The Brownie N°2 camera from the outlet box has clearly seen better days. Dating from the early 1920s, the camera is getting on for one hundred years old now, and although it functions nicely the shutter is a little stiff and the bodywork needs some attention.
The leatherette is quite worn, and in some places is peeling from the metal exterior, particularly on the front and rear covers. The metalwork around the front plate and the rear door is intact but a little rusty and viewfinder glass is very dirty.
As we had established already the shutter mechanism is very stiff, and removing the front cover it’s clear that the shutter mechanism is dirty with nearly 90 years of accumulated grime. Once the cover was removed, the frosted glass of the viewfinders and one of the mirrors fell out of the camera. Time to give the camera a good clean.
The reviews and posts online suggest that the leatherette can be cleaned with ‘Windex’, a proprietary glass cleaner. We found an equivalent product and cleaned the leatherette thoroughly, removing decades of grease from handling and using the camera.
Using a little alcohol and a cotton bud the shutter mechanism and the font of the camera was cleaned, and also the front of the lens. Removing the rear door the film holder was removed and the back of the lens cleaned with a cotton bud.
The film holder and inside the camera was quite dirty, and was cleaned with a cotton wipe and alcohol. Once complete the camera was left to dry thoroughly.
Where it was peeling, the leatherette was glued to the body of the camera with contact cement and allowed to set. Once it was thoroughly dried the leatherette and the handle was polished with shoe polish. The polish was used sparingly, and care was taken to keep the polish away from the shutter mechanism and lens.
The final part of the restoration was to paint the metalwork.