Pentacon Six Project. Step 5 – attempted initial shutter setup.

In my last post I gave some observations and conclusions I’d reached from my initial examination of the shutter assembly in my Pentacon Six. In this post I’m going to describe the progress I’ve made to get the shutter working again prior to trying to calibrate the shutter speeds.

After my initial attempts to lubricate the mechanism, and getting the mirror and shutter blinds out of sync, the whole mechanism was not working anymore so I decided to try to completely reset the blind starting positions and tension them using some notes provided by Rick Oleson.

To to do that I would release the tension on both blinds, disengaged the blinds from the cocking mechanism and attempt to set the correct correct starting position for the blinds. After re-tensioning the blinds I would then be able to check that the shutter was working again. All sounds simple ? Well – this is the full story of the way that panned out.

Just as a note of caution – I’ve detailed a set of procedures but I am in the position of having a camera which doesn’t work and which didn’t cost me a huge sum of money to buy. I’m also in the advantageous position of doing a lot of this in order to learn. Because I have only limited knowledge of the camera and have only ever set up this one shutter assembly, I make no claims that this procedure will work with other cameras and don’t in any way recommend you try this unless you have a shutter that you are prepared to throw away at the end.

Attempted Setup.

So the first part of this setup involved releasing the shutter tension and setting the starting position of each blind. Releasing the tension is the first step and that is an easy process. The two curtains are tensioned by tension springs on the shutter speed side of the assembly. All I had to do was use a small screwdriver to move the holding spring away from the ratchet and the centre section rapidly spins round and the tension pulling on the shutter blinds was gone. Simple job.

The starting position of the blinds is important for the 1/1000 shutter speed so in order to do this procedure I would need to set the shutter speed to 1/1000, but when I tried setting the shutter speed I found that the shutter speed mechanism was locked and wouldn’t change.When I looked in more detail at the shutter speed mechanism I discovered that the reason it wouldn’t move was because the shutter was set to the B setting and this has a hook which holds the speed dial in place.  Once I’d pulled that out I could rotate the dial and select the 1/1000 position (shown in the pictures below).

So with the tension released and the shutter set to 1/1000 I released the two drive wheels for the shutter blinds and cocked the shutter so that I could set the starting positions of the blinds. However, as I cocked the shutter I found that the shutter was not correctly cocking – although the mirror was winding down and the blinds moving, the arm which opens the lens aperture was locked in position. This meant that the latch which holds the mirror was not allowed to move into position to keep the mirror locked down and therefore the whole shutter would fire as I moved the advance arm back.

I looked inside the film chamber and it’s possible to see that the pin which should be pushing the aperture stop-down arm is not correctly registered against the arm. It looks as it the arm needs to move down slightly so that the cutout meets up with the spigot on the small rotating disc. Unfortunately, the arm doesn’t move and I can’t see what’s holding it because everything in this area is hidden by either the top plate, the blind rollers or the plate on the inside of the camera.

So at the moment this is where I have to stop until I can work out how to re-position the arm. It’s quite frustrating, because I think if I get the start position right and reset the tension there is a reasonable chance of setting everything working again. I did actually have a go at getting the setup done even though I know I’ll have to do it again once the aperture control arm is correctly positioned and it looks hopeful – the blinds do wind across and the shutter is obviously firing although only at a very slow speed.

Hopefully my next post will describe how I overcame this hurdle and got the shutter fully working ready for calibration.

You can see all the pictures in this post in full size by following this link and navigating with the arrow keys.





11 thoughts on “Pentacon Six Project. Step 5 – attempted initial shutter setup.

  1. Dont know if you got any further. I have sucessfuly setup my pentacon shutter with plenty of help from Rick, but the camera is Cantankerous and I still dont have a working film counter. I might be able to assist by comparing my working camera with yours. I also have two bodies for spares – one cocks OK and the other flicks the mirror for similar reasons. PM me if you are still working on it – its a good camera once it functions and some of the lenses are awesome. The 180 Sonnar is fantastic and the 50 Flektogon is very good too.

    • Hi
      Actually the project is rather ‘on hold’ at the moment while I try to figure out why the aperture stop down arm is out of register with the cam which should operate it. It’s a very kind offer – if you could let me have any pictures of that part of the assembly it may help but as you say the camera is cantankerous – I would hate for you to do any damage to your shutter if it’s working.

