I may have inadvertantly destroyed an important lens! Help sought!

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by jimgalli, Jun 25, 2006.

  1. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    The lens is a beautiful (to me at least) Gundlach Hyperion Diffusion f4. The shutter has issues but that's not what this is about. I took the front group off to work on the shutter last week. I had set the front group on my counter next to my enlarger. OK, this is bizzarre. The float on the swamp cooler stuck and I got very saline H2O dripping through the roof in my darkroom. Being the lazy slacker that I am, I put a 16X20 tray there to catch the drip because I didn't have time to repair it. Fair enough, but the splatter was reaching the glass on the Hyperion! ARRGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

    So I have horrible water spots on the front light. I soaked it in heavy detergent water for 2 days which usually works, but it didn't touch the water spot mess. What should I do. I need to proceed very cautiously as this is a lens that has enormous potential to me.

    TIA!
     
  2. DBP

    DBP Member

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    Try soaking in Rexton Optyl-7. It has done wonders for me with some really filthy lenses.
     
  3. glennfromwy

    glennfromwy Member

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    Being familiar with some of that nasty desert water and the rock hard stuff we have around here, my guess is it's calcium or lime deposited on the lens. Soaps and detergents, glass cleaners, etc may not remove it. Try vinegar. Straight up. The acidity is enough to dissolve the deposit but won't hurt the glass. If that water came from the swamp cooler, the mineral content would be highly concentrated.
     
  4. mark

    mark Member

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    I second the Vinegar. Use a lens cloth to wipe it dry after using and reapply. You should see the ring get smaller and lighter with every application of vinegar. If you can let the vinegar sit on the water spot for a little while. It worked for me and our water has a wonderful texture with every bite.
     
  5. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Jim,

    You might check with your local eyeglass lab, often times they are able to polish lens elements out with out any damage to the glass itself for a really low cost, I know I have had this done a couple of times with older lenses and was quite pleased with the results.

    R.
     
  6. Capocheny

    Capocheny Member

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    Jim,

    Are there any coatings on the glass?

    I agree with Glenn. But, FWIW, I'd suggest that you use a dilute mixture to start off with. It'll give you an idea as to whether this is going to work or not.

    Good luck!

    Cheers
     
  7. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Jim, we have the same "water" here which comes from a swamp cooler. If it is an uncoated lens, don't soak it as it may loosen the adhesive between elements. Try some CLR (Calcium, lime, rust) from your grocery store's house hold cleaning section. Spray a little on a soft cotton cloth and see what happens. The minerals have etched the surface slightly and they will need a chemical boost to get off the glass. If it is coated, I don't know what to try. tim
     
  8. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    The glass is indeed uncoated. Would an alkaline like TSP soften another alkaline? I'm afraid of acid as I once left a worthless lens in dilute glacial acetic acid overnight as a test and it did indeed etch the entire piece. Now I realize that dabbing some vinegar on and rinsing soon after is much different than what I experimented.
     
  9. SteveH

    SteveH Member

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    Jim,
    This may/may not work; but have you tried a water wetting agent (Photoflo) on it ?
     
  10. Harrigan

    Harrigan Member

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    Apply acetone with a lens cloth and then clean off the acetone with water and a dry lens cloth. If you can't get it off with acetone it will not come off. I've left coated cemented elements soaking in acetone overnite to break down the lens cement and it did not effect the coating.
     
  11. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    The requirements of photography far exceed the requirements of eyeglasses. Quality photographic lenses are ground and polished to extremely precise tolerances. I would tolerate deposits on a lens rather than remove glass which can unalterably affect the lens performance.
     
  12. JG Motamedi

    JG Motamedi Member

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    Jim,

    In a worse case scenario, use rottenstone or whiting mixed 1:1:1 with ethyl alcohol (denatured will do but everclear or other 95% grain alcohol is better) and distilled water. Rub it on lightly with a soft and clean cotton rag, and wipe the dust off.

    This mixture is a great glass cleaner detailed in 19th century manuals, usually used to clean glass before coating it with collodion. It will in my experience not scatch uncoated glass, but will ruin a coated lens...

    jason
     
  13. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Tim, Isn't CLR like Lime-away... largely phosphoric acid? I used this stuff on the chromed ferules of my bath tub and it ate the chrome away. The lime was gone too! It's possible that I didn't follow directions and used too much, combined with too long of a soak in the solution, but this stuff scares me. Have you used it on camera lenses before?
     
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  15. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    Thanks all. I'm continuing to muddle this. What think ye about furthering Steve H's idea and mixing up some dishwasher wetting agent and letting it soak for a bit? I do have acetone available also. Sure hope the glass isn't actually etched. Yipes, this lens somehow survived 85 years just to fall into my hands and be wrecked!
     
