Leica M Film Body lubricants and glues

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by kelvin_franke, Mar 12, 2016.

  1. I greatly appreciate Jesse Newcomb's HowTo PDF on the Leica m2/M3/M4 disassembly that he introduced way-back-when through Photo.net and posted on Jumboprawn.net. I am in the midst of a similar project,inspired by him.
    Note to the more experienced and professional level repair professionals. My post is no way an attempt to offend or infringe. Consider my project as being akin to the person who wants to repair or rebuild their vintage car. Just with a camera instead. This forum appears to be the best watering hole for sharing thoughts and insight so I will forge into the fray.
    Two questions: would anyone mind sharing thoughts as to the specific best lubricants (and glues and locking agents for that matter when appropriate) that you used in your rebuild? My problem is that the number of choices seem infinite as regards viscosities of oils/greases, etc. I want to build on the current knowledge base and accumulated success stories and failures.
    I'm very torn as to which specific greases and oils will work best for the various components. This information is hard to come by and never fully spelled out. I wrote one camera repair professional who kindly told me he uses synthetic greases and oils, but he was elusive on specific viscosities, types or brands, understandably. Frankly, if this were a make or break camera repair, I'd forward to him or other repair professionals. In this case though, this is a project of self-fulfillment.
    I can find no postings that get into specifics. Once I find a consensus, I hope to post my experiences for future home CLAers. CLA and camera repair is becoming a lost art and the accumulated wisdom should be brought to the light if possible.
    FYI, in my case my intention is to CLA a broken double stroke M3 I got at a good low price. I will be replacing the curtains and subsequently, dechroming, denickeling and repainting black. These latter aspects I can handle (I am a chemist, and my brother is a professional airbrush painter) but I want to get the lubrication perfect.
    All thoughts are appreciated. I am not completely ignorant. I have an original M3 service manual,as well as other guides (Camera Craftsman's treatise as well as the US.Army document on the M2. The M3 service manual and Army document only mention long unavailable, typically organic lubricants. I am hoping for anecdotal solutions to this problem such as those you may have employed.
    I currently have "watch oil" to consider to use for locations where lower viscosity lubriction is needed. I suspect a lithium base or Moly grease may work as a heavier grade grease substitute. If you review the documents, however, we see that Leica used many grades of oil and grease in different areas. Which substitutes would therefore be best applied for which specific components?
    If a consensus approach can be arrived at, I will be happy to consolidate this knowledge in a FAQ that I will then post. I am happy to share any insights I glean in the process.

