It's a Pretty Thing...

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by rick_drawbridge, Jul 28, 2017.

  1. I finally acquired what I consider to be one of the prettiest folding cameras made, an Agfa Billy Compur, circa 1948-49

    Agfa Billy Compur

    Agfa Billy Compur Pnet.jpg

    This model was top of the Agfa Billy range of folding cameras using 120 roll film, a series that ran from 1934 to 1949. It has the fine 105mm Solinar f/4.5 lens and the rimset Compur Shutter with speeds from 1 to 1/250th, though I believe there were a few examples with a 1/500th top speed. While these specifications indicate that this is an example of the second variant of the Agfa Billy Compur, it lacks the "Compur" name stamped into the leatherette, and the double exposure prevention device. There seems to be dozens of variations in the Agfa Billy Record/Compur range of cameras.

    While this example is in very good condition, it suffers from the common problem of the focusing being rendered immobile by the ancient Agfa green grease. The front element is immovable in the helical. I have sorted this problem with other cameras by removing the two front elements contained in the focusing helical and soaking them in solvent for a prolonged period; I have had success using naptha (lighter fluid) and also denatured alcohol (methylated spirits). I know other members claim success by placing the unit in a hot oven until the grease softens, but I'm just not too keen on that idea... Does anyone have any new advice to offer, before I make my move?
    chuck_foreman|1 and James Bryant like this.
  2. Lucky you are Rick. Once you get the "Green Grezz" focusing fixed, and hopefully the bellows has no pin holes, that Solinar lens will give you some sweet 6x9 negs to scan. I have the "newer" Agfa Record III, but it has the same lens. I find the range finder is seldom used on scenics 2k16-044-007 ces5 ce10s-m r9.7k 11x14.jpg , just set the focus ring at infinity and back off 1/50 of an inch and sharp, sharp exposures will be in the bag. Bill ---Record 3, UFX400 @ 250, 510-Pyro & V600 scan. 2k16-044-007 ces5 ce10s-m r9.7k 11x14.jpg
  3. I know nothing about these doubles! Ver 2.2 strikes again!!!
  4. Thanks Bill, Nice image from the Billy Record III. I see I got blipped by the "double Image phenomenon" in the current weekend thread! Very mysterious...Incidentally, the bellows on this copy look fine, and the shutter is snappy, with a very smooth release, after I spent quite some time freeing up the pivots and rods and re-lubricating.
  5. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    Rick, if naphtha doesn't work, car parts cleaner may be an option. In his first book on camera repair, Thomas Tomosy mentions that hardened green grease usually needs to be scraped off, though...sounds like fun.
  6. Yes, Dave, the problem being that the front element has to be screwed out of the helical before the cleaning can begin...I can think of things I'd rather do!
  7. Rather than using an oven, try heating it with a hair dryer.
  8. Thanks John, I have tried that procedure with the hair dryer before, but I had difficulty getting the unit hot enough as the heat tended to dissipate very quickly. I might give it another shot, as it's far quicker and less messy than soaking.
  9. Does look good indeed... Good luck with the verdi Gris.. I passed on A Agfa folder for this reason. I thought if it'S fixed at infinity it could be useful, but this one was not! I'm sure you will present us with your results!
  10. Thanks, Chuck, I'll certainly post some samples when I get it sorted.
  11. If you can wait until w're ready to pass summer down to you a magnifying glass in the hot sun will allow you to focus heat to a smaller spot; thus avoiding overheating the bellows.
  12. The "Laie, Hawaii 2016" image provided by Bill Bowes, reminds me of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) displayed on YouTube:
    American Experience "The Mormons" <<< click
    I comment on this video and I'm actually the person behind the user name "y2ktube"
  13. Thanks, Charles, but it's relatively simple to remove the front two elements from the lens board, thus avoiding any damage to the bellows; it's separating the two elements that's the problem!
  14. I've been able to separate the front (focusing) cell housings from the middle element housings several times by heating the elements in an oven for at least 30 minutes at around 250 degrees F. It still took a bit of muscle to unscrew the front element. If you use heat, it's important to try to unscrew the front element ASAP while it is still hot. Grasp with mitts/potholders/towels, etc. Soaking the elements a couple of days in denatured alcohol first might ease the separation.
  15. A rather brutish method (which I'd never confess to using) is to use two pairs of multigrips. Wrap the circumference of each brass mount with some heavy material, like that non slip material used for kitchen surfaces. Take a good grip and turn them again each other.
    Agfa Silette
    There are a few photos here that may help.
  16. Thanks, John and Greg, I'll tackle the problem this weekend.
  17. I restored an Agfa Jsolette with frozen lens elements. I found it required multiple trips into the oven, seperated by multi-day soakings in naptha. At the end of each soak the naptha had more and more particulate floating. Some patience was required along with the brute force ... but the results were worth it. The elements came apart without damage, and the threads could be carefully cleaned. Ten years later, that camera still operates like new.
  18. Thanks, David, I'm pleased to report that success has been achieved. I removed the elements and soaked them in denatured alcohol in a little lidded plastic container for 48 hours; it's a pleasant (relatively speaking) substance to use, being non-corrosive, sticky or oily. I have several sets of so-called "filter wrenches", toothed circular plastic devices designed to remove filters frozen onto lenses,and the smallest of these fitted the Agfa lens, so I thought I'd try with these. Somewhat to my surprise, the lenses began to grudgingly unscrew, though they fought right down to the final thread. I soaked the separated lenses for a further 24 hours to soften up the grease, and got to work with a variety of weapons, including toothpicks and toothbrushes and a dentist's pick to clear the remaining grease out of the threads. Yesterday I lubricated and reassembled the lens, colliminated it and took the camera out for a test run. I've posted a few samples over in the current "Film Camera Week" thread; I think the work was worth the effort...
  19. Well done. Another old folder back in action.

Share This Page