I grabbed this off eBay in April 2015 for £90 and wasn’t sure what would arrive.
The listing was a little vague but the seller was honest to say that it was an old Rolleiflex owned by his late Aunt and hadn’t been used in decades.
Upon opening the package, I found the camera to be in a bad state with mould, grime and bacteria oozing from all surfaces.
The shutter was seized, both lenses were opaque with fungus, the focus mechanism was stiff, the matte screen was brown and the mirror had very little silver remaining.
The pop up shade was also seized, the hand crank loose and the aperture / shutter speed controls gritty.
I therefore decided to pull the whole thing apart and start afresh.
Lens board was removed, lenses removed, leatherette removed, focus gear assembly removed, matte screen removed etc.
The shutter was partially disassembled and soaked in Naptha.
The lenses were completed stripped down to component parts and offending elements dipped for an hour in Hydrogen Peroxide to remove all live and calcified fungus. This is a very harsh cleaning process and can only be done on uncoated lenses as it will strip coatings.
The results were astonishing, the elements came out looking like new and with no added polish marks!
Cleaning the aperture and speed control rings was a nightmare, the amount of congealed dust and dirt that flushed out was incredible.
The Compur shutter was oiled and tested but was found to be a little slow below 1/25s. I therefore adjusted the slow speed escapement and managed to get it within 5%….not bad for an 83 year old shutter.
I polished the film rails, rollers and cleaned the interior.
Re-assembly of the focus gear mechanism and lens board was pretty straightforward.
Initially, I set the focus control to ~15m, tightened down the 4 post helicals and backed them off 180 degrees. I then lifted and reset each gear wheel position to align with each lens board registration pin.
I then assembled the lens board and checked infinity focus using a digital camera and matte screen. Correct infinity adjustment was then an iterative process of removing the lens board equally tweaking the post gear positions, re-assembling and re-checking. It took about 4 attempts to get it spot on!
I now have to wait for a new mirror to arrive before setting up the viewing lens!
In the meantime, I have bleached the old matte screen, cleaned and lubricated the winding mechanism, straightened all dings and dents and glued on all the leatherette.
I have retouched some of the internal matte black paint but have decided not to retouch any external paint – in fear of depreciating its provenance.
The Standard Rolleiflex K2 (6RF 621) was manufactured between Feb 1932 and Dec 1935. Approximately 38248 units were made and I can accurately date this to 7th October 1933, since it was handwritten on the reverse side of the mirror. Unfortunately the mirror is all but glass now, so it has to be replaced.
The taking lens is a Zeiss Jena Tessar 7.5cm f/3.8 which dates between 1932 and 1933. The viewing lens is a Heidoscop Anastigmat 7.5cm f/3.1.
Fortunately, the original leather case was salvageable with only some minor stitching, leather cleaning and polish needed to bring it back to life.
This quite rare and highly collectable (old) Standard Rolleiflex is now clean and fully functional after many years of neglect.
It’s also the oldest gem in my vintage camera collection!