Q & A

BINOCULARS

Q Do my binoculars need regular servicing?

A Simply put, yes.  After you have been using them for a while dirt will build up on the outside.  In a porro prism design binocular, this dirt can ingress under the eyepieces and fall onto the prisms. In all designs the build-up of body oils, from your hands or from your eye region, onto the binocular rubber, will eventually cause the rubber to deteriorate.

 

Q. What is the difference between a service and a restoration?

A. This is a good question!  Let's break this down into age, if you have great Grandpa's old field glasses where the leatherette is missing on one side and the rest falling off and the brass is green, then that's a restoration. If you have Grandpa's binoculars from the early 1900's that too will be a restoration. If you have Dad's binoculars from the 1960's or 1970's, that may qualify as a restoration if there is evidence of the aluminium oxidising (white powder on the body or under the leatherette) then that's also a restoration.  Then, if your binoculars have NEVER been serviced and/or they are over 30 years old, then you will be getting on towards needing a bit of both! 

A service: Think of it like having a service on your car. When you need your 10,000km service you take it to the mechanic who changes your oil, checks your washer fluid, checks your radiator, tyres and checks the rest of the car for faults.  For your binoculars, the focus assembly will be cleaned of old grease and relubricated, the operation of the binocular will be checked, the right hand dioptre checked, the rubber eyecups cleaned of 3 years of facial oil and makeup, the leatherette cleaned and the optics cleaned externally. That should be done every 3-5 years depending upon usage. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour depending upon the model.

A major service: With a major service the mechanic will change the oil, retension the timing belt, change the brake pads, check your airconditioning and adjust your handbrake.  For your binoculars you may have dropped or knocked them so they are stripped of the major parts, the focus assembly will be cleaned of old grease (and in some cases grass seeds and grass as well) & relubricated, the rubber eyecups cleaned of 5 years of facial oil and makeup, any dirt or dust blown out of the body, the hinge checked for cleanliness (and in some cases grass seeds and grass as well) and correct operation, the prisms are removed and cleaned and reseated, the objective lenses are cleaned internally and externally, if the field lens of the eyepiece needs cleaning then that is done as well. Then they are reassembled and collimated.  It takes about and hour to and hour and a half depending upon the model.

A restoration: You inherit Greatgrandpa's 1920's car and it needs stripping and repainting, new tyres, new leather seats, a new fuel tank, new belts, new carpet... you get the drift, as well as all the other things mentioned above. That's the same for binoculars, new leatherette, sometimes new prisms (you can imagine they're hard to get after 90 odd years), all the optics cleaned, all the old grease removed and changed, sometimes they are sealed with pitch, which makes for a fun time when it's right up to the edge of the optical elements! The retaining bolts will, nine times out of ten, be burred where previous attempts at servicing were done by an incompetent technician with the wrong screwdriver! Sometimes they need to be drilled out and the thread recut. Then new bolts have to be located (not easy after 60 odd years, no manufacturer keeps parts that long!).  Aluminium oxide will have to be cut out of the body and the body resealed. And on an on it goes and includes the rest of the major service!

 

Q Why am I seeing two images?

A This means that your binoculars are out of collimation.  Your binocular type will determine as to how long collimation will take.  Some designs do not make collimation an easy task, but all binoculars can be collimated.

 

Q I have scratches on the lenses, can this be repaired?

A No.  Once a lens is scratched it needs to be completely replaced.  You cannot regrind and polish the surface and maintain the specification of the lens.

 

Q I have lost/broken a part of my binocular, can I get this part from you?

A ROPTR does keep quite a large quantity of spare parts of all types.  We have the ability to fabricate some parts as well should the need arise.

 

Q When I look through my binoculars they appear foggy. Or: My binoculars have a fine lacework looking pattern on the lenses.  What?s gone wrong?

A This is an indication that moisture has somehow worked its way into the binocular. This can cause mould to grow on the surface of the prisms or lenses.  If not taken care of within a reasonably short period of time, the mould will permanently damage the surface of the optics.

 

Q. My waterproof gas filled binoculars have got mould growing on the prisms can that be removed?

A. So they're waterproof are they? Mould grows in the presence of moisture, nitrogen filled huh? If moisture can get in, nitrogen can get out!  I will purge binoculars with nitrogen, but I will never guarantee that they are waterproof!

