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premier First, my very own beautiful Premier.Dave Richardson found these pix in a cinema handbook dating to 1921. The case for the Premier is just like the one I have, tho' I do not have the resistance.

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Some splendid pictures of an American Premier Pathescope from Alain Gomet. It is in superb condition, with original packing case and instruction book and a classy, brassy switch with separate controls for lamp and motor. It also has a lamp resistance, something I have not previously come across; presumably it travelled in the upright position and was lowered for use.


Dino Everett spotted a fascinating machine on ebay - an obvious clone of the 28mm Premier Pathescope - or vice versa. Dino tends to the view the 35mm came first, a notion which seems logical and is supported by the wonderfully primitive motor, with a very useful inching knob. But very few other changes apart from the name plate.


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There is a shaft at the back, absent from my 28mm version, which may have been for an external motor, or an output to ...... what? The friction brake present on my 28 is missing, tho' there may be a hole where it fits...... The most difficult feature to reconcile is that tiny two-bladed shutter. Is it original? I can't see how anything that small could do the job, and a two-bladed one would maybe need to rotate faster anyway, which would require changing gear ratios, which could be tricky. The implication is that Pathescope Inc simply copied the 35mm machine - not much more than badge engineering - and bought in a batch of surplus sewing machine motors (mine literally states that on its maker's plate) for the drive, to overcome the shortcomings of the KOK and, no doubt, to cope with lack of supplies of the KOK from a France at war. I wonder if there is any link to the Peerless company that made the early Triplico-type machine and the SP Wundatone?


These are from the New Zealand Chapter, ie Trevor Adams.

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Dino Everett has been selling the family silver and bought a Premier Pathescope 28mm. He has kindly sent these pix of the lamp and box he got with it.


I did some restoration/repair work on a Pathescope Premier for a friend, which arrived sans lamphouse. The projector as it stood was very odd - the pivoted leaf to which the lamphouse should have been attached was present, but in the shape of a Victor lamphouse, rather than the Premier type on my own machine. As usual, a major part of the premierchallenge was to make and fit a lamphouse without doing any further violencepremier to the machine. Here are some shots of the lamphouse I devised. It has a double skin, the outer held in place simply by the screws from inside the inner skin. A PathBaby provided a tube for the lamp, seen protruding on the left of the side view.

I wrote this up rather more fully in a note to the owner which follows.

Premier Pathescope.

Right. Here is a report to date. I stripped the projector down quite a lot, (see pix below) to help with cleaning and to get at one or two problem areas. I

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mentioned to you the potential problem with the intermittent sprocket. It had somehow been squashed at one end, so it was no longer circular; I have managed to correct most of it, tho I have not yet run any tests to see if the very small pins on the squashed end do the job OK. The mechanism was stiff, and I traced this to the intermittent itself, which I therefore dismantled.

The intermittent sprocket is held onto its shaft by a taper pin. Presumably whatever damaged the sprocket itself also bent something, because the mech worked fine when the pin was out, but jammed up again when I put it back. I don't have the sort of drill for re-boring the hole - I've never come across them so I replaced it with a nut and bolt; not ideal, and you will have to keep an eye on it in case it comes loose, a sign of which will be the film going out of rack. The Maltese cross bit runs in a semi oil-bath and has a gasket between the cover and the machine to keep the oil in. The original (which I will give you) was pretty far gone; my first attempt at replacement leaked, and I am just hoping the second will be OK.

The motor's lead was broken off level with the casing, so I had to completely dismantle it. Fortunately, there was enough wire left for me to solder a new lead to, and the motor did work on test. One of the biggest problems has been matching some of the screw threads, which are old American Imperial and sometimes hard to find. I even made some, for holding the base cover on. The original cover (which I will give you) was beyond hope; I made a new one. I didnt try to re-use the remaining bits of the feet (ditto), and made new ones.

