Two GIC Projectors


A manufacturer new to Cinerdistan – the French company GIC. I have two 9.5mm models. The first is a compact machine, the Rubis, which has a 110v 200w lamp, with an unusual 3-pin bayonet fitting and a twin terminals on the base. I imagine they are quite rare! The motor belt drive to the outside of a pulley which serves as both shutter and cam carrier is rather reminiscent of the Technicolor film loop projectors. The spool arms are detachable, which keeps the machine compact but, because it is so compact, there is nowhere to store them.

GICa1     GICa2     

I have two of these machines, because the first one I acquired was lacking the front, sprung part of the gate and I wanted another to copy before I included them on the site. However, on looking at these 2 I found that No. 1 had a problem outside my normal capacity to tackle; not only were the visible wires suffering from severe insulation rot , this rot extended to the interior of the motor and I have doubts about fixing that. I may have to get it re-wound. I therefore turned to No.2; no apparent insulation rot but the motor would run at only one speed (v. slow, tho’ it speeded up as it warmed up after a few minutes). What foxed me was the motor and lamp control. Machine 1 has a semi-circular label strip above a standard-looking speed controller, marked, from the left, stop, motor, lamp, speed. No. 2 lacks the label, but everything else is the same.

GICa5     Meopta

Instead of just the normal wiper running on a resistance, familiar from many 9.5 machines, here we have a double wiper, one for the resistance but the other serving in effect as an on-off switch for the lamp, with a gap at the beginning of the wiper “track” but then a continuous sheet of brass along which the lamp would remain on. You can see from the pic that the arcing from connecting the lamp has burned away parts of the insulation and the brass plate that serves as the contact. What I could not see was how the motor could run separately from the lamp and also change speed as implied by the label. Much head scratching and much close examination made me conclude that the problem was with the rheostat/resistance. Numerous turns of wire at either end of the resistance mat appeared to have vanished and I strongly suspect there are other breaks along the mat that are less visible. My guess is that immediately on leaving the “off” position, the resistance wiper would meet some now-missing turns of wire and start moving BEFORE the lamp wiper met the brass plate. Then the motor would continue in the normal way to speed up as the wiper moved along the resistance mat.
The pic of the 8mm Meopta is included to illustrate different approaches to the same basic concept. The Rubis and Meopta are approximately the same size, but the Meopta has solved the problem of where to put the arms by incorporating them into the structure of the machine, one at the back and one part of a carrying handle. The sprocket and gate of the Rubis is very cramped, and the film has to be threaded over and under the sprocket AND through the gate before the latter is close, as closing the gate forces the sprung film retainers to close up. The Meopta gives itself much more room to manoeuvre. The Meopta also has a much more sophisticated tilt control, a worm-driven affair which tilts the main upper part of the machine within the confines of the base.

GICb1     GICa6     GICb2

The second, larger GIC machine is much more conventional – I don’t have a model name for it. The layout is in principle like the Bolex DA, (or indeed the Son [ugh!]) with a single sprocket catering for loops up and over the lamphouse and back. Controls, too are conventional – motor and lamp switches and a resistance knob – as is the lamp, a standard pre-focus base 300w job. Despite the temptation, I did not immediately plug in and start up, and it’s as well I didn’t. There was severe insulation rot with an imminent risk of shorting which, even at 110v, is undesirable, as is the risk of electric shock. Fortunately the rot did not extend to the motor wires, so I was easily able to remedy the problem. Easily only in principle, however – the practicalities were very different. One of the (rotted) wires to the lamp ran, it transpired, inside a sleeve, inside a narrow, angled channel which runs between the top and bottom sections of the machine – see pic 3 above. This is not a channel through which one can pull a defunct wire or push a new one – only disassembly will do. Only 3 screws hold the top and bottom together, two of which are accessed behind the motor fan blades and one is inside the lamphouse. This last screw can only be accessed with a very long-bladed screwdriver passed through the rearmost of 3 slots in the top of the lamphouse – the other 2 slots will not do.

Then, in order actually to separate the two halves, it is necessary to remove the drive belt. This passes over the main shaft which goes completely through the lamphouse and so the belt cannot be removed unless it can be separated at a join, like a spring belt. The belt the machine arrived with was leather, with a metal staple fastening. In order to create any room in which to work to fit a new belt, it was also necessary to remove the motor entirely, separating it from the fan so as to get the belt past. As if this masterly stroke of design were not enough, while I was fiddling about, the metal staple in the belt broke. Now, it is impossible to use a rubber belt, so I tried spring – quite stiff and tight spring – belting. Nada. It would not drive. So I had to make a new staple and somehow get the whole thing back together, which presented various other problems I shall not bore you with. Eventually, it all went back and ran OK. But I simply cannot understand those who designed so many of the projectors I meet. They seem to come up with an overall image and then go to ridiculous lengths to make it work when they find all the problems their original design – if design ever took place – has caused. Bodge, bodge, bodge, but never re-think or look back.

In this case, apart from the belt and wiring, the basic design has the flaw that the film passes over the lamphouse and is subject to heat. The loop cannot be made very big as it then interferes with the top spool. The bottom loop is even worse – there seems to be only one position in which the loop does not touch the bottom of the lamphouse or the top of the base. A sprocket hole one way or the other and problems must ensue.

GICb3     GICb4

The last two pix are just to show what happens to so many projectors i.e. rust and how relatively easily the looks of the machine can be improved. The spring strip in this case was originally treared with a form of chemical blackening, not a finish known for its resistance to rust. I have left it bright at present, but it could eassily be painted  a satin black.