View Full Version : Cleaning & maintaining wooden field cameras; required products & applied techniques?

29-Dec-2010, 17:22
I would like to know how to clean/polish/maintain the different parts of the wista 45dx camera. I thank you for your response in advance.

However, I thought it might be a benefit the community as a whole to know the appropriate products and techniques that people use to maintain the wood, metal (eg. brass) and bellow materials of their wooden cameras. It would be helpful to state the products & techniques you have tried and why they did & did not work for each part of the camera as well as the price of the products and where they could be purchased. To make this easier for the many users of this forum, I am providing a template (below) which might be helpful in guiding your response.

Camera model used:
Bellows - Material:
Wood - Type/Finish:
Metal - Type/Finish:
Other parts (optional):

Cleaning & Maintenance
(It would be helpful to provide
the name of the product used,
the approximate price of the
product and where it could be



Metal Parts:

Other parts:

29-Dec-2010, 19:19
This does not answer your question but A new or restored camera should not need anything special than cleaining with Fantascic, 409 or some other similar cleaner.

A new bellows would be synthetic and modern wood polyurathane finish needs no additional care. Modern camera would have anodized finish on metal parts or a clear-coat of some sort on brass.

For restoration I would treat the bellows (in need of restoration) with a trip to the garbage can. Wood would be stripped and new, no-maitinance finish applied. Same with the metal parts.

Cameras with special wood (teak?) may need teak oil treatments and cameras with nickel plated parts will likely tarnish. If you clean them regularly the nickel will come off, so no good solution to that one.

Just my 2 cents.

Jack Dahlgren
30-Dec-2010, 01:05
My ebony has only been cleaned with a damp cloth. Titanium doesn't have much required maintenance. The Urushi lacquer will be a problem sometime in the future, but I generally don't care about camera cosmetics if they don't affect the function. I'd probably give re-lacquering a try if it was looking really scratched up, but the materials are expensive.

I've used warm soapy water on my Anniversary Speed Graphic. If I started polishing the metal, I'd have to keep doing it. Alcohol on a soft cloth to remove grunge from the rails.

Simichrome is a good metal polish you might want to try if you like things shiny.

30-Dec-2010, 07:19
When I got my Wista DXII earlier this year I e-mailed Wista to ask about cleaning and maintenance. Their response was that the woodwork should only need a wipe with a cloth (dampened with water if necessary) from time to time. They didn't recommend any other treatments, polishes etc.

Dusting seems to me to be the most important maintenance procedure and I use a soft brush to remove dust from the folds of the bellows. The only other thing I've done on mine is to use a small amount of beeswax polish rubbed into the runners of the focus extension board and I lubricate the focusing mechanism with a PTFE based bicycle lubricant (which is a dry lubricant once the carrier has evaporated). A very small amount applied to the brass gear teeth and rod bearings makes the focusing smooth if it starts to get a bit stiff.


Brian Ellis
30-Dec-2010, 10:53
I don't recall ever needing to do anything in the way of routine maintenance to a wood field camera. If the camera is banged up and you need to improve its looks that's different but just in terms of routine maintenance a dust cloth or soft brush is about all you need.

30-Dec-2010, 17:25
Thank you everyone for your response... How about when the camera has been out in the rain/snow?

John Bowen
30-Dec-2010, 17:38
Richard Ritter once told me that if a camera got wet, towel it off and rack the bellows all the way out until it dries.

John Kasaian
30-Dec-2010, 21:22
My cleaning stuff:
Wood=Butchers Wax or Lemon Pledge
Wood to wood surfaces=Bees wax or candymaker's wax
Metal to metal surfaces=Lubriplate (the thick stuff--not the light stuff most hardware stores stock)
Leather=Bee's wax
Bellows= That kind of depends on what they are made out of.
Metal to wood surfaces=this is tricky. Mineral based metal polishes can migrate under the metal fitting and rot the wood. I remove any corroision with jalapeno pepper juice on the Q-tip (fresno chilis work too) clean and keep waxed to protect it from the further corrosion.