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Author Topic: Cleaning and Lubricating Old Films
Eric W. Cook
Junior
Posts: 12
From: Wellsboro, PA, USA
Registered: Sep 2010


 - posted May 15, 2011 02:10 PM      Profile for Eric W. Cook   Author's Homepage   Email Eric W. Cook   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I do not have any special equipment other than a projector and my films. I have been slowly reading the posts about cleaning and checking some of the products, but I'm a little confused (and a little dense)...

What do you recommend for cleaning and/or lubricating films - both products to use, and means to apply the product? Standard 8 mm, although I'd like to acquire a super 8 and 16 mm projector eventually.

How often should a film be cleaned, and how often lubricated?

Most of the films I have are Blackhawk releases, or family home movies from the late 1940's to early 1970's.

Do I need to invest in some kind of additional equipment to apply any cleaners or lubricants properly? Some of the products seem to require this others, I'm not sure.

It seems like some people simply use a extra soft cloth and apply during rewind?

What's the best means to make these films last as long as possible and play as smoothly as possible?

Any suggestions and clarifications would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks!

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Gerald Santana
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 895
From: Berkeley, CA
Registered: Dec 2010


 - posted May 15, 2011 02:56 PM      Profile for Gerald Santana   Author's Homepage   Email Gerald Santana   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Eric - No doubt, that the questions you ask frustrate every projectionist. Eventually, there are simple solutions and here is my take, granted I've read all of the same posts you have and have done my own research on this matter, it is up to the individual. Obviously, we will get the projectionist that only swears by Film Guard or Film Renew, some like one or the other while there are a few that use both. Others use methods that are remarkably toxic however, preservation of the Film is the intention.

While some of us use furniture polish and car detailing wipes that are silicone based, you will find some literature that states you should not use this or alcohol. They recommend Kodak film cleaners or similar product that could explode or share similarities to thinner. There are some products out there that "clean" films however the film cores MELT away. Hmmmm....I wonder if all of that makes it worth cleaning anyway.

Here is my secret, and I will let it be known to others so that you can try it and see what you think. I can predict that some of us that depend on the "brand" named solutions, will not want to let them go, these cleaners are expensive. So the easiest way I found to clean the films (if necessary) is to use three simple things: Pec Pads (non abrasive wipes), Alcohol Swabs (for skin preparation) and Mineral Oil. You will not spend more than $20 on these items if you already don't have them handy.

First, I check the film (I've never seen) on a recording/editor I have, the GOKO RM8008. Look at the surface of the film as it passes from one reel to another and I make mental notes depending on what I see and hear. If the film looks fine both on the rewinds and on the viewer, I put it up for projection making more mental notes if dust and dirt gather on the gate. If it does it will get a cleaning, if it does not, I put it back into box, store in a cold, dark, wooden cabinet and review it again in a few months to a year. All films should go onto rewinds at least once a year for inspection and/or cleaning.

Now the cleaning - If I notice much debris left behind on the gate or if I see it appear on the film, I clean it. To begin, I open a window for ventilation. Next, while the film is on rewinds I take an alcohol swab and with latex gloves on, I add one (small) drop of mineral oil onto the wipe. If there is excess oil, what doesn't absorb, runs off of the swab and onto the bottle cap for reuse. Then, I simply run the film between a folded swab once using very gentle pressure and at 200' I stop to inspect it. I use the other side of the swab if there is much dirt or to finish the rest of the reel.

Finally, I take a Pec Pad and cut it into quarters to make four pieces out of one. I use one of the four squares and fold it over and run this through the film with the exact same pressure on the rewinds. If you are having a tough time rewinding, you may be applying too much pressure. It should run smooth with gentile pressure on the film until its all the way rewound. Here you will also find any sprocket damage that may need repair work, I just had to fix one today. Inspect the Pec Pad and if it looks clean, run the film again ad see what you think. If there are still issues or deep cleaning you need to make on portions of the film go ahead and do that now, then run a dry Pec Pad again through the entire reel. That should be enough however, if the film appears to be too "wet", obviously "dry" it with another pad if necessary.

After deliberating for much time on what to use to clean films, I found this method to be the easiest, least toxic, and most cost effective way to both, clean and lubricate my silent (and sound) films and MOST areas of the projector...

[Wink]

[ May 15, 2011, 08:10 PM: Message edited by: Gerald Santana ]

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http://lostandoutofprintfilms.blogspot.com/

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Osi Osgood
Film God

Posts: 6786
From: #399R K.O.A. Mountian Home, ID. 83647
Registered: Jul 2005


 - posted May 16, 2011 10:31 AM      Profile for Osi Osgood   Author's Homepage   Email Osi Osgood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Boy, there are as many theories on this as there are collectors, but I'll throw in my two cents worth.

Some folks would say, everytime you project. Persoanlly, I think that this can cause you projector damage over the long haul, (build up of chemicals in the film ath ect.)

If you have just acquired an aging print, first take a non scratching cloth and clean it that way first, then take your film cleaning liquid of choice, (mine is "Film Renew") and give it a good cleaning with that.

But once you have done that, as a general rule, there's not a reel need foer constant cleanings of your films ...

... unless your like me and love to unspool lots of film just to check ut individual scenes or frames and there you are cleaning your films all over again!

