Cleaning 10×8 (8×10) Fidelity Double Dark Slides

June 26, 2008 at 7:54 pm

WARNING!!! Although this procedure is straight forward, the author takes no responsibility for any damage, injury, or harm incurred to you, your gear, or anyone else by following this procedure. You attempt this ENTIRELY at your own risk.

With that said, I recently picked up 4 Fidelity Elite 10×8 double dark slides (DDS’s), they were in superb condition but in dire need of a good clean — I suspect they maybe hadn’t been in use for some time. Knowing that dust and dirt can get trapped in the nooks and crannies and create havoc when taking shots, I thought it best to see about getting them spic and span.

10x8 Fidelity Double Dark Slide Holder
© Ben Anderson

I started out using my rocket blower to force dust out of all the obvious places. Inserting and removing the dark slides should have theoretically loosened any dust and grit on the felt light trap, but after trying this the felt was still filthy. With that in mind I decided to see if these things would easily come apart.

And yes, they did, by pulling apart the ends closest to the fold out flaps you can slide out the whole centre section of the holder. Be very careful not to bend the outer U section too much or you might inadvertently snap the holder!

10x8 Fidelity Double Dark Slide Holder
© Ben Anderson

Once the central section is pulled out you can remove the outer guides from it. This will let you work a cloth or brush into all of the areas that have built up dirt and grime over the years. The felt can be tapped against a hard surface to free any dust it is holding – do this gently because within the felt is a fine gage metal form that helps it to keep it’s light tight shape.

10x8 Fidelity Double Dark Slide Holder
© Ben Anderson

For stubborn marks and label glue I applied some Naphtha lighter fuel with a soft cloth – caution, it’s an irritant, and is highly flammable! Duh!

2 of my four holders were a bit more difficult to dismantle, the components were stuck together with epoxy. Inserting a flat wide bladed edge between the guide components and the outer U shape allowed me to ‘crack’ the epoxy by exerting a small amount of pressure. Be careful not to prise too much or you risk leaving marks on the parts which could potentially compromising how light tight the holders are!

  • http://benneh.net BennehBoy
  • http://benneh.net BennehBoy

    I’ve seen some posts on the best kind of tape to use on the large format forum – suggest you do a search there… http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/index.php

  • Ted Martin

    Great; now for renewing worn and light-leaking darkslide hinge material. Until now, i’ve used a carefully applied coating of black leather shoe dye, which remains flexible and fills the tiny holes which in time appear and let light through to the film.

    Renewal would seem to offer a more permanent solution, but do Fidelity market replacement flexible strips for their 4×5, 5×7 and 8×10 dark slides?

    Advice appreciated.. Thanks.

  • http://benneh.net BennehBoy

    *** CAUTION *** Make sure you use a spot of super/craxy glue to secure the ‘prongs’ of the U back to the main center board after cleaning. If you don’t then the U’s are prone to coming away from the holder when you take them out of your bag – instant light leak. Don’t use too much glue, it only needs a tiny spot!

  • BarryS

    Pretty cool! I’ve got some holders that have a lot of grit in the light traps and I may see if I can disassemble mine for cleaning. Thanks for posting this.