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Wollensak 6X30 WW2 U.S Army/Australian marked.

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#1 Tikirocker

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 07:24 PM

G'day all,

New to the forums and my first post here. I am a military firearms collector and shooter, predominantly rifles of the WW1/WW2 vintage. Through my collecting of sniper rifles and their optics, various telescopic kits for snipers and Regiment Scouts - I decided to add a pair of WW2 era binoculars to to my collection.

I wanted to share this purchase, these are marked No2 MkII 6x30 Wollensak, Rochester NY made WW2 binoculars that have both U.S Army and Australian D/\D Department of Defense ownership markings. They have certainly seen action in their time and though I don't have provenance I can make an educated guess that these Binoculars came into Australian Army possession during the defense of Australia in Papua during 42-43.

This is the most likely period for these binoculars to have come into Australia possession when both Australian and U.S troops were in contact in New Guinea fighting the Japanese. At some point in time these were acquired by the Australian Army and put to use. They have been painted jungle green which also lends credence to the theater of operations ... that being PNG during 42-43.

The FJA marking is very interesting my information on the mark follows ...

FJA = Col. Frank J. Atwood was commanding officer of the Rochester Ordnance District; he personally inspected nothing, but as CO he was responsible for all the ordnance material accepted by the Army from that region. His initials appear on rifles and shotguns by Remington and Ithaca, as well as pistols by Ithaca and Remington Rand and military vehicles. The "FJA" stamp is NOT a rebuild mark; it was put on only at the original maker's factory

Anyway ... here's the pics. ( The manufacture markings are not scratched, they have been chalked in beneath the paint. )

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My question is as follows ... there is a little section of the foam and black crackle covering that has been chipped off, likely from being dropped at some point. Does anybody have any advice on how to fill and repair this type of thing?

Any further information on these specific binoculars would be greatly appreciated, thank you!

Best, Tiki.

#2 FrankL

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 08:11 PM

I don't think a U.S.army Wollensak 6X30 is particularly rare although it is a bit of a unique design, but yours with the Australian markings and green overpaint probably is. Personally, I would be very hesitant to restore the outside appearance of this binocular in any way unless the wear is of recent vintage and obviously did not occur during wartime service. As a collector, one of the things I value in a binocular is its historicity and every ding and scrape in yours is full of this. Lovely binocular. I also collect older sporting firearms and there are many similarities between collecting these and binoculars, one of which is deciding to what extent they should be restored.

#3 Tikirocker

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 08:24 PM

Frank,

We are on the same page with regards to conservation, preservation and restoration vs refinishing and losing historical significance into the bargain. I would touch nothing else on these binoculars in order to preserve their battle character and historical patina ... my only concern for the slight chip in the finish, which exposes some of the foam, was that it did not further deteriorate the integrity of neighboring area's of the covering.

Your point is well taken however.

Best, Tiki.

#4 NDfarmer

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 08:24 PM

I agree here, just leave it as is, your nice photos show the nice patina, and the case looks like new, nice find.

#5 Tikirocker

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 08:29 PM


Thanks ND, the case is in un-issued condition but is the proper case for the binoculars.

Best, Tiki.

#6 Pinewood

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 08:13 AM

Hello,

As I recall, a friend took one apart, and thought that it was rather poorly made. It also seems that the "No. 2 Mk II" is a British marking, as it was designated M5 by the U.S. Army. See http://home.europa.c...cope/usarmy.txt

Happy collecting,
Arthur Pinewood

#7 Tikirocker

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 10:01 AM

G'day Pine,

I can't speak for your friends experience of these M5's but I know Wollensak shutters/optics had an excellent reputation and was known for their high quality work. The Military of any nation are not usually in the business of contracting poor optics, and Military optics are generally known to be rugged and well built.

I know the reason the Australian Army designated the M5's as No2 MKII; this is because they would have been classed in the same category as the British Kershaw made No2 MKII Binoculars and for the sake of keeping inventory streamlined this was their basic designation.

I have Wollensak Anistigmat lenses on my old Graflex Crown Pacemakers press camera's and the glass is superb. I have no doubt these M5's are every bit as good as the Military required them to be ... notwithstanding some CLA.

This quote seems to ring true about Wollensak ...

Wollensak was one of Rochester's finest companies, and at their height in 1958 they had over 1200 employees. Their lenses, shutters, and other products were considered to be excellent, and during the war they made a wide variety of optical equipment for the armed forces.

Best, Tiki.

#8 Jay_Bird

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 10:57 AM

The Wollensak Raptars seemed to be the equal of Kodak Ektars on old 2-1/4"x3-1/4" and 4"x5" graphics I used through college, had a nice wide 90mm Wollensak then too... Enjoy your vintage binocular find, it was at least good enough to get the job done in its day.

#9 Tikirocker

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 11:22 AM


Jay,

Indeed, the Raptars are the gooduns, but there were many other Wollensak lenses for the Graphics that were also very good as I'm sure you well know.

Best, Tiki.

#10 Pinewood

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 12:55 PM

Hello Tiki,

I won't argue about Wollensak photographic optics.

Happy collecting,
Arthur

#11 FrankL

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 02:05 PM

Frank,

We are on the same page with regards to conservation, preservation and restoration vs refinishing and losing historical significance into the bargain. I would touch nothing else on these binoculars in order to preserve their battle character and historical patina ... my only concern for the slight chip in the finish, which exposes some of the foam, was that it did not further deteriorate the integrity of neighboring area's of the covering.

To answer your question on how to repair:
I can't tell from the pictures how deep or wide the damage is. If it's shallow and not too wide, I would just fill with epoxy; if it's deeper and wider, I would then fill with an epoxy putty such as Milliput. I used Milliput to repair damage on this binocular very successfully:
http://www.flickr.co...57623234405689/
Next go to a hobby store and purchase a selection of acrylic paints that are close to the color of the binocular, and then experiment mixing them until the right color is found.
Gluing in a piece of textured covering matching that of the binocular may be very difficult not least because of the problem in locating a matching piece. Possibly an old U.S. M3 has the same covering and could be scavenged. Check out this link. They have a lot of surplus binocular parts particularly old U.S. army Bausch & Lomb and should be good at responding to emails. Incidentally, I think their place of business is the old Wollensak factory.
http://www.surplussh...larparts_5.html
Good luck - Frank

#12 Tikirocker

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 03:50 PM


Frank,

Thank you very much mate, you reply was instructive and appreciated, I managed to find the link to surplus shed in a previous online search and they do appear to be right for my requirements.

The chip in the corner of the covering is significant, enough that I think a repair is required.Here is a better image of the damage.

Posted Image

Best, Tiki.

#13 Simon S

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 04:53 PM

This is mine...
http://www.flickr.co...57613812824211/
And in bits
http://www.flickr.co...57616130558280/

#14 Tikirocker

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 05:10 PM

Simon,

How do you like your M5 binoculars?

#15 Simon S

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 04:27 PM

Fairly average to be honest, not as good as the M3 models.


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