The lamphouse was a real marathon. For some reason, the hinged plate the lamphouse fixes to is of Victor pattern, suggesting a tall squared lamphouse with rounded bits where the lamp is. I started out down this route, but found it too difficult. I resorted to a simpler, circular job. The difficulty was fixing it to the machine I did consider just a friction fit around the condenser, but the condenser was already cracked (no doubt the result of far too powerful a lamp in the pre-focus holder it arrived with). I succeeded in the end, but I did have to actually do something to the machine, which I normally avoid. It was only countersinking the screws that secure the condenser, tho, and not visible. I have fitted a 12v 50w lamp; you could try a 100w one if it doesnt get too hot. The paint is heat-resistant, tho.

The lamphouse is a two-skin affair, to give some ventilation without too much light spill. I can't hope to match the sort of thing found on an original lamphouse. Lucky the condenser was there; a new one would have been very hard to find. The lampholder I basically made, apart from the tube that mounts thru the hole into the lamphouse, which I stole from a Pathé Baby. I copied the connectors from the Baby, too. The mirror is from a 200B. I haven't tested yet and I dont know how well this will all work. A friend has found some braided wire that looks very like the original, so I have fitted some of this for the lamp connections.

I told you the front spool arm and back cover looked quite different from the rest all glossy and undamaged. The back cover is in fact a bit of a force fit, so I suspect both parts came from a different machine.

The way the rear spool arm fits is odd. There is a square hole in the arm, and the large retaining screw had a square section at the top to match. Unfortunately, this was irrelevant as the arm fits on the opposite side of the mounting lug, which has a round hole. The screw ended up standing proud with its square peg refusing to go into the round hole. So the only other change I have made is to machine off the square bit on the screw.

As agreed, I have made no attempt to paint any of the original parts; all I have done is to clean and polish. It looks a bit piebald, with the back cover, front arm, lamphouse and shutter all looking new and the rest well battered.

One of the problems with everything I do is that its basically a series of one-offs. I have to design a solution to the problem, then make it work, so inevitably there are errors and false starts. Even with the shutter, which I have done before, I made several mistakes and had to re-do stuff.

What remains to be done now is:-

Finish the wiring. I plan to have a trailing connector coming out of the base thru an existing hole, a 5-way one for motor, lamp and earth.

Sort out a power supply. If I can find an old Eumig P8 I might do what I did with K's KOK, and just re-wire the projector so it acts as the power supply, otherwise I have to build a box for the power supply.

Find a suitable lens.

Cross fingers and test.


October 2011

Now working on my third Pathescope Premier 28mm projector, the second that is not mine . This one has a different lamphouse, and came with grotty replacement arms and no shutter. Here are some pix.


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I've shown the lamphouse with the back partly withdrawn. It's a little bit like a KOK lamphouse, with those runners riding on the inside of the front part of the lamphouse, but here the runners protrude well beyond the rim of the rear part. As you can imagine, when pushed fully home, the lamphouse is fairly shallow. The bulb it came with is a nondescript thing about 3" high and less than 1" diameter, with no markings whatever. This one has the original resistance; one hopes that originally the control lever was covered with some plastic fitment. The electrical connections I have yet to sort out. The resistance has just a 2-pin plug (R in pic 4), with no sign of provision for any other lead to enter the resistance cage; this suggests it is in line with one side of the lamp power supply, with the other side connected direct to the mains (only 110v, thankfully). The centre 2-pin plug is presumably the mains plug; this passes to the rather posh switch and then on to the base of the machine at the side. Another lead, L in the pic, comes from the back of the projector and on first examination appears to have four pin sockets. Haven't gone inside yet to see what is going on.

Having been putting off the job for some time, I had a brainwave about the spool arms. The two shown here are Debrie D16 top arms; the rounded base of the arm is little different from the original arms on my own Premier. I had to make the big securing nuts (not too dissimilar to the originals) and a fixing bolt, only one original having survived. The hole in the Debrie arms was too big, so I made sleeves that were a force fit. The addition of a locating pin for fixing the arms in place (like many 9.5 machines) completed the basic arm. The difficult bit, of course, was always going to be the spool spindles. For the front arm, I re-used the tensioning arrangement from the Debrie and used a "dog" collar as per the original, with lugs to engage the corresponding slots in the spools. This collar, which I suspect may have come from a KOK, had been re-used in the bodged arms the machine came with. The rear arm just needs a pulley, which again I had to make. However, there was a wee snag.


