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Rolleiflex Planar Just will not Separate
Old 10-17-2016   #1
topaz
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Rolleiflex Planar Just will not Separate

Been so busy but was able to try chemical separation of 3.5 Planar element. 30 days in a product named Attack. Used to dissolve cured epoxies. No effect. Heat must be the only alternative.
It is so minor a spot, I may just leave it be and reassemble. A very nice Rolleiflex 3.5e. Perfect front element. Just not worth the cost of sending out. I apologize if I have posted in the wrong forum.
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Old 10-17-2016   #2
Sarcophilus Harrisii
Brett Rogers
 
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Hi,
the repair forum might have been a better location but not to worry. I've not heard of "Attack". And (full disclosure) I've not had a need to tackle what you're doing yet (without wanting to gloat, being into the 2.8 Xenotars instead of the Planars neatly sidesteps this issue). But there is a product called "Milsolve" that is made to do precisely what you're attempting. I've also read that acetone has been successful for some people. It's not going to do any painted surfaces any good but presumably you've removed the piece from its mount and any edge blackening will inevitably have to be redone, anyway, so...

Now: having said that. Let me suggest that you consider giving it a bit longer to work. Seriously, you say? Well actually, yes. I'll explain why.

A few years ago I conversed with a delightful eBay seller who was parting with a Contaflex kit (which, of course features Zeiss lenses). It was a Contaflex II as I recall and the owner also had the beautiful if somewhat flawed Teleskop attachment for it. Like a number of the Contaflex lens options this one had some serious separation of the cement and he decided to repair it. The Teleskops are not as frequently affected by the problem as Pro Tessars for the later, unit focus Contaflexes (the 85mm is notorious for it), but the earlier Teleskops can suffer from it too occasionally. Of course these are not Rolleiflex lenses, but they are Zeiss lenses and are in period, so it's directly relevant in my view.

The separation and re-cementing of the affected pieces was successful but he had to soak the parts in Milsolve for a couple of months. The adhesive Zeiss used is tenacious. I can only hypothesise that any failures these lenses have results from perhaps surface preparation that was not optimal to it or maybe a mismatch in specifications. Not too many years earlier Zeiss were still using Canada Balsam. I'm certain they gave their best efforts to the new technology, and it is decades later that these faults are manifesting, so it's difficult to be too hard on them, hindsight is after all a wonderful thing, yes?

Now, it is pretty reasonable to doubt information sourced off the web (especially third hand such as this). It's proper to weigh the veracity of such a source. I do it myself. In this instance, though, the chap who carried out the repair work is a qualified factory trained motion picture equipment technician (Paul Scaglione) who routinely works on high end kit from Arri, Panavision and the like. He knows lenses, very good ones, and is well qualified to tend to them. This is what he told me, and I have no reason to doubt him. So I would put the piece back in the Attack (if it aligns with other alternative solvents) or source some Milsolve, and be prepared to be patient as you may have success in a month or so? Of course, you can apply heat. But how much of a hurry are you in? The worst that can happen is that solvent action won't work. You can always heat it later. But there's no breakage risk with solvent. And they're not making any more lenses for these Rolleis.

