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Equipment Discussions >> Binoculars

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Mister T.
super member


Reged: 09/15/09

Loc: Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
I Got Lucky... AGAIN new
      #5614903 - 01/10/13 04:14 AM

I'm a creature of habit... and one of my habits is to drop in at the local "Thrift Stores". Goodwill, Catholic Salvage, and St. Vincent De Paul's all get hit once or twice a month, just looking around.

Maybe two months ago I stopped by Saint Vinnie's on Willy Street in Madison, and glanced at a horribly beat up looking pair of Navy issue 7 x 50 binoculars in a leather case that was falling apart from rotten stitching, and a rotted shoulder strap that was in tatters.

The binoculars were obviously the residue of an estate attic cleaning; something that was brought home as a WW2 souvenir.

It was tagged at $70.00 ... about sixty bucks more than I thought it was worth at the time. I passed it up.

Weeks went by... and those Navy binoculars kept nagging at my mind. Maybe I should have looked at 'em closer...

I dropped by Saint Vinnie's again... they were gone. Oh well...

Last week I dropped in again... and a familiar looking, beat up leather case was sitting among a pile of film cameras. I hooked it immediately for a closer look.

I noted a PILE of price tags on it; they'd started out at $120.00, worked down to the $70.00 tag I'd seen, and then the latest tag took a healthy cut at that price yet again. Time to gamble... take 'em to the cash register.

At home... I found out that the glasses are US Navy Bureau of Ships Mark 28 (Bausch & Lomb), circa 1943. No eye cups, but a pair of rubber cushions were floating around on the bottom of the case. The glasses were absolutely filthy all over, and the case is in seriously bad shape, but overall the glasses were looking to be in solid condition, and not as abused and beat up as I'd initially thought.

Cruising around the Internet Googling "Mark 28" was an eye opening experience and quite encouraging indeed... time to get to work here.

Saddle soap and an old toothbrush made the grip area of the glasses and the case look a whole lot better. Wiping the case down with Neatsfoot oil began to soften the dried out leather. Some photographic lens cleaner made the oculars and objectives look somewhat more reasonable, tho the objectives (and probably the REST of the internal optical surfaces) clearly can stand some internal cleaning.

Someone along the line had tried unsuccessfully to GLUE the rubber eye pieces in the case to the threaded metal ocular mounting rings. Ugh.

Snooping around the Net I located the parts stash at Surplus Shed, and I ordered some parts that seemed close to what was needed. The parts arrived today... SUCCESS! One pair of eyepieces fit the threads perfectly.

I managed to clean the dried out glue from the rubber cushions; THAT was an adventure in itself! They fit the eyepieces perfectly. Time for a test.

I haven't had that much experience with binoculars, and what little I've had wasn't terribly gratifying. Just the same, I got the pupilary spacing properly set, and picked out a TV tower on the horizon as a target to get the diopter adjustments zeroed in.

The first look thru the Mark 28s, even before adjusting the diopter rings, was a SHOCK... these have to be the FINEST binoculars I've ever seen... I've never had such sharp views thru hand held glasses!

Tonight, before it started to cloud over (we're expecting rain tomorrow), I took them outside and pointed thru light polluted skies toward Orion, The Hunter.

With the naked eye Orion's sword scabbard was completely invisible; not only did it stand out clearly in the Mark 28s, but the top two "stars" in the scabbard revealed their true nature.. nebulae!

My El Cheapo Barska glasses are now out of a job... the much less powerful Mark 28s are FAR more satisfactory.

The case has already been turned over to a local shop where I get Biker leather stuff modified and repaired, to get the leather hinge replaced and the edge stitching repaired. When it gets back to me in a week or so there are some more saddle soap / Neatsfoot oil treatment sessions coming up to clean some more grunge out of the leather and soften it.

Some Ebay shopping this evening has resulted in the purchase of some 5/8" latigo leather bridal strings to replace the rotted shoulder strap, and to fashion a replacement neck strap.

NOW... I'm considering how necessary it is to send out the glasses for an internal cleaning and general overhaul.

I think I got a Keeper from good old Saint Vinnie's.


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ItsMeTony
journeyman
*****

Reged: 02/21/08

Loc: Maryland
Re: I Got Lucky... AGAIN new [Re: Mister T.]
      #5614943 - 01/10/13 06:45 AM

Wow, good on ya! I have never been that lucky. I did have an opportunity to look thru a former military bino (army) and i was amazed at the view. I tried to get my buddy to sell me it but he knew what he had and was not about to part with it. Maybe I should start stopping by some thrift
shops...


