Workshop - Flexaret VI

If you read my blog — thank you for that, you saw that the Meopta Flexaret VI I own was not working anymore, which is a shame since I really like that camera. Shadowed by the legendary Rolleiflex, the Czech Meopta Flexaret were luxurious, discrete, twin-lens cameras at least as mechanically complex as the Rolleiflex. It justified its proud “Automat” appellation by cranking dozens of wheels and arms, advancing the film, reloading the shutter and God knows what else, every time a picture was taken, and this, without any battery. In a way, a kind of a prehistoric iPhone camera (take that Apple). To sum-up: one of my favorite cameras ever. The Flexaret story ended around 1970, the day USSR decided to redirect Meopta factory skills to a unique People friendly cheap camera, the ugly and sad Lubitel, the Rolls-Royce of cameras had to become a Lada. Life is sad sometimes, folks.

Flexaret2

Anyway, that over-complicated machine suffered from a stuck shutter. When I received the invoice for shutter fixing and cleanup, I decided to give it a try myself, and framed the invoice that definitely had too many zeros in the total price line.

In my misfortune, I found on Suaudeau.eu, a guide to dismantle the shutter off this exact camera. The trouble was about to start.

tools
Taking off the lens module

It took me seven evenings working on that shutter. The Czech Metax being a copy of Compur shutters, I helped myself with Compur guidelines. The mechanism is a real piece of clockwork. It is truly impressive how all speeds are calibrated with gears rotating depending on the ring position. A spring was broken (the 249 on that authentic Compur lubricating manual) on the main trigger rotating piece, and the blades were stuck together. The spring was easily fixed with a rather small metal wire twisted around the screw.

compur-

For the rest, I am not going to detail much, but the whole process involved petrol to degrease the mechanism and the blades, some nail polish to secure bolts, then acetone because the the nail polish flowed in the gears, then more acetone, then petrol, then a 10k run to evacuate frustration. Finally, the optics, a nice Belar 80mm/f3.5 Tessar-like lens, were cleaned up and remounted together.

metax

I shot a roll, trying different speeds to see how my tweak worked out. Here are some results, from a perfect cloudy day for photography. It was of course, developed using Caffenol. Everything worked fine, from 1/400 second to 1 second. Now I am enjoying and crossing fingers hoping that quintessence of analog technology will not explode in a thousands springs next time I hit the button.

Meopta009-2 Meopta004-2

 

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