New condenser for Oberhaeuser

This Oberhauser drum microscope needed a new mirror and a new condenser. The condenser arm and holder have been made using a coping saw and hand files and special screws were made which allow the condenser arm to be repositioned whilst remaining firm. The condenser mount was made on the lathe. It just needs painting olive green now to match the rest of the microscope. It can be removed and fits neatly into the box with the rest of the microscope as the original would have done.

This microscope does not need any relacquering as the original lacquer  is still 99% intact. I have taken some pictures using the microscope – one is of a xylophyte stem and the other is of radiolarians.

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Pllischer progress

The Pillischer is coming along, as you can see I haven’t done the tube holder or bar yet because I have problems with them. The tube holder  has been attacked with a wrench at some point and is distorted so that the tube is extremely stiff. I am not entirely sure how to sort it out. You can get the tube in and out but it takes the strength of Atlas.

There’s a spring missing from the fine focus mechanism too so that will have to  be replaced. At least the paint is off. That took a lot of sandpaper and hard work.

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The worst microscope I have ever seen

This one is going to take a long time for a small microscope. A Pillischer International, the serial number is 2905 for those that have records of such things. It’s my own microscope and I can only imagine I decided self torture was cool on the day I bought it. It has been spray painted a copper pink colour. The spray painter did quite a good job in that they took the microscope to pieces (mostly) but the paint has etched the surface really badly and stained it too. The metal is so badly damaged that I have spent a day just on the foot.

I have had to be quite aggressive, I have stripped the paint off with paint stripper and then I have filed the metal and used 600 grit sandpaper. I would usually not use such harsh abrasives. That was just enough to remove the last traces of paint. Once I had removed the paint I used pumice and rouge as normal. There are still some flaws in the metal but I have to console myself with the fact that the flaws are part of its history.

I have only done the foot so far. My hands are aching from polishing so it’s time for a break.

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Another day, another microscope

This is a Watson Edinburgh that has been mistreated. I have taken it apart now and starting removing the traces of old lacquer with ultrafine wire wool and ethanol. Once that is complete I will have to decorrode and polish. I have recruited my husband to help me with thepolishing.

The Watson Edinburgh doesn’t need any new parts, the rack and pinion are fine and no screws are missing. It’s all down to the lacquer. I’m not going to to much to the foot or other chemically blackened areas, just a clean for them.

Let’s see what we can do for this little one…

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The completed Ross

The Ross has turned out well, it had heavy pitting and took a lot of work. As you can see it does not look brand new, it still has signs of its age. The Ross was polished entirely by hand before lacquering. It needed several new screws at the rear and on the bar of the microscope as the original metal used contained a lot of lead which shears easily.

This is a complex microscope, every single screw was hand made to fit each screw hole. The left hand screw of a pair is not interchangeable with the right hand screw so it was important to write down and photograph where each and every screw came from as the microscope was taken apart. I’m a big fan of standardisation but that came later.

Not all of the screws were put in straight either! The legs which should be interchangeable, being identical shapes, were not interchangeable as whoever made the microscope screwed one of the screws in at an angle of about 20 degrees. Nobody could ever argue this was  anything but completely handmade. A handmade microscope deserves hand polishing and hand lacquering. I have a new respect for (and a few new grudges against) Mr Ross.

The only parts I have not relacquered is the Wenham Prism. The heat involved in hot lacquering could easily damage the prism so it’s best left as it is. The mirror being very chunky acts as a great heat sink so I was able to relacquer that.

 

Spencer Jug Handle microscope completed

The Spencer is complete. If you recall, this poor Spencer had been spray painted black from top to bottom including the condenser, objectives and brass areas. It was quite a job to remove the spray paint and restore this but I’m really very pleased with it. The new paint is not perfect but it is much improved. The spray paint had been removed from the condenser iris and that is now moving smoothly and all in all it looks and functions very well. The knobs and brass areas had the spray paint removed and were relacquered with a rather lovely deep gold colour. My family are quite taken with it and they are usually somewhat immune to the charms of microscopes.

I just need to make a mirror for it, that’s on the to do list.

More progress on the Ross

I’m working my way up, almost everything is lacquered now but there are quite a few broken or missing screws that need replacing. These screws are not made to any standard I can find. Not completely surprising given the age of the microscope. Machinists often set their lathes up at x threads per inch and made everything at that pitch regardless of the size of the screw or what it was doing. Makes it a real pig to make new ones. Standardization is a blessing.

The stage is now lacquered – an odd thing to do but it was definitely lacquered originally. Just a few bits and bobs left. Not that this means it will be swift!

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The Ross is coming together

Slowly but surely the Ross is coming together, literally.  I have reassembled the base.  It’s much shiner now.  You can see that it is not going to look “as new” the pitting is too deep, and I don’t want to destroy all signs of its history by sanding it heavily.  In this case to do so would be to remove enormous amounts of metal and it is really not possible.  To get the name plate to a perfect finish would result in the removal of the engraving which obviously would be foolish.  The pitting is still present in places but the corrosion has been treated so it should be good for another 100 years.  There’s still lots to do though and this microscope is definitely one of the worst I’ve done, it’s in a worse state than my experimental Dunscombe which was black all over when I got it.  Each piece is taking hours of work.  It is enormously satisfying though when it starts to take shape.  Onward and upward – the tubes are already done so really I’m heading middle-ward, to the REALLY tricky bits.

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Plossl restoration

This beautiful little Plossl had been mistreated, either stored in an attic or garage, or otherwise abused. Very little lacquer remained and that which did was decaying casuing corrosion and pitting to the metal. I have stripped off the old lacquer, removed the corrosion and polished without removing all the scratches and pitting that show the age and history of the microscope. They are simply safely locked away under new lacquer which should protect it from any further degradation. I have not lacquered the mirror or the objective as the risk of damage to them by polishing and hot lacquering was quite great. I’m rather pleased with it.

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Interesting mechanism inside the little brown Merz

The Merz has an interesting design, and not one I have seen before. Most microscopes of this age and style have a solid round  bar through which a triangular bar passes. The triangular bar has a screw at one end and a spring at the other and it’s a very effective, simple fine focus mechanism.

The Merz has a rather different set up – it also has a triangular block with a screw at one end and a spring at the other, but instead of passing through a round bar, the triangular block passes through another triangular piece. The outer triangle is constructed from pieces of flat brass which have been joined together by brazing – this might explain why Merz painted these parts rather than lacquering them I think. Using brazed pieces of brass would have saved a lot of wastage and money and it would easily have been strong enough.

A “typical” round Baker fine focus block on the left, the Merz brazed, triangular fine focus mechanism on the right.

Travel could only have occurred in a small area. The solid triangular bar has a cut out area and a small bar is inserted through the corner of the brazed piece which acts as a stop. The pictures make it much easier to understand.