February 2018


I have been converting a Bolex DA to High Intensity lighting. Details are at http://www.cinerdistan.com/multi-gauge/19-multi-gauge-projectors/521-da-etc-page-2-2?showall=&start=1


6th January 2018

I have just come to what is the end of a gargantuan effort to repair the page on the Baby Cine leaflets that preceded Pathescope Monthly (see Before PM). As usual, if anyone spots any flaws (or has other Issues of Baby Cine they are willing to lend!), please get in touch.

What else? Well, I have taken up the 17.5 Rural Sonore cudgels once again. You may recall my prolonged efforts to replace the missing sound smoothing head with a GBL 516 picture gate ended in failure. Plan B was to hand, in the shape of another sound unit, where someone had inserted a shaft thru where the PEC had been to the rear of the machine, with another flywheel at the far end. I had to do a lot to get this in any way operational, and I think I made the lip on the now-conventional-looking sound drum too low. I am in the middle of making a further smoothing device with two rollers on a sprung pivot arm (a direct copy of the one on Heurtier sound machines) which I hope may help. I have looked also at the perforator but cannot figure out how to make it perf evenly.

 17th December 

I have been playing with my Bolex G3 sound machine and the 16mm-only version I acquired a few years ago in France. Details are in Multi-Gauge Projectors under Bolex G and P series.


27th September 2017

I have been pursuing the issue of replacing the fibre gears in the Bolex DA when they get some of their teeth stripped. There are naturally two gears, a 66-tooth one for the pre '37 models and a 55-tooth jobbie for the later model (which is characterised by the extended top of the machine to cover the shutter). Some years ago, I had a few 66-tooth ones made, in brass, but it was costly even then - about £80 each. I have been trying to find a way to make the 55-tooth ones at a somewhat more reasonable cost. I discovered a stock gear held by HPC Gears which is 6mm thick (the original is 2mm but - and this is important - with a boss that makes it about 6mm ) and very slightly larger in diameter than the original. What I have to do is find an old(broken/stripped) gear and remove the shaft, carefully, because it is to be re-used. I have to make an insert to fit the usually 4mm diameter shaft into the 6mm hole in the new gear. The shaft has to be a force fit into the insert, which is in turn a force fit into the gear. This is a critical part of the operation, as the shaft has to hold the gear while it is machined. The diameter has to be very slightly reduced, then most of the gear has to be machined down to 2mm thick, leaving about 12mm in the centre as a 6mm thich boss.

When I discussed the matter with HPC, I learned something new - that noise reduction was not, as I had thought, the only reason for using fibre gears. They suggested fibre gears had an important "sacrificial" role, in that they would strip before other parts of the mech got damaged. This made me choose Delrin, a branded Nylon product, for the new gears. There is then the issue of fixing the gear into the machine. As is traditional, it is necessary to almost completely dismantle the mech to get to the gear. In the case of the post-37 Bolex, this means the following.

1. Remove lamphouse. Watch out, as the screws are just into soft aluminium and it is easy to strip the thread.

2. Remove the twin pulley that drives the rewind and take-up belts. Loosen only the centre of the three tiny grub screws or you will be sorry.

3. This one is critical. You have to loosen the lock-nut arrangement on the main drive spindle, at the rear of the machine. If you do not use the correct tools you risk serious damage to the machine. The correct tools are a thin 8mm metric spanner, and a more normal 8mm metric spanner. The thin one goes nearest the body of the machine, onto a thin "nut" with only two flats, that is actually part of a larger piece.The spanner has to be thin or it will foul the outer spanner and be NBG; Bolex actually provided the correct item in the box of gauge-change parts. The incorrect tools are anything resembling pliers. Unscrew first the nut, then the inner "nut" (note this is dished on the reverse to contain a dished washer which is a vital part of the drive train) and the square washer (actually, the hole is square, not the washer).

4.Either remove the screws under the lamp house base (the ones used to ad
just lamp position) or remove the lamp-holder from within its base - this is needed to give clearance to remove the side plate.

5. Remove side-plate securing screws and wiggle the side plate off the machine. With the post-37 machines, the shutter falls off at this point and screws up the shutter position. You will have to re-phase the shutter with the claw on re-assembly. 

6. Remove the piece that carried the square washer (3 above). This is half of a dog clutch - the other half is fitted to the shaft. Remove also the X-shaped spring/lever/pad arrangement that rides on the outer rim of the claw shaft. This unit does not seem to have any fixings and just slides off. Unscrew the yoke that bears on the inner half of the dog clutch and remove. Remove small screw holding upper small fibre gear and remove gear. Obviously, this cannot be the one we are thinking about as it is far too easy  to access.

7. Remove screw holding the spring arm (which drops onto the claw assembly when the notching mech is triggered) and remove arm, watching out for the torsion spring around the arm pivot.

8. Turn to the front of the machine. Remove the inching knob and the drive pulley (often a double pulley). This is nowhere as easy as it sounds. Both are held on by very small taper pins which pass thru the outer circumference of the knob, then through the shaft and back out into the knob. And they really are tapered pins - they will only come out one way, big end first. Especially if they have never been removed before, these can be the very devil to knock out. Even if you can find something thin enough yet strong enough to hammer into the thin end of the pin, you have to be careful to support the shaft on a very firm surface or you will bend it, which might well be impossible to rectify. Also, use a spanner to undo the nut near the rear of the little door that serves as a threading light for the machine when the lamp is on. This nut is on the shaft of our target gear.

9. Last lap. Return to the rear of the machine and pull out the drive shaft below the big gear, then the big gear itself (having first removed the sprocket and the spindle that carries the sprocket - more tiny grub screws - this last component has two of the little devils to loosen).  Undo the screw that provides the claw pivot/slide (previously hidden by the big gear). Set the claw to be clear of the gate, then ease out the claw assembly TOGETHER WITH the target gear - they are on separate shafts but will only come out together.

10. Replace gear and re-assemble.

I reckon I can do a replacement post-37 gear for around £40 - as long as I do not charge anything for the time and effort involved in machining the gear and dis-assembling and re-assembling the mech - and it is rare indeed for one attempt to be enough, as there are adjustments one can upset that stop correct functioning. I've done 2 or 3 of these gears now and so far they seem to work OK - but only time will tell. I am now going to look at whether I can do something with the 66-tooth pre-37 gears ( tho' I do still have a couple of brass ones left). I will let you know.

24th July

A piece of ultra-nerdery for you.

Here are the two sides of a leaflet acquired at Argenteuil. The interesting point (for me!) comes on the first page. If you look closely at the two projector pix, it would appear that the solid side of the lamphouse has been replaced by a simple sliding door. This obviates the need for the cassette to hold the lamp, that I have described previously. Also interesting (") is the question of date. One might have expected the change to come with the switch to 16mm, but it would appear that the original cassette idea had a short life or there were two types running concurrently. This may well be so, as I have a 16mm Type 45 (16mm) that still uses the cassette.

SRleaflet0003a     srleaflet0005b

10th July 2017


I have been gently chided by Garry for not keeping up to date with with what I have been up to. There are all sorts of reasons for this, including the fact that it is much harder to add pictures now. I'm really ticked off with Microsoft for abandoning a system (Front Page) that I found instinctive (and I am no computer whizz) and easy to use. I have also been having a very frustrating time with various projects and, of course, there is my perennial problem of getting distracted and dashing off in another direction. One specific thing was assisting the local History Society with some amateur films from the 1930's showing local places and people, which has involved a surprising amount of time.

My biggest problem, however, has been the saga of the 17.5mm Rural Sonore sound head. I have had to terminate attempts to make the modified L516 picture gate function in this role - it had too great a tendency to rip strips out of the side of the film. Luckily, I had at some point acquired a somewhat adapted sound unit which had a shaft thru where the EC would originally have gone with a sound drum at the front end and a second flywheel at the other end. Even this is very fiddly to get right.

I have mentioned before my problems with Kodak projectors, most recently the Model L. In one of my distractions I took apart a Pageant (it wasn't working). It was spookily like the Kodak Sound 8. The mechanism is built into a wooden case and has to be removed before you can access the amplifier below. When you get the mech out, it is such a weird and awkward shape that putting it down to work on is really difficult - it won't stand up straight. Now I don't know which came forst, tho' logic says the 16mm but I do know that this is one design that should definitely NOT have been repeated. This also underlined one of my major problems - I can't find people to work on projector amplifiers. I have never had any education in matters electronic and it is largely a closed book to me. Unless I can find someone prepared to do them at a sensible price, I shall risk having to go back to school and start from scratch, a horribly daunting prospect.


12th March


When I was renewing the Silent-to-Sound page, it was obvious my original pix of the Specto sound unit were inadequate. I have now taken some additional pix. These are mostly of a unit I picked up I know not where, but which some bright spark thought would look good roughly over-painted in best Admiralty Battleship Grey. Wrong! It does however make photography a tad easier - it is hard to get decent pix of all-black things.

