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Flood damaged cameras and treating mould on leather

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  • Marcel Safier
    Hello all My friend Sandy s collection of 2500 cameras went under in the Queensland Floods last Wednesday. Sadly there are just too many and not enough
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 20, 2011
      Hello all

      My friend Sandy's collection of 2500 cameras went under in the
      Queensland Floods last Wednesday. Sadly there are just too many and not
      enough volunteers to deal with them all and with no power we cannot even
      get air moving around them to dry them out. Just to lay them out to dry
      would take a very large hall (and then there is a health risk with the
      now blooming mould). We have not had enough people to pack and move them
      all anyway as most of the recovery effort has been aimed at trying to
      save around 100000 prints, glass plate and sheet film negatives with
      professional conservation help and advice and that is what most of the
      volunteers has been working at. It has been very hot all week and now
      raining on and off for the last 3 days. I have brought a small number
      of better wood and brass home to treat but the bellows are riddled with
      mould. Over 50 Thornton Pickards are still sitting damp in plastic tubs
      at the house.

      I have sought info on line and from museums and cannot get a consensus
      as to how to treat the mould on the leather with advice from using
      dilute chlorine based bleaches or alcohol to Dettol antiseptic. Then I
      have also been told these are not safe on old leather and not to use
      them! At present my inclination is to go with isopropyl alcohol. There
      are expensive commercial products used mainly for upholsery and saddlery
      but even the supplier of one brand wasn't sure about using them on 100+
      year old camera bellows and said the mould usually came back eventually
      anyway. The imtermittent rain and fact I have to work during the day
      anyway makes it impossible to even simply put them in sunshine at
      present but maybe Saturday morning I can get them out for a couple of
      hours before I return to Ipswich to help deal with all the other
      problems at my friend's house which went almost completely under despite
      being two stories high.

      Several Cameraholics members have taken metal cameras away to work on.
      Charlie Woodhouse is a camera repairer so he is working on some of the
      better rangefinders and lenses gratis but we could do with a team of
      Charlies and the cost of paying for such work would be more than a lot
      of the items are worth. Mike, you would hate to see Sandy's lovely 16mm
      cameras just rusting out as we speak. The effort required to work on
      them is just too daunting. Fortunately Sandy took one of the historic
      Williamson wooden 35mm cameras when he fled the house but another went

      All input and advice would be appreciated particularly ideas on how to
      deal with the mould which is my most pressing issue at present.


      Marcel, Brisbane, Australia

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