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05-26-2014, 08:11 PM   #1
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Destinking old cameras and cases

As a favor to a good friend, I've taken on a box of old cameras and agreed to clean them up and sell them on theBay. There are five cameras and they have each been beautifully cared for with one exception. They smell like smoke. Possibly decades of smoke. They each have an ever ready case and those are really the problem. While the cameras may be fine after a good airing and some sunshine, the cases have a much thicker scent.

Is there anything to be done aside from tossing them? Would anything expedite the process for the cameras? The cases are all in good condition and original to the cameras.

As a side note, I'm have a hard time convincing myself to part with the box's SPII. It's a beautiful copy and snappy as ever but I won't have a working darkroom again until maybe next summer and don't spend enough time with my 67 and small arsenal of 35mms as it is.

Any advice is appreciated.


Last edited by jesssss; 05-27-2014 at 06:13 AM. Reason: spelling :D
05-26-2014, 08:18 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Leather cleaner available from shoe care stores, Shoe blacking for the outside, textile/upholstery cleaner from furniture shops in appropriate combinations.

Know what you mean about spotties - I have resolved to offload mine three times and they still haven't moved - the design and clockwork mechanism and presence is just not worth off loading for the $40-$50 you will get for them...
05-26-2014, 08:35 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by jesssss Quote
As a favor to a good friend, I've taken on a box of old cameras and agreed to clean them up and sell them on theBay. There are five cameras and they have each been beautifully cared for with one exception. They smell like smoke. Possibly decades of smoke. They each have an ever ready case and those are really the problem. While the cameras may be fine after a good airing and some sunshine, the cases have a much thicker scent.

Is there anything to be done aside from tossing them? Would anything expedite the process for the cameras? The cases are all in good condition and original to the cameras.

As a side note, I'm have a hard time convincing myself to part with the box's SPII. It's a beautiful copy and snappy as ever but I won't have a working darkroom again until maybe next summer and don't spend enough time with my 67 and small arsenal of 35mms as it is.

Any advice is appreciate.
The best thing to do is just leave them in fresh air, and eventually the small will vanish.

What I've also done for cases, etc. is spray a paper towel with some air freshener/odor remover, crumble it up and place it inside. You can also use baking soda, which I've used to get a moldy smell out of my trunk.

Adam
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05-26-2014, 08:39 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by jesssss Quote
Is there anything to be done aside from tossing them? Would anything expedite the process for the cameras? The cases are all in good condition and original to the cameras.

Any advice is appreciate.
Don't toss them, it can get fixed.
I'm pretty sure it is White Vinegar you use.
Soke a towel in white vinegar, then put camera cases and towel into a box for a few days and your problem should be solved.

05-26-2014, 10:06 PM   #5
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I'd leave the actual cameras alone, it sounds like they aren't that bad.

As for the cases, I'd avoid things like shoe polish etc, just more muck to rub onto the camera during use.
I'd buy some leather cleaner/moisturiser, the same stuff you would use on a leather couch, or gloves.

The smell I would put them into a sealed container with a heap of bicarb soda, that should soak up a good part of the smell (well, it works for my cupboards at home)
afterwards just vaccuum/blow off all the bicarb and then get into them with the leather cleaner.
05-26-2014, 10:27 PM   #6
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Ultra violet light and ozone take the stink out of just about everything. As others have mentioned, the cameras and lenses , except for careful external wiping should be left alone, but if you have fabric or leather cleaner / restorer the cases would be worth a try. You need to be careful as the leather can get pretty old and crack.

Maybe just a day or two in strong sunlight will do the trick
05-26-2014, 10:48 PM   #7
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Set a container of baking soda into a sealed space with the cameras. It will absorb most of the odors, and make it at least manageable. Did this with a very strange smelling Zenit Camera with a Helios 44 I got that smelled of...new car? Almost like someone left them sitting in a box with twenty of those little "Black Ice" trees. Scent was still there after a few days, but reduced greatly. Can't even smell it now, but it's been some time.
05-27-2014, 03:10 AM   #8
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Actually I found a better way trying to do this with a stinky doll. Take a box, fill the bottom with bleach free Oxyclean, then put the gear in a plastic bag on top of that to keep the powder out, but don't seal it. You want the fumes from the Oxy to circulate a bit, just not the powder. Close the box, leave it for a few days, check it, keep on doing it till all the smell is gone. It works. I took the smoke smell completely out of a vinyl doll and her clothes in like a week and FYI, that's not easy to do. When you first take them out they'll smell a bit like Oxyclean but a couple of days and that's gone to. FYI, I did change out the powder twice with that doll but the Oxy soaks it right up and leaves them nice and fresh. I bet it would work with camera bags too...

