Sawyers View-Master Model C Repair


 The Art-Deco inspired View-Master 1946 to 1955.

Not Just a Kid’s Toy

Hard to imagine today but in the 1940's View-Master was considered adult home-entertainment. The early image reels consisted of travel destinations, architecture and natural wonders. In late 1966 Sawyers was bought-out by GAF and the emphasis crossed over to cartoons, movies and television.

The Model C was constructed from Bakelite and is the first viewer to have a slotted reel loading top. It was produced from 1946-1955 with a retail price of $2.00.  Brown versions though rare were produced.




Cleaning these early Bakelite models is often necessary 50+ years can accumulate a lot of mold and dust. Unlike other view-masters the Model C was sealed shut with metal rivets, making internal repairs difficult. If you have the later plastic model click here 

  Supply List:
  • Foam Swabs
  • Dawn Dish Soap
  • Plastic Pry Tool.

1. Rather than remove the rivets we're using the backdoor method. I prefer to use soft plastic pry bars. These can be made from cutup bank cards or purchased online. The trick is Wide and Thin otherwise you risk damaging the frame. With light upward pressure the frame will pop-out.

Pry at this exact spot

2. Remove both back windows and submerge everything in dawn dish soap and water. For extremely dirty view-masters an overnight soak may be necessary. Agitate the soapy water occasionally & rinse thoroughly before moving to the next step. If the rear windows need replacing click here

overnight soak
3. After the initial cleaning we can work on the optics. Take a foam swab (or q-tip) and clean all internal parts you can reach. Pay special attention the the inner lenses.

Make sure to clean the back side of the eyepiece. If using q-tips watch for loose cotton fibers.

If you have any dirt buildup on the outer shell a soft bristle toothbrush works perfectly. Polishing the bakelite is a popular option.

4. It's a pretty simple process.  The metal window frames easily snap into place. Once everything is clean make sure to completely dry the view-master before installing the back windows or loading reels.  A sunny windowsill , fan or hairdryer can help speed the process. 


Its worth mentioning that a dirty reels shouldn't be inserted into cleaned viewers or vice versa. It is highly recommended to clean both. See my reel cleaning tutorial here.

I hope that you find this website useful and informative. Please feel free to leave your comments and opinions.


  1. I am writing to thank you for the splendid and very clear instructions you have provided on this site. My grandfather gave me a viewmaster many years ago which was damaged by some over-enthusiastic visitors. Being able to repair it again following your instructions has made me very happy. Thank you.


  2. I too want thank you as well for uploading this how to article. It really helps us vintage toys collectors help restore great pieces of history.


  3. I just got one off eBay and this guide really helped. Thank you!

  4. Hi. This site is so amazing! There is so much information here that you can't find anywhere else. I found you a few weeks ago and have had you bookmarked ever since. Concerning the model C view master, what if you can't get the metal frame off? I tried the modified credit card idea and they won't budge. How hard is it to remove a rivet? I need to get in there!!!

    1. Thank you! This site started years ago with Viewmaster info. I was surprised by the lack of Viewmaster online.

      With removing the metal frames it should be easy. They will "pop" out with the correct amount of prying pressure. It's tricky the first time.

      Ohh and removing rivets is not easy. I haven't tried (yet)

  5. thank you, very helpful. Another issue is the advancing lever appears to stick at bottom of stroke on my C model... Is there an easy fix for this issue..


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