Update on the Agat 18K

After using a loaner Agat I decided that it would be one of the cameras I would buy from Ukraine. Amazingly it arrived a couple of weeks ago. It was not in great condition, but I knew that when I bought it. So I have been trying to fix and test it.

They are pretty simple machines, but I didn’t fancy taking my new arrival fully apart. So I tried to fix the things I could, avoiding that.

The first issue was the release lever to split the camera, it was very stiff and wobbly at the same time. The metal part was stiff and the sliding button was loose. That turned out to be slight lubrication and a re-screw job.

The front dial selector was also stiff from lack of use, again I lubricated that and just kept trying to move it. The more I moved it, the easier it became. I sacrificed a nail or two for that endeavour.

The take-up spool was missing and I read you could use an empty cartridge for this. I liked that idea as it would mean the shots would go straight back inside a cartridge and therefore be safe. Unfortunately, the camera would not wind on with that arrangement, so I ended up taking the spool out of the cartridge and using that.

Ok so ready for the first testing. I loaded a roll of Kentmere and used the camera on a cold camping trip to Hull. I stayed at an alpaca farm, which was awesome as I got to feed them in the morning.

As you can see there were still a couple of issues and one that you can’t see but I could hear. The camera rattled when I shook it and inside the viewfinder, a piece of glass was moving around. Luckily this turned out to be an easy fix too. The top or bottom of the viewfinder area was easy to access, it just popped off. Once it was out it was clear to see the issue, the glass with the framing lines was loose, so I glued it back in place, cleaned the windows and put it all back in the body.

There also seemed to be a light leak somewhere and I was getting weird double exposures, which was odd as I was definitely winding on the film between shots and the counter showed the correct number of exposures. Some of the double exposure were of pictures I definitely didn’t take, like of the ground or the same shot at a different angle. That made me think the shutter was randomly firing.

But first to address the light leak. Sometime during my furlough, I bought some very small light balls for a project I never got around to, but I remembered them and thought they would be perfect to find the light leak. So I activated three and put them inside the camera and closed it.

Once closed I could see a leak coming from around the shutter button area. On inspecting the camera I could see a hole on that side of the body inside.

I used the same nail varnish technique I used on a previous hole fix. I also put a couple of dabs of clock oil on the shutter button and activated it many times.

Finally, one of my friends suggested I flood the aperture blades with lighter fluid so I did. That was a mistake, the blades opened and refused to close again. After all the fixes I had done, I had broken the camera with a fix I didn’t need to perform. I was very disappointed. I set the camera aside and arrange to send it to a friend to finally have it taken apart and cleaned in the hope it would work again.

The next morning I got ready to pack it and decided to give it a few more actuations, just to check and lo it was working again. It continued to fire correctly each time I tried it.

I didn’t want to use up a whole roll of film to test it when I was sure it wouldn’t work. I had done nothing really to fix the double exposures. So I cut a short length off a roll of FP4 and shot it on a little walk.

And guess what…

It worked, no light leaks, no double exposures, exposed correctly, no rattling viewfinder…but now the rewind lever has dropped off and I have to re-screw that in. It might need a little glue to hold it in place. I am reluctant to do that as I don’t want to totally glue it down and stop it from functioning, but glue it, I will.

Holy moly this camera has been a work and a bit, and I don’t even like half frames. It does remind me of an Agat I gained previously as a swap. That one didn’t work either and I wish I had kept it to work on it now. Back then I wouldn’t have even attempted to take it apart. Just shows, that even though I don’t know much, I know more than I did.

Oh, and I am trundling off to Scotland for a week tomorrow so no more updates from me for a while.

I am on Stay-Cation!

9 thoughts on “Update on the Agat 18K

  1. Roger B. says:

    Ditto the light balls trick: What engineers call an elegant solution as it’s both simple and effective. Where is the long bridge seen in the first batch of photos? Wishing you a fine week of wandering!

    Liked by 1 person

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