View Full Version : Oily aperture blades

Tom Diekwisch
25-Sep-2003, 16:26
I have just received a new old lens from a famous, but anonymous internet auction site. The lens is terrific, but the aperture diaphragm blades are stuck and oily. How do I clean them?

John Kasaian
25-Sep-2003, 17:12

What are they made out of? The solvent of choice for shade tree shutter surgeons seems to be Ronson lighter fluid, though I've heard that Universal shutter blades are made from a celluloid-like material that can be damaged by naptha. If you've got a good shutter, invest in a CLA by a shop that knows its stuff.

Alan Davenport
25-Sep-2003, 18:18
I'll second the Ronsonal recommendation, again with the caveat to be sure your aperture (and shutter) blades are metal, not some kind of fiber material.

Just remove the lens elements, open the front of the shutter, and then drown it liberally with lighter fluid. Soak it for an hour or two to loosen things up. Drain the fluid out, shake it loose, use canned air (gently!) to get things dried out, this may take a day or two. Finally, if you have a means to supply "micro-drops" of oil, reoil the ends of the shafts, at least where they're accessible. I used a tiny jeweler's screwdriver to transport oil to the shafts when I did a shutter this way. DO NOT OIL GEAR TEETH. Your mileage may vary, but my stuck shutter came back to life with all speeds where they should be.

25-Sep-2003, 18:20
Also, some Compound shutters have paper iris blades which also rules out the lighter fluid trick (see www.skgrimes.com/compound/).


David Vickery
25-Sep-2003, 22:03
What kind of shutter is it?? I would strongly advise against using any oil anywhere near the shutter or diaphragm blades. Ronsonal lighter fluid is a good solvent/cleaner so long as you follow the previous posters advice about not using it on blades that aren't made of metal. Many shutters need no wet lubricate of any kind, but may benefit from a very small amount of well placed dry lube. It used to be graphite, but now the dry lube of choice would be molybdenum, or dry moly lube.

Ole Tjugen
26-Sep-2003, 03:35
According to my 1960's Compur Repair Manual, there are as many as four different lubricants used on some shutters - only one of them oil. Do not apply any kind of oil anywhere in a shutter without knowing exactly what you are doing. The lighter fluid trick works great, UNLESS the aperture blades are non-metallic (as several other posters have pointed out).

If any part of a shutter needs lubrication, graphite can be applied very precisely using a soft pencil.

Sal Santamaura
26-Sep-2003, 08:56
"...from a famous, but anonymous internet auction site."

Attention everyone: this is not photo.net.

eBay eBay eBay eBay eBay eBay eBay eBay eBay eBay eBay

Proper names for corporate entities are pefectly acceptable here, since this forum is not run by a for-profit corporation. Allusion is not necessary, so please be specific about eBay when that's what you're referring to.


David du Busc
26-Sep-2003, 10:39
You might want to try Asahiklin AK225, manufactured by [www.]TechSpray[.com]. This has worked very well for me. Lighter fluid will work... but this is a light duty degreaser that camera professionals use. It does not leave any residue. The can says safe on most plastics, although I have not used it on plastic iris blades. Having used both... the Ronson is going in the Zippo. MicroTools carries the stuff, along with a large assortment of useful tools for camera repair. Good luck.

Richard Knoppow
27-Sep-2003, 06:31
Some Compound shutters may have fiber blades. Both of mine have metal blades. Many shutters have hard rubber blades including large Ilex Universal and Packard shutters. Hard rubber is not injured by naptha or Isopropyl alcohol. Compound shutters were made for about seventy years with many changes along the way.

Julio Fernandez
1-Oct-2003, 19:51
Cleaning lubricants: lubricating oils as were used on old shutters are petroleum derived products. When used fresh they will be soluble in most petroleum based solvents including butane which is what you find in lighter fluid. The problem with butane is that because it extremely fast evaporating it is difficult to flush out without leaving a residue. Diesel fluid additives usually contain mostly cyclohexane which is a better solvent than most other solvents of similar evaporation rate, among those found at the retail level. If you look for those read the label first to make sure of its content. Additionally, place a couple of drops on a metal surface and watch for residue, there should be none or else this is not what you need. Failing that you can use camp stove fluids, but NOT oil lamp fluids. Those make poor solvents.

Now the hard part: the petroleum based lubricants originally used more than likely oxidized or polymerized with time and their residues will be much harder to remove with solvents. Fully polymerized or oxidized oil residues may be almost insoluble and require mechanical removal. If you buy a very old lens whose shutter blades looks oily it is most unlikely that the oil you see is the original, the oily residue is more likely the remnant from a failed lub job and the dried up old lubricant may still be there gumming thigs up in spite of the new lubricant add-on. The electronics industry used special cleaning fluids made of chlorinated hydrocarbons, those would be called on duty for the harder jobs, as they are mosre aggressive solvents, specially when spiked with about 2% methanol, however, I do not know if those are still sold, Radio Schack would be the place to check. On a clean old shutter, a very thin lubricant such as used to penetrate into metal to metal joints will do a good job on most steel-steel surfaces. As another poster recommended a tiny drop on the tip of a very jewellers screw driver that is all you need.