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Nikon F restoration question
Old 01-24-2008   #1
Harry Lime
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Nikon F restoration question

I'm in the process of cleaning up a grimy Nikon F (#6434###) I recently picked up. I got it for a song and it turns out that under several decades of dirt the black paint is actually in quite good shape, with only a little brassing on some edges.

Anyhow, I gave her a good cleaning with Q-tips and an old undershirt dipped in some mildly soapy water and she's looking quite respectable.

The leather looks quite good and this is my main question. What would you use to restore and protect it? Dare I say black shoe polish? Some sort of leather treatment? Leave it alone?


thanks in advance.
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Old 01-24-2008   #2
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Having extensive experience restoring/preserving tack & harness equipment, I would propose a semi-long term process. Each step should be followed by at least a day of drying time.

Using your handy Q tips, clean the leather using dilute Murphy's oil soap or castile soap and rinse thoroughly.

Repair any places where the skin is lifted or torn with a contact adhesive.

Re-dye any areas that show lightening. You should redye that entire panel evenly.

Apply a light coating of a 50-50 mixture of olive oil and glycerine with your Q tip.

Allow to dry overnight again, then wipe off excess and buff thoroughly with a soft rag. At this point you could use a polish, but a quick cleaniong with the castle/oil soap would provide a less slick surface, which is nice to hold.
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Old 01-24-2008   #3
NIKON KIU
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Make sure you consider that the covering is not leather.

Kiu
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Aarrrgg!!
Old 01-24-2008   #4
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Aarrrgg!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by NIKON KIU
Make sure you consider that the covering is not leather.

Kiu
Think before you type, Jo!! My above method has proven successful on my Speed Graphic and early folders, but I had not considered the fact it's a synthetic .
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Old 01-24-2008   #5
Harry Lime
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Thank you gents.

Now that I take a closer look at it, you are correct. It is not real leather. That's what happens when you stare at Vulcanite for 10 years. Anything that doesn't overtly look like rubber, becomes leather.

Anyhow, this afternoon I cleaned the covering with some mild soapy water and a toothbrush and it too is in surprisingly good shape. No cracks and just a tiny little peeling in one corner, that I'm going to leave alone for the moment.

Now, that she is clean I regret not taking a before and after shot. The camera was truly filthy and that's probably the reason why I got it for less than $100. There's no mold, but it must have sat on a shelf somewhere for eons, because the dirt was so thick that the camera practically looked like it had faded. Good thing it had a body cap on it.

I'm all for leaving the camera as original as possible. I would only restore a camera if it truly was a wreck and even then I would have to make a decision if it's dilapidated condition was of historical significance. I prefer preservation.

It's a relatively early body (#6434###), but has some of the traits of later cameras (selftimer lever, prism label, motor coupling etc).

http://www.nikonhs.org/article_archi...cle/f_ken.html

This is my first F.

I have two F3-P with MD-4 motors, that I am very fond of, but this is very different. The F is so simple and elegant. It will be a perfect compliment to my Leica M bodies.

Coming from the Leica M series, the F is an interesting camera. The first thing you notice when you pick it up is that it just feels right. That's very important. I remember the first time someone handed me an M body. 10 minutes later I walked out of the store with it. Broke, but very happy. I'm really not sure what makes or breaks a camera in that sense. After a short period there were several other cameras on the market, that were very similar to the F, but they just seem to miss the mark for some reason. With the F it's been an instant friendship.

The F is very finely machined where it needs to be and surprisingly simple in other areas. But there is no doubt that this is an incredibly well made and durable piece of machinery. I'm going to send her in for a CLA, but I was rather surprised to see that even after sitting on a shelf for maybe decades, the shutter speeds sound and look quite accurate.

I just mounted a nice Nikkor-H.C 2/50 on it and it looks great. I really can't wait to take her out for some shooting.
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Old 03-08-2008   #6
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Congrats! I had a made a similar great find not too long ago but had to part with it for the cash... yours is probably worth a pretty penny despite some of the later markers. The cameraquest website says perhaps only around 1000 64xxxx F's were made. This did surprise me, as did the fact that they made back bodies in the first block of 1000 cameras. Anyone care to share some more recent research on black 64's? Be careful with that baby, but enjoy.
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Old 03-08-2008   #7
Bill58
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The best guy to do the CLA is Sover Wong in the UK: [email protected]
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Old 03-08-2008   #8
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handy little tip: if the advance lever wiggles/rattles a bit up and down, put two paper washers underneath the metal washer that's right under the frame counter cap. i used a cheap olfa circle cutter and regular white paper.
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Old 05-21-2008   #9
Harry Lime
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naren View Post
Congrats! I had a made a similar great find not too long ago but had to part with it for the cash... yours is probably worth a pretty penny despite some of the later markers. The cameraquest website says perhaps only around 1000 64xxxx F's were made. This did surprise me, as did the fact that they made back bodies in the first block of 1000 cameras. Anyone care to share some more recent research on black 64's? Be careful with that baby, but enjoy.
This is very interesting. Does anyone have more information about this?

I shoot streetphotography and documentary work, so my cameras actually get used.
Most dealers look at my Leicas and cringe in horror at their cosmetics... they are quite used looking, but not abused, if you know what I mean.

thanks
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Old 05-21-2008   #10
Harry Lime
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By the way, here is a picture of the camera.

It was serviced by Fixation in London. I picked it up yesterday and it's very smooth.

