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Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 05:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hello there. I've just picked up a Contaflex II in fairly good condition (meter working and accurate, clear lens, shows no signs of having been messed with). However, it's in need of a good cleaning because the shutter and mirror mechanism are sticking. I've done a search in the archive and have found that these aren't the easiest beasts to work on, but I'm happy to give it a go. I've successfully serviced a few synchro-compur shutters in the past (in Rollei TLRs) thanks to Rick Oleson's excellent notes on his website (thanks so much Rick!). In an earlier post Rick mentions that you can remove the shutter by taking out the screw that keeps the diaphragm stop down spring tensioned, and unscrewing the retaining ring on the rear lens element. Is that all that is required to take off the shutter? I want to remove the top plate as well as I imagine this is necessary to get to the mirror and shutter linkages from the film advance/shutter release. Do you just have to remove the film advance and meter knobs to take the top off or is there more to it? The mirror does go up and down, but only goes up after the shutter has released. Any tips from those who've been there before would be appreciated.
Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 06:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi Wayne:

I have a few sketchy notes specific to the Contaflex I and II; I'll be happy to send what I have if you'll email me for them.

Basically, yes, to remove the shutter just remove the stop screw, let the spring wind down and remove the retaining ring, then lift the shutter off the front. Shutter and body both want to be in the released position for reassembly.

rick : ) =
Jon Goodman
Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 08:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I've been here before--models I and II are not the worst to tackle. Rick has you pointed in the right direction. Once I've removed the shutter, I remove the lens elements (if you need help here, please let us know), and start from there. If the shutter is otherwise working but just sluggish, you might get by with a naphtha flush of it. Usually the aperture blades are gummed and sluggish. When you get ready to re-assemble, please say so. There are a couple of things that will make your job a bit easier.
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 05:11 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thank you so much Rick and Jon. I've got the shutter assembly off (man that retaining ring was tight!) and with Rick's notes should have no problems taking it apart for cleaning. I presume that the rear lens element just unscrews?

I haven't cleaned the body mechanisms properly yet, but with a quick solvent flush it appears to be firing crisply and the mirror is moving correctly. I've worked out how all the shutter and body bits mate together, so it should go back together alright when the time comes.

OK, here are the follow up questions... The diaphragm spring didn't unwind when I took out the stop screw for the star wheel. I had to loosen the centre screw to be able to rotate the wheel from the back. Is this normal or was the centre screw done up too tightly? How much should I tension the spring upon reassembly? Just enough so that the aperture stops down correctly?

Any thoughts on lubing the shutter cocking gears and other body parts, or should they just be clean and dry?

Thanks again, Wayne
Jon Goodman
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 09:04 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Clean and dry should do it, Wayne. You can add a bit of light oil, but it usually isn't necessary. A hint...make sure the ring that controls the aperture is clean and working smoooothly. Often, I'll rub it with a napkin and a bit of graphite. You don't want a bunch of graphite floating around...just a thin layer on a clean ring will do. I stress this because that aperture really truly needs to be slick and quick.

The apeture star wheel will not release when the stop screw is removed. To tighten it, here is the sequence: leave aperture full open when you re-install the shutter. Then close the aperture to 22. Then begin turning the star wheel counter-clockwise until you see the aperture blades fully close. At that point, keep turning counter-clockwise through 20 "notches." Watch as a notch passes the stop screw hole to do your counting. You will find using a small screwdriver and a bamboo skewer to be your friends here...use your highest concentration, too. When you have the 20 turns made, tighten that center screw and install the stop screw. Please let us know if you have any other questions. PS...while you are in here, it would be a very good time to remove the piece of *&^% Zeiss used for a mirror damper and replace it with something else...a 1mm to 1.5mm piece of foam would be nice. That old thing will continue to drop pieces of stuff onto your mirror. Your mirror will continue to fling them onto your focus screen, and you'll soon have everything in there just as dirty as it was when you started. If you need the foam, please let me know. The $6 seal kit I sell has both thicknesses of it...seller "Interslice" on E-Bay.
Posted on Monday, January 17, 2005 - 05:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks for the detailed reassembly information Jon. It'll be very handy when I get that far... I'm having a few problems with the shutter at the moment. I took out the slow speed escapement to clean as I usually do and decided to soak the rest of the shutter as well (which I don't normally do). Upon reassemby it worked fine for a while, then stopped releasing unless the cocking lever is jiggled. After much pulling apart/putting back together/head scratching, I've concluded that something in the flash synch mechanism is sticking, so I've pulled that apart for a proper cleaning. I should get it back together later today, so hopefully it'll work fine then. Some crap probably migrated when I soaked the shutter as it seemed to be OK before that.
Posted on Sunday, January 23, 2005 - 04:12 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The Contaflex is now back together and all functions seem to be working just fine. What a marvel of mechanical engineering they are (when working)! A test roll is currently in the camera.

Once I got the shutter working properly the camera went back together pretty smoothly with only a little judicious bending of the relevent levers required to get it to cock and release the shutter consistently.

I ended up taking the top off as well in order to properly clean the mirror and focus screen, etc. Thanks again to Jon for his detailed instructions and especially Rick for his excellent sketches; I would have been lost without both.

Cheers, Wayne
Posted on Monday, January 24, 2005 - 12:56 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm working on the same model, same project as you were....are there any hints that you could pass along beyond what Jon and Rick put in response to your notes? I was looking for the "do's, don'ts, and pay attention" kind of things.

I'm also wondering if there is any difficulty in getting the focus right after you put the front element back on.

