Repair: Nikon S2 part 4

Hello, everybody! It’s now time to wrap-up our Nikon S2 repair series. This one took me a whole month to prepare since I wanted to show every part of the camera to you. I will admit that I am exhausted by now and I’m relieved that this series in almost done. Please enjoy the last part of this series.

Continued:

The Nikon S2 is “primitive” compared to later manual Nikons but it’s still an amazing camera to work with. It’s fun to work on this because of its simple and well thought-out design. It’s a big departure from the Nikon S but it has lots of similarities with that camera. This camera represents Japan’s revival during the post-war years and what it would become after just a few years of further development. It laid the foundation in design, engineering and a lot of other things that would eventually give us the Nikon SP and later, the Nikon F which many people consider to be one of the best cameras made in the past decades. This is how important this camera is and it’s fitting that it should be memorialized here in our blog with its own repair series.

I juxtaposed my Nikon S2 beside Nikon’s new mirrorless camera setup here in this picture to show how small both cameras are. The Nikon Z7 is a great camera but I prefer the simplicity of the Nikon S2. I don’t need the autofocus and other modern conveniences to have a good time taking photos. Maybe I will want this for paid shoots but I don’t do that these days.

If you missed the other parts, please read the following articles before you continue so you won’t get confused:

I will replace the shutter of my camera in this article but there’s a twist! It’s going to be a bit different because I’ll be replacing them using the durable ones from the Nikon F that were made with titanium. I wanted this camera to be special and that’s probably the most special thing that I can do for the Nikon S2 with the time that I have. You all know that I’m a very busy man.

I wrote this article for your entertainment and education. It’s never going to be a complete camera repair manual and should never be treated as such. It is important to send your gear to qualified repairmen, attempting to repair a precision machine without the skills, experience and tools will just result in a broken camera, an expensive junk that could have been saved. If this is your first project, stop! practice on a cheap Canon or Soviet camera first just to get your feet wet and then work on some more cameras from Pentax and Minolta. By the time you have repaired your 6th one you may have already acquired enough tools and skills but just practice some more on cheap ones until you’re confident that you won’t butcher this precious camera. This is a very valuable camera and one that you never want to botch. Having said all that, it’s now time to begin with the last part of this series.

Before We Begin:

If this is your first attempt at repairing a lens then I suggest that you check my previous posts regarding screws & driversgrease and other things. Also read what I wrote about the tools that you’ll need to fix your Nikkors.

I suggest that you read these primers before you begin (for beginners):

Reading these primers should lessen the chance of ruining your lens if you are a novice. Before opening up any lens, always look for other people who have done so in Youtube or the internet. Information is scarce, vague and scattered (that is why I started this) but you can still find some information if you search carefully.

I highly recommend that you read my working with helicoids post because this is very important and getting it wrong can ruin your day. If I can force you to read this, I would. It is that important!

For more advanced topics, you can read my fungus removal post as a start. This post has a lot of useful information and it will be beneficial for you to read this.

Disassembly (Shutter):

This part is probably one of the most delicate parts in the whole project. It’s critical that you get everything right here or the camera won’t work and it’s going to end up being an expensive paperweight. Ideally, you’ll want to use a jig to position the curtains but since we don’t have such a thing nor do we know how to make one we will have to improvise. Before you start reading this section, make sure that you read my Nicca 3S and Nikon S series, too. It is crucial that you familiarize yourself first with those 2 cameras so you will know what I am talking about as I go-through each part of the shutter. I will not repeat any important details that I have mentioned in those articles so I highly suggest that you read those first as they contain the fundamentals. It is also important to read those first in order to appreciate what Nikon made and how their cameras improved so much after just one model. If you read this before reading those two articles, it’s like watching Rocky 2 without the plot of Rocky 1. You’ll get confused and waste your time.

