Tag Archives: outfit

Vintage/ Antique camera repair/ restoration tools

Kyphoto.com is one of the most reliable and resourceful sites for camera repair information. They provide a list of useful camera repair tools, which are asked by many people.

Are you a DIY guy trying to fix or rescue your own precious cameras? If yes, there are the tools that you need.

Niwa brand drivers are our favorites because they have big handles and the replaceable tips are very strong (but it doesn’t mean they are unbreakable!). The T-handle is a nice addition. A Sears set of six (4 slot and 2 phillips in a blue plastic case) is handy to keep around when a special size blade needs to be ground. This set is cheap and made of good, hardened steel.
Don’t think one can ever have too many different pliers. Sears has a set of 4 mini pliers that is a good start. A tool should be comfortable… A set (round and pointed nose) of 4″ Visegrips are excellent for holding parts during filing or precise bending. A set of cheap fixed tip snap ring pliers with the tips filed to fit pin face screws. Only use this if the screw is so tight the friction screwdriver won’t remove it. The plier set you see in this picture was bought at Sears for $9.99.
Plastic surgical tweezers are the best for general parts handling. They are big and stout. But a set of metal, straight and curved, are sometimes required.

Lens spanner
Depends from person to person and job to job if spanners are necessary. Especially on really tight lens rings they are invaluable. The replaceable tip ones are best. Also S. K. Grimes makes an excellent looking spanner.
Needle Files
A cheapie set of 10 different cross-sections has worked fine.
Set of Batteries
If I had a nickel for every time a friend has shown me this “broken” camera and all I did was put in a fresh battery… well, I’d have at least a dollar! Seriously, keep a set of various batteries around. I have a short length of wooden 2×4 with holes drilled in it to organize my batteries.

Filter Ring Remover
Most camera shops carry cheapie filter ring removers. The big plier-like ones seem best. I don’t have a set of these big, nice…expensive…ones, but they are on my Christmas List.
Head Loupe
Next to my Tee-handle Niwa driver I use this the most. Could be my aging eyes?? I use it in diagnosing parts or checking lens element cleanliness, as a face shield while making parts with the rotary tool, any time I solder… gosh, all the time.
Rotary tool
Sears offers a nice 5 speed model. When you advance into making/modifying parts this tool will be your closest friend. I’m amazed that of my numerous bits I only use about four 99% of the time. Cutoff wheel, pointed grinding stone, rasp (looks like an end-mill) and a small ball tipped cutter. The first three are 1/8″ shank and the last is 3/32″ shank.
Soldering Iron
I use a 45 watt Radio Shack pencil type plugged into a variable temperture control unit. My favorite tip is a spade type I bent to about 45 degrees.
Friction screwdriver
Make from a short length of round wooden dowel (or broom handle). Just glue a piece of flat rubber on the end. A couple different diameters is handy. These are used mostly for removing the ring around wind levers. I use it even if the ring has grooves.
Crochet hooks
Makes excellent spring hooks and probes. I use a set consisting of US10, 12 and 14. And I have an extra bent US10. The 10 is especially useful for spinning off lens rings after initial loosening.
Artist style paintbrushes
For internal cleaning… Flat ones are better than the pointed.
Exterior cleaning.
Rubber pads
For loosening anything you don’t want to scratch…like everything. Start collecting various soft rubber pads. Anything can be used: furniture foot pads, sink stoppers, door stops…anything. A few sheets of soft rubberized cloth (dental dam) works well.
Tool holder
Don’t know about you but my desk gets cluttered with tools when I’m tinkering. The best thing I have found to organize the tools currently being used is a 78 cent plastic drill bit holder. It is made to hold 26 bits from ½” to 1/16″. Holds everything from pliers to screwdrivers to…well, everything I normally use. Alternately a piece of 2×4 with custom drilled holes would be perfect…but for 78 cents, I can be lazy.
Parts tray
A very necessary tool of organization! You can spend money on a store bought tray or… got a buddy that plays golf? or play yourself? The plastic egg crate-like containers that some brands of golf balls come in are near perfect. See thru is better…
Big, strong magnet
To find and pick up small parts you WILL drop.
Machinist’s dividers
Best for pin faced screws like shutter speed dial screws, self timer screws, etc.
Wooden chopstick
To insert in between the fork of the rewinding shaft to unscrew the rewinding knob. Does not scar paint as opposed to the normal screwdriver handle.
Toothpick or inkpen
Once the retaining ring is loosened, unscrew the remainder with one or both of these two items. Inkpen (no ink, of course), if extra strength is needed. Toothpick, for smaller notches and good for depositing small drops of lubricant or glue.
Film can
Need to store a bunch of little parts? If you shoot Fuji film like I do, you can write the camera name on the side of the white container. I have three or four from off brand film that are clear. They are the best.
Film cans
If one is good, then two is better and seven is perfect. Six empty film cans fit perfectly around a center can. Rubberband these all together and you have a great place to set those opened tubes of glue, thread lock, teflon oil, epoxy, etc. Also great for thicker tools like the friction screwdrivers and small butane torch shown. A ton of mini pliers will fit in them too.
Excellent for cleaning lenses but I use it for cleaning everything on the camera exterior.
For regluing leatherette mostly but works fine holding curtains and curtain straps to their shafts. When gluing curtains and straps clamp tight for best bond. The nice thing about Pliobond is that is doesn’t dry stiff.
Good for dissolving old grease and flushing out dirty mechanisms. Caution: Ronsonol is very flammable…duh, it is lighter fluid. Coleman campstove fuel works fine also but stinks to high heaven.
Teflon Lube
Use sparringly on pivot shafts. Apply with the tip of your smallest slot screwdriver. Radio Shack carries a couple different types in handy tubes.
Moly grease
Thick molybdenum disulfide grease. Good for high surface stress areas or use as focus helix damping grease. Also very useful for holding aluminum/brass screws of old Kodaks to your screwdriver. Just apply a small ball of moly on the driver tip and stick on the screw. It’ll stay stuck there until you start the screw.
This is gun oil. I use it as penetrating oil. It can be a mess to use but it frees shafts and pivots well. On older cameras I usually flush with Ronsonol after the parts free up then blow everything dry and apply Teflon lube to the pivots. On newer cameras made of harder steel parts I skip the Teflon lube and run dry.
(in some types of fingernail polish remover) Use to unstick stuck screws.
Get the finest grain size you can find. I use graphite as a manually applied plating. I massage it on contact surfaces until the color slightly darkens then blow out all stray graphite. Very good for aperture/shutter blades.
J/B Weld
Can repair most broken parts that don’t see high stress.
To clean lens elements. My favorite technique is to fold the Kleenex in small squares and hold with round tipped locking tweezers. Do not touch glass with tweezers nor apply pressure. Wipe in circles, do not scrub. And change the Kleenex if ANY dirt particles can be seen on it. These particles WILL scratch the glass!
Paper towels
Exterior cleaning and as a placemat for the camera to protect both camera and desk from scratches during assembly/disassembly.
I prefer an old washcloth in lieu of the paper towel as a placemat.
Micro-Tools sells several paints and coatings that sometimes even match the camera color!
Can of compressed air
An essential cleaning tool. An air compressor set at about 40 psi with a pencil tip is best and by far cheapest but my wife won’t let me bring the garage compressor in the house.
Dial vernier caliper
To measure things… What else can I say? Generally only needed when making/modifying parts.
Circuit testing. And if you have a digital, one check out the shutter speed tester you can make using it. A description can be found in test equipment section.
Dial Indicater
Like the dial vernier, not used very often.