Worst case scenario- lens on a Ricohflex IIIB...?

Discussion in 'Medium Format & Large Format' started by CDG, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. CDG

    CDG TPF Noob!

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    Hello. I recently bought a Ricohflex IIIB MF camera off of the ebay. It is possible that this one was dropped. The price I paid was suited for a display only piece, so even if the camrea is not salvageable (for use), I was not ripped off because of the beautiful cosmetics (if the real thing looks anythign like the high-res pictures I saw of the camera).

    So the focusing ring is stuck, won't move. Of course in old cameras this can mean several things that I've already been reading about around here. However, the one I dread the most is that this camera could have been dropped (even if there are no other visible scars on the camera body).

    So, assuming the camera was dropped and something is not wrong with the lens as a result, what could this mean for the future of this camera? How expensive would a repair job be, if it is even possible to get it repaired? I'm sure lenses themselves are impossible to find, but would it be possible to get another Ricohflex IIIB perhaps with a broken shutter or something and make 1 camera from two hulks? Please excuse my ignorance if these questions are stupid- I can find only a few resources on the Ricohflex models and have almost no experience with medium format outside of two very ancient box cameras...

    Your thoughts and experience are greatly appreciated. My first medium format, my Spartus Full Vue has film on the way as I type this, so I'm excited to hopefully get more into Medium Format photography. Particularly once I'm out of college, I should have some time to lug a camera or 2 back down some remote locations and do some landscape/nature phototgraphy...
     
  2. Mitica100

    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Craig, if indeed the camera has been dropped, it's not worth your money to get it fixed. That alone could cost you about what you'd pay for two good, user TLRs on Ebay. If you can't fix it, shelf it, I'm sure it'll make a nice conversation piece.
     
  3. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    My first guess would be that the lubricant has turned to cement. That's a fairly common problem with old cameras. Someone needs to take it apart, clean out the old gunk, and re-lube it. I would estimate that a complete CLA (clean lube adjust) would run between $75 and $150. I don't know enough about Ricohflex cameras to know how hard it would be to do yourself?

    http://www.kyphoto.com/classics/articles.html

    http://www.kyphoto.com/cgi-bin/forum/discus.cgi
     
  4. CDG

    CDG TPF Noob!

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    Well, worst case scenario, I have a matle piece and paid less than 20 bucks for it, best case scenario is that I get a serviceable camera out of the deal. Resources are scant on the Ricohflex models in general, but one resurce I came across said the lenses are easy to rebuild, requiring simply the removal of 4 screws. I will report back here when I get the unit.

    Additionally, I am watching a few other cameras on ebay that claim good mechanics but look a bit more worn in the cosmetic department... After all, two cameras are better than one. Of course I also just bought a Polaroid 220 for 6 bucks, so that would actually make 3 in one week... I can't help myself when I find a good bargain... :)
     
  5. CDG

    CDG TPF Noob!

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    OK, well the camera came the other day. The viewing lens was easily taken apart. I just got the primary lens focus unstuck. Unfortunately the whole camera had to come apart, and there is one major issue that I need to resolve:

    The focus ring on both lenses are held on by setscrews. Unfortunately somebody tried to "restore" this camera before and 2 of those setscrews are not in good repair, and the threads on one of the setscrew holes may be damaged. So I need to find a place to get ~.8 mm setscrews and maybe a tap...

    Otherwise, I've been degreasing the threads and I'm going to go get some appropriate grease and that focusing problem should be all solved.

    The shutter timing feels accurate by my reckoning. If the camera goes back together it might go to a pro to get the shutter timed and whatnot. The mirror had a big fingerprint on it, so I gingerly cleaned it with a moist cotton swab. I cleaned between the elements on the lenses. I'm not sure if the shutter needs lubing, but the mechanism is drying out right now as it accidentally came in contact with some lighter fluid. Otherwise though, I'm optimistic. Anybody else have any advice, or additional info on my new Ricohflex IIIb
     
  6. Mitica100

    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Do not lube the shutter, these camera shuters were made to function without lubrication. The lighter fluid (Ronsonol) is the best thing could've happened to your camera's shutter. The way I clean my (LF) shutters is by taking the lens cells off and then dunk the shutter in a jar filled with Ronsonol or Naphta. I leave it there for about 30 minutes and then I take it out and blow the excess of fluid with some compressed air. That usually restores the shutter to its normal functioning.
     