 This pic  shows how the belt to the pulley passes thru a gap in the rear mech cover, with very little clearance to spare. On the original machine, the arm is shorter than the Debrie arm, and slung very low, so much so that I had to build a mini base to go under my own projector to stop my 1200' spool dragging on the deck. The low approach also looked wrong with the longer arm, so I pitched it rather higher. Not that it would have made any difference since, with the longer arm, there was in fact no position that would not involve the belt fouling the mech cover. Now I dislike the sort of bodgery that thoughtlessly files away the relevant part of the cover to overcome the problem. I don't like changing the original as you know, especially when it ent mine anyway. Pix 3 & 4 in row 2 above shows my solution. At just the right point, there is a screw on the original which secures a clip that holds wires out of the way. The screw passes right thru the casting, so I could access it from the other side. It was a pretty fiddly job as space behind the gears was tight to work in. I even had to cut a slot in the threaded end of the rod carrying the pulley so I could get a screwdriver to it from the front of the machine - I just couldn't manage to screw it in from the back. I still have to complete the spool retainer etc for this lower reel as you can see.

The shutter was relatively easy as I have done this before and had a pattern to work from. The shutter is a bit larger than the original. I found with my machine that when I tried to use a short throw lens, the shutter could be seen on screen at the side of the pic. So I built an enlarged version, and it is a copy of this that I have made.

I have a fair bit more to do, and I spose there will have to be painting, which is always a chore. Will try to show you the final result.




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Here are some pix of my efforts to make a new lampholder, as usual without changing the original. The original is on the left - a fairly standard small 2-pin bayonet. What here looks simple took a lot of doing in practice. I made an aluminium thingy, with a narrow tail that is a push fit into the lampholder. The other end I opened up big enough to take a standard halogen lamp base, which is held in place by grub screws either side. The lamp base had its wires cut off to only about 0.25" long. Two brass rods, with a hole drilled in the top to accept the lamp base wires, were soldered to these tiny bits of wire. These brass rods pass thru holes in a "plug" of PTFE. The holes at the bottom end of the plug (which incidentally is held in position by another grub screw) fit over the bayonet pins of the original base. Everything has to be just the right length so that when the new lampholder is inserted into the old, the brass rods make contact with the bayonet pins.


I had terrible trouble ensuring all the connections were right and circuits complete. I kept getting on/off readings from my multimeter and couldn't get consistent results. First I found that one of the the crocodile-clip jump leads I was using to make connections was dicky. Then a plug with just a couple of inches of wire left in, cut off some elderly machine or other, proved faulty and had to be re-wired. Finally I found that the battery in my meter was low and just didn't have the oomph to push a signal thru. All this seems a bit unfair: I think THINGS may be against me - they certainly know how to make life difficult.

Now for a huge SMUG. I keep reciting my mantra - never throw anything away - to 'er indoors, who is a cynic in these things. One thing I saved was the lampholder from an ancient - 40 year-old - floor lamp from Habitat. Just a standard "spotlight" from the days when we didn't have proper spotlights or bulbs, ie a big bit of tube for the (perfectly standard) bulb, with a narrower bit of tube attached to hold the bayonet base fitting. It has proved to be the perfect thing for the Premier lamphouse.




What you see here is the original lamphouse back cover on the left. When it came to me, the mirror was secured in place by 3 screws. To these I added small strips of metal to bring the outside diameter up to match the inside diameter of the ex-Habitat lampshade I told you about. The screws make it too wide, so filed slots in the rim of the Habitat lampshade allow it to be inserted. It's a slightly loose fit, enabling the lampshade to be rotated a bit so the back cover can't fall out. When fitted, any looseness of fit vanishes, with the lampshade going on the outside of the front part of the lamphouse and the "legs" of the back cover inside. 

It's not a particularly satisfactory set-up for two main reasons. First, the only ventilation is in the gap between the lampshade and the back cover. Second, the front part of the lamphouse is basically just a 1" or so wide strip of thin metal that is not even a complete circle, because it isn't wide enough to get past the lamp housing. It needs a good test run with the 12v 100w lamp I propose to fit.