If anyone can share additional information about this camera (#6434***),
it would be greatly appreciated (even if it's not an RF...)
Attached Images
File Type: jpg F.jpg (56.4 KB, 208 views)

Last edited by Harry Lime : 05-21-2008 at 03:26.
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Old 05-23-2008   #11
NIKON KIU
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Quote:
If anyone can share additional information about this camera (#6434***),
Check out this site:

http://www.destoutz.ch/nikon-f.html


According to Factory records provided by Richard, your camera was produced between NOV 1960 to APR 1961

Original black Nikon F's with eye-level finder were produced in much smaller numbers than the chrome version. Most were bought by pros and are well used. Collectors seem to like the unmodified early black bodies with the correct eye-level finder(marked Nippon Kogaku on the inside).

Kiu
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Old 05-24-2008   #12
Harry Lime
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NIKON KIU View Post
Check out this site:

http://www.destoutz.ch/nikon-f.html


According to Factory records provided by Richard, your camera was produced between NOV 1960 to APR 1961

Original black Nikon F's with eye-level finder were produced in much smaller numbers than the chrome version. Most were bought by pros and are well used. Collectors seem to like the unmodified early black bodies with the correct eye-level finder(marked Nippon Kogaku on the inside).

Kiu

Thanks for the information.

I also found these pages:
http://www.nikonhs.org/article_archi...cle/f_ken.html

The camera has a type 3 prism marked 'Nikon F Japan' and a square eyepiece. It has a mix of old and newer style parts (S-style rewind knob etc.)

I'm probably going to sell it, because I was looking for a body I could use. Overall the camera is in good shape with little wear and it would be a shame for it to get all marked up from being tossed in my bag.

thanks
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Old 05-24-2008   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Lime View Post
I'm probably going to sell it, because I was looking for a body I could use. Overall the camera is in good shape with little wear and it would be a shame for it to get all marked up from being tossed in my bag.
thanks
First I answer to the question: I have a few F's (it's no rangefinder but it is my favourite camera and the camera I use most often) and I always just applied a very little bit of oliev oil. Not even with a q-tip which, in my experience, get too wet but with my finger after I make sure it just has barely what needed.

Then I ask: how much are you planning to ask for it? I would not mind having one more F. (Yes, I would use it, trying to be gentle and not marking it too much but I would definitively not put in on a shelve.)

GLF
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Old 05-24-2008   #14
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I'd be interested as well
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Old 05-24-2008   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Lime View Post

The camera has a type 3 prism marked 'Nikon F Japan' and a square eyepiece. It has a mix of old and newer style parts (S-style rewind knob etc.)


thanks
Harry,

I am well aware of the article you mention, it is a very nice comparison but it is not absolute. Since then, the Nikon F trilogy by Uli Koch(http://www.nikon-f.de) has drawn a better picture for the Nikon F collector(and driven them crazy at the same time). There are large overlaps of new and old parts within the serial number batches. This does not necessaarily mean the parts were replaced, rather that this particular cameera came with the newer parts.
643xxxx(1960) was a time when many new parts were introduced....
The camera looks authentic to me.

Don't believe ALL you see on the net.

Kiu
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Old 06-11-2008   #16
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Don't mean to hijack anyones thread... but since a few of you are interested in early F's... I have 2 for sale.

Both are chrome, 6413xxx and 64069xx. The latter has an original prism finder... please send me a PM if interested. Thanks.
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Old 06-16-2008   #17
Harry Lime
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Well, I tried to talk myself in to selling it, but failed miserably.
Then I tried to talk myself in to shelving it and that didn't go too well either.

So, I took it down to my local Nikon expert and he took a good look at it. Nice camera and a little more valuable than the average early Nikon F, but not something so rare that it really should be preserved for historical reasons.

Then last week a friend of mine passed away, after a long struggle with illness and I decided to use the darn thing. That camera was made to take pictures and darn it that's what it's going to do. I loaded it up with some Tri-X and it shoots like a charm. Yes, it's going to get scratched and marred, but that is what it was made for.
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Old 07-10-2008   #18
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Hey Fred -

Do you know a of a good Nikon service center in the UK, maybe even London?

I normally use www.fixationuk.com, but they aren't offering a full overhaul on many of the film cameras anymore. For many of them they are only doing seals and checking shutter speeds and not actually cleaning / lubricating the camera.

I know there is one fellow here in the UK, who does full rebuilds of F2 bodies, but don't know anyone who would truly service a Nikon F or FM anymore...

Any suggestions?

Thanks,

HL
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Old 07-10-2008   #19
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Harry:

The VERY best, honest and reasonable is Sover Wong in the UK....and maybe the world ([email protected]). I've used him twice w/ my F2as.

Bill
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Old 07-10-2008   #20
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thanks Bill.

It sounds like he is the man to speak to.

cheers,

HL
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Old 07-10-2008   #21
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I love the F. Its a beautiful machine. I had a mint (boxed) late one with an FTn finder but it was so pristine that I was loathe to use the damn thing. So I ended up selling it. Of course I regret the sale even though it went for a very good price. But I know that if I did use it, sooner or later I would end up scratching / denting it and I decided that this beauty deserved to stay in pristine condition. However I have never found a good user at a reasonable price to repalce it and so have had to settle for a late Nikkormat FTN in black body that I found and bought very cheaply about 10 years ago. It mounts and uses all my pre AI lenses very nicely. The late Nikkormat FTN looks identical to the FT2 Nikkormat which replaced it, (ie it has the same plastic tipped film transport lever etc) with the exception that it has no hotshoe, only an accessory shoe. Its nearly as good as an F for the everyday shooter like me.
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