Repairing a busted Copal 0 aperture and custom printing a lens board

I love building and fixing things, why should a large format shutter be any different?

2 min read Filed in Photography

I’ve never been one to shy away from trying to fix something I don’t fully understand. There’s a joy of slowing down and reading exploded views or listening to someone explain the inner workings of a fine working thing.

When the opportunity came up to buy a broken Copal 0 shutter, it’s aperture in shambles, I jumped at the opprtunity. I had worked on cameras before, but I never torn down a Copal shutter (my large format lens shutters have all held up, knock on wood).

Some documentation exists online, notably the Compur shutter repair guide which shows various exploded views for certain types of Compurs. Along with those diagrams, the Fix Old Cameras has an excellent tear-down video from 2015 that walks through the various steps.

Armed with some basic knowledge, I broke out the tools and started tearing the shutter apart. Each layer into a container, every screw marked. The end result being my own real life exploded shutter.

copal 0 teardown

The putting back together part was interesting. A slow process of alignment for the aperture was time consuming, the shutter less so. The light touch required for either was nonetheless fun, a test of dexterity.

All in all, I was able to get the shutter back together. Not only that the shutter was back up and running.

Given the research and time I took studying the various parts after I tore it down, it took me the last half a of a Thursday evening which is not too bad in my opinion.

The task of what to do with the shutter then became the next issue. I didn’t have any spare lensboards lying around and I wanted to mount it onto my Crown Graphic made more difficult given the lip edge that those boards. Luckily, there exists an excellent existing 3D model to save me a step.

With some polycarbonate loaded up, I printed a strong but much too shiny lensboard.

the 3d printed lensboard in polycarbonate

Nothing a little some high grit sandpaper and some ultra matte paint can’t handle.

the 3d printed lensboard sanded and primed

The end result, fitted with a repaired Copal 0 and 150mm/5.6 Fuji element on that Crown Graphic is ready for a round out in the field.

the fixed shutter, new lens boards, and loaded up Crown Graphic

Looking forward to picking up and fixing more old shutters. Now time to work through the camera backlog.