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Mystery of the melting binocular

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#1 DarkDisplay

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 02:31 PM

Out of genuine curiosity I've decided to introduce this subject. Some owners of Canon IS binoculars claim that the rubber covering on their bino begins to "melt" (as they call it) and become quite sticky after a year or two. My thought was that some sort of chemical was causing the problem. However, the users say that bug spray, sunscreen lotion, etc. was not involved. It seems that a company such as Canon would not use material that would possibly cause such a defect. Thus, the mystery.

I've briefly mentioned this in another post, but I wanted to be a little more in-depth about it. I can't recall this complaint concerning any other type of binocular. Very unusual. Any sleuths out there who can solve this mystery?

Best wishes,
Frank
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#2 Hugh Peck

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 03:36 PM

This is an old problem and had affected Canon, Vivitar, Sigma, Pratika, Alpen Optics and Ultravid among others. It's the sprayed on thin "rubber" coating that deteriorates and can be cleaned off with isopropyl alcohol or even ammonia or Windex. It probably affects other brands as well.

#3 DarkDisplay

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 07:46 AM

That's interesting, Hugh. You said it was an "old problem". Has it been fixed over time? Most of the owners that have a problem with it have had their Canon IS for a few years.

Best wishes,
Frank

#4 Patrik Iver

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 09:30 AM

This is an old problem and had affected Canon, Vivitar, Sigma, Pratika, Alpen Optics and Ultravid among others. It's the sprayed on thin "rubber" coating that deteriorates and can be cleaned off with isopropyl alcohol or even ammonia or Windex. It probably affects other brands as well.


Can you please clarify "sprayed on"? The rubber on my Canon IS 10x30 seems molded on, and appears to be pretty thick.
They are well over 10 years old (but probably less than 15), and the rubber coating is still fine, even If I did use them a few times with Deet on my hands, before I knew that it dissolves certain plastics.

Edit:
Corrected "moulded" to "molded" before someone notices my Freudian typo... :grin:

#5 penguinx64

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 08:05 PM

Wow, I never melted a pair of binoculars. But the 'Mystery' brand of binoculars seems ok. I tried some of the Mystery brand in Thailand and they're as good as Tasco or Bushnell.

#6 DarkDisplay

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 09:08 PM

The rubber covering on the Canon IS binos is molded on. There might be a thin "grip" texture on top of the rubber.

Best wishes,
Frank

#7 jimb1001

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Posted 22 May 2014 - 01:05 PM

Perhaps someone who actually experienced the "melting" problem could comment.

With so many of these bins sold there should be at least a few users who can tell us about the circumstances of their melting problem.

#8 SMark

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Posted 22 May 2014 - 01:45 PM

I've owned (and still have) quite a few Canon IS binoculars, and I have never noticed a problem with the covering on any of them.
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#9 DarkDisplay

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Posted 22 May 2014 - 04:10 PM

I recently talked with one of the guys at Eagle Optics and he told me that he's almost positive it would be insect spray causing this to happen. The folks at EO are usually right. I'm not sure if insect spray (or other chemicals) would damage other binos in the same manner. Anyway, I always make sure my hands are clean before I handle any of my binoculars. And I'm VERY careful about who I allow to use them.

Best wishes,
Frank

#10 Spectral Joe

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Posted 22 May 2014 - 04:26 PM

Years ago, in the days of 8mm film being the medium of home movies, we had a Vivitar camera. It got put away and not touched for about 10 years, when I stumbled on it while cleaning up I found that the rubber on the focus ring and hand grip had softened into a sticky goo (melted?). It had been used once and put away, so I suspect it's an age thing as opposed to contamination.
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#11 Ravenous

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 06:38 AM

I had an old olympus DSLR - an E-10, which would put its manufacture around year 2000 or so. This developed a similar problem - the rubber softening and feeling "tacky". (It was a museum piece by then, so no great loss.)

I didn't own it from new, but I didn't subject it to any insect repellents, sun screen, or cleaners of any sort in the 3-4 years I used it.

I then had it stored for several years when I noticed the problem. It was in a cardboard box with its accessories, not airtight. No idea if that's a clue.

So I suspect it was just the type of rubber used, as there wasn't anything odd about the conditions I had it in...

#12 choran

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 12:35 AM

Never had the problem with mine, but I'm wondering if the problem could be caused by the bino coating coming in contact with a plastic with which it reacts. I used to fish a lot, and some plastic molded baits (plastic worms) were fine in plastic bags but would literally melt some tackle boxes. Is it possible that the problem might be with the material in, for example, the binocular case? Just a thought.

#13 DarkDisplay

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 06:08 PM

I've had this same thing happen to me when I fished a lot. The plastic bait would usually have a slight oily substance on it. It would eventually leave an imprint where I stored it inside the tackle box. Perhaps it was this oily chemical that caused the reaction. This would be in line with what I've heard about insect spray, sunscreen lotion and other such things.

Bottom line: It's always best to handle binoculars with clean hands. At least without any sort of chemical on them.

Best wishes,
Frank

#14 jimb1001

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 01:15 AM

I wish even 1 owner of a Canon bin with melting covering would log on an tell how they think it happened.

If we can't get 1 person to tell us about their experience I'm going to think its a non-issue.

#15 DarkDisplay

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 09:12 AM

That's what I've been waiting for. The complaints I've read have been on Amazon and other such review sites. They have actually been few and far between. The vast majority of owners have no such problem. This leads me to believe it's most likely a simple matter of contact with some chemical substance. Especially after what the folks at Eagle Optics told me (see my EO post above). A non-issue, I think, for anyone who understands the proper care of a good binocular.

