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Linus84

Quick and dirty relube of helicoid, Elmarit-R 28 v1

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Hi! I just got a hold of a SL2 with three lenses, Elmarit-R 28, Summicron-R 50 and a Elmar-R 180 from an “old school” auction. After an hour cleaning everything, the camera and lenses are nearing ship shape! 
 

However, the elmarit is very stiff to focus. I have tried to jog it back to shape but it only can do so much. I was wondering if it is possible to add a drop of silicone-lube or similar to re-activate the old grease? And if so, where is the focusing helicoid located? Is it even possible to access the helicoid without dissembly of the Lens? I tried googling for some “schematics” but I can only find good detailed ones of the elmarit-R version 2.  
 

if at all feasible, add the drop of oil in slot I or II? 
 

regards

//Linus  

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I have tried this a few times in the past. Sadly it has never worked. I think the lens needs to have its helicoid taken apart, the old dried lubricant cleaned off and fresh non-oxidising/non-drying lubricant, such as teflon silicone grease used to replace. I have the 4 inch (100mm) standard Kodak Ektar lens for my 70mm film Combat Graflex that has this problem. It was supposed to have been done when the whole camera was repaired but that ended up such a lengthy and complicated job that the lens got forgotten. I assume the standard lens got used more than the wide angle 2 inch (50mm) and telephoto 8 inch (200mm) lenses in the KS-6 kit, as they are both much freer. 

Wilson

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Here you find a video tutorial how to disassemble/assemble the Elmarit-R 2.8/28 V1, certainly the procedure is applicable also for cleaning and re-lubing the helicoid.

 

 

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I have played around with old lenses a fair bit and I actually bought a couple of old lenses, a Chinon and a Petri for £1 each to see how I got on taking them apart and putting them back together (not very well). There are some essentials needed before you start. I think you need to have a large (A2 size is perfect) work mat and a surface where you can leave things undisturbed, where the parts will not get "tidied away". You will need a lens wrench, lens ring removal plugs, a set of high quality jeweller's screwdrivers (I use A+F Swiss ones) straight and angled non-magnetic jeweller's tweezers and various other small hand tools.

Getting thin fragile locking rings out of lenses, where they have been undisturbed for the last 50+ years can be very difficult. You can make up your own releasing fluid by mixing up a small amount of Moebius 8000 watch lubricant with iso propyl alcohol and use a hypodermic syringe to apply tiny amounts. However, my local camera repair shop (Protech Camera Repairs) will do a basic clean and lube job on lenses for £25 to £50. I take Leica lenses to him, other than very simple jobs, as he has spent his whole working life (and before as his father was a Leica technician) working on cameras and lenses. Unlike me, he really knows what he is doing. 

Wilson

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... and I who always thought it was boiling acid that did the trick. ;) 

 

on a more serious note; you are all probably correct. It’s always better to put the lens in the hands of a pro. I live in northern Sweden so it’s not easy to just drop by a good repair shop. 

however, after spending around 20 minutes twisting the helicoid back and forth it is actually starting to loosen up a bit. If I get down to Stockholm for a vacation “soon” I will try to find someone who can take a look at it. It would be a shame not to rescue and use this nice lens. 

 

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1 hour ago, Linus84 said:

... and I who always thought it was boiling acid that did the trick. ;) 

 

 

 

Many camera companies used certain hard setting epoxy balsams in the late 1960's and 70's, for cementing lens elements together, in an effort to reduce the incidence of lens separation and fungus attack that had previously been the case with natural Canada Balsam. These epoxy cemented elements can only be separated by boiling the group in methylene chloride in a pressure cooker. This is a very hazardous process that should only be done in an industrial fume cabinet. Methylene chloride is really nasty stuff that is now banned in all consumer products. It used to be a component of paint stripper and paint brush cleaner. 

Wilson

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Posted (edited)

If a lens helicoid is excessively stiff it can be indicative of lens impact damage which will require complete strip down and helicoid thoroughly cleaned and recut using lapping compound 

https://richardhaw.com/2015/12/30/best-practices-part-2/

... my R 180/2.8 lens helicoid was cleaned, lapped and lubed by Newton Ellis to remedy impact damage.

A professional clean/lube will be expensive and likely not cost-effective for the Mk I 28.2.8 R. Do not try using oil to remedy the stiff focus. A Q&D possible fix is to apply some lighter fluid into the helicoid whilst turning ... but do not overdo it. If it works it will not be a permanent fix and it might damage the helicoid if there is any grit / dirt in the thread. Try at your own risk. 

dunk 

Edited by dkCambridgeshire

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I had the same problem with my old R 28mm, maybe the third Leica lens I ever bought. And it was expensive then (35 years ago). But now it is completely frozen. As I typically use it on the SL I thought I would leave it as it is and buy instead a M to L macro adapter. 

