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Favorite Classics Camera & Repair Articles Salvaging out a camera
Salvaging out a camera
by Henry Taber

What do you do with a camera when it is beyond repair? Throw it away? Hardly.

You harvest its parts!

I bought a Canonet QL17 Glll off of eBay in hopes I could get it going. After all, the seller described it as being near mint and “nearly” working. It wasn’t either...

The front element was separating and VERY hazy, the meter didn’t work and it looked like someone had used pliers on the focus ring. The ring would barely turn. I considered returning it but then for $15 it wasn’t worth the effort. Instead I decided to tear into it and let it teach me about rangefinder cameras. This is an excellent idea for everyone to do at least once.

As a side advantage, its parts have been very handy in resuscitating other cameras. And that is what I wish to talk about. Sure, I figured I could use its good parts on other Canonets but never imagined the versatility its innards would have. The following is a list of the contributions it has made to other cameras...

  1. The rewind knob went to a friend in California.
  2. The CdS photoresistor went into an Aperture Tester. (See the test equipment section)
  3. The aperture detent ball was the same size as the missing one from a New Jersey friends Vivitar 60mm macro lens.
  4. Three screws from the resistor plate went into the stopdown lever cover of a Kiron 80-200mm zoom. (K-mount lens given to me by the friend mentioned in number 3)
  5. Three more screws went into a similar ring on my Canon FL mount 50mm f/1.4 I somehow mysteriously lost the original screwsduring an aperture blade cleaning project.
  6. Used a spring to fabricate a broken spring on an Olympus Pen FT.
  7. Another spring went into a Pentax ME Super. Unmodified!
  8. Several short pieces of wire have replaced corroded battery wires. Has anyone else noticed how mercury powered cameras are prone to this corrosion? It travels right up the wire from the battery.
  9. The top cover (which really was excellent cosmetically) was swapped with another perfectly working QL17 Glll. Now that one looks terrific!
  10. Couple setscrews from the mangled focus ring went into the shutter speed knob of a Petri.

There are probably other examples of parts I’ve used/modified but it is Friday night and I don’t want to think too hard.

What made me think about writing and sharing this list is that today I was tinkering on a Yashica Lynx. The lens is stripped all the way to the aperture blades and I just noticed that one of the blades is missing a pivot stub that appears to have originally been spot welded to the blade. No wonder there was a gap in the iris! This part is unfixable, at least with my skills and equipment. So the camera is scrap...unless!

The Lynx has a Copal SV shutter assembly and so does the Canonet. The Canonets doesn’t say SV though. I’m about to disassemble the Canonets lens to see if the blades will interchange... Wish me luck!