A few years ago I got hold of an Optikotechna Flexaret I. These are extremely uncommon outside of Czech Republic or Slovakia, so much so that I even broke my own rules and bought a non-functioning camera, just because it was a hole in my Flexaret collection. The main issues were a shutter which did not fire below 1/50th and some filthy glass (actually the whole thing was filthy).
Today, for no good reason, I decided to get the shutter working. This should be a simple matter of dropping off the rear element and applying some judicious cleaning agent. My lens wrench turned out to be too short to reach the rear element though so I had to go in through the front. This turned out to be serendipitous since the rigmarole of pulling off the front two elements of the taking lens exposes the entire shutter, the viewing lens and the focus ‘string’ so I ended up doing a complete clean.
There are two kinds of patina: the marks of long proper usage and the marks of general filth and neglect. Only one of these is a good thing and the poor Flexaret had both. As we know everyone smoked in the past and I cleaned a small tobacco farm’s worth of yellowish gunk from the glass and focussing screen. The front surface of the rear element of the Mirar was practically opaque and the middle element was starting to develop light fungus. Now it is all sparkly clean (uncoated triplets are the easiest thing to clean, especially front focusing in shutter triplets). I also fixed the infinity focus on both focusing and taking lenses. There is still some work to do: I should consider improving the clarity of the aperture markings but I do not want to do a repaint, I like the aged look.
One note for the unwary: the crackle-effect paint used on the focusing hood is soluble in isopropyl alcohol. Fortunately it is not soluble in soap and water.
Oh, and the original point: yes the shutter now fires on all speeds and they seem more or less right, as accurate as I can be bothered with anyway, so tomorrow I am going to take it out and put a roll of HP5 through it. Quite possibly the first time it will have been used in decades. Now she needs a name.