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"All these moments will be lost in time, just like ... tears, in the rain. "

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Bradford A Moore
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 236
From: Provincetown, Ma
Registered: Jul 2005


 - posted May 16, 2011 10:43 AM      Profile for Bradford A Moore   Email Bradford A Moore   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Filmrenew is actually a good product to clean your projector path with, and rollers etc. I wouldn't use it though on your sound head. I would use alcohol like you would if you were cleaning the heads of a tape deck. I generally clean my prints after a couple showings. You would be surprised even if you have recently cleaned a print, and your projector as well, after a couple showings there will be some build up.

For old dry and warped films, I will apply filmrenew, and give it a back rewind with the emulsion side out, and let it sit that way on a metal reel for one two weeks. I generally have had good results, unless the print has shrunken, and then you are most likely out of luck.

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Wayne Tuell
Master Film Handler

Posts: 485
From: Minden, NV
Registered: Jul 2009


 - posted May 16, 2011 03:09 PM      Profile for Wayne Tuell   Author's Homepage   Email Wayne Tuell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If you use filmguard, filmrenew or vita-film, be sure to use nitrile gloves to keep the chemicals off your skin if hand cleaning. On the occasions I do hand cleaning, I use new, washed once soft flannel.

I personally like the film-o-clean. It has a constant movement of the cleaning media so the chance of build up and scratching film is eliminated.

A bit off topic:

Bradford touched on dry warped films...LFP or pure camphor have better results than filmrenew IMHO. I purchased a cheap B&W film from Larry U. that was warped and would not take up without bagging unless I put a half twist at the take-up reel. He had tried to "fix" it with 0 luck in doing so. A few months stored with pure camphor and it was able to take-up without help.

For what it is worth, Brad Miller states he used two identical trailers, one treated with filmguard, one without. About 10 years later the trailer that had been treated still runs perfect, the other has dried and turned brittle.

[ May 17, 2011, 09:00 AM: Message edited by: Wayne Tuell ]

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www.16mmDrive-InFilms.com

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Brad Kimball
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 871
From: Highland Mills, NY USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted May 16, 2011 05:30 PM      Profile for Brad Kimball   Email Brad Kimball   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I bought 2 manual rewinds from Larry Urbanski along with the 8mm adaptors and I'm glad I did. Honestly, I don't think I spent more than $150 and that's for brand new. I use Filmrenew. I've achieved some nice results. It does take a while to dry (a few days), but I'm patient. Being that film is becoming an obsolete medium I don't like to plunk alot of cash into a hobby that may soon be replaced entirely by digital formats. I love my film and projectors and take great care to keep everything in tip-top shape so they should outlast me and I have a nice legacy to leave my kids. Our family does enjoy "Family Movie Night" (when time allows), but I try to keep the expenditures to a minimum. Now.... Should I win the lottery, that's when all bets are off and I would invest in a nice setup (Ecco cleaner and all).

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 422
From: Dallas, TX, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted May 17, 2011 12:05 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
For what it is worth, Brad Miller states he used two identical trailers, one treated with filmrenew, one without. About 10 years later the trailer that had been treated still runs perfect, the other has dried and turned brittle.
Wrong. FilmGuard, not FilmRenew. Two different film cleaners, somewhat similar name. FilmGuard is a much more slow drying cleaner, which is why the wet gate qualities last longer along with the lubricating properties. It is also the ONLY non-hazardous material film cleaner on the market.

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Wayne Tuell
Master Film Handler

Posts: 485
From: Minden, NV
Registered: Jul 2009


 - posted May 17, 2011 08:59 AM      Profile for Wayne Tuell   Author's Homepage   Email Wayne Tuell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
whooops sorry...I'll fix that asap. Brad, feel free to reach through the monitor and slap me...THAT was an embarrassing mistake.

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www.16mmDrive-InFilms.com

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Eric W. Cook
Junior
Posts: 12
From: Wellsboro, PA, USA
Registered: Sep 2010


 - posted May 20, 2011 07:45 PM      Profile for Eric W. Cook   Author's Homepage   Email Eric W. Cook   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for all the thoughtful replies.

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Lee Mannering
Film God

Posts: 2253
From: The Projection Box
Registered: Nov 2006


 - posted May 21, 2011 03:29 AM      Profile for Lee Mannering     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Eric. Always used to use Thermofilm then switched to FilmRenew which I do still use particularly on old 9.5mm Acetate films with good results. In the main though its Film Guard which seems to be the most popular offering up some nice properties, the main being it wont cause liver damage as with some others. I would highly recommend all of us use the very safe latter option. As I say we still also use FilmRenew (until it runs out) but outside the house for plenty of air movement.

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Keep calm and carry on projecting!

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Laksmi Breathwaite
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 771
From: Las Vegas
Registered: Nov 2010


 - posted May 24, 2011 01:38 AM      Profile for Laksmi Breathwaite   Email Laksmi Breathwaite   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Film Guard is the way for me! Since I have been useing the Guard I have been having fewer problems with scratchs. dry film,projector problems, and picture perfect screenings and sound. Wow I'm sounding like a song coming on!

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" Faster then a speeding bullet, more powerful then a Locomotive "."Look up in the sky it's a bird it's a plane it's SUPERMAN"

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