Removing a Corroded Camera Battery Compartment Lid

Corroded battery lid with scarred camera base
Corroded battery lid with scarred camera base

Some years ago a friend brought a favorite old camera that he’d just rediscovered. As you might expect, the exposure meter battery had long since died and its lid was rust-welded in place. Alas, he’d tried and failed to remove the lid by applying, mmmm, inappropriate tools to the coin slot.

I proposed building a quick-and-dirty pin wrench from an aluminum knob, which requires a matching pair of holes in the lid. Given that the lid was already pretty well pooched, he had no objection.

IIRC, I laid a strip of masking tape over the lid, laid out the holes perpendicular to the slot, then drilled them out by eyeball. The trick is to avoid drilling into the battery; it’s likely all dried out by now, but there’s no reason to release any more of that glop than absolutely necessary.

Battery cover wrench
Battery cover wrench

Then I turned the threaded boss off the bottom of the knob and drilled two slightly larger holes separated by the same distance. This would be ideal for manual CNC, but I didn’t have the Sherline at the time, difficult though that may be to imagine.

When you can’t do precision work, epoxy is your friend.

  • Lay new tape over the battery lid
  • Cut two lengths of music wire with a diameter to match the holes in the battery lid using a Dremel abrasive cutoff wheel
  • Dab some JB-Kwik epoxy into the wrench holes
  • Stuff the wire stubs into the holes, wipe off excess epoxy
  • Jam the pins through the tape into the holes in the battery lid
  • Wait for a few minutes…

You can see the top pin is slightly offset in its hole, but the epoxy ensures that the pins are an exact fit to the lid. The tape prevents the wrench from becoming one with the battery lid. Not drilling into the battery means the pins bottom out on the battery. Music wire means the pins won’t bend; copper wire doesn’t work in this application.

If you’re good with the Dremel, the pins will be not only the same length, but the proper length. IIRC, I made them a bit long and then trimmed them to fit.

Battery lid removed
Battery lid removed

When the epoxy cures:

  • Remove the wrench
  • Remove the tape
  • Install the wrench
  • Twist the lid right off.

Works like a champ!

Much to our surprise, the inside of the battery compartment wasn’t a mass of corrosion and the threads were actually in pretty good shape, all things considered. It’s not clear why the lid was so corroded, but there you have it.

He went home happy… taking the wrench along, although we hope it’ll never be used again.

(I found these pix while I was looking for something else. My close-up technique has improved over the years: a tripod, bright lights, and the smallest possible aperture are my friends.)