Here’s the before and after pictures of a microscope I have just finished, a Beck folding binocular microscope. It wasn’t in terrible condition but where it may have got damp at some point because the metal was quite pitted, especially where the lacquer was lost.
Here is the same microscope afterwards, the dark patches are gone, as are the green patches of corrosion. It hasn’t lost all signs of age but it looks much better than it did. The stage clips and the edges of the fine focus knob have been silvered
Never, in the history of microscopes has a microscope given me so much trouble. I don’t know why but this piece of a Reichert just did not want to be lacquered. I did it again and again and again. It ran, it dripped, it missed bits. I tried using cloths, pads, brushes, foam, I tried hot, warm and cold metal. The thing was out to get me.
It happens sometimes, you just have a bad day, but the good thing about lacquering microscopes is that if you mess it up you can just take the lacquer off and redo it. Not that that is much comfort on the third day of trying having used up 100 mls of lacquer.
I got there in the end. The Reichert (whose name is Ernie) is now my friend again. Now for the trickier bits.
This Ross Wenham Prism microscope has come to me to be relacquered. It was actually a lot worse than it first appeared, the pitting is very deep and it has taken hours and hours of work to get the microscope into a suitable state for lacquering. It isn’t finished yet but
I have got the first coat of lacquer on the legs. Pictures below show the before, the microscope taken apart and after the first coat of lacquer. I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel with this one.
I bought this Spencer jug-handled microscope some time ago, at first glance it doesn’t look too terrible, a broken mirror holder and a missing mirror; but if you look again you will see that the poor thing has been spray painted black from top to bottom. The objectives, the coarse and fine focus knobs – everything is painted. This is a serious rescue, I have never had to use paint stripper on a microscope before but this calls for desperate measures. As you can see in the last picture, so far not too terrible, there is hope. I have stripped the black paint off the focus knobs, and underneath the paint the coarse focus has polished up pretty well. I have to de-corrode the other parts and see if I can get a polish on them good enough for hot lacquering. It’s not so much a restoration as a salvage operation, but I have a soft spot for jug handled microscopes. Wish me luck!
Another day of grating Turmeric root for lacquer. After grating it goes into the oven on a low heat for about 12 hours or until bone dry. Turmeric powder you buy from the supermarket just doesn’t give the same depth of colour.
I have had, what used to be described as a nervous breakdown. I find the term quite apt, much more descriptive than “mental health issues” which seems to me to avoid any hint of pain. My very lovely psych team are attempting to sort my brain out but it seems to be taking longer than expected. It’s taken me many months even to be able to post this. Hopefully I will get back on track eventually.
I could just keep quiet because I really don’t want to seem like I’m making a fuss or seeking sympathy but equally, breakdowns and mental illness should be talked about. My psych dudes are excellent, unfortunately it’s not like the common cold or even the flu and it can’t be remedied by a few kind words. They are convinced that it can be remedied though, and I trust them.
I am having a nice cup of tea and a sit down, so thought I would write a quick update. Whilst I am waiting for the last lot of lacquering I did to dry, I have started to prepare a new piece for a customer. I have taken the piece apart and have stripped off most of the old lacquer. I have a few little screws and knobs left to strip, hopefully I shall get them finished by the end of the day.
The piece is interesting, most of it is in good shape but a few pieces, those which have been handled the most, have severe wear and pitting. Nothing I cant fix, but it will be fiddly and laborious. It will all be worth it in the end though.