I recently bought a non-working Hi-Matic 7 off of ebay for a song, figuring a couple of bucks is worth it to get some repair practice. When it arrived, I noticed that the shutter was stuck open, and the meter wasn’t working. I tried a couple of batteries, one zinc-air with the correct voltage and one alkaline with a slightly higher voltage. Neither moved the needle at all, so it’s gotta be something internal, a short or corrosion or something. Also, who needs a meter? On to the shutter.

Turns out that a stuck shutter is the single most common problem on the Hi-Matics (#2 problem? dead meter ๐Ÿ™‚ ). There are lots of good tutorials on how to get to the shutter to clean and lube it, like this one, this APUG thread, and particularly this article with photos. However, they all start with “remove the front element” before going into detail about anything else. I was like “umm, do I just unscrew it?” Actually, you need this weird yet neat little tool called an adjustable spanner wrench, like this one.

Once it arrived, I unscrewed the lens retaining ring using my handy spanner, then the whole front of the lens started coming off, starting with the shutter and aperture rings.

At this point you can just unscrew the lens itself. Mine was real tight, so the spanner came to the rescue again!ย Then there’s just a few screws you have to remove, and this part pops off. Well, mostly. You have to kind of wiggle it out of the self-timer switch.

Remember the orientation of that plate (yeah, right) and remove it.

Then just take off the ring around the lens. You’ll have to unhook that spring.

Also in the above picture you can see the aperture blades (wide open) and you can barely see the shutter blades on top of them. Keep this in mind a couple of steps later.

So at this point I had no idea what to do. The shutter blades needed to be cleaned, but I also couldn’t access them at all. One of the tutorials I linked to above went one more step and removed that brass retaining ring, but strangely none of my jeweler’s screwdrivers had a thin enough head to fit the slots on those screws. So I took a toothpick and idly poked at the shutter blades and voila! Suddenly the shutter closed!

Actually what happened was that they closed halfway and I saw a whole lot of dried grease on them, then they closed entirely before I could get at the grease. So I know there’s nasty grease in the middle of those blades, but again no way to get at it ๐Ÿ™ At least I was able to clean the parts of the shutter blades that I can see now. Some naphtha on a Q-Tip (in retrospect not the best idea, since it left some fibers on the blades that I pretty much removed, but there might be one or two that will come back to haunt me later).

So now the next step is to slowly open and close the shutter to clean the whole blades, right? So I depress the shutter button and … nothing. It’s like I’m just pressing a random rod that is connected to absolutely nothing. There’s no “click”, no need to advance the film lever, nothing. I can just press and press forever and nothing happens. A few gears move near the lens, but they don’t do jack. I thought that maybe the self-timer was engaged and stuck, so I turned all the self-timer gears. In both directions. Like 100 turns each direction. Nothing. So either that’s not the problem, or I succeeded in breaking it even further ๐Ÿ˜€

I tried popping off the bottom just to look, but that’s doing nothing either. Or, very little. I need to take a different picture, but imagine that third gear from the left turned about 90 degrees clockwise from where it is now, so that the second gear from the left catches it two clicks after that big gap. Then the gap is filled by another gear above it, which prevents the film from being advanced. I assume this is the cocked position. But two weird things happen now. One is the shutter button doing nothing, as I described above. The second is that the system holding the gear in that gap, which prevents the film from being advanced, is not held in place so it just pops right out of that gap and I can advance film to my heart’s content and press the shutter button whenever I want. So I’m thinking that *might* be related.

Time to hit the internet again … :\


Ok, progress!!

Based on a friend’s suggestion on Filmwasters (a great resource for anyone interested in film photography), I tried just putting the ring from photo #6 on, because that would seem to be turning a gear which turns something else which cocks the shutter. Unfortunately, nothing really noticeable happened. Definitely no cocking going on. So I proceeded to put back layer after layer and trying to cock and shoot each time, and FINALLY when I got almost 100% assembled, with the shutter ring and aperture rings back on, just like photo #1, viola! I heard the timing assembly move when I advanced the film, and I heard it wind down when I pressed the shutter! I say “heard” because the shutter blades did not move a nanometer. So my next step is to pull all the layers off again and drench the f**ker in naphtha and see if that helps. Hopefully it’s simply a matter of sticky shutter blades and not elsewhere, because I’m pretty much ready to give up…

Epilogue 2

And more progress!! (There are going to be a lot of epilogues here, I can tell)

I took a suggestion from that same Filmwasters friend and threw caution to the wind and gave those damn shutter blades a true naphtha bath, proportions of which they have never before seen. In addition, and this may have been the key, I blew canned air into it. The canned air forced the naphtha into where the blades overlap, and after doing this I was actually able to open the shutter blades with a toothpick! (Did I mention that I couldn’t move them before? I couldn’t move them before.) They still won’t open when I trip the shutter, but that’s because they really don’t want to move even when I force them with a toothpick. These are some rather obstinate shutter blades here >:(

So next step! Graphite to lubricate the blades! Stay tuned!