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My "possibly repairable" low serial number Type II

 
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Ravlen



Joined: 11 Feb 2024
Posts: 5
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2024 2:01 pm    Post subject: My "possibly repairable" low serial number Type II Reply with quote

I saw an auction that was hard to resist here in Japan. In fact, it was impossible to resist, and now I have my first Curta. Type II, Serial 502002. The auction description explained that it was non-functional, but the seller was not sure how bad it was as they did not know what was wrong with it, only saying some sliders were sticking and the numbers on top weren't changing.

I was looking for a project to work on in the evenings, and with this being such a low serial number black body type II, I thought it would be fun to buy it (Under 700 USD) take it apart and clean it up. I figured it would be similar to https://hackaday.com/2023/08/12/opening-a-curta-with-great-care/, which is the same type/age.

Well, things are both better and much worse than expected. The good news is that externally it's in great condition, looks to have been used very little. It even had a custom leather case (not official).

Unfortunately, it is definitely not just "sticky". Here's my theory: At some point a long time ago, in the middle of a subtraction, it jammed somehow. The owner attempted to force it and likely broke something inside. Now the drum is midway through a turn, with some slider gears meshed with the step drum and non-movable. It's in subtraction mode (popped top), unable to go back to add mode, clear it, or lift the top, due to being mid-turn I assume.

But worse is that the crank still turns, despite the drum not moving, so the drum/shaft are somehow disconnected internally. The crank spins very smoothly, though there is some resistance as if there's some old lubricant or something.

Then I'm guessing they shelved it and it sat there for years. Someone eventually found it and either sold it to someone to try to fix, or tried to fix it themselves. When I took the bottom off, it was very obvious that they put a bunch of lubricant (I'm not sure what, but looks slightly golden) all over it to try to "work it loose" I guess. There's spots on the inside (bottom) where the lubricant dripped down.

So that's where I am right now. I've cleared the work bench and I'm waiting on a buddy to send me his ring clip pliers and 1mm pin punch, before I start to (slowly) take it apart and see how it's actually broken. When I know more, I'll decide whether to buy an ultrasonic cleaner, lubricant, etc.

I'm not sure how to post pics here yet, but I'll share when I can.
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Ravlen



Joined: 11 Feb 2024
Posts: 5
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2024 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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murff



Joined: 27 Oct 2009
Posts: 592
Location: Switzerland

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2024 7:40 pm    Post subject: Re: My "possibly repairable" low serial number Typ Reply with quote

Ravlen wrote:
...But worse is that the crank still turns, despite the drum not moving, so the drum/shaft are somehow disconnected internally. The crank spins very smoothly, though there is some resistance as if there's some old lubricant or something.



Based on your description, I would guess that this Curta is irreparable.

Without knowing your skills as a precision mechanic... If you want to save the Curta, I would recommend sending it to the Curta Service http://www.curtaservice.it/ - Romano. He also has the necessary spare parts, perhaps...
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Knetball



Joined: 29 Mar 2018
Posts: 8
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2024 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Itís nice to see where this Curta has ended up. I also contacted the seller. When he didnít want to answer my questions about remaining functions, I suspected it might be completely broken. So, I offered $400. I would have then sent it to Romano.

Hopefully, it can still be repaired. Iíll keep my fingers crossed and look forward to you keeping us updated.
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Ravlen



Joined: 11 Feb 2024
Posts: 5
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2024 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, first update! First identification of the actual problems.

The first hurdle was actually just getting the darn handle off. I made a little wooden holder for the Curta to support the handle while I tapped the pin with a 1mm punch, but no matter what I did, the pin just wouldn't come out, I couldn't figure it out.

I gave up for a while and looked at the drum and bottom of the shaft. The drum was in the middle of the slider gears, and you can see in the original pics above how the notch in the bottom of the shaft was not aligned with the wheel that helps it snap into the home position. With some gentle experimentation, I found I could turn the shaft from the bottom (after unsticking the ratchet that was severely jammed), and I carefully helped it finish the rotation.

But when it finally got into the home position, it still was not properly aligned. It would not exit subtraction mode, I could not lift the top carriage to shift registers or clear the results, so the drum was definitely out of position. With some more experimentation, I found I could lock the drum mechanism in position with one of my tools, and slowly rotate the shaft until everything was finally properly aligned. Then things finally started to move.

