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Repairing a Pentax ME film transport

This post deals with repairing a Pentax ME film transport.

I have a few Pentax ME style cameras which have problems with the film transport. One is a Pentax MG with the mirror stuck in the up position and the film advance locked.

Pentax ME Super - a bit grubby and battered
A Pentax ME Super, a bit grubby and battered

Another is a Pentax Super Program which I bought for spare parts for my 'good' Super Program, and the shutter speeds wouldn't set, and the film advance just winds without cocking the shutter. Finally, I have an ME super which looks as if it works, but the film transport just winds without moving the film.

All of these turned out to have the same basic fault, and although they were not too difficult to fix, I couldn't find much information about how to do it apart from a video on YouTube which showed the mirror box out of the camera. Although that would be helpful if the camera needed to be stripped down, it doesn't help much if you want to do it with minimal dismantling.

So I thought I'd take some pictures of how I repaired my cameras since it may be useful to others, especially since this seems to be a common fault. The pictures below are of the Super Program, but the same basic process applies to all the ME style cameras.

Repairing a Pentax ME Images

Firstly, the bottom plate needs to come off the camera. It's only held on with three screws, so remove those screws and lift the bottom off. The end we need to work on is the end with the motor drive coupling.

There is a plastic shield on the motor drive shaft which needs to come off. I found I could lift it up with a pair of tweezers and pull it out. Once it's out of the way, you need to remove a linkage which couples the motor drive shaft to the mechanism which cocks the shutter. It's on the bottom of the camera, held by 3 screws. The pictures above should help locate it.  You need to unscrew the three screws which hold the linkage in place, and then also undo the screw in the middle of the motor drive shaft. You can then lift the linkage off.

With the linkage out of the camera, you get to the component which is causing the trouble. In the pictures above, I've annotated one to show the post I added a single drop of oil to. I then worked the post up and down a bit with a set of tweezers just to get the oil to flow to the end of the post.

Once that was done, it's just a matter of reassembling the linkage. That was not too hard once I worked out the positions of the two sprung parts on the bottom of the linkage. One sits on the motor drive shaft and the other has to be lifted over a pin as it's put into place. Again, I've annotated one of the pictures above to point this out.

With the linkage back in the camera and the screws back in, I worked the film advance a few times for the oil to work into the mechanism. The first few times the film advance still didn't work, but after a couple of goes the shutter started to cock and fire and after a couple of minutes of winding and firing the shutter and film transport was back to normal.

If you carry out this repair and your camera has locked at the point of the mirror being in the up position, you will need to get the camera back to the correct starting point. On my Pentax MG I had to pull the mirror down and manually pull the shutter into place to get the camera back to the correct starting point, but once I'd done that everything seems to be working correctly.

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