New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

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einman
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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#31 Post by einman » Wed Jan 06, 2016 2:53 pm

Yes. Good Luck! It can get rather involved. I will keep an eye on your posts! As well as that of mrsonchus.

You guys are the pioneers. :D

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charlie
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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#32 Post by charlie » Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:02 pm

I just saw this Rod. Awesome job and congratulations on the nice ribbons!!

There is also a lot of helpful information shared in this post!

I am guessing you have seen this?

http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/art ... ara1w.html

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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#33 Post by charlie g » Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:57 pm

Beautiful refurbishment, and first cuttings,Rod. Wonderful education in the kind posters to this thread..thank you for all the content.

Say Rod...anychance that this device will accept 'disposable microtome blades'? I think John B once mentioned that he gets good results with disposable blades.?? congrats on your beautiful piece of equipment. charlie guevara

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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#34 Post by rnabholz » Thu Jan 07, 2016 12:24 am

einman wrote:Yes. Good Luck! It can get rather involved. I will keep an eye on your posts! As well as that of mrsonchus.

You guys are the pioneers. :D

I think John has taken most of the arrows.....I am coming West on the train. ;^)

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rnabholz
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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#35 Post by rnabholz » Thu Jan 07, 2016 12:26 am

charlie wrote:I just saw this Rod. Awesome job and congratulations on the nice ribbons!!

There is also a lot of helpful information shared in this post!

I am guessing you have seen this?

http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/art ... ara1w.html
Charlie,

I had NOT seen it -Thank you. That is a process that is certainly in reach of a hack like myself. I even have a half a dozen pure bees wax candles stashed here somewhere, so this should be easy.

Thanks for the kind words.

Rod

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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#36 Post by rnabholz » Thu Jan 07, 2016 12:40 am

charlie g wrote:Beautiful refurbishment, and first cuttings,Rod. Wonderful education in the kind posters to this thread..thank you for all the content.

Say Rod...anychance that this device will accept 'disposable microtome blades'? I think John B once mentioned that he gets good results with disposable blades.?? congrats on your beautiful piece of equipment. charlie guevara

Thanks much Charlie.

Believe me it is my pleasure to share the experience with people who are interested. Folks willing to discuss the properties of wax that allow it to be cut in slices 1/100th of a millimeter thick are not found on every street corner you know.

My Microtome can use disposable blades, but would require a blade holder made for the job. They are out there, but the cheapest ones that I have seen so far are over $150 and I have seen a couple that are over $1000!! A bit cost prohibitive. I don't have any idea why somebody thinks they are worth that much, but maybe it had to do with taking advantage of institutional budgets....

I was encouraged with my success in sharpening my blade, and am less concerned than I was a week ago about keeping a keen edge to work with. That said, if a cheap holder appeared, I would likely pick one up.

If you don't mind, as you mentioned that others may benefit from the information shared here, I will take the opportunity to share some info and photos for the record here.

Curiosity got the better of me last night and I did weigh the Microtome. It tips the scales at 39lbs! A Beast

My knife is an AO product as well. I bought the knife last year for use with my hand microtome. The kit contained the blade, handle, sharpening guide, instruction sheet and case. It was surplus from the University of Wisconsin and according to the notation on the top of the case, was likely involved in a study of Dutch Elm Disease.

I also am attaching pics of the oil mentioned earlier for anybody interested.

Thanks for reading

Rod
Attachments
MicrotomeKnifeKit.jpg
MicrotomeKnifeKit.jpg (98.42 KiB) Viewed 4813 times
MicrotomeKnifeCase.jpg
MicrotomeKnifeCase.jpg (81.65 KiB) Viewed 4813 times
OilCan.jpg
OilCan.jpg (114.98 KiB) Viewed 4813 times
OilCanInstructions.jpg
OilCanInstructions.jpg (111.58 KiB) Viewed 4813 times
Last edited by rnabholz on Thu Jan 07, 2016 8:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.

charlie g
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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#37 Post by charlie g » Thu Jan 07, 2016 2:06 am

Sweet..the actual career of your equipment..that enriches your bench incredibly,Rod.

If it does not in anyway harm your istrument...I'd take a peek at some of those costly disposable blade holders which work with your microtome...then I'd think about a DIY component.


