Firstly I must credit the original source for the inspiration behind this article. I decided to write a more in depth repair article as there were a few issues that I needed help with but couldn’t find on the internet, particularly the selenium cell reinstallation. I’ve also received a lot of help from the Olympus Trip 35 flickr group.
The Trip 35 is a 35mm compact camera, manufactured by Olympus. It was introduced in 1967 and discontinued, after a lengthy production run, in 1984. The Trip name was a reference to its intended market — people who wanted a compact, functional camera for holidays. During the 1970s it was the subject of an advertising campaign that featured popular British photographer David Bailey. Over ten million units were sold.
I recently picked one of these up really cheap at a car boot sale, it looked in good condition but after a few outings I noticed that the shutter would remain open until I wound on the film. I also noticed that the aperture blades would stay open. This was a sure sign that there was some sticky oil lubricant causing the blades to jam during operation. Over years of use dust and other grime gets into cameras and eventually finds its way onto the lubricated areas of the cameras innards. As this builds up the oil becomes thick and sticky. For a camera that is over 30 years old it’s surprised it went this long before freezing.
Anyway, onto the repair guide. The usual rules apply. Please only attempt this repair if you feel confident that you can take the camera apart and put it back together again without causing irreparable damage to the camera. Also make sure that you have the necessary tools and accessories to complete this procedure successfuly.
You’ll need the following items as a minimum:
1x 1.4mm slot screwdriver
1x PH00 cross screwdriver
Graphite lubricant (if you want to relubricate the cleaned areas)
Cotton buds (the ones that you use to clean your ears)
Lighter fluid or Surgical spirit (for removing oil and dirt)
An ice cube tray (for the screws)
1. The first thing that you need to do is remove the top and bottom plates of the camera. These are attached by 3 screws at the top and 2 on the bottom. On the top plate two of the screws are hidden under the film rewind crank. It’s not necessary to remove the rewind crank, instead just turn the crank until you can see the first screw and turn again to see the second. The third is on the right hand side of the top plate. The two on the bottom plate are obvious.
2. Once you have unscrewed the bottom plate, you can remove it completely. Be careful with the top plate though as there is a cable running to the flash mount. You don’t need to disconnect any cables during the process as long as you are careful. Take the top plate off and place the camera body on a flat surface. A tray is good as it’ll catch any parts that fall off the camera. You’ll see what I mean later in the article.
You’ll now be able to see the light meter needle. It’s positioned immediately to the left of the viewfinder if you’re looking at the front of the camera. The needle moves depending on how much light is coming into the selenium cell.
There are two things that you can do to check that the light meter is working correctly.
Firstly the needle will be half way to the left (if you’re looking at the front of the camera) in daylight conditions. If the needle doesn’t move when you change the amount of light falling on the cell then you might have an obstruction under the brass plate immediately above the needle. Remove the plate and remove any blockages that you might find under there.
Secondly if you press the shutter release halfway the bar rises to trap the needle against the brass plate. This should be followed by the cam bar. If this is not the case then the aperture blades are in need of attention.
In my case it was the aperture blades AND the shutter blades that were failing. You can check this by opening the film compartment and firing the shutter. If the aperture blades or the shutter blades remain open then you’ve got issues with gummy lubricant. If you’re really unlucky, which I was, then you’ll see right through the lens elements. You’ll need to clean both sets of blades.
3. In order to get to the blades you’ll need to start to disassemble the lens unit. Before proceeding move the focus ring to infinity.
The inner ring (the bit with all the silver type on it) is attached to the front lens element by 3 tiny screws around the outside perimeter. This enables the front lens element to turn as the focus ring is rotated. The front lens element is mounted using a thread. So as it turns the element moves up and down.
You’ll need the 1.4mm screwdriver to loosen these. You don’t want to remove them completely, just enough to lift the inner ring right off. Be careful with these screws as they really are small and if you lose one you’ll struggle to find it again. When removing the front ring be careful not to rotate the front lens element as we need to note its position to ensure focusing is not affected by the repairs.
4. Now that the front ring has been removed take a look at the front lens element and on the rim mark the 12 o’clock position. Now unscrew the lens carefully, clean it (don’t remove the mark) and put it in a dust proof container.
5. The next step is to loosen the wires that connect the selenium cell to the camera. These run along the bottom of the camera near the tripod mount. The ones you are looking for are the black and yellow ones. You need to loosen these before you can safely remove the selenium cell.
6. Next remove the two small screws holding the front of the cell in place. You need to be careful when you put these back in not to ruin the thread. The same applies for all the other screws you’ll come across.
7. Now gently and slowly lift up the selenium cell. Sometimes you can get it all out at once.
But if your camera is an older model or has been worked on before then it might come out in three parts. If this happens don’t worry. Just make sure you keep everything on the tray so we can put it back together later.
The last two images show the positioning of the individual parts of the selenium cell to make it easier to put back together later.
Let the cell hang on the side of the lens, we don’t want to disconnect the wires but at the same time we don’t want to pull it out too much.
8. Next remove the three brass screws holding the ASA ring and focus ring in place. As these are brass they won’t get picked up by a magnetic screwdriver so be careful not to lose these. Also be gentle as the screw metal is soft and you run the risk of ruining the screw head if you’re not careful.
9. Remove the ASA and focus rings but be careful as each has a ball bearing embedded in it. They are normally held in place with grease but can very easily be knocked out of position and lost forever. They are around 1mm in diameter. If they fall out make sure you put them in your tray.
10. Next remove the aperture ring. This also has a ball bearing, so be careful not to knock it out or lose it.
11. You’ll now be looking at the rear lens element. Unscrew, clean and put in a dust proof container.
Once you’ve removed the rear lens element you’ll now be looking at the exposed aperture blades. We want to remove this for cleaning.
12. Unscrew it and place it in a small cup and submerge it in the lighter fluid or surgical spirit for a few minutes, ensure that all surface areas are exposed at one time or another so that the solvent can get in and dislodge and dirt and lubricant. Work the blades back and forth and rub gently with the cotton buds, re-submerge and repeat a few times and then dry the mechanism.
Ensure that the aperture mechanism is dry, including under the blades and in-between. The next step is option. Some people prefer to lubricate the blades with graphite lubricant and others prefer to leave them dry and not apply lubricant at all. It’s up to you. If you are going to apply the graphite lubricant then make sure you get it under and in-between the blades. Work the blades a few times and then remove any excess graphite. Eventually the blades will move effortlessly. Smooth!
13. Now, if it was just the aperture blades that were sticking we can reassemble the camera. However if your shutter blades were sticking or you just want to go all the way anyway then we can move on and clean the shutter mechanism. To get to the shutter mechanism you’ll need to remove the next plate by unscrewing the three screws (marked with red paint).
14. Lift off gently and you’ll expose the shutter blades.
15. You’ll want to remove all the oil and grease lubricant here. The shutter blades are removable, unlike the aperture blades so you can clean these thoroughly. Wipe off any lubricant and clean the last plate with solvent and cotton buds. Once the shutter blades have soaked and you’ve clean off all the lubricant ensure that they are dry before putting them back on.
16. Again, you can lubricate these with your graphite lubricant or just leave them dry. I actually chose to leave these dry as any excess graphite could potentially fall into the film chamber or onto the rear lens element.
17. Once the shutter blades are back in position you can go ahead and reassemble the camera by following the steps backwards. Just be careful with the wiring and be gentle. At no point should you find yourself forcing any components back into position.
When you’re putting the front lens element back remember to reposition it so that your mark is in the 12 o’clock position.
If you want to go straight to the shutter blades if they are the only issue then you can go directly.