don’t give me the gears

Some gears in my Exakta VXIIa

Toronto. A short time after moving back to Montreal, I joined the company Camera Club and offered a shutter and lens test. This was with good reason. My trusty Exakta VXIIa had shown a wavy anomaly in my fast shutter tests in the late 1960s.

To be safe, I bought an older Exakta Varex before carefully taking apart my VXIIa. Photographs like the one at left helped me reassemble the camera so it still worked. Looking at its innards, I saw that one brass shutter stop was nearly severed with a pile of brass shavings nearby. Looking more closely, I was appalled at how thin the large gears were. Sadly, I carefully reassembled it and set it aside – my first collectible camera (I still have it today).

A few years later, in the summer of 1972, I bought my first Leica – a model M4. Years later in Toronto I had the opportunity to see the shutter assembly of my M4. A hole burnt in a shutter curtain in Montreal (my fault) was to be repaired by Wild-Leitz in Toronto. Instead, unbeknownst to me, the Montreal Leica dealer sent my camera to another less expensive repair facility in Toronto (Swiss Cross).

While on a visit home, the camera failed again. This time, I took it directly to Wild-Leitz to complain. There, I was shown the difference between their repair and one by Swiss-Cross: Disassembly requires the lens mount to be removed and to do so means the black wax-like material in the top lens mount screw socket has to be removed and replaced. The tiny stamp embossing the material is a cross like a plus sign for Swiss Cross, and an upside down £ symbol for Wild-Leitz.

Factory fresh unassembled Leicas are embossed with an upright £ symbol. Wild-Leitz graciously repaired my shutter at their cost of parts and labour and gave me the removed shutter drum which has a pin that had been previously bent by a clumsy technician. The camera has been fine ever since.

Note: The name of the post stems from a typically Canadian expression which I used from time to time.

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