Introduction: Olympus Pen-EE Shutter Repair and Overhaul
The Olympus Pen-EE, from about 1961, can be disassembled with care, cleaned and overhauled, and put back together without much risk of losing any parts or damaging anything inside -- if you are handy, steady, and patient, and you have the right tools.
Step 1: Tools
A bit of a tongue-in-cheek look at the tools I started with. Plus some vodka (not necessarily for obvious reasons) and lighter fluid. And lintless paper towels.
Needed, but did not have, whatever tool is used to turn screws that have two pinholes in them instead of a slot or cross for a screwdriver.
Step 2: Viewing the Aperture
The Olympus Pen-EE.
What you see through the lens are the aperture blades. They do not close 100 percent. They close down to a small square hole. This is as designed.
Behind the aperture, the shutter should be closed. With the back removed from the camera, you should not be able to see all the way through the lens. But with this camera, I could, hence the overhaul.
Step 3: Removal of Outer Lens
Removal of outermost ring, front of lens. It simply screws off, was finger tight. No lenses or parts fall out or anything. Just a retainer.
Start saving your parts. Work on a large tupperware lid lined with paper towel, with a work light.
With front/inner ring removed, prismatic light meter ring comes away, but is still attached by two wires. Careful not to break them during the overhaul process. Just be tender, Fanny.
Note the three tiny screws around the lens -- at 9:00, 2:00, and 5:00. We'll take those out next.
Step 4: Removel of Tiny Tab
Closer view of the lens and aperture mechanism.
I have removed the three little screws at 9:00, 2:00, and 5:00.
Now note the four brass screws, lower right, 4:00 position.
Removing the little tab with the two brass screws, lower right, 4:00 position.
Next I lifted off the lens enclosure, which was now free. Careful!
No springs attached, no parts to lose here, but there are three rings beneath. Try not to jostle them.
Step 5: Save the Three Brass Rings
Three brass rings almost escaped me. I was lucky, and saved their orientations. They appear to be spacers (?).
And, aha, we can now see the key problem with the camera. The window in the middle should be obscured by two shutter vanes. Yet, it's wide open.
Step 6: Aperture and Lens Assembly
The aperture/lens assembly, front. There are two slots in the periphery, and I was able to use my fingernails in them to twist it off.
Note, the shutter is not in here, and if you do not want to clean the lenses and aperture blades, do not take this apart. Skip ahead about a dozen steps.
On the obverse:
Note the two holes at 2:00 and 8:00, which will come up later. For now it's just a photo to show each side.
Step 7: Aperture and Lens Assembly Disassembly
Assembly, with first ring and lens removed.
Now, another ring, with two slots. My fingernails were not strong enough, so I needed something straight, rigid, and thin to span the diameter and spin off the ring. I did not actually use my knife. I used a set of scissors. I marred up the surface of the ring pretty badly. Argh. But the ring came off.
I am not a professional, and I didn't want to run to the hardware store for tools.
But it came off. There is a lens within. Integral. I cleaned that.
Step 8: Removing the Two-Pin Ring With Wrong Tool
Remember the two holes on the back of the aperture assembly? Harder to see those two holes in this photo, which are meant for a special tool. I used a tweezers, that I had spread wide. Poor choice, but it worked. Marred the surface a bit. I was not proud.
That ring also had a lens, which I cleaned.
Now there is a semi-rectangular plate, held in place by three brass (VERY soft metal) screws. Careful when you remove them. Beneath the plate, under each screw, is a washer. When you reassemble, you will have to slide each washer under as you reinsert each screw. Not too difficult.
Note that the plate is actually part of the spring assembly, with aperture blades attached.
Apparently I did not take a good photo of the backside of the plate with blades attached, nor of blades removed, cleaned, oriented. Sorry.
Clean them as you would any delicate shutter blades -- without touching them, using lintless cloth and solvent (lighterfluid is common, but on other cameras I have used vodka -- there are obvious benefits to having a bottle of vodka stading by vs. a bottle of [highly flammable] lighter fluid).
Step 9: Removing Screws Under Front Leatherette
Now, sob, a place I really, really did not want to go. Pulling up the leatherette. There is absolutely no turning back now.
