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Restoring and cleaning a 50's baldax camera

MBobbie

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Hi everyone,

Just opened my account because i am looking for some people that might have some more experience navigating through the world of vintage camera restoration.

After starting again with the analogue hobby with a suprisingly pristine and cheap mamiya m645J and a not so pristine and relatively expensive Olympus OM-10 I am recently getting into some vintage folders from between the early 30's till the late 50's. My current (small) collection holds a Tower Foldex 20 'box' folder, a zeiss Ikon Nettar 518/16 and now also a Balda Baldax from the early 50's. This last one has thrown me for a loop a bit trying to research it. Let me explain.

I purchased this camera mostly on a whim for about 20 euro's on my local online second hand market. The guy selling the camera didn't seem to know what it was so i took a bit of a gamble. The camera arrived in a very nice state but it does have some issues due to bad storage. Especially the viewfinder is as if i am trying to look through porridge and the lens has almost frost-like speckles over the entire front element. Here is an image for illustration purposes, in my case it is way less severe:
images.jpeg
I expect some fungus but especially because it is a very nice 75mm f2.9 schneider-kreuznach (from now on: S-K) with prontor-sv shutter i am thinking of giving it a shot to clean it up.

The biggest struggle was trying to find anything out about this camera or to find any repair guides about it. The balda camera that the internet is plastered with is the much more common Balda Super Baldax with coupeled rangefinder and with a whole range of lenses (but not my lens) and shutters. On camerapedia i found out that this is probably one of the first generations of post-war baldax camera's since it looks like a Baldix but it has a shot counter (only on the post-war baldax) and a S-K lens (not on the baldix).

Here is the only image i can find on google images to show the modell:
600031_6122018125525907.jpeg

Does anyone happen to have some, or at least any experience in cleaning the viewfinder of this camera and lens?
If so, please indulge me in some information to help me fix the problems.

If this turns out to be a conundrum for even this forum i will be going along with trying to disassemble and clean it anyway and will keep this thread posted on the progress, and then will also try to do it with my own images instead of the google images i used for now

Thanks for your attention and speak to you soon!
 

BrianS

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Finding formal instructions on this one will be difficult: I just checked Rick Olsen's comprehensive list of repair notes: Nothing.

SO: let's wing it based on prior experience, and guess that it's "Kind of like" a Kodak Retina II- which has a knob wind and knob rewind.

Looking at the top plate on yours: one knob should some out easily with a flat head screwdriver. Find one that fits the screw with little/no slack. It is important to get the right size as to not strip the screw. I cannot quite make out the advance knob- but it seems to require a spanner. I use a pair of fine-needle nosed pliers for these types of screws and Small retaining rings. The only GOTCHA: Some of the screws are Reverse-Thread, which is true of the advance knob on the Kodak Retina II. "Found out the hard way". SO- you might try some small amount of solvent to loosen a stuck screw, but also try screwing it in the reverse direction if it sticks.

Once off: I use Q-Tips and ammonia based Eye-Glass cleaner. Be VERY-VERY gentle wiping with the Q-Tips.

My last project- you can see some of the tools I use, all this is DIY repair on the desk in my home office.

 
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MBobbie

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Thank you for your help thus far. Surely two heads will be better than one.

This specific camera does not have a rewind or forward knob seperately. It is a 6x6 120 film camera that has only a single "ratcheting" forwarding knob that also advances the frame counter at that side. The other one is, as far as i can see, a reminder wheel on the type of film that doesn't even connect to the inside of the camera (the spool is held into plate with a small retention bump on some flexible springy metal plate that folds out when i pull out the fancy spool holding covers inside).
Here is the top of the camera (photographed using my desk lamp as a light so excuse the mediocre lighting):
Top Balda.jpg

I (naively) presume that this right knob can stay put whenever i will be removing the top cover since it just seems riveted into the plate for aestethic (and minimal practical) purposes.
There is a set of screws left of the advance knob that will be unscrewed whenever i am starting this endeavour.
The biggest fear for me is the possibly disastrous ratcheting system that is underneath the advancing knob and the connected frame counter, although that is a luxury i can do without. Trying to keep the camera as working as original as possible. I hope that that one is not going to (get ready for some technical terms) p'toing throughout my office in many tiny cogs and bits but only time will tell. Here is that beaute in a image:

Ratcheting knob Balda.jpg

So we'll be seeing how that will go in the coming week.