Spsd1     Spsd2     Spsd3     Spsd4     Spsd5     Spsd6     Spsd7     Spsd8     Spsd9

First we have a view of the amp. The valve line-up from the left is:
1. VT74/5Z4
2. An anoymous thing made by B&H
3. 6V6GT/G
4. 6SL7GT
5 .6J7/VT91

Pic 2 is from the front of the machine, with the two front plates removed. Note just above the switches bottom left an angle piece which seems to do nothing. It is in fact perspex or simlar and allows light from the exciter lamp to  illuminate the switches and knob on the outside. The exciter incidentally is 4v 24w. Pic 3 is from a different angle, with Pic 4 a close-up from Pic 3. This is to show a feature marked with two red lines in the close-up. The complicated little switch unit is for the speaker output, which is via a standard jack plug, but it has this additional feature. Inserting the jack pushes the two marked strips into contact which is necessary to complete the mains circuit - with the jack removed, there is no power (except thru to the projector) and so the amp cannot be powered-up unless the speaker is plugged in, a useful safety device for a valve amp. Those old enuff (ie nearly anyone who reads this sort of stuff) will recall the original Vox amp and, I think, the Home Talkie amp, had a simlar arrangement.
Pic 3 also shows the layout of the sound head, which is seen from other angles in Pix 5 and 6. Finally some general views of the machine and a very old pic from the original website before the Great Software Disaster of 2015.

5th March

I mentioned some time ago (Nov 9th below) that I had wandered around engineering workshops locally to try to find someone to cut a gear for a Bolex DA, but discovered this work was basically only done by a few specialist frims. I realise I never told you where I went from there. I tried one of these specialist firms for a quote, but it was, as ever, far too costly to be worthwhile - around £100 for a single gear/shaft. After much head-scratching and discussion with very helpful staff at the gear company, an alternative idea emerged. Although they did not manufacture an exactly identical gear, they did have one almost identical. It had no boss, was thicker than needed and of course there was no integral shaft. It was also slightly oversize. Nonetheless, I reckoned it was worth a try to see if my limited engineering skills could do the job. The cheapest material would be steel, but one thing I had picked up in my various discussions up to this point was that there were basically two reasons for the use of Paxolin/fibre (which is what the original was) in a gear train. One was noise, but the other, possibly more significant reason was as a "sacrificial" gear, that would break first before anything more important was damaged. For this latter reason, I opted for the next cheapest option of nylon (Deldrin) and purchased a couple of gears. What I then had to do was to reduce the thickness of the gear whilst leaving a central boss to match the original, make a new shaft and trim just a smidgin from the diameter. Having done this in my rough and ready way, I found, somewhat to my surprise, that it actually worked quite well. Having been successful thus far, I felt emboldened to smash up a broken original gear to extract the shaft, re-use of which would reduce the work involved. I reckon this reduces the cost to around £35/£40, which is considerably more palatable.


Marginally interesting factoid for you. At around the time of the Std 8 - Super 8 transition, Eumig introduced a new variety of splicer called ChemSplice. This didn't seem that different, but appeared to make a frame-line join with interlocking min-triangles on the flat, rather than the usual overlap. I recently found a bottle of their special, very fast-drying gunk that was used. According to the label, it was 95% methylene chloride and 5% ethyl alcohol. I suspect you could do the same job nowadays with superglue.

31st January 2017

Here are a couple of pix of a Bolex DA lamp conversion.

DAconv1     DAconv2

As usual, I am trying not to make holes in the machine but to re-use existing ones.The lamp bracket - basically a U shape - is fixed to the base of the machine via the holes used to secure the flat D-shaped plate that forms the bottom of the lamphouse; the D-plate stays in situ. An additional (adjustable) strut at one corner gives the stability required. This machine has the built-in lamp switch, so I decided to wire up so as to enable the use of either a 120v 250w lamp (keeping the usefulness of the switch and avoiding a separate power supply to the lamp) or a 15v 150w dichroic lamp. This gives better light but is less convenient. I have described on Page 2 for the Bolex DA a way of providing a power supply for the 15v 150w lamp (about the max it is safe to use with notched films on a DA) whilst having just a 110v feed. In the above pictures, the machine is fitted with the 120v 250w lamp and connected direct to the original lamp wires at a connector strip. By transferring the  halogen lampholder wires to the other two sockets on the connector strip, the 15v 150w lamp can be powered from an external source - here the wires for this are led away relatively discreetly under the motor. The original lamp wires just stay in place, not connected to anything.

I am still trudging thru the process of repairing this site after the Great Software Disaster of 2015. Most recently, I have been working on the Pathescope Monthly page and looking at the wartime issues in particular. I have actually extended the page to include all of them in full, because I was very impressed by what I saw when I studied them in detail.

9.5 Sound, introduced to the UK only with the splendid April/May 1938 issue, was getting into its stride and, despite a rather repetitive approach to content and to releases, quite a few worthwhile films were issued in the period coinciding with the "phoney" war. The list of those I particularly like is:-

She Shall Have Music (and the extracted Across Europe short)
Edge of the World
When Knights Were Bold
Land Without Music
Soft Lights and Sweet Music
Radio Lover
Sporting Love
Southern Roses
Secret Lives

These last 4 featured in a single issue, June/July 1940! (tho' not necessarily for the first or last time!) At the same time, a string of Fleischer Popeye and Betty Boop cartoons appeared, plus the Pathé Vox Reviews and a personal favourite, Hungarian Rhapsody. How can one help but wonder what might have been if war had not supervened? If there had been no flood of 16mm machines onto the market as surplus? If Pathescope had managed to secure more rights - as French Pathé did with features like King Kong? All might-have-beens; instead, Pathescope enjoyed the benefits of the significant step forward they had made by introducing sound for only a very short period. I think one can be excused a brief sigh of nostalgic regret.

Going back to the end of last year, I did manage to get the Kodascope Model L back together, but it was a struggle and the result was not very satisfactory - the mech and drive are still very stiff and it is not really clear to me why. The episode has re-kindled my old dislike of Kodascopes (apart from the Kodatoy) and given me good reason. This machine was clearly not intended to be dismantled - that ridiculous hard-plumbed oiling system for a start - and there are too many areas that don't come apart enough for decent access. In accordance with what I am coming to regard as the norm for 16mm the machine is far more complicated than it needs to be for the job it has to do and the medium with which it is working. One could achieve results of equal quality from a far simpler and less bulky machine - I simply cannot accept that so much machine and so much expense was actually justified except as a money-making exercise.


13th December


At the last Ealing Fair, I bought a Kodascope L. Now, as you may recall, I don't much like Kodak machines, but this one was in lovely condition (with a nice box) and looked as though it had hardly been used. And indeed, it quite obviously not been used for a long time as the motor was seized up solid and the mech was pretty stiff and the belts were pretty trashed. That's caveated this emptor well and truly.  We live and re-learn. Now, a projector that ent bin used for possibly decades needs oil, and not just the occasional dribble as per handbook. In all that time, oil and bearings and felt pads and oiling systems will have dried out and need replenishing before any oil gets to where it is actually needed. But none of that worked and I had to face a fairly extensive dismantling to get to the seat of the trouble. Naturally, I thought of you lot out there and took some pix for you.

kdkl03a     kdkL04     kdkL05

Here are views of the machine with the major covers removed. Note the separate fan (the machine is designed for lamps up to 750w) and the fact that the motor speed control has to be unscrewed to get the back off. The claw mech (Pic3) seems very compact; there is a very small cam behind the front pivot.

In order to get at the motor, I had to unscrew the mains input plug, the motor and lamp switches and of course the securing bolts coming up from below. Then came the really nasty bit. On top of the motor sits a bracket with guide holes for the tubes of the oiling system. Four tubes come down from the main (felt-filled) reservoir above the top sprocket. They pass into the bracket then onwards into extension tubes with weird bends to the two motor bearings and the fan ditto. Not too hard to take apart but it's going to be a nightmare to put back - there is very restricted space in which to work.

kdkl06a     kdkL07     kdkl08a     kdkl11a

So here we see the motor successfully(?) removed along with the switches and mains socket. This, incidentally, is a right-angled jobbie, with two pins at the back for (presumably) mains input (110v as it's American) and a socket to the front. Better not get things the wrong way round and end up with two live pins. The motor, naturally, turns out to be one of those internal-brush types, shown in Pix 2 & 3. Not only is it impossible to change brushes without dismantling the motor, but the brush springs are loose and held in place by the respective wires, stiffened with solder, passing thru holes in the brush channels. I hate this system. Worst of all, you can only access the other end of the motor by removing the brushes,springs and wires, then the frame on which they are mounted so as finally to be able to release the through bolts holding the cap on. Guess which end the root of the trouble was?