Take as many references as you can. This may not seem much to you but it’s important to note how much the rear curtain overlaps with the front one. If you didn’t get this right then it’s going to be near-impossible to get accurate speeds or you may get some effects of shutter tapering in you film because the shutters aren’t traveling correctly, resulting in inaccurate timing. You’ll be forced to make one of your curtains to travel faster, resulting in a higher tension in one of the drums and that will also affect everything since they’re supposed to function correctly when synced. The effects can be subtle when it’s off by a bit or the results can drive you mad at worst when they’re off by a lot, as little as 1mm or so. There are many pawls and levers that will rely on the shutters firing at their precise moments and this is the reason why a lot of DIY repairs end up being bad.

One more important thing is how the shutters and ribbons were attached to their respective drums. You should mark where the glue-marks start or end, this may be trivial but how much they wrap-around their drums also has an effect on the whole shutter when fired. The momentum generated when it’s fired is affected also by these as one curtain pulls on the other one.

Here’s the approximate position of the attachment points for the ribbons. It is just as important as that of the curtain. The red line is where the curtain’s edge used to be.

Ideally, I would replace the curtains one-after-the-other but the camera was filthy so I wanted to clean everything really well and get rid of the fungus as much as I can so I had to remove them both in order to access and flush the whole body casting with naphtha. Note that I have cleaned everything very well, at least to the best of my ability. Old glue can be cleaned bu using a lot of solvents and effort with Q-tips. This will take a lot of time and this is why repairing cameras take a lot of time, don’t wonder why a competent repair person asks so much, this step alone may take around 2 hours to do.

Measure the size of the curtains and their ribbons using a micro-meter. You will have to get the measurements perfectly or don’t even bother at all. The one at the top is the front curtain and the one below is the rear curtain. The rear curtain is longer because its drum is larger and it needs to overlap the front curtain in order to make a light-tight seal.

I took the donor curtains from an old Nikon F parts camera that I have, just one of the many hulks in my parts bin. Note that the sizes are different, the Nikon F’s curtains are longer and just a bit wider if I’m not mistaken on the latter. Cutting titanium foil isn’t easy as it’s a strong metal, it’s dangerous to heat them because they will explode. I did my best to cut the “new” curtains to fit and I can’t afford to screw this one up.

Attaching the curtains can be tricky because I don’t want to wrinkle the foil as I install them. If I did then I consider it a failure. I used paper or card for guiding the ribbons and curtains around their drums. Tapes were used for attaching them temporarily so I can make adjustments to them. It’s easier to attach the curtains but it can be tricky to get the ribbons to be parallel if you didn’t get the curtains to be square with their drums.

It’s now time to wrap the ribbons over their drums. It can be tricky and you will have to be really patient with this step.

To make sure that you get the ribbons to be as parallel as you can, check the edge of their ribs on the short-side of the film aperture. I’m happy with this one after checking its alignment by pulling the drum to vary the size of the slit. It should never change as you do it and if it did then the curtains have to be re-installed. Uneven glue distribution is usually the culprit here or the drum may have been damaged which is unlikely to happen but who knows what’s possible as everything has a chance to happen in camera repair.

It’s time to attach the front curtain. I did the same thing here but this step is more tricky because the rear curtain is in the way and the drum is smaller. Some people prefer to attach the front curtain first and that’s how it should be since it’s easier to align the rear curtain to the front curtain and it’s also more critical to get the front curtain right since its motion starts the whole mechanism.

At this point, I’ll tension the drums and do some tests using a shutter tester. If my results are satisfactory, it’s now time to apply some contact cement to the curtains and ribbons to make their position permanent. I then repeat all the tests to see if things are still parallel and the curtains are still working as they should. Do note that you will have to relax the tension when you apply the cement and tension them again during testing. This is very tedious, that is why I avoid cameras with problematic curtains as much as I can. I can do repairs like this but it doesn’t mean that I enjoy doing it! I’m not an “M”, I’m an “S” like a certain “Mr. Grey”. I have a dominant personality.

Thank goodness that’s all done with. You may spend around 3 hours just for this and there are times when you’ll spend more time if the camera is tight. I hate working on Barnack-type shutters for this very reason. Notice that it’s now half-assembled and waiting for a proper calibration so that the speeds are as accurate as possible.

This is probably the most time-consuming part of the whole operation but it guarantees that this camera will last for more decades to come, it’s certainly to out-last me since it’s mechanical.