Hope this helps.
Cheers,
Brett
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Old 10-19-2016   #3
Jerevan
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Heat, from what my repair man said, can be iffy since some of the Planar elements are very curved and very thin. I took the loss and sold the camera I had as it was, stating very clerly the issues with it.
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Old 10-24-2016   #4
topaz
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Thanks for your replies. I ordered some Milsolve. I really enjoy using Rolleiflex. For some applications, My 501cm is best and for others my Mamiya C330 is excellent. Closeups especially. There is something about some of the images captured by Rollei that have a certain quality that appeals to me. The separation is minor. It appears as a darkened area in the middle of the rear cemented elemants. You see, I sent the front element to Focal Point. It was terribly scratched. John did an excellent job at polishing and recoating. Really nice. The end cost was more than estimated, and I am loathe to put more into this venerable camera.
I will, however soak the element for a month if that is what it takes. Could be an enjoyable project. V blocks. Clean room.
I made my own Canadian Balsam/Xylene solution. Heated, and repeatedly filtered through Melita paper filters. Appears nice and clear. Easy to separate if I am not happy with my first try.
Cheers.
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Old 10-24-2016   #5
Sarcophilus Harrisii
Brett Rogers
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by topaz View Post
Thanks for your replies. I ordered some Milsolve. I really enjoy using Rolleiflex. For some applications, My 501cm is best and for others my Mamiya C330 is excellent. Closeups especially. There is something about some of the images captured by Rollei that have a certain quality that appeals to me. The separation is minor. It appears as a darkened area in the middle of the rear cemented elemants. You see, I sent the front element to Focal Point. It was terribly scratched. John did an excellent job at polishing and recoating. Really nice. The end cost was more than estimated, and I am loathe to put more into this venerable camera.
I will, however soak the element for a month if that is what it takes. Could be an enjoyable project. V blocks. Clean room.
I made my own Canadian Balsam/Xylene solution. Heated, and repeatedly filtered through Melita paper filters. Appears nice and clear. Easy to separate if I am not happy with my first try.
Cheers.
I'll be waiting for news of your progress with this with great interest. I'd be inclined to use CB myself I think, for the reasons you've mentioned. Having the V blocks is good to hear, because I was going to enquire about your alignment process. Bear in mind that Paul told me he soaked the Teleskop cell in Milsolve for a couple of months before the pieces finally yielded, so if you can bear to be without the use of the camera, don't necessarily abandon hopes of success with chemical separation if they haven't parted after three or four weeks, as it may well take longer.

Although the Contaflex SLRs have little in common with your Rollei (other than that they both use lenses manufactured by Zeiss, at around the same time), as you're interested in the problem of Zeiss cement separation, here are some links courtesy of Pacific Rim Camera, with images of the lenses involved. Firstly, the Teleskop lens of a type that Paul repaired (I have a good condition copy of this lens myself).
http://www.pacificrimcamera.com/pp/zicontaflex17x.htm

This pdf shows the optical array of the Teleskop. And this page shows photos of the Pro Tessars made for the later Contaflex models which have been badly affected by cement separation. Various Zeiss lenses are known to suffer from the problem, including the occasional 2.8 Planar Rolleiflex lens, and (much more frequently) the 135mm Sonnar used in the Tele Rolleiflex. But for whatever reasons, it is the Contaflex lens system, particularly the Pro Tessars (but also occasionally the Teleskop for Contaflex I and II), which are the most often afflicted.

I have a Contaflex I on hand with a prism that has a lot of brown discolouring within it (it's one of a number I have so it is not a priority but I will eventually swap a spare prism into it and service it). The deterioration in the prism joints is not synthetic cement separation. It looks exactly like Canada Balsam that's aged and gone bad and I don't have any doubt that this is what was used to make it.

The first Contaflexes were sold in late 1953 so I believe Zeiss were still using Canada Balsam, for at least some purposes, in the early 1950s. At some point early in the decade they began substituting a synthetic alternative instead. It didn't always fail, even in the case of the Contaflex lenses. Although good examples of the 85mm type (which is the single lens type most often affected, based on my extensive observations of Contaflex and Rollei eBay listings over a number of years) are the exception rather than the rule, sound specimens are still out there. I have one slightly affected 85mm f/4, and also a 85mm f/3.2 that is still perfect. These lenses were made in the mid-1950s to early 1960s for the most part, I believe.

So what is clear to me is that in the period from the early to mid 1950s onwards, Zeiss were still getting the process of using synthetic cement perfected. Sometimes the optics would manifest no problems decades later, other types of lenses would display a frequent tendency to fail.

Of course, there are other types of Zeiss lenses that can be affected, it's not confined to their Contaflex and Rolleiflex optics. For instance, the Oberkochen 50mm f/1.5 Sonnars for the Contax rangefinders will begin to fail on occasion, and prospective purchasers of this lens need to keep an eye out for signs of it when inspecting these, too.

In light of this, I think you've drawn something of a short straw, because the 3.5 Planars aren't notorious for cement problems in their rear groups (unlike the aforementioned Pro Tessars or 135mm Sonnar, for which I would argue the term "notorious" is *not* an exaggeration). All this is mostly off topic for your Rolleiflex, but maybe it helps put a little context on the scope of problem you are trying to remedy?
Cheers,
Brett
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