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Old Monday 13th November 2017, 20:41   #1
Kowaist
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Cleaning Tips for binocular rubber armouring and leatherettes ?

Hi,

what is a good (multistep?) way to clean sticky rubber bodies of binoculars, and of classic leatherettes?

Any recommendations of special cleaners or simple things from the household?

thanks in advance

Harry

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Old Tuesday 14th November 2017, 05:20   #2
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Hi,

what is a good (multistep?) way to clean sticky rubber bodies of binoculars, and of classic leatherettes?

Any recommendations of special cleaners or simple things from the household?

thanks in advance

Harry
Hello Harry,

There is an old product originally developed in the US for automobile tires called ArmorAll. One can will last a long time for keeping rubber binocular parts supple and clean. Wipe it on with a cloth, but try not to get any on the lenses, —
although soap an water will remove it. Let it soak in overnight and wipe off the excess the next day.

And if you're wondering whether if it's safe to use by humans, read the attached safety report.

Welcome to BirdForum.

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Attached Files
File Type: pdf Armorall .pdf (64.5 KB, 23 views)
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Old Tuesday 14th November 2017, 07:01   #3
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Moin Harry,

After reading BruceH his recommendation of Dawn dish detergent I looked at it's properties and it turns out that it is has a lower PH value than ordinary soaps. A lower PH value means that it is less alkalyne and this makes it less corrosive and less aggressive on many materials. I would also avoid anything with citric acid, as acids (the opposite of alkalines on the PH scale) tend to be corrosive too. Corrosion isn't much of an issue on rubber armoring, of coarse, but from what I read on another forum, the better PH value of Dawn detergent seems to be better for rubber and plastic parts on cars, so i guess it holds for the rubber parts on bins too. As for corrosion, I suspect that lens coatings may be prone to it, as they are often made of Magnesium Fluoride. Now I did sleep through most of My chemistry class back in the day, but iirc Magnesium is rather corrosive. Not sure what happens though when it is bound to fluoride and possibly even covered by an "oilophobic" coating...

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Old Tuesday 14th November 2017, 09:34   #4
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Hi all,
yes, it is surprising what one can do to improve the cosmetic quality of a binocular. The manufacturers do not press on this point for obvious reasons. The problems that are specifically mentioned are sticky rubber syndrome and old leatherette. Unfortunately these new rubber coatings on low end binoculars seems after time to produce a chemical type reaction that causes the rubber to become permanently sticky. I have found this to be problematic. This state once started, it seems there is absolutely nothing one can do about it. The same for old leatherette in that once it becomes brittle total disintegration of the covering eventually occurs. Smaller brittle areas can be reattached with glue. The professionals replace the whole lot. I would be wary of using solvents on binoculars. Gentle soap treatment is the answer. Also lanolin from ordinary hand creme may temporarily restore a dry but still attached leatherette finish. It seems that owners come in two sorts, with those who do not seem to mind their binoculars getting encrusted with foreign matter opposing those who find the merest speck on the high end glass to be a affront to their dignity!
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Old Tuesday 14th November 2017, 16:21   #5
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waht do you think about Isopropanole as a cleaner. iso is in the optical cleaners and does not harm the glass or coating... It should remove middle-polar dirt....

The leatherette of may old Linhof Technikas got very well with "Poliboy Lederpflege", also contains silicone like ArmorAll.

Do you really use ArmorAll as a first line cleaner or only at he end as a finisher?

PS: Mg++ and F- like each other very well, only pure Mg metal is a strong reducing agent (an burns easily when not coated by MgO), but MgF2 ist a very solid and insoluable Salt which really does not want to react with normal things...

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Old Tuesday 14th November 2017, 16:47   #6
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Unfortunately these new rubber coatings on low end binoculars seems after time to produce a chemical type reaction that causes the rubber to become permanently sticky. I have found this to be problematic. This state once started, it seems there is absolutely nothing one can do about it.
I have no experience of anything like this on binoculars, but pre-digitally owned a Sigma 500mm f/7.2 APO lens. I stopped photography for nearly 15 years, but decided to keep the lens at the back of a cupboard anyway. Wanting to protect it, I wrapped it up very securely in swathes of polyethylene.

Just about the worst thing to have done! Opening the bag 5 years ago, I found the black rubber armouring had "melted" and the whole thing was a sticky mess. No alternative but throw it out. Not sure exactly what the rubber was chemically, but this was a cautionary experience!
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Old Tuesday 14th November 2017, 18:13   #7
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PS: Mg++ and F- like each other very well, only pure Mg metal is a strong reducing agent (an burns easily when not coated by MgO2), but MgF2 ist a very solid and insoluable Salt which really does not want to react with normal things...
That is interesting.... But it also makes me wonder about all the fuss about not using any dish detergent to clean lenses. I read that MgO2 is alkaline too, so not very likely to be bothered by a bit of soap

As for the Isopropanol on the rubber coating: I read that Isopropanol is also used by folks who want to completely remove the decomposing layer of sticky rubber, so I would be a little careful with it. But hey, I was way too careful in my first answer, so who knows.... Some people have had good results with it.

