B&H

 

BELL & HOWELL

 

 

You are of course aware of www.paulivester.com (click on films when you get there), where there is an attempt at listing all known B&H machines.

 

I have always been totally confused by B&H projector model numbers. I have found this, which helps, tho' I suspect there was a whole range of other models in the US.

 

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Variations on a Theme

I (foolishly) bought a B&H silent (a Model 129 "auditorium" machine) on American eBay. It arrived damaged, of course, as no-one knows how to pack a

projector to withstand the antics of carriers. It arrived with a broken pivot bolt. It's very like this:-

 

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but without the resistance at the top of the lamphouse and is, I think, a later model. You can't see much of it in these pix, but behind the base of the lamphouse is a "box" into which all the wires come from the base of the projector. This box has a plastic cover, which was damaged by the wires pulling against it once the pivot pin broke. Incidentally, it's quite difficult to get apart, as the wires have to be disconnected inside the base first. What you can see in the second pic is the "tail" of the box lid, a conduit for taking the wires down into the base. I have finally finishedfabricating a replacement out of aluminium, as well as making a new pivot bolt. The fittings are much the same on some of the more domestic 16mm machines, but of a slightly different design so I couldn't just swap.......

I put it back together to test and it works fine, except there is no speed control. Either it's worn out, or the bit of brake "shoe" used in this regrettably archaic bit of mechanism has shifted because of the jolting. This means another major dismantling job.

 

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The pivot bolt had simply sheared, allowing the mech to flop about, pulling on the wires from the base that passed thru the, now busted, Bakelite cover

(above) to the wiring box under the lamphouse. Not too simple to copy. I also found when I had dealt with these two faults that there was no speed control

- I assumed the brake shoe which rides on the face of the fan to brake the motor had been jolted out of place. I was right, but I've managed to fix it,

so the projector is in full working order. However, some of the parts of the brake mech seemed to have gone missing. The speed control knob visible from the

outside is hollow. But all there was there was a short piece of brass rod, which was nowhere near long enough to go inside the hollow knob and

then extend far enough forward to press on the brake shoe. I inserted a spring and fitted a longer rod, which seems to work OK. To get access,

there is a ring of bolts (marked in pix 4&5 below) joining the motor and lamphouse as a single unit to the block containing the gearbox and claw

mechanism, plus the gate and sprockets. In order to allow the motor to move enough, I had to remove the rear spool arm. It was a bugger to

re-insert the motor, as there is a mech on the end of the shaft that engages with the clutch lever, and this did not want to go back in past the lever.

 

I have been noticing differences between this "auditorium" machine, the earlier one I already have and comparable "domestic" models (all 16mm). The later

auditorium machine has only a single line of teeth on the sprockets and a sound-style double claw. Clearly, it became apparent that even silent

films were printed on sound stock. It also became apparent I was going to have to do pictures, so I bought some domestic models out of the "spares"

zone to use as examples - the machines themselves are only moderate to scruffy in appearance. Let's start, tho', with the auditorium models.

 

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They are both, in fact, Model 129, but the later one (pix 5 & 6 above) has the suffix "H" on its nameplate. It is also described as the "Showmaster" on

the switch panel. The earlier model has a quite different gate and sprocket arrangement - see pic 4. The film retaining rollers are carried on a slider with

a travel of about an eighth of an inch. The retainers can only be opened when the gate is open, and close automatically when the gate is closed. This seems

quite a complex arrangement and it is not surprising it disappeared. The early one has a resistance on top of the lamphouse, but this seems to relate only

to the lamp and is presumably adjusted against the built-in ammeter. There is a separate adjustment on top of the motor for matching to the voltage

of the lamp in use (pic 3). In pic 5 you can see (but not very clearly 'cos it's too shiny as I ent painted it) my replacement cover for the connecting box

at the base of the lamphouse. Both these machines are designed to be runnable on DC as well. Note that one has to reach over the top of the machine

to get at the clutch lever. I expect there are a great many other minor variations, too. The last pic is one I can't identify, but it looks like a 70's

designer got his hands on a 129 and created this horrible thing.

 

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The very elegant machine in pic 1 is not, in fact, from the spares zone. It is interesting in having the same sprocket arrangement as the early 129 above.

Unfortunately, I do not have any other details to hand. I have found a string of pix of another variant; see below.

The extremely manky object in pix 2-4 above is an early domestic Model 613. The resistance control on the top of the lamphouse seems to be the mains

voltage supply adjuster, with a fixed 400w for the lamp. It still has oilers; note tho' the quite different arrangement for feeding wires from the base to the

mech. This machine may actually be incomplete since the later machine (613H, pix 5&6) has something more like, but not the same as, the auditorium machines.

We have, however, moved on to the more modern style of sprocket retainers, but we do not yet have the front-mounted clutch control as does the later 613H.

Note also that the clutch mechanism seems to have changed, with a button on the end of the motor casing rather than the lever actually reaching inside. No

oilers, either. You do wonder what it cost to make all these changes.

Also, for some reason there has been a later addition to the early 613 of a gear under the inching knob. I do not know what it was supposed to achieve.

Finally, a weird analyser machine with a frame counter and a manual crank, a Model 173. A particular feature of this machine is the knob at the back of the motor, which is graduated in numbers that are presumably RPM. This makes it a variable, fixed speed motor, such as I have previously met only once, on a Bolex G3.

 

One wonders why this sort of system was not used for sound machines instead of that noisy centrifugal governor arrangement. Incidentally, I have come up

with a possible reason why B&H stuck with the braking system of speed control for so long. Anyone who has used a Bolex DA or most other 9.5 notched film

projectors will have noticed how the speed of the motor changes quite a lot as the load changes at stills. There is, however, a smaller effect even during

normal running, with the motor changing speed as it and the rheostat warm up or the load changes a bit depending on the characteristics of the film. This

more minor effect might be overcome by having the motor permanently under load from the brake shoe arrangement. Not sure I am convinced, nor is it

obvious why this should be so important, but I thought I'd run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes.

 

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I can't identify the first machine beyond its "Diplomat" title. It's really here as another example, and also as an extremely rare example of a box which has survived in excellent condition. Picture courtesy Pat Moules. The rest of the pix I can't recall anything but what you see. Note it has the old-style sprockets and I suspect a resistance under that lamphouse cap.

 

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I have a B&H 643 (pic 1), quite a late version I believe (Paul Schimmel says the 8D prefix it has shows this, pic 2), manual threading, incandescent lamp (valve-type base), optical and magnetic. Given that the projector looks quite well used, I was amazed to see an original worm, looking to be in perfect condition and allowing the projector to purr along quietly. I was so impressed I changed that dreadful Jones plug input for a Euro-plug type. They really did not want people bypassing their work. There are, of course, 4 pins to a Jones plug; this is quite unnecessary, as all it means is there are two live input pins. Inside, the colours of the wires seem designed deliberately to confuse, not corresponding to any of the usual colour codes. Once you remove the original receptacle, the holes are of course in the wrong place for a replacement. What I did was to make a flat plate the same size as the original receptacle, and offset the euro plug (I always find this confusing - what you stick into it is a socket) to one side. It is secured by one of the original screws and by a screw into an extra hole in the plate. The other original screw fits as before. I had to slightly file out a couple of holes is all. Incidentally, I think the extension speaker sockets are also a weird type. so I'll have to replace them, too.

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Pic 1 is an unusual -looking machine to British eyes, tho' it got here somehow. 2 is a bit more familiar, but still a long way to go, and then we move to the end of the line.

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