Restoration

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RESTORATION

 

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This is a huge subject, so please excuse if it gets a bit disjointed, if not outright rambling and repetitive. It is also a work in progress and I hope to add to it as time goes by. I suppose the first question is whether or not to restore. In the antique world, it is considered bad to clean up furniture etc and remove the patina it has acquired with time. But vintage motor cars can be restored to within an inch of their lives, with new everything, provided its authentic. Projectors, like cars, have mechanical parts which may need repair or replacement; they need oil, so get dirty easily and need to be cleaned. And there is the issue of electrical safety and problems over getting lamps. So where do we draw the line? (Were talking basically older machines here, not later plastic jobbies). Unless we can figure out some ground rules, projectors are never going to take on the status or value that I think they merit as antiques.

I think that the primary commandment is Thou shalt not bodge. That is to say, do not make changes away from the original other than exceptionally. If you must change something, do it in a sympathetic way, don't damage or alter the original, do it in such a way that it could be restored to original condition if desired. Above all, do not throw any of the original parts away. Don't mutilate; it is usually possible to work with what is there, or make a duplicate and mutilate that, rather than the original. Especially unacceptable in my view is vandalistic damaging of a projector, hacking bits off or making holes, just to satisfy some desire for an extra feature or modification, and leaving the thing looking a mess. If it can't be done well, don't do it. Do not re-paint unless you can do it well and never try to do it by just pointing a paint spray at it just as it stands or, even worse, painting by hand. I have seen appalling examples of the bodger's art and I am finding myself more and more enraged by the sheer crass stupidity and incompetence of it.

There are no doubt those who would argue that it is their projector and they have every right to do as they please with it. That is not true in Nerdistan; here, bodgery is a high crime and misdemeanour and the NBPU (Nerdistan Bodgery Prevention Unit) will escort any offenders to the border - they are not welcome here. And by the same token, others have every right to castigate bodgers, and to point out that, as with classic cars, the owner of a projector is simply the current curator; he can expect only to use it and pay for its upkeep, with no thought of reward, and to pass it on in due course. OK, so there are common or garden machines where we can allow some latitude, but a decent machine, where availability is limited, should be treated with due respect.

As examples of what I would find acceptable, see Big Brother 1 or the piece on the KOK lamphouse under Reporting in the 28mm section. I have done a fair bit to my 17.5 Home Talkie, but the only non-reversible changes are a hole for a lamp switch and a hole for a socket to supply power to a fan (even these might be reversed at a pinch). Everything else is done by working with the grain, so to speak, eg the solar cell fits on part of the original mirror bracket without changing it at all. Anything that is done should be declared, as are bits of restoration done to antique ceramics etc. Making new holes should be avoided in nearly all instances.

So what generally could be considered acceptable? I think a high standard of routine cleanliness should be de rigeur. Metal polish for plated parts, car polish for painted parts (but not crinkly finishes of any kind - you get white stuff stuck in the creases. Use some common sense!). A patina of age is not acceptable on a working machine (I think static display machines are not worth it unless there is extreme rarity and restoring function is impossible); film needs to be kept clean and so does the projector to avoid possible damage. Touching in odd chips of paint is, I think, wrong. Its almost impossible to do it well, and its a bit of a cheat. If things are really bad, sanding down and respraying is preferable. I did this on one of my KOKs, where large areas of paint had peeled away because of changes in the aluminium (or Mazac?) casting. Many projectors suffer from discolouration or rust on the lamphouse, where heat has damaged the paint. Respraying this with a (matching!) heat resistant paint is a good idea. One area I'd like to explore one day is re-plating metal parts - you can get kits to do nickel, for example. Much work and expense tho, but a job well done would be quite acceptable (vintage cars again).

Baby Lamp Adapter

Changing the lamp and power supply can be OK if done sympathetically. By this I mean try to do a lamp conversion that retains the same outward appearance and could be restored to original. I think the ideal way is to make a unit that fits in the existing lampholder, eg smash up an old, defunct lamp and fix things to its base to support a new lamp. This way you use the original circuitry, too. I have actually managed to make a unit that fits into a Baby lampholder and takes a tungsten halogen lamp. 6v 10&20W and 12v ditto will all fit. It relies on me having found a batch of tiny holders for these small lamps, and some fiddly work. OK, OK, I'll go and do a picture, just talk amongst yourselves for a bit.

restoration

The lampholder is a neat push fit into a bit of standard brass tube, which in turn is ditto into a Baby lamp socket. What I do is to cut one wire off completely and shave one side of the lampholder to just expose the outside of the contact. A blob of solder on this, restorationcarefully filed to the exact height, makes a good contact with the side of the brass tube. The other lead is cut off short and soldered to a very short length of thin screwed rod (studding). This is just long enough to pass thru the small circular insulating bush shown here, and is held in place by a nut, forming the second contact. I usually solder over this a bit to help stop it undoing. Voila! It works best in later Babies where there is a screw to retain the lamp, but it will work as just a push fit. I am working on the assumption that the small exposed area of plastic is not going to get hot enough to melt! Now, if anyone can find a source of these little lampholders, were in business. (Now found a new batch, so if anyone needs one made.... for a fee, of course.)restoration

Here are a couple more examples, for the Super Vox (we don't care about burning QI lamps upside down or sideways, do we?) and for any medium pre-focus machine. OK, so they're maybe a bit crude, but it would no doubt be possible to make it neater but, hey, it's out of sight and fulfils the main criterion; it doesn't change the projector. Incidentally, does anyone know why the commercially available holders for QI lamps are huge, cumbersome and downright unhelpful, eg by having the fixing holes at a strange angle to the lamp pins? There must be a better way - has anyone anything to offer about DIY bases?