 

Q How much is a collimation going to cost me?

A That will depend upon the reason for the misalignment of the optics. If internal prisms have moved, then it will be more expensive as the binocular has to be disassembled and the prisms reseated before a collimation can be done.

 

TELESCOPES

Spotting Scopes

Q When I look through my scope it appears foggy. Or: My scope has a fine lacework looking pattern on the front lens.  What?s gone wrong?

A This is an indication that moisture has somehow worked its way into the telescope. This can cause mould to grow on the surface of the prisms or lenses.  If not taken care of within a reasonably short period of time, the mould will permanently damage the surface of the optics.

Q I have managed to drop my spotting scope and it now rattles when I move it. Does this mean I have to buy a new scope?

A It does depend upon the severity of the drop.  Best to bring/send it to ROPTR for evaluation.

 

LEATHER CASES

NEVER apply cellotape/stickytape to leather!!  When it is removed it will take the polished surface of the leather with it!!  I do not retan leather!

 

 

PAYMENT

How do I pay you?

I accept three methods of payment, by cash (pick up only), secondly direct deposit and lastly cheque.  If I am returning the repair to you by post, then I require payment prior to mailing.  Direct deposits normally clear through overnight and cheques, with my bank, take two days to clear. Please do not send cash by post!

 

CARING FOR YOUR BINOCULARS

 

Over the years many instructions have been given in the caring of binoculars and many of these are ignored by those that own them!   Instructions are given so that you do not damage your binoculars and so that they are maintained at a reasonable standard.

Firstly there are many things to know about how to handle the binoculars, a bit like a baby in that you don't drop them, submerge them in water or knock them about, so firstly handling.

 

HANDLING

  1. A binocular comes with case and dust caps.  They are there for a purpose!! The case is to keep them in, the dust caps stop too much dust and dirt from settling on the lenses and both protect them from objects under the control of gravity.
  2. A binocular also comes with a strap.  This is not intended as a carry strap that you can swing at arms-length. This is intended to be placed around your neck to stop them from becoming an object under the control of gravity.
  3. The other use for dust caps is to protect the lenses from other things such as your own spittle and precipitation.  One of the things that can harm your binoculars optics is moisture, especially spittle.  Spittle cannot be removed with your normally provided cleaning fluid, isopropyl alcohol. So if you sneeze or get excited over something you have just seen, don't spray your words all over the lens, cover it!
  4. When you buy your binoculars they come with a sachet of silica gel.  This is not meant to be discarded with the packing material, but kept in the case to absorb any moisture from the immediate atmosphere surrounding the binocular. It is best if you manage to procure a few more sachets and put them into a common small bag to add extra moisture protection to your binoculars.  These sachets should be maintained as well by taking them out every few months and placing them into an oven on low heat to drive out any absorbed moisture.  Some silica gels will show that they are saturated by turning pink or orange, drying them out turns them blue or green respectively.  Storing you binoculars for any length of time without this protection can lead to mould growing on your lenses and prisms.
  5. So you have been out doing what you do with your binoculars and you come back inside.  Now if it was reasonably chilly outside and it is warm inside, condensation will form on the lenses.  If you have an older style binocular which is not at least water resistant, then the prisms can also fog up.  What you don't do is to shove them in their case and put them in the cupboard!  Leave your binoculars somewhere in the warmth of the room overnight where they cannot be bumped or dropped from so that the moisture can evaporate. The next morning inspect the lenses and internal prisms for any marks.  With care, only the external lens surfaces should need immediate cleaning.  This is when you place the binoculars into their case with the silica gel sachets to absorb the last of the internal moisture.

 

Cleaning and maintaining that cleanliness is essential.  You just don?t leave your breakfast dishes lying on the sink and reuse them day after day without washing them. Binoculars need to be kept clean and there are certain ways of doing this so that you do not damage them. So here?s some tips on what to do.

