Anyone knows a coachbuilter / sheet metal worker able to level a dent on camera body?

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I have a Nikon F of the very early type, with hollow winding lever, serial number 6433etc. When you find these cameras they're usually in pieces, but this one is in lovely near-mint conditions, except for a dent on the top plate caused by the way in which the early Photomic finder sat on the camera. Many early Nikon F show the same dent in the same position.

It's really a pity because, this dent apart, the camera would look almost like new.

As I sometimes saw craftsmen do wonderful things that I thought were impossible, I wonder if any of you knew anyone (precision mechanic, jeweler, coachbuilder, sheet metal specialised worker) who succesfully leveled a similar dent?

Any other idea?
 

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Ces1um

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I understand your desire to have this repaired, but looking at how small it is I would think the only way to do that would be to hit it from the other side with some kind of hammer and a "peen" if I remember the name of the tool correctly. It would push the dent back out, but you may see multiple round levelling marks and not a perfectly flat surface. It may not look better. Good luck but my initial reaction is to leave it alone.

If you decide to have it repaired, I'm thinking a jeweller might have the expertise and tools.
 
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BrianShaw

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I think the word you seek is “dolly”.

Try asking an auto body shop.... or a sheet metal fabrication shop. There are other flattening techniques in addition to hammmer-and-dolly but i don’t know what really works on thin finished metal. Once in my life I had thin raw metal parts flattened and they used a double-disk method. I saw on YouTube a vide for auto dent removal using boiling water or dry ice to pop a dent out. And theres a mobile dent removal truck in my area who uses suction cups. But that’s all I know... not much.

But I’d leave it alone too. The dent makes for an interesting story.
 
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Billy Axeman

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Methinks this is not a task for a coach builder or sheet metal worker but for a camera repair shop.
 

DWThomas

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There are people who specialize in repairing brass musical instruments who would probably be more attune to the delicacy required to work on a camera part, but I suspect someone experienced in camera repair/restoration would be the best candidate.
 

sissysphoto

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I fix little dents like this all the time. But don't expect absolute perfection. The only way to make the dent totaly invisible is to strip and rechrome the part after dent removal.
 

Billy Axeman

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My camera repair shop doing CLA's says they can level dents, it's part of their normal service. They have a lot of experience and the tools to work on small surfaces, not only for painted but also for chromed parts. Go somewhere else and you will run the risk getting a botched result.
 
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It can be repaired to nearly a new, nearly undetectable result. A jeweler or musical instrument repair person would be good options. A peen or dolly in combination with a leather shot bag will get the job done. This is a simple, trivial operation for the right person.
 
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I have a Nikon F of the very early type, with hollow winding lever, serial number 6433etc. When you find these cameras they're usually in pieces, but this one is in lovely near-mint conditions, except for a dent on the top plate caused by the way in which the early Photomic finder sat on the camera. Many early Nikon F show the same dent in the same position.

It's really a pity because, this dent apart, the camera would look almost like new.

As I sometimes saw craftsmen do wonderful things that I thought were impossible, I wonder if any of you knew anyone (precision mechanic, jeweler, coachbuilder, sheet metal specialised worker) who succesfully leveled a similar dent?

Any other idea?
why just use as is.
 

CMoore

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why just use as is.
Yeah.....it's fine...cameras get scratched, dented, scraped.
I think you are "worried" about nothing.
Otherwise.....send it to a camera tech, especially somebody that knows Nikons and wants to deal with this situation.
Good Luck
 

Ces1um

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Yeah.....it's fine...cameras get scratched, dented, scraped.
I think you are "worried" about nothing.
Otherwise.....send it to a camera tech, especially somebody that knows Nikons and wants to deal with this situation.
Good Luck
I think the OP is just hoping to make an otherwise flawless camera look flawless. It's like having a beautiful watch that has a scratch on the crystal. You see it. Nothing wrong with wanting it to look good as new, but personally I wouldn't have even given it a second thought.
 