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Pinewood
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 12/07/04

Loc: 40.77638º N 73.982652 W
Mark 28 new [Re: Mister T.]
      #5614952 - 01/10/13 06:57 AM

Hello Mister T,

For 1943, the Mark 28 was top of the line. I still use my own, from time to time. I bought it in 1984, for $225, still in the original packing.=, but mine came with a rubberized case made by Hood. Optics have moved well beyond that point, in the last seventy years. What is amazing is how many binoculars sold, today, do not match up with that instrument.
Incidentally, it is not hard to restitch a leather case.
Clear skies,
Arthur Pinewood


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BillC
on a new path
*****

Reged: 06/04/04

Loc: Lake Stevens, WA, USA
Re: Mark 28 new [Re: Pinewood]
      #5616222 - 01/10/13 08:32 PM

Hi Mr. T:

You can find Mk 28 eyecaps at Captain's Nautical Supplies in Seattle: 206-283-7242 or 800-448-2278. They may have the original phenolic. I know they have plastic; I had some machined to the original specs.

I don't doubt they are the best you've ever looked through--especially if compared to so much optically and mechanically inferior binos from Asia. But, comparing them to many A-listers, today, they fall WAY behind the pack--optically only. BUT, if they give you good images, what more could you ask? Many folks today just throw money at problems. That seldom reaches the core.

And now some talking points for you:

You say it says “B&L”; then you have the brass ring! At the time that unit was made:

SARD (Square D)
Nash / Kelvinator
New York Film Corporation
Universal Film Corporation
Wallensak
American Optical
Anchor Optical
United Optical
United Lens
Honeywell
. . . and others, also made them under contract to B & L, since B & L couldn’t keep up with the wartime need.

Finally, in 1942, that instrument (along with its brothers the Mk32 and Mk39*) sold for $350, which is more than $3,000 in today’s market! So, you done done good; pat yerself on da bak!!!

* The 39 cost a little more because it had a little more hardware—a reticle and bracket—in one side.

I feel confident that you’ll be joining the “Collimation” thread within a month or two; if not, you don’t have a right to be that lucky!

At any rate, have fun and enjoy your find; you’ve been very fortunate!

Cheers,

Green . . . BillC


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Gordon Rayner
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 03/24/07

Re: Mark 28 new [Re: BillC]
      #5616267 - 01/10/13 09:05 PM

I prefer the B&L Mk. 21, with 3-screw coverplates (not the Sard Mk 21). They are lighter than the Mk. 28, with 5 screw coverplates, but more work to service. They make the best basis for a Navy 9 x 63.

I made Delrin threaded eyecups for both of the above types . That was described in some posts a few years ago. They are stepless, with a rounded outside edge, no rounding on the inside. Once a tube has been threaded by the longest boring bar which will fit inside the tube, it is easy to chop, chop, chop off eyecups . A form tool cuts the outside rounding before engaging the crossfeed for the cutoff. A quick-change toolholder such as the Aloris or its Asian copies speeds the process.


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Gordon Rayner
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 03/24/07

Re: I Got Lucky... AGAIN new [Re: Mister T.]
      #5616578 - 01/11/13 01:06 AM

For neckstraps and case straps, I suggest the flat nylon tape sold by outdoor adventure suppliers, for climbers and campers, such as for tying items on rucksacks.

For tying it to the horns on the bodies, or as the junction of a circle around the hinge, or at the side of the case, use the tape knot, also called the waterknot, which is found in knotbooks, or online. There is a video on YouTube and/or via G...le, which clearly illustrates assembly/disassembly of that very useful connection.


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mercedes_sl1970
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 12/02/05

Loc: Canberra, Oz
Re: I Got Lucky... AGAIN new [Re: Gordon Rayner]
      #5616603 - 01/11/13 02:16 AM

They are terrific binoculars. I am sure you will get plenty of enjoyment out of them.

Andrew


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Mister T.
super member


Reged: 09/15/09

Loc: Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
Re: I Got Lucky... AGAIN new [Re: mercedes_sl1970]
      #5616650 - 01/11/13 03:58 AM

Thanks, Everyone for the comments and tips!

Before the Surplus Shed eyepiece cups came, I tried something out with the rubber cushions that somebody may find useful.

As I said, somebody tried to glue them to the binoculars, WITHOUT eye cups! I was able to get the glue off of the glasses easily enough, but I had a problem with the cushions; it just hung onto the rubber too tight.

I took a chance of destroying the cushions, but I guess that Beginner's Luck was with me.

To loosen the glue, I tried soaking the cushions in acetone! I knew that either the glue or the cushions would dissolve... but I was willing to take the chance.

As it happened, the glue dissolved first... but something odd happened.

The cushions seemed to drink up the acetone, and they SWELLED to almost twice their normal size!

Taking them out of the acetone, they got icy cold as the acetone outgassed... and in a few minutes it was clear that they were shrinking back to their normal size as the acetone boiled out!

