Restoration of Fex Ultra Reflex
The Fex/Indo Ultra Reflex camera is a pseudo twin lens reflex camera from the 1950s.
After this amount of time, it is inevitable that some refurbishing needs doing. The weakest points are:-
- Dust inside the lenses and viewfinders
- Shutter mechanism
- Film supply spool rod stuck
- Damage to Bakelite
When this camera came to me, there was dust inside the lenses and viewfinders, and the shutter mechanism was unreliable. There was also minor damage to the Bakelite around the viewfinder hood hinge. The film supply spool rod was stuck.
Removing the front of the camera
Get together some simple tools. You will need a small M5.0 mini nut driver, lots of cotton buds, some lens cleaner, a lens cloth and possibly some lighter fuel.
The front face appears to be riveted to the camera which suggests a difficult job. However, if you look inside the back of the camera, you will see two small nuts that hold the whole camera together. You will need a small box type spanner, size M5.0 to undo these.
Important: Before you remove the front, turn the camera on it's back holding all parts together. Then lift off the shutter mechanism and then the front. If you do it any other way, the viewfinder mirror will fall out with the possibility of being damaged. I know this by experience. Luckily only a millimeter of the corner of the mirror was lost, which was of no consequence.
Clean Mirror and Viewfinder
Once the front is off, you will have access to the mirror and viewfinder lenses. Do a general clean of the inside and then use cotton buds to gently clean the glass and mirrors with your favourite lens cleaner. Finish off using the lens cloth.
Shutter mechanism and taking Lens
The shutter mechanism contains the taking lens. If you are going to service the shutter mechanism, do this before you clean the lens. To gain access to the inside lens, set the shutter speed to 'P' and hold the shutter button down. The small aperture will allow access to the lens. Carefully clean the lens with lens cleaner and cotton buds through the hole. I find that bending the cotton bud at right angles near to the end helps get full coverage of the lens.
Complete access to the lens can be achieved by dismantling the shutter mechanism but I think this is a step too far and the lens can be satisfactorily cleaned using cotton buds throught the aperture.
In the event that the shutter is problematic, DO NOT OIL. These shutters run dry. First try to blow any dust from the area and clean up as much as you can with a dry cotton bud. If that fails, you might like to try dousing the mechanism with lighter fluid. Move the mechanism around and keep wiping away the fluid and dirt. Be aware that the action of the shutter mechanism may at first get worse, so gentle persuasion may be needed to get it moving. Don't Panic. As the lighter fuel evaporates, it should start to work properly again.
Some people insist that the only way to clean this mechanism properly is to dismantle it as much as possible. I have never found this necessary. Just patience and continued application of small amount of lighter fuel followed by wiping the dirt from the area will do the job. Do this in a well ventilated room.
As before, put the camera on it's back for re-assembly to avoid the mirror falling out. Turn it over carefully and screw on the nuts. This can be tricky and you may need tweezers to manipulate the nut to start it off.
Film Supply Spool Rod Stuck
The film supply spool rod screws into the Bakelite on the opposite side of the camera to the knob. Sometimes this rod corrodes and gets stuck in Bakelite. There is a hole at the side by which you can access this thread. Put a drop of WD40 on this hole and wait before you try to work it free. Do not spray the WD40 because it gets everywhere.
I have found that small areas of damaged Bakelite can be repaired using Araldite Rapid with a small amount of black poster paint mixed in. The result is a shiny black strong finish. Manipulating the araldite can be tricky but you can use sellotape to mask off the area you don't want it to adhere to. I've also used a thin layer of silicon grease to stop the araldite adhering to the wrong surface.
Find out more about this camera here:- /cameras/fex-indo/ultra-reflex/