Automat K4/50 – Digging in…

Last night, eager to start working on the Automat, I laid out my work station:

I learned long ago to make things portable, as I tend to work over a period of days (weeks, months…). I have an old cookie sheet that I line with paper towels and keep all the parts within that space. If there are a lot of small pieces that may otherwise get lost, they go into a 35mm film canister (which are becoming harder to find these days). My kit for this work generally consists of a few small screwdrivers (some specially ground) and a cheap spanner I picked up years ago for about $8. It’s junk, but gets the job done. I’d like to replace it, but probably never will.

To work on the shutter, the front face of the camera has to be removed from the standard. First step: Remove the self-timer switch. Comes off with the spanner wrench.


Next, the leather comes off. I know people who can carefully remove and reuse the skin, but I’m either not adept enough, or patient enough, to do that. I lift the skin with a screwdriver. I find the old leather is dried enough that it usually isn’t worth saving (to my mind, anyway).


Once the leather is removed, four brass screws which hold the cover plate in place are accessible.


When the screws are loosened and the plate is removed, you have to make note of any washer shims installed, as they need to be reinstalled in the same positions. I mark the locations with a Sharpie. I remove the front cell of the lens for later cleaning.



The shutter has a cover plate with a rotating lock screw. The screw is turned with the pin spanner, and the plate rotated counter clockwise to release it.



The cover plate can then be removed, exposing the shutter’s speed ring.


At this point, my daughter decided we needed to hit the local consignment stores in search of doll clothes, so I wrapped it up on the mechanicals for the night. Later, though, I decided to clean some glass. Here’s the front cell, with the familiar spanner.


There are two notches in the name ring for the spanner tips to engage. The name ring is very thin brass, easily marred, and the slots for the spanner are easily fouled. Gingerly, I remove the ring.


Take note of the orientation of the element that comes out; the rear element is cemented into the barrel. I clean the glass with microfiber cloths to protect the coatings. The glass cleaned up nicely. I always add a very small amount of Teflon grease to the threads of the trim ring before reinstalling it.

That’s it for last night’s progress. Stay tuned.


1 thought on “Automat K4/50 – Digging in…

  1. Just wanted to send you a note of gratitude for posting this series. I just bought the exact camera with what seems to be (hopefully) a gummed up shutter. Your detailed pics and content will be helpful as I delve in. Thank you. Miguel

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