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Cleaning the inside of a Bolex


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#1 Bryce Lansing

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Posted 03 November 2009 - 10:50 AM

My first test roll showed dust scratches and other imperfections within the first half of the roll. I didn't clean it well enough before loading.

Does anyone have any specific cleaning tips on how to prevent this dust or scratched film? I know about pulling aside the prism and blowing air through the shutter, but where else and how else should I clean?
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#2 John King

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Posted 05 November 2009 - 03:57 PM

My first test roll showed dust scratches and other imperfections within the first half of the roll. I didn't clean it well enough before loading.

Does anyone have any specific cleaning tips on how to prevent this dust or scratched film? I know about pulling aside the prism and blowing air through the shutter, but where else and how else should I clean?



Hello Mr. Lansing,

As you know the Bolexes (and I am assuming of course that you are referring to one of the basic H-16 or later variations SBM, EMB EL, etc. ) Anyway, the body style did not change too dramatically in all the Bolex models (with the main exception of the Bolex Pro of course which used a coaxial magazine) which is a credit to Bolex. The main body should also be given considerable attention. I usually open the gate (it pulls back to the open position) and blow the body out with air. I would recommend a rubble bubble blower over canned air, as some people have warned me that canned air (if not handled properly) can get some kind of gunk in your camera, so I just avoid it anyway. You can clean the gate, byt taking the lens off, and working from the front. you'll lose only one frame, and what the heck you really lose that on start up and stop anyway so it is no big issue. I don't know if this is exactly what you were wanting to know, or if I am telling oyu stuff oyu alreeady know. If so accept my apologies in advance. I do hope this helps though.

God Bless!
Mark King
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#3 Bernie O'Doherty

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Posted 05 November 2009 - 06:28 PM

Seems that you have two issues with your camera, dust and scratching. Sometimes a maladjusted claw or a burred lateral pressure plate can cause continual scratching. The scratched-off emulsion would show up as dust inside the camera body. Of course, the dust would be deposited on your film.
It's also possible that dust on your optical system is the culprit. The only portion that would show on your film would be on the prism directly behind the lens mount.
If that looks clean, I would suggest using a microfiber cloth to clean the camera body interior. I'd not recommend blowing the dust because you could blow particles into the movement. Hope this is of some help.
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#4 Bryce Lansing

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Posted 05 November 2009 - 11:25 PM

Thanks for the tips guys!

Here was my test:

Its weird because the scratch only goes on for the first 45 seconds, and it moves to different sections of the frame. Then it reappears slightly at 1:19 through 1:39, then it's gone for the rest of the roll. I assumed it was the dust, because the scratch and it's position was so inconsistent, and sometimes not even there.
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#5 Max Weinman

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 10:03 PM

To clean my bolex I use canned air, and an orange wood stick. I remove the door when there's no film loaded, remove the pressure plate, open the gate, and rest the base of the bolex against an edge so that as I spray it the dust leaves the camera. I make sure to spray the area around the gate, and keep an eye out for areas that look like they'd accumulate dust.
Orange wood sticks can be found at Walgreens or CVS; they're really cuticle pushers, but because the wood is particularly soft, they are great for removing the emulsion on the metal above and below the gate (where the pressure plate covers). I take the slanted edge of the stick, and gently scrape the metal. if you see little black pieces of emulsion, you're doing it correctly. I also scrape the inner part of the gate (carefully avoiding the shutter).
There's another little trick I learned for the pressure plate. Spray the plate with canned air to remove dust, then rub the plate against your nose! Then grease lubricates the film! It works.

I used these technique while I was driving across the country with my bolex. I would be in dusty environments all the time: my camera would be hanging out the window, I'd be in the desert, etc. I shot an hour worth of film and there wasn't a single scratch or hair in any of the shots. It's important to keep your camera clean, and these methods seem particularly effective.
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