Super Ricohflex, Super Wife

Yes, I now have an operational Super Ricohflex twin lens reflex camera thanks to my super wife.  (Yes honey, this blog post is for you.)

Richard's Repaired Ricohflex

If you’re lucky, you have a spouse or a significant other who doesn’t throw out your cameras during a house cleaning frenzy.  If you’re really lucky, your wife tolerates your cameras and admits to reading your blog.

If you’re incredibly blessed with luck, your wife might actually help you make a minor camera repair.

Last night my wife and I repaired a Super Ricohflex TLR camera together

While my wife and I watched the TV show Anger Management I decided to try to combine two Ricohflex cameras into one operational camera.  This seems strangely oxymoronic:  repairing a camera with your wife while watching a show about anger management.

I sat in our big mission style chair with a bright end lamp turned on.  I took apart two cameras and tried to assemble one camera from two bad ones.  As any camera repair person knows, taking things apart is easy.  Putting things back together again is the hard part.

Two Marginal Ricohflex Cameras Become One

Super Ricohflex from eBay – $20 Wasted

My first Super Ricohflex came from eBay.  The shutter worked for one day and then magically became gummed up the next day.  Trying it at any speed, it failed.  I think it was $20 plus shipping.

I took the metal lens apart trying to reach the actual lens so I could clean it, more problems.  The two geared dials were incredibly stiff and then I misplaced the screws.

The Ricohflex Model IIIB from Elmhurst, IL – Slightly Defective

I purchased a camera lot early in the summer of 2012 for $100 in Elmhurst, IL.  I think I’ll break even eventually when I sell most of it.  The box of cameras was missing the two TLRs I had seen in the Craigslist photo.

Weren’t their two twin lens reflex cameras in the box?  They were in the Craigslist photo.

The owner sheepishly admitted she had set aside the two TLRs that were in the box.  I encouraged her to include them in the sale, after all she had advertised their photos.  She agreed.

The Elmhurst Ricohflex Model IIIB is peeling a bit but the shutter and aperture action seem accurate.  Too bad the back of the camera was missing a piece about the size of the dime.  What am I supposed to do, tape black duct tape over the missing piece?

The Ricohflex Solution

I realized that if I could remove the back of the eBay Ricohflex and swap it onto the Elmhurst Ricohflex, it would work.  I also realized I could swap out the viewfinders, they seemed to be the same size.  The only disadvantage is the Elmhurst Ricohflex has a top speed of 1/100.  The old eBay Ricohflex I am cannibalizing had a 1/300 top shutter speed.  But if you can’t clean the aperture blades, you have no top speed at all.  The combined Ricohflex will have a top shutter speed of 1/100th of a second.

In the snapshot below you can see the defective parts.

  1. eBay’s Super Ricohflex defective body.  The two geared wheels were gummed up with dried green grease.  Likewise, the aperture blades were gummed up with oil.  They rarely worked.
  2. Elmhurst’s Ricohflex Model IIIB defective back.  A hole almost as big as your little finger was missing from the back of the camera.
  3. Elmhurst’s Ricohflex Model IIIB viewfinder.  It wasn’t defective, the eBay Super Ricohflex viewfinder or top seemed better.

Ricohflex, Old Parts

Famous Last Camera Repair Words

I just need to unscrew 4 screws on the eBay Ricohflex and 4 screws on the Elmhurst Ricohflex.  Then I just need to screw in 4 screws on the repaired camera.

My Wife’s Camera Repair Intervention

Using a large popcorn bowl I placed the eBay Ricohflex into it.  If I lost a screw it would fall into the popcorn bowl.  (Yes, some readers are laughing even as they read this foolish technique.)  I sat in my big chair next to the sofa and turned on the incredibly bright end table lamp.  I unscrewed four screws.  So far so good.

I then unscrewed the same 4 screws from the Elmhurst Ricohflex.  So far so good.

My hands are too big for the tiny screws.  Taking a tweezers, I held the tiny screw, placed it into one of the holes, and tried to tighten it with my eyeglass repair kit screwdriver.  As you can see, these screw/bolts and their holes are rather tiny.  On the right side of the camera you can see two of the four screws.  I theorized that removing those four screws would allow me to swap out the defective back piece and attach a better viewfinder.  I was correct.

Ricohflex, Two of Four Screws

After my tenth failure my wife said:

Are you still having trouble with that screw?

She left the sofa, bent over the camera, took the first screw in her hands, and screwed it in as cleanly as a Japanese repairman from 50 years ago.

“You need better light.”

My wife was absolutely right.  Anger Management the show was over so we moved our camera repair onto the kitchen table with its bright light.

Sit up straight when you do your camera repairs

Actually my wife didn’t say that.  My back was already hurting from unnaturally bending over to work on a camera screw.  Sitting properly in the kitchen was a better idea.

I give up, I’m going upstairs to read

For some reason my wife’s magical repair touch left her.  She became frustrated, said good luck, and went upstairs to read.  I persevered.

I took two slightly larger screws from our screw jar (everyone has a screw jar underneath the sink, don’t they?) and screwed them into two of the remaining slots on top of the Elmhurst Ricohflex.  This seemed to align the holes better which had been my plan.

I gave up on the tweezer technique and placed a screw near the tiny hole.  Then I nudged it into place with my hands and my tiny screwdriver.  When it seemed to be in alignment I surprised myself that it screwed in properly.

I screwed in the third and fourth tiny screws (really, they’re more like tiny bolts) with relative ease.

The eBay Ricohflex and the Elmhurst Ricohflex gave up their parts to become Richard’s Repaired Super Ricohflex.

Basic Advice on Camera Repairs

Don’t try repairs when you’re tired, working in bad lighting, or are in a bad mood.  Good posture, an organized work area and using decent tools would help also.  A camera repair is a reflective task whether you are a beginner or an expert.

And if you’re lucky, you’ll have a sympathetic spouse to help you with your camera repair without laughing.  After all, fixing a $20 sixty year old camera might seem a bit funny to most people.  Richard’s repaired Ricohflex is shown below.

Richard's Repaired Ricohflex

Thanks for reading about my Super Ricohflex, Super Wife today.  (I smile knowing that nobody on the Internet will be competing for the keywords Super Ricohflex, Super Wife.)  Thanks for visiting What is a Film Camera today.


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