Kodak Retina III S rangefinder repair

I recently bought a Kodak Retina III S rangefinder camera in a faulty condition, and this post shows the actions I took to repair it.

The camera was advertised on eBay as non-working, with the fault conditions being that the rangefinder didn’t move when the focus was adjusted, the meter was unresponsive to light, and the shutter was loose on the camera. The seller also pointed out the the camera had a rattle.

Because I don’t have the Retina III S in my collection, and because the faults sounded fixable, I kept an eye on the auction and eventually paid £16 for the camera and another £5 postage.

When the camera turned up I was able to confirm that the faults the seller listed were all present, but that the camera is in otherwise really good condition with clean leathers and properly working shutter and film transport.

Kodak Retina III S Repair

The first thing I tried to repair was the rangefinder because I assumed it would be similar to the unit fitted to the Retina folding type cameras. As it turned out this is not the case, but it wasn’t difficult to fix as it happened anyway.

Basically, I removed the top from the camera and found that a linkage (which was visible in a small gap looking down from the top of the camera to the lens housing) was sitting behind a peg driven by the lens focus rather than in front. Using a small pair of tweezers I was able to move the linkage and confirm that the rangefinder started moving with the lens adjustment, and this continued after I replaced the camera top.

The next thing to look at was the loose front to the lens mounting.

This turned out to also be relatively easy to fix, but to do it I had to take the front off the camera. The front is held on with 4 screws – three are easily accessible by peeling back the front cloth covering carefully and the forth is found under the ‘Kodak’ name plate at the top of the lens mount. I tried picking at this name plate but found it was stuck solidly, but application of some acetone over a few minutes loosened the glue and I could then remove the name plate with some sticky tape as a grab handle.

With the screws removed I could prise the front off the camera, although I found the light meter cord also came away with the lens mount and I had to carefully remove it and refit it to the spindle it sits on in the camera body, making sure the cord was correctly threaded over the sprung tension wheels.

With the front off the camera I quickly found the cause of the loose mount which was the two screws which hold it in place had fallen out and were floating about in the camera body. Once I refitted them I could replace the eight washers the front plate fitted on and refit the shutter to the camera body. To do this I found it easiest to cock the shutter and fit the top of the plate in first and then push the bottom of the front plate into place afterwards. This was slightly awkward because I had to keep the exposure adjustment wheel turning to make sure it engaged with the wheel in the camera body and at the same time prise the bottom of the camera out of the way to allow the plate to fit. After a bit of manoeuvring I got it to fit however. A couple of shutter fire / cock cycles confirmed that it was correctly in place.

At the moment the light meter is still in it’s original, unfixed condition. There is no obvious wire disconnected so it may be that the unit’s meter is open circuit. I think it is the same unit as fitted to the Retina Reflex, and I have a couple of spare meters for that camera so I’ll probably do an exchange to fix the meter.

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