Through the microscope

Archive for the ‘Restoration and cleaning’ Category

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Baker Series IV paint matching

Baker Series IV paint matching

The Baker Series IV is a rather unusual colour, a sort of greenish grey with a metallic sheen. I am reliably informed that Baker used a cellulose paint. The colour and sheen is not easy to match unless you’re willing to spend a lot of money on a colour matching service at a fancy auto shop. As a car colour matching service would cost me more than I paid for the microscope, I plumped for muddling through on my own.

I have had a lovely German exchange student for the past week and I didn’t want to play around with paint too much in case the smell upset her, but I did manage to prepare the microscope for painting by scrubbing the rusted spots with wire wool dipped in de-corroder. Now I am free to stink up my house again, so I have prepared an essay on “what I did at the weekend”.

First, I braved a trip to Hobbycraft. Within five minutes of entering Hobbycraft I am usually ranting in the style of John Cleese. I HATE HOBBYCRAFT. Everything in there comes in kit form because Hobbycraft don’t seem to credit their customers with any imagination or creativity. The kits they sell are usually missing something important and the staff in there, although very pleasant, are powerless to help you. I have been in there on numerous occasions over the years asking why they sell fat quarters of quilting cotton and quilt wadding but no quilt backing. The only good thing about their appalling sewing range is that my loathing of Hobbycraft led to my discovering a very lovely quilt shop in Bristol called Poppy Patchwork. Visit them, they’re wonderful. I’ll put in a link at the end.

Back to the Baker Series IV : In Hobbycraft I managed to find some Humbrol enamel paints. I chose a variety of greenish/grey paints and a few others (because my husband was paying).
I painted a small area of the microscope with each of the greenish/grey paints and a couple of mixes.

In the photo above you can see (from right to left)
MET 53, matt 224, matt 75, satin 163, a 1:1 mix of matt 224 : MET 53 and right on the toe of the microscope you can just about see a 10:1 mix of matt 224 : MET53. None of these were perfect but it gave me an idea of where to go next.

After playing around for some hours I discovered a pretty good mix. Two small brushfuls of Met 53 mixed with one brushful of satin 163, plus two drops of black gloss 21 and one drop of green 75. The sheen is not quite right but the colour is good. Hopefully when it is polished up it will be a pretty good match. I’ll post more pictures when it is finished.

Poppy Patchwork – http://www.poppypatchwork.co.uk/

Fixing a rusty iris diaphragm on a Baker Series IV microscope

I recently bought a Baker Series IV, I wasn’t planning on buying one but my friend, Merv, convinced me that I should. I don’t take a great deal of convincing because I’m a sucker for any microscope. I think the persuasion went something like this.

Merv said:

“There’s a Baker Series IV for sale, they’re nice microscopes.”

– I bought it.

It was cheap but it’s not in a great state.  It has rust patches and bubbles in the paintwork. Bits that should move freely are stiff and bits that shouldn’t move at all wiggle. The usual second-hand microscope problems.

This time though there was a more serious problem. the iris aperture was rusted, badly rusted;  it’s also a fiddly horrible design, the edges of the iris blades are bent up and the whole thing is quite fragile. I don’t like taking iris diaphragms apart at the best of times and I definitely didn’t want to take this one apart so I did what any sensible human being would do. I called my friend and asked him how to fix it.

“It’s simple” he said (he says that a lot) “isopropanol, de-ruster, isopropanol,  WD40 and a soft toothbrush”

Guess what? he was right, it was simple, so I thought I’d post it here, in case anyone else finds it useful.

 

STEP 1 – Observe the horrible rustiness of my aperture iris. I attempted to remove the iris diaphragm carrier from the microscope but I failed because I couldn’t turn the screw I needed to turn. I have hypermobile joints and a rubbish grip, my husband was at work so I couldn’t get him to do it. I had to  work with it in situ. I popped some absorbent cloths underneath the carrier to protect the field iris/condenser lens beneath and continued.

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STEP 2 – cover the rusty iris with isopropanol and give it a gentle scrub. I didn’t have a small enough toothbrush so I used a foam camera sensor cleaning widget. I prefer them to cotton buds because they don’t leave fluff behind. They’re more expensive than cotton buds but I use them quite a lot in delicate areas.  Quite a lot of surface rust has come off already, see?

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STEP 3 – after the isopropanol has evaporated cover the iris in de-ruster. I use Renaissance Metal De-Corroder.

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The Renaissance blurb says:

Treatment selectively ruptures the bond between base metal and corrosion layer, reducing rust to a sludge which is easily wiped or brushed away. Clean-water rinse stops the process.

Even relatively prolonged immersion over several days has no significant effect on sound metal, thus giving the conservator complete control over the process – and freedom from it.

The totally benign nature of the product eliminates work and health hazards associated with common de-rusting systems such as those based on phosphoric and hydrochloric acids.

I can’t fault it, but it is expensive, so use an alternative if you wish to. In the next picture you can see the Renaissance De-corroder doing its thing. I put it on with another foam camera sensor cleaning tip and left it to work for an hour or so. I gave it a gentle scrub every now and then. It’s all very scientific.

