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not yet... just had a first look again at the forum since a very long time.

Unfortunately I had to take a break because of very seriouse heath issues but now I am back on track and will complete the missing steps whenever I fell like doing some work on it.

Will keep you posted like previousely.

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Hello guest! Please register or sign in to view the hidden content. Hallo Gast! Du willst die Bilder sehen? Einfach registrieren oder anmelden!Hello guest! Please register or sign in to view the hidden content. Hallo Gast! Du willst die Bilder sehen? Einfach registrieren oder anmelden!Hello guest! Please register or sign in to view the hidden content. Hallo Gast! Du willst die Bilder sehen? Einfach registrieren oder anmelden!Hello guest! Please register or sign in to view the hidden conte

Well, I never had a working UR-replica - neither working Null-serie replica -  but, when collecting, I used to be in close and friendly contact with the Italian "artist" Alberico Arces (mainly thanks to another Italian friend/collector, Ghester Sartorius) who sold me a few of his hundreds marvelous replicas. Here are images os both replicas from my archives (I already published - long ago - a thread on Arces copies). On the two first images, the UR-replicas as "copy of the original" and in diffe

Well Guys, Time for Payday.  Working UR Leica #80, photo by George Furst.  I’m sure you recognize the place.  🙂 Hello guest! Please register or sign in to view the hidden content. Hallo Gast! Du willst die Bilder sehen? Einfach registrieren oder anmelden!

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I have also recently acquired one of these Nachbildungen Ur-Leica dummies. Lovely to hold, pleasure to turn the wind knob and release the "shutter". It really does look and feel great, I can see from the hundreds of posts that it can become an obsession, so I am looking for advice that will prevent me from being tempted to try and make it work! I have not taken a screwdriver to it yet, but I am fascinated to wonder why there is so much mechanism inside if it wasn't in some way supposed to be part way to functioning... and maybe functioning for real with some additional effort. The focussing mechanism seems to move the lens body in and out, the lens has glass in it and what looks like an iris with blades, but the screw for the iris adjustment is not moving. So tempting to try and find out why... but as soon as I do that I will have embarked on a project. I have to convince myself that it isn't a real camera... even though I bought it thinking I might be able to make it work... HELP ME PLEASE!!!

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You are correct! It is daunting. What you have is the shell and a few of the parts of the ur camera. Enough to make you think that there is just a little tweaking here and there and presto…a working UR just like Barnack made over one hundred years ago. Ambro51 is most knowledgable about this as he did it with one of his ur dummy cameras. If he has time he can give some of the frustrations and joys of the conversion. First the glass lens is not suitable to take photographs, it is there just for looks and that includes the adjustable iris diaphram. Then there is the shutter. What you see is a left over Leica lllg shutter curtain ( That’s what I have been told as the M3 usurped the screw mount cameras) Note the the two ribbons that hold it to one of the shutter drums, they are a part one of the two curtains found in the lllg. Then there is the question of controlling the tension of cocking the shutter drum. The gear controlling the tension is missing. The wheel to put it on is there, so all you have to do is make a gear on the wheel and a matching one on the cocking shutter to fit. Then there is the question of the shutter springs that reside inside one of the drums and make the shutter curtain window move across in front of the film when the shutter is released. Also there is no way to advance the film. Another set of gears or a special looped spring must be fashioned, like Oskar Barnack did. You must also find a Leitz Micro Summar 42 mm lens. This the easiest part of the project as they show up on eBay from time to time. 

Now when you have done all of the above, you must fit all into a very small space and be able to collapse the lens into the area between the shutter drums without damaging the fragile curtain. This happens to be one of the greatest challenges. When all this is done, take a rest like God did on the 7th day and start taking pictures!!


We did all this a few years ago. When I say we, it was a labor of love with me advising a famous watch maker/camera technician, Mr. Kim, here in South Korea. I provided the lens and advised him on the shutter curtain window opening of 8 mm. I worked with him over a number of months and every week kept encouraging him and tried to share the pain he was experiencing to do something that seemed easy but in execution was not. One challenge after another arose. He complained of getting a headache every time he looked at the box of parts! As the hours and weeks passed, I fed him special pastries to keep the project moving forward. At the end, I give him $1200 for his considerable effort. Now I had to test the project camera to see if the lens focused, the film advanced, and the UR Replica worked. I did this and after a few light leaks were sealed we had the first operational Barnack UR Replica in the world that used the same lens that Barnack used!!

The last project was making the film counter on the front of the camera work. So six months later I brought him the headache. After a number of months he accomplished this and now we had a fully functioning UR Replica. I am very proud of what Mr. Kim accomplished and feel he should receive an award for what he did. Without his watch making/camera background this camera would never have been completed. So when you look at your UR Dummy realize that it is tempting to think that this is a simple project, it is not! If it was, it would not have taken almost fifty years after the dummies were made by aspiring Leitz mechanics in the 1970s (A graduation project I believe) to add what is needed to make a fully functioning camera from the shell of the dummy. So I wish you good luck and look forward to hearing about your adventure by filling the pages of this thread!

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Refer to post #281, and compare your camera takeup shaft to the picture.  There are two major variants in the replica, if you have the “V” grove pulley shaft like the one pictured, your task is much simpler.  A 1” diameter rubber drive belt, twisted to a figure 8, takes the place of Barnacks spring loop and Mr Kim’s gear train.  It ALSO means the film path position matches the film gate opening.     Check your camera......

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  • 3 weeks later...

my own little conversion project went on hold since quite some time but all I can say so far is to confirm the satements of Mr Furst and Ambro, who are probably the only persons on the planet that have got true working ur leicas (besides the maybe two lucky owners of the original cameras that cannot be traced anymore).

Initially I had the same thought like you that basically it has got all what it need for a complete working camera but when I got started I found very quickly that yes, it is true but then not really true because a lot of the parts almost do the job that they are supposed to but need change/adaption to really make them work. For my own camera I ended up replacing pretty much ALL of the internal parts. If you go back a couple of pages you will find some pictures.

This should not discurage you but move thing into perspective, so don't be fouled by owning an "almost" working camera. Retrospectively I think it would even be easier to build you own camera enterily that making the ur work because you then also do not have to live with the restrictions of the original design. The most severe I found is the available spece in respect to roller size, film pull and light seals.

You example looks very clean and build with precision, which was clearly not the case for my camera, so maybe this gives you a better start. Good luck

I will restart the completion of my camera over the end of the year and hope to post some news and pictures again some time.

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      I believe that this article about the restoration by Malcolm Taylor of Oscar Barnacks cine camera and photographs taken of the restored camera in the mid to late 1970's will be of interest to Leica historians.
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      Best regards,
      Wilf James.
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