Grease for Large Format monorail Camera : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hi! I have an Arca Swiss M camera that hasn't been used for some time, and the grease has gone gummy. Any suggestions as to what I might replace it with would be most welcome! Thanks in advance - Ed Stander

-- Ed Stander (, November 28, 2001


As recently conveyed to me from Richard Boulware for Linhof geared mechanisms from the Linhof Service department, a light coating of Vaseline and you should be good to go.

-- Michael Kadillak (, November 28, 2001.

this question comes up pretty regularly. i have always a soft cloth with WD-40 sprayed on it to clean and lightly lubricate each element, and then just wiped it all down with a clean cloth. some folks prefer dry silicon lubricants for metal-to-metal sliding parts.

-- jnorman (, November 29, 2001.

Thanks to all! I've received a direct answer from Arca Swiss International, who apparantly monitor this page. Their comment was to NOT use either vaseline or WD-40, and are sending some grease my way to solve the problem. I'm not sure why they don't like grease substitutes, but there you go! Thanks again - Ed

-- Ed Stander (, November 29, 2001.

One of the problems with WD40 is that it becomes quite gummy after it dries. It is more of a preservative than a lubricant, although it is a good lubricant when you first apply it. Once dry, it leaves a gummy film on stuff. Regardless of what you use, clean the rail and slides before you relube.


-- Doug Paramore (, November 29, 2001.

For what it's worth- I use a white lithium grease for this kind of thing. It is available from bicycle shops and used to repack bearings. It has low viscosity but stays in place.

-- David Rose (, November 29, 2001.

Lubrication for sub-zero operation. Lubriplate makes a lithium grease called Lubriplate "Aero". It is used for garage door openers, screw drive type, for sub zero weather. Apply aparingly and wipe off excess. It is wonderful stuff that wont harden up in sub zero weather. It comes in a small toothpaste size tube. Richard Boulware - Denver.

-- Richard Boulware (, November 29, 2001.

There was recently a long discussion about WD-40 in one of the machinist forums and the conclusion was that it's not a good lubricant and isn't terribly effective at preventing rust. It is good for cleaning off gums and residues, and for some types of metal cutting applications. If the right grease is on the way, great, otherwise I'd tend to use a good white lithium grease like Lubriplate, or a teflon filled grease. Stay away from automotive greases except for some of the light wide temperature range synthetics that don't harden and gum up.

-- Conrad Hoffman (, November 30, 2001.

I also use white lithium grease - got a can from the auto parts store. It's what I read to use in several sources on camera repair.

I understand that the "WD" in "WD-40" stands for "water dispersant." On bicycles, it is often recommended to use WD-40 to clean off parts BEFORE lubing or greasing - not as a lubricant itself. I don't believe that it leaves much of a lubricant behind.

BTW, I struggled for some time to find a solvent that evaporates quickly, doesn't leave residue, and doesn't damage paint and plastics for use in cleaning old camera mecahnisms. Most of the stuff I read in books are no longer available or require special handling and disposal. A camera repairman finally recommended camp stove fuel. Works great for me, but use at your own risk.

-- John H. Henderson (, December 05, 2001.

" Linhof geared mechanisms from the Linhof Service department, a light coating of Vaseline and you should be good to go"

What are the rubbing surfaces made of?

Linhof monorails use brass on aluminum which in itself acts as a self lubricant.

Other monorails may be different materials with different lubrication requirements.

Using the wrong ones may be result in worse problems.

-- Bob Salomon (, December 05, 2001.

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