Ah..these microtomes are calling to me! charlie guevara

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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#38 Post by rnabholz » Thu Jan 07, 2016 2:59 am

charlie g wrote:Sweet..the actual career of your equipment..that enriches your bench incredibly,Rod.

If it does not in anyway harm your istrument...I'd take a peek at some of those costly disposable blade holders which work with your microtome...then I'd think about a DIY component.


Ah..these microtomes are calling to me! charlie guevara
I agree, love the history aspect of this equipment.

Great minds think alike Charlie. The holder is basically two sandwiched pieces of steel with a tapered edge and a couple stop pins the hold the blade proud of the edge. Not an engineering marvel by any means.

Give yourself to the siren call of the Microtome, Charlie.......

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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#39 Post by charlie g » Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:26 pm

Like Aneus in Virgils: "The Anneid"...I lash myself in to the computer chair when I peruse the microtome threads in forum!

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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#40 Post by mrsonchus » Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:14 pm

charlie g wrote:Like Aneus in Virgils: "The Anneid"...I lash myself in to the computer chair when I peruse the microtome threads in forum!
Ahhhh... Charlie G - you know it makes sense! You neeed one, you deserrrrvvve one, you're incomplete without one! Without one you are but a wandering wraith suffering the torments of sectioning unfulfilled! :cry:

Go on Charlie - G, join the 5µ-or-bust club! :D
John B

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mrsonchus
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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#41 Post by mrsonchus » Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:22 pm

Rod, you're getting the idea of this, sharpening my own knife is something I couldn't even contemplate being able to do anywhere near competently - you've make what looks like a beautiful job of it!

You're ready for the full-on processing I'd say, it's nowhere near as difficult as my posts make it look - the basic process is really pretty simple given a few pointers - the microtome is the real stumbling-block as it is really a game-changer, and you've created a beauty with your hard and excellent work with your now superb machine!

You can definitely do it Rob, no doubt about it! :)
John B

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rnabholz
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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#42 Post by rnabholz » Fri Jan 08, 2016 2:19 am

mrsonchus wrote:Rod, you're getting the idea of this, sharpening my own knife is something I couldn't even contemplate being able to do anywhere near competently - you've make what looks like a beautiful job of it!

You're ready for the full-on processing I'd say, it's nowhere near as difficult as my posts make it look - the basic process is really pretty simple given a few pointers - the microtome is the real stumbling-block as it is really a game-changer, and you've created a beauty with your hard and excellent work with your now superb machine!

You can definitely do it Rob, no doubt about it! :)
Thanks John, your confidence is inspiring.

I am studying the processes and will see what kind of trouble I can get into.

Rod

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gekko
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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#43 Post by gekko » Fri Jan 08, 2016 12:21 pm

rnabholz wrote:So today I stopped by the grocery store to get some paraffin - I know, not exactly a scientific supply depot, but I hoped good enough for testing purposes. ... Here is my trophy for tonight, a Ten Micron Ribbon.
I enjoyed reading about this: the restoration of an old, rusted piece of superbly manufactured machinery to like-new working condition, then using it along with your experimental, innovative approach and careful work to obtain the Ten Micron Ribbon Trophy!

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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#44 Post by rnabholz » Fri Jan 08, 2016 3:55 pm

gekko wrote:
I enjoyed reading about this: the restoration of an old, rusted piece of superbly manufactured machinery to like-new working condition, then using it along with your experimental, innovative approach and careful work to obtain the Ten Micron Ribbon Trophy![/quote]

Thanks Gekko, I am glad you are enjoying it.

You touched on something that I want to amplify a bit, that is the wonderful engineering, machining and quality of materials used in the microtome.

It is truly a testament to the commitment to excellence that American Optical embraced that a machine like this can survive what appeared to be significant and extended neglect, and with a bit of scrubbing and a can of oil can be returned to, not just operating condition, but operating at the high level of precision it was designed to achieve, cutting in dimensions measured in microns!

I believe it has more metal in it than many currently produced compact cars, and it has already lasted longer than most of those will.

The finish on the stainless steel knife holder, holder mount and the specimen holder exudes quality and pride in craftsmanship. The fit of the slides is super. Crank the wheel and the whole mechanism simply glides. Release the flywheel, and the rotation will continue briefly as if disappointed to have to stop.

I am proud of what it represents and proud to own it.

Thanks for reading.