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Old Tuesday 14th November 2017, 20:31   #8
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Hi,

The leatherette on many old binoculars is actually a substance called "vulcanite".

It is a hardened rubber compound which gets brittle with age. Once it starts cracking and falling off there is no real cure.

Vulcanite is an old process which is not used nowadays - the same as bakelite.
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Old Tuesday 14th November 2017, 23:30   #9
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Hi,

The leatherette on many old binoculars is actually a substance called "vulcanite".

It is a hardened rubber compound which gets brittle with age. Once it starts cracking and falling off there is no real cure.

Vulcanite is an old process which is not used nowadays - the same as bakelite.
I used to buy sheets or cannibalize a larger bino for the sake of a smaller one. It's a pain but can be done.

And, when rubber armoring starts to go south, it continues. Charlie Nemoto (Mr. Fujinon USA until his death) tried to convince me that my shop was the only place having trouble with the rubber armor. I knew that mean other companies were "making do" when they should be "making NEW." So, knowing he was coming to visit in a month of so, Cory and I were ready; we gave him two large garbage bags full of "dead" rubber armoring to take back to New Jersey with him. At that point, the "shuck and jive" was over.
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Old Wednesday 15th November 2017, 06:30   #10
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Moin Harry,

Are you talking about a bin with a thick layer of rubber armoring that has gone sticky, or one of those modern rubbery films, for extra grip, that feel a bit sticky to begin with and then turn VERY sticky as they get older?
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Old Wednesday 15th November 2017, 07:30   #11
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Moin Harry,

Are you talking about a bin with a thick layer of rubber armoring that has gone sticky, or one of those modern rubbery films, for extra grip, that feel a bit sticky to begin with and then turn VERY sticky as they get older?
My main sticky problem is my Minox HG 8x32, it has a matte rubber hull, softer than eg the one of the Kowa prominar, which feels much better...
The minox is not dirty, but a little sticky...

And cleaning old vintage leatherettes in gereral (binos, Linhof Technikas)...
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Old Wednesday 15th November 2017, 08:18   #12
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I don't know much about cleaning them old leatherettes, but as for cleaning the Minox with that modern grippy rubber stuff, I would definitely be careful with Isopropanol. In this youtube video they completely remove a grippy layer with alcohol. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7ZHIeLlhts Not sure if it is the same as on your bin though. If your binocular has a coating that is more like the real rubber, you could give it a shot. As you probably know it is best to start on a small spot and test for the result first. Out of curiosity I just gave it a try on a handle and I managed to scrub off a bit of the top of the rubber layer. It didn't dissolve as badly as you see in some youtube videos....

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Old Thursday 16th November 2017, 08:43   #13
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Well, the soft and grippy rubber on the handle that I rubbed down with alcohol/ isopropanol yesterday seems to have turned to crap..., or at least degraded significantly. It was pretty resistant to abrasion before rubbing it down, but now it chips off rather easily. Kind of like the material of an eraser. sure hope Minox used better material for their binocular covering, since some lens cleaners contain isopropanol too
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Old Thursday 16th November 2017, 20:36   #14
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what I can say, the minox rubber withstands Isopropanole, but on the other side it has no effect. Think the problem the rubber is clean but intriniscally a little sticky... So I will have to live with it..

The classic leatherette of the Pentax BIF 7x50 feels like new after 1) Iso 2) cleaning gas...
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Old Thursday 16th November 2017, 21:09   #15
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...the rubber is clean but intriniscally a little sticky...
Treating with ArmorAll often does wonders, both short and long term, with sticky rubber or vinyl.

--AP
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Old Friday 17th November 2017, 00:16   #16
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Treating with ArmorAll often does wonders, both short and long term, with sticky rubber or vinyl.

--AP
I will recommend not using ArmorAll on normal binocular armor.

It does preserve, but slicks it up, and makes handling not good.

ArmorAll is a automotive product, originally from the 1970's, for vinyl
dashes and the like.

Jerry
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Old Friday 17th November 2017, 11:46   #17
Synaps
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what I can say, the minox rubber withstands Isopropanole, but on the other side it has no effect. Think the problem the rubber is clean but intriniscally a little sticky... So I will have to live with it..

