Leica III leatherette browning / oil
Old 06-23-2017   #1
Mjd-djm
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Leica III leatherette browning / oil

I just picked up a Leica III today from 1934. I noticed that some parts of the leatherette were browning slightly and my hands smelled of grease / oil after using the camera. I tried to use a baby wipe to see if the brown colouration would come off and it seemed to get worse. Now the whole of the leatherette appears to be a dirty brown colour. Is this simply the age of the camera, or has someone oiled the leather at some point and the oil has aged badly?
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Old 06-23-2017   #2
Mr_Flibble
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Vulcanite is basically rubber that will degrade under the influence of UV light.
There's no way to revive it I'm afraid, short of replacing it.
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Old 06-23-2017   #3
Erik van Straten
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When you put the camera in a dark place for some time, the vulcanite will darken again and spots will disappear. A miracle! However, the vulcanite will not become black, but in the dark it gets an even, dark grey tone. Do not worry, the vulcanite will keep it's smell (sulphur).

Never recover the camera unless the vulcanite is very incomplete. The camera looses its attraction and value when it is recovered.

It is not possible to damage the vulcanite with oil or grease. In use, it gets smoother, but that takes a very long time. You can tell if the camera has been used a lot when the vulcanite is smooth. On parts that you cannot touch it you can still see its original texture.

The vulcanite - guttapercha - is a very interesting material made from a special composite rubber. This material was used for isolation in a period that plastics were unknown. The kind of guttapercha that is used on Leicas was also used for the isolation of telegraphic cables in the deep sea in the 19th century. Golfballs are made from guttapercha too.

When you want to remove the covering you'll have to disassemble the camera completely and to heat the sleeve. Then the vulcanite is very easy to remove.

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Old 06-23-2017   #4
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Erik I did not know vulcanite was related to gutta-percha, a material I have heard of in relation to golf balls I think, so I have learnt something new!

To the OP. Just clean everything off it and leave it. If it is coming loose stick it down carefully before it cracks.

Whether it is now black, greyish or brown it is part of the camera's history.
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Old 06-23-2017   #5
Jerevan
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Mine fell off completely, in large pieces so I couldn't do much except get a new covering. The camera itself is not special in any way and the Aki-Asahi is a pretty okay subsitute for a working tool.

But yes, I agree that to keep the old vulcanite is a good idea.
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Old 06-23-2017   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
...the vulcanite will keep it's smell (sulphur).

Never recover the camera unless the vulcanite is very incomplete. The camera looses its attraction and value when it is recovered.
...

Erik.
Hm. I beg to differ... https://www.cameraworks-uk.com/singl...on-my-Leica-M3
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Old 06-23-2017   #7
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Johan, every Leica camera I've stripped has exhibited some level of aluminum sulphate "damage" it can be very stubborn especially when it creeps up onto a painted surface.

It does not usually stick to chrome but will plague and scratches near the vulcanite.

I'm of the opposite opinion as Erik, the first thing I do is replace the covering. But I'm a reseller not a collector and I surely understand the value to those like Erik.
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Old 06-23-2017   #8
Mr_Flibble
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johannielscom View Post
Heh, I see Alan is showing off the work he's done on my IIIc repaint on his website
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Old 06-23-2017   #9
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Aha, it's yours, Rick - I think I have seen that you've mentioned wanting to do a conversion. Very cool that it was possible to recreate the red curtains in it.

Hmm ... a grey paint IIIb wouldn't be half bad. This got me thinking.
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