Restoring an Old Folder

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by whlogan, Aug 16, 2009.

  1. whlogan

    whlogan Subscriber

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    I have just acquired an old (1930's) Voigtlander Bessa 6x9 Folder that needs a little ehlp. The leather on the body is very dried out. Do any of you know of anything that can be used on the leather to restore its sheen and luster? Olive oil, lanolin? What?

    Also the lens, a 10.5 cm f 3.5 Voigtar appears a bit cloudy looking though it with the back open. I think one might remove the front and rear elements and possibly clean them with some solution? Which one? Alcohol? what?

    Appreciate any help.
    Logan
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 16, 2009
  2. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    Noidea about leather...

    Cleaning the lens:

    Alcohol is safe to use, but not especially good. It isn't volatile enough, so sometimes leaves drying marks.

    Best to use a wooden cotton bud / Q-tip. Use a bag of pure cotton wool and pull little tufts off with the unused end of the stick (forget the end with the ready made bud on it) and roll them into a bud against the inside of the cotton wool bag. This way use can make dozens of buds, use once and throw away. You'll need a pure solvent. Methylated spirits are useless as they leave residue. NEVER use Acetone, it seeps under the lens mount and takes off the blackpaint as well. Propanol or ethanol might be the best that you can get. Reagent grade petroleum Napther / Petroleum Benzine cut with about 10% ethanol is perfect, but not easy to obtain. Napther / Benzine (same thing, depends where you live what you call it)is basically lighter fuel, but the stuff in cans for cigarette lighters is far too oily, you need to get pure reagent grade from a chemical supplier or pharmacist. The gold standard was Diethyl Ether, cut with 10% ethanol. All reagent grade and water free - but dangerous stuff to play with (very volatile and inflammable and obviously an anasthetic). With modern safety regulations and so forth it is pretty near impossible to get, unless you happen to work in an industry that uses it?

    Moisten the bud with the solvent of your choice, start in the centre and go around in a spiral to the edge, replace the bud, repeat as many times as you need to... Be careful to 'wash' the lens with plenty of solvent. Use a dryer bud when it is nearly clean to get less drying marks. Never rub a lens with a dry cloth, it will scratch it. If you have really stubborn gunk on the glass, soap and warm water under the tap with a cotton bud to loosen the stubborn bits shouldn't do any harm to unscrewed elements, just use common sense about getting water where it shouldn't go.

    You'll need to reset the distance scale on the from element when you refit it. Use a bit of ground glass and focus on a bright light at (say) 20ft or something and then slacken off the three screws securing the outer scale and set it to 20ft. Then check infinity...
    HTH
     
  3. Anton Lukoszevieze

    Anton Lukoszevieze Subscriber

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    I use beeswax and lanolin, works a treat, google Hidefood (Goldlabel) Beelan
     
  4. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Remember, this is leather, so you can treat it with leather-cleaning products.

    Is it dry? Or is it dry and crumbling? if it's crumbling, there's not going to be a lot that you can do.

    I would clean it with saddle soap and then apply some mink oil. I generally clean with saddle soap and then apply shoe polish.

    But if it's really dry, you could apply mink oil. The next day, check to see how the leather feels. You could then apply some shoe polish and buff.
     
  5. whlogan

    whlogan Subscriber

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    Excellent answers! Thank you both. Getting the right solvent may be tricky but surely worth a try. Shoe polish is far easier to obtain, I'll bet! Never thought of that.

    Logan