I found that the bearing at this other end of the motor was seized almost solid onto the armature shaft. I knocked it out, thereby pushing the bearing out of its housing because it was so reluctant to leave the shaft.

kdkl09a     kdkl10a     kdkl11a

Pic 1 shows the result, Pic 2 what it should look like and Pic 3 the motor winding as stripped out. I managed to get the bearing back in, tho' it will never be quite the same, but first I had to sand down (fine wet and dry) both the shaft and the bore of the bearing to get a free-running fit. I had to do a bit of the same at the other end too. Then it was the laborious process of re-assembly. If you go back to Pic 3 of the second row of pix in this piece, you can see some brass spacers that support the brush frame. When I re-assembled, I had to replace these with slightly longer ones or else the brushes did not actually run on the commutator in a proper position. Who knows why?
All of this effort was, of course, with no knowledge of whether all this would work - I thought it more than likely that the motor winding had been cooked by successive efforts to make it run while it was jammed. So I decided to check it out before re-installing the motor. It actually ran, but lots of alarming smoke appeared. I kept stopping in case something really terrible was happening. By the time I took this photo, which anyway gives only a hint of what the smoke was actually like, it had reduced quite a bit.


I can only guess what was happening; maybe the oil etc with which everything was liberally coated was burning off. However, when I looked closely the source seemed to be the commuttor, which had a twin ring of sparking round it. I wonder if I put one of the brushes back in the wrong way wound, so that it has to be burnt in again to the correct shape. Whatever, I am not impressed by the performance of the motor and doubt its ability to drive a very stiff mech. Only a qualified success, therefore, and I still have a hefty re-installation job to do. 


18th November

I have discovered the danger of playing with a Son ("). I hadn't finished messing with the first before I moved on to a second. This has now had the amp and tranny removed, a B&H DC Tachograph control motor mounted and a B&H diode fitted in place of the PEC. There is a lot more left to do, like a power supply for lamp, motor, amp and pre-amp and exciter, plus fitting the exciter (it was part of the amp wot I have removed) and finding stuff to do the electronic bits. I still do not know what voltage the motor runs on or how its speed is controlled. However, it fits quite neatly once the old tranny has gone and yes, the side will go back on round it. There is bags of room in the base to put the B&H tranny that I hope will provide most of the supply voltages I need.

Dismantling the projector showed what a dog's breakfast both motor and amp were. I will do you some pix.

Sonamp     Sonmotor     SonBHmotor

You will see I have severely truncated the support brackets for the B&H motor and fitted alu angle to provide a way to fix it down. If I ever do this again, I would be able to cut the brackets to a more precise length, and have them in contact with the base, rather than supported off the base by the alu brackets as here.This would avoid having to cut into the alu to match the curve of the housing for the rubber mounts at each end of the motor. I would probably have the front alu angle pointing backwards, so the flange is under the motor rather than in front. This would make it easier to fix to the plate with which I have filled the hole where the original motor was. The B&H motor shaft is 5mm, where the old motor shaft was a nominal 0.25" (about 6.3mm). I made a brass extension piece, the hole sized to be a fairly stiff push-on to the B&H shaft, with an external diameter to match the original fan and inching knob cum pulley.
Incidentally, I decided in the end that as far as the old Bolex described below was concerned, the game was not worth the candle so it has returned to its box.


9th November

If you want to know more about the early Bolex, you don't need to read the next bit, which repeats with much more detail and pix on the Bolex DA page. (There are actually 3 pages and you want P3, but because of software problems you have to go to P1, then link to P2 and follow on to P3).

 I mentioned at the end of my last posting that I had tried to start up an old Bolex Model C. I find I had opened up a bit of a can of worms. Next thing I did was to test the motor on its original machine, which I did by just attaching the wires, not by re-installing the motor. There is a good reason for this. The four wires from the motor, in their aged, oil-impregnated, highly inflexible sleeving have to pass thu a hole below the machine itself with a gap of less than half an inch between motor casing and projector base. The motor has to be installed slowly, pulling the wires thru a bit at a time, whilst balancing the need to fit the fan at the opposite end. The risk of permanently damaging the wires seems considerable.

I am sure I do not need to tell you that the motor worked fine; I should have carried out this test before I started. I now face the problem of tracking the fault thru the even older and more decrepit wiring of the old machine, or adopting a radical solution with a heart and lung transplant of the speed control resistance mat, the direction-changing switch and the associated wiring. I should mention here that one of the screws holding the resistance mat in the base of the old machine would not shift. In the end I had to drill it out and re-tap the hole, as the thread inevitably got damaged - I needed to do this anyway to check what lay beneath.

This all seemed like a lot of work for a machine that would still look pretty rubbish at the end of it all, as age, rust and heat (in the case of the lamphouse) has made a real mess of thepaint finish even - and here is the main point - even if the finish was actually meant to look like scales on snake or lizard skin. The size of the "scales" varies so much I begin to wonder if in fact this was not some obscure fault of the paint shrinking, especially as I can see no real sign of any coating remaining between the scales. If the finish is original, is it worth the bother of making it work, if not, is it worth the bother of re-painting? The machine seems very early, with a few unique and interesting features. The lamphouse is many-sided rather than round, and there is a nickel-plated cover beneath the direction-change switch. But the original motor is kaput and the snake-finish cover of the original motor will not fit over the donor motor and anyway, much of the uniqueness lies in the paint finish. And it's a Model C - two gauges but no notching, just a still picture device and a centrifugal heat filter.

On a matter that will turn out to be related, I spent an enjoyable few hours one morning wandering about Leighton Buzzard and visiting various engineering establishments. I was well surprised at how many there were and the expensive automated machinery I saw - the town seems to have far more than its shareof engineering capability. What it doesn't have, however, is gear-cutting capability, which is what I was looking for. It appears that a) gear-cutting is a highly complex and specialised task, which requires special equipment if you're going to do much of it and b) in consequence of a), gear-cutting has become the province of a few specialist companies who can do it easier and cheaper and are thus used by most companies as a better option than maintaining their own capability in this area. What I was looking to do was to have some gears made to replace the paxolin gear in the post 1937 Bolex DA (I already had some done a few years ago for the pre-1937 model), that tends to strip its teeth after the first 75 years or so. We shall see if I can find another way.


6th November

I have had a rather dispiriting time of late. Part of it was understandable, as it involved working on a Son (Ugh!). This was a much-modified affair, with a new motor and a new solid-state amp. Sadly, these things did not come together in any very satisfactory way. The basic flaws of the Son ("), as we all know, were:-

1 A motor wound for 160v yet run on 240v (as well as having dodgy "rubber" mounts prone to failure). This was apparently in part at least so it would go fast enough from cold to approximate to sound speed;

2. The motor was a standard, rheostat-controlled variable-speed type, constant speed being achieved by means of governor contacts at the rear of the motor. This was not necessarily bad of itself, but together with 1 above,gave rise to a situation where, as the motor warmed up, it went faster and made the governor work harder unless the speed control was gradually reduced to match the increase in speed from the warming process. Burnt-out contacts were a frequent cause of return to the Pathescope workshops for repair.

3. The amplifier was poor, effectively just thrown together, down to a low price, 
by unskilled labour, in someone's garden shed  and very prone to fault.

4. The film path was very poor. A single, small sprocket is not ideal for a sound machine, especially when it required at least one very tight bend, nearly 180 degrees in half an inch, as the film met the sprocket for the second time.

5. Smoothing at the sound drum was poor.

6. I have heard reference to "Son-stroke" as a cause of film damage, in connection with the claw/gate combination, but I am not wholly convinced. The claw is in principle very similar to that in the Pax and the Elf and I am not clear why this would damage film - that tight bend in the film path is a much more likely cause. As for the gate well, it was cheaply made with poor aperture and masking but, again, no obvious opportunity for damage.

This particular machine has obviously had an adventurous life. It's a bit battered, with lots of paint chips, and some screw threads that no longer hold - inevitable when they are in a fairly soft casting. The lens mount has been enlarged to 1 inch (Specto or old B&H) and, as mentioned above, a new amp. The new motor installation is a bit of a bodge, with over-flexible mountings and imprecise location. Getting the right tension on the belt seems to drag the shaft across and put extra strain on the motor. A new circular rheostat (like in the Specto 500) seems to have some kind of associated circuitry that means it responds relatively slowly to changes in the speed setting. It is still, however, very much subject to speeding up as it warms up. Hammerite have a lot to answer for: a new side plate has been fitted to cover the amp and some benighted fool has manually applied Hammerite. This is NOT a good look and has been removed.

I have had a lot of trouble with the sound drum. The ball bearing race immediately behind was well past its sell by date and ran very rough. Unsurprising; it is unsealed and it seems in fact that it is impossible to find sealed ones as it just isn't thick enough, so my new one is unlikely to enjoy a long life. And lubrication is difficult because of acess problems. I also found that the re-routed supply to the lamp (I forgot to mention the lamp is now a 24v 250w halogen peanut. This is fed from an external transformer, the mains supply to which comes from the projector rather than having a separate mains connection), was rubbing on the flywheel and causing a surprising amount of friction. The perspex light tube from near the film to the photocell has been replaced by a rod in which is fixed some form of diode, but it looks to me to be at the wrong angle to catch enough of the light from the exciter (a 12v 20w halogen)(!) and will need re-doing. I have so far failed to get the flywheel running freeely enough, or the motor for that matter, and the only way I get decent-ish sound is by adding considerable pressure to the sound drum by hand; even then speed is very unstable and volume is low. And the lateral adjustment for the sound- reader is sloppy. Every time I need to tweak something, I have to do a fair bit of dismantling, and then re-assembling before I can test. I got bored with this and have put it on one side until stocks of patience are restored. I may have to go the whole hog and fit a B&H motor, as the current one does not seem man enough for the job.

