Right from the start, there has been a couple of things about the T981 that have irked me. And both are visual things rather than functional. They were the self timer lever and the film advance lever. I know some people might not like the idea of customising cameras but it's something I've never had a problem with. So I decided to see how I could 'improve' them.
The film advance lever just looked too small to me. It's a nice quality, all metal, lever but, to me, just didn't look right. The same lever is/was used on some other Phenix made cameras sold under the Kenko brand - but I'm not sure which came first. Another case of using what they already had. I looked to see what else I had that would fit. The first thing I found was the screw size is different to some Yashica cameras and the angle of the slot in the advance lever varies between different models. I found a couple that would fit. One was from a Yashica FX103, which also had the correct size screw, but I didn't like it once fitted. The other I found was from a Yashica FX-D. The screw size is different but the original T981 screw could be used. This one I liked so it stayed.
You might have already noticed in the above picture how I dealt with the self timer lever - I removed it. Initially I looked to see if I could replace it with a different one. Plenty of options as the fitting seems to be a standard size. But I also thought about removing it because I don't use self timers (well, hardly ever). Removing it appeared to be a non-reversible modification so I was reluctant to do it. But, having not found a replacement lever I liked, I looked again at removing it. The spindle the lever is attached to is riveted in place so it was unlikely to be reusable once removed. But I found some Yashica FX-3 bodies have the same assembly but it's screwed together. I thought if I can recover the same parts from an FX-3 then I could reinstate them in the T981 should I ever want to do so. I found all the necessary parts in my Yashica spare parts drawer and have stored them away for possible future use. So now, there was no reason not to remove the self timer lever completely. The self timer mechanism is still in place on the shutter, it's only the lever and the spindle assembly that have been removed. With a piece of shim stock cut to cover the hole and a new piece of leather cut and fitted, in my eyes, another improvement.
Another modification I made was to add a grip. Although, arguably, also cosmetic, I think it makes a big difference to the handling. The camera is quite heavy and I felt a grip would be of benefit. The Yashica FX-3 Super 2000 has a grip which is easily transferable onto the T981. Two holes need to be drilled to take the self tapping fixing screws. Note: There are two versions of the Yashica FX-3 Super 2000. One has a grip with a leatherette cover fitted, the other has no leatherette cover but a texture moulded into the surface of the grip. It is the first type that is required. The second type might be used but the screws are inserted from the back which might not be so easy.