Agfa Karat 36 Repair/CLA
I looked at this camera as a challenge to what I have learned so far of camera repairing. It had a different shutter than I'd ever worked on, and the bellows would be an adventure if I had to replace them. But they didn't look too bad, not falling apart like some Agfa's I'd seen.

This particular model of the Karat 36 came with the 2.8 Agfa Solinar, a nice Tessar type design known for sharpness, and a Synchro-Compur M-X shutter. It has a split-field combined range/viewfinder which takes a little getting used to, but works quite well. One of the oddities of the camera is the winding lever, which instead of going from left-to-right, goes from right-to left. So you pull it towards the back of the camera, instead of pushing it away from the back. This gets the knob out of the way of eyeglass wearers, as the viewfinder window is almost dead center on the camera top. The camera is about the size of a Kodak Retina IIIc/C, and will accept the same 29.5mm (Kodak 32mm) filters as the Retina, but utilizing push-on 32mm hoods.

As I said, this camera presented a challenge for me, as I couldn't find much about tearing one down. They must have been highly unpopular with repairmen, especially if it needed a bellows replacement, as that had to be glued in. The focusing was not frozen (but it was extremely tight), and the shutter worked on all speeds when you tripped the lever by hand (something was wrong with the shutter release button). The rangefinder appeared to be accurate, and there were no missing parts.

However, one can make the wrong assumptions when tearing down a German built camera, going on past experience from other manufacturer designs. From what I've read about the subject, the German camera makers loathed using others designs, taking pride in coming up with new and inventive (though at times quite perplexing) ways to do the same thing. So I dived in with no instructions to guide me, and boy did it get exciting. Needless to say, if you try to follow the way I did this repair job, it would be best to start at the end, and work your way forward, as I made quite a few mistakes along the way. But I don't mind showing you, so that hopefully you won't repeat mine.

Some of the main things I learned about this repair:

Remove the lens elements, then the entire shutter assembly, before doing anything else.

You don't want to have to replace the bellows on this camera.

The Synchro-Compur is a mighty shutter, thus it is mighty complex. Try not to take it apart.

There are many tiny screws on this camera, so it's best to have some parts bags to keep everything together.

And most of all, don't rush things. It can only make matters worse.

Remember, I'm no expert, just someone with a need to get my cameras working. I used to do repair work on all sorts of equipment, and I use what I learned over the years to enable me to fix these little machines. But it's like being a race car driver. No matter how many races you've been in, or how many miles you've run, if it's your first time on the track, you are a rookie all over again. That's the way I feel when I pick up another camera to fix. You can use what you've learned on other cameras, but something is going to throw you for a loop.

This was also not my best effort, either on the repair, or putting this set together.


NOTE to JE: I had a video showing the action of the winder, but it ran too long, and there was only half of it here, so I deleted it. Took 25 minutes to upload, too.
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