Conclusion:

Here are some of my ending notes. I purposely omitted some details here so it’s never going to be a complete repair manual, this will prevent those who are itching to open their cameras without the proper experience and tools. I am sure that real repairmen will know and fill-in-the-blanks so I hope that I made this easy-enough for them to understand. This is never a project that a total beginner should be ever touching so if your camera needs repairing then send it to a competent repairman! There are many bogus repairmen, it is important that you ask for a reputable one and pay the right price. I hope that this series illustrated how difficult it is to repair a camera even if it’s an old and simple camera like a Nikon S2.

I won’t be tackling the flash-sync mechanisms since I don’t even bother with it. I’m sure that some people will still want to use flash with this camera but I personally find it pointless. I will make a separate article on how to do this for most models of cameras but it will just be a general article that’s fit for a hobbyist using on-hand equipment.

Don’t forget to put this lever back the right way. The long end is pointing up in this picture because of its spring. It can be tricky to put this thing back in its proper position because of the spring.

Re-assemble the camera partially, enough for you to adjust the speed and to reach the important mechanisms to adjust the shutter. It’s also important to re-install the front casting to helps shield the bare shutter from stray-light. I always do this because I don’t want stray-light to affect my shutter tester. It sounds silly but you don’t want other variables when adjusting the shutter. Install the advance mechanism, too. This will help make things easier, you’ll also want to install the shutter-speed selector mechanism so you can change the speeds. Depending on the state of the camera or how well you cleaned it this step will take you an hour or so to do. If you warped anything then you will have to adjust more things than you should just to make things work as they should. I usually leave the camera alone for 2 days after oiling it just to give the fresh oil enough time to settle and coat the mechanisms. Some don’t think that this is required but I would rather spend that time resting myself and the camera.

Here’s a short commentary on the front curtain’s brake and its related parts and mechanisms. A is an eccentric that adjusts the height of the spring. This spring absorbs the kinetic energy of B which I think is a counter-weight or a hammer. It should fit inside the spring completely like you see here. Grease has to be applied to the edges so it slips perfectly. The shorter wing of B is a hammer that strikes the end of the slow-speed shaft so it returns to its place after clearing the spinning front curtain pawl just in-time to catch the pawl of the closing curtain to regulate its timing. C spins together with the drum and creates a closed circuit that triggers the flash. It also has a pin so it can be locked by a pawl. Releasing this pin when the shutter is cocked triggers it and starts the shutter and it returns to its original position after the cycle.

Here’s a video explaining how some of the mechanisms of the shutter work. It will take me around an hour or so to explain everything so I just made a short version explaining what I can within 30 minutes.

What a beautiful camera! All that effort sure paid-off as I now have a fully-functioning Nikon S2 with titanium curtains, even Dracula would be jealous because it’s impervious to the sun (burning holes in the curtains). I use this camera regularly because of my mod.

This is the end of our popular Nikon S2 series. Did you like it? Was it helpful and educational? I hope that this article helped somebody since it took a lot of time and energy to write this series. Please share this with your friends at social media or camera club to help them appreciate the Nikon S2 more. It is still an amazing camera despite its age and is very enjoyable to use. You will want to shoot with it all-day because of its simplicity and large viewfinder. I will see you again next time. If you think this blog is helpful, please support this blog and help keep this going, it goes to hosting and maintenance and it will sure help make this site better since I’m planning to migrate to a better hosting plan. Thank you again and thanks for everything, Ric.

Help Support this Blog:

Maintaining this blog requires money to operate. If you think that this site has helped you or you want to show your support by helping with the site’s upkeep, you can make a small donation to my paypal.com (richardHaw888@gmail.com). Money is not my prime motivation for this blog and I believe that I have enough to run this but you can help me make this site (and the companion facebook page) grow.

Buy me a roll of film or a burger?

Thank you very much for your continued support!

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Helping support this site will ensure that this will be kept going as long as I have the time and energy for this. I would appreciate it if you just leave out your name or details like your country’s name or other information so that the donations will totally be anonymous. This is a labor of love and I intend to keep it that way for as long as I can. Ric.

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