Restoring white lettering on lens.

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by numnutz, May 6, 2010.

  1. numnutz

    numnutz Member

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    I have an old lens and the writing on it, stops, and manufacturer details although still there, is so brown it is very difficult to read. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how it can be restored?

    The paint (I assume) is only just in a very shallow engraved letter / number - I don't think I could make an acceptable job by repainting. I was thinking more of a bleach type action. the lens barrel looks like blackened brass, i.e. not painted.

    I hope I have made things clear

    nn :smile:
     
  2. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    Sorry, I can't help but would like to know the answer to your question as well.
     
  3. KenFretz

    KenFretz Member

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  4. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

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    I work at engraving shop and just asked our engraver your question. So far we haven't come up with anything. Hope you find an answer.
     
  5. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Go with KenFretz' suggestion. That's the stuff we used to spruce up customers' cameras at no charge when I worked at a full service camera store 30+ years ago. It's available in different colors, and we kept yellow, orange, green, red, and white on hand to match different lens manufacturers. It works like a soft crayon, rub into the engravings and wipe off the high spots with a soft cloth and a light touch, then let harden. Looks like the original with little effort or skill needed.

    Lee
     
  6. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Fill the gaps with white oil-based model paint (such as Testor's enamel), and wipe off the excess?

    Usually, I do the opposite, with a sharpie and/or sandpaper. :D
     
  7. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Maybe it's just dirty. I've used alcohol with a soft cloth to gently remove crud from engraving without harming the paint. I suppose naptha (lighter fluid) used sparingly might work also, or maybe a citrus-based cleaner followed with a damp cloth would be safer than either. If you think the paint is discolored, maybe a little hydrogen peroxide applied with a tooth pick or similar tool would work, but I think cleaning and the paint stick Ken pointed out would be better than trying to bleach.
     
  8. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    As long as the lens works why bother with it?
     
  9. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I have always been able to clean the numbers. Just don't use a solvent that removes the paint. I have yet to need to resort to the lacquer stick.

    If it is a LF lens, then having readable numbers is a real plus when peaking around the front of the camera to set the lens in dim light :smile: .
     
  10. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    I've seen lots of lenses that were well used enough that the lacquer was completely gone from the engravings. One good reason to re-fill the engraving is that it makes the settings much easier and faster to read, especially in low light. This is almost always worthwhile with older cameras that provide viewfinder information by optically relaying the lens barrel markings into the viewfinder of an SLR.

    Lee
     
  11. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    I've used the oil-based, and also used water-based model paint. I prefer the water-based, because it is easier to remove the excess after it dries.
     
  12. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I switched to water based for actual models a long time ago. It is great stuff. In this case, however, I would use the oil-based. The problem is that the water based does not stick to metal nearly as well, and is not as durable.

    I'd wipe when the paint is still wet, and touch up the wipe marks once it is dry. The amount of cleanup is significantly reduced by carefully applying the paint with a small brush instead of just throwing paint over the whole area and then wiping off a lot of excess (like with those pens).
     
  13. blind_sparks

    blind_sparks Member

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    I agree. I've had lenses that I thought the engraving had just been worn out of, but upon closer inspection and a little bit of digging, the numbers were just full of crud. Probably dead skin and other nasty bits =P.
     
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  15. NormanV

    NormanV Member

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    Tippex works well. Just wipe off the surplus before it dries.
     
  16. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I have a 4-inch brush that I can send ya!:D

    Jeff
     
  17. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Paint sticks are the way to go. Wipe on, wipe off ala Karate Kid. Give it a minute or so to set before the wipe off part though.
     
  18. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I am not sure as to what you meant by blackened brass - not painted. If it is tarnished brass perhaps brass cleaner on a toothpick will clean the engravings. I would avoid bleach as it would be corrosive.
     
  19. jnoir

    jnoir Member

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    I use that filling paint recommended by Ken, it's pretty easy to apply and the finish is quite nice. Sometimes I even change colors for even further customization.
     
  20. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    There are treatments which will darken brass, and that sounds like what the OP was referring to. I agree about the bleach. I wouldn't use anything stronger than hydrogen peroxide- H2O2. The free radical O could I suppose react or bleach the blackening but I doubt it would do much in the short time, and applying the peroxide only to the engraving using the tip of a pin or some such would keep it confined.
    Still, I think the first step is to clean the engraving and see if that does it. If it doesn't, then the cleaning will help the new paint stick.
     
  21. paulie

    paulie Member

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    gloss paint and a roller, and oh yes get a life
     
  22. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    what's wrong with bleach? should work. there's no bare metal is there? Even if there were - you'd only have to rub it down.

    painting over dirt/old finish makes about as much sense as painting over a door or cabinet because it's dirty. if it's dirty- clean it....
     
  23. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Q-tip with alcohol. Then some white paint. Rub off the overspill when almost dry.
     
  24. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    It might bleach or discolor the blackening treatment on the brass.
     
  25. nick mulder

    nick mulder Member

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    easy tiger !

    What's up ? Anything you want to talk about ?
     
  26. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    One of my hobbies in the 1980s and 1990s was detailing of anything from cameras to bicycle parts, anywhere there was relief lettering on a background.

    1.Prep. With a Q-tip, dip in soapy water and thoroughly scrub as much of the dirt out as you can. A toothbrush can also be used. Dry thoroughly with a lint-free cloth.

    2. With some white model-making paint (Humbrol, for example) matched to the colour of the lettering to be restored, dip and thin out a fine sable-hair brush and wipe slowly in a straight line right over the area where the lettering is to be restored — DO NOT use a lot of paint: essentially, it must be enough only to fill/cover the lettering to be restored.

    3. Next, tear off a triangular corner of plain white bond paper. Smear your finger in turps and then moisten the surface of the paper in a circular motion. Now whisk steadily that moistened paper in a straight straight over the painted lettering area. Repeat with another unused section of the paper. A finger smeared very, very lightly with turps will also work well but don't press too hard. As you continue you will see over-paint progressively being removed, leaving only paint in that area where it is engraved (or 'set'). Some practice is likely to be needed with this part.

    4. Continue to 'fine tune' the finish until all over-paint has been removed.

    Allow it all to dry. If all goes well, the paint will settle as it dries. Any extraneous overpaint, likely to be extremely fine smears, can be carefully removed with a Q-tip and metho when completely dry (don't use turps for this, as any spill into the in-fill areas will ruin your good work!).

    Same process with areas that use more than one colour. Do one at a time.

    Can you see where I have applied the foregoing on my Manfrotto and GITZO tripods? You can't? Well, must be pretty darned good, hmm? :tongue:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2010