On Restoring...

Discussion in 'Collector's Corner' started by Mitica100, Feb 9, 2007.

  1. Mitica100
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    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member

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    I thought I'd start a thread with advice from various posters on how to restore older cameras. In general I'd like to keep these advices to only the cosmetic restoration, as in covering/recovering the leatherette, restoring the shine on metal parts and so on.

    Anyone with a sensible idea is welcome to post here but please, only true and tried methods. ;)
  2. Mitica100
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    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member

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    Many a camera suffer from leather covering deterioration. It usually becomes brittle with age and shatters when handled. Best bet is to find a recovering kit from http://www.cameraleather.com but if they don't carry that kit, you can also make the template for your particular camera.

    You'll need one blank sheet of VH grain (cheapest) from the above online store. It's got a sticky side which will adhere to the camera body, once cut and placed on it. Curing time is about 12-24 hours. You'll also need a roll of blue painter's tape (fancier masking tape), a few toothpicks, a very sharp Exacto knife and a set of hole punchers of various diameters for putting holes in the right places on the new leatherette, if needed.

    The whole operation needs to be done in a well lit area.

    [​IMG]

    Lay the tape over th entire area to be covered. Best is to cover it in patches, little by little and to press down around the edges with a toothpick:
    [​IMG]
    Go around every straight or curved edge and push down firmly. If there is a need for small holes to allow for various windows (like the film counter), then cover them wit tape and press down with your fingers to make an impression. This will help us later in determining the correct placement of the hole punchers.​

    [​IMG]
    After the entire area is covered, cut the tape around the edges, very careful so you don't slip and mar the finish. Lift tape and place on top of the replacement leatherette. Press down firmly for a good contact. ​

    [​IMG]
    Cut the leatherette part with a sharp Exacto or small scissor and then punch the holes with the right diameter hole punchers (you can find a set at your local hardware store like Home Depot or Lowe's). Always place the leatherette on a piece of hard wood or plastic when punching the holes.​

    Now lift the tape and set it aside in case you need to make another replacement. Lift the white adhesive protector from the other side of the leatherette and expose the adhesive. Place it very carefully onto the piece to be recovered and press down all around, more so at corners and around the holes.​

    [​IMG]
    Finished product!


    Also, for cleaning a dirty leatherette I use Windex (Ammonia glass cleaner in the US) on a piece of soft cotton. Wipe it gently and lift as much dirt as you can. After drying you can then use regular shoe polish to restore the leatherette to its initial lustre. Use the non smelly kind of shoe polish, if you can and polish it with a soft brush after drying for 10 minutes.​
  3. terri
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    terri Administrator Staff Member

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    Great stuff, Dimitri. :thumbup: Thank you for starting this! I'll stick this thread.
  4. Mitica100
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    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member

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    I have bought so many cameras that came to me in pretty bad shape, mainly from the cosmetic point of view. However, I would see once in a while a camera that either was left out in the rain, in the sink, spilled water over it or whatever else could do water damage to a lens. The so called 'incurable' white rings around the edges of the lens (not the 'Schneideritis', you LF users know what that is) can't be removed without the following trick:

    Normally, the water is pretty hard, that is has minerals in it, which get deposited when the water evaporates. That will eventually leave a white residue on the lens that won't come off with the regular lens cleaners. I am using a scale destroying liquid like CLR (in the US) which attacks the calcium deposits (vinegar works too but slower). I apply a few drops on a cotton swab and gently rub the lens in concentric circles, for about 15-30 seconds. Immediately after that I wipe it off dry and wipe the lens again with a moist cotton swab dipped in distilled water or alcohol. A gentle 5-10 second cleaning and then wipe off the liquid with a microfiber cloth. You should have now a spotless lens. It really works, folks!

    And now for the small print:

    Word of caution, this method is only for restoring old lenses to their original look, assuming that they are on cameras that are only for display.
  5. Mitica100
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    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member

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    A true and tried method for removing old, brittle leatherette from camera bodies:

    You will need a well aired area to work in, with strong light. For tools, you will need a small brush, a bamboo chopstick with a thin, sharpened flat tip (cut it flat with a sharp knife), a few toothpicks. Also, you will need a jar of paint stripping gel and a flask of Acetone from your local hardware store. Add another couple of regular chopsticks (you can pilfer a few during your next visit to a Chinese restaurant), cotton swabs and lots of paper towels.

