My Soligor 66 Camera
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Soligor 66 Camera

I had had a few encouraging successes in fixing up broken cameras (starting with my Kodak 35 .)

I started haunting camera shops and asking if they had any broken cameras that weren't worth their trouble to get fixed, that they would be willing to sell cheap.

I asked this in a camera shope in Harvard Square, Cambridge, called "Camera Obscura." Unlike most shops, they had an in-house repairman. Steve had just the thing forme, a bag of parts that had once been a Soligor 66. He had started to take it apart, then determined that it wasn't going to be worth his time to go into it farther to fix it. He sold me the bag of parts for $10. I was psyched, 'cause I had always liked medium format, and the idea of having a 2 1/4" SLR was fabulous to me. It included some extension tubes, so I knew I would be able to do decent close ups with it, if I could get it to work.

I later learned that the folks at the shop had a good laugh at my expense for thowing away $10 on an un-repairable camera. I spent a fair amount of time fiddling with it, eventually determined that it would, in fact need even further disassembly to get to the source of the shutter problem. (It has a focal plane shutter, with a mechanism very reminiscent of an older Leica...not that I knew anything about that then.

Anyway, I managed to get it working and to re-assemble it. However, I needed to set the spring tensions on the shutter curtain rollers, and didn't own a shutter speed tester. I remembered that Camera Obscura had one that they kept on the counter primarily as a sales aid, so I brought the now working camera back, just opened up enough to let me access the spring tension adjusters. I started adjusting the speeds, and one of the guys behind the counter went down to tell Steve about my success. He came up from his basement work area, checked the camera out and offered me a job on the spot!

This turned out to be the beginning of a great friendship and a long professional association. It was early winter and I was working reduced hours at the Bicycle Repair Collective, so I started working for Steve Grimes part time. This would have been the winter of 1973-74.

Camera Obscura eventually folded, and Steve started up a repair-only business, S.K. Grimes Camera Repair. I was his only employee for a few years, and was later his Service Manager, until he sold the business in the early '80s.

Steve and I remained fast friends until his death in 2003.

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