In an attempt to keep them from shrinking too far, I took out the neutral density filters (yes, they were still in the case pocket) and placed them on the cushions.

In perhaps an hour, the outgassing stopped, and the ND filters were tightly gripped by the rubber, which had now returned to it's original state, except a whole lot CLEANER!

When the eye cups arrived, the cushions were too loose to fit... so I put them in acetone again, and repeated the whole process. They shrunk and tightened up on the eyecups very nicely indeed!


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Mister T.
super member


Reged: 09/15/09

Loc: Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
Re: I Got Lucky... AGAIN new [Re: Mister T.]
      #5629270 - 01/18/13 02:15 AM

A few days onward into this...

I got hold of a Navy issue neck strap, circa 1951 (surplus from Ebay). It does not please me... the nylon strapping seems too narrow, and it feels flimsy. The strap fasteners aren't reliable; they pop open too easily.

Worse yet, the strap is too short; I'm in the habit of wearing a Stetson Rancher, and the strap won't clear the brim! Once you get it over the hat, the binoculars rest too high on my chest. Something about a foot longer was needed.

The original plan of using a 5/8" strip of leather was implemented instead. The choice of 5/8" was a mistake; 1/2" would have been perfect, but that problem was minor and easily corrected. The new strap satisfies my needs and tastes perfectly.

Now... I am in contact with Suddarth Optical re. an internal cleaning & general going-over. From comments here I gathered that they're about the best around for this sort of work.


I can see that good binoculars can become sort of addictive; I got hold of ANOTHER pair of B&L glasses today.

On the Net I ran into a B&L booklet on choosing the right glasses, and one model they showed was the 7x50 "Navy Model", which I assume is the postwar civilian version of the Mark 28s.

On Ebay, a somewhat odd pair of B&Ls showed up... I suspected that they're "Navy Model" glasses, but I'm not sure. The seller was sort of vague, and I suspect that he scared away a lot of bidders... so I got high bid ($51.00 + mailing). I'll need a second set of glasses for the motorcycle saddle bags, and these are elected.

VERY good civilian glasses, in fairly decent shape, but I don't know if they're Navy Models or not. They bear little resemblance to the Mark 28s, and few if any parts appear to be interchangable. Finish is black wrinkle paint that appears to be the original factory finish. Someone has touched up case wear marks with heavy paint (it will be removed when I get hold of some lacquer thinner), so I can't read the manufacturing date code yet.

Stay tuned for further details.


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BillC
on a new path
*****

Reged: 06/04/04

Loc: Lake Stevens, WA, USA
Re: I Got Lucky... AGAIN new [Re: Mister T.]
      #5629490 - 01/18/13 08:50 AM

"VERY good civilian glasses"

Please keep in mind that the Mk 28 was a "civilian glass" before it was a Navy glass.

I was blessed to own THE model that was selected to become the Mk 28--complete with tripod adapter--back in the day when Cook and Suddarth terrorized together. It was so pristine the case (civilian) still had fuzzies on the leather and had that showroom smell.

But, apparently some customer at Captain's thought they needed it worse than I did.

BillC


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Pinewood
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 12/07/04

Loc: 40.77638º N 73.982652 W
Re: I Got Lucky... AGAIN new [Re: BillC]
      #5629861 - 01/18/13 12:21 PM

Hello Mister T,

Is the Civilian 7x50 marked "Zephyr"? Are the lenses coated?

Happy collecting,
Arthur Pinewood


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Mister T.
super member


Reged: 09/15/09

Loc: Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
Re: I Got Lucky... AGAIN new [Re: Pinewood]
      #5630075 - 01/18/13 03:02 PM

Hello Pinewood.

No "Zephyr" markings that I can see; as I said, there's a rather clumsy paint touch-up job on the prism covers and in other spots that has to be cleaned up & redone, and there MIGHT be something under all that black paint.

Only markings clearly visible in the covers... "7x50" molded on the left prism, and the usual Bausch & Lomb ID on the right; no company logo visible but there might be one under the paint.

Re. lens coating... there MIGHT be; I can see a slight bluish coating on the objectives, but very faint.

I'll try to get a photo of these glasses up in the next couple of days.


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Mister T.
super member


Reged: 09/15/09

Loc: Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
Re: I Got Lucky... AGAIN new [Re: Mister T.]
      #5637617 - 01/22/13 07:49 PM

The "mystery" binoculars are no longer a mystery. Somebody pulled a fast one, and apparently swiped 'em from Uncle Sam!

A determined assault with chemicals (lacquer thinner, and more effectively Zip Strip, plus a pocket knife!) got thru a VERY heavy (and very ugly) coating of paint on the prism covers. The paint was caked on like a layer of tar.

The glasses are Bauch & Lomb M7, circa 1942.

