My Olympus BH-2/BHT journey with Thanks! to this forum

Everything relating to microscopy hardware: Objectives, eyepieces, lamps and more.
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Terry Mc
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Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2020 11:16 pm

My Olympus BH-2/BHT journey with Thanks! to this forum

#1 Post by Terry Mc » Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:39 am

Hello all,

I beg your pardon in advance for this longish post, which may or may not be of the slightest interest. But I find comradeship here and so feel ok with posting the following. :)

When I felt the urge to get back into microscopy recently I had the good fortune to find this forum. What a wonderful place with wonderful people!
And I was delighted to find that Oliver had a huge hand in this, as I'd already discovered his excellent YouTube channels (subscribed and watching every single episode).
THANK YOU, OLIVER! I am a fan.

Like some here ( I suspect) I caught the "micro-bug" back around 1968 at age 12, and fortunately my parents heeded my Christmas Request and gifted me with a Tasco microscope which I practically wore out.
Before long my bedroom was all setup as my little laboratory, with the little Tasco as the centerpiece. Somewhere I located a used 5 gallon aquarium and I thought nothing of hauling a few gallons of pond water 3 miles to our house in order to stock the aquarium (I kept it topped-off with tap water that I let sit for a week first, so that hopefully the chlorine would gas-off). Countless hours were spent with the Tasco observing everything that I could find in that aquarium.

At the same time I caught the astronomy bug and the telescope hobby eventually reigned supreme over the years. I love telescopes and enjoy building and restoring them. But there are many cloudy nights.....ripe for the microscope!

20 years ago I decided to buy a microscope and obtained a rather pristine (for it's age, i.e. exactly as old as I am) A.O. Spencer....I think it's a model #15 (please inform!)

Image

As you can see, it came supplied with two objectives..10x and 40x..and over the years I've had fun with it, but frankly wasn't ever very happy with the images (with tremendous respect to A.O. Spencer fans!!).
The glass is actually in good shape all around and I'm seeing pretty much what the glass can do. It's definitely a quality piece and I love the history behind mine too ( a rural North Carolina country doctor's scope circa-1956-to-circa 1975).

But, being a fan of restoring the tremendous bang-for-buck 1980's "Vixen" brand Japanese refracting telescopes (very good-to-outstanding objectives in general) I decided to see if there was an equivalent "deal to be had" regarding microscopes and a whole new world of fun investigation opened up. Possibly, there could be outstanding (older) Japanese microscope optics/stands for sale...needing some restoration...for pennies on the $$$ just like the Vixen refractors? That had equivalent optical quality?

Shortly after I began investigating I "discovered" the Olympus BH-2 (which is of course OLD news to y'all). The more that I read, the more that I was convinced that some form of the BH-2 was the right microscope for me. Here, we had an actual pro-quality microscope that could be obtained for a good $deal and...I was thinking...could potentially be a better $$ spent than a new (tempting) Chinese 'scope.
I mean, the BH-2 was a serious, modular, professional bit of gear 30 years ago and for my needs ( observing pond critters) should fit the bill. I love the modular aspect too, what with all the parts available on-the-cheap. What looked awesome circa 1990 will look awesome in 2020, was my thinking.

I found plenty of BH-2 gear on eBay. A listing had just come up for $175. Condition was listed as "working". Via close examination of the pics I could see that the lamp worked, the LED's worked, it had the optional "big knobs" for the fine focus, it looked like it would clean up ok. Due to the orientation of the objectives it had to be either a BHS or a BHT....I'd be delighted with either. It had a fully populated 5-hole turret. Described as carrying two Olympus objectives and three Zeiss objectives. Close examination of the pics showed that the Olympus objectives had to be SPlans's. I could also see that at least one Zeiss was a "plan". So, I bought it.

It arrived safely ( a BHT) with a frozen focus arrangement (not cool, more below), good paint for age, a bino head full of fungus (not cool, more below), two Olympus SPlan's (10x, 40x) with glass that cleaned-up 100% and which perform-to-reputation (yay!), a West Germany Zeiss 6,3 Plan that's fairly trashed (needs replacing but works), a West Germany black-barrel Zeiss 63x achromat with clean glass that works very well, and a West Germany Zeiss Plan 100x "oel" that I haven't tested yet with "oel" (but sans oil it throws up a surprisingly good image!!!).

The eyepieces are Olympus WK 10X/20L and the lens coatings cleaned-up pristine.....zero scratches. The rubber eyecups cleaned-up supple and as-new, no rot, no cracks. One eyepiece had mild exterior fungus, no damage to the coatings...but there is internal light fungus of the same sort. I have a lens spanner wrench on the way and I expect that upon disassembly the interior glass surfaces will clean up as-new (BTW I have had good experiences using ROR for an element of lens cleaning).

The condenser is the familiar Olympus 1.25 unit, this cleaned-up as-new so no probs there (I'm making a filter holder for it for 32mm filters).

The bino-head's optical surfaces were all coated with fungus. Not good. But luck has been with me in the form of a $30 direct replacement (Ebay) that is virtually as-new....pristine optics, exterior, and collimation. Thank goodness!!!!!!

Now, the frozen focussing was of course a big issue; all grease on this BHT had gone stiff (as can be expected at this age). COUNT ME AS BEING YET ANOTHER PERSON INDEBTED TO ALAN WOOD for his detailed BH-2 repair information!!!!!!! Thank you, Alan!

