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Subject: Soluble nylon

Soluble nylon

From: Chris Woods <c.s.woods>
Date: Friday, June 15, 2001
Peter N. Krantz <bkfndrs [at] ozemail__com__au> writes

>Our question:  Is this substance still considered of suitable
>conservation-standard, as an adhesive and resizing agent?

Soluble nylon is very definitely not considered a suitable material
for conservation purposes, particularly if it is similar to that
which was developed in the late sixties in this country.  It was
originally proposed for use for fixing unstable pigments prior to
using aqueous wash treatments.  The idea was that it should be
immediately removed from the item after the wet treatment was
complete and the material dry.  Unfortunately such was the nature of
some of the people using the material that the nylon was frequently
left behind without any attempt to remove it post-treatment. Equally
it can be imagined that a material of this nature may well be
difficult to remove completely even if one tried.  After about three
years or so it was commonly observed that the nylon coating had
begun to discolour to a brown/yellow appearance and attempts at
removal proved unsuccessful.

It was noted that the material cross-linked and became insoluble (I
can't recall any papers demonstrating this incontrovertibly but it
was certainly a popular understanding fifteen years ago.)  For some
time there seemed to be a general belief that the material was
completely unremovable.  The 1973 version of the British Standard
4971 'Repair and Allied Processes' etc. for documents recommended
its use, perhaps not least because the principle authority behind
the then new standard was also the person recorded (in the Society
of Archivists Journal) as proposing soluble nylon for archival
conservation (take a bow Mr Baynes-Cope if you're reading).  All
involved in the following 1980's revision of the BS (including the
above) must have recognised that soluble nylon was not a suitable
material because its recommendation was removed.

As an aside, I have found that it is possible to remove aged soluble
nylon coating by using hot alcohol, or alcohol in association with
heat.  Equally there are silicon removers available which are
capable also of removing nylon, though I could not say what affect
they have on paper.

Chris Woods
Dorset Archives Service

                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:4
                  Distributed: Tuesday, June 19, 2001
                        Message Id: cdl-15-4-004
Received on Friday, 15 June, 2001

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