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Sunday, 06 June 2010


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Simply wonderful stories, thank you for sharing.

Oy vey...

One of the things I do is moderate a vintage and pocket watch forum at WatchUSeek (I'm JohnF there...), and you've done something with the clock that will guarantee that you will have serious, serious problems down the road.

First of all, the housing of the clock is not hermetically sealed in any way, meaning that all that nice oil you smeared everywhere will act as a dust magnet and will turn the oil into an abrasive, rather than a lubricant (oil + dust = abrasive). It won't die today, it won't die tomorrow, but it will die. The oil that is lubricating the movement now will slowly pick up dust and the dust will be ground into the brass gears, pitting them and destroying the movement.

Please, please get that lovely clock to a professional watchmaker and have it properly worked on! Once the movement is damaged, you might as well just say "screw it" and put in a cheap quartz and just pretend.

Jeez. This is like dunking the balky winding mechanism of a beautiful vintage M3 in WD40 and calling it fixed instead of disassembling it properly, finding the problem, and fixing it before reassembly and proper lubrication so that the winding mechanism works right for the next 30 years...

Sorry to be so harsh, but mistreating vintage mechanisms...that's harsh.

It´s been a bad, very bad day. I´ve just broken this afternoon the clutch on my 80mm Carl Zeiss Lens for my Hassy! I adore that camera. Too make matters worse I took out my Fuji 6x7 rangefinder tonight and I´ve noticed I´ve got focusing problems looking through the viewfinder the ghost image doesn´t move!!
I´ve got a 1Ds II which I bought went it first came out, I use it continually and its a great camera but it just isn´t film!! I´m going to have to pull out my Canon 1VHS but I´ve never been a 35mm lover although I did enjoy my Leica M6, it´s just that I´ve always doubted the 35mm aesthetic.
Mike please, could try and give me some good reasons to work in 35mm B/W, there is no way my wife is going to let me fix my Hassy or Fuji at the moment and I need to get over this stupid phobia I´ve got for 35mm!!

Great text. That's why TOP is at the top.

Nice article, Jim. I enjoyed it. My neighbor has an original Nagel camera (1930). I borrowed it awhile back, took it all apart and cleaned it because it hadn't been used since 1950. It took acceptable images probably because it had a Leitz lens. It's a very simple mechanical camera and the size is super stealthy - it's like four inches across and really will fit easily into a pocket.


"It's a very simple mechanical camera and the size is super stealthy - it's like four inches across and really will fit easily into a pocket."

Just don't try to load it quickly in the field. [g]


I think you should get the camera you really want fixed, rather than force yourself to use something you don't really have much feeling for. As I've been saying, life's too short, etc....


From wikipedia,
"Traditionally, longcase clocks were made with two types of movement: eight-day and one-day (30-hour) movements. A clock with an eight-day movement required winding only once a week, while generally less expensive 30-hour clocks had to be wound every day. "

I enjoyed reading this post.

Love that last photograph!

I meant to add that I envy you your Arts and Crafts bungalow. ;-)

I had a GS645 for quite a while; I patched two sets of bellows leaks myself, and finally gave up and sold it with a third set (which I mentioned in the ebay listing). It was a fascinating idea, but that camera ruined more photo opportunities for me than any other piece of equipment I've ever owned, and in the end I'm quite disappointed.

But for me, life's too short to spend my time developing film.

Paul- If you can't afford fixing it, here's a couple of reasons for the 35mm aesthetic: Bresson, Frank, Nachtwey, Eggleston, Wessel, Salgado, Friedlander, Winogrand, Peress, Gilden, Cohen, Koudelka, Mermelstein, Gibson, Richards...

Just a scant few who made their reps on 35. Get the... picture?

Nice article JIm - and it resonates with me in many ways. While I shoot a lot of digital, I still shoot a lot of film, and mostly with rangefinders. Coincidentally including an old but perfect Retina IIIc from the Stuttgart factory you mention, and a modern Bessa 667 which, like your Fuji can be conveniently slung over your shoulder or even put in a (large) pocket. 6x7 in your pocket!

The mechanical aspect also reminds me a few years ago when I had a breakdown with my old car - a UK Vauxhall Astra from the pre-electronic age. It was a simple-ish problem, the bracket holding the alternator belt tensioner had broken. The AA man (Automobile Association - not Alcoholics Anonymous) came and you should have seen the smile on his face when he said "I can fix that!" which he did by cannibalising some other redundant parts from the engine compartment. Wiping his hands afterwards he mused, "that was fun - with all this modern electronic stuff, my job is usual just to winch them up onto the trailer"

Frank Marshman repaired my Fuji GA 645 last year.

not sure what you think you will need to 'relearn' if you get an m9. it has some quirks, true, but most you can ignore if you choose to and basically you can operate it as if it were an m6, etc. and the results are good. no, you won't find one for $8, but throw in the cost of film and processing for a year and you might come out ahead (i certainly do).

i have come to the point where even in pitch darkness, i am still using the m9 in preference to the 5d2 just because i can operate it directly, focus by feel, and have a decent chance of getting the photo i want. and it definitely is less imposing to my subjects.

I prefer wooden cameras - easier for me to repair. But the mechanical cameras are fascinating - like a well-built clock.
As to bellows leaks, I use liquid electricians tape/glue; and glob the stuff on inside corners/leaks. Couple of my older cameras (80+ years) with original bellows are still light tight thanks to the glue.

