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New to microscope forum.

Posted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:31 am
by Letien
Hi all,
I am a new member to this forum. I would like to ask your opinion, advise on restoring an antique microscope. Do you think an antique microscope should be left as is or we can restore it to a clean and shining condition. I have my first 1920 B&L about 30 years ago and now I have a couple more that I bought over the years. Usually, I can only afford to buy the cheap ugly one so I always have the uncontrolled urge to make them look better. Anyone here has experience on refinish brass with shellac? I would like to learn it from you. Thanks in advance.

Re: New to microscope forum.

Posted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:13 am
by lorez
Welcome to the group.

If you are buying only cheap ugly microscopes they are probably not too rare. I would think it would be your choice as to how you made them look better. There are many good sources for instructions about lacquering. I have never done it.

I don't go any further that carefully cleaning the microscopes and making the necessary repairs as authentically as possible.

I think the wear of the instrument is part of its provenance.


Re: New to microscope forum.

Posted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:10 am
by Letien
Hi Lorez,
Thanks for your advice. I usually don’t try to restore it but I do like to clean up the rust or corrosion on the exposed metal. None of my microscope is rare or expansive so I’m not worried of ruing something valuable. I think if not cleaning properly, the corrosion will further damage the metal. Specially when a coating metal is thin.

Re: New to microscope forum.

Posted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 9:14 am
by MicroBob
Welcome to the forum!

It's a good idea to think and inform yourself before starting this project. Many old microscopes are severely damaged by antique dealers that apply their standard bead blasting and buffing method on everything. For an old car jack this may work but on microscopes all sharp edges are polished away and from close up they just look what they are : Polishing victims.

If it were my microscope I would look for a "used but well cared for" look. I would remove signs of neglect and decay but would try to keep as much of the original surface finish as possible. Only when a microscope is in really bad scrap condition I would try to restore the surfaces to uniform but new look.
I would always try to be careful not to round over sharp edges like on engravings and machined functional surfaces.

Can you show pictures of your microscopes?

Here are some links I found for you:


Re: New to microscope forum.

Posted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 6:31 pm
by Letien
Hi MicroBob,
Thanks for your advices.
These are my two B&L. I have this first one on the left since 1991.

Re: New to microscope forum.

Posted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 8:06 pm
by MicroBob
These instruments are in a really nice condition from what I can see on the photos. If they were mine I would be very careful with restoration work not to damage the old surfaces. From my point of view there is not much to do, maybe a little bit of cleaning with dish cleaning agent and water.

A while ago I gave my wife a hint to give me a glass dome for a microscope for christmas. This would be nice for you two microscopes too. I was able to find an online trader that sold suitable domes for just about 30 €. In my dome there lives a 1939 russian field microscope with jewel like craftmanship, a real gem.

Re: New to microscope forum.

Posted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:49 pm
by Letien
Thanks Bob,
I also think these are already good the way it is. The left one has upper tube re-lacquered about 20 years ago. Just a layer of clear shellac to cover the exposed brass after I cleaned it off all corrosion. For each microscope I got, I made a total disassembly every nut and bold, clean and grease. I did it also by curiosity to see how it look inside. :)