The microscope blog – microscopes and microscope restoration

This is the piece I have practiced and learned lacquering on. I hope you agree it is a dramatic improvement!

It is a Dunscombe microscope. Dunscombe was the son-in-law of Braham and took over his father-in-law’s optical business. In fact, there is still a Dunscombe Optician’s in Bristol UK where they lived and worked.

This microscope has been stripped, cleaned, polished, straight grained and lacquered about 20 times over the last couple of years while I have practiced the art. I have to admit that I intend to strip it again because there are a couple of pieces that are not quite up to my exacting standards. For now it will stay as it is. I have other microscopes to work on and I have had enough of this particular microscope for a while.

 

A new screw was made for the top to replace the nasty steel wood screw that had been shoved in there and two new screws were made to hold the microscope onto the foot. A new rack was cut on the milling machine and a new pinion was also made as the original rack and pinion were badly damaged and unusable. The stage was chemically blackened using a commercially available selenious acid based product. Not too shoddy I think.

dunscombe new pinion

New pinion (right) to replace original worn pinion

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This gallery contains 14 photos.

Diatoms taken using a Lomo anoptral phase system 90X 40X

Here it is, my first perfect piece of lacquering. It’s been six months since I started this mission. I have messed around with lacquer recipes, I have altered resin proportions, I have tried different polishing methods, different cloths and brushes, different temperatures and finally I have success.

One of the keys to success has been a sunny day – not generally something I can control but it certainly makes a difference.

Getting the finish on the metal right has been challenging. I don’t want the microscope to look like a reproduction but I don’t want it to be full of pits and bumps either. Restoring an antique microscope has to be done sensitively, I’m going for old but in good nick, not brand-new-reproduction made in a ¬†Chinese factory.

I’m very pleased. Now I have to do the rest of the microscope to the same standard.

No flash was used on these pictures. 

lacquering 3 lacquering 2 lacquering 1

PERFECT LACQUERING

I just did some perfect lacquering! it’s taken six months to achieve but I’ve done it!!!

I have been fighting with this lacquering for so long. I have put it on, taken it off, put it on again…

Every time I have had streaks or runs or patches or it’s been okay but too thick (and hence a funny orange colour).

I figured it was best to give up on this microscope and change over to a simpler style of microscope with fewer fiddly bits. A little Royal Society of Arts microscope. I deccided to have one last bash and it worked.

It seems to come down to two things – the cloth must be very moist but not dripping with lacquer and the lacquering must be done quickly, ideally within 20 seconds.

I’m in the process of stripping another not quite perfect part of the microscope now. I’m not going to strip the focus knobs though, they are very fiddly and I need to move on. I don’t want to get bored and lose interest.

 

 

Live motile diatoms

Just some diatoms that I filmed on the M4000 today. Very busy little things. A quick google informs me that they move using an actin/myosin system. Little tiny muscles, cute.

400x magification.

I have been looking at pond water and have come across some protozoans I have never seen before.

The first is Pleuronema, it looks like a paramecium but I couldn’t figure out what the “flagella” were. Turns out they aren’t flagella, Pleuronema fishes for food using a net of cilia. Rather interesting little beastie, I made a video of it.

Here is a picture of the other beastie I found, a Loxophyllum, it glides in a most beautiful way. It’s quite large. The pictures below were taken using a 20X objective whereas the video was taken using 40X. I wasn’t able to video the Loxophyllum because it was quite swift as well as elegant.

Loxophyllum

Loxophyllum

slithery0015

Loxophyllum

slithery0014

Loxophyllum

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