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Step 4 –  Rinse off the metal de-corroder with water, allow to dry (use isopropanol to help it on its way if necessary) then give the iris diaphragm a squirt of WD40. Give it a wiggle and smile contentedly as you watch the clean, de-rusted iris moving freely. Have a cup of tea then contemplate how you’re going to tackle the rest of the microscope.

EDIT: Please see comments section for helpful advice regarding WD40 and oil on iris diaphragms.

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Thanks to Merv Hobden for his advice and guidance.

http://www.picreator.co.uk/articles/1_about_us.htm

 

 

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Look at my shiny microscopes!

Today I have been polishing two microscopes that had chipped paint work.

I started by lightly sanding around the chips  with 1500 grit paper, I filled in the chips with layers and layers  of hammerite smooth paint (sanding lightly between each layer of paint to make a key for the next coat). When the chips were filled and level I sanded the whole microscope again with 1500 grit sand paper to form a key and sprayed it with spray enamel (masking off delicate areas).

I left the spray enamel to dry for a few days then went over the microscope with T-cut, next I used Meguiar’s ultra cut which gives a really high sheen and finally I applied a finishing polish. Meguair’s ultra cut is bloody marvellous stuff. I’m pretty chuffed. The polarizing microscope started off with no paint at all on its feet. The phase scope’s paintwork was in better condition but it had a few large chips on the base and on the stand.

Aren’t they shiny?

Tomorrow I shall post pictures of the cobwebs I found in the 45X objective, I promise!

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Spiders in my microscope

Spiders in my microscope

I think it’s a cobweb

I mentioned yesterday that I bought a very tatty microscope to do up. Well this isn’t from that microscope, it’s from another microscope which I bought for spare parts. It came with four objectives on it, one of them is a Cooke 45X oil objective which I am reliably informed was designed by Bryan Payne – he of the well known book “Microscope Design and Construction”.

I already have one of these objectives but I was jolly pleased to have another. I took it off the microscope to inspect it and saw this. I think it’s a cobweb.

Spiders have been making their home in my microscope objective! I can’t imagine they caught many flies.

I shall have a look at the stuff under the microscope when I have space to set one up. At the moment my bench is covered in freshly painted microscopes and I can’t move them until tomorrow.

Could be mould, but I think it’s cobwebs.
I’m amused.

When I’ve cleaned it up I shall take a picture through it, to see how well it survived the spiders. Cooke objectives are tough. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it’s perfectly usable.

I came, I saw, I conquered

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By George I think she’s got it!  I have conquered the paint work. I ended up using plasti-kote spray enamel from a rattle can.

It’s not absolutely perfect – there are a couple of runs in the paint but considering I’ve never spray painted anything before I’m quite pleased. I will have to leave it to cure for a few weeks before I consider sanding the runs but I shall probably leave it as it is. The runs are quite small and I think I can live with them.

At least it’s an improvement and all the paint it the same colour and sheen. I rather suspect that getting new paint to blend with old paint is impossible unless you are an experienced coach builder.

This evening I shall do some sewing.

Live long and prosper earthlings!

Bloody paint!

Bloody paint is driving me mad!

I mixed my black hammerite paint in a 1:1 ratio satin:gloss, I thinned it a bit (15% ish) and used a gloss roller to apply it to the Cooke Troughton and Simms microscope.

The paint is full of little bubbles.

ARGHHH! I’ve used gloss rollers on doors with no problems at all, but it seems they dislike metal. If I’d known i’d have layed off the paint a brush or used a brush to start with. I’m going to have to wait for it to dry and sand it for the umpteenth time.

On the plus side I think the 50/50 ratio of satin:gloss might be correct. I think. I’ll have to wait until it’s completely dry before I can say for sure.

I have just noticed that Hammerite say that satin and smooth paints should not be mixed. I can’t imagine why. They’re all the same solvent base. I’m wondering if there’s some problem with mixing them or whether it’s just a matter of them not wanting to recommend an untested combination in the same way some clothes manufacturers put “dry clean only” labels on washable items to save the cost of testing them.  It may be that mixing the two kinds of paints makes them less than perfect for their intended use outdoors in all weathers. If so then it is of no importance to me. I shan’t be leaving my microscope exposed to the elements.

Grrr, arrghh, grumble, moan, whinge.

I will win the battle of the paint. I shall not be beaten by a bit of black pigment in solvent.

Paint it black

I see a microscope and I want to paint it black…

Forgive me Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, I was trying to think of a witty title and that was the best I could come up with.

The story so far: Japlac is too shiny for my Cooke Troughton and Simms microscope so I tried Hammerite satin. Hammerite satin is not shiny enough. It’s a lot better than the high gloss Japlac but it’s not quite right. I have a new cunning plan; I shall mix a little gloss Hammerite in with the satin paint. I shall start with a 2:1 ratio and go from there.

I’m also going to thin it a little and use a gloss roller. I tried an ultra fine gloss roller previously and it was rubbish. I still can’t figure out why they chose a fuzzy material for the ultra fine gloss roller. I had fuzz in my paint. I’m sticking with the normal foam gloss roller in future.

I’ve buggered my hand up again. The hurtiness seems to be travelling down the tendon from my index finger towards my wrist. Maybe it will travel down my wrist, up my arm,  into my shoulder, up my neck and into my head from where I can sneeze it out?

On the other hand (pun not intended) I may have to go to the doctor.

 

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