This week has really been a huge bust. After the various failures over the weekend, I’ve been suffering at the hands of medical professionals and the various tests to which they’ve been subjecting my leg. I’ve been feeling bummed out with photography and cameras.
Tonight I’m sitting here about ready to go to bed and then I decide, just before turning in, I’m going to at least mess with a camera. I’ve got this little Chaika-II on my shelf, I vaguely remember putting some film through it when I first got it, but then the shutter/winder siezed up. It’s just been gathering dust since then.
So tonight I decided, I’m either going to fix it, or I’m going to reduce it to a pile of parts. And based on this week’s track record, I expected the latter result.
Still, it was a very inexpensive camera, and I’m not a big fan of the half-frame format, so I was ready to make the sacrifice. Worst-case scenario, I’d get to see the insides and maybe learn something.
I removed the four screws I found on the top plate, and the top easily slid off. A few parts and a spring fell out, and right away I could see that only three screws should have been removed – the fourth one should have stayed put as it was holding some parts to the top plate. Fortunately I’m pretty good at figuring that sort of thing out, and it only took a few moments to see how the parts fit back together, so I wasn’t any further behind.
Looking at the winding / cocking mechanism, it’s a lot like a funny little clockwork. The shutter speed is part of that clockwork, and setting the shutter speed just tensions a spring – the more the tension, the faster the shutter. What I realized was that, like a number of other early eastern-bloc mechanical cameras, you are not supposed to set the shutter speed until after winding and cocking the camera. Odds are, I did that out of order at one point and got the thing jammed.
It ended up being a very simple straightforward fix, and once again this little camera is clicking along. Not bad for 10 minutes work before bed – it took longer to do this write-up than it did to fix the camera! I’m even thinking about running some more film through this little camera, just for the heck of it!