Archive for November, 2007

Moving a house looks like a pretty difficult thing to do. What happens if it’s done wrong? Well, it’s not pretty. This house went from an elegant home to a collapsing shell.


See the history of the house and the whole sad story of its gradual decay here:

slumpy … the William Livingstone Mansion in Detroit’s Brush Park

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Baby PaX

The cute little PaX rangefinder is an unusual beast. This is the first model in the PaX series from Yamato Camera, manufactured around 1950 (not to be confused with a German line of PaX cameras, no relation). The styling was clearly inspired by the Leicas of the period, but the camera is actually quite a bit smaller than a Leica, though the lens is not collapsable. Including the lens it’s about the same height as an Olympus XA and about twice as thick.

FED-1 NKVD and PaX 35 Rangefinders

Mechanically it’s pretty straightforward and (as you’d expect) a lot simpler than a Leica. It has a simple 5-speed leaf shutter and a fixed 50mm/f3.5 “Luminor” lens, probably a standard triplet design.

Whatever grease they used in these cameras has a bad habit of solidifying over the years, and that’s exactly what happened in this one. Fortunately the lens wasn’t frozen, but the rangefinder was stuck at 3 feet and the shutter was slow to fire. It’s so cute that I couldn’t leave it in that condition, so I looked around and found a web page with enough information to get me started on fixing it.

The rangefinder cam and the shutter actuation lever are clearly visible just by removing the back of the camera. I disassembled the upper deck and carefully applied Ronsonol to the rangefinder mechanism and the sticky shutter lever. After working the lens a bit, the rangefinder gradually freed up, probably for the first time in 30 years. It’s still sluggish at the far end (you can focus the lens to infinity and watch the RF patch lazily drifffft on over) but it’s good enough for now.

I also noticed a protruding setscrew on the film winding shaft was occasionally scratching the film. I tightened it down, but I didn’t realize until later that if it’s screwed too tight the rewind release button won’t work, and you can’t rewind the film. Oops. After unloading the camera in a changing bag I loosened the screw a bit and, just in case, wrapped the shaft with a bit of Scotch tape to prevent scratches.

It’s tiny, a lot of fun to use, and it takes decent photos, too. Here are a couple pics taken around the neighborhood while I was testing it:

PaX rangefinder, second roll

PaX rangefinder, First roll

See more photos from this camera

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