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Favorite Classics Camera & Repair Articles Olympus 35RD: Shutter and Aperture blade cleaning

Olympus 35RD: Shutter and Aperture blade cleaning
by Henry Taber

This camera is Larry Humphrey's. A generous friend of mine who was gracious enough to let me use his camera for this article. All I had to do in return was clean the blades. He is a local camera collector and the nice guy who sold me my first Leica. And GAVE me my first two Contax's!

This 35RD is a pretty nice specimen with the classic oily aperture and shutter blade syndrome.

If the front element assembly isn't too tight this is an excellent first project for a newbie. It is very simple and straightforward. Also neither the top or bottom covers need be removed.


Notice the nice, clean...and un-oily...shutter blades. This is because I didn't decide to take the photographs and write the article until after the lens was mostly disassembled. So what you will be seeing is the reassembly photos with disassembly instructions.

With pencil point lens spanners, machinist dividers or your favorite "weapon of mass destruction" unscrew the thin, slotted ring around the nameplate bezel. Desoldering the sensor wires at the sensor will make disassembly easier. This camera had been previously opened and the black and red wires to the sensor were cut and resoldered. So if you choose that method, don't blame me for the hassle of trying to solder two wires back together while they are dangling in the air. I desoldered at the sensor! Polarity doesn't matter in resoldering.

Next, remove the three screws holding the ASA and shutter speed detent ring. (blue arrows) Be very careful when lifting the shutter speed dial because the detent ball will fall out. (green arrow)

It is a good idea to work on a washcloth so any piece that falls out won't roll off the desk. Also with the cloth you won't scratch up the camera as you move it around on the desk.

Clean all oily parts with Ronsonol as they are disassembled. My favorite method is holding cut Kleenex or folded bits of lintless cloth in locking tweezers.

Remove the four screws holding the brass disc. (yellow arrow) The other three are under the shutter speed dial.

When reassembling the shutter speed dial, place the dial in engagement with the splined shaft and carefully turn all the way clockwise. Reposition the dial if end of gear rack is reached. Set the shutter speed dial to 500. After mounting the outer retainer recheck that all speeds work...especially the B. You should hear a slight buzz on B as the shutter closes.

Removing the front element assembly was VERY difficult on this camera. Hope yours is easier to loosen. Even though I made a custom fitting tool this one was so tight the slots on the brass ring mount stripped. After several futile attempts finally it took a hammer and drift as well as my brother-in-law, Bob, helping to finally get it off.

There was some deformation damage on the retaining shroud around the glass but no functional damage to the lens. I figured this is where the previous repair attempt had been stopped. Sorry Larry, other than this, I left no other mark. (red arrow) The sign of a good repair is if one can't tell there was a repair.

With a thin screwdriver gently pry up the brass retaining ring and remove the ring below it. (left magenta arrow)

Remove the spring, unscrew the shoulder screw and remove the curved arm. (upper magenta arrow)

Here's a picture of the oily shutter blades. Notice how they are partially opened. The oily aperture is stuck open at f/1.7. It should be spring loaded closed. In the previous photo the cleaned aperture is at f/16. The aperture opens as the shutter button is depressed.

Observe the different positions of the aperture pin. (light blue arrow)


The focus ring must be removed before the aperture/shutter housing can be extracted. The forked, crescent shaped metal piece on the focus ring prevents aperture/shutter housing removal.

Turn the focus ring to infinity then loosen (no need to remove) the four setscrews around the rings outside perimeter. Carefully remove the focus ring, being sure to not move it off of infinity, and scratch a mark on the brass outer helix at infinity. Make the mark very accurate! With it marked accurately we won't have to readjust the infinity focus. (magenta ellipse)

Do not remove the two tiny crosspoint screws in the focus ring. They are for the ring's limit stops. The focus ring slips off with the stop attached after the setscrews are loosened.


Here is the oily aperture at f/16 and the focus ring removed. The aperture/shutter housing takes some wiggling to get it free.

Don't force anything. It'll come out easily once it gets free. It takes even more wiggling going back in. If there is a trick to make it easier to reassemble, I didn't learn it. But I do know the shutter blades need to be in the closed position and the splined shaft turned until it engages.

Notice all six screws around the perimeter are removed. Do not remove all six now. Only remove three...see next photo.

The Aperture/Shutter housing is held together with three screws and the housing is mounted into the lens with the three other screws. The big question is which are which. I removed all six and everything fell out in a heap. You won't need to have that frustration. In the picture the three screws holding the housing halves together are installed. (orange arrows)

Remove the other three screws (that are shown already removed) to extract the housing intact.

If you remove all six screws (like I did) everything falls out and you don't get to study how everything was assembled.

Gently unhook the spring from the brass stop. (blue arrow) You can leave the spring hooked to the tall shaft. To get to the blades NOW unscrew the screws with the orange arrows.

The light-tighting shroud for the rear element is loose. Don't bend it or crush it during reassembly. (green arrow)

Shutter activation arm. (red arrow) This arm opens AND closes the shutter blades. Cocking and releasing with the shutter out, to see how it works, doesn't mess anything up.

The aperture blades are retained by three screws and the plate shown on the right. Notice the oily, stuck together shutter blades in the background. We'll get to them soon.

Try not to touch the blades and their mating surfaces with your fingers. Use tweezers and dental tools to hold and move them around while cleaning.

Here are the shutter blades, all clean and ready to be assembled. First place the rotator ring onto the rear housing (shown already on the rear housing, magenta arrow) then the large round disk and finally the blades themselves. Notice there are six blades in this five blade shutter. The first and last blades are mounted in the same location.

The assembled front aperture housing is in the background.

Now with both aperture and shutter blades in their respective housings the two halves can be reassembled.

The shutter blades don't go between the rotator ring and the large disc, although it looks like they should. Rather they fit on top of the large disc and are sandwiched between the two housings.

Don't forget to reattach the aperture spring on the far side of the housing. Also the spline shaft that operates the shutter speeds has to be installed into the open slot in the lower left corner of the housing before installing the housing into the lens cavity. The shaft is shown mounted into the cavity first, but that was just to check fit.

The long spline end goes into the body.

Now you get to reassemble everything in reverse order.