But, no worries, all went well! I used a small screwdriver to peel the edges up like pulp off a popple tree. Then I pulled gently by hand.
See four screws holding in the two plates, left and right. Remove those.
Later, I used very light superglue to put it back in place. Not a worry.
Note, one plate still connects to hot shoe. I did not notice this, and pulled it off. Had to resolder later.
Now you have full access to the mechanism, but that's still not good enough. You need to take the top off.
Step 10: Removing the Top
There is one screw on the side of the camera. It's easy to remove.
There are two more screws, under the winder. I took the whole thing apart -- but you probably only need to take out the two screws that are below the winding knob. Just look down, spin the winder, take one out, then spin 180 degrees and take out the next.
Otherwise, the pieces and parts from my full disassembly are shown on the third and fourth photos herein.
Step 11: The Knurled Knob on the Frame Counter
Uh-oh. This knurled knob needs to come off. Again, I need a tool that goes into those two holes. I tried my handy tweezers, ripped the hell out of the holes. Darn.
NOTE -- this central screw is REVERSE THREADED. (Luckily I read this elsewhere while doing research for this project.)
At any rate, need a tool.
Out of necessity....helluva tool. Six-inch soft ruler and two stick pins. It worked, barely.
Step 12: Backside Disattachment
Take out the four black (paint-covered) screws that are on the inside of the camera. This releases the entire shutter mechanism for removal.
These screws will appear to have very shallow slots for your screwdriver. They are actually gummed up with paint.
Step 13: Final Removal of Guts
Now the lid is off and you can see the guts. A bit intimidating, but no need. Everything hangs together well. When you pull it apart, no gears nor springs come flying off. Just pay attention to how the little wires are tucked and run.
Neat thing about the guts: they still work. If the sensor is pointed up (i.e., at some light) you can still trigger the shutter. Except on this one, the shutter would not close, and I could not advance the mechanism. Still mystified.
(Note the three screws, at about 8:00, 12:00 (hidden), and 4:00. They are painted over with something like Wite-out. Wait just a dad-burned minute...screw at 4:00 is missing. What the? And the other two are loose. Well, I guess after 48 years....things droop a little.)
Step 14: Shutter Blades
I removed the two remaining whitened screws. Note, the 12:00 one is a bugger to replace. I replaced it last (when reassembling), kind of forced it in (to make it stand straight up and align into the hole) under the gold-colored cell thingy.
Also, see three pins (two round and silver colored, one oblong and vague between them) at the top of the round plate to the right. When you flip that plate back over to put it all back together, those pins go through the holes at the top of the shutter blades, and into holes in the plate on the backside of the blades. Like a sandwich with toothpicks.
Aha, the two sickle-shaped shutter blades. Note the orientation of the holes at top -- they overlap. When you put them back together, they will need to overlap in the same manner.
Clean them as you would any delicate shutter blades -- without touching them, using lintless cloth and solvent (lighterfluid is common, but on other cameras I have used vodka).
Step 15: Reassembly of Shutter Assembly
Blades clean; note I put them back in the same orientation -- including leaving them wide open. That way everything lined up properly. It was tricky and took me several tries to get the three pins lined up with the three holes at the top of the shutter blades. But patience, persistence, and vodka paid off.
A closer look at the partially reassembled shutter assembly. Note the holes (with white paint) where the three screws need to be replaced. The one at top is underneath the gold-colored cell and hard to get to.
Again, a nice thing about this mechanism is that it's self contained, and can be operated throughout the process to make sure it is still running smoothly and not binding. Make sure the selenium sensor is getting some light, and press the shutter release, and you'll see the shutter snap. You can even see the two different speeds if you vary the amount of light reaching the sensor.
To reset the shutter, turn the obvious red-colored gear by hand until it stops.
Step 16: Final Reassembly
Aha! The window is now closed. Everything is moving super smoothly. The lenses are clean. I am happy. All it took was one long afternoon.
To reassemble, follow these instructions in reverse order. After opening everything up, and carefully saving the parts, you should already know how to put it all back together.
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