Evelyn Chartres Author

Elbow Grease and a Vintage Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Camera

A couple of days ago, I got my hands on a nice vintage Kodak Brownie Hawkeye, a model popular during the mid-Twentieth century.

I found the camera on Etsy and the order arrived within the week!  The item was described as ideal for photo shoots and I agree. It would certainly have made a lovely addition a shoot I did for the Portrait.

Pictured above, the camera arrived with a bit of dust and grime covering certain aspects of the body. Since I suspected that the camera was made of Bakelite, a popular thermosetting plastic used for making phones, cameras, and even grenades, I scoured the internet looking for a way to clean it.

Most sites pointed out that metal polish would do the trick.  Additionally, comments in their threads mentioned how their cameras cleaned up nicely.  So I pulled out some Brasso and started applying the polish.

Sites recommend that you apply a liberal dose of Brasso then wipe it off with a clean cloth.  Instead I used some disposable paper towels and started with the rear casing.

Sure enough, after the first iteration the material was noticeably cleaner.  All I had to do was apply more Brasso where required and rub away the polish and accumulated grime.  This process is similar to shoe shining.

Overall the process worked great!  The camera looks a lot cleaner and the grime has disappeared.  However the name plate in the front did not agree with the Brasso and the red Kodak logo faded slightly.  Knowing this, I would have used a clear lacquer to protect the name plate, since it is difficult to avoid putting any polish near that area.

There is also dust within the lens assemblies.  Since this is internal to the camera, the only way to clean those lenses would be to disassemble the camera.  I will have to give it some serious thought before making the attempt!

CC BY-SA 4.0 Elbow Grease and a Vintage Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Camera by Evelyn Chartres is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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