Apologies, and meditations on the Paxette

It’s been a while, but I’ve been busy.

I have a 6-film backlog, but my excuse is that I’ve been painting the window of my bathrom black and I don’t like working in the fumes.

I’ve been picking up old equipment like the bad person that I am:

  • A handheld Prix selenium lightmeter, estimated vintage 1948 – 1956, in working condition;
  • An Agfa exposure table for wet plate film;
  • A Framex clockwork self-timer for a cable release;
  • A Braun Paxette 35mm rangefinder of uncertain vintage — not early though; I’m guessing 1957;
  • An Agfa Flashgun KL (which came with the Paxette);
  • An old camera case which came with the Paxette, but which seems to be made for Leicas.

I guess I’m starting to collect old cameras. Shame on me.

The Paxette is dead. When I got it the shutter and the winder were jammed. I took it apart and cleaned quite a lot this morning, and now the winding mechanism works, but the shutter is still jammed. I’m guessing corrosion and general accumulated crud; we’re talking a 51-year-old camera here, and it’s going to take a while before I figure out how everything is supposed to work.

This morning’s taking apart exercise was quite valuable, and I learned quite a bit about the Paxette’s inner workings. For posterity, I’m posting some observations here:


The shutter is operated by the middle finger of the right hand. Above it is the thread for a cable release.

Exposure time is set by turning the ring closest to the camera body.

The aperture is set by turning the outermost end of the lens.

The interchangeable lens operates the rangefinder by pressing against a sprung flange mounted in front of the shutter.

The film winder advances the film, and cocks the shutter.

The lever turns a spindle. This spindle turns the film take-up spool, and is geared with the sprocketed film advance roller so that they turn at the correct speeds in relation to one another. The spindle also operates the shutter cocking mechanism.

The shutter cocking mechanism is an upright pin in the camera body which slides a lever towards the spindle of the film take-up spool.

A cast metal disc is located at the bottom of the winding mechanism stack, just above the take-up spool. The disc is about 5mm thick, and is hollow underneath. The hollow is shaped so that the wall thickness between the take-up spool and the centre of the camera increases as the winding mechanism turns. This increasing thickness pulls the shutter cocking lever out until it hits a stop, which also stops the winding lever.

The frame counter counts down from 36. It is re-set manually, and can be re-set any time. The mechanism for the counter is located inside the camera body’s top lid.

The frame counter is operated by the shutter cocking mechanism. There is an upright pin connected to the shutter cocking mechanism which protrudes into the front of the range-finder mechanism. As the shutter is cocked, this pin moves across the frame line indicator window and engages with the frame counter window, advancing it by one.

When the shutter is released, the pin returns back across the frame line indicator, giving the photographer a visual indication of the shutter’s operation.

There seem to be adjustment screws located on the back of the rangefinder mirror for alignment purposes, but I’m not 100% certain of this.

I will post photographs of these components when I get a chance to take the camera apart again, and point my macro-equipped Canon at it.

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About lidlesseye

Mouthing off about photography, and occasionally important things too.

Posted on January 22, 2008, in Photography and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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