Repairing the Take-up Spindle in a Leica CL

Leica CLIt wasn’t so long ago that I had my beloved Leica CL overhauled (well, actually a Leitz-Minolta CL), but both were produced by the same standards and at the same factory in Portugal. The CL had a brief run because it was underselling the Leica M models which were more profitable for the company.

“CL” stands for “compact Leica.”  I love my CL because it fits perfectly in my smallish hand, and has a quiet shutter, and came equipped with a Japanese made 40mm M lens that in my book is just as fine as any Leica lens, but at one quarter the cost. Some users call this 40/2 M-Rokkor “the water lens” because of the creamy texture of its bokeh. You might like to browse a Flickr set of shots with that lens. Beautiful!

There is one annoying flaw with the CL, however: the fragility of the plastic notched ring that sits at the base of the film take-up spool. There are thin tongs on that ring, through which one inserts the tip of the film leader. These become brittle with age, and eventually they can’t take the torque as the spindle turns. I had my CL repaired once for such breakage. After my last roll of film a tong broke again as I was winding off the roll and the leader wouldn’t come out from under the tong easily.

I considered alternatives to sending my CL back for another spindle ring repair. Were other owners experiencing the same problem, and if so, what were they doing about it?

Well, some mentioned using double sided tape to fasten the leader to the spindle. This seemed worth a try! First I used super glue to mend the broken tong, and let it dry a good long time. Then I cut a length of electrician’s tape so that its width coincided perfectly with the length of the spindle tongs. (I didn’t want any left-over tape getting bunched as the spindle turns). I made about two turns of this tape around the spindle ring to slightly compress and buttress the ring tongs, and to make a smooth even surface to hold the double-sided tape. I bent about three eighths of film leader back upon itself, and creased it hard so that it lay flat against itself. Then I cut a piece of double sided tape, slightly smaller than this folded back portion of the leader, and stuck it there. Now I had a sticky surface of film leader to fasten to the spindle ring. I fastened the leader tip to the spindle ring and began to advance the film, slowly and carefully, making sure the sprocket teeth were engaging the holes in the film properly.

This jury rig worked splendidly! If you don’t hear from me later you’ll know that this is a successful way of repairing the take-up spindle in a Leica CL, a great totally mechanical travel camera!

One thought on “Repairing the Take-up Spindle in a Leica CL

  1. This is a good way to be able to keep using a Leica CL even though the take-up spool is broken. They all break in the end (such a pity this superb camera had one weak part) and it is difficult to find spares, and difficult to replace them. I tried Minolta X series spools, which look similar but do not fit. Also, on the internet is says it is easy to replace a Leica CL spindle/spool simply by removing the bottom plate of the camera, but this is not so. Removing the bottom plate does not give access to the spindle – it is a rather more challenging dis-assembly job than that. I decided not to risk it. So the tape method is a good solution.

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