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Thread: Cleaning a sticky shutter

  1. #1

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    Question Cleaning a sticky shutter

    How do I use Ronsonol to clean an old Wollensak Rapax shutter which obviously has dried lubricants? Or is there a better way (other than sending it to Flutot's)?
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  2. #2
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: Cleaning a sticky shutter

    The proper way to clean a shutter is to disassemble it, and clean the parts in a solvent in an untrasonic cleaner.

    The difficulty with cleaning a shutter is that the lubricants lost in the cleaning process must be replaced.
    The proper lube must be used in each location if you expect the shutter to work right.

    - Leigh
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  3. #3

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    Re: Cleaning a sticky shutter

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill_1856 View Post
    How do I use Ronsonol to clean an old Wollensak Rapax shutter which obviously has dried lubricants? Or is there a better way (other than sending it to Flutot's)?
    You don't use Ronsonol. The best you will get is a half assed job. You will end up with a shutter that smells like a Zippo, and still doesn't work.

    As noted above, either strip it, clean it properly, re-lube it as you are assembling it, or send it to someone who will.
    One man's Mede is another man's Persian.

  4. #4
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    Re: Cleaning a sticky shutter

    Some shutters work fine dry, but others need oil in the right spots, particularly in the slow-speed escapement, which spins fast and therefore runs at low force and is susceptible to friction effects.

    I cleaned a slow-running Raptar a few months ago using lighter fluid, and it has run fine after the fluid evaporated. But if there is dirt in the wrong place, it won't work and you'll still have to take it apart.

    Note that lighter fluid takes longer to evaporate than people think. It may take a couple of days before the shutter will assume its long-term status of either working or not working.

    Rick "for whom the no-disassembly lighter-fluid cleaning has not worked well for Compur and some Ilex shutters" Denney

  5. #5

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    Re: Cleaning a sticky shutter

    Most of the Rapax shutters are 60 years+ old, so old that you may find the grease is saponified (more soap left than grease). First attempts with Naptha didn't quite cut it with one of my Raptars. A good CRC soak to re-emulsify the grease/soap can help prior to Naptha/Ronsonol bath, I discovered. Rapaxi don't seem to mind being run dry. But they do fare poorly with excess lube, and or dried grease or rust on shutter blades.

  6. #6

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    Re: Cleaning a sticky shutter

    Lighter fluid works great for cleaning out the jammed, old grease. I flush it around inside until no more dirt comes out, then relube any metal on metal moving parts. There were no ultrasonic cleaners back in the 20s-60s when these shutters were made and adjusted every few years. There are a couple of books out there that show the lube points.

    Since there are tens of thousands of shutters out there, and maybe 2 repair shops left in the US with any longterm experience, you are going to do as good a job as the average "repair shop." I took my 1915 Protar to the local, longterm camera shop to get the iris unjammed. He did so, then coated the inside with some gunky, messy lube. The entire iris is coated with the stuff. And he took a power tool to the outside, buffing off the lacquer to "make it look better." I'd say give it a careful try, you'll be more careful with your own lens.

  7. #7
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: Cleaning a sticky shutter

    Quote Originally Posted by goamules View Post
    There were no ultrasonic cleaners back in the 20s-60s when these shutters were made and adjusted every few years.
    In the 20's-60's there were technicians who knew what they were doing.

    There are few left now, as is obvious from this thread.

    Ultrasonic cleaners were invented c. 1950.

    - Leigh
    Last edited by Leigh; 16-Feb-2012 at 18:47.
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  8. #8

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    Re: Cleaning a sticky shutter

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan J. Eberle View Post
    Most of the Rapax shutters are 60 years+ old, so old that you may find the grease is saponified (more soap left than grease). First attempts with Naptha didn't quite cut it with one of my Raptars. A good CRC soak to re-emulsify the grease/soap can help prior to Naptha/Ronsonol bath, I discovered. Rapaxi don't seem to mind being run dry. But they do fare poorly with excess lube, and or dried grease or rust on shutter blades.
    What is a CRC soak?
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  9. #9

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    Re: Cleaning a sticky shutter

    I just cleaned up my Raptar with ether that has a trace of oil in it. That was 10 days ago, and it is working fine. Mine has an external syncronizer so it's from the late forties. I was kind of surprised that a shutter almost 70 years old responded so well. The ether I used is also called engine starting fluid. It doesn't take much of this stuff to get the job done, so a light touch is reccomended.

  10. #10

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    Re: Cleaning a sticky shutter

    Be VERY careful with engine starting fluids. Most will MELT plastic parts and destroy paint. Other than that... spray away.

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