Stocks of patience have not been restored, however, by a very old Bolex Model C. This has a weird, mottled finish and is basically much the same as a DA, but without the notching capability. I thought I should try to get it running. Hah! The motor was jammed, and only improved somewhat with lube. When I opened it up I found the cause - the motor has a Mazac frame and is cracking and distorting. This is pretty much incurable, and I am fairly confident the motor has burned out as a result of jamming anyway. I have a much later Model C, which I have been using as a spares machine, and the motor actually fits, but I cannot get the verdammten thing to give even so much as a twitch. Very frustrating. 


19th October

I took a stall at both Rickmansworth (now Chorleywood) and Harpenden. For some considerable time now, my cine life has been dominated by the need to get stuff ready to sell at these fairs; the fairs themselves are exhausting – all that stuff to haul in and out. It must be worse for those who are even older, more decrepit and more knackered than I am. Chorleywood was well enough attended, but I did most of my business at Harpenden, selling a Pax, a Home Talkie and a KOK. The KOK was the one I re-furbished recently, as chronicled in Reviving a KOK. I have more than enough parts left over to do the same again (but only a mains machine – no dynamo). I don’t want to do it, so I am offering a KOK “kit” to anyone ready to take on the job, at the bargain price of £50. All the really specialised parts are there – gate and lenses and the mech and various gears –tho’ you would have to make a lamphouse. Being a generous person, I undertook the tricky job of making a new condenser lens and projection lens just to leave the originals for this kit. Kind or what?

Because we have the idiocy of three fairs even closer together than usual this year, you need to be quick if you want to take delivery at Ealing. Is it really not possible for the fair organisers to space themselves out a bit better? From a punter’s point of view, it’s a feast followed by a prolonged famine. I shall be having a rest by going to Ealing just as a punter.

I did acquire one unusual thing at Harpenden, a junk Vox for spares. It does however have one or two unusual features that I thought might interest you. Here are some pix.

GreenVox1     GreenVox2     GreenVox4     GreenVox3     GreenVox5     GreenVox6

I like the neat idea of a sliding lampholder (pix 1 and 2), which may well be adaptable in the future, tho’ as you can see someone has dropped this poor machine on its head, causing cracks and no doubt completely wrecking the Bakelite parts of the lamphouse top. The mirror that reflected the light from the sound track to the PEC has been eliminated entirely, as well as the bracket it sat on. Instead, we have a two-part holder for a diode (pix 3-5). One part screws into the hole in the centre of the flywheel, with a small hole in the right place thru which the light passes to a diode in the second part. This relies on a complete re-vamping of the flywheel arrangement (seen from the back in pic 6) and, although it deals with any problem there might be of stray light getting to the diode, it seems a huge amount of work for a dubious gain. Fitting the diode directly in place of the mirror works very well and is a lot easier. Note also that the sound reader assembly and telescope appear completely new. I like the shield against stray light getting to the diode from the bottom of the lamphouse; normally this is inside, but having both might be a good idea. Given this shielding, it is hard to see why the re-vamp of the sound reading set-up was needed at all.

Some other work has been done, too. In pic 6, you can see that a roller race has been fitted in place of the simple brass bearing on the end of the claw shaft. There may be something behind the little cover seen just above it; not had time to investigate yet.

After all the careful work I have just described, it seems even more unfathomable that, for some bizarre reason, someone has considered that green hammered paint, applied thinly, badly and inconsistently, was somehow a good look! Still, I have a motor, various other useful spares and a couple of interesting ideas I can maybe build on.


1st October

The reason there has been little to report is a couple of weeks of holiday were followed by a month of chaos while the kitchen was re-done. And there are cine Fairs to prepare for.


27th August

I thought I should update you on progress following the Great Software Disaster of 2015.

It has all turned out to be a much bigger task than even at my most pessimistic I had expected. The reason is that, basically, only a tiny proportion of pictures have survived the transition from Front Page to Joomla! as the operating system. As Cinerdistan (pl bear in mind there is now only .com) is primarily about pictures, with up to 100 on some pages, this is a big job, but it is rendered much tougher by the disadvantages of Joomla! compared with what I was used to with Front Page - I don't think any modern software really envisages a site like Cinerdistan. Quite apart from having to track down the originals of all the pix, I now have to worry about picture size, having been advised I should not normally exceed about 400kb, whereas many of my pix have been over 1mb, some over 2mb. This means every picture must be copied to a new file and checked for size. Oversize ones have to be ruthlessly cropped, or have their background change or simply be reduced in  byte size via photo editing software. On the" in for a penny, in for a pound" principle, I have also been taking the opportunity to improve pix that are too dark or otherwise less good than they might be. Then the pix have to be uploaded (everything in Joomla! takes place on the mainframe, not ones home computer). This can be done in small batches, but actual insertion into the text has to be done one pic at a time and, and here's the rub, the insertion window has to be opened afresh for each pic. Especially if broadband is running slow, this can be excruciating. In Front Page I could upload batches of whatever size all at once. Another drawback is that, since the live bit is not on my computer, I can only have one window into the system open at a time (so far as I understand, anyway). If I am making changes that affect a group of pages, opening and closing pages repeatedly, with the usual delays, is a pain. And I am continually toggling between the old website (which IS on my computer), the Joomla! edit page, and the public page because I cannot view from the edit page anything I have done there; I have to wait while it gets saved and then check it on the public site.

Anyway, enough of me moaning. I just wanted to assure you I was trying to get back on track, without letting the website completely take over my life. Bear in mind that the text and most links have survived pretty well; if there is anything you particularly need to look at, it's not too hard for me to update a pic or two on request. I don't think the picture quality has been reduced noticeably, but I still have the originals anyway.


20th August

I have been doing some finishing-off work with my 9.5/16 Ditmar Duo. You may recall that a long time ago I showed pix of some extension arms I had made to allo the use of 900' spools, but I have never actually gotten round to mounting them. I was a bit concerned at the time about how sturdy the joins were; certainly for the bottom arm, these concerns have been borne out. This arm needs to be quite long, to keep a big spool out of the way of the base of the projector and below the pathe of the light from the lens. It also gets a strong pull from the take-up belt, and the way the arms are mounted leaves only a very smalll area to bear all the load of holding the thing in place. I have done a couple of pix, which I shall put in the Ditmar section - there is a link in the 18th August entry below.
My other project has been to fit a separate lamp switch at the front of the machine. At the back, there is a triangular paxolin thing with 2 (in some cases three) connections and a switch below. Shorting the two connections, or the top two of the three, allows the lamp to work. My 8/9.5 machine has 3 connections and the switch serves also to turn the lamp on and off. This seems a pretty useless facility as it duplicates the effect of simply removing the shorting plug and is, being at the back, in completely the wrong place and very difficult to operate. The 9.5/16 one has had the switch set up to give dim/bright switching for the lamp, but one is still left without any sensible way of turning the lamp on and off. I have sorted this by mounting a switch in a box under the base - the pix make this clear.

18th August

I have been making a concerted effort to get some long-stalled jobs out of the way. After the KOK, I moved on to a Muray 16mm editor/viwer. The big problem with these usually is finding a suitable lamp. I had previously made up an adapter so 12v 50w etc could be used, but found this was a bit too much for the film. Going down to 20w meant a new adapter. I had also tried and failed to make the festoon lamp at the front work - 12v versions are easily available as they are used in cars. These two factors stalled me, but I now have them sorted. Between the 2 adapters, anything from 10 to 35w (which is probably at the max that could be used) can be fitted. The lighting transformer used for the viewer will take up to 60w.

I have also been re-familiarising myself with the Ditmar Duo. I had given up at a point where the motor on an 8/9.5 model had been running very slow and there had been some burning/smoke. I suspected a coil fitted as part of suppression and had identified a spare coil when the complexity of fitting the damn thing overcame me. Without it, the machine wouldn't run and there it rested. 

When I got it out again, I looked again at how the coil was connected, using my 9.5/16 machine as a guide. The coil wires are incredibly thin and there are four of them, all to be connected in the tangle of wires on the rear of the paxolin board in the base, which was a bit daunting. (I shall add this to the end of the Ditmar page, which I have repaired, so you can see the pix.) The only suppression arrangement I have previously encountered involved a capacitor across the motor brushes, and now that modern electronics are not really worrried by spark interference, you can remove this sort of suppression without problems and the motor still runs fine. So I could not understand why this was not true of this coil. So I consulted my guru, who mentioned that coils like this could actually be part of the circuit, so naturally the machine would not run without it. I took a flyer and inserted wires to shot-circuit the two sets of coil wires (it's a double coil), This did the trick and I was back in business. This was where I found out that I had probably mis-diagnosed the problem in the first place, at least in part. The real problem was with the motor, which continued to get slower and slower and finally stalled. Unsurprising if this had in turn led to the issue with the coil in the first place. 
Luckily, I had a spare motor among my bits and pieces, tho' it was a real pain to remove the old one and fit the new one and finding all the right connections to make (being reversible, the motor has four leads).  Once I had the motor out, the problem was easy to find: lack of lubrication. I have not kicked myself too hard for this, since it is pretty much impossible to lubricate without removing the motor. It has ball race bearings at each end, and the only access is via holes where you would expect to find oil holes on a conventional motor with a simple brass contact bearing. However, the bearing race itself covers most of the hole, and lubricant would therefore need to travel along the side of the bearing, then turn a 180 degree corner to actually get into the bearing cage and do any good. You might think you have squirted stuff in, but it would have great difficulty reaching the right place. A piece of truly crap design. Once lubricated, a quick bench test with jump leads connecting to the projector showed it was working fine.