E. von Hoegh

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It can be repaired to nearly a new, nearly undetectable result. This is a simple, trivial operation for the right person.
Yup.
I was given a black Nikon F2, a very late one, with a bashed in corner adjacent to the wind lever. I made some simple yet crude tools, a padded V block and a wedge shaped driver, the dent eventually came out - not perfect, but very good.
Your dent is very easily raised. By the right person, it should come out perfectly.
Edit- I just had a look at my oldest F, it has a mark - not a dent - in the same place as yours. Your dent can be raised, but it looks like there's been some burnishing of the chrome.
 
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Alan Gales

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I'm a retired Sheet Metal Worker so I'll give you my opinion. You could take a long rectangular piece of steel (larger than the dent) and put it inside the top plate covering the dent. Place the plate onto a dolly (covered in masking tape to avoid marring the finish) and tap the end of the piece of steel with a hammer. It will take out the dent. It won't look perfect. Also I think these top plates were painted so it may break the paint and look worse. To get everything to look as new you will have to repaint the whole top plate after repairing the dent.

Personally, I'd leave it as it is. Think of it like the owners of black Leica's do where the brass shows through the paint. Your camera has character! :smile:
 

sissysphoto

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I have found that any tape or paper between the workpiece and the dolly surface will cause an emboss to be made, ruining the repair. The trick is a mirror smooth dolly surface. Since all I have on hand as my dolly (or anvil) is a 4x10 sheet of 1/4 inch copper, this is my dolly (anvil). The hammering tool may be any number of things. Creative thinking turns many hard objects into the tool to be hammered on. Many times I use no hammer at all, but simply muscle force. I've found small smooth oak blocks work well sometimes. Lots of different items, both fabricated or appropriated. I'm amazed at my paintless dent work on black cameras. Whether chrome or black, only a very few of my repairs are totally invisible. But leaving the dent as is, is simply unacceptable to me. So if you know how to work on cameras already, and you know it would only take you 45 minutes or an hour on a Sunday afternoon to get the top off a camera, knock out the dents nice, and put it back together, do it. The den't isn't going to heal itself.
Just don't do poor work. There is no excuse for that.

Edit: I didn't add that last line to sound concescending. It's a mindset to get into before diving into a repair chore. I have no special talent or skill anybody else might have, So I just adopt that mindset before getting busy. Because I know full well my expectations of perfection will probably end up with only a percentage of perfect. Some dents simply cannot be made prefect again. And some corners you just can't access at all. And many other times I'm astounded at my work (or luck).
 
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shutterfinger

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Hardwood such as Oak works well as an anvil and driving block. Cut one piece to match the exterior of the camera top and the other can be a straight cut on the end of the drive piece. 1 x 2 (inch) should be sufficient, and a 16 oz to 18 oz hammer to tap with.
I have straightened small metal pieces this way with success, do not over do it as you will reduce the metal to a thinner piece or bend it out the opposite direction.
 

Berkeley Mike

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Repairing/reshaping a very visible surface is tough. Add to that the dent is near an edge/bend. That means that the metal has stretched and won't go back into its original shape. You can see the distortion of the surface all the way to the FX. Nice photo, by the way.

Metal work is all about touch. Metal tools can bring a lot of force and edge to an effort. I'd like to suggest a little practice on something else, first as that metal is pretty soft and you want to practice your touch. You don't want to just wang away at at (get happy with it, as Dad used to say.) The oak is a great idea.

Good luck and let us know how it went.
 

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This is a Shaker Camera; the single flaw to remind you that nothing is perfect. Might be a good thing to leave alone; to help your philosophical pondering as you shoot...
 

Chan Tran

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If the dent was caused because of the meter finder then don't fix it. If you want to fix it wait until you make sure your camera functionally as good as new. Is the shutter working correctly and accurately. If it has a meter finder is the meter accurate or even working?
 

John Koehrer

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The biggest problem is that there is a depression and a bulge at the front. FWIW the idea of a DIY fix will be fruitless.
The instrument fixer upper is going to have more experience working with brass. Most camera technicians aren't
going to be very good at metal work.