    So what do you know, Photo. Netters?
    i greatly appreciate your insight,
  2. I know close to nothing. - I believe Moly grease is intended as an emergency option; i.e. to fly a plane home when the engine runs out of oil through a bullet hole, or to make motorcycle forks of ill pairing last longer. So yes, it should work / help.
    Dumb approach: Take list of discontinued organic lubricants and contact lubricant dealer / manufacturer for substitute recommendations? - Thats what we are doing at work concerning our seasoned machinery in daily use. - Additional challenge: Since your M3 is already broken some bearings / joints could be out of specs and deal with different than the original lubricants.
    Biggest challenge in CLAing: find lubricants with ideal longterm behavior.
    Upon the paint job: "Airbrush artist" triggers a red flag. - I have limited knowledge but own some airbrushes too. If you aren't in a rush to hold a brassing beauty, I 'd recommend the vehicle body-shop route: Have them spray some two component car paint on your separated brass and temper it properly. While a car spray gun is a tad oversized and not worth loading for a Leica, that paint is durable and lasts!
    Airbrushers tend to use single component water based paints and have issues to dilute car paint far enough to make it through their tiny nozzles. - Art on bike tanks is AFAIK made from water based paint and just coverered with layers & layers of clear coat with an extra challenge to get the transition from water based to fuel proof & durable two component coats done. That way you'd make your Leica black but I am notb sure if you'll be able to reassemble it due to thickness gain.
    Of course your brother should be able to provite connections to a reliable & decent service. (AFAIK a lot of artists team up with out of house craftsmen for convenience's sake.)
    Glues: If you'll replace Vulacanite with leather, I would follow your shoemaking supplies dealer's recommendation. - In my own case I'd rely on Kövulfix (a cover both sides, wait 10 minutes mount, apply pressure glue).
  3. "specific best lubricants (and glues and locking agents" Kelvin F.
    Here's the daily use Leica M2, M3, M4 lubricants. To many application points to point out, but
    you have the manual and common sense to confirm where they're used:
    Full Synthetic Valvoline 0W-20 SYNpower, Full Synthetic Mobil 1 10W-30, Synthetic Grease SuperLube PTFE, Sta-Lube Moly-Graph Extreme Pressure grease, Valvoline DuraBlend Blue Partial-Synthetic grease, Sta-Lube Super White - Lithium Grease. Sorry, I don't use "watch oil", it's too "thin" for any M234 Leica application/protection. And no "locking agents".
    Similar to Jochen's Kövulfix recommendation,
    we use W.J. Ruscoe Co. Pliobond Industrial contact cement (Can be acquire in larger quantities).
    There are of course variations, different preferences and even other materials used in most every Leica 234 C L A,
    but these are the items my shop keeps regularly stocked...
  4. I am floored. Such generous responses so far!
    Jochen: This is what I was talking about, pooled experience and insight is what the internet can do so well! Many of us come from different industries and we may at times have practical insights that allow novel solutions when original materials prove unavailable. Technically, I am a physician with prior career in chemistry and undergraduate degrees in physics, chemistry and fine arts (painting). Sadly, these skills have lain dormant, so I am scratching a major itch with this project, obviously, but I am fully aware of the gaps in my knowlege and I expect I will make plenty of mistakes, at some cost. But, perhaps my gradual enlightenment can benefit others. That's my hope. The repaint job is down the road a bit. I will discuss further later.
    My brother does professional work on cars primarily (so his equipment is geared more for that arena). However, he has worked as a fine artist with airbrush as well. Needless to say, he won't be taking a spraycan to the beast:) I'd love to get a hold of the "SENOCRYL®-Lack 05-0945", by a german company WEILBURGER Coatings GmbH mentioned on Nemeng web site/FAQ, but can make no real inroads. Ideally, I'd prefer something more domestic. Perhaps some thoughts from the rest of you on this?
    Gus: I am so grateful that you chimed in. You are obviously one of the most knowledgeable here and I am honored that you chimed in. You confirmed my suspicions regarding the watch oil. I read about it's usage elsewhere but was not completely convinced it would be appropriate. I feared it would run into the rest of the mechanism (from the say, the slow speed escapement) and soil the curtain or worse. On a side note, I have read that Leica used an agent to diminish lubricant runoff (I forget the name), but that it is quite expensive, and impractical.
    Your suggestions for lubricants also appear to have the benefit of being affordable. I am lucky to already being in possession of the Pliobond.

    I only mentioned the "locking agent" because the M3 service manual mentions it (with some German name which I forget). This is for use on securing the "pivot screw" for the slow speeds escapement to maintain "proper freedom of the speeds escapement" (quote from the camera craftsman, just do a google search for "Factory tips for the M-Series Leicas")
    Gratefully, Kelvin
  5. On another note. Soon, I will be scanning in the M3 service manual into a PDF for personal use. Is anyone aware of any copyright issues that would preclude me making this available (say through the Butkus web site). I imagine there is not, but someone let me know before I step into hot water. I also have Lipinski's "Miniature and Precision Cameras" from 1955 which is a reference unlike all others with great detail given to the workings of similar cameras (although not the M3, really). I have a copy that I intend to unbind and scan in to a PDF for my personal use. I also imagine that this book would help many others and is hard to come by and long out of print. Finally, I have Romney's Leica repair manual, also long out of print, with no surviving copyright holders as far as I can tell. I'd like to put this out there as well. Please provide any input as to the safety, legally, of putting these items out there for common consumption. Note: I will not be sending these out privately, so don't ask. I would only post to a public server of some sort. It is not my intention to make this a profitable arrangement for ANYONE, but rather a public service. Please forgive my naivete.
  6. I'm not a lawyer, but I'd assume that any M3 service manual would still be in copyright, at least in the EU where Leica operates - I think the copyright term for a work of corporate authorship is usually 70 years from publication (95 years in the US). Of course, this also applies to much of the other stuff posted on sites like Butkus, and whether Leica would actually care is another matter - I don't think they've gone after anyone even for posting much more recent historical material than this (e.g. the M6 user manual). You could always ask them. The copyright term for a work by a named author is 70 years from the death of the author in the EU. Legally it doesn't matter whether you are making a profit or not.
  7. Thanks Richard for your insight. I will look into this further. It might behoove interested parties to look on the Butkus web site to see whether a Leica M3 service manual has been posted there in the next month or so. Just saying.
  8. It will be interesting to compare it with the other M service manual that's floating around:
    Alternative download:
    This was the textbook for a service technician course run at E Leitz in NYC for the US Government. It covered the KS15-4, an M2 variant supplied under government contract and issued to the military:
    There is also a brief but informative 'factory tips' article published by Craftsman magazine:
  9. So this is what I have figured out so far. Maybe, if we are lucky, Gus will chime in. I have cross referenced the M3 service manual with various commentary on the web and tried to determine the most analogous agent in the list of modern lubricants Gus provided. I fear I may be oversimplifying so please forgive me. Here is a list of the agents typically used according to the Leica M3 service manual equated to the modern lubricant to the best of my ability to determine.