  7. CDG

    CDG TPF Noob!

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    Just an update for the forum:

    Dimitri hooked me up with the screws I needed. Thanks in part to Dimitri and Matt who provided the helpful links, I was able to get this camera up and going again. For the lens grease, I used caliper slide grease purchased at the local autoparts. Only the most minute quantity is needed so if you have a mechanic friend, ask him/her for a small glob the size of a fingertip. Even this much is well in excess of what I used...

    Also, the bottom lens simply refused to budge, so I covered the jaws of some vice grips in some rags and ever so gently used them to remove the focus element. Bear in mind that the assembly is brass, so one must be extremely cautious if you dare to use pliers or vice grips like I did. Also keep in mind that I've been around auto repair most of my life and have a good idea how to break stuff (and avoid breaking stuff). :)

    With the new screws, everything is now pretty much in order. I may need to touch up the viewing glass though, as I noticed a smudge on it the other day. I will try to post pics of this little camera one of these days... I ordered an old Seiko light meter to go with it so I don't have as steep of a learning curve when it comes to the all-manual settings on this unit.

    If anybody in the future should come upon this post and wishes to ask me questions about this specific model, feel free to PM/email me and I am willing to share my now limited experience with it. Resources on the IIIb seem scant on the web, although the manual for the Super Ricohflex seemed to be pretty close on how things work.
     
  8. chrswbrwn

    chrswbrwn TPF Noob!

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    Hi,
    I know this is an old post, but my question is relevant to the topic.
    I have a Ricohflex Model VI that I recently got as a Christmas present. The shutter works fine, but the gears on the taking and viewing lens are very hard to turn. I planed to remove the end of the lens barrel and clean and re-grease it, but the three set screws that hold the geared barrel on the taking lens are totally stripped.
    Does anyone have any ideas of how to get them out?

    Thanks,

    Chris
     
  9. Mitica100

    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Hi Chris,

    To be very honest with you, it would be a gargantuan task to take the stripped screws off the lens barrel. Leave them be. If you want to loosen up the old grease do the dry heat trick. You can go either way, although I have a feeling you'll like #2 better:

    #1 - Heat your oven to 150 F, then turn off. When off, place the camera wrapped in some aluminum foil on the middle rack, leave there for 5-10 minutes and then take out, try to gently make the focus gears move back and forth. Repeat the operation like above a few times or until it gives way.

    #2 - Bring to a boil a large pot with water, turn off heat. Have the camera securely enclosed in one thick Ziploc bag (squeeze out as much air as you can) and then place it in a second Ziploc bag, securely enclosed. Immerse in hot water for 1-2 min., take out and try to loosen focus. Repeat until it frees.

    Unfortunately this is all you can do without opening the focus gear and lenses. If you want another camera like this, you can easily find them on eBay.

    Hope it works...
     
  10. chrswbrwn

    chrswbrwn TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the quick reply Dimitri. I was actually able to get the screws loose! I figured I had nothing to lose by stripping them worse than they already were, so I just pot a dab of WD40 on the screws and just stuck the screw driver in there and pressed down hard as I turned. I eventually gripped enough to remove each screw, but they are totally mangled. Now I need to find replacement screws!
     
  11. Mitica100

    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You're quite welcome! Tell you what... Send me one of those screws taped on a little piece of paper and I'll see if I have some extras for you. I assume you need at least six? Is is for both lenses? I have a few 'parts only' cameras laying around and I can check to see if I have a fit. If not, I'll send the broken screw back to you. Let me know...
     
  12. chrswbrwn

    chrswbrwn TPF Noob!

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    Wow, that would be great! Can you PM me your address? I need the screws for both the taking and viewing lens, that's 3 each, so 6 total. I have one screw that is in decent shape, I'll send you that one, the rest are all mangled.
     

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