05-27-2014, 05:26 AM   #9
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Febreze Air Freshener & Odor Eliminator Products | Febreze.com does an excellent job with smoking odor on fabrics. I have even spayed an AC filter or two to get the whole house effect. I don't think I would spay it on leather without first testing. One could spay a rag or paper towel.
05-27-2014, 08:14 AM   #10
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Like everyone has said
Baking soda does a good job
05-27-2014, 09:14 AM - 1 Like   #11
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Tobacco smoke leaves a residue that stinks and discolors and coats. If I were in your position, my inclination would be to make note of the issue in the item description and sell the gear as is with minimal cleaning. If that is not desirable, this is how I have dealt with tobacco-fouled gear that I have purchased. Most of the below are for grungy gear in general.
  • Camera externals (in ascending order, each step if the previous fails)
    • Mild soapy water with soft cloth and cotton buds (q-tips). Finish with water (sparingly) and dry with paper towel or soft cloth.
    • Mild ammonia or vinegar solution or Windex
    • 70% isopropanol (rubbing alcohol). Take care around edges of leather/leatherette to avoid dissolving glue and accidentally lifting the edges of the covering.
  • Camera internals (film chamber): Probably (hopefully) not needed. I have used Windex on a paper towel in the past.
  • Lens body
    • Mild ammonia or vinegar solution or Windex with soft cloth. Finish and dry with paper towel or soft cloth.
    • 70% isopropanol (rubbing alcohol)
  • Lens optics: Windex with scrap of high quality paper towel. Be gentle and finish with dry paper towel scrap. May take multiple attempts.
  • Cases (external): Mild soapy water and soft brush and dress with paste-type shoe polish to finish. Be gentle.
  • Cases (internal): Hmmm...not much you can do here.
Note that any cleaning bears the risk of "lifting" the paint from inscribed lettering. A lacquer crayon or pen is useful for renewing lettering. You can even get creative and make "very rare RED letter edition camera"!


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 05-27-2014 at 09:23 AM.
05-27-2014, 10:12 AM   #12
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It looks like rain all day today, so the whole lot will spend the day in a airtight box with a bowl of baking soda. Tomorrow it can all sun itself on the porch, I'll pick up some bleach-free OxyClean to pack back up with it, and tackle the actual cleaning next week. Everything was wrapped in cloth and plastic bags (and the cases) before being packed in a plastic tub some twenty or thirty-odd years ago so the exposure doesn't seem to have been direct enough to cause any sort of film. I'm familiar with the coating as the previous owners of my house were heavy smokers and it is awful stuff.

It will definitely be noted in the auction unless I can achieve 100% stink-free, which is doubtful. I'm currently pregnant and gagging at the smell of everything from smoke to eggs to air freshener, so I'd say that I can hold a pretty high bar on stink-free. I just hope I can get this stuff there because it is otherwise very nice. I don't think the previous owner has any idea that this is even a problem.
05-28-2014, 02:16 PM   #13
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I bought a used canvas camera bag online.
The previous owner apparently had laundered it to soften the fabric; it had a strong fabric softener odor I found objectionable.
I stored the empty bag in my car's trunk. After several months the smell was completely gone.

Chris
05-28-2014, 02:17 PM   #14
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PS> Keep the SPII!!!!
05-28-2014, 05:08 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
I stored the empty bag in my car's trunk. After several months the smell was completely gone.
I knew a guy in college that used to cycle his dirty clothes on the concrete floor of his basement flat. A week or so on the cold concrete and they were odor-free or so he claimed.


Steve
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