Freeing an Agfa Standard's seized focussing
(although equally applicable to the later Billys, Isolettes and
Equipment needed: HAIRDRYER and (possibly) a can of WD40.
The design of the 'Standard' dictates that, in order that the lens assembly can be
pushed back into the body, the focussing lever has to be raised such
that the lens is set to infinity focus. Hence the first task is to free
it with gentle heat using a hairdryer and so be able to move the lever
fully down. This extends the lens such that it can then be lubricated.
(As I wrote that I realised, for the first time,
why the focussing lever was bent on my Trilinear/Compur example. The
camera must have been used with focus set to 9m, the setting for maximum
depth of field (post-war this would be shown in red on Isolettes and
Records) and there it had seized. The owner must have deliberately bent
the lever to get the lens assembly back into the body!)
the Standard's focussing lever - when up like this it is set to infinity
and the lens is retracted
Stage 1: Apply heat evenly to the metal housing for several minutes
or as long as it takes. Avoiding direct heat onto the lens glass may be
wise. To protect your hand from the prolonged heat put the camera on a
tripod but, if no tripod, cover your hand with a tea-towel. Try the
Standard's focussing lever from time to time,
until eventually it moves. No need to force it. Heat will eventually
reach the grease and it will soften. Slowly and patiently is the order of
With Billys (seen in these photos) and later Records and Isolettes the front focussing ring must be
turned. Be aware that, by the time the grease has become fluid, the ring will
be too hot to touch. Be sure to use protection!
This was sufficient for the Isolette I first did, providing
that, subsequently, I
remembered to periodically turn the focussing ring to keep it free. Every couple of
months was enough. However, the two-decades-earlier
Standards seized up again within a few weeks. Something else was
needed for them. And so to Stage 2 .........
Stage 2: With the lens out you can now direct a short squirt of WD40
onto the lens barrel. Then work the lever up and down to distribute it.
Stand the camera on its back and leave to 15 mins (as one does with
WD40). Then work the lever up and down again. Repeat if necessary. You
will most likely find the result is a bit jerky (alternately very loose
then stiff). Nevertheless it does work.
Be careful: the main constituent of WD40 is fish
oil so you don't want to risk it going anywhere it shouldn't.
The safe alternative to direct application is to squirt into a container then carry the fluid
over on the tube, as a chemist would with a pipette. Alternatively use a
(Note that, due to the design of the later '50's models Isolettes and Records,
application of WD40 is impossible due to the bezel surrounding the lens
and so should not be attempted.)
~ ~ ~
I can report that I have WD40'd three
Standards, my Billy 127 and an old model Isolette with success.
A year on and the Isolette and Billy 127 are stiff, but remain moveable
and so usable. The Trilinear/Compur Standard has
improved and become smooth to operate. Perhaps even as it would have been when new.
The Standard Deluxe
continues to stick in the closed position when first opened, but a little pressure releases
it. The remainder of the travel is very loose. The Standard 116 has seized again
(it was the worst of the set, needing a very long heat treatment).
Clearly it needs to be done again, although perhaps it is so bad that a
proper clean and re-greasing is the only solution.
As always with these things: you do this at your own risk. As I did!
(Since doing this I have read the suggestion to use "a few drops of
alcohol". I'll have to try that on the next one. Hopefully he
doesn't mean the Glenmorangie ........! )
~ ~ ~