Just A Simple Restoration Project

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by ralf_j., Jun 7, 2019.

  1. Have been enjoying restoring simple cameras lately, the kind of cameras that some of you may just say "Why Bother!!?", but I find it relaxing when cleaning, taking them apart where possible and making them ready to shoot modern film.

    Example cameras I have restored/cleaned recently:

    • Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash
    • Kodak Brownie Starlet
    • Spartus Co Flash
    • Spartus Rocket
    • Kodak Duaflex II
    • Ansco Panda
    • Kodak Baby Brownie Special
    • and Vredeborch ALKA
    Most of these cameras are plastic with rivets galore, but with a little patience and average tools (tweezers, screw drivers etc) they can be a lot of fun to restore and use.

    I will show the ALKA here and some photos taken during the restoration.

    It was an eBay acquisition, seller was very generous and took my offer, and sent it promptly with a hand-written "thank you card", real class.

    The camera had definitely seen better days, but the art deco beauty is still there. This is the simplest version of this model as it only is a point and shoot, no Bulb setting, no variable aperture (water house stops) or sliding green filter.
    The carry strap was missing, the protective glass full of grime and when moving the camera about, something was loose inside. The shutter was good and snappy however, indicating that the spring has still may years of service in it.

    Onto further inspection and restoration:

    1. Wiped the outside with a soft microfiber cloth and alcohol to get excessive dirt and grime off.
    2. Removed the film carrying piece and wiped that off well with alcohol using q-tips to get in to the crevices
    3. Noticed that snap/pinch ring holding the lens in place, was crooked and the lens was the loose object rocking inside the camera
    4. Pulled the snap ring off, cleaned it, cleaned the very dirty lens (now loose in my hands) until it sparkled. Spacers in front of the lens were cleaned as well.
    5. Put the spacers back, the lens and very carefully pinched the retaining ring back in place until it was snug and the lens stayed in place
    6. Removed the front panel by lifting carefully on the sides and cleaned the metal mirrors and viewing screens and optics. (at least 3 or 4 dry carcasses of insects fell out of this place :) )
    7. Lifted the 4 tabs holding the shutter in place and lifted it off. Cleaned that as well and installed it back in reverse order.
    8. Cleaned the protective glass on the front cover and installed it back with little effort.
    9. Made a carrying strap from scrap leather purchased from Michael's
    10. It is now ready to go and quite happy with the outcome.
    Have a roll of expired Portra 400VC (May 2003, refrigerated of course) which I will put through this box camera and will revert back with results. For now here are some photos of the project.

    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  2. Lens with Retaining Ring

    Rick_van_Nooij and LMar like this.
  3. Almost done

    Rick_van_Nooij and LMar like this.
  4. With Leather Carrying Strap

    Rick_van_Nooij and LMar like this.
  5. Now that's a great way to spend a wet Sunday afternoon! I enjoy resurrecting these fairly simple cameras, as it's a relatively stress-free exercise and very satisfying. That's a pretty little box camera, and I look forward to seeing some results from your trial film. You don't think 400 ISO film might be a little speedy for the old shutter? Thanks for the detailed post.
    LMar likes this.
  6. A good clean is usually all that is required.

    My latest camera restoration project required dunking a clockwork motor drive into a bucket of hot water and degreasing agent. :oops:
  7. Good for you!
    ralf_j. likes this.
  8. Indeed Rick, after a long day's work it is a worthy reward.
    As far as a the film choice goes, we expect overcast days or haze and with speed loss on the 16 year old film plus my weakened C41 developer (Already on my 8th roll with it), I should be able to manage, fingers crossed :).

    BTW, I use the Unicolor package for C41 and it works like a charm, almost nothing to it. E-6 has a couple of additional steps but no problems with that kit either.
  9. Nice work !

    In order to keep cameras from overrunning the house, I have a self-imposed rule to not keep a camera I won't use. I also try to keep the hobby semi-revenue neutral, - I fix up old cameras and sell them. Models like these are pretty common and there's no way to make much money on them so I won't buy them, but I have been given one or two. One of the more recent was a Kodak Twin 20 (or something like that). Looks like something from Toy Story. Like you say, very simple, lots of rivets and very un-fancy lenses. I ran some film through it and the results were kind of moody and haunting. It was a cloudy day.

    Another was an Isolette. This was more of an advanced camera to be sure, but still relatively simple. You get an appreciation for the engineering skills of those from decades gone by.

    I had the camera unfolded with the back open and the shutter open in bulb mode. I was looking through the back at my 15 year old daughter who was 10 feet away. She looks back at me and gets this odd expression on her face. "How come I can see your eye through the camera?" :) You don't really see the eyeballs of the photographer through digital cameras.

    So I showed her the back of it and she's like "Oh, all the guts are gone." And I tell her no, there are no guts back here, all the "guts" are in this round part in the front of the camera. She was a little awestruck. And then I casually closed the the door and folded it back up. Now she was truly astonished. "That is cool. You should get some film for that." she says. "It's like one of those drinking flasks you can put in a coat pocket". I asked how she knew about those. :)

    I suppose an old folder like that is kind like a transformer to a younger individual.
    m42dave, Julio Fernandez and ralf_j. like this.
  10. what kind of camera was that :)
  11. JDM my friend, what have you been up to?
  12. It was a Bell&Howell Filmo 141-A from 1937-38. Someone had hosed it down with WD40 -_-
    Mechanism wasn't running reliably.


    But it runs fine again now.
    ralf_j. likes this.
  13. LOL. I have a teenager my self and a quasi teen so totally understand the situation. My teenager has already been bitten by the bug and walks around with my full frame Sony A850 and Minolta Maxxum 50mmm 1.7 lens, when she wants to use film she usually goes back to the Minolta SR-7 with a nifty rokkor 50mm 1.7.
  14. Oh and earlier today I've MacGyvered up some battery leads for the electro-drive for a B&H Filmo 70-KRM

    Photo from a few weeks back when I had just painted the film hatch and viewfinder in the correct colors to match the body.
    ralf_j. likes this.
  15. Still in clutches of the medicos, but generally doing better.
    I have a long backlog of cameras still to do reports on, but it goes slowly.
  16. Nice restoration job Ralf.

    The last time I used a box camera I taped a yellow filter over the lens to reduce the exposure, it also put some nice detail into the sky.
  17. Thanks JDM, good to see you :). Ah I just read your previous post, hope you feel better soon.
  18. Looks good too
  19. Very nice work, Ralf! Thanks for such a detailed post. I look forward to seeing some pics from it and some of the others you've restored.
  20. Good topic Ralf, here's three jobs I've either just done or working on at the moment ....

    Saving a 2a folder Hawkeye lens I thought was finished. The glass had haze and spots which looked permanent to me but turned out to be thick grime and dirt. It cleaned up well using lighter fluid and elbow grease
    IMG_5749 copy.JPG

    Cleaning mirrors and lenses on Brownie Flash 11 to bring the camera to near mint. It was quite cheap to buy and I don't think it's ever been used so when I make some exposures, I'm sure they will be the first, I can't see any sign of film drag marks on the pressure plate
    IMG_5750 copy.JPG

    Research into an alternative bellows for this Mamiya Automat 6. The original bellows in the camera were crushed but the camera itself is still working ok. The alternative bellows, which are just sitting in the camera so far, are from another brand camera and are much tidier, stronger and less prone to pin holes than original Mamiya 6 bellows anyway, so I might finish the repair and that will save another Mamiya 6 folder
    IMG_5751 copy.JPG

Share This Page