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Favorite Classics Camera & Repair Articles Pentax ME Super Ramblings

Pentax ME Super Ramblings
by Henry Taber

The Pentax ME Super is one of my favorite SLR’s---small, light, just feels good in my hands. Why don’t we look at its insides and see what makes it tick…

The top cover is removed by first using a friction screwdriver to remove the big LEFT-HANDED screw in the center of the wind lever pivot. Then use a lens spanner or machinist dividers to remove the nut (LH) beneath it. Open the back and hold the film fork while unscrewing the rewind knob (RH). Like the wind side, there is another nut (RH) under the rewind knob holding the ASA dial. Finally remove the two screws on the top of the cover, the two on either side of the viewfinder and the two on both sides of the prism. No wires are soldered to the top cover so you can just lift it off. Be sure you keep the screws and parts organized in trays or film canisters so you can reassemble everything back like it was. When reinstalling the top cover set the mode dial to M.

The bottom cover has only three screws. The middle one is smaller. It is a good idea to remove the black plastic rewind button and black plastic cover surrounding the motor drive terminals. They fall off and get lost easily.

A camera functions like lined up dominoes: the first one knocks down the second and the second knocks down the third, etc. Realizing this, when the camera is locked we can usually pinpoint the cause quickly. On a ME Super pushing the shutter button mechanically trips the lens stopdown mechanism and the mirror up mechanism. As the mirror reaches its fully open position it trips the first curtain. Depending on the position of the mode dial surrounding the shutter button the first curtain will trip the second curtain at 1/1000, 1/100 (x-sync) or bulb (remain untripped until release of shutter button). As the second curtain fully closes it trips the main cocking lever that lowers the mirror, allowing it and the stopdown mechanism to reset. The mirror comes down and releases the wind lock. It is now ready to be wound again for another exposure.

I know, I know…this is a simplistic statement of all that happens, and it totally ignores anything electrical, but it is enough to lay a foundation of understanding the domino principle. For instance if the camera locks with the mirror up yet the first curtain remains in the up position (unreleased), ones knows where to start inspecting the mechanisms.

If the ME Super should ever lock up DON’T mindlessly try the self-timer. You’ll only have one more thing preventing release. Why not try it? Well, as you can see in the photo, the self-timer and the shutter button both activate the same lever.

There is a cam adjustment (accessible from under the right front leatherette) that if improperly adjusted would let the self-timer work and not the shutter button with its normal stroke. A small screwdriver stuck into the remote socket port in the shutter button will still operate the release though.

To see the workings of the domino principle in the mechanical releasing of the shutter the mirrorbox must be removed from the body. To do this first remove the self-timer lever, the screw is LH, then peel off both front leatherettes. Next desolder the three wires at the motor drive terminals and the wires by the shutter switch. Make a note of what color wire goes where. Finally unscrew the four screws on the front of the mirrorbox housing and the two screws at the top rear. The ASA plate must also be removed.


To show the domino effect in the mirrorbox mechanism, here is two photos of a badly corroded ME Super that didn’t ever learn to swim—it drowned.

Follow the numbers, 1-2-3-4, to see the dominoes falling. Then you can see it after they’ve all fallen in the second photo.

In the second photo the mirror up and stopdown positions are shown.

The mirror down and aperture opened positions can be seen in the first photo.

At the bottom of the mirrorbox is the main cocking lever and spring. It is the main source of power to move the mirrorbox and stopdown mechanisms. Each individual piece or set of pieces has its own spring, however, the main spring is strong enough to move them all simultaneously back to their starting positions.


As can be seen, the second curtain has to close with enough force to trip the main cocking lever and its heavy spring. This is one of the three main problem areas on the ME Super. We’ll get to them shortly.