27th July

Since I last wrote here, my time has been taken up with trying to make my Rural Sonore work. In the end, I decided it would be more productive to set it aside for a while and return to afresh at a later stage. In the interim, I have been working on a KOK. Details are in Reviving a KOK.


30th May

I have now repaired the pages about the Bolex DA/PA projectors. They have come out a a strange hybrid of the old and new software. Page 2 follows old links that have transferred across, and has, unlike Page 1, retained nearly all of its original pix. Page 3 is now a Page 2 to Page 2 (I think) under the new approach.

28th May

bolex da_gear_003a      bolex da_gear_post37

Some time ago I had some replacement gears cut (in brass) for pre-1937 Bolex DAs (ist pic) and am now contemplating the same for 1937 onwards machines (pic2). The issue is of course fibre gears - these two are thin and prone to stripping some teeth. I can never accurately count the number of teeth, so hit on this method using an Adobe-type drawing programme.

I have had an enquiry from someone with a got-at Bolex DA who (brave man) is planning to make a new shaft for the clutch mech. I took a few pix and did some measuring, which I may as well add here.

dashaft1a     dashaft2a     dashaft3b     dashaft4a     dashaft5a          

The first row reinforces the importance of the small collar against which the spring holds the combination gear and dog clutch. This is held in place by a pin thru both sides of the collar via a hole in the shaft. It appears this pin is easily broken by over-tightening the external fixing. This arises essentially from a minor design flaw. To explain this. here are a couple of pix you may have seen before.


     bolex da_notch_mech_002b     bolex da_notch_mech_003a     Bolex DA_Notch_mech_004     bolex da_notch_mech_005a

The fundamental basis of the notching mechanism is a dog clutch, the two halves of which can be seen in pic 1 above. The inner half is fixed to a gear, but both halves are free to rotate on the shaft. When a notch passes thru the gate, the stirrup seen top in pic 2 and in situ in pic 3 pushes the inner end of the dog-clutch against the spring and so out of engagement with the outer half. This cannot follow because it is stopped by the collar secured by a pin. In pic 5 of the top row you can see this pin protruding - infact, it can't do this in use as it would foul the dog clutch, so it has to be a flush fit.

The outer part of the dog clutch has a square end which protrudes thru the back plate of the machine, and is then fitted with the square-centre washer seen in pix 2 and 4 above. Continuing to work outwards, next comes a spring washer (second from right in pic 4 above). This is a bit dished in shape so that when compressed it grips. This washer fits inside the dished cover (3rd from right in pic 4 and 1st left in pic 2, showing the two different sides). As can be seen in pic 4, this cover has two flats on its outer end, to assist in locknutting it against the final nut (left in pic 4). I think it is this process of locknutting that causes the problem - I am sure many people try to do it without two spanners, one of which needs to be unusually thin. Either the dished cover is over-tightened in the first place or during a bodged attempt at locknutting, which forces it up against the collar. Given that the dished cover is on a fairly fine thread, it can deliver a considerable force for relatively little effort, enabling it to break the pin. The entire thing is then disabled and at worse can cause the mech to jam up completely.


17th May

I last reported at the end of January on sprocketisation of my 35 to 17.5 film slitter. Thanks to the good offices of friends like Dino and David Cleveland, I now have a supply of unperf 35mm - probably about all there is left in the world. Yippee! I thought; then the problems set in. First I realised that a sprocketised slitter was nbg when using unperf film, so I had once again to re-configure the slitter, to work sprocketlessly. I managed this, so got out the perforator having put it away in what I thought was good order. Almost as soon as I started to use it however, than a key component became loose; the upshot was I lost all synchronisation between punch, trgistration pin and transport mech, as welll as pitch, and so far I have not been able to get them back.

Instead, I have been trying to do more repair work on this website. It is quite a complex process. In the Good Old Days I never worried about the size of images I used, and many were in the megabyte range. New software not very keen on this, so as well as finding all the pix, I have to re-process them to a more respectable size, preferably under 500kb, re-name them to match the naming conventions of the new software and help me to identify them when it comes to uploading. The pix then has to be uploaded in small batches and inserted one by one into the page. I used to be able to load in batches, too. My record so far is 100 pix in a single page.


15th April


Most of my time since the last posting has been spent on the verdammten Rural Sonore and the continuing effort to get halfway decent sound out of it. Recent efforts have included:-

1. A third, abortive, version of the sound unit, an attempt to make the sound optic move to and fro across the track on the flat, rather than by tilting as I have done up to now. It became onvious that this would require far more, and more accurate, work than I thought was worthwhile, so I stuck with version 2, ie using an L516 optic (I refuse to believe it is from a Son [ugh!], for obvious reasons).

2. I have re-located the pivot of the low sprung roller after the second sprocket.

RSsoundslide1      RSlowerspr

3. I have fitted a 110v AC  to 12v DC power supply in the base for the computer fan on the side of the lamphouse. This is on whenever the projector is connec ted to 110v.

4. I have built and installed, in the space where the motor capacitor used to be, a 110v AC to 4v DC power supply for the exciter lamp. This thing cost me hours of effort and angst. As you know, I am no electronics expert and could do nothing right with this unit, building and re-building repeatedly, then having to bypass bits of the circuit board where I had destroyed the copper tracks. It was an absolute nightmare - it kept doing imposssible things like the trimmer pot  which was to set the output voltage reading from low (but not low enough) at one end of its travel, via a higher voltage in the middle, then back to the number it first thought of at the other end. I finally got it done after repeated exchanges with my experts. This and the fan supply are both connected via trailing leads with DC plugs. Must find a way to differentiate or I will blow up the exciter lamp.

5. I decided it was worth trying the effect of tightening the springs on the sound gate (ex L516 as you know). I did this and the film kept jumping out. I was beginning to RSsoundunitdespair and to fear I would have to come up with a totally different solution. However, I first tried adding a sprung rubber roller and, finally, I have halfway decent sound, with good adjustment of the optic à la Vox.



6. I have done extensive other bits of fiddling, including boxing the power supply/ballast for an HID lamp and finding a way to connect it so that I can use the same unit for other projectors, changing both rollers on the top sprocket etc etc etc. I now have an even longer list of things to do to refine the sound and the physical performance of the machine. Which, if you are not careful, I shall share with you in due course.

23rd March


I have had a major diversion off piste with Rickmansworth and then an "artisanal" Gem 9.5 optical sound. Here is a pic.

artisanal gem_sofa

It turns out to be not a bad attempt. When I first tried it, the amp just howled, but this was quickly rectified when I found a broken earth connection. How ever, one of the ball bearings on the shaft with the flywheel and sound drum was seized; the shaft will turn OK but the bearing won't and I think this must have upset the sound. However, when I held the pinch roller tightly onto the drum - tighter than I think the present set-up will ever achieve - I got decent sound, if on the low side. Another good feature was the enlargement of the lens holder to old B&H size, much widening the choice and quality of lens that can be used. In fact, I have nicked this for my own Gem or maybe for a Son (ugh!) and replaced it with a spare. I am also tempted by the (constant speed) induction motor that has replaced the original.

The problem with this machine, though, is the quality of execution. It's a bit cobbled together and, worst of all, has been very badly overpainted by hand with gold Hammerite. The amp is functional but no-one could call it neat. However, if someone wanted to take it on as a project, an excellent result would be achievable, tho' with much work.

As for the Rural Sonore, I have tried out various things. Here is a pic of a re-work of the lower sprocket film retainers; this I made several years ago.


The shape of the arms was I think dictated by some bits I had left over from an attempt to make a direct copy of the original. It works OK but reveals an area I always struggle with - spacial stuff and rotation of shapes and figuring out how a thing will work. In this case, the problem is the bottom roller. It was intended to act as a spring-loaded buffeer for the take-up. However, when loaded with film, it simply does not function, but acts as a fixed roller. I guess it's something to do with where the pivot is, so I may have to re-work this, tho' it works OK as it is.

I also finally got round to trying out the machine with the latest incarnation of the sound head. I realise that the framing could be changed by using the bit of slack in the fixing of the plate that carries the fixed front gate. This is separate from the part of the mech with the claw so moves the entire aperture, both fixed and sprung gates, in relation to the claw. This really makes my brain hurt. However, there is now some unsteadiness of the film in the gate, so clearly more work is needed. I have also done a bit of crude bending and stopped the aperture plate moving with vibration when the machine is running.The sound itself is much more promising. There's a fair bit wrong with it, but it sounds as tho it is fixable. I need to replace the switched mode power supply I have been using with a proper, regulated DC supply and do some more fiddling.