Now I use the adapters helicoid instead of the frozen helicoid of the lens. (With a R to M adapter). Not as precise as the lens helicoid, but faster and quite usable (also with other lenses).

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Isn't this interesting - I mentioned to my local dealer that I was after a 28mm Elmarit, knowing he had an elderly customer that was seeking to dispose of R lenses that the dealer wouldn't stock (too expensive for his target market). He summoned me in triumphantly with an as new Elmarit - one that had been sent new to the customer by Wetzlar as a replacement for his one in for repair. It had no use, immaculate, in original box etc.

The mount didn't fit my SL2, but the big problem was - it was so badly frozen it was stuck. Now, with all the above this sounds like more than a coincidence.

I didn't buy it! But the one I do have, is lovely. I wonder what might cause this.

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2 hours ago, Charles Morgan said:

Isn't this interesting - I mentioned to my local dealer that I was after a 28mm Elmarit, knowing he had an elderly customer that was seeking to dispose of R lenses that the dealer wouldn't stock (too expensive for his target market). He summoned me in triumphantly with an as new Elmarit - one that had been sent new to the customer by Wetzlar as a replacement for his one in for repair. It had no use, immaculate, in original box etc.

The mount didn't fit my SL2, but the big problem was - it was so badly frozen it was stuck. Now, with all the above this sounds like more than a coincidence.

I didn't buy it! But the one I do have, is lovely. I wonder what might cause this.

My guess is that the helicoid tolerances when they were milled were just too tight. The Kodak Ektar 4 inch lens for the Combat Graflex also had a reputation for becoming very stiff, which its fellow lenses, 2 inch and 8 inch don't suffer and my 4" lens exhibits this. Both the Ektar and the Elmarit would have been milled long before the days of CNC machinery and the usual method of milling a helicoid then was to use a follower system with a tracing finger copying the helicoid on a pattern piece onto the production blank. If the helicoid of the particular pattern piece for that lens was machined too tight, all the production helicoids would also be too tight. An over tight helicoid also tends to squeeze out the lubricant from the tighter sections leading to metal to metal contact, so a double whammy. 

Wilson

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Posted (edited)

If you are brave enough and have all the correct tools to take a lens apart, which has an over tight helicoid, my suggestion would be to "lap" the male and female helicoids until they became smooth and moved freely. Given that the brass of the helicoid is not a hard material, I would start with 500 grade and finish with 800. You don't want to make it too smooth using 1000 or 1200 grade or it will struggle to retain a film of lubrication. That is why people hand scrape lathe and milling machine beds to provide "teeth" to grab the lubricating oil. Basically you are grinding one half of the helicoid against the other with a fine abrasive paste. This will naturally abrade away any high or tight spots. Make sure every last trace of the lapping compound is totally washed off, before relubricating the helicoid

Wilson

Edited by wlaidlaw

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Good idea, so logically we should suggest Leica that in future they apply lapping paste in the helicoid instead of grease, this certainly would avoid a tight fit after a while....

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34 minutes ago, AndreasG said:

Good idea, so logically we should suggest Leica that in future they apply lapping paste in the helicoid instead of grease, this certainly would avoid a tight fit after a while....

My guess is that in the 1930's when craftsman work was more common, Leica would have lapped their helicoid halves to each other. 

Wilson

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I visited the old  Leica Solms  factory a couple of years ago and saw 3 gentlemen sitting around a table 

diamond lapping focus mounts. I was told that this happened regularly to ensure smooth focus.

I must say all my very old M and screw  lenses focus smoothly.

Philip

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9 hours ago, kangaroo2012 said:

I visited the old  Leica Solms  factory a couple of years ago and saw 3 gentlemen sitting around a table 

diamond lapping focus mounts. I was told that this happened regularly to ensure smooth focus.

I must say all my very old M and screw  lenses focus smoothly.

Philip

I had a horrible 50 ASPH chrome Summilux. It was extremely stiff to focus plus it had a razor edge on the focus tab. I have very fragile skin due to arthritis medications and I actually cut myself on it twice. I sent it back to Solms and it came back with the tab somewhat filed down but just as stiff. I swapped it with a dealer for a 28-35-50 Tri-Elmar. 

Wilson

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