A few days ago I received a Praktica Super TL 35mm camera which had a problem with the slow speeds. In this post I’m going to describe the procedure I used to remove the escapement, clean it and get it working again. The pictures can be viewed using the gallery below, or by following this link which will open them in a separate tab at full size.
The first part of the operation is to reveal the slow speed escapement which is situated in the bottom compartment so the bottom cover needs to come off. To do this you need to peel the cover material off the steel bottom plate, which I found was relatively easy to do. I just picked at one edge and found it started to come off without any damage at all. With this off, I found three screws which were easy to remove, but the bottom cover still wouldn’t budge because the battery cover needed to be removed.
Unfortunately, one of the reasons the camera was cheap was because the battery compartment was seized and couldn’t be moved! I had to resort to holding the cover with a pair of pliers in order to free it, but fortunately I didn’t cause any really bad damage.
With the battery cover off I could remove the bottom of the camera and see the slow speed escapement, but is wasn’t immediately apparent how I could remove it. Since I couldn’t work out how to get it out I decided the best approach would be to take detailed pictures of everything I removed so I could easily reassemble. If you have a similar camera I hope the pictures above will help you to carry out the same operation.
Following this approach I removed a spring and a lever which I didn’t need to, but they were quite easy to put back on the escapement once it was finally removed. During this procedure however, I discovered that a small spring at the bottom of a post was not actually connected to anything, so I think that could be one part of my problems with the camera. There is an obvious connection point for it so when I reassemble the camera I will connect it back up.
As it turned out, to remove the escapement from the bottom of the camera I only needed to remove a screw in the bottom right hand side (which is in the picture labeled ‘I did need to remove this screw’), the post with two springs attached and the screw which is situated under the speed selector (which means the speed selector components all need to be removed).
Once I had the escapement out of the camera, cleaning it was relatively simple. I adopted the same approach I’d used with my Agfa Ambi Silette self timer – put it in a small container and flood it with IPA to remove all the old lubricant and grease. Once this was done I lubricated the points where the bearing turn in the top and bottom plate of the escapement and it seemed to run nicely.
The next part of this post will deal with the reassembly of the escapement into the camera body.