This isn't written very well, but it's a small insight into a personal appreciation of having a fine mechanical camera.
A few days ago I bought a camera that I thought I'd never have, a Rolleiflex TLR. It had just come into the dealers (Carmarthen Cameras) as a house clearance piece and, though not mint, it was up for £100 as a commission sale to move it quickly. Boy, did I move quickly ! I had gone in for a nice film compact - an Olympus XA or Minox - and came out with two things, a Rolleiflex 2.8C (Xenotar, ca. 1954) and a huge grin. The lens is immaculate and all shutter speeds on the nose.
I downloaded a manual at home and I was more impressed and pleased than when I had my most expensive camera purchase, a Sony A900.
I've always had a buzz for fine mechanical devices and quality engineering and for many years worked for a gentleman who collected old textile mill machinery, including mill steam engines and part of my job - I was employed as his commercial manager for industrial property- was to scout for such relics, some of which were still in use. Over years we collected spinning mules from 1890, power looms from the 1870's, archives, cupboards, steam engines, bobbin making machines, 50,000 bobbin samples covering 160 years, cloth and yarn winders, counters, scales, scutchers, devils, balers, etc., etc.
Ive always had a mechanical camera and have been lucky to use some exceptionally fine ones, but this one now has a permanent home to be used until I can no longer hold it. Why ? Because it's my connection to lost ages that I've been fortunate enough to witness probably the last of. Walking into a cotton mill at midnight listening, smelling and watching the poetry of spinning mules producing real yarn, clerks on Victorian high stools poring over figures, powder coated men fixing a steam engine at a soap works, women deftly knotting weft in a second from a flying shuttle,dimly lit figures under a bare bulb stacking cow hides, a family cotton mill owner recounting former days of industry in his now silent mill, unbolting line shafting over the scrapmans cutting torch below, countless images, all but a handful never recorded by my camera, but witnessed in the last 30 years. The feel and appreciation of a fine mechanical camera helps keeps me in touch with those images in my memory and for many things long gone, of a mechanical age that my children will know hardly anything of.
I'm only 46, but my children are growing and if I can recall and recount some of the ordinary things I've seen, it extends the memory of them, things most people thought had died out before my lifetime.

A I own an old F5 analog camera (bought on a shoestring budget) and a few digital compacts (like the LX3 and the GF1). And personaly I couldn't care less which camera takes the picture as long as it gets taken. Every picture ends up in The Gimp anyway but only via various routes and with varying amounts of ease. But hardship does not evoke creativity and ease of use does not empair it in any way. But digital I can take up to 200 foto's a day and proces them, analog that would cost a fortune and an ocean of time. Therefore I stopt fussing about the issue altogether and just concentrate on F8 or F11 and the image within the viewfinder (and yeah the freedom of using different aspect ratio's on camera is something I would like on the F5).

Greetings, Ed

Don't be too quick to dismiss modern automobile troubleshooting tools. (That is the subject, right?)

My 1998 Chevy Malibu developed a large ominous knocking under the hood. I knew it was valve related, but where to look? My low-end generic scantool told me that the miss was in cylinder #3, which was lucky since that was the accessible head. I pulled the head and found that one of the pushrods for that cylinder had pushed through the rocker arm. I replaced it and the thing ran like a champ.

Though I'm a younger fellow, and smack in the 'enthusiast' category photographically speaking, I'm in the same boat as all the others who keep life in old cameras. Mine are gifts from my father and grandfather, and letting them fall into disuse is almost as unthinkable as selling them.


I will second John F. Opie's suggestion to take the clock to a clock or watch maker and get it cleaned and relubed. John was a little harsh in his post (possibly facetiously) but he's right. You don't know how long ago it was last cleaned and the more the gears move the more they may be becoming worn down by grinding the accumulated dirt and dried oil between themselves. I definitely don't have John's expertise but I do like to read about old clocks and watches and this is what everyone I read suggests. Plus it keeps clock and watchmakers in business and like camera repairmen, it is a slowly dying, but in my opinion, noble field.

I wish I had John's expertise on clocks and watches or old cameras or anything mechanical for that matter. I love those things. I just do not have the time and money to spend learning the skills as it takes lots of time and money for tools, classes, group memberships and specimen to practice on. Plus, I'm 33 so I came late to the mechanical world which was well on it's way to electronics while I was growing up. I don't even know what a carburetor looks like! I started reading Mike because of his reviews of older and manual cameras and lenses. Now I need to go post to tell him to write that film and darkroom book!

The clock probably needs a professional cleaning. Second, it's probably only approximately level, which is guaranteed to put them "out of beat."

Listen to the mechanism. Does the tick-tock sound evenly: tick-tock-tick-tock... Or is it more tick-tock tick-tock tick-tock?

If the latter, it's out of beat. That means the pendulum is not swinging evenly from side to side and the escapement isn't working right. In that case, it can't keep accurate time — or even keep running for long. Again a professional cleaning and adjustment should take care of the problem.

It will probably cost you about $100.

The mechanism used by Ingraham is similar to those used by Ansonia, Seth Thomas, Waterbury, and many, many others. They aren't complicated, but they do tend to gum up, 70 or 80 years after manufacture.

If you want, try a large public library for books on American mantle clocks of the 19th century. That'll give you some background on the clock industry that made these things. Most were in Connecticut, and they are a real American success story.

That was a location that abounded in clever meachanics and inventors. Besides the clock-makers, Samuel Colt benefitted from these folks, as did Oliver Winchester. And so did Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson up in Massachusetts...

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