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Thread: Salvaging flood damaged lenses

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    Salvaging flood damaged lenses

    Thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Ida, my basement flooded 3 ft, I won't get into the soaked negatives,
    but 3/4 of my lenses were stored in the basement and they were underwater, what would the best way to proceed
    to dry and salvage the shutters ?
    I've already sheavily sprayed them with WD40 just to keep any water corrosion at bay till I get some advice.

  2. #2

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    Re: Salvaging flood damaged lenses

    Oh, I'm sorry for you. Hopefully the other damage wasn't as great.

    Normally WD40 is not the best for shutters but in your case it might have been a good idea because it gets into the smallest corners of the shutters. However, I would keep WD40 away from the lenses because it can get between the elements and under the cement which would be an even bigger problem.

    If you don't want to have the lenses overhauled (disassembled, cleaned, assembled and adjusted) by a specialist immediately (which is recommended of course), I would first unscrew the lenses from the shutters, clean the surfaces and let them air dry. If you can still see moisture between the lenses in backlight, the lens elements have to be disassembled and cleaned to avoid Fungus. Old pre-war lenses are very often screwed and easier to be disassembled than complex 6-element modern lenses. You have to decide what you can do yourself.

    If for example Compur or Copal shutters, they are open systems and probably water has got inside. I would just unscrew the housing lids and leave that open a couple of days for complete air drying. If mud has got into the shutters, dribble cleaning gazoline into it, then move it (cock and release) 20 or 30 times and clean it with Q-Tips carefully. After that apply a little (!) watch oil to the movable joints, as far as you can get to them. No oil to the blades! You should decide for yourself, how terrible the condition of your lenses and shutters is and how far you can solve the problem yourself or better give it to a specialist for professional cleaning. I wish you success!
    Best, Klaus

  3. #3
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Salvaging flood damaged lenses

    Very sorry for your disaster
    image

  4. #4

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    Re: Salvaging flood damaged lenses

    Did you have insurance coverage? Hopefully so.
    Brass is a metal alloy, not a lens type - MichaelE

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/jacketch/

  5. #5

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    Re: Salvaging flood damaged lenses

    I’m sorry you are in this predicament. Hope that’s the worst of your loss and inconvenience.

    Here’s what I’d do:
    - Immediately separate the lens from shutter.

    - (I probably would not have WD-40’d the shutters but understand the logic. It may save the day. )

    - Put everything in rice or some other “drying agent”.

    - Contact homeowner insurance to see if they are covered and how that is fulfilled.

    - Send to competent repair shop and pray they are salvageable.

    What I wouldn’t do are home repairs. Normally I’m willing to do some but given the nature of flood water, there probably is fine silty debris EVERYWHERE. Seems like only a full teardown would get the shutters clean. Anything else could set up a possibility of quickly and prematurely wearing out the shutters… if they don’t just jam up.

    I hope this situation (shutters and all other repercussions of the storm) works out for you.

  6. #6

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    Re: Salvaging flood damaged lenses

    Thanks for the suggestions, no fllood insurance, I don't live in a flood prone area.
    Luckily the flood was clear-ish water from what I observed in totes that were on the floor.
    I did separate the elements from the shutters, one barrel lens seems unsalvagable there
    was water between the elements and I couldn't figure out how to take it apart.

    Anyone know how to take apart a APO Nikkor ?
    That is one lens I really want to save.

  7. #7

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    Re: Salvaging flood damaged lenses

    Talk to your insurance anyway. They might call it “water damage” when related to personal items rather than invoke the flood exclusion. Insurance adjustors seem to have some discretion and the one I once knew well told many stories of being considerate even when fraud was quite possible. I’m of the belief that flood and earthquake exclusions in homeowner insurance policies are more intended for big ticket structure claims.

  8. #8

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    Re: Salvaging flood damaged lenses

    Also check out tax write off possibilities. It’s been a long time since I needed to do so, but after a major earthquake I was able to document some losses of antiques on, I believe, Schedule A for a tax credit.

  9. #9
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Salvaging flood damaged lenses

    WD40 ??? !!!!!!!!! NOT a good idea! Never ever! That is a cheapo lubricant that tends to trap moisture under it, and goes places you don't want it. We wouldn't even allow it in our locksmithing dept for that reason. And lenses are way more sensitive. You don't want a cure worse than the disease.

    Instead, get a Tupperware etc box just big enough for the lens, with a tight lid, and put freshly baked out silica gel desiccant in there. Leave the lens in there for at least two weeks, with tape around the lid. It will act like a miniature desiccation chamber. If that doesn't work, you'll probably need to send it to a pro. Those can be tricky to get apart.

  10. #10
    (Shrek)
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    Re: Salvaging flood damaged lenses

    Mechanical shutters are usually recoverable from water damage unless they're left to rust. If they're underwater, it's best to keep them underwater (distilled) until repair. When ready to repair, the shutter can be submerged in alcohol a few times to get the water out, then lubed on the required points and it should be good as new. If rust has started, the repair is a lot harder.

    Recovering the lens elements requires disassembly if there are water stains inside. Not always easy with modern lenses, and do not leave them submerged especially in alcohol as this may start to degrade the optical cement.

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