Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2010/08/16

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Subject: [Leica] Non-skid camera covering
From: lrzeitlin at (Lawrence Zeitlin)
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2010 12:11:10 -0400

All the discussion about the difficulty in keeping a grasp on that expensive
M8 or M9 brings to mind a post I submitted to the LUG four years ago. I
confess that I do not own either an M8 or an M9 but the fix works perfectly
on the M3 and its successors. Even if you don't do the entire recovering job
a few bits of the non-skid tape on critical parts of the camera body should
work wonders - all for only a few pennies.

Larry Z

- - - - -


Vulcanite is Leica's cruel joke on Leicaholics. It becomes brittle with age
and flakes off at the slightest excuse. Even Leica has abandoned Vulcanite
on the new cameras, substituting a textured PVC covering.

I have recovered several user LTM cameras, an M3, a Contax IIa, and an
Olympus OM1 with 3M Safety Walk Nonskid Tape and have found it to be
significantly better in appearance and handling ease than the original aged
and battered Vulcanite. The nonskid tape is a resilient textured rubberlike
material sold in hardware stores for $1.99/ft. in a 2" width. It comes in
black, grey, and white colors with an adhesive back. The 2" width is perfect
for Leica bodies. I wouldn't recover a valuable collector quality Leica but
it is just the thing for a hard working user camera. You can also play
around with people's minds. I covered a IIIc in grey and panic fellow Leica
fans when they think I am taking a Luftwaffe model on hiking trips in the

The process is quite simple. Remove the cracked Vulcanite from the camera.
That's the easy part. Next make a paper cutting pattern for the nonskid
material. Be very precise in marking the position and outline of the lens
mounting flange, the strap lugs, and the baseplate lug cutout. Indicate the
exact position of the two shell mounting screws and the slow speed dial on
the LTM models. The paper pattern should wrap around the body shell and be
joined just below the center of the lens mounting flange. When you are
satisfied that the pattern is as good as you can get it, cut the nonskid
material to the same shape using a sharp Exacto knife. Since the 2" tape
edges are perfectly straight, I have found it easiest to use one side for
the upper edge of the covering, the part that fits next to the top plate.
Use a leather punch to cut precise holes for the strap mounting lugs and the
shell mounting screws. The slow speed dial is attached to the chassis. You
can press the soft material between the slow speed dial and the top plate.

When the covering is cut to shape remove the backing paper and align it to
the camera. The sticky adhesive permits some movement as long as it isn't
pressed hard to the underlying surface. When you are satisfied that the
nonskid material is correctly positioned, press it into full adhesion. The
adhesive sticks pretty well immediately and sets quite strong within 24
hours. Check to see that the baseplate fits correctly. Slight corrections
can be made with a sharp razor blade. If you've made an unfixable error, rip
it off and try again. The stuff costs only about $2 per camera.

A more daring alternative approach is to remove the body extrusion entirely.
I am hesitant about suggesting this latter method because most photographers
are reluctant to take screws out of their camera. The body extrusion comes
off easily by removing the black screws on the front of the camera and then
the chromed screws on the top flange. The extrusion then slides off. The
pressure plate and its springs will come off too. You now have a camera
where the moving parts are open to inspection and a body extrusion. Wrapping
a piece of paper around the body extrusion makes it very easy to make the
template used for cutting the covering material. It is easy to mark the
screw holes. Reassembling the camera is easy. Just slide the body back on,
remembering to refit the pressure plate and springs, and put the screws back
in the holes.

Try this first on your least desirable camera. It is not hard, just takes
courage. Leica cameras are robustly made and it is hard to foul up the
process. Just don't lose any of the screws. If they drop on the floor, you
will never find them again.

Finally, most camera repair persons never bother about replacing the
Vulcanite on that little section between the slow speed dial and the top
plate on the III series. It breaks off so easily. They just drip a little
black sealing wax, or black Crayola crayon wax, into the spot and press it
flush with the surface of the remaining Vulcanite. I learned this trick from
Sherry Krauter.

When you are done you will have a Leica that looks as good as new (at least
the covering) and handles a lot better. True to its name, the nonskid
material permits a firm grip on the camera and absorbs and cushions slight
impact better than the factory covering. If you hate Vulcanite and don't
want to spend $100 on a custom cover give this a try.

Look at the picture big to see how nicely the tape fits.

Larry Z

Replies: Reply from wrs111445 at (W. R. Smith) ([Leica] Non-skid camera covering)