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wlaidlaw

Another M7 with a dead/jammed shutter release

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I was at a Remembrance event at Kew Gardens today, where a bench made out of the fallen Verdun Oak was unveiled. The first film went through the M7 more or less OK although I had to switch both it and Motor-M off once to clear a fault. However after rewinding and reloading, the shutter is totally jammed and will not release at all, even in the non-electric speeds of 1/60 and 1/125. The wind-on lever is jammed as well. I would guess this will be the usual switch/lock jamming on the release shaft problem, that many M7's have suffered with. The problem is that I had planned to take it on a trip to the USA leaving on the morning of 20th of November. I have contacted Alan Starkie to see if he can do this as an urgent. Even though I am a registered professional with Leica, time is just too short to get it out to Wetzlar, priority repaired and back by the 19th. I supposed I will have to take my M4-P instead. At least I can take the rather bulky and noisy M4-2 winder off and put the Motor-M on the M4-P. I managed to get most of the shots I wanted at the event, so could have been a lot worse and jammed at the beginning. The M7 and Motor-M, both have fresh batteries in them. 

Wilson

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Hello Wilson,

Sorry for your problems.

Have you ever had something similar happen when you used the Motor-M on the M4-P before?

If so, you might be cautious about using that motor in place of the noisier other 1. I know you have limitations when using a camera when winding it by hand.

If you are in the neighborhood of the Latitude of Capri & the Longitude of Bogota & have some spare time P.M. me.

Best Regards,

Michael

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Michael,

The M7 shutter button failure is a well known issue. It is probably due to unsuitable material being used for the release shaft, which has a notch in it, locked by the power switch in the off position. This notch becomes damaged or worn and the shutter release shaft does not then unlock when the camera is switched on. The shaft should have been made either from a hard material like "Silver Steel" or at the very least, case/nitride hardened after machining. The latch on the rotating switch is also prone to failure, which again jams the shaft. Given how often this happens, Leica should have developed a repair/upgrade kit, for the shaft and switch/lock, so that it does not happen again after repair

Wilson

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Hello Wilson,

Thank you for the explanation.

Wouldn't it be possible for a person to either have a replacement part properly hardened? Or have another part made of appropriate materials using the supplied replacement as a model?

From your description, It does not seem that it would be that difficult to do 1 of the 2.   

Best Regards,

Michael

Edited by Michael Geschlecht

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My decision to put my three M7s into storage forever is confirmed. They shall never see the light of day again.
Uh, unless someone smart puts my estate up for auction. :)

 

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Wilson, my original M7 bought new from Ffordes in early 2011 and came complete with electronics gremlins. On one of its trips back to Solms, they reported that the release shaft was damaged. See attached screenshot of the report and photos of the damage. I have never used soft-release (one of the reasons for the 'excess pressure' put forward by Solms in a phone conversation). Nor had the camera been subject to pressure on the shutter release whilst in my bag (Think Tank Retrospective 5) - and it had probably spent more time in Solms than in my bag.  No matter what I said, they were adamant that I must have caused the damage so had to pay up.  In the end though, after more problems and more phone conversations the camera was replaced. That was in 2014 and having rather more film cameras than I can regularly use, the film I have just loaded is only the ninth!  Despite such light use (and being on a bookshelf when not in use), the on/off switch is already exhibiting that worrying roughness.

 

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Keith,

I agree there seems to be a basic problem with this part of the camera. Although I do use a soft release, I always remove it when the camera is packed or in a camera bag. It looks like the shaft is made from plated brass, from the chip on yours. Once Leica realised there is/was a problem, they should have re-designed/re-specified the shaft. Leica is far from alone in this head in the sand attitude to design flaws and manufacturing faults. Many years ago I owned a company that did guarantee claim analysis for the motor industry. We proved again and again that redesigning a part, re-specifying the material or changing an assembly method, would save money in quite a short period but it was extremely difficult to get any changes adopted. Apparently the failure of my camera sounds more like misaligned wind on gears or an out of register shutter blocking plate according to Alan Starkie, who is going to try to repair it before I go to the USA. It will interesting to compare his charges with Leica's. 

Wilson

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Alan does a really good, thorough job, and you’ve done well to shunt the queu. He did a 10,000 mile oil and filter job on my M6 and it was away for 2 1/2 months. You’ll know yourself his charges for a CLA, so I’m guessing that, plus a bit more. 

I suppose there’s only so much an independent repair tech can do with an M7, due to the automated electronics within, otherwise it’s back to Leica.

 

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Steve, 

I had 4 pre-booked CLA slots with Alan anyway for the autumn (IIIa + MOOLY, 250 Reporter, M3 and IIIg), so I think my M7 will just take the place of the M3, where it was mainly a cosmetic job to dress out a tiny dent in the top cover, which slightly spoils an otherwise near mint very late (1966) M3. Alan has done some amazing jobs for me, like a total rebuild with many repairs of a 70mm film Combat Graflex KS-6 3 lens kit, including having new parts 3D printed in titanium. He is just going to get my M7 working again, not do a full CLA, as supposedly that was done at Solms a few years ago when they updated the DX detection and the viewfinder. 

Wilson

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Wilson, I'm not sure the shutter release shaft problem is that widespread – Keith's M7 is the only case I've read about here. It sounds like your M7 is locked up because of a different reason altogether so I think we should be careful before we talk about design faults, etc. Personally, I'd point my finger at the Motor-M as being a contributory factor. I know that, technically, the motor simply winds the film via the little drive connector thing (can't think of the appropriate technical term) at the bottom of the camera but I think it is a rather unforgiving way to wind the camera.

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Ian, 

I have had a couple of PM's from other folks with the shutter shaft problem, since starting this thread. Before I bought my second M7 (everything went wrong with my first one in 2002, which I replaced with a Contax G2 in disgust), I did a lot of research on various forums on M7 problems and known breakage issues on the basis, once bitten, twice shy. There were a number of mentions of problems with the M7, caused by using cable or soft releases, apparently damaging the shutter release shaft. These were usually where the camera had been put in a bag or packed in a case with either the cable release or soft release still mounted. I have been very careful about taking the soft release out, every time the camera goes in a bag or has been packed. 

I have suggested to Alan Starkie that if it does prove to be the shutter release shaft, we remake it out of 431 aerospace grade hard stainless steel in place of plated brass, to avoid the chipping on the locking slot. I have used 431 stainless steel to make racing car gearbox shafts from and it is very abrasion and chip resistant, especially if heat treated and nitrided post machining.

The Motor-M was specially designed to be far more gentle than its predecessor, the M4-2 Winder. It has a torque limiting clutch and in any case, I only ever use it on low speed. It actually seems to wind on the film quite gently, certainly compared with the "WHIRRRR, CLACK, THUMP of my M4-2 Winder. I would imagine that Leica did a fair amount of testing with the Motor-M before releasing it. All film M's after the M4, use steel gears in the wind on/shutter re-cocking gear train, to enable long term use of a motor drive. 

Wilson

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