With everything aligned, I could now finally lift the carriage and change registers, smooth as could be. Clear ring worked perfectly too. I could go between add/sub modes, though this was sticky. This is how I found out the real problem with the handle. When pulling on it to change modes, it suddenly came off in my hand. But you can see from the pic that the pin still appeared to be in place. After things jammed internally, somehow had turned it hard enough to shear off the pin. With the handle now spinning freely on the shaft (invisibly), I could now see why I was unable to knock the pin out.

But with the shaft off, i could look at it under a loupe and just barely spot the location of a pin. After first tapping it the wrong way (whoops) I tapped it the other way and it came out.

I used the 1mm punch as a makeshift crank and could gently spin the mechanism and did some very simple additions. Like +1 repeatedly, and it actually works, including incrementing the turn counter, but you can see the gears are just barely aligned, and the carry mechanism isn't working yet. If you try a subtraction, or multiple digit calculations, it's too much and the drum stays in place while the shaft spins.

It's pretty clear to me that the pin holding the drum mechanism in place on the shaft has sheared off as well.

My current theory is that it got a little stuck, and someone that didn't know what they were doing turned it backwards as hard as they could to try to unstick it. The ratchet kept the shaft from moving, but also got jammed very tight as a result of the point digging deep into the ratchet gear, and the handle and drum pins sheared off.

I'm going to remain optimistic that this is repairable. I'll continue the disassembly when I have time, and give every part a gentle but thorough cleaning while looking for other broken parts.

Handle off, still showing the piece of pin in place, it's the same on the other side (have not been able to extract it yet):

Spinning the handle made the broken pin drag across the shaft, obscuring the edge of the pin. Can you spot it?

Tapped it with the 1mm punch, but had it on the wrong side (could not visually identify which side was correct, and I picked wrong).


One tap from the other side, and finally the remains of the pin was out.
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Ravlen



Joined: 11 Feb 2024
Posts: 5
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2024 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm now browsing ultrasonic cleaners online, but there doesn't seem to be many options for ultrasonic cleaning solution/concentrate here in Japan. I won't put any anodized or plastic parts in it, or any super tiny or fragile parts either. Not yet sure how I'll clean the old lubricant off the sliders though.

Also pondering what lubricants to buy. I can get molybdenum paste and sewing machine oil easily enough.
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Kmcqueen



Joined: 14 Apr 2023
Posts: 22
Location: Portland OR, USA

PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2024 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for these updates and photos! I think you will be able to fix this. I completely cleaned and freed up my first Curta without an ultrasound by just carefully taking apart components and soaking in small containers of Isopropyl alcohol. Watch any painted parts but it won't harm the anodizing. It's clearly slower than using an ultrasonic - but it works. My sliders and the tens carry levers were completely frozen from what ever oil had been previously used.

Liberty synthetic oil is used by watchmakers and won't cause any corrosion over time.
https://www.amazon.com/Liberty-Synthetic-Lubricating-Grandfather-Clocks/dp/B00AZMGFI4
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Ravlen



Joined: 11 Feb 2024
Posts: 5
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2024 4:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@kmcqueen Thanks for the tip! I see this is also the recommendation at https://www.vcalc.net/cu-lube.htm.

I actually have been meaning to order a few unrelated things from the US Amazon store this month, so I'll add this to the cart. Is there a specific type of molybdenum paste that is considered the best for Curtas? I could throw that in too, if it's not too expensive. That same site seems to recommend this one: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0006N6ZUU/ ? If not, I was going to order this one from the local (Japan) Amazon site: https://www.amazon.co.jp/-/en/dp/B0C2BPQ537/
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Kmcqueen



Joined: 14 Apr 2023
Posts: 22
Location: Portland OR, USA

PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2024 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have access to this product at work.......
http://www.microlubrol.com/MicroLubrol-Helimax-XP-Camera-Lens-Telescope-Optical-Instrument-Grease-1-oz.aspx

Mostly used in high end camera equipment. I just spoke to the techs and they also use this product (I think both would be fine for the relatively low speed use a Curta is put through)

https://www.amazon.com/Corning-Molykote-Performance-Synthetic-Lubricant/dp/B00CAYWNCW

I'm partial to the synthetic versions because I'm convinced it's not as prone to causing corrosion over time.
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