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  1. #1
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    Wood Stripper, Brass Rails and Cleaning

    I am working on restoring an Agfa Ansco camera, which needs to have all of the shellac/finish removed because of scratches, gouges and wear. I have taken the camera apart as much as possible (20+ labeled little bags with screws and parts for rebuild) but still have some brass sections that cannot be removed because they are either un-removable (tripod mount is driven in), riveted on or attached in a way I cannot remove without causing more damage. The geared rails look like they were nailed through the rail and then had the tops of the nail removed to allow gear usage; there is no real way to remove them without damaging the slots the rails now sit in. Take a look at the first picture on the listing here which also shows the riveted name plate.

    My plan is as follows - use a gelled wood stripper to strip the shellac off followed by paint thinner to clean the wood, allow to air dry for several days, make repairs to wood gouges, stain, coat with polyurethane sealant/coating for protection, then reassemble. I still need to order replacement bellows so it will not happen quickly, as well as replacing the majority of the original 3/8" brass screws, some of which are not looking so nice.

    So my questions are as follows:

    1. The original plan was to tape all the remaining brass in order to protect it; the guy at the paint store indicated the strength of the stripper required to remove the shellac would eat through almost any tape. Besides duct tape (which leaves residue), is there someway of taping the brass?
    2. Will the wood stripper have a negative effect on the brass if I don't tape it, namely tarnishing it further? Should I figure how to remove all the brass which leads to how do you get rivets and gears back on?
    3. Assuming the brass is not tarnished by stripper, how do I polish the gears without damaging the wood (should I polish the brass then stain the wood or stain/seal the wood and then polish the brass)?
    4. Is it better to use a chemical product to enhance the brass or use really fine steel wool (000) to polish? Is there a recommended way of protecting the brass (a sealant of some kind, maybe bee's wax)?


    In the end, I want a functional instrument, not a decorative camera. Worst case scenario, put the camera back together and use as is.
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

  2. #2
    George Nova Scotia's Avatar
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    A quick question/comment. If it is shellac, why use stripper? Shellac can be dissolved by most alcohols, much easier on the brass.

    Another way would be non-chemical with scrapers http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/pag...310,41069&ap=1
    Last edited by George Nova Scotia; 05-11-2011 at 07:33 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  3. #3
    Mark Fisher's Avatar
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    If it is shellac, definitely use denatured alcohol. Much easier to control and not nearly as nasty. I refinished a clock this way and I didn't even need to apply a new finish.

  4. #4
    3e8
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    I recently went thru this with an older Kodak 2D. I found the best thing to remove the finish was Formby's Furniture Refinisher. This removed paint and the original varnish, without damaging the brass.

    For the brass, I found that fine steel wool was the best method. It certainly isn't like new, but it looks reasonably good.

  5. #5
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    I just tried some Isopropyl alcohol and some ethanol (vodka) - no effect. I will have to try the denatured alcohol before going to more. Perhaps it is not shellac, maybe it is varnish. I just don't want to sand it as there are a large number of small corners and curves in addition to worrying about ruining the nice grain of the cherry wood.
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

  6. #6
    George Nova Scotia's Avatar
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    Either one of those should have at least made the finish sticky, so it's likely a varnish or lacquer. I still think the scraper idea is worth a thought, especially if the finish is dry and cracked. It's not too difficult to learn. Either way don't be surprised if the cherry gets lighter in colour. Just put it out in sun for a tan after you've refinished it. Cherry like film is light sensitive!

  7. #7

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    If you don't mind buying some lacquer thinner, you can do the same test as you did for shellac.
    If it is lacquer a thinned coat of fresh lacquer will renew the old finish without stripping it.
    Just get a good respirator first, and a very soft artist's brush.

  8. #8
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    All good ideas, looking forward to working on it. Any ideas as to how to polish the geared brass rails, specifically the gears themselves?
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

  9. #9
    Curt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3e8 View Post
    I recently went thru this with an older Kodak 2D. I found the best thing to remove the finish was Formby's Furniture Refinisher. This removed paint and the original varnish, without damaging the brass.

    For the brass, I found that fine steel wool was the best method. It certainly isn't like new, but it looks reasonably good.
    Just to add. I did the same and it worked just fine. I used Brasso got the metal, it's time tested. Formby's is excellent.

    Curt
    Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it. - Paul Strand - Aperture monograph on Strand

  10. #10

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    I like Formby's too.
    For small brass screws try micro fasteners in NJ. Reasonable prices & pretty quick
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

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