29th February

Hmmmmmmmmmmm. Here is an update on the Rural Sonore. I fitted a 15v 150w dichroic mirror lamp (just using the same fitting as planned for the HID lamp) and found that, although there was light visible round the various joins, it was not substantial, due in part no doubt to the light being mostly reflected forward. The latest incarnation of the sound reader was a considerable improvement, tho' a long way from being good. A change of amplifier was part of the improvement; another change and the sound was actually approaching respectable. I have also installed the power supply for the HID into a metal box; the plan is connection via banana plug leads as I intend to use the same power supply for other projectors.

So much for the good news. Now that I have been running longer bits of film, a variety of issues have crope out from the woodwork. First off, the machine keeps losing the top or bottom loop, or both. I suspect this is due to a poor film retaining set-up on top and bottom sprockets. This will have to be corrected before I can examine other issues such as the sound head itself. Associated with this are various sound defects like warbling et al - hard to know if these are wholly loop-related or not at this stage. Also, volume is low, but my once-trusty pre-amp has let me down and does not improve the sound - level up, quality way down. Another problem is that both focus and the position of the aperture plate seem to be affected by vibration and so are drifting off. Framing is also off - I get a frame line at the top of the pic but there is no framing device (tho' I have seen cases where one has been fitted) nor any significant travel on the gate itself (unlike the Home Talkie).

One other issue. I found that the motor was being very lackadaisical about starting and getting up to speed, risking damage to the film. I therefore fited a separate lamp switch (for the 15v 150w supply, as the HID lamp will be switched separately). After discussion with a friend, I doubled up the capacitor and now it goes like a rocket. I still have some residual concern that this might damage the motor. Has anyone any experience or knowledge of this?


27th February

Here is the latest incarnation of the Rural Sonore sound reader.

rssd3     rssd3a


26th Febtuary

Here are the pix of the fully assembled lamphouse, which I think are broadly self-explanatory. You are very privileged to see these pix befpre I have actually tested it out - it may leak light all over the place (Iknow I shall have to do more with the fan) and/or generally leave me with egg on my face.


rslh07      rslh08     rslh09     rslh10     rslh11     rslh12     rslh13     rslh14     rslh15     rslh16


25th February


I lost another week to another bug, but have since moved on a bit. I told you of my adventures with the sound reader on my Rural Sonore, but maybe not why I wanted it. More on that later. The last thing I told you was about my efforts to use a festoon lamp, with limited success. After much head-scratching with the tthing on and off the machine, I came to the conclusion that the problem lay with the Elf sound optic. I just could not get it to focus unless it was so close tothe film it fouled the sound gate, which has a raised lip. I also reverted to a standard exciter lamp. Luckily I had one that was insulated; most rely on the mech for the return path, on which keen I am not. I found an alterntive - it might be from a GBL516 or maye even a Son (ugh!). I'll do some pix for you. To avoid fouling the lamphouse, which tips back just like a Baby or an "H", I had to turn it thru 90 degrees, requiring a different lamp with a horizontal filament. The Elf telescope holder was nbg as the difference in size (my new one is a tad smaller) was too little to allow for a sleeve. So I had to machine a replacement from solid aluminium. I also put some rough shikleding around the lamp to cut down on glare.

Back now to why I am pursuing this so determinedly. Your starter for 10 is this string of pix of a fairly innocent Rural Sonore lamphouse, which does not suspect what is about to hit it.

rslh01     rslh02     rslh03     rslh04     rslh05

Let me draw your attention to a couple of features. In pic 1, the notch at the top is where air from the motor fan comes in. Note the dividing wall to diect some air to the lamp and some across the gate to cool the film - another example of the superb design of the Rural. The lamp, incidentally, is a standard Vox lamp of 15v 200w. The lamphouse is pretty shallow; I have re-painted the cover, which simply slides off. Pic 2 is just a general view of the inside. Pic 3 shows past interference, probably to do with the conversion to 16mm during the war.You can see that the bracket on which the lamphouse pivots (see pic 2 for a different angle) is attached to the body by 2 screws. You can also see where it originally sat as an integral part of the main casting, to the right of that enlarged hole in the base. The front view in pic 5 shows how air is channeled across the gate. Pic 6 shows an important (to me) feature in the shape of a threaded hole. This is a relic of the earliest days of the Rural silent. On here pivoted a 2 stage douser - 1st part gauze for still, second part solid for full cut-off. A cycle-type cabe led from this thru the bottom of the lamphouse and round to a lever on the main shaft of the mech, just behind the pulley taking the drive from the motor. This originally pushed the drive pulley forwards, disengaging a dog clutch, with the pulley free to turn without driving the mech, to allow a still picture to be shown, while at the same time pulling the dowser into place. This mech had been disabled on my silent Rural and it is easy to see one possible reason why - how can you move the shutter out of the way with no means of turning the mech?

OK. I explained to you the problems I had trying to get the original sound reader to work, but I daresay I could have made it work. However, what I wanted to do was fit one of the discharge lamps described by Tony Saffrey in an article about a Specto in Group 9.5 mag, with the necessary douser, hence my long digression above. I have seen these lamps in use - they seem able, in some cases anyway, to outshine even a conventional Xenon. But this really requires a separate exciter lamp - I don't fancy scraping bits off the morror of a lamp costing £60 plus. However, this lamp is also deeper fron to back than can be fitted in the lamphouse I have shown you above. So I needed to find a way to extend the lamphouse, fit a cooling fan for when the motor is not running and fit a douser and a separate exciter lamp - all without making any new holes or other permanent alterations to the machine. This may be a personal foible, but I think there is a strong case to be made for keeping projectors as near to original as possible.

So now I have to go and re-assemble all the bits I have removed to show you where I started and do more pix.


7th February

Have finally been putting my second Super Rural amp back into its beautifully re-painted case, as the amp itself has now been fixed up. All that remained was to sort out the exciter lamp and its power supply. Various problems here. I had not expected to be able to find original lamps, but I have secured a couple. In the meantime, I had removed the tranny, which was located in the base of the mech behind the switches, This, however, was only possible because the machine used a flat, oblong capacitor for the motor; modern cylindrical types don't leave room for the tranny and anyway, I had not expected to use it. What I have done instead is to locate the tranny in with the amp, with a trailing plug from the exciter lamp housing to a socket on the rear plate of the amp. Not ideal, and it means the "Son" switch, which originally controlled the exciter, is bypassed. No great hardship to have the exciter on whenever the amp is plugged in, and anyway the plug can always be taken out of the aforementioned socket. This bland description completely overlooks the huge problems I had in finally getting to this point. I said I had acquired some exciter lamps. I have in fact got one; I have two others but they have a single pin on the base where the original has two. As this plugs into a bayonet-style socket with no fewer than three side pins, revising the socket for single pin is going to take a bit of doing - those fiddly curved holes the pins go into then round are going to be a nightmare. I just hope the one real lamp has a very long life.

I have also been fiddling again with the sound on the Rural Sonore. I found the sound gate I have made needed to move across quite a bit to be properly in line with the film path.Trouble is, the sound is still muddy and strange, tho' it might be a bit better. More laborious testing and adjustmemt to do.


4th February


Just been to the Argenteuil film fair, back in its old slot at the end of January. Oh, what a falling off was there! It is sadly a shadow of its former self, down to a single room and cine stuff being relegated to a minority. Very little indeed to interest me. I did however buy a somewhat distressed Sadar Handy as a spares machine. Here are some pix.

handy1a     handy2a     handy3a     handy4a     handy5a     handy6a     handy7a


The machine is pretty modular, with a basic frame and most other parts in Bakelite. The only significant metal is the mech plate shown in pix 5 &6. Some of you may find the claw familiar; it is almost identical to that in the Super Vox and the "H" projector, save that the claw pins are offset towards the viewer and the nut holding the claw to the cam is NOT left-hand thread. The gate looks very much like the "H", too. Framing is by the knob bottom right, which uses an eccentric to move the front gate up and down continuously as it is turned. Nothing too surprising on the back (pic 6), save those odd corners cut off two of the shutter blades. So far as I can see, these are there to enable the mech plate to get into the frame - the shutter catches on the bottom of the frame else. Finally the other main parts. Left is the lamphouse cover - there appears to be no provision for ventilation of the Pathé "T"-base lamp, which is 110v at an illegible wattage. I feel a bit worried about the effect of heat on the Bakelite. I don't suppose the lamps can be found - it's short and squat and not like any I've seen before, so I expect it'll have to be a tungsten halogen replacement. This is a nuisance as the motor needs 110v, so two different feeds would be needed. In the original set-up, the motor unit, with its integral speed control, has a pair of sockets on the back which provide a thru feed to the lamp. Slightly unsafe as the sockets are not sunken and could easily be touched. The third component in pic 8 is the claw cover, which incorporates the mirror to direct the light at 90 degrees from the lamp. The original mirror is seen here leaning against the cover; as you can see, it's a bit tired. I have replaced it with a bit of polished stainless steel.

