Re: Flooded 16mm films

Jim Scholtz (
Thu, 08 Oct 1998 09:28:04 -0500

Well, it depends on how wet the films got - is water leaking out from the
cans? the important thing is to clean and dry the films as quickly as
possible - get them out of the cans. Do you have access to an RTI or
Paulmar film cleaning/film inspection machine? If you don't, you really
need one. You can use film cleaning solution and a soft, nonscratching
cloth, pulling the film manually through your fingers (or using a hand
crank mechanism or the rewind mechanism on a 16mm projector (don't let it
go through the film gate!). Water will cause warpage, shrinkage,
color-fading/running and sound track distortion (sound is a
physical/optical track on 16mm, not magnetic). RTI is located in
Lincolnwood, IL - they might be able to loan/rent a machine to you if you
can't find one locally - film inspection fluid should be used (Type B)
instead of alchol. 800-323-7520. Wipe out all the cans also and after you
have cleaned the films, leave them on the reels to air dry. Run them each
through the machine at least twice to throughly dry them - film machines
and projectors tightly wrap the film on the real - the greatest threat
after cleaning is that the film will not be completely dry and adhere to
itself on the reel causing real problems to a projector when viewed - film
layer shreading, sprocket holes tearing, etc. BAD NEWS. Hope this helps.
I have first-person real-time experience in this type of disaster as we had
30,000 films involved in an extensive water-damage situation. We even had
to use S.I.U.'s freeze-dry chamber for a couple of archival films and
videos - we saved all but about 25 films. Jim Scholtz, Yankton Community
Library. At 10:08 AM 10/7/98 -0700, you wrote:
>The Round Rock, TX, Public Library experienced flooding last night; and it
>affected their 16mm films. Does anyone have a recommendation on how they
>should proceed to rescue the films?
>Sharon Herfurth
>Central Texas Library System
>Austin, TX
>tel: (800) 262-4431