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Favorite Classics Camera & Repair Articles How to remove the top cover

How to remove the top cover
by Margaret

This might be the most frequent question I see in the repair forum and emails. So, how DO you remove the top cover? Not many repair books and sites covers this topic because they assume that you already know! But for a person working on their first camera, it may be mind boggling. The screws on the top cover are obvious enough. This article will cover general top cover removal but by no means complete. Each camera is different, however, most of them are very similar in construction. These removal instructions may apply to earlier SLRs and folding cameras but mainly, rangefinders.

How do I remove the frame advance lever?

A tip for SLRs: Many Nikon, Minolta and Pentax SLR's advance levers are left-handed screws

  • If there are two notches (180° apart) on the advance lever cover simply remove this cover with a pair of round tipped lens spanners. Basically, only use the spanner for loosening and then a toothpick to finish up unscrewing to prevent the risk of stripping the notches. The lever could now be freely removed.

  • If there are no notches on the cover, then a friction screwdriver will be needed. A friction screwdriver is made from a wooden dowel and a piece of rubber padding on the bottom. Use the friction screwdriver and press downwards on the cover of the advance lever while turning it counterclockwise to unscrew.

How do I remove the film rewinding knob?

Open the film compartment door. Stick in a wooden chopstick into the fork under the rewinding knob. Unscrew the knob. That's it! I would personally avoid using a screwdriver handle for this operation unless it is carefully padded so it won't leave nasty marks.


Sometimes there are a couple of more things you may want to look out for. For example, there might be a screwable washer under the frame advance lever that needs to be removed or sometimes wires are attached to the flash shoe and PC socket. The consequences of yanking the cover off is parts becoming bent/broken and wires detaching. Miscellaneous items may fall out like a shutter release button (which is normal), just remember where it belongs. Examine the camera gently and carefully.