I'd welcome any further amplification on the star wheel that was discussed. Does it have to wind down?
Jon Goodman
Posted on Monday, January 24, 2005 - 01:46 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi, Wayne...glad it all worked for you! Sometimes you do have to do a little careful bending. Hi, John. The star wheel will self-release when you remove the lock screw and the center screw. The focus isn't that difficult to re-establish. There are a couple of ways you can do this, but focusing on an object (preferably a vertical pole) several hundred yards away is probably the easiest and most effective. When you get it apart, you'll notice there is a stop for short focus and infinity built into the focus ring which is held to the outer element frame by three grub screws. You can also focus on the edge of the moon on a cloudless night. Assuming your mirror was correct to begin with, you'll be okay. Please let us know if you hit any snags.
Posted on Monday, January 24, 2005 - 06:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)


I would suggest that you email Rick for his sketches and notes which were a great help to me (I can also pass them on if it's OK with Rick).

As Jon mentions, the aperture must be very smooth in it's operation in order for it to stop down properly when you release the shutter. I made sure that I cleaned the blades very thoroughly and removed the operating ring from the back of the shutter to ensure it was perfectly clean as well. I also made sure that the operating gear in the camera body was clean and smooth.

If you have a good look at the back of the shutter and the mechanisms in the camera (cock and release the body without the shutter to see what happens), you'll soon work out how they mate together. Make sure that the little lever at about 2 o'clock is rotated as far clockwise as it will go (Rick mentions this in his notes) before you replace the shutter. This lever opens the shutter blades when you cock the shutter so you can see through the lens. As Jon notes, also make sure that the aperture is wide open. I found that rotating the shutter very slightly in an anti-clockwise direction as I replaced it helped to mate everything correctly.

I had to bend the cocking lever on the shutter a little as it was slipping under the tab on the cocking gear and so was not being pushed far enough to cock it. Then the release wasn't tripping the shutter, but I found that a little bending of the tripping lever to get the right clearance and a touch of lube on the relevant tab did the job.

When replacing the front element it can go back on in several positions, but I just used trial and error to find the original position. You could save yourself a little time by marking the position I suppose. Once I had it on the right way infinity focus was perfect and didn't need adjustment. Because of the stop for infinity focus and the fact that the grub screw positions are drilled into the front element housing I wouldn't think that the focus could actually change unless the second element is screwed in more or less than it originally was.

I hope some of this info is helpful, let us know how you get on.

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2005 - 08:36 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks everyone for the info. Rick has sent the sketches to me. I'm planning to start one evening this week if nothing pops up on the schedule. I'm always nervous about having to do a "little bending". I hope mine isn't in need of it, but I'm wondering if it's not that problem. The situation I have is that everything works smoothly and crisply from winding through pushing the shutter release button. Then the shutter and aperture close before the mirror and light shield jump out of the way....but the shutter doesn't then open and close on exposure. I know it won't fix itself, so I have to go where you all have been.

Thanks, and appreciate the tips
Posted on Monday, June 27, 2005 - 06:33 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Sorry to jump on in here - thanks for this thread. i've been sat staring at my Contaflex II for over a year now without a clue how to fix it.

Was jammed when i bought it (for £5) and it was a zeiss paperweight until i found this thread. plucked up the courage to remove the top plate and have a poke around. got access to the wind-on and with a bit of gentle to and fro on some of the gears, the shutter released and i was in business. result!

(have to admit i did have a couple of spare bits left over but remarkably the thing still seems to work... :))

However, any further tips and info would be very welcome - i'm planning on a thorough clean of the mirror compartment now i can actually get access to it. Would one of you be able to send me their notes?

Many thanks again,

Jon Goodman
Posted on Tuesday, June 28, 2005 - 02:06 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hello, Alan.
If you managed to get the top plate off, you'll need to remove it again. Once inside, you'll see the pentaprism is held down by three small screws. Remove those and lift the prism up and out. You'll likely see some tiny washers underneath the ears holding the prism in...save those and mark where they were. Leaving them out will affect your focus, as will mixing them up. Leaving them out of one side will make you center the picture lopsided. With the prism out, you can carefully clean the mirror...use a soft microfiber cloth and no more pressure than you'd use if you were touching your bare eyeball with your fingertip. You can also clean the bottom of the focus screen, but again, use little to no pressure and a nice microfiber cloth. I would not disassemble the prism/focus screen assembly. You can do this, but generally there is no need to. Good luck.

Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 - 10:35 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Great advice - thanks Jon. much cleaner.

i'm now checking the shutter speeds etc. - the slower speeds which (by the sound of it) rely on clockwork seem faulty: shutter opens, clockwork ticks and then splutters out without closing shutter. similar deal with the self-timer - splutters out before reaching shutter trigger point. can this clockwork mechanism be re-tightened? or can you suggest an alternative explanation?

i'm pretty sure i'm going to have to disassemble the lens/shutter assembly, so any tips would be a great help.


Jon Goodman
Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 - 06:51 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi, Al.
Normally if you remove the shutter from the body, remove the lens elements and wash some naphtha into the shutter, the timer will revive and the shutter will work okay again. If you need help in removing the shutter and replacing it, please let me know.
Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 - 11:14 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

thanks again Jon. yup, that's what i was guessing i'd have to do. i've found some info on removing the shutter (unscrew ring around rear element from within mirror compartment, right?) but i've also read that you can get access to the relevant bits by removing the front element and going in that way. i'm happy to do the former as long as it's relatively painless to reassemble. thinking i'll document my work and stick some photos online, as there's little to be found at the moment. thanks for any further help, Al
Terry W
Posted on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 05:11 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

hey guys. I bought a contaflex beta but cant figure out the controls, does any one have a guide or info.What kind of black and white film can i use.All i had was a roll of konica monochrome vx400 to use as a test roll so i dont now what if any pics will come back.When i look thru the eye piece i see black specs,any advice on cleaning would be appreciated.

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