      • I think that the problem is connected with the quite substantial amount of rust in there ..The wheel is probably connected to another mechanism that for some reason (the rust ,lack of oil and so forth )got decalibrated or disconnected with the latter .You must disassemble a bit more ,and trace the mechanism’s moovements . Maybe something else needs to be calibrated before the tension on the curtains is done .The whole thing is like a chain of chains connecting to more chains … If one slips out all get disordered .I also want to atempt at rebuilding such a camera ,but i am still wondering IF i should ,or should i just save money and buy an arax brand new body .I can now afford two kiev 6c-s for 200$ both . THEY ARE NEW . I get them from a friend .All the pentacons that he has have issues …even the new ones !! All the new kievs that i tested currently work .I am not decided because of this ..I really wanna disassemble the pentacon six and if i do i am positive that after some time i could fix it ,but i am not that much positive about the price tag as the Kievs cost me less and only neeg a little watch oil lube that i can add and get along .. I f i can get a hold on a broken pentacon six for no money like you did then i might rethink .
        If would be a good info if you send me some pictures of the inside of the mechanism and some points of where is what .. I do not know much about them .I know more about prakitcas ,but they cost me 10$ here and i have merged and rebuild them without much thought,,

  2. Simon I think I am in much the same position as you with my 6. I desperately need some help on how to
    now set up the shutter after having released all the tension on the blinds. Any help would be so gratefully
    received. A point that you may not have noticed is if you released the screw , on the winder side, at the
    point where the two plates meet and flexed the RH plate by about 15 degrees you may find that this will
    release the mirror. It did on mine when the mirror was stuck and I couldn’t release it. So I did the above
    and the mirror released. I am now though totally stuck with how to reset the blinds and shutter.
    I have emailed Rick Oleson but have heard nothing so far – he may of course be away or much to
    busy to answer his emails. Its been good to chat to you simon but I have to finish with HELP!!!
    Sincerely Arthur G Puffetft

    • Hi Arthur

      I wish I could offer some advice but unfortunately I don’t think I can.

      On my particular unit I wouldn’t want to undo the screw you mentioned because it’s lost half it’s head and I don’t think it would survive. I was hoping to one day rescue my Pentacon Six but to be honest I’m not sure it’s actually rescuable.

  3. Dear Simon,
    Please ignore my previous comments. That screw according to Rick Olesons notes
    should NOT be removed!!
    I have removed mine so I am in trouble!
    Will keep you posted Simon on what happens next!

    Regards Arthur

  4. Dear Simon,
    Having absolutely nothing to lose with my 6 I have started to disassemble the gear that winds
    down the mirror and winds on the shutter. If you go back to you blog step 2 and the big block of photos
    in the 5th photo down on the extreme left. on the extreme left of the photo you can just see the lever
    that releases the mirror. Now on my camera that lever was hard up against the casting for the mirror
    box – so much so that it had worn a groove in the casting!! I have very gently eased the lever away
    from the casting and put some lubricant behind it. It does appear to be working a lot better but I wont be
    able to tell for sure until I have reassembled Now having got this far I have removed the two curtains and
    found a company on the net ( who will supply a rubberised silk cloth for replacing
    focal plane curtains. So nothing ventured nothing gained I am going to attempt to replace my curtains
    and hopefully with a fair wind and a lot of luck re-assemble my 6. watch this space!
    Kind Regards,

    Arthur G. Puffett

  5. First of all, it’s great to see there still are people out there keeping (or attempting to keep) these old hulks working. I have a Pentacon Six TL that needs attention and the only CLA people I can come across are well over 3 to 4 times the value of the camera itself (I can get a Mamyia with a lens adapter for P6 mount for much less). The story behind my setup is I picked up the camera, waist level and pentaprism finder and 3 Zeiss lenses: the 80mm f2.8, the 180mm f2.8 and the 300mm f4.0. All lenses came with stuck apertures (the 80mm had them super-glued for crying out loud) and the 80mm had a badly scratched rear element. I bought a donor and fixed it. Also fixed the 180 and the 300, so if anyone needs help opening those up and cleaning the apertures, I can take them apart and document the process (except for the 80mm which is simply fiddly to work on, they are quite simple).
    Now, for the camera, it does seem to overlap the frames, though when I tested these with a pencil and an old roll of film, spacing was uneven but no frames came close to touching. I can always double cock the film advance lever (long push+short push near the end) if this problem persists. More worrying is how the shutter times are off by 2-3 full stops at 1/1000s. They are close at 125 or 250, but even those speeds are off by a stop. I didn’t dare open up the camera until I came across this blog, but now I think I’ll give it a shot. If I were a gambling man, I’d say that the oil on the mechanism is old and sticking and delaying the shutters. How would you recommend cleaning away the old stuff and do you think re lubricating the thing is worth the trouble? I was thinking about dabbing the cogs with isopropyl alcohol. What type of oil should I use if I were to re lubricate the mechanism?

    • Hi Lucian

      I have to say I’m not an expert with the Pentacon Six which is probably why my unit is still broken in a box :). I washed the old oil away with IPA as you suggest and it removed the oil and gunk, but to be honest my unit was bought as a non working camera so I think there is a lot more wrong with it than just old oil. Hopefully if yours is basically working you might have more success.

      By the way, just after I got the Pentacon Six and found I couldn’t fix it I bought a Bronica EtrSi which I found to be a much more reliable and better camera all round.

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