil.

I started with wiping off the worst of it with a swab of toilet paper. Carefully, though, I didn’t want to get paper fibres on my camera. A non-woven cloth or microfiber cloth would have been better, but I didn’t have that handy.

I finished with gently cleaning the aperture blades with a cotton bud dipped in cleaning alcohol. As I gently wiped the blades, I noticed they were beginning to move more freely. It took several cotton buds before I got off all the oil, because every time the blades moved, they got covered again by the residue between the blades, where my cotton bud wouldn’t reach. But in the end I managed to get it more or less cleaned up.

I put the camera back together with the help of my reference pictures. There’s a lot of tiny screws and bits on a Halina! And what do you know? It seemed to be working again! I loaded it up, and lo and behold! The Halina was alive once more! Okay, so the focus ring has lost touch with reality long ago, but hey, the shutter is happily clicking along again.

Well, to be honest, I need to do some more cleaning, because after half a roll, I noticed the shutter getting a bit wonky again. After finishing the roll, I noticed some more oil had come out of the camera innards, sticking one of the aperture blades shut again. So the last few pictures were a bit underexposed.

So the lesson here is twofold:

1. When your shutter is stuck, it pays to clean your camera really good.

2. Don’t use regular oil to lubricate your camera. It gets everywhere, and when it gets older, it gets thicker and will do the exact opposite of lubricate. Use a tiny drop of very thin watch oil (applied with a tooth pick) or a bit of graphite. If your camera is cleaned properly, you only need a very, very small amount of lube.

written by stratski

1 comment

  1. segata

    segata

    I completely agree with this, alot of faults in anything is purely down to dirt and a good clean will revive things, only thing I would say is leave cleaning of stuff like SLR's and rangefinders internally to qualified camera repairers as some of the stuff inside them may need careful calibration on reassembly.

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