Restoring Helios 44 – CLA tutorial by Tomas Glavina
Written by Tomas Glavina
In this tutorial I’ll show you how to open old and popular Russian lens – Helios 44 in the aluminum finish, how to clean and lubricate it, how to give shiny finish to the old aluminum housing, and how to put everything back.
For the start I chose Helios 44 because it’s a simple lens, ideal for the beginners. It is also a lens, that needs minimum tools for servicing and can be bought relatively cheap.
In general cleaning and restoring old lenses, has lot of similarities but also some differences. I believe that through those tutorials, you will improve your service skills step by step.
The idea of these tutorials is to refurbish the lenses in order to make them fully usable again and to experience the joy of working with the lens that you brought back to the life. Important rule is to try to avoid any damage to the lenses. Damage can mostly happen when trying to clean and restore optical elements. That is where sophisticated job, requiring lot of knowledge and experience is needed. We strongly recommend not to disassemble optical parts without a very good reason or to grant this work to authorized service. This is why in this first tutorial, no optical parts will be touched.
I will show you how to open glass blocks and what to avoid if you attempt to clean glass elements as well how to disassemble, clean and put back together mechanical apertures in the later tutorials.
Regarding polishing part of the tutorial, it is done in a similar spirit. The goal is not to make the lens look like it just came out of the factory, but to remove the dirt and the oxidation patina that these old lenses have. We will avoid overdoing it, like you can sometimes sees in the eBay offers. The process that I suggest, doesn’t remove deep scratches, dents or deeper damages done by the usage and time, the goal is to restore the lens housing, letting it get new natural looking patina and oxidation.
I hope you will enjoy the tutorials and become a proud owner of nice, clean looking and fully functional set of legacy lenses, just as I did.
I will be available for questions and additional support in the forum section
Please, don’t use comments bellows this article for the questions, because in time, that can make page too slow for loading.
A short legend of the terms and abbreviations used in the tutorial:
CW – clock wise,
CCW – counter clock wise,
MDF – minimum focusing distance,
Outer or external ring – the ring that you use to focus for example,
Inner ring – usually covered by the outer ring – the actual focusing ring.
To help this page survive, your donation will be highly appreciated.
Thx for this very good instruction!
Best available, Tomas is great!
Excellent tutorial, thank you Tomas.
Great tutorial. Thank you all
Hello! Can you specify, what’s exact grease you have used for the helicoid?
It’s a mixture of grease and oil. In general, for the old, lenses with a aluminum helicoids, the organic grease (hard to find today), works well, but needs CLA every 10-15 years. Lithium based grease is not ideal for aluminum, but it can be used with some mineral industrial oil, questionable is grease with teflon, personally I won’t recommend it.