I followed Alan's instructions regarding gaining access to, removing, and re-greasing the various parts of the focussing rack and condenser rail. That all went well, but further work was required regarding the focuser's shafts, the focus lock lever (totally frozen), etc, and I wanted to try "EZ-before-complicated" and so I used something that's worked for me on certain frozen potentiometers in the past..a now-defunct Radio Shack (!) product, which is a contact cleaner-with-lubricant. It's re-constituted old frozen grease for me in the past and VOILA!....applying that via pipette to the various areas/exersizing the parts
worked a total charm; the entire focussing mechanism now works smooth as silk. I was glad to avoid all of that disassembly!!!!!!!!

I have an Olympus DPlan 4x on the way, and an Olympus DPlan 20x on the way; I'll definitely keep the Zeiss Plan 100x around and for now the Zeiss 63x is doing well.

All told, for well under $500 including shipping I am well pleased with the rig. I feel that I did well going this route rather than a new Chinese 'scope. It took a bit of restoration work which I enjoy doing.

Here's the scope:

Image

And here's a hand-held phone pic of a desmid that I took the first day I received the scope; nothing to brag about (!!) but it's a start:

Image

PeteM
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Location: N. California

Re: My Olympus BH-2/BHT journey with Thanks! to this forum

#2 Post by PeteM » Wed Jul 01, 2020 6:15 am

Bravo. Excellent scope - now ready to put to work.

Naphthalene
Posts: 110
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Location: Moscow, Russia

Re: My Olympus BH-2/BHT journey with Thanks! to this forum

#3 Post by Naphthalene » Wed Jul 01, 2020 6:50 pm

Thank you for sharing your experience! It is a very interesting report.
I feel that I did well going this route rather than a new Chinese 'scope.
The more I read here, the more convinced I become that old microscopes from quality producers are much better than shiny new ones from China.
Alas I have already spent all my savings to purchase the latter type.
I followed Alan's instructions regarding gaining access to, removing, and re-greasing the various parts of the focussing rack and condenser rail.
Could you please specify what article are you referring to? I'd be happy to learn more on this topic, the condenser rail of my old Amscope is badly frozen.
I have a lens spanner wrench on the way
I may be wrong, but I think buying this tool is not a worthy investment. I have successfully substituted it with wooden toothpics, or, with calipers in the most difficult cases. I have used these improvised wrenches to disassemble the trinocular turret bottom lens and a couple of camera adapters. By the way, what camera type do you use with this scope, and how do you install it on the eyepiece tube?

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75RR
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Location: Estepona, Spain

Re: My Olympus BH-2/BHT journey with Thanks! to this forum

#4 Post by 75RR » Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:45 pm

.
Nicely done! Agree that you are well ahead of the game with that microscope and as they say, it is also about the journey not just the goal.


Just a head's up on the very detailed step by step repair manuals on Alan Wood's excellent site. They are by forum member carlh6902.

They are so good and cover so many areas of the Olympus BH2s that anyone undecided on which of the big four, five or six ... major manufacturers microscopes to buy would do well to include them in their calculations.
Zeiss Standard WL (somewhat fashion challenged) & Wild M8
Olympus E-P2 (Micro Four Thirds Camera)

Terry Mc
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2020 11:16 pm

Re: My Olympus BH-2/BHT journey with Thanks! to this forum

#5 Post by Terry Mc » Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:51 pm

Naphthalene wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 6:50 pm
Thank you for sharing your experience! It is a very interesting report.
I feel that I did well going this route rather than a new Chinese 'scope.
The more I read here, the more convinced I become that old microscopes from quality producers are much better than shiny new ones from China.
Alas I have already spent all my savings to purchase the latter type.
I followed Alan's instructions regarding gaining access to, removing, and re-greasing the various parts of the focussing rack and condenser rail.
Could you please specify what article are you referring to? I'd be happy to learn more on this topic, the condenser rail of my old Amscope is badly frozen.
I have a lens spanner wrench on the way
I may be wrong, but I think buying this tool is not a worthy investment. I have successfully substituted it with wooden toothpics, or, with calipers in the most difficult cases. I have used these improvised wrenches to disassemble the trinocular turret bottom lens and a couple of camera adapters. By the way, what camera type do you use with this scope, and how do you install it on the eyepiece tube?
This is just one of the many BH-2 repair articles on Alan Wood's site:
http://www.alanwood.net/downloads/olymp ... -rev-2.pdf

I work on telescope eyepieces etc often enough that I decided to try a $20 one off of Ebay. Ive gotten by without one just like you, but would like to have a dedicated tool (hopefully it will be usable!!).
As for the camera I used for the quick desmid pic why....it was my cellphone held up to the eyepiece. No holder yet......

PeteM
Posts: 1061
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2016 6:22 am
Location: N. California

Re: My Olympus BH-2/BHT journey with Thanks! to this forum

#6 Post by PeteM » Wed Jul 01, 2020 11:56 pm

Terry Mc wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:51 pm
. . . I work on telescope eyepieces etc often enough that I decided to try a $20 one off of Ebay. Ive gotten by without one just like you, but would like to have a dedicated tool ...
Good decision, IMO. I've often had stuck optics that wouldn't safely remove without just the right spanner -- as well as a bit of solvent, heat, and an appropriate soft jaw clamp for the optic itself.

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