Lubricants for Leica M3 CLA
Old 03-22-2016   #1
kelvination
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Lubricants for Leica M3 CLA

I am in the midst of a leica M3 refurbish project.
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.
So far, my research has let to the following. Bear in mind, this is based on the starting point of lubricants recommended by Gus Lazarri. However, he wasn't able to specify direct correlation between his suggested lubricants and the original ones used by Leica. Still, I greatly appreciate his input.



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).



Bear in mind, I am an amateur with a science and arts background, so do not consider this professional advice.

Last edited by kelvination : 03-22-2016 at 13:40. Reason: typo
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Old 03-22-2016   #2
aizan
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wow! i don't think you'll meet anyone here who has more information. this is a fantastic bit of research you've done.

you may want to speak directly with dag, sherry, and other leica repairmen.
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Old 03-22-2016   #3
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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Losimol are still around and still making and supplying specialist lubricants to manufacturers. Probably including Leica. Have you investigated procuring the relevant ones online? Getting them from Losimol directly may prove problematic because of the minimum quantities they package, and they also tend not to sell to private buyers for the most part, mainly repairers or manufacturers. This is not to say other businesses may not re-sell some of their products, but at the least you could enquire directly about the status of their product numbers and if applicable, any current replacements for same.
Welcome to the forum
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Old 03-23-2016   #4
David Hughes
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Hi,

Second that and some of the firms using it might be happy to hand over a small quantity of it; assuming you need a gramme or two and they buy it by the barrel...

Years ago we (my old family's firm) used to buy oils in industrial quantities and rebottle it for resale, we were even considering our own version of it that they would supply. Funnily enough, a doctor who was after the oils (for his hobby) suggested we went to a firm that supplied pharmacists with empty, specialised bottles and it took off from there.

Regards, David
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Old 03-23-2016   #5
micromoogman
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I can recommend the Swiss brand Moebius's Synt-A-Lube oil 9010 for escapement and rollers. Very expensive though. Older repairmen I've talked to claim that they used "shark oil" in these applications. When checking up whatever that was I found out that the specs for shark oil are better than modern synthetic oil.
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Old 03-23-2016   #6
David Hughes
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Hi,

I know people who are serious engineers who swear by castor oil...

Regards, David
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Old 03-23-2016   #7
sevo
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Klüber are still in business, you might want to ask them for their current equivalents to these past greases and oils - http://www.klueber.com/en/
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Old 03-23-2016   #8
BillBingham2
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When dealing with companies who want to sell LARGE quantities of this sort of thing perhaps you might ask for a sample......

Just a thought.

B2 (;->
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Old 03-23-2016   #9
kelvination
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Thank you all! I agree and (just now) took the liberty of contacting Leica, Klueber and Losimol to see if they can provide some insight or samples. I kind of doubt it, but no harm trying Gus Lazarri (over in Photo.net) is a well known Leica expert who gave me the list of lubricants he uses but left it to me to figure out the mapping of the leica lubricants to his list of lubricants (understandably, I think). I suspect I am close but haven't heard back from him
Kind of a fun little puzzle. It seems that a lot of repair specialists just narrow it down to one grease (usually a moly grease) and one oil (like the shark oil, the swiss Moebius oil or "shutter oil") so in the end it probably doesn't matter much . . . I just want to know!!!
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Old 03-23-2016   #10
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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Losimol have been responsive to my previous enquiries regarding camera lubricants.
Cheers,
Brett
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Old 03-23-2016   #11
Huss
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I admire your resolve! I can't provide any help other than tell you that I once had a Minolta SLR serviced. When I got it back it had a lot of oil in the film sprocket area, which of course I had to clean up otherwise it would contaminate my film. Not a comforting experience from a pro.. But I can tell you that the oil they used smelled just like Four-in-One Multipurpose Oil.
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Old 03-23-2016   #12
Dez
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I have had good success using two lubricants...
-A medium-weight watch oil, appropriate for pocket watches (not clock oil)
-Light weight white lithium grease
Never use WD-40 except as a soaking agent for corroded parts. It dries to a nasty deposit.

I have not found an application where it appears I really need anything heavier. I have tried a heavier wheel bearing grease, but it gets too viscous under low temps.

I believe silicone oils should be avoided, as they have a tendency to creep, and will eventually get into areas where they are not wanted.

Any watchmaker's supply house can provide a range of the watch oils. The type I use is made by Novastar, but there are many equivalent brands.

My two cents' worth, which I can sometimes sell for a nickel.

Cheers,
Dez
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Old 03-24-2016   #13
David Hughes
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Hi,

Many years ago I had a long chat with a silicone oil manufacturer's experts and was told that metal to metal contact doesn't work but plastic to metal does. The oil in question being a dimethylpoly... something. I just wish I hadn't had a clear out years ago as I had wads of technical literature from them.

But surely the oil makers can supply technical literature these days?

Regards, David
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Old 02-24-2017   #14
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Any news about this interesting topic?
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