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Art Deco Cameras

Restoration of Fex Ultra


The Fex/Indo Ultra camera is a extending box camera from the 1950s.

After this amount of time, it is inevitable that some refurbishing needs doing. The weakest points are:-

  • Dust inside the lenses and viewfinders
  • Shutter mechanism
  • Film supply spool rod stuck
  • Damage to Bakelite

When this camera came to me, there was dust inside the lenses and viewfinders and the shutter mechanism was unreliable. There was also damage to the Bakelite.

Fex/Indo Ultra

Tools Required

Tools Required

Get together some simple tools. You will need a small M5.0 mini nut driver, lots of cotton buds, some lens cleaner, a lens cloth and possibly some lighter fuel.


Take off the back of the camera which gives access to the viewfinder. The viewfinder can now be cleaned with cotton buds and lens cleaner. Wipe the lenses with a damp bud then finish off with a dry one.

Shutter mechanism and taking Lens

The front face appears to be riveted to the camera which suggests a difficult job. However, if you look inside the back of the camera, you will see two small nuts that hold the shutter mechanism to the camera. You will need a small box type spanner, size M5.0 to undo these. Be careful not to scratch the matt black coating of the lens tube. Make sure the lens tube is retracted to make it easier to access the nuts.

Unscrew Nuts

Taking Lens

The shutter mechanism contains the taking lens. If you are going to service the shutter mechanism, do this before you clean the lens. To gain access to the inside lens, set the shutter speed to 'P' and hold the shutter button down. The small aperture will allow access to the lens. Carefully clean the lens with lens cleaner and cotton buds through the hole. I find that bending the cotton bud at right angles near to the end helps get full coverage of the lens.

Complete access to the lens can be achieved by dismantling the shutter mechanism but I think this is a step too far and the lens can be satisfactorily cleaned using cotton buds throught the aperture.

Shutter Mechanism

Shutter Mechanism

In the event that the shutter is problematic, DO NOT OIL. These shutters run dry. First try to blow any dust from the area and clean up as much as you can with a dry cotton bud. If that fails, you might like to try dousing the mechanism with lighter fluid. Move the mechanism around and keep wiping away the fluid and dirt. Be aware that the action of the shutter mechanism may at first get worse, so gentle persuasion may be needed to get it moving. Don't Panic. As the lighter fuel evaporates, it should start to work properly again.

Some people insist that the only way to clean this mechanism properly is to dismantle it as much as possible. I have never found this necessary. Just patience and continued application of small amount of lighter fuel followed by wiping the dirt from the area will do the job. Do this in a well ventilated room.


Turn it over carefully and screw on the nuts. This can be tricky and you may need tweezers to manipulate the nut to start it off.

Film Supply Spool Rod Stuck

The film supply spool rod screws into the Bakelite on the bottom of the camera. Sometimes this rod corrodes and gets stuck in Bakelite. There is a hole at the bottom by which you can access this thread. Put a drop of WD40 on this hole and wait before you try to work it free. Do not spray the WD40 because it gets everywhere.

Damaged Bakelite

I have found that small areas of damaged Bakelite can be repaired using Araldite Rapid with a small amount of black poster paint mixed in. The result is a shiny black strong finish. Manipulating the araldite can be tricky but you can use sellotape to mask off the area you don't want it to adhere to. I've also used a thin layer of silicon grease to stop the araldite adhering to the wrong surface.

Job Done

Find out more about this camera here:- /cameras/fex-indo/ultra-himalaya/