Now the wiring. Among the pix at the start of this particular section on Premier 3 is the flash-looking switch. Here

are the outer casing and the actual switch from inside on which I have been working.


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The original function was simple; both motor and lamp were fed with 110v which, in the case of the lamp, passed

thru the external resistance on the way. Only three circuit connections were needed - live to motor, live to lamp

and common neutral. There does not appear to have been any interlock - burning the film was avoided simply by

swinging the lamphouse back out of the way. No earth, of course.


The circuits passed across the body of the switch in thick brass strips. Pic 2 shows the common from one side (let's

call it the rear), which I have removed for reasons that I will explain. I decided to go for completely separate lamp

and motor circuits and to add an earth, requiring 5 links altogether. Pic 3 shows the front of the switch. Originally,

there was a single brass strip, marked "LINE", running across the bottom of the pic, providing a common connection

to the two switches. What I have done, slightly against my normal approach tho' it could be reversed fairly easily,

is to cut thru the line input and add a strip of black insulation. A second wire then leapfrogs to provide a separate

input to the second switch. Note that the output from the second switch is marked "LOW"; the output from the

first is labelled "MEDIUM", (tho' it's hidden under the insulation). Don't know why. The green insulation strip I added

to make sure my second input could not short-circuit.


Note that the green insulation and the new feed to the second switch are held in place by screws. At the end of

the short line indicating the output from the first switch you can see the type of fixing used in the construction

of the switch. It's a sort of hollow rivet, peened over at each end (you can see what I mean by peened in the pic).

Happily, it is possible to just screw into the holes a small screw of the right size that will cut its own thread and

provide an adequate fixing as long as you don't want to keep undoing it. (I did and had to use some solder.)


Now to the back of the switch (pic 4) where the common return shown in Pic 2 used to be. This common line was

held in place by a screw passing thru the body of the switch into a threaded hole in the little lug visible at one end of the strip.

What I have done is to take a strip of Paxolin board and fix brass strips to it to provide the three circuits I need, held

tenuously in position by the same screw thru the body of the switch into one of the brass strips. Most of the

holding in place is, of course, done by the outer casing of the switch. You can see I have wired one end of the switch,

adding a further bit of insulation to be on the safe side. I just hope it all fits back inside the casing!


You will observe that this set-up provides neither lamp/motor interlock nor motor speed control. There is a brake-type

speed control on the projector, but I'm not keen on these. What I propose is to provide both these facilities on the

power supply - the switch is there more to look pretty and original.


You may recall I mentioned I had to fit an extra roller to avoid the take-up belt fouling the mech cover at the back

of the machine - 4th October again. However, I then found that the wiring at the base of the lamphouse was so

bulky that not only would the film foul it with my new spool arms but, I suspect, wouldn't have worked even with

the original arms. The wires from the lampholder were just about 2" long before a join was made by twisting the

ends of the wires together with the ends of the wires extending the circuit to the switch and then screwing a

plastic thingy with an internal metal thread over each of the the joints. A crude and bulky approach.


This challenged my ingenuity, of course. I found that the machine had fixed rear feet but that these had been

altered (not terribly well!) to raise the rear of the machine by about 0.5". I could understand this, as I have found

with my machine that when using a 1200' reel, it touches the surface on which the projector stands and stops the

take-up. I just made a shallow wooden base for mine. Anyway, this gave me the idea of using the rear feet to

attach a bracket with an additional roller to overcome the problem. Here is the result.


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I have also added a steel base-plate; the original cover is just a sheet of stiff insulating card and over time has

become very buckled and battered - the steel plate tidies it up and stops the wires bending it where they emerge

from the holes in the side of the base. These are open-sided, leaving the card base to do a job it just isn't strong

enough to do (tho' I have left it in place for insulation). Regular followers will be unsurprised to learn that I have

since re-done the wiring so that my extra roller probably isn't needed..........


Just a shot now of the projector base wiring in progress.



