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Thread: What finish did Deardorff use in the 50s-60s?

  1. #1

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    What finish did Deardorff use in the 50s-60s?

    Lacquer? Varnish? Urethane? Tung? Shellac? Anyone know?
    The finish on the ol' 'dorff seems to be misbehaving
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  2. #2
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: What finish did Deardorff use in the 50s-60s?

    Look for a hidden spot. Take a Q-tip and rub on some denatured alcohol. This will either haze or remove shellac. Probably not lacquer, because it would have all failed by now. Urethanes weren't around yet, and would be brittle and cracked if they were. Tumg oil perhaps, although any tung-wax combo would also be affected by alcohol. Even some photographers are hazed by hooch! It's been awhile since I handled a vintage Dorff. Varnish will not be affected by alcohol, but is hazed with acetone. My memory of a Dorff suggests some kind of oil, but that doesn't make it a rule.

  3. #3

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    Re: What finish did Deardorff use in the 50s-60s?

    Thanks Drew. The finish seems to be crazing, but I don't know what would have caused that. It's a new development. Excessive heat could cause it but the old gal lives in an air conditioned home.
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  4. #4
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: What finish did Deardorff use in the 50s-60s?

    Shellac eventually crazes due to a combination of UV and oxidation. They also shellacked brass hardware, but most of that might have worn off long ago. I should probably take an almond blossom drive later this month and meet you somewhere to take a look at it. I've had a grand piano in the shop for over thirty years awaiting a shellac strip and redo. Varnish would be easy. True restoration of all the alligatored exterior shellac would take at least twenty coats. I'll never get it done. The inside still looks flawless after 110 yrs. Shellac is easy to remove. But you'd face the same choice - restore or do it the easy way?

  5. #5

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    Re: What finish did Deardorff use in the 50s-60s?

    Sure thing!
    I didn't have any isopropyl on hand, but I did have Smirnoff. Nothing. I tried Smirnoff with 0000 steel wool----still nothing other than dulling what's left of the finish.
    The problem didn't start until my son returned my Kelty Redwing, which I usually keep the 'dorff in when hiking' I thought maybe something spilled inside, but it's clean as a whistle.
    Tomorrow I'll take the 'dorff to the local Ace/True Value and see if they can identify what's going on. This is very curious.
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  6. #6

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    Re: What finish did Deardorff use in the 50s-60s?

    Ken Hough worked at Deardorff and seems to be very knowledgeable. I think he'd be happy to give you the answer.

    Here's his Main page with his email:
    http://deardorffcameras.0catch.com/

    This page from Ken's website says Lacquer:
    http://deardorffcameras.0catch.com/Care.htm

  7. #7

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    Re: What finish did Deardorff use in the 50s-60s?

    Quote Originally Posted by chuck461 View Post

    This page from Ken's website says Lacquer
    ++1 That's what I tough. L

  8. #8

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    Re: What finish did Deardorff use in the 50s-60s?

    Quote Originally Posted by Luis-F-S View Post
    ++1 That's what I tough. L
    So mild detergent and warm water should clean 'er up. I'll give it a shot and see what happens.
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  9. #9
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: What finish did Deardorff use in the 50s-60s?

    Gosh there's some dicey non-specific advice on that link. And the average hardware or paint store has neither the knowledge nor products to do this kind of thing right. A handful of woodworking stores might, but those are far and few between. A wooden camera stored in a synthetic pack will be under attack from outgassing things unless it's wrapped in a polyethylene bag. But many of these wood finishes eventually fail due to cross-linking anyway. Depending on the degree of failure, the entire old finish might or might not have to be stripped. This is best done removing the bellows first so it isn't affected, then all the hardware. Partial restoration requires identifying the original finish. Determining the date of mfg might help. It can be either a fun project or hell, depending on your attitude about such projects. Try refinishing entire bocks of big houses on the Natl Historic Register, where the woodwork was done by the same artisans as built Hearst Castle! That was one of my first jobs when I moved here. We had to make our own finishes back then, which might explain why I became brain-damaged enough to actually enjoy lugging an 8X10 camera around. If you have access to a digi camera, John, take a few close-ups of that Dorff and post them.

  10. #10

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    Re: What finish did Deardorff use in the 50s-60s?

    Shellac does not craze, and it does not alligator. Old shellac (unpurified, unmixed with other resins) does not dissolve in any normal solvents, especially alcohol.
    Thanks, but I'd rather just watch:
    Large format: http://flickr.com/michaeldarnton
    Mostly 35mm: http://flickr.com/mdarnton
    You want digital, color, etc?: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stradofear

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