  16. wfwhitaker

    wfwhitaker Member

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    I would stay second the suggestion of using acetone. I did work for a while at a precision optics firm assembling laser-related optics, i.e., precision stuff and not opthalmics. We used acetone throughout for optical cleaning, although it was reagent grade - cleaner than what you find at the hardware store.

    My gut instinct is to stay away from CLR and other solutions with mystery ingredients.
     
  17. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    Astronomers often use collodion for cleaning lenses. Coat it on, let dry and peel it off. The high alcohol and ether concentration in it cleans a lot of stuff.
     
  18. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Regular window glass shouldn't be etched by any acid you'd be likely to have around the house (hydrofluoric acid is another story, but unless you practice glass etching as a craft, you're unlikely to have any on hand), though optical glasses are quite commonly much "softer", chemically speaking (there are a few that are etched by plain water). Alkali is much more likely to cause trouble; I've seen many old chemical reagent bottles, with their ground glass stoppers, in which the stopper was welded in place by even strong ammonium hydroxide; it's quite common for strong sodium hydroxide to visibly etch glass, and even drinking glasses can show visible etching after many cycles in the dishwasher.

    I'd avoid dishwashing detergents and strong alkali, and start with plain distilled water as a soak for the mineral rings. That stuff was dissolved in water once, it should redissolve -- though if it's calcium, it might have undergone a chemical change when the water evaporated. If plain water doesn't work, try carbonated water -- this is a carbonic acid solution, the same acid that eats away limestone to create huge caverns (over geological time, of course). It will convert insoluble calcium carbonate to calcium bicarbonate, which is soluble; it'll do the same for calcium sulfate (gypsum), which account for the bulk of the mineral load in most "hard" waters.

    If plain water will etch the glass, it's already ruined. If not, carbonic acid shouldn't hurt it either -- it's one of the weakest acids going, and only eats limestone by virture of the conversion to bicarbonate.

    Basic rule of conservation and restoration: do the least first. Start with plain distilled water and work up.
     
  19. Capocheny

    Capocheny Member

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    I agree... start off slowly with whatever technique you choose to go with.

    Also, instead of cold water... use warm water too. Hopefully, the increased temperature will speed up the reaction AND dissolve whatever is on the glass.

    Cheers
     
  20. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Jim,

    I'll refrain from my usual lame humor where I would end up telling you to just send me the lens.

    We have some guys here who do "chemical/mechanical polishing". I could check with them and see if they have a slurry that might be OK on glass. Since they are going for near atomic smoothness, they may be able to come up with something good.

    I would definitely try it on something you don't like first, though.

    Matt
     
  21. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    We once had the problem with some lenses from the school. We contacted RIT and were advised to use Listerine. I have used it to clean many things off lenses since that time, including fumgus.
    Jim
     
  22. JG Motamedi

    JG Motamedi Member

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    You are not alone Jim...

    For my part, I recall watching with horror as my daughter, while sitting on my lap, picked up an element I just re-cemented off my desk (I won't say which lens) and launched it accross the room, spraying shattered glass as it bounced off a tiled floor.

    Who would have thought that a nine-month-old could throw so far?
     
  23. wfwhitaker

    wfwhitaker Member

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    Then...
    "Who would have thought that a nine-month-old could be thrown so far?"

    There must be a reason I never had kids....
     
  24. glennfromwy

    glennfromwy Member

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    Another thing I always keep on hand for removing stubborn crud from lenses is Cerium Oxide. The finest grit available. A tiny amount on a wet cotton ball will really make it sparkle, without danger of harming the lens. Unless you rub for two weeks.
     
  25. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Send it to a specialist who can clean it up and restrore it. If it's worth it that's what you need to do. We all make mistakes and have things happen to us that are beyond our control. Sure you could have fixed the ceiling but in a real world a lot of us would have done exactly what you did.

    If you don't fix the lens your out a lens and have to buy a replacement and you will always look at the lens and wonder what you could / should have done.
     
  26. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    glennfromwy:

    Is that anything like "Hasn't scratched yet" Bon Ami?

    How about 'Glass Wax' ?
    Maybe Elmer's Glue---let it dry and peel it off?
    WD-40?
    Coca Cola?
    Sprayway Glass Cleaner?
    Efferdent?
    Alka Seltzer?
    A-1 Steak Sauce (let the dog lick it clean?)
    Cascade in the dishwasher?
    Mrs Paul's Sudsy ammonia(diluted of course)
    White wine
    Club soda
    Jalapeno pepper juice from a jar of J-peppers.

    Any combination of the above