Posted on July 27th, 2015
TLR 120 film camera
This week while covering the last ever Rex Cadman War & Peace Show Revival at the not so sunny former Folkestone Racecourse in Westenhanger, I decided to take some time away from the living history and the trench where I slept and instead look around the stalls in search of some interesting vintage bits and bobs. Unsurprisingly being a bit of a camera magnet, what I found were three vintage cameras. The first two are fun but rather unintresting, the first being an old 35mm 1960s rangefinder for my dad and the second being an old Zenit TTL SLR for me to shoot B&W 35mm film with that we can then develop in our darkroom that we have recently dug out from the loft. The last camera however is a little more interesting.
The final camera is infact a 1940/1950s twin lens reflex 120mm medium format camera. A Welta Reflekta I I to be precise and it cost me just £9. Not at all bad for saying it came In its original leather case that looks almost new and including its original german manual, a kit on ebay that I have seen change hands for closer to £100. It did not however look how it now looks above. To list a few problems; the lens was seized and would not budge at all, the rear viewfinder flap was rusted and stuck covering the focus screen, the magnifying glass for the viewfinder was also bent, the shutter stuck and finally the silver on the mirror was almost non existent. All in all time for some well overdue TLC.
I started by completely disassembling the camera and was extremely happy to find that the lens focusing thread had simply become stuck when the old grease had set. A few minutes with some cleaner and some new grease had it back running as smoothly as ever. The optics were also in pristine condition despite requiring a good clean and the shutter just required a little clean, oil and a slight tentioning of the spring. I was also extremely happy to find there was no other damage, rust or ware on any of the other mechanical parts of the internals.
After fixing the main function of the camera I then turned my attention to the viewfinder. I knew the mirrors silver coating was shot but thankfully found no damage to the mirrors glass so this is a simple job of getting the mirror re-silvered of getting the chemicals to do it myself. After a clean with rubbing alcohol I also found no damage on the focus screen and it came up looking new. Therefore the two last problems were the magnifying glass and and rear viewfinder hood. The magnifying glass holder was a simple case of removing it’s pin that holds it in place then carefully working it back into shape. The hood was the most annoying part of the restoration as three peaces of textured metal are required to move very closely togeather with the force from only a small spring and sadly a light surface rust had become the straw that broke the camels back causing too much friction between the parts. The rust also ruined the appearance of the camera that despite this and after a good clean, looks in amazing condition. I therefore completely removed all the rust and repainted part and am now happy to say it looks and works as good as new.
As for the rest of the camera I have decided not to repaint any small paint imperfections on the body as I feel at adds character to the camera and with the work I have completed I hope it will last another 60 years with me as it’s proud new owner.
I can’t wait to run its first real of 120 and show everyone the results.
Scans of Original Manual