One of the problems with Bakelite is fixing things to it. The Sadar uses a system of grooved brass inserts with screw threads. The grooves plus pressure and maybe heat provide a grip on the Bakelite, but tightening screws too much can pull the inserts right out and, indeed, had done this in one place on this machine. Glue and careful tightening are called for. At least this is better than the "H" where the base plate is fixed with screws straight into threads in the Bakelite itself. For this reason, I don't try to fix rubber feet to the "H" base plate, but try to get thru to more solid fixing points. With this machine, there are holes with inserts at each corner of the base (there is no sogn of why they are there) and also another four fixing a small baseplate in place. These eight screws together provide enough support for rubber feet fixed to a larger baseplate.

I am currently working on the lamp conversion and I ent got round to testing yet.



Heath Robinson must beware! When I lash up something.........

Anyway, much of what I have been doing since my last report relates to my long-running attempts to make leader for 17.5 films, on the basis most of them have lost all (or more!) or some of their leader and the risk of damage to the film proper is high. The more attentive will recall two previous attempts - a Meccano(TM) construction using rotating blades that turned out to be far too complex and required Herculean force to drag the film thru - and a much simpler channel affair that the film had to be dragged thru by hand, with the later addition of a separate slitter block. A problem with the latter was that if the pull-thru was not exactly even across the film, theslit could wander. I decided I needed motorisation and sprocketification and proper film feed and take-off facilitisation. I adapted (almost beyond recognition) the original Meccano(TM) affair as the basis. Here are the pix.


17-5slit1     17-5slit2     17-5slit3     17-5slit4

The first two you have seen before. Let me take you thru the new device stage by stage; look at Pic 3. From the left we have first a simple feed arrangement (you will note that I have large quantities of old, battered, rusty Meccano(TM) to hand, which in most ways is ideal for this kind of protoyping. Then we have the slitting block. This I acquired on the reccommendation of a friend from someone in China who advertised slitters to whatever spec you required and at a fairly low cost. The next stage of the unit, the long channel in which the film is laid, was unsatisfactory as the blade was too close to the end and the pull could easily disrupt the location of the cut; also the blade, from a pencil sharpener, seemed to me too thick and crude.I acquired this along witha load of 17.5several years ago. I thought at the very least the new boughten slitter would give me some new ideas and maybe I could incorporate it into the Meccano(TM) version. Anyway, it seemed to match up well to the channel, so I decided to run with that. It could not really be used in isolation if I wanted anything like an even cut. Note the rubber band over the top of the slitter block. Unless this top is held down, the film can ride up and push it off and stop cutting. Too much pressure and it is impossible to pull the film thru. There is also some risk of the film riding up out of the channel, so the piece of wood (a slightly push fit into the channel, with baize on the underside) helps to stop that. Then we come to a key part, a 35mm sprocket set around the level at which the film leaves the channel; the aforementioned piece of wood helps here too.

The final stages are better seen in pic 4, where you can see the sprocket and the drive from motor to sprocket shaft and then on to the take-up. This latter is in fact two 16mm film cores on the same shaft, with an extra spigot on the centre so they both turn together, the idea being easier separation into two 17.5 strips. The film goes over the sprocket then under a 35mm roller ( Ithink I stole this from an edge-numbering machine years ago) to ensure enuff contact with the sprocket teeth, before passing to the take-up.

The motor you see is the second attempt; the first was a DC motor with a built-in reduction gearbox, but it didn't really have the oomph to pull the film thru. The one shown is a 240v Specto-style motor, with a standard light dimmer switch as a speed control. The first pulley looks like it came from an Elf; behind it is a Meccano(TM) one for the drive to the take-up. The motor is still sensitive to the load it has to pull, and lacks fine speed/power control, but it will whip the film thru quite fast.
I said earlier that Meccano(TM) was mostly good for prototyping. The problem is when this is combined with me using whatever rollers and sprockets I can find, which tend not to have Meccano(TM) size bores. Once sleeved up, it is difficult to insert them into the structure without actually part-dismantling it. Not a problem once set-up, but a nuisance when prototyping and making numerous changes.

I am not quite out of the woods yet tho'. I perforated a longish strip, but the pitch of the sprockets is too lon; I shall now have to figure out how to adjust the perforator.......


7th January

Cop this brilliant pic found by Chris Bird in a publication from 1919, "Behind the Motion Picture Screen".


One suspects 28mm, even in the States, was a pastime for the more affluent and privileged; it was after all very specifically targeted at a "salon" audience in France and US advertising seems to show the same trend. Who elso could afford an elaborate, two-person generator set-up and a maid to operate it? And it gives the lie to those who would accuse the wealthy of arragance and disregard of their servants; clearly, a job has been found here for a one-legged maid who would otherwise be hard to employ. I do wonder how she kept her balance
tho' ..........


3rd January 2016

I did make and try a festoon lamp for the Rural sound head, as mentioned in my last post, but it wasnae terribly satisfactory. Needs more work, obviously. It has occurred to me that yet another variable could be the filament to sound optic distance, even assuming there are no problems with my soundhead itself. Then Xmas, then a week of lurgi, and here we are already. Here is a pic of my revised test rig. I have used one-sided copper-clad board and nylon screws to help me with the electrical side. It occurs to me that being a lone worker has disadvantages, one of which is lack of alternative ideas. I am sure it would help to have someone to bounce ideas off and, of course to steal their ideas.


I have been tinkering with one of my Buckingham Elf 9.5 conversions to improve the gate aperture and sound masking. I think this is an early version of the gate and I felt the silent aperture had some scope for being opened out. The sound mask was too thick and not close enough to the plane of the gate aperture, giving a vague edge on the screen and excess shadowing into the image. I was also getting some light bleed on the opposite side, giving me a white line, outside the picture area, to the left of the screen

I should make clear that this is not to be critical of the Buckingham conversions. These are inevitably a compromise in various ways; I know enough about machine work to assure you that if every i had been dotted and t crossed to high standards none of us would have been able to afford to buy them. There is little I can show you about slowly and cautiously opening out the sides of the gate aperture, but I would point out that it is not wholly clear what the correct dimensions are. For sound – see pic opposite p73 of McKee’s projector book – the aperture is both narrower (7mm) AND shorter (5.5mm) than the silent, in an obvious attempt to avoid an overly square format on the screen. However, the 1939 Catalogue gives 6.85 x 5.87. For silent, I have an official blueprint which shows 8.2mm x 6.15, but I doubt many projectors were made with an aperture quite this big – with an aperture of 6.15 high and a sprocket hole 1mm high out of a total pitch length of 7.54, there is not much margin for error. And quite apart from edge scratching, printing errors often leave the sprocket hole off-centre (vertically!) to the frame line if not actually encroaching into the picture. These references are all shown below.

I can, however, show you my new sound mask. As I am rather error-prone, I made a new sliding mask plate to be on the safe side. I then chamfered the end and fitted a curved shim on the end to get closer to the plane of the gate – see 1st gate pic. In fact, my approach is quite like just turning the original, also seen in the pic, round thru 180 degrees.

I went with the curved approach because there was virtually no space. The bed of the slot in which the mask plate slides is not in fact level with the plane of the gate, but is actually slightly above. However, the gap between where the groove bed ends and the edge of the gate aperture is tiny - too small to be able to make a double bend in the shim and get it to lie flat on the back of the gate and yet still move back for silents. I am relying on a slight spring in the shim to overcome the small difference in level between the bed of the groove and the back of the gate. Haven’t tested it yet as I have been using the machine with a sound-only gate I had made some years ago to avoid this sort of problem, and then will have to consider how much of my new mask plate I need to cut off. Will let you know.

Just for comparison, the second gate pic is one I prepared earlier, as they say. On this machine, there was a bit more room enabling me to go with a double bend.


95silentstd     95sdstd     95sdstd39cat     elfmask1     Elfmask2 


7th December

Going back to the Rural Sonore sound reader saga, my first pulley wasn't big enough, so I tried again. Had to make yet another belt, of course. Also going to have to add a separate lamp switch as, just like the Vox, the machine can be reluctant to start, or may even stall. So far, the attempt to use an LED has not worked out. It seems impossible to focus the slit on the track sufficiently sharply. I suspect this is something to do with optics.
I recall reading somewhere that what a sound reader did was to focus an image of the exciter lamp filament on to the film. It appears, incidentally, that what happens AFTER the film matters a lot less, hence the ability of some machines to use mirrors and even primitive "fibre optics" to take the sound along to a PEC. There may, however, be two different types of optical system. The first is for machines that use the main lamp as the exciter, and so have a diffuse light source from a multiple filament, which relies on a slit inside the sound reader and a longer unit with extra lenses (for example the Vox and the Debrie) and the second which relies mostly on focussing the filament of a separate exciter lamp, which can manage with a shorter optic and maybe (I am not sure about this) without a slit at all (for example the Pax and later machines such as the Eiki/Elf or B&H). If this IS the case, there is no chance of an LED working with the second type of sound reader, as the two systems are not compatible. I should maybe try an LED directly on top of the Rural's sound optic. The other approach I am considering is a "festoon" bulb, like those often found in old cars - these are the ones that look like a rather fatter and longer fuse and, since they have a single filament, mite work with the Elf optic and mite just be possible to fit where I cannot find room for a conventional exciter.


