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Lubricating a Bolex EBM and EL

Guest Gregor Scheer

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Guest gregorscheer

Happy new year comes with the resolution to lubricate my faithfull electric Bolex cameras, that I have both bought on ebay about a year ago and that have never been lubricated. The technicians advice is: Have it done yearly and pay $300 each. I feel one should be able to do once own maintenance and save a the bucks. Do you have any advice or instructions about this that you could share? I would greatly appreciate it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

(This is the same post I wrote in the 'Bolex EL repair manual' thread, but it makes more sense to have it here, so I'm copying here)

Regarding lubrication of H16s, EL included, I assume, here's what I got from the regulal H16 maintenance manual (for the lubrication points that are reachable without dismantling the camera) :

You can put a drop of oil on the axle-ends that you can see turning inside the film chamber when the camera runs. It's a little hard to explain in writing, but basically you can see the end of 3 axles to be lubricated : 1 above the upper film-feeding mechanism and 2 by the upper claw. (To see the claw mechanism, you need to remove the pressure plate, then unscrew 2 small screws that hold a protective plate over the claw mechanism). One very small drop of low viscosity mechanical oil on he end of each of these axles as they turn (camera running) should help (wipe the excess afterwards with a cotton bud).

If you're feeling adventurous, you can also go for a drop of oil on the variable shutter sprockets (Obviously not on the EBM or EL, without VS), which you can see when the prism is flipped out. This may help lessen the noise on an old Reflex with a noisy shutter mechnaism.

None of this is 'official', only adapted from the Bolex maintenance manual and doable without dismantling anything (apart from the claw protection plate). And of course, you need the right tool or method to drop only one small drop of oil at a time. also, invest in good small screwdrivers, if don't already have them -- they're well worth the price to avoid a destroyed screw that can't be removed anymore... Working cleanly, carefully, and sensibly (no cooking oil, please !), anyone can do this bit of maintenance themselves.

By the way, I do recommend buying a Bolex repair manual to anyone interested in lubricating their cameras or doing small repairs. They're great reference, will help you understand the camera and be less afraid of it, will get you out of trouble in a pinch (on location problems !), and all of that for $25 on eBay (I'm not the one selling them either!). Just make sure you get the one that's right for your camera -- but since Bolex compiled them as the models evolved, you might as well get a late one (SB/SBM + EBM, and all before) and be safe.


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Just done lubricating another H16... something else that's easy to oil, from the outside of the camera this time, are the motor axles. (Again, use good quality light mechanical oil, such as those for sewing machines.)

Both the 8/1 (or rewind handle axle) and 1/1 motor axles (on M/S/Rex-4 and later models) can use a drop of oil inside the shaft, against the axle itself. The oil will drip along the axle down to the inside mounting plate and lubricate the motor axle bearing.

Another drop of oil along the shaft of the spring motor crank (along the shaft, not inside the thread) will help lubricate the sring rewinding mechanism.

That should about do for light maintenance, and may even help slow or generally 'cranky' H16s !


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