Roland and Caroline's Home Page
Unjamming a Focus Ring

Click here for complete Site Map

A really common problem with Agfa/Ansco folding cameras is that their focus rings tend to freeze up due to dried lubrication. Fortunately most of our Agfas don't suffer from this - but when I did acquire a camera with this problem - this is what I did:

(All photos taken with our
Epson PhotoPC650 camera.)

In this particular camera the front focusing element was locked solid with the 2nd element. Somebody had tried to force it but just succeeded in unscrewing the 2nd element from the shutter housing slightly.

Lens elements in shutter housing before removal

This picture shows the camera as I first got it. The lens rotated anti/counter clockwise about 10 degrees before the infinity post hit the infinity stop. The lens wouldn't move clockwise much as the 2nd element was just being screwed more tightly into the shutter housing.

First and 2nd lens elements removed from shutter housing

Here the infinity post has been removed (it is slotted and just unscrews with a small screwdriver) and the first and 2nd lens elements have been unscrewed from the shutter housing. At this stage they are still firmly stuck together!

Lens elements in lighter fluid bath

This is the lens element pair in a lighter fluid bath. The container is the bottom end of a 330ml plastic drinks bottle. The lens fitted quite well but leaving enough gap to get my fingers in. Obviously the smaller the gap, the less the amount of lighter fluid required. Also whilst I don't think the lighter fluid would damage the lens markings - I didn't want to risk soaking them for any length of time so I only filled the bath up to the edge of the focus ring.

The lens stayed in this bath for 24 hours - I didn't need to top it up over this time - but its worth keeping an eye on it.

Split plastic tubing and rubber band used to get a good grip  on the lens

To free the lenses from each other - I just used my hands - aided by a piece of split plastic tubing and a rubber band to get good grip. It took quite a bit of effort to start - but once they began to move it was much easier. In order to help keep proper focus adjustment I marked the edge of the 2nd element with a wax crayon and noted which part of the lettering/numbers of the focus ring was next to it when the front element eventually became detached.

Thanks to Bob Siddons who emailed me to suggest using rubber patches from a tire repair kit to separate the lenses:

"They are three inches in diameter and are  used to patch a tire inner tube. Placing the lens between them and then  between the palms of both hands, they came apart very easily with no  possibility of damaging the threads."

Thanks also to Bill Cole for this additional tip:

"Have you tried Self-Amalgamating Tape for this? I've found it excellent. In case you haven't come across it it's soft, stretchable, rubber tape. It has no adhesive on it, but when stretched and wrapped around something it welds to itself where it overlaps. A strip wrapped round each of the lens elements gives you an excellent non slip surface to grip, and the loose edge automatically folds over the exposed glass as you stretch the tape round and protects it without actually sticking to it. I've found then that putting the lenses face down on another sheet of rubber (I use the back of a piece of old car footwell mat) and twisting the top element by hand is enough to free them, although no doubt jubilee hose clips could be used in really stubborn cases.

The tape is sold in yacht chandlers (and probably other places too) for about 6 a roll (which lasts ages as it stretches to about 3 times its original length as you use it)."

Thanks also to Rob Murray. Having previously tried acetone, lighter fluid and Liquid wrench without success - Rob tried the following:

"I then put lighter fluid in a small, shallow metal pan covering the lens and used a small lamp aimed at the lens. This generated enough heat to warm the fluid (which makes it circulate) and in a couple hours I could see the green grease accumulating in the pan. It still took some force to open them up but it worked."

Front and 2nd lens elements after separation

Here the lens elements have been separated and this was a good opportunity to clean the glass as well as the threads. The old lubrication in the threads was picked out using an ordinary pin. Cotton tipped buds were also dipped in lighter fluid and used to help dissolve the lubricant down more.

Refitting the elements back in the shutter housing

Next the elements needed to be fitted back in the shutter housing. The 2nd element is easy - it just screws in. Don't bother to lubricate the threads - this element is not supposed to turn. The front element is a little harder. Using the wax crayon mark - I positioned the front element over the 2nd element and started to screw into it so the threads would go together the same way they had come apart. Once done I checked the focus to make sure it was adjusted properly.

After I was happy with the focus - I unscrewed the front element again and applied a little synthetic grease to the threads. I then reinserted the front element and checked the focus again.

Lastly I screwed the infinity post back in.

HERE for another link on this subject.

Got a question or can't find the info you are looking for? Click HERE to contact us.

Click here for main Repair Page

Click here for complete Site Map

All text and images Copyright © 2000-2011 Roland Givan, unless otherwise stated. All Rights Reserved.

[Home Page] [Rewiring a Polaroid 103] [Agfa Rangefinder Adjust] [Agfa R'finder Service (1)] [Isolette Top Disassembly] [Apotar Lens Dismantling] [Bellows Checking/Repair] [Make an Isolette Bellows] [Unjamming a Focus Ring] [Lubitel Focus Alignment] [Karat 6.3 Ongoing Work] [Optima Cleaning (1)] [Synchro Compur (1)] [Focus Adjustment] [Prontor-S Servicing (1)]