    Lay a few papertowels on the working surface, place the camera on two regular chopsticks, with the stripping side up. Now apply some of the paint stripping gel with the brush, avoiding any metal parts (go near the rims but don't touch them with the gel, leaving about 1-2mm between the end of the stripping gel and any metal part like a rim, a screw, a lens mount and so on). Leave the gel there for 15-30 minutes or until the leatherette starts bubbling and appears soft to the touch. Now go with the flat tipped chopstick (acting like a little spatula) and lift the softened leatherette, little by little, wiping off the mess onto a paper towel. Repeat until the entire surface is pretty clean. Now get some cotton swabs imbibed in Acetone and clean the residues left behind, taking precautions so you don't touch any plastic parts. Repeat the cleaning with Acetone until the surface is clean. Let dry overnight. Replace the leatherette in the fashion described above.
  6. Mitica100
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    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member

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  7. Mitica100
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    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member

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    To revive a dim rangefinder (usually a beamsplitter) the fastest, dirtiest and cheapest way is to buy some mirror finish Window Film available at any auto stores. If you search on the net you can also obtain free samples. Cut a little piece of the size you need and make a weak solution of dishwashing liquid and water, apply to one side and the place the little piece of mirrorized film onto the beamsplitter. That should do the trick.

    Also, see below...
  8. Mitica100
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    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member

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    This is somewhat of a crazy method but it works! Some of the older lens makers have used heavy duty oil grease for the focusing ring. The only problem is that the grease degrades (hardens) in time. Many lenses are diseased with a stuck or sticky focusing ring due to the hardening of that lubricant. The obvious way is to take the lens apart and clean the focusing gears, applying a little new (silicone based) grease.

    However... The hardened grease can be brought to life by purely heating it. So, if you have an oven, you have the tools to do it. Turn the oven to about 150-200 degrees Fahrenheit, place the lens on a ceramic dish and put it inside the oven, leaving the oven door slightly ajar. Check the lens after 10 minutes, if focus ring is still stuck or sluggish, place the lens back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Repeat until focusing ring becomes free.

    If you're afraid of this method (and I don't blame you, it does seem radical), then place the lens in a couple of heavy duty Ziploc bags, squeezing as much air out as possible. Have a pan with hot water nearby and start dunking the lens in that hot water, a few minutes at a time until the focusing ring is freed.

    It only sounds bad, it does not affect the lens per se. However, due to some inherent defects in older lenses, you could eventually crack one of the elements. Again, this method is for restoration only (looks, not function) and should not be construed as a viable method for the more modern and expensive lenses. For that, there are plenty if lens repairmen around. ;)
  9. Mitica100
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    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member

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  10. wordsmithereens
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    wordsmithereens New Member

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    Can anyone recommend a reputable company (preferably in the US or Canada) to restore an old camera?

    I have an old Leica IIIg RF that's in basically decent working condition but needs to be stripped down and detailed.

    Thanks!

    ~wordsmithereens~
  11. Mitica100
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    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member

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    You can do it by yourself, armed with a replacement kit from http://www.cameraleather.com, a bottle of paint stripping gel, an exacto knife, cotton swabs, paper towels, alcohol (not for consumption! :lol:) and some patience.

    If you don't trust yourself, there's always help at:

    http://www.tamarkin.com/catalog/service/rental.html in the US and

    http://www.kamera-service.info/pages/leica_englishpag.html in the Netherlands.
  12. Mitica100
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    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member

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  13. Alpha
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    Whenever I grab an old camera, I always start by cleaning any exposed metal or plastic surfaces with a stack of q-tips and a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Works wonders to get rid of old grime, dirt, stains, etc.
  14. Alpha
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    I've posted this before a long time ago:

    Stiff mechanical parts (plastic or metal) can be restored with DeoxIT Faderlube. It's a solvent lubricant. Basically if you spray it on something, it acts as a solvent to dissolve away junk, and leaves behind a buttery smooth layer of lubrication. The company also makes a number of other special-application lubricants and solvents that are worth their weight in gold. The Faderlube is the most multi-purpose though. It's just amazing stuff. It's completely safe (designed for, in fact) metal and plastic-conductive contacts, so if you need to clean a battery housing or something, then it work work a treat.

    http://store.caig.com/s.nl/sc.2/category.293/.f

    You can order it online. It's also available across the U.S. at Guitar Center. May also be available at Sam Ash.
  15. Mitica100
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    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member

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    A quick fix solution for any rangefinder camera with a very dim RF window. It comes via Rick Oleson's website, a trove of restoring tips:

    http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-165.html

    Wow! What a simple and efficient solution! Thank you Mr. Oleson!!!:hail:
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