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Synchro Compur Servicing (1)

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This page was going to be a nice little step by step guide to servicing the Synchro Compur shutter. However its is more the story of one particular Synchro Compur shutter - as this currently is the limit of my experience.

Our 'showcase'
Agfa Isolette III is a nice example from the late 1950's which whilst not perfect has a shutter which works well enough. This Synchro Compur is fitted to a rather older Isolette III:

Agfa Isolette III - early model with F4.5 Solinar in Synchro Compur shutter

The Synchro Compur is one of the most popular and most complicated leaf shutters available. Its not overly common on Agfa cameras as they tended to use cheaper Prontor shutters. However some Agfas were fitted with the more expensive Synchro Compur.

As I've said - the Synchro Compur I have been working on came on an Agfa Isolette III. This was bought at a camera fair near London, UK. It was in very rough condition. The rangefinder was non operative, the exterior covering had be redone (badly) at some time - and the shutter was so stiff to cock I thought it would break. In its favour was the Synchro Compur shutter, the Solinar lens and the low price I had bargained of 10!

The servicing I needed to perform on the shutter was basically cleaning. However my attempts to clean the shutter from the outside proved fruitless. What I needed to do was open it up!

Thanks to
Juan Trinidad of Manila in the Philippines I had already collected much information on restoring the Agfa Isolette III. What I had little information on was the Synchro Compur shutter. By scouring the Web and all of our books I found enough information to give it a go:

Just before we start - a couple of things. Firstly this is quite a delicate operation. If you do not feel confident working with delicate objects give this one a miss. There are many opportunities to write a shutter off whilst it is in pieces! Also I've included disassembly instructions - but not reassembly instructions. This is because the shutter goes back together the same way it came apart.

The first thing that had to be done was for the focus ring to be removed. Basically there are 3 tiny set screws positioned at 120 degree intervals around the ring. Using a very small jeweller’s screwdriver - loosen, but don't remove these screws and lift the ring off.

This procedure is also covered in our original instructions for dismantling the
Apotar lens.

Fig 1. Shutter after focus ring removed

Here we can see the focus ring has been removed. The 3  small screws visible hold in the aperture plate. At the 12 o'clock position we can also see the shutter front plate lock showing though a gap in the aperture plate. Here it is in the locked position.

The front lens element will then unscrew. The thread the front element unscrews from is actually part of the 2nd element. The 2nd element in turn will be unscrewed using the 2 notches which are uncovered when the front element is removed. However before this we will turn our attention to the shutter front plate and its lock.

Fig 2. After front element and aperture panel removed

Here the front element has been unscrewed showing the dried out green lubrication which originally made the focusing smooth. This all needs to be cleaned off. I used a combination of a pin and lighter fluid applied with cotton wool buds. The front element threads were obviously also covered in the same green lubrication so these were cleaned by the same method.

The aperture plate has also been removed. You can also see the 2 notches in the 2nd element mentioned above. One is just to the right of the shutter front lock. The other is just to the left of the infinity stop post at the other side of the lens.

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