On some better/badder news, i did manage to find out how to release the front lens and clean it. At least got the fungus cleaned off of the used part of the lens using Ammonia and Hydrogen Peroxide so thats the better news. Turns out, as simple as some things can be, there are three miniscule flathead screws around the rim of the focus ring that can be screwed flat to the ring (as to not lose the microscrews) and then the ring comes clean off so i can freely screw the front lens off. And the best news is that the fungus was confined to this lens so no further disassembly should be needed to get rid of the fungus. There are some specks that are on the concave lens behind the top lens but with some 1:1 ammonia Hydrogen peroxide mix and a cue tip i think i can get that one clean. Here are those miniscule screws:

Lens Screw Balda.jpg

Three of those and i was done. And there even was a handy-dandy red mark to line-up the focus ring and the actual front lens element. This is where the bad part starts...

When doing my initial reconnaicanse i tried to find out how to unscrew the lens. I fiddled a bit and then turned it so it could line-up with the actual marks, totally ignoring any previous calibration of the focus that Schneider and/or Kreuznach had done so i am pretty sure that this lens is currently unfocusable. I will have to do a bunch of calibrating and focustesting using the opld parchment-paper method that SFLAB showed and try not to lose any of the screws in the proces. My home office is not that large and trying only the 1m marking is imho not as good as going through at least three of the markings so i will be calibrating it at my workplace (camera rental so the boss won't bother) but i will have to do some extra work to get it going :oops:
Fortunately i have my Zeiss Ikon Nettar to keep me company on my travel to and from work so atleast i have that going. And already shot two rolls with the dirty lens so will be seeing how those have turned out.

Whenever i get into the top and into calibrating i will update this thread with some photo's of the process (no promises though because this whole cleaning business also happened on a whim) and keep you posted.

Have a nice evening (it's half past twelve at night here so maybe it's time to get some sleep and stop making rookie mistakes :whistle3:)
 

BrianS

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Thankyou for the write-up, and now makes sense to me why there were two knobs on a roll-film camera.

On the wind-knob: The lever advance on the Kodak Retina IIa has a similar mechanism that can fall apart once off the camera. As soon as I have the screw off the knob and start lifting: I wrap the mechanism in clear tape to keep it together. On that mechanism- a spring-loaded ratchet must be held back to get it back into place. I use dental floss to get it in place, pull out when it is on the camera.
 

MBobbie

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I think i found a more comprehensive teardown of the camera. As i expected it is listed as a baldix but due to the frame counter i think it was just titled wrong: https://www.flickr.com/photos/29504544@N08/sets/72157615506768908/
Going to try it tonight whenever i am home.

Already recalibrated the lens quite brutely (with a bunch of tissue packs and a ruler) and it seems like it works now. Did mess up one of the three screws so currently on the lookout for a bunch of spares for any future projects. Biggest problem is that i cant seem to find out what size screws i would need. Most metric lists with screw diameter stop at m4 and that is between 3,8 and 3,9mm so i think i need a M1 and guess that that one is a little bit smaller than 1mm thick. But, again, zero idea where these are sold especially the flathead version of these screws since the only company selling micro screws in my area has these allan screws.

A hobby is no fun if it is easy
 

MikeB

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Good detective work.
 

BrianS

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Thankyou for posting the links to the top cover removal.

On screws: I've some luck just buying lots of parts cameras and reaping parts. I try to get cameras from around the same period, but is not always necessary. I repaired a 1953 Canon 50/1.5 using screws from a 1960s Nikon lens- just as one example. Another- fixed a Canon EF take up spool missing a screw with a screw from a Russian Fed-2. A lot of these screws were commodity items, just need a lot of parts cameras, a good eye, and good calipers.
 

MBobbie

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I figured as much. Have gotten another Balda camera from my local secondhand market (slightly newer model with an uncoupled rangefinder but missing the mirror and front glass of the rangefinder part) and thinking of either swapping the screws of the baldawerk lens (real bad haze on that one) onto the schneider and then swapping the schneider onto the rangefinder model and refurbing/repairing the rangefinder. Shouldn't be that hard to do since it only needs a small mirror on the arm and it's ready to go. And the older residu left by the old mirror's glue really makes it easy to reposition a new mirror just right. Now i only need to find a mirror that fits or a way to make one and we are once again closer to a fully working camera Itd 3d Ani W60 Smiles 037
 
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