Best wishes,
Frank

#16 Hugh Peck

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Posted 26 May 2014 - 01:33 PM

Someone I knew several years ago had a pair that the coating started to "dissolve" on but I don't remember the brand. I do remember someone else mentioning they also had a pair it happened to but that was pretty much it until I read this thread and googled it and spent some time tracking down cases. It does appear to rare, though, and several brands have been affected. I am sure neither of the ones I know about were Canon IS.

#17 Don Nguyen

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 09:56 AM

I have owned 6 pairs of Canon IS and have never seen such issue. This issue is not common and if it happened it only happened if the owners had some chemical contamination to the rubber. In such case it can happen to any rubber coated bin's not just the Canon. I believe I could "melt" any rubber coatings regardless how strong they advertise if I wanted to.

#18 5u4

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Posted 16 June 2015 - 09:25 PM

Hate to dig up an old thread, but seems like an appropriate place to post. Have a pair of Cannon 10X30IS that are maybe 10 years old. The last year or so I've noticed the rubber getting sticky mostly where I place my fore fingers on each side of the prisms. I use these maybe a couple of times a year at most & are always stored in the soft case inside the house when not in use. Got them out tonight to take a quick look at NGC5139 & noticed the rubber looking like it's melting away. After bringing them back in the house & putting them back in the case. I noticed black goo on my fingers. Guess it's mostly just from age & skin oil deteriorating the rubber, I don't know. I really like the optics, but is there any way to neutralize this or just let it go?



#19 MartinPond

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Posted 16 June 2015 - 10:38 PM

 

This is an old problem and had affected Canon, Vivitar, Sigma, Pratika, Alpen Optics and Ultravid among others. It's the sprayed on thin "rubber" coating that deteriorates and can be cleaned off with isopropyl alcohol or even ammonia or Windex. It probably affects other brands as well.


Can you please clarify "sprayed on"? The rubber on my Canon IS 10x30 seems molded on, and appears to be pretty thick.
They are well over 10 years old (but probably less than 15), and the rubber coating is still fine, even If I did use them a few times with Deet on my hands, before I knew that it dissolves certain plastics.

Edit:
Corrected "moulded" to "molded" before someone notices my Freudian typo... :grin:

 

 

 

Indirectly,the trouble is actually "sprayed on"....to the mold.

The mold release applied to the mold is sometimes supposed cure in the air to make a coating.

In the worst possible case,it has something in it that breaks down the polymer below...

...the maximum nightmare.   Sometimes talcum is used to stop that, after the solvents are used.

That's the popular cure attempt in the marine world for serious "melt": cleaningas above, and rubbing on

talcum.

 

Thereis also that frosty "bloom"in rubber jackets.   The rubber is porous and can have too much

wax mold release in the pores.  That's easy to fix:   WD40 or ArmorAll wipes the excess off and

leaves a residue that keeps wax crystals from forming. 


Edited by MartinPond, 16 June 2015 - 10:39 PM.


#20 Binojunky

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Posted 17 June 2015 - 01:03 PM

It was a small number that was affected, also remember if you have things on your hands even 24 hrs later, like lotion or been handling solvents, gasoline it can affect it over time, the rubber coverings on all the binos I have seen has been a proper covering put on with adhesive not sprayed, TD.



#21 MartinPond

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 04:17 PM

Yes....that can start some, too. 

Gasoline on rubber, especially.  Some'octane boosting' parts unzip the polymer.

Sun lotion can do strange things when it's in the sun.



#22 JHub

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 07:35 PM

If you use insect repelent with deet in it, be careful with your gear. I quit using deet based repellents after losing a pair of rubber coated binoculars and a pair of sticky, disolved handlebar grips on my Bike. And, yes, the guys at Eagle Optics confirmed my suspicions when I went to get a new pair of binoculars.

 

John


Edited by JHub, 18 June 2015 - 07:38 PM.


#23 MartinPond

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 10:34 PM

Boy, that conjures up some memories.   I had 80%DEET repellent strip off some red Victorinox knife handle

and some rubber on a fishing pole once! 

 

Most 'melting jackets'  are a bad batch,though.


Edited by MartinPond, 18 June 2015 - 10:35 PM.


#24 Kellmark

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Posted 21 June 2015 - 02:22 PM

I am with Vostok on this one.  I have 3 Canon IS bins. 10X30, 12X36 II and the 18X50. All bought new when each model first came out. They all still work great after many years. But, about a year ago, my 12X36 II rubber covering started to do exactly what Vostok described. The area where the hands touch it started getting sticky and bits started coming off. I tried cleaning it with alcohol, and anything else I could think of, but no luck. As time goes on, the area affected is growing, to areas that hands don't normally touch. It is almost like a skin cancer of the rubber. 

 

What I have done is just put gorilla tape over the affected areas. It is not pretty, but the Bins are still useable, and it keeps my hands from touching the sticky areas. Every few months I have to add more tape to newly affected areas. Eventually I will have to acquire a new pair though. Its pretty ugly. 

 

What I think happened is that we were down in the Florida Keys at a restaurant with some friends and I had them look through the bins at some birds, etc. I think maybe that they had used insect repellent and that this caused the problem. It was not long after that when it started.

 

From now on I will be careful as to who uses my bins and whether my own hands are clean. Nobody would want what has happened to these.



#25 MartinPond

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Posted 21 June 2015 - 04:48 PM

Ifound a sticky pair in the closet.   Now I need some  talcum, or maybe magnesium powder.

Tinker...tinker.




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