As you can see, the base is very shallow and I was lucky to have to hand a shallow terminal strip. The wires you

see joining the RH side of this strip are from the lampholder. The only authentic-looking wire I have to hand

(it's almost impossible to get) is a bit thin so I have doubled up for the lamp. This wire isn't too bad, but I have

another even thinner type which is horrendous - the moment you cut it, the woven outer cover starts to unravel

and rapidly becomes almost unmanageable. It's a struggle to get a bit of heat-shrink tube across the unravelling

end to sound material to stop the rot spreading.


I have had to make a few changes in the light of experience and testing. The bracket holding the additional guide roller

had to have some metal removed to allow the big retaining nut for the bottom spool arm to be loosened sufficiently

to move the arm to the "folded" position. Even now, complete removal of the arm will require the fixing bolt, which

passes thru a threaded hole in the main body, to be undone at least partially. I have also modified the roller itself, by

making up two much bigger side cheeks to prevent the film coming off the roller. The original body of the roller

remains, but with its ends cut off, so we now have a three-part roller.

The other big change was the lamphouse. I mentioned that the front part of the lamphouse was a rather flimsy not-even-

complete circle of metal. I have replaced this with something much more robust, and also adjusted the rear part to bring

the mirror closer to the lamp.

I have inserted, as I mentioned, a 12v 100w lamp for the time being, because of the problem of lack of ventilation of the

lamphouse. I suppose it could be possible to do more on this front, but I have to stop somewhere and move on to my

many other projects. The big 5-core cable from the machine, via the switch, now terminates in

a kind of "Y" lead, with a three-pin connector for the motor plus earth (I realised when writing this that I had not

connected the earth terminal to the chassis, so had to remove the base plate for the thirtieth, or possibly fortieth,

time to do so), and a 2-pin for the lamp. The cable is more than capable of handling a much more powerful lamp if required.

This leaves the question of a power supply. I have described elsewhere how I mounted a Eumig P8 tranny in an old 50v 200w

tranny box which once powered a 200B with that rating of lamp. This gives 12v and 110v, although I have never been wholly

happy with the 240v mains, 110v and 12v neutral wires all meeting at the same terminal. This is partly why I have made

completely separate circuits for lamp and motor.

However, I didn't fit an electrical speed control and this machine definitely needs one, unless one is content to use the

original friction brake. It might also be useful to have an interlock arrangement for the lamp and motor. The original does

not seem to have had one and has a printed warning on the lamphouse to avoid subjecting the film to the full power of

the lamp. This seems to have been a common enough arrangement (also seen on the Victor 28), with the lamphouse

made to swing back without taking the back leaf of the gate with it. I would envisage, basically, leaving the original

switches in the "ON" position and controlling everything from the power supply, with maybe a lighting dimmer as a

motor speed control.

Another thing I had to do was swap the spring drive belt the machine arrived with for a rubber one. The motor on this

machine is mounted on a bracket which leaves it free to pivot, at least within the confines of the aperture it occupies.

The weight of the motor acts by gravity to provide the necessary tension to the drive belt and, I would guess, a degree

of flexibility to absorb the sudden pull as the motor starts. However, the spring belt wasn't doing a very good job,

because it had too much spring or stretch in it. Every time the motor was started or stopped, the motor would thump

against its aperture. The rubber belt is fine.

The final thing left to do, of course, is the painting. This is really a summer job and is going to have to be deferred.


Here now are the pix of the final result and some of the changes I have described. Note it has a 1200' take-up spool,

which also fits the original arms like on my machine.


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Pic 2 shows a close-up of the "Y" lead I made - I split the cover to get two wires out, sealing up with heat-shrink

plastic then coating the whole lot with liquid rubber insulation. I was so pleased with the result that I applied the

liquid rubber to one of those B&H moulded-on tranny plugs that was threatening to "fray" even more. The same pic

shows the improved rear pulley arrangement. I thought you might also like a close-up of the mech, too (pic 4),

which shows what I did with the lamphouse. I have included pic 5 just to show how the heavy cable is looped

round and secured.


Yet another Premier! I thought they were rare!


There are clearly highly skilled and determined people out there. Dominique Dalmar from France has sent me before

and after pix of a 28mm Pathescope Premier. What an amazing transformation!


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