Saturday, February 20, 2010

Adventures With Acme, Part 4

In previous posts (see links at end of this article), I discussed my introduction into the world of Diana toy cameras. The Diana dates back to the early 1960s, when the Great Wall Plastic Company of Hong Kong manufactured cheap plastic cameras often used as carnival prizes or promotional giveaways. The poorly constructed cameras became popular with artists, who appreciated their simplicity and quirky nature. The cameras were labeled with a number of brand names besides Diana, and the Acme was one of those.

I picked up the Acme on eBay for a few bucks. From the first roll onward, I had trouble with the winding mechanism. The plastic had become brittle over time, and the more I tried to fix it, the more it crumbled to pieces. I tried replacing parts with wood, but then the wood splintered from the torque of winding the film. Then I salvaged the winding mechanism from an old Argoflex 75, which sort of worked, but didn't really engage the film spool, leaving me with a film stuck on exposure number five.

So, I've made one more attempt to fix the Acme. The following pictures illustrate my solution, and also show why I won't ever make a living from product photography.

My previous repair used a 1/4" oak dowel. Since that broke, I thought I would try a 5/16" dowel this time. This necessitated drilling out the hole in the camera to accept the larger shaft. The paddle at the end is made from a scrap of ebony, and the ring next to the paddle is a scrap of walnut. It's all glued together with epoxy. The winding knob I made from 3/4" plywood.

Here's the new mechanism installed in the Acme.

I used a small flathead screw to hold the knob in place on the shaft. Note also the gaffer's tape holding the lens in place.

And here it is, ready to go.

More Adventures With Acme:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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