Akarelle I
Akarelle I

I’ve stumbled over this camera, an AkArelle I from the mid 1950s, whilst looking for spare-parts of my Arette BN. Little did I know about the German company AkA Apparate und Kamerabau Gmbh which has been founded in 1946 by the brothers Dr. Eugen Armbruster and Dr. Max Armbruster, starting manufacture in a disused hotel in Wildbach, a town in the Black Forest.

Over time, the company grew considerably and eventually settled down in a former preschool for aviation technics at the beautiful Lake Constance, producing my little camera. If you are interested in the history of AkA as well as all the series and models which have been produced, I kindly invite you to visit Martin Kohler’s website.

The AkArelle has a very pleasant and smooth form. The upper, lower and front parts are chrome-plated, unfortunately, the front-cover easily wears off over time, hence you will see the brass shining through. Nonetheless, my sample is overall in a good shape and after CLA, working as expected.

When it comes the camera’s specialities, it is the support for interchangeable lenses, back-wards compatible with AkaRette, the (uncoupled) viewfinder with bright frames, indicating the focal lengths for 50/75/90mm and the combined film advance and shutter cocking feature – something that not that usual back in those times.

The CLA was rather straight forward, with the Prontor SVS shutter being accessible from front and the relevant mechanics being easily accessible by removing 4 screws exposed behind the chrome-plated front elements. Unfortunately, I could not completely CLA the film advance mechanism as there was a screw I did not manage to remove and I did not want to ruin anything. However, I’ve managed to take off the old and sticky grease. Top and bottom covers are held by screws with the top cover requiring to remove rewind knob and film advance lever. Not special tools are required πŸ™‚

See my journey in pictures below and as usual, reach out to me on FB or through the comments section on this page, should you have some questions on the CLA process.

King Regula IIId – part III final

Putting everything together reminds me of my days as a child, first playing with lego and later, taking apart “stuff” to see how it works and put it together again. My parents would not have been very happy if they ever knew that our Yamaha HiFi chain from the 70ties were going through my little hands – just to satisfy my curiosity πŸ™‚

Obviously, I am now rather grown-up and develop my skills even better than ever before. Given I had no reference or service manual for this gem, I kept on taking pictures of every single step to document the before and after. In the meantime, I’ve also top mounted a Sony a6000 on a desk holder and can record my sessions. This to get ready for my own channel on Youtube one day.

With all the pictures, reassembling the body was swift, except from once where I forgot a washer and had to take apart the inner shell again. No bother, helps to develop my skills, right? πŸ™‚

I’ve tried to use a new cleaning product, replacing Acetone which gives me a headache when inhaling the vapours for too long. It’s an orange terpene from Liqui Moly and it works very well on old and stick oil and grease, to soften glue on leatherettes for easier removal and to clean bodies, however you have to be very careful not to remove painting.

Further, I was trying out different greases – but on that topic I will post a dedicated article in the future.

After the body was complete, there was one more thing…the lens, here a ENNA Ennit 50/2,8 with a pretty oily aperture. Given I have no experience yet with cleaning lenses as well as no possibility (yet) to verify and adjust focus, I was not forcing it an only took apart as long as I felt confident. This way, I could not take apart the aperture itself but had access from both front and back. With many (!) cotton buds and isopropyl alcohol I carefully flooded and repeatedly cleaned the blades. The result was good enough for the current stage.

Lastly, the camera was brought to shining with a microfibre cloth. All that remains is a small repainting job of the black color in the front, which has worn off during the camera’s life. Below the finished work and some pictures of the lens disassembly.

King Regula IIId – part II (Prontor-SVS)

Some “first-timers” here: Prontor-SVS, shutter for interchangeable lenses and lengthy process to get the delayed action device doing its work. But step-by-step:

Prontor-SVS shutter for interchangeable Lenses
Prontor-SVS shutter for interchangeable Lenses

Given the Kind Regula IIId features support for interchangeable lenses, there must be an extra safety measure put in place to prevent light from entering the camera when changing the lenses. Gauthier therefore came up with the system of light-sealing shutter blades which only remain open until the shutter completes its cycle.

My challenge was to fully access both shutter and light sealing blades as you need to remove the pin in the chocking shaft, which took more efforts than simply removing the tiny screw holding the pin in place but carefully hammering the pin out of the shaft. I’m pretty sure there was a more convenient tool available back in the 50es πŸ™‚ The reason for the difficulty is the pin being bulged in the middle to hold tightly in the shaft. I’d assume this was an extra safety measurement besides the screw.

