Re-stringing the exposure meter on a retina reflex S

The next part of my Kodak Retina Reflex refurbishment was to replace the meter cord with new string because on both of my donor cameras it had broken.

The first problem I had was to find some suitable cord to use. It needs to be strong enough to withstand being moved across pulleys and be held under tension, but also thin enough to fit in the very narrow groves and channels.

These pictures can also be viewed full size here.

I looked on-line to see if I could find anything which would do the job, but couldn’t and in the end settled on some thin cotton which my mother-in-law had in her sewing basket. Although it is very thin, it does seem to be strong so I’m hoping it will last. Initially I was also concerned that it wouldn’t have the friction to transfer the movement from the exposure control to the meter, but after I looked in more detail I could see that friction isn’t actually involved – the cord is attached to the meter and the movement is automatically transferred as the string is moved.

My first attempt involved cutting a length of the cotton to exactly the correct length of 18 1/4 inches and knotting it into a loop. I did this so I could make sure the knot I tied it together with would sit inside the bobbin at the bottom of the camera and wouldn’t have to try to be pulled over any pulleys. I started to try to fit this to the camera from the bobbin end, working backwards to the meter but I found I couldn’t get this to work at all. The trouble was that without any tension on the cord, it isn’t possible to make sure it stays in the correct place on the pulleys.

So I tried another approach and cut another length that was longer than I needed and started at the meter end, attaching the cord to the meter first and getting the top end threaded through the top set of pulleys. I then used a rubber band to hold the meter and cord in place whilst I got it into the right place to meet up at the bobbin.

This method was more successful. With the cord held in place on the top I could feed it through the pulleys at the bottom of the camera and then wind a couple of turns round the bobbin/drive drum and estimate where I needed to knot the cord and mark it. I could then remove the cord from the bottom pulleys and knot it, remove the bobbin/drive drum and wind the cord round it with the knot inside and refit the drum. Then, as I pulled the cord back over the bottom pulleys, they added some tension which made the string taut and held everything in place.

I’ve checked against the service manual for the Retina Reflex (which is very helpfully linked on the Retina Rescue site) and I’m pretty sure the cord is working the correct way, but I will check doubly before I try the next part of reassembly which is reconnecting the shutter to the camera body.

2 thoughts on “Re-stringing the exposure meter on a retina reflex S

  1. Thanks Simon. This is a job I can imagine having to do myself one day, and I hope I remember this informative and helpful post when that day comes.

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