Rod

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KurtM
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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#45 Post by KurtM » Fri Jan 08, 2016 6:38 pm

Dammit, if you don't knock it off you're gonna make me want one! :P
Cheers,
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mrsonchus
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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#46 Post by mrsonchus » Fri Jan 08, 2016 8:58 pm

KurtM wrote:Dammit, if you don't knock it off you're gonna make me want one! :P

Give yourself to the machine Kurt - dream of teeny-tiny 10µ sections............. :D :D
John B

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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#47 Post by rnabholz » Sat Jan 09, 2016 4:29 am

KurtM wrote:Dammit, if you don't knock it off you're gonna make me want one! :P
Ya, I'm doing that to you.... You are biologically predestined to have at least one of everything in microscopy, you might as well check microtome off the list..... It's Shiny....and smooooooth.....and all mechanical-ly...ooooooooh, aaaaaaah

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vasselle
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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#48 Post by vasselle » Sat Jan 09, 2016 9:01 am

Bonjour.
C'est un magnifique instrument il est superbe.
Cordialement seb
Microscope Leitz Laborlux k
Boitier EOS 1200D + EOS 1100D

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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#49 Post by billbillt » Sat Jan 16, 2016 5:42 am

You have it looking new again... If you have ever sharpened a straight razor, you will have no trouble with this... On the other hand, it takes considerable practice to develop the skill... It just takes time..
BillT

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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#50 Post by rnabholz » Sat Jan 16, 2016 2:13 pm

billbillt wrote:You have it looking new again... If you have ever sharpened a straight razor, you will have no trouble with this... On the other hand, it takes considerable practice to develop the skill... It just takes time..
BillT
Hey Bill.

Your post is my prompt to finally offer a few words about the sharpening process that I used for the knife.

For me, the best advantage that I have is that the AO knifes were shipped with a sharpening guide. it is simple steel tube, that placed on the spine of the blade acts to maintain the proper edge angle. That eliminates the single biggest challenge in maintaining fine edges. Without that guide, one poorly angled stroke can destroy the edge and return you to the start of the process. I highly recommend to anyone that if you are looking around for a Microtome knife that you intend to maintain yourself, get an AO WITH the guide and a handle.

For a stone, I am using a product that is part of a popular sharpening kit. It is 1000 grit and the stones are available separately from various vendors, here is one: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Anself-Portable ... lrznFUCisQ

1000 Grit is fine for maintaining an edge, if you need to bring a neglected knife back to a fine edge, you may want to start at 600, go to 800 and finish with 1000. The cut of grits is very fine, and each grit does not take long to do. Generally with the 1000 grit, you will find that 4 to 5 strokes a side is all that is required to bring the edge back. The cool part is that if you pay careful attention you can feel when the edge is good again because you feel the resistence to the stone decrease until the cutting action all but stops.

So the process starts with wetting the stone with water. Then holding the knife with one hand, you place the stone on the knife by lowering it onto the guide first, and then, gently lower it on to the edge of the knife. You then move the stone forward and down the knife at about a 30 degree angle to the spine. Slow and steady wins the race. I try to cover the length of the blade with each stroke of the stone, but if I don't get it all, no worries, just do a shorter stroke to cover the balance.

The key to success is that the stone must stay in contact with BOTH the sharpening guide AND the knife edge throughout the entire stroke.

After a few strokes you will feel the resistance decrease and the stone will move easily - that side is done. Now re-wet the stone and do the other side of the blade.

When done, the edge should exhibit a fine, even shiny edge running the length of both sides, which I tried to show in the picture below.

That is all there is to it. I have gotten very good results, as demonstrated by the 10 Micron ribbon the knife produced. Below are some cuts I made on a hand microtome using my freshly sharpened knife.

For what it is worth to anyone interested.

Rod
Attachments
SharpTools.jpg
SharpTools.jpg (130.86 KiB) Viewed 4725 times
SharpStone.jpg
SharpStone.jpg (161.56 KiB) Viewed 4725 times
SharpGuide.jpg
SharpGuide.jpg (106.62 KiB) Viewed 4725 times
SharpEdge.jpg
SharpEdge.jpg (133.01 KiB) Viewed 4725 times
SharoCarrot.JPG
SharoCarrot.JPG (104.69 KiB) Viewed 4725 times
Last edited by rnabholz on Sat Jan 16, 2016 8:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#51 Post by billbillt » Sat Jan 16, 2016 3:17 pm

Hi Rod,

Thanks for this info!... Just what I wanted to hear.. I am glad that a good system to maintain the blade(s) was provided... This is very valuable information!... I have saved it to my hard drive for future reference..

