Better Lubricants than Graphite

Graphite powder, although it is an excellent dry lubricant, has been shown to be corrosive to aluminum when there is possibility of moisture being present. Consequently, the USAF banned the use of Graphite lubricants on any USAF aircraft, several years ago. While graphite was the standard when the Speed Graphics were now, there is now a much better alternative: Molybdenum disulfide powder (Chemical symbol=MoS2).

A Graflex booklet on their roll film backs (with the film flattening pin rollers) advises how to lubricate them, with Z Molykote powder (Dow Corning trade name for MoS2 powder) dissolved in alcohol and applied in small quantities to the ends of the pin rollers, letting the mixture penetrate. The alcohol evaporates, and after wiping off the excess, you have the MoS2 powder left behind in the rollers. Graflex even sold this powder under their part number. It is a dark, almost black powder, similar to graphite in appearance. Messy if you spill it. Used just like graphite powder. You can "burnish" it on metal parts by rubbing it in with a cloth or stiff bristle brush. Some target shooters burnish MoS2 powder on their bullets--better accuracy, less bore fouling with lead. Ought to work really good on shutter leafs (carefully!!) Some motorcycle chain lubes have MoS2 powder in a carrier liquid to penetrate the chain links and then evaporate, leaving the powder behind. Ought to work in shutters too.

MoS2 can be purchased from at least two sources: local distributors (bearing supply houses, for example) normally have the Dow Corning Molykote Z powder in 10 oz bottles for almost 50 bucks. Or online at: Rose Mills Company, LLC.

Click on Bemol Lubricants and scroll down to the three grades of powder they sell online. I like the superfine grade, with particle sizes avg. 1.5 microns. It really gets into tight spaces. (.001 inch of clearance equals 25 microns--I expect some camera shutter clearances are much less that this) Sold in 1 pound tubs (several lifetimes supply) for around 30 bucks plus shipping. (a bargain) Buy a tub and sell small quantities on Ebay for mucho bucks each!! Spray the powder in your door locks. Plenty of other potential uses, it won't go to waste. Use your imagination.

The Z Molykote powder averages 4 to 10 microns particle size, and would also work if you want to buy locally and use exactly what Graflex specified, but it is expensive. Read about it at: Dow Corning Click on "Products/data sheets" and follow the rabbit trail to get a PDF file you can download. (product information sheet mentions use on camera shutters) The site will also give you a list of local distributors in your area.

Contributor: LtCol Rick Jones (USAF-Retired)
116 Freeman Dr
Warner Robins, GA 31088-3902
LtCol Jones is an engineer with the USAF, and has worked aircraft on corrosion problems and many others.

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