 

CLEANING/MAINTENANCE

  1. Invest in a few cleaning tools.  A good quality lens brush, a microfiber cleaning cloth, a small container of isopropyl alcohol, a soft toothbrush and lastly a blower bulb. These are available from most good camera/photo shops.  The isopropyl alcohol can also be bought from electronic or music shops in the form of DVD or CD cleaning fluid.
  2. The blower bulb is used first to remove any large particles from the lens, then a light dusting with the brush followed by another blow from the blower bulb.  Moisten the folded corner of a folded plain facial tissue (DO NOT USE tissues with added oils such as Jojoba or Eucalyptus!) with isopropyl alcohol. Dab the moistened tissue onto the lens cleaning it in a straight line and not circles. The edge of the lens can be cleaned in a circular manner using your fingernail pushing the tissue into the edge only. Follow this with another blow from the blower bulb. You then finish off with the microfiber cleaning cloth.  This method keeps the microfiber cloth from getting too much grease on it and maintains the cleanliness required for optical surfaces.  NEVER, I repeat, NEVER use a dry cloth such as a shirt, handkerchief, tissue to clean your optics!! They will scratch the lens by pushing any particles of dust or sand across it. Remember glass is made from sand as is sandpaper!!
  3. I bet you are wondering why a toothbrush?  This is to clean the body and the central hinge portion of the binocular.  The hinge and the arms that hold the eyepieces were greased when the binoculars were manufactured and this grease does ooze out over the binocular hinge and eyepiece runners (the tubes that guide the eyepieces) with time allowing particles of dust and sand to stick to it.  Over 30 years of servicing I have probably cleaned out enough sand to fill a five litre jug. With sand having a density much more than water, that?s about 6 kg of sand.
  4. Every now and then vacuum out or shake out the binocular case. Sand is insidious and will find a way to get to your optics.  Also do not keep loose objects, such as instructions and cleaning cloths, in the main body of the case with the binoculars. Most modern cases come with an internal pouch for storing such things.
  5. Do clean the body of your binoculars, as well as your case, from time to time. A vinyl case will last longer with a quick clean of a proprietary cleaner such as ArmorAll.   The binocular, if it is rubber armoured will benefit with a similar clean.  If your case is leather and your binoculars have a leatherette finish, then a good clean with a quality leather cleaner/conditioner would also benefit.

Transporting and storing your binoculars is not as simple as you may think.  Binocular collimation can be affected by many things; heat, cold, vibration, knocks, drops and moisture.  We have covered the last one earlier, now for the rest.

 

TRANSPORTING

  1. Off you go on your great adventure! Where are you going to put your binoculars? This depends upon the mode of travel. Travelling by car?  There are places where you don?t put your binoculars and only a couple that are relatively safe.
    1. A no-no is the boot. I know, this sounds so obvious, but so many people do it. Watch that bump/pothole and look out for corrugated road surfaces. Do you know how hot/cold it gets in there?
    2. Another no-no is the backseat.  When you round that corner and find your favourite bird sitting in the middle of the road, you hit the brakes! F=ma!  The back of the passenger/driver seat, followed by the car floor is the calculated path of travel.
    3. Yet one more no-no is the glove box.  With the loose change, tyre guage, pens, chewing gum and the parking ticket from last year. A bit like putting it in the boot really?
    4. A good place is on a piece of foam on the back passenger floor. Making sure that there is nothing on the seat behind it in case of a situation as in (b) above.
    5. Another good place can be found in most modern cars that have pockets in the back of the seats or on the door. These are by far the best as they are protected from vibration.
    6. Travelling with a suitcase?  Think they?re going to be safe if you pack them in the middle of your suitcase with your dirty laundry or jammed in a jumper? Forget it!! This has proven to be inadequate, over the years I have had many binoculars been brought in for collimation because of flat drops by well-meaning baggage handlers.
    7. Put your binoculars in your carry-on bag.  This way you have control over where you place the bag and what is on each side of it.  The overhead locker is fine, as long as your jacket is on one side of the bag and your travelling companion?s is on the other side.
    8. Travelling by sea?  Then make sure that your binoculars are water resistant and if you do take your binoculars outside onto the deck, always have the neck strap around your neck!  When you take them inside follow paragraph 5 from Handling, as above.

 

These instructions should help you maintain your binoculars for many years and, except for normal wear and tear, keep them in next to pristine order.