View Full Version : Artar-aholic needs help cleaning and evaluating a 19 incher!

John Kasaian
24-Feb-2004, 15:33
My name is John and I'm an Artar-aholic. For a couple of years now, I've been buying cheap Artars in barrels in hope of someday finding one that would be worth the expense of mounting in a shutter. I now have a modest collection of paperwieghts whose combined cost would probably come close to buying a good example already mounted in a shutter(arggh!)

My latest purchase just arrived, a 19" APO in its original wooden box with the itty bitty paper and a itty-bitty-er waterhouse stop. I can't see any scratches, but that maybe because the glass is dirty---I don't see any fungus among us at least. So my question is this: What is the best way to safely clean a really dirty lens? I don't want to risk scratching it myself in the process of cleaning off the grime. It is a brass mounted lens and the rear element seems to have accumulated the most grime. Should I unscrew it and run it through the dishwasher? How about a soak in jalapeno pepper juice? Ammonia? Vinegar? If it is "it" I have a black face No.5 Universal thats waiting to go to work. I'd appreciate any advice on how to best proceed!

Jim Rice
24-Feb-2004, 16:49
My name is Jim, and I'm also an Artar-aholic. Mine is a 16 1/2 in factory Universal #4.

The dishwasher seems a might strong. I gather you feel that conventional lens cleaning teechniques (brush off the dust, ROR with tissues) won't suffice? Is yours a red dot?

What I can tell you is that the journey is well worth it.


Ernest Purdum
24-Feb-2004, 17:38
Cleaning a really dirty lens is a problem, because ordinary dust does contain particles that are abrasive. Vacuuming or, failing that, blowing, as much dust as possible is a good first step, followed by brushing. At this point, you probably will still have a lot of dust which is stuck to the lens and needs lens cleaning solution to float it loose. Lens tissue which is torn and rolled up so as to make a sort of brush is a good tool at this point. Try to sort of drag it along without putting any pressure on it. You may have to repeat this step.

matthew blais
24-Feb-2004, 17:55
John, it is a very important step that you have admitted this. Of course you know that every day you possess these devils, you are want to temptation. You will always be thinking "one more won't hurt". The next obvious step is total, yes, TOTAL, abstinence. It so happens I have a special 8 x10 box that will hold and contain their charms. Just send them (all) to me and be f-r-e-e! I am only trying to help, really.

Jim Rice
24-Feb-2004, 18:06

That just spreads the disease.


Jay M. Packer
24-Feb-2004, 18:07
Hi, John.

I've had good results cleaning very dirty lenses with an optical polymer solution called Opticlean. You paint it on the lens surface, let it cure for 15 minutes in UV light, then peel the polymer film off. The dirt comes off with the film, leaving pristine glass behind. The stuff isn't cheap, but neither are big Artars.

See www.opticlean.com

God grant me the serenity to adjust the small apertures I can, the patience to live with the long exposures I can't, and an accurate light meter to tell the difference.

Jim Rice
24-Feb-2004, 20:08
This is my kind of twelve step program.


Max Wendt
25-Feb-2004, 10:10
I've got a 24 incher in a barrel (non-red dot) with the same problems, although there are also some "cleaning marks" on mine.

My main concern is how to clean the dust on the inner elements? I suppose it should get an honest CLA (and maybe mounting in a shutter), but I've been hesitant to send it anywhere since I'm not sure it's worth it...

25-Feb-2004, 16:27
"but I've been hesitant to send it anywhere since I'm not sure it's worth it... "

Believe me, Artars are really worth it.

Juan V.
25-Feb-2004, 17:09
Assuming it's not a coated Artar, and assuming at least one element unscrews easily (my rear element did), brush on a layer of Elmer's Glue (white, not yellow). Allow it to dry and then peel off. This tends to get the bigger stuff off without scratching and it cleans up with water. Then give it a soak in a mild solvent like alcohol. I find vinegar doesn't evaporate well. If that fails soak it in acetone. When soaking agitate softly. Swirl the lens elements around a little. If it's coated I'd be careful with anything stronger than alcohol, or the aforementioned lens fluid.

N Dhananjay
25-Feb-2004, 19:56
If the cost is worrying you, explore the option of front mounting all your Artars to a #5 shutter - the folks at S. K. Grimes can help you with that. Shaves a ton off the cost. Cheers, DJ

John Kasaian
25-Feb-2004, 23:22
Thank you all for the advice! I was able to gently clean off the crusty stuff successfully, however I sadly found that the rear element looks like someone had gone over it with steel wool---possibly the worst case of scratching among my collection of bargain basement artars so far, but the front element is about as good as it gets. This has me thinking about----FrankenArtar! I've got another brass 19 incher that had been dropped and with a corresponding dent in the front rim, there is a large size chip of glass that is gone, however the rear element is, well...as good as it gets...hmmm. The good front element is serial # 756172 and the good rear element is #759175. I asked Steve at SK Grimes what he thought of swapping elements a few months ago in regards to a different lens, and he said the jury was still out about swapping elements=it could work out OK but then it might not.

Having both lenses in front of me, it would be simple enough to try out and maybe shoot a few test shots using the lenscap, though it would require getting a lensboard since I don't have any with the size hole I'd need. The question then, is: Is there any preferred way of testing the "FrankenArtar" that would give me a good idea if the resulting photos are at least as sharp as I could expect from elements matched at the factory?

The again, the scratches on the rear element, though numerous, aren't deep(unlike the 24 incher, but thats another story). I certainly can't detect them with a fingernail, so would it be worth seeing if they can be polished out? Any thoughts, suggestions or recommendations?

Jim Rice
26-Feb-2004, 00:09

Gaterboard is a fine material for a temporary lensboard. Load a holder (I would use Velvia, but there's no accounting for tastes). Find a large brick building (dark brick with light mortar, ideally). Photograph it. Process it. Take a loupe to it.

If it knocks your socks off, it's an Artar.


Steve Hamley
28-Feb-2004, 19:46

O.K., suggestion time. I've seen Liquid Lense advertized on TV to repair eyeglasses that were badly scratched. They even scratch up a pair of glasses with steel wool and "fix" it with Liquid Lense. (and I have a bridge to sell you...) I was going to try it when I came across an uncoated lens bad enough to give it a whirl.


BTW, although I haven't done any business with these people, I'd never give them my real e-mail address. The pitch has "SPAM" written all over it.