Kowa SE strip down – part one.

Last week I received a Kowa SE 35mm fixed lens slr which had a few problems. Basically, when the film advance was wound the mirror moved to the up position and the viewfinder blanked out. After a further bit of playing about with the camera I also found that something is stopping the aperture blades from fully opening. I suspect that one of the blades has a pin broken, so I decided to have a look and see if I could find what was causing the problem.

My first course of action was to remove the top and bottom plates from the camera. As it happens there didn’t seem to be anything amiss there, but I took pictures as I did it so I’ve included them here as they may be of use to someone with a similar camera in the future.

Most of the steps were fairly obvious apart from unscrewing the front of the light-meter cell but for what it’s worth these pictures show what I did (apologies for the quality of the images in some cases – it was fairly dark and I had to hold the camera in one hand for some of them). To see the pictures in full size follow this link.

  • Unscrew the top of the film advance with a lens spanner
  • Remove the washer and spring washer which is underneath and lift off the advance lever
  • Unscrew the top of the film rewind by holding the inner part with a screwdriver and turning against it with the top
  • Unscrew and remove the threaded washer under the film rewind
  • Undo the screw in the other end
  • Unscrew and remove the lens from the light meter cell
  • Remove the four screws in the bottom case

The top and bottom now lift off. In the case of my camera I added a tiny amount of watch oil to the gearing just to lubricate the linkages etc but this didn’t make any difference to the problem so I looked at taking the lens off.

At this point I initially removed the three screws in the focus ring, but that didn’t allow the focus ring off the camera and didn’t help so I replaced them and removed the three screws in the chrome ring closer to the lens body. With these three out I could remove the front of the lens.

Oddly enough at this point the camera started to work almost completely correctly. Winding the film advance just cocks the shutter and the release causes the shutter blades to close, the mirror to rise, the shutter to open and close and the mirror to flip back down. Just occasionally the camera misbehaves and I’ve found that if I carefully keep the shutter blades in their correct position with my finger, the action completes correctly.

So I think the problem could be two fold

  1. The sticky aperture blades are causing most of the problem
  2. There is also some stickiness in the shutter blades which is also contributing.

My next action is to strip down the aperture assembly and see if I can see what is wrong with that. Meanwhile, with the lens off the camera I could get access to the underside of the focusing screen and remove some dust and dirt with a blower.

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