29th November 

Have now done Gear. As I go thru, I am trying to improve some of my early dark or badly framed pix. This is a necessity to some degree as this new system is not at all keen on the sheer size of some pix, a number of which were over 1MB, so they have to be shrunk. Incidentally, you will note that some pix are linked as groups, which means you can move from one to another more easily. You can still do one at a time, of course.


24th November

Have just finished re-doing the page on the Richardson Collection of Baby stuff (I already did the general page on Babies, some of which overlaps a bit). A real marathon - there were over 100 pix. There's a lot of other Baby stuff under Gear, so I spose I'll have to do that next. Other pages done include the 200B, Flickers, Silent To Sound (another marathon), the 17.5mm Rex and a general 8mm page.


19th November

Been plugging away at trying to reclaim parts of the site. Most recently been working on the Specto page (now pages) and have even added a few more pix at the end. There are some bits I ent quite finished yet, but there's a lot more than there was.


10th November

Just to give you a better idea of what I am trying to do, here are some extra pix showing the original sound head (which in our case we do not have); I got these pix from the Fondation Jérome Seydoux. before that is a pic showing the hole where the soundhead should be on mine. Then a couple more pix showing how I have fitted the LED.

RS sound_head_     Seydoux sonore     Seydoux sonore2     seydoux sonore2a     Seydoux sonore3a     Seydoux sonore4     Rshd1     Rshd2


9th November

I have moved on from the status reported re the 17.5 Rural Sonore on the 4th. I have been experimenting with using an LED for the sound reader. I had hoped to use a conventional exciter lamp, but there just ent room under the lamphouse. Up to now, all I have achieved is very bassy, muffled and distorted sound, and not a lot of it. Because my test film is a few tatty old fragments of a film I know well - Parade of the Wooden Soldiers - I came to realise that the machine was running slow. My first thought was to try a thicker belt, that would not drop as deeply into the pulley grooves and so give a higher ratio. Unfortunately, the machine do not like this and actually runs slower - this may be in part a function of nitrile belting, which has very little stretch. So I decided to try a new, slacker belt in case excess tension was the problem, and this was where the problems started. My nitrile belt joining system is complex and sophisticated - a piece of brass tube fitted over the end of a soldering iron. Unfortunately, it dropped off and if you could see my garage you would understand why I could not find it. Could I find another piece of tube the same size? No. So got out another iron, with a bigger tip which fitted some tube I DID have. I did one belt OK, then the iron packed up. Unwilling to be beaten, I made a copy of a complete bit to fit the original iron, and have now made a slacker belt.

Meanwhile, I made a new motor pulley, so the slacker belt had to suit the new, bigger pulley. In fact, this does seem to have improved the sound quite a bit, tho' there is still a long way to go. What fun.


4th November

Ruralsdhd1     Ruralsdhd2     Ruralsdhd3     Ruralsdhd4     Ruralsdhd6

This is something I have been working on for a very long time and it's been extremely complicated. It has for some time been my view that the Rural Sonore, which we never got in this country, was probably the best of the Pathé 17.5 sound machines, because it had a straight and straightforward film path. I have been considering for years converting 16mm machines back to 17.5, but the obstacles have been hard to overcome. Finally, last year, I acquired a 17.5 machine that was (mostly) complete. Unfortunately, it was lacking the sound head and, although I did manage to get some pix of what it should be like, I couldn't see how to duplicate it. What I eventually came up with was the GBL516 curved picture gate, much cut about and cut down; this is best seen in pic 3 above. I slackened the side pressure springs a bit and mounted a solar cell type photodiode within the body (such as was left). I was having problems making the original sound reader (see pic 5) work effectively, so have been experimenting with an Elf sound reader. I have fitted this with an adjuster, à la Vox/Super Vox, and a light tube. This is cut from what was originally a towel rail, made of transparent plastic, which I have covered with insulation tape. It does work, after a fashion, but obviously needs some refinement. One thing tests have revealed, however, is that the machine is running slow, which naturally does nothing for the sound. I shalll have to increase the size of the motor pulley, or maybe a fatter belt would work. The one I am using is a rather thin nitrile one - I've been experimenting with making up nitrile belts, as increasingly I do not have the right size in the spares box. I got a bit of brass tube of a suitable size, squashed one end flat, then push fitted it onto a soldering iron. The ends can then be heated against either side and fitted together quickly. All I need now is better eyesight to enable me to make in-line joints rather than ones with a big step.

I am feeling guilty about not doing more to rectify the defects in the website. It can take a full day's work to re-configure a single "page", which can actually be quite a lot longer that the term page suggests - take a look at Silent to Sound, which I have re-done. Let me tell you what it involves. I don't spose you want to know but it will make me feel better.

First, I have to go to the public site that you see, and go thru a page checking each pic and link to see if they work, noting the ones that need fixing. Then I have to find the originals, which I do using the OLD Front Page system which is still on my (other) computer. Then I copy them all to a new folder on the (newer) computer and then go thru one at a time changing the names around (the new system hates gaps and various other things I used to do by way of file names). I also have to check the size - in kilobytes - of every image and keep them as low as possible and at least under 1MB, as the new system don't like it. This means photo-shopping, cropping, reducing image size etc. Then and only then can I start to put them into the admin version of the site. The process for uploading pix from the folder will take several images at a time; inserting them into the page means doing the entire process one at a time, re-opening the process for each one, which wastes a lot of time, so please bear with me.

I do feel a bit better now.


23rd  October 2015

This is the first time I have actually added to What's New since the Great Software Crash of mid-2015. I have added a couple of things that haven't appeared here - search for Eumig PIII or Precisvox - just tp prove I have not been totally idle. Anyway, I am assuming that you will have read the Special Notice about what has been happening to my website and me and shall move on. Just to mention that you may find initially that only the .com version of the site name works.

Went to the 9.5 Harpemded film Fair last Sunday. It seemed to me to be rather better-attended than last year,and the late John Ferrari's 9.5 sound film collection seemed to be selling like hot cakes, comprising as it did most of the best titles in the format. I managed to sell various bits, such as a Lux YC and a Princess, but still have plenty left, including a Fumeo S8 record/playback machine and a 9.5 Specto 500 (no lamp conversion, tho') in superb condition, a S8 projector with built-in screen as well as direct projection, the 5-reel 9.5 sound feature, The Flaw - indeed, I shall have to post a full sales list, wiv pictures!

I am currently trying to rationalise my collection of Specto's. A by-product is a range of Specto spares, all except, of course, the most commonly demanded bits like changeover parts for 9.5/16 machines. My principle aim is to take as many 8mm machines as I can and convert them to 9.5. The 8mm machines are often in exceptional condition, because they have not seen the regular use 9.5 machines have known. The conversion is reasonably straightforward because so many parts, including the gearbox, are common. It can also be done with 16mm and 8/16 machines. One day I suppose I shall have to document for you what needs to be done.

Speaking of Specto's, here is one I acquired at Harpenden, which I coud not resist showing you as it is in exceptional nick AND has a speed control unit.


AmproNo4    BH635001    BH635004    

While rummaging around doing a bit of tidying up. I came across yet another Ampro, and also a B&H 635 Std 8 machine. The latter dates way back to an era when I acquired, because there was sufficient interesting and useful stuff, a job lot of projectors and equipment that had originally come from someone who repaired them (maybe for a living, which might actually have been possible when he was doing it). The only thing I could find wrong with this one was the speed control lever, which sticks out at the front at the line between grey and silver. For some reason, the lever was constructed in two pieces. One was a large and complicated thing that fitted around the shaft of the adjustable front foot (!). The other was a tiny little tongue - most of which is what is actually visible from the outside. This second piece was lightly tack-welded to the first in a sort of overlap joint, and the problem was this weld had failed. As you can imagine, taking apart to get at was typically awkward and fiddly, but in the end I succeeded in replacing the weld with two screw, reinforced by superglue (mostly in the hope it would stop the screws moving).

I was, however, moved to ponder on the design of the 635 and its various sister machines (see also under Various 8). They had some major defects. First was the lamp, which at 21.5v 150w was quite bright (tiny mirror behind filament) but expensive, short-lived and, as things moved on to QI etc, exceeding rare. Second was the speed control. That little lever of which I have spoke caused a rubber belt to slide and so change the drive ratio, there being two conical pulleys, facing opposite ways, with an available travel for the belt across the pulleys of about an inch. This resulted in a fairly floppy drive and one which had to be nursed along to increas speed. Too fast a movement of the lever and the belt could not respond fast enough and delivered a very high ratio for an instant, causing the mech to stall. This is not good for films as they get holes burnt in them. Third, I have mentioned elsewhere the stupidity of a mains lead emerging from a horizontal surface, ie vertically. 

Nonetheless, this is a very pretty machine and great fun for the dabbler like myself, with an excellent zoom ;ens. The 635 improves on its predecessor by having a much more robust system for folding away the arms, and scores over successor machines that are grossly disfigured by translucent plastic guides for auto-threading. Very ugly.