Prontor-SVS cocking pin
Prontor-SVS cocking pin

Cleaning and reassembly of the different shutter blades was pretty straight forward and so was the rest of the shutter parts. The fun really started when I realised that the delayed action device (aka selftimer) did not remain chocked but always would snap back into its relaxed state. Clearly some timing was off, but which one? First, I read through the very long Prontor SV, SVS and Pronto shutter repair manual but was not exactly clear in which direction I would need to bend the nose of the cocking arm, so I went with the second option which was to compare to a similar Prontor SVS shutter.

I therefore took the (working) shutter of a rather similar Kind Regula IIId automatic apart and compared the two cocking arms and it became immediately obvious what could be wrong:

Prontor-SVS cocking armΒ 
Prontor-SVS cocking arm

On top is the one from the IIId automatic, underneath the one from the IIId. I’ve bent the latter to look similar to the first and the selftimer would now remain wound up and would run down when engaging it!!

With this adjustment done, I could put the remaining parts of the shutter together and proceed with the reassembly of the body. See part III.

Some more pictures of the shutter – for your reference.

King Regula IIId – part I

Another lovely rangefinder camera from the 1950s, built in Germany by the company King who initiated their business in Pforzheim. It offers interchangeable lens support and the body is built like a tank, with a full outer shell and componentised inner structure.

Scanning through the webs to check for any service manual (which – as so often – does not exist) it seems the camera is difficult to repair. At least for the disassembly, I cannot second this statement. There are many screws, mostly the same shape and size (!) some of them are a bit hidden, requiring further steps and levers pushed, but it was not very difficult. The shutter comes off in one piece as well.

Let’s see how the rewind mechanism can be taken apart, something for the next step.

Here some pictures from the dismantling process, enjoy!


Well, there is my second camera which I’ve completely overhauled and I’m very happy with my achievement.

My journey of learning just got to a next level, particularly with the process of reassembly. As I am taking pictures of every single step before and after I remove parts, one should believe that reversing the process will swiftly bring you back to the original state, right? Yeah, not really. Here some of the “pains” I’ve been suffering from today:

  1. Aperture blades: it took 4 attempts to bring it all together, mainly because one blade being particularly stubborn to stay in its position. So try, fail and repeat until success. At one stage, I’ve been forgetting to mount the guide-disk:
Guide-disk for apertue
  1. Putting things together without checking the details: the lever for the flashynchro setting was not completely in place so the whole shutter assembly was slightly misaligned
  2. It took me a lot of trial and error to put back the front plate to the body so it did well align with the rewind mechanism
  3. I yet need to set the focus correctly on the front lens but to do so, I’ll need a ground glass to simulate the film plane. That’ll be another tool on my ever growing list πŸ™‚

All-in-all, I am confident to get better by every camera, even if there will be some drawbacks. My personal tip for all those seeking for an easy way to clean brass and copper is to use a q-tip with some Sigolin Standard or similar and the rub it off with clean q-tip. I’ve used this to clean the copper and messing shims.

Zeiss Ikon Contina IIa – part 1

Today, I’ve been picking up a little Contina IIa with a stuck shutter and film advance. Otherwise, the exterior was in very good condition, no dents, scratches etc.

I’ve decided to have a quick look at what possibly was wrong and once the front-lens assembly including plate has been removed from the body, I could chock and release the shutter. Further down the disassembly, of the shutter and aperture, the latter was completely stuck and all blades oily. The shutter did not look to bad, but again, some lightly oily blades.

Here some pictures of the process until now – next is to clean everything and put all back together.

Many repair manuals!

Another important step in order to start repairing or servicing my camera collection has been achieved: The first batch of service and repair manuals have arrived this week from US based http://www.photobooksonline.com/ . Check out their webpage, they have an extensive assortment of user,  repair and service manuals.
Leon was very helpful when processing my order and in finding the most efficient way for shipping all the manuals from US to Vienna.
Also, to my surprise, I did not have to pay any taxes, but maybe the invoice has yet to come.

Anyhow, there will be a lot of reading and studying in the next time and eventually, I will need to select the camera I will do my first servicing attempt and it will very likely not be the Nikon F2 with its more than 1’500 individual parts.

Camera Service Repair manuals