Fixing a sluggish Rolleiflex shutter (my weekend project)

Discussion in 'Medium Format & Large Format' started by Dave Colangelo, Jun 11, 2017.

  1. Dave Colangelo

    Dave Colangelo No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Apr 27, 2016
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    I was at my weekend flea market yesterday and the camera guy was there. He had a nice Rolleiflex, earlier 3.5 with no bells and whistles but very clean. however upon inspection the low range B->1/15 shutter was not working properly. It was opening but the timer was not running and the shutter never closed. A nice strike on the side of the body would get it to close but this is no way to treat such a camera. I pointed this out to the seller and got a considerable amount taken off the price, enough to make it affordable. I was going to send it out but I decided I would give this a quick shot at a home fix to see if I could pull it off. I have dug into enough of these compur units at this point that I know my way around them.

    First order of business was removing the leather covering, this is pretty typical for this era stuff.

    From there the 4 corner screws easily remove the front cover. I like to set it to B and the larges aperture before removing the cover. Note where the lever arms are when removing the cover so you can slip it back on when need be.


    The first step to opening a compur is removing the main element.


    From there, there is often an inner ring that holds the cover plate on. Removing the cover plate offers easy access to the interior workings. Make sure to not let anything fly out in the process. On these older cameras sluggish shutters are usually the result of gummed up oil from being stored in aired hot environments. The oil causes the arms to stick together and lock up. You can strip down the whole unit and clean it ultrasonically which is the right way to do this. But that takes time and a cleaner I dont have. Generally speaking you can thin the oil out with a bit of napthal applied carefully. Make sure to work the mechanism once applied to get the oil flowing again. The Naptha will thin out the old oil and everything should start working again. I like to use a 1CC syringe with needle to get into small places and drop the Naptha where I need it.


    And thats all it takes.

    Assembly is the reverse of disassembly...

    And now everything is up and running nicely!



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