The Best,
BillT

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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#52 Post by mrsonchus » Sat Jan 16, 2016 5:16 pm

Ditto Bill, that's very useful info indeed to have, with the actual method too! Thanks for this, it's very inspiring to see this done so well and so simply, your tips and demo are invaluable. If I were you I'd have this put into the next magazine or at least made a 'sticky' (?) as this article will make a huge difference to folk considering microtomy.
The blades are a major stumbling-block when going on to a rocking-microtome or a rotary model that I'm certain make folk baulk - it certainly caused me nightmares!

Thanks Rod, for a super piece that's very easily followed! :D
John B

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rnabholz
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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#53 Post by rnabholz » Sat Jan 16, 2016 8:05 pm

Thanks Bill and John.

I am glad you found it informative. It is hard to overstate the value of AO's foresight to include the sharpening guide. With it the chances of success are increased a hundredfold.

Here is another vendor with a wider variety of grits, all the way up to 3000! http://pages.ebay.com/link/?nav=item.vi ... 03&alt=web

Of course, any stone of the proper grit that you can handle as described above will work. I may order a 1200 and 1500 to see if there is something to be gained by the extra steps.

In any event, thanks for the feedback.

Rod

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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#54 Post by rnabholz » Thu Jan 28, 2016 1:33 am

Just a quick update regarding the finer grit sharpening stones.

From a vendor on eBay I ordered a 1200, 1500 and 2000 grit stones. $1.86 each shipped from China.....how do they do that and make a living?

I took my knife that was recently sharpened with the 1000 grit stone, I then wet the 1200 stone and applied it to the blade. I could feel the resistance indicating the stone was cutting, but as expected that resistance was all but eliminated in about 4-5 strokes on each side as the blade took the finer edge.

The got same result with the 1500 and 2000 grit.

I conducted the standard redneck tests of a sharp blade, and can safely say that the edge IS absolutely sharper that the 1000 grit alone could get it.

For the minimal monetary and time investments to get and apply the finer grits, I would strongly recommend that you add them to your kit.

Hmm I think they had a 3000 grit............
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Sharp121520.jpg
Sharp121520.jpg (88.29 KiB) Viewed 4676 times

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charlie
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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#55 Post by charlie » Thu Jan 28, 2016 12:33 pm

Thanks for the ebay vendor tip Rod. I ordered 1500, 2000 and 3000 grit at prices only China can offer.

It should be noted with stones this fine that, as with using a honing strop, only very little work is needed . More will dull not sharpen.

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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#56 Post by rnabholz » Thu Jan 28, 2016 1:04 pm

charlie wrote:Thanks for the ebay vendor tip Rod. I ordered 1500, 2000 and 3000 grit at prices only China can offer.

It should be noted with stones this fine that, as with using a honing strop, only very little work is needed . More will dull not sharpen.
Glad you found the post useful Charlie.

Agreed regarding restraint. After about 4 passes on a side you can feel the change that indicates the cutting has stopped and it is time to change to the next finer grit.

Enjoy the fine edges in your future!

Rod

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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#57 Post by gekko » Thu Jan 28, 2016 1:50 pm

Rod, thank you. An excellent, very helpful "how to" article on knife sharpening, complete with where to get the stuff you need.

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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#58 Post by einman » Thu Jan 28, 2016 3:16 pm

Great Information. Thanks so much. The Ao 815 is truly a beautiful machine and though I recently acquired a Leitz with a few more features I will probably hang onto the 815 just for the beauty of construction etc.

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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#59 Post by einman » Thu Jan 28, 2016 3:17 pm

I have 10 AO blades but no handle or guide. I purchased them all in a single deal off e-bay for $50. They appear quite sharp. I will have to look into the handle and guides.

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Re: New to Me American Optical 815 Microtome

#60 Post by Charles » Thu Jan 28, 2016 3:39 pm

Rod, Have you tried stropping the blade on a leather strop to get the edge back? Like they did in the old days at the barbershop before they gave you a shave.

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