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Applying your new cover
Vulcanite removal

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Leica M leather and leatherette installation      

Please read everything before doing anything!

This is a brief description using the "dry method" of applying leather kits to 35mm M series cameras. This job is for those who feel competent in this kind of work, but you may qualify even if you've never done it before. Anyone with good hobby skills and who proceeds carefully can do a good job. Alternately, you may want to have a qualified repair tech in your area apply the new cover. And for the most critical Leica recovering, consider sending your camera here for the work.

This page should be read along with our section on "wet application", a technique using readily available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers. The wet method of application is of special interest to Leica owners, since it will make initial placement much easier and also allow for the leather position to be fine-tuned even after it has been laid down. This is the same technique we use in many recovering jobs done here. Even if you use the dry method only, you will do a better job once you understand the idea behind the wet method. So be sure to read both this page and the following page.

Please proceed at your own risk, use proper precautions with all tools and chemicals, and always wear approved eye protection. If there is film in your camera, take it out. Take the battery cap off the M6, M7 and MP. I've left the body cap off here to show things more clearly, but keep it on while you work.  Leave the bottom plate on . . . you'll need it for accurate placement. 

Left: If you have a self-timer, don't try to remove the arm. . . it's easy to get the timer arm through the hole, using the over/under method, also known as "thread the needle". Set the timer arm at the 9 o'clock position, and slip the leading edge of the matching hole over the arm, and the trailing edge under it. (Fig. 1).  Slide the cover to the right until it's in place, but don't press it down yet.

If your camera has no self-timer, start on the other side of the lens mount, with the preview lever. You can use the same over/under method. (see Fig. 3 below). For the preview lever it's also perfectly acceptable to cut the cover to open it up at the narrow point between the preview lever and lens mount. This will help you get around the lever easier. (And this is how it's done at the factory!)

rewind lever detail Leica
              leather install detail Leica
              leather install detail

With the left section properly placed, you'll still need to tuck the cover under the rewind lever (or button.)  Don't worry about the rewind lever/button until the rest of the leather is properly placed . . .  the rewind lever should be the last thing to deal with on the left side. With a small tool, you can easily push the edges down under the lever. In Fig. 2, the right side has already been pressed down. If you own an M2 with a button rewind, you will have to lift up the ring that rests against the camera body, and the cover will seat properly. Both lever and button rewind M2's use the same leather kit.

Our Leica kits no longer have the separate adhesive layer (covered by tan paper in Fig. 4
). But as you finish wrapping the end of the leather, pay more attention to getting the leather properly set the top and bottom plates and not the "stop" at the film door . . . the leather can "wander" towards one or the other at this point.

When you apply the section for the film door, lay it in place without pressing down. Check the fit carefully. If it seems a bit off, rotate it 180 degrees and check the fit again. One orientation generally fits better than the other. 

The use of a smooth, engineered adhesive film is a major advance from the days when camera coverings were adhered with gasket shellac or other glues drizzled or brushed on. Our adhesive film provides 100% surface contact, and with the dry method this can sometimes result in a small air pocket, which shows up as a "bubble" or blister when the new covering is set. These should always be deflated by lancing the air pocket with the tip of your hobby knife. The incision is so tiny it won't be visible and doesn't affect the performance of the new cover. Don't try to get rid of the air bubble by peeling back the new cover!

The M4-2, M4-P, M6 and MP use a non-adjustable ASA dial that is just glued on. When you strip the old cover from the back door, the dial often falls off. If it does, don't try to glue it down again until after you have fitted the new back cover, using the hole cut for it as a guide to Rre-glue it in place. You can also have your new cover cut without a hole, and eliminate the film speed dial. It's a pretty useless feature, unless you are still fussing over DIN/ASA conversions!

The M7 and MP use a more aggressive acrylic  adhesive on the factory covering. On these cameras, more of the adhesive residue tends to stay on the back door. We suggest the sparing use of "Goo-Gone" applied with a camel hair artists brush. Let the Goo-Gone  sit for  a few minutes on the residue, and then scrape it off gently with the bamboo chisel described in the Vulcanite removal page. Clean up with a cloth dampened with alcohol. Repeated cleanings with FRESH bits of alcohol-dampened cloth will eventually get all the old residue off.

For M6, M7 and MP bodies: The battery cap should be replaced after the new leather is applied to the body, but wait to apply the small leather disc that covers it. With the battery cap seated fully, apply the leather disc over the cap so that it follows the pattern of the surrounding cover. This is necessary with some materials, such as embossed and reptile-pattern kits, but is not an issue with more "random" patterns like "Griptac".

On the M7 the back piece should be pressed very flat around the ASA dial, to prevent it from "hanging" on the outer ring.

There is one more important step:

Go all around the edges to make sure they are pressed down fully. The kit is cut to close tolerances,
and it is normal for the adhesive to sometimes "hang" on edges, at the top and bottom plates, the lugs, timer and preview lever hubs, lens mount, etc. You'll need to go around "tucking in" any edges that aren't fully seated. We get many photos from proud camera owners showing off their craftsmanship, but upon close inspection, we see edges that have not been set down. Eventually, the camera owner will notice too . . .

 Continue to "wet method" application guide . . .