The paint wasn't the FIRST attempt at obliterating the markings on the glasses; there was a concerted effort to SAND OFF the markings too! Not successful.

Meanwhile... I showed my Mark 28s to a buddy, an ex-submariner; he almost cried with joyous recognition of the same kind of glasses that he'd hefted so many hours while standing watch on the fair water planes.

He immediately asked how much I wanted for 'em. Failing that, he extracted a promise from me that if I should encounter ANOTHER pair in similar shape, I'd call HIM first!

In any event... I have to get to the post office and get hold of a mailing carton; the Mark 28s are taking a trip to Suddarth this week for a going over. While they're gone, the purloined M7s will keep me satisfied... In all likelyhood, after the income tax refund arrives, the M7s will be making the same trip.

However, there shouldn't be too much use right now; binocular astronomy is being curtailed by the fact that it's colder than a well digger's butt out there! Looking up at my remote reading thermometer hanging on the wall above the computer, the current temperature is 5.2 degrees!


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Pinewood
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 12/07/04

Loc: 40.77638º N 73.982652 W
Re: I Got Lucky... AGAIN [Re: Mister T.]
      #5637698 - 01/22/13 08:41 PM

Hello Mister T,

Good find!

Happy collecting,
Arthur Pinewood


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Mister T.
super member


Reged: 09/15/09

Loc: Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
Re: I Got Lucky... AGAIN new [Re: Pinewood]
      #5773894 - 04/02/13 08:08 PM

Well... the Mark 28 glasses came back from their visit to Suddarth.

Cory kept me informed re. progress via E-mail. Collimation was dead on the money, and he thinks these glasses were never issued, or worked on.

The weather is now at the point where a little backyard observing isn't totally insane (despite BAD light pollution!), and after a couple of sessions all I can say is "Wow!". They were good before, but after a cleaning and general going over, they're great.

I don't think I'll ever have to look for another pair of binoculars, for ANY purpose... these will do me just FINE!!!

For terrestrial use, they do OK. Across the road from my work site is the U. of Wisconsin Arboretum. Besides spotting the nest of one of the Peregrine Falcons that live there, I was somewhat shocked to spot one of the white tail deer that they're trying so hard to shoot out of the place (we have an outbreak of CWD... Chronic Wasting Disease... in this part of the state). In heavy woods cover, these big 7 x 50 objectives REALLY suck in all the light available in those shadows. NOW I know what they mean by "night glasses".

Airplane spotting (something else I do occasionally) just got a boost; at high altitudes (30,000 feet plus) I can now see the difference between a B-52 and a KC-10 Tanker at the end of that contrail.

For astronomical use, I just wish I'd gotten hold of these glasses BEFORE I bought those damned Barskas! Less magnification is BETTER sometimes (7 versus 15), and in terms collimation and color correction (color fringing), Bausch & Lomb wins hands down!

Bravo Cory... WELL DONE!!!

In the next few weeks you'll be seeing my M7 glasses coming in for a going over.


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marcelof
sage


Reged: 05/24/10

Loc: Necochea,Bs As,Argentina
Re: I Got Lucky... AGAIN new [Re: Mister T.]
      #5774311 - 04/02/13 10:18 PM

Does it look like this one? [image][img]http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8101/8614498775_2b1c15e510_b.jpg[/img] bausch-lomb-binoculares-antiguos-de-la-segunda-guerra7x50_MLA-F-3610335723_01... por marfma, en Flickr[/image] [image]http://[img]http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8519/8615608412_0045827a4f_b.jpg[/img] bausch-lomb-binoculares-antiguos-de-la-segunda-guerra7x50_MLA-F-3610335822_01... por marfma, en Flickr[/image]

Edited by marcelof (04/03/13 02:10 PM)


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SMark
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 08/29/11

Loc: Atlanta, GA USA
Re: I Got Lucky... AGAIN new [Re: Mister T.]
      #5774377 - 04/02/13 11:00 PM

Quote:

The "mystery" binoculars are no longer a mystery. Somebody pulled a fast one, and apparently swiped 'em from Uncle Sam!

A determined assault with chemicals (lacquer thinner, and more effectively Zip Strip, plus a pocket knife!) got thru a VERY heavy (and very ugly) coating of paint on the prism covers. The paint was caked on like a layer of tar.

The glasses are Bauch & Lomb M7, circa 1942.

The paint wasn't the FIRST attempt at obliterating the markings on the glasses; there was a concerted effort to SAND OFF the markings too! Not successful.




Hmmm... VERY Interesting... I wonder if THAT'S what happened to this binocular I recently purchased?!?




I "think" that it is a B&L Mk. 28, but there is nothing written on the binocular itself except the "Coated Optics" label. Maybe there IS something underneath that rough exterior...


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