I'd also keep an eye out for a replacement RH top cover with the Nippon Kogaku engraving.
 

sissysphoto

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I've studied that dent. It's a tough one, and nothing will make it perfect. All that can be done is to make it a little bit better. Trying to make it perfect will only make it worse, due to flattening out of the brush chrome finish in an even larger area than the original dent. What i'd do is lay the topside down on my little copper dolly/plate/anvil (whatever) and take the extender from a 1/4 inch drive socket wrench set, and give it the least little pop with my great grandfathers' small ball-peen hamer with the magic touch. Just to get the ugly out. The buldge in the front will not be leveled, so forget that. But first remenber, always try a smooth piece of oak before you resort to the metal stuff. You might end up happy enough and stop there. As soon as you bring out the metal tools, you can make a mess quick, and there's no remedy for that. I have a black FT2 that was a trainwreck of near-debilitating dents and annoying imperfections. Now it's gorgeous an no paint damaged or added. Brushed chrome can be dealt with similarly, but use oak before metal. After som experience you learn where you have to go straight to metal tools first. I'd have to say about half of my work was done with oak only. Then metal for a little fine-tuning. Other times I use no hammer. You have to call it, go with it, and accept it the final result.
 
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AgX

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To summarize what others said (and what is my impression too), there are basically two problems involved:

-) changing the surface structure
(either by embossing the under-layer into a polished surface or flattening/smoothing a matted surface, as in matted-chrome)

-) leaving a not perfectly plane surface
(if a dent is located on a large flat area, a very shallow bulge might be less obtrusive, than a more plane but wavy surface)
 
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neilt3

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If it's a common defect on these cameras and is caused by the finder ( a design flaw ?) then if you repair it , will it not reappear again anyway ?

I'm all for straightening a dent caused by a drop or fall , but something like this seems to be more like brassing and just adds character or patina to the camera .
 

cooltouch

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My camera repair shop doing CLA's says they can level dents, it's part of their normal service. They have a lot of experience and the tools to work on small surfaces, not only for painted but also for chromed parts. Go somewhere else and you will run the risk getting a botched result.

Care to share with us the name of this shop? I have a eye-levell prism for an F2 that got tapped on the very top of the prism. Considering how much these blasted things coust nowadays, it would be cheaper to get it repaired, I figure. Probably much cheaper. So I wouldn't mind sending it to your shop if they could fix it.
 
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Thanks everybody for your respective input. Perhaps it wasn't clear enough by the first post that I will not by any means try to do this myself. This is stuff for an expert of the matter, and even in that case I wouldn't know how good the end results could eventually be.

Yeah.....it's fine...cameras get scratched, dented, scraped.

Well... mine don't. I actually pass my cameras to the next owner in better conditions than I have purchased: perfectly cleaned where they were dirty, polished to glossy where they were dull, with perfectly efficient and calibrated shutter, diaphragm and meter, and so on. Not only they don't look any older, but they actually look newer. If you perceive as normal that your cameras get "scratched, dented, scraped" I warmly suggest you to invest in ever-ready cases, padded camera bags, lens pouches or cylinders, and so on.

Think of it like the owners of black Leica's do where the brass shows through the paint. Your camera has character! :smile:

Isn't it amusing what people would come up with as a consolation for not being able to find / not being able to afford a "mint" Leica?
NONDUM MATURA EST, NOLO ACERBAM SUMERE!

If it's a common defect on these cameras and is caused by the finder ( a design flaw ?) then if you repair it , will it not reappear again anyway?

Indeed the Photomic was an ill-engineered piece of garbage in a camera that was outstanding under many other aspects. It is a "teeth" on the bottom of the Photomic to cause these dents, right where the Photomic rests. And no: it doesn't have a leveled bottom, or some velvet, or anything that would preserve the camera top. Coming to your question: it would make sense to repair this dent, as this camera will no longer see an awful Photomic unit, not until it belongs to me. But it seems that this repair is not really feasible after all so I'll live in peace with the dent.
 
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