    Leitz number/description/type = analog from Gus's list:

    300/Heavy grease/Losimol Magunna type 1150-A
    =Valvoline Durablend Blue partial-synthetic grease ? (penetrating constant of 275 implies a heavier consistency, thus the closest match I can find in the list)
    460/Medium Grease/Kluber type VP-2
    = This appears to be a most analogous to a teflon based grease like Superlube PTFE
    601/ball bearing OIL. Used a lot in the M3.
    = Full synthetic Valvoline 0W-20 SYNpower (least viscous oil here)
    602/Kluber PDP-38 95%+alugel(5%)
    = alugel is an aluminum hydroxide soap based grease. Nothing on Gus's list is really analogous to this so I am not really sure. Thankfully, not used much
    618 Light Grease, Ernst Leitz, GmBH. Used a lot in the M3.
    = Super-white Lithium grease, the grease with the least viscosity and lowest NLGI (~1.5)
    704 Medium Grease Shell #7 (95%)+MoS2 microfine (5%). Used a lot in the M3.
    =Sta-Lube Moly-Graph Extreme Pressure Grease, heavy loading Boundary Lube.
    340 Losimol Magunna type BO-4/4
    = Per research, often used for helicoids, so must be at least a little "sticky". I'm guessing durablend might work here
    428 Medium Grease/Kluber type LDS-18 Heavy
    = a lithium based grease for bearings and aperture rings, so Sta-Lube super white Lithium grease is the closest analog.
    My research of the iiif (via the national camera reference I bought) shows that they (Larry Lyell's I presume) only mentions shutter oil for the areas needing oiling (like the bearings and the slow speed escapement) and a moly grease for the heavier duty objects that slide relative to one another. I doubt the lubricant needs had changed all that much between the iiif and the M3 and figure I could probably get away with just and oil like the 0W20 and the moly grease. But for now (unless Gus or others suggest otherwise, will use the list above).
    I'm sure I am overthinking this:) Thanks for bearing with me (no pun intended.)
  10. Well, it kind of quiet here so I may have exhausted the collective wisdom:) If anyone cares to pursue something similar in the future let me direct them to rangefinder forum where I posted some of the gleaned wisdom from here. Thanks again to Gus! I hope I am at least close to his recommendations in usage here. I contacted Losimol and they offered me 60grams of the heavy grease 1150-A for ~25 dollars + shipping. I'm probably not going to take them up on it, but still thinking. I have the feeling Gus knows what he is talking about, and I'd rather not incur yet another expense. Klueber never responded to my inquiries. I have received several responses at rangefinderforum which may prove useful for future tinkerers.
  11. There used to be an ad for a photostat of the US Navy BuWeps service manual forLeica M2-R's floating around the internet. I haven't seen it for some time and I threw my copy away because it was blurry and unreadable in some areas.

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