How to clean out hardened grease from focus track?

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by BradS, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    I have a very nice older wooden 4x5 field camera. The focus rack and pinion assembly appears to be in need of some routine maintenance. I think it just needs to have the old, dried up hardened grease/lube removed and maybe, some new lube.

    I'd like to clean out the old grease without damaging the wood finish...any suggestions?
     
  2. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Is there a way to remove the hardware?
     
  3. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I would get as much off as you can mechanically with toothpicks or similar wood or plastic probes, then follow up with a cloth or perhaps Q-Tips or more toothpicks sparingly moistened with a solvent like paint thinner.
    If the finish is lacquer or shellac a petroleum a solvent like the thinner shouldn't damage it, OTH alcohol will attack shellac, and lacquer thinner will soften lacquer.
    Though with either, just letting the solvent evaporate should get the finish back to where it was, assuming nothing like finger prints,dust or water (rubbing alcohol) gets in it during the process.
     
  4. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Probaly a dumb question however, let me ask, can you take it apart so you only have metal parts to clean?
     
  5. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    For get disassembling, that can get you in deep $#!+. Do what he said.
     
  6. Prarry

    Prarry Subscriber

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    White spirit (UK) or mineral spirits (US) is relatively mild, it will not affect many wood finishes once these are fully dried. It will soften the waxy residue left when the lighter oils evaporate off from grease.
     
  7. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I would be tempted to start with a somewhat mild water based degreaser.
     
  8. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    geez...tooth picks and mineral spirits... thanks guys. I don't know what's going on with my memory...I've done this before on several previous cameras. I guess my brain was switched off this morning or something! Anyway, I've cleaned out the tracks and the focus movement is so much smoother and easier now. There was...I think a thin layer of wax build up.

    All good to go now...and such a sweet camera!

    Thanks ! :smile:
     
  9. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    This is the result of toothpick alone
    20130113_132251.jpg
     
  10. nawagi

    nawagi Member

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    Stiff toothbrush, Dawn detergent, hot water.

    NWG
     
  11. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I see screws in the shot. Possibly remove the the track and soak it in some mineral spirits? Keep in mind that you'll have to get the front and rear standards off first.
     
  12. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Yes, if the track is easy to remove, go at it with a toothbrush and mineral spirits. Clean the pinions the same way if possible. Try one of the dry bicycle chain lubes, they attract far less crud.