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Camera Back Won't Open

Pete McCormick , Oct 10, 2009; 03:20 a.m.

Hi All,
My Canon AE-1 back won't open. I've opened it dozens of times, but this time, no matter what I do, it will not release. Any suggestions?
Thanks

Responses

Joseph Chan , Oct 10, 2009; 06:23 a.m.

When was the last time you opened it? It's possible the foam light seal around the back has deteriorated and become sticky. When you pull the film rewind knob up you should feel the spring resistance and most likely the door catch is being released. Try pulling the door open at the same time and seeing if it is just stuck by the foam.
If it is the foam, it's time to replace it!

Pete McCormick , Oct 10, 2009; 06:47 a.m.

The foam was replaced about a year and a half ago, and I probably last opened the back during that time period. I'm wondering if the new foams are too thick and therefore are causing a jam, but that's just a wild theory (my guess is that the camera was used 3-4 times after foams were replaced, but I can't be sure). The release feels normal when I lift it straight up, and I do try to open the door at the same time I pull the handle up, but the door just won't open. There is no movement whatsoever, as if it's been welded shut.

Joseph Chan , Oct 10, 2009; 07:08 a.m.

In the past, I have replaced foam myself, using the self adhesive type, and the foam twisted round so the adhesive stuck to the door. But if there is no movement at all, it sounds like the catch is not releasing in which case I have no idea how to help.

Pete McCormick , Oct 10, 2009; 07:44 a.m.

Thanks for trying, Joseph.

Tim Witt , Oct 10, 2009; 09:12 a.m.

Try compressing the back to the camera body on the latch side to relieve any pressure against the latch mechanism then pull the knob. Keep the knob pulled and the back may open. You may need to help the back a little. I had a Spotmatic with oversize foam and this is how I had to open it.

Philip Wilson , Oct 10, 2009; 11:10 a.m.

Another option is to put it in the freezer - even chest freezers are only about -10 to -18C so it will not harm the camera or film (I have shot the New F1 in -35 to -40 C for years - it gets cold in the Canadian Rockies!). You will have to be careful about condensation when you remove it from the cold as this causes damage. The cold will freeze the seals and should give you a better changce of getting the back open as the goo is also less sticky when cold. put the body in overnight, remove it and open the back then put it in a cool place and insulate it so it warms up slowly to avoid condensation.

Pete McCormick , Oct 10, 2009; 07:48 p.m.

Thanks Tim. I tried your suggestion, but it was just too tight.
Philip, I put the camera in the freezer, in a plastic bag, and after about 2 hours, I was able to get it open.
Thanks to everyone for your help and time.
Pete

Joseph Chan , Oct 11, 2009; 04:40 a.m.

Great news Pete. I suggest you should now replace the foam with non-adhesive foam. Look up the seller "interslice" on ebay. He is highly recommended by many, including me.

Philip Wilson , Oct 11, 2009; 03:01 p.m.

Great to see it worked for you - the FD bodies don't mind cold temperatures but you need to watch condensation.

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