The classic leatherette of the Pentax BIF 7x50 feels like new after 1) Iso 2) cleaning gas...
Good to hear you have had good results with it on the leatherette. I did a little more reading and some people really had good results with both alcohol and white spirits on rubber that has turned sticky. It seems that the principle by which it works is rubbing some of the degraded rubber off the top to expose some fresh (non degraded) rubber. I found these threads informative.

https://nl.ifixit.com/Answers/View/5...getting+sticky

http://www.ybw.com/forums/showthread...er-gone-sticky

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Old Sunday 19th November 2017, 12:27   #18
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Hi all,
my experience has been protecting optics in humid climates. Using Armor all on Zeiss 7x42 for instance made them look mint but as others have mentioned it made them slippery to the touch. They have a deliberate dull rubber finish. This caused problems on upgrading if this word is not an oxymoron with regard to these glasses. Furthermore I used Armor All to clean a rubberised camera which I then wrapped in plastic, this proved to be disastrous very long term in the humidity! I have a small Leitz Cine 8 collection and these are in very good in fact the enamel has faded the most. Linhoffs and such from that period are seemingly indestructible! Like Synaps I have had some success in arresting sticky rubber syndrome on the thicker rubber coatings by using ordinary glass cleaner.

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Old Sunday 19th November 2017, 15:24   #19
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I know that opinions of the merits of ArmorAll, based on experience with its use, are highly polarized. I wonder why.

I paint it on with a cotton swab, then set the bins in an open clean area with good air circulation for 24 hours or so, then wipe away any excess with a fine lint-free cloth. I'm left with rubber parts that are clean, dry to the touch, and not especially slippery (sure, I know excess ArmorAll can make things slippery. Some people spray metal poles with ArmorAll or silicone spray to keep squirrels from being able to climb them to reach bird feeders). I've never dropped a bin, and certainly never thought that ArmorAll use raised the risk of such. I've treated all my bins like this since ~1993, and none has experienced any of the deterioration of eyecups or armor that I saw before I started doing this, and that I still routinely see in my friends' bins who don't follow this approach. So I'm very happy with the results. I also note that when I've returned bins to Leica and Zeiss for mechanical repairs that they've applied ArmorAll or something equivalent before shipping the bins back to me.

I live in a very humid climate, and my bins were kept for many years (before I could afford AC), or decades in some cases of those passed on to me from others, in conditions of high summer heat and very high humidity. Photographic negatives and slides in this environment have to be stored in very clean conditions to prevent fungus from eating their gelatin emulsion. Likewise, I'm vigilant about keeping lenses clean to reduce opportunities for fungus. Unless they can be stored in climate controlled places (houses with AC, or dehumidifiers), leather cases and coverings (on old bins) need regular treatment to prevent them from turning green with mold, as happens with leather-bound books. But I've never found/thought that humidity had any relevance to the preservation of rubber/fake leather/synthetic parts.

--AP
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Old Sunday 19th November 2017, 17:44   #20
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From reading the Armor All website, I learned that there are quite a number of different types of Armor All. Their interior cleaners contain alcohol like substances. I am not sure if their exterior cleaners contain alcohol too.
Interestingly, many sorts of AA protectants contain UV blockers. Their interior protectants contain silicone as well, but their exterior protectants do not seem to contain silicone. Probably something else in there that provides a protecting and (possibly slippery) surface. The UV blockers could explain why Alex Powell's bins look better than those of his mates. I recon that is a nice preservation tip, Thanks for that, Alex

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Old Sunday 19th November 2017, 18:27   #21
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From reading the Armor All website, I learned that there are quite a number of different types of Armor All...
I use the "original" formula, which is one of the ones that can lead to very slippery results if it isn't wiped away.

--AP
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Old Monday 20th November 2017, 09:11   #22
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Hmmm, slipperyness on binoculars may be an issue... I think I will try something like this, as they say it does not leave any slippery residue.

https://www.liquidperformancedirect....uct-p/1034.htm

As for Byron Wright's problems, I found an interesting post on another forum that may provide an explanation

Quote:
Armor All used a different formula many years ago, containing dimethyl silicone oils (not water based), and it got a bad name because of it. ...

Truth be told they have been a water based silicone for many years now, and their product isn't a whole lot different than the other rubber / vinyl protectants available. They don't have the higher concentrations of UV inhibitors that 303 Protectant, & Vinylex and a couple others do, but that's 1 reason they ( 303 etc.) cost more than Armor All. UV additives are the most expensive ingredients, arguably, in those products, so you get what you pay for to that extent.

.....

Oh, and silicone is in all of them. The difference is the TYPE of silicone. A water based type is the kind that doesn't remove plasticizers from the material (additives in plastics/ vinyl materials that keep them flexible-without it can lead to cracking etc.) .....
https://www.clublexus.com/forums/aut...-armorall.html

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Old Saturday 25th November 2017, 11:25   #23
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Thanks for this information Synaps.
As a final practical tip anybody who has sticky rubber on the thinner telescope coatings, a cure might be found in the application of carefully cut, green gaffer tape. This forms a shroud and if done carefully it can look quite presentable.
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