Where were we? Probably not really wise to use electric fires, aka external resistances, to drop voltage (less of a problem if your natural power supply is 110v). Try to fit a tranny in the resistance case; if you can't do this without damage, just put it on one side. I don't think, however, that resistances are going to add greatly to the value of a projector. I don't think internal or integral motor speed control restorationresistances are too bad, but because of the risk from these and as a matter of good practice, fitting an earth lead to your projector is essential. I prefer my projectors to have an earth whenever at all possible - several nasty experiences when I acted as earth myself have made me cautious. At the same time, I don't like messy adaptations or excessive changes to original machines. This arrangement I've just fitted to a Bolex DA seems discreet enough, one hole in the projector, a 4mm socket and banana plug.

What else. Internal wiring may need to be changed where there is the risk of electrical shorting or a dangerously live chassis. I have just found some heat resistant sheathing exactly like that oily/waxy fabric based stuff you so often find - great for keeping up appearances, even if a conventional wire is inside it. Modern lenses, being coated, are usually significantly better than old ones (optics seems to be one of those areas where the old ways were not better. As mentioned elsewhere, Terry Vacani does lens cleaning/re-assembling - details on request). Just keep the old one for display and use the new to show film. I don't need to tell you not to do daft things like re-boring the lens holder, do I? Extension arms are fine, provided (as usual) that the original state can be restored. One extreme example I have come across is Spectos. Colin Loffler transplanted 9.5mm parts from an old, worn machine into a barely used 8mm machine. As the 8mm machine would otherwise just be dumped in most cases, this seems on the outer edges of OK. There is somewhere a pic of this machine, now mine.

Amplifiers are a tricky area for me. I can't do amplifiers; I have often simply bypassed an old amp with a photo-diode fed into an external amp. I suppose ideally one should seek to retain the original in working order wherever possible; as ever, do not throw anything away whatever else you do. One thing that is probably worth doing from a safety point of view is eliminating the arrangement often found on older machines whereby a high voltage passes down the speaker cable to an energised speaker. Original or not, I don't think we can justify keeping such things.

Of course, much of this does not apply if you are dealing with a projector that has already been bodged, but which you deem worth saving - KOKs and other rare machines usually. This does not mean carte blanche to do the bizarre; just try to get it as near as possible back to what it should be. I have even had complex gears made to replace a bodged job. I have just been dealing with a bodge-fixing; I will write it up later. Have I mentioned the vital importance of keeping a good photographic record of anything you do so you can write it up for my website? I use a 3m pixel camera, several years old so well out of date, but more than adequate for website photos as I hope you will agree. Its really simple to get pix onto the computer. You do need a modicum of care with backgrounds to your photos.

I would like to share thoughts as much as possible on restoration techniques and materials. Please send me any useful stuff. Things I have found useful include Hammerite spray paint - the silver-grey hammered finish is a decent match for the finish on many machines. The smooth black satin finish likewise. I used to be v. bad at spray painting; less so now, because I finally learned the basic lesson; thin coats, don't try for complete coverage all at once; it will run. The other tip I offer is one I got from a magazine once. I have a moderate size cardboard box (18inches square?), open on one side, with a hole at the opposite side which takes the nozzle of an old vacuum cleaner This crude painting booth system brings a miraculous reduction in the amount of spray going all over everything else you own. Before I had this, I basically couldn't do spray painting at all - too messy, even in the garage. I use spray cans a lot even tho' I have a compressor and airbrush, simply because in a multi-coat game, you have to clean up an airbrush between each coat, which is a real drag. If anyone comes across good colour matches available in a can, please share. Ian Green gave me a nice one; Vauxhall Brazil Brown LV95 is pretty much exact for the 17.5 Home Talkie. Also Ford Rio Brown.

I have been using something called Barrel Paint for lamphouses it is a satin finish so not too out of place, and is supposed to withstand temperatures of up to 500 degrees F. If my projector ever gets hotter than that, I shall be heading for the hills rather than watching the paint finish for damage. I got the barrel paint from a supplier of car restoration tools and stuff at www .frost.co.uk . Their catalogue is small but to drool over. 

One of my favourite things is a substance known in our house as hamster-cage fixing stuff. When the kids were small, we once looked after a young friend's hamster. Almost at once, a vital part of the cage door broke - one of the weld joints came apart. I used this miracle stuff to fix it. The stuff is called Milliput and its a two-stick modelling putty, available in many model or craft shops; there are doubtless other names for similar stuff (I think Frost (website above) do a variant). You just knead together equal amounts of each stick, then mould it to whatever shape you need. Once set hard, it can be sanded, drilled, even tapped, and painted. I have just been using it to repair a couple of plastic lamphouse covers - I'll do a write-up and some pix later. Altho it makes no such claim, it's actually a decent insulator and so ideal for repairing obsolete/unobtainable Bakelite plugs etc. Properly done, the repair can be painted over and made invisible (come to think of it, I could maybe use this in place of the insulating bush in my Baby lamp conversion). I have also just picked up a tip from Colin Loffler about using small steel pins, in drilled holes in the original material, as a core over which to put the Milliput, to provide greater strength. He does phonographs and restores them so has useful knowledge. He suggests paper clips, using "u"-shaped pieces into two holes for maximum strength. If its not already clear, Im a great believer in not re-inventing the wheel I like to find good ideas from other people and steal them. 

Maplin has been one of my most useful suppliers, but they are increasingly moving out of components and useful stuff towards the gadget/toy end of the market. Radiospares as was, now known simply as RS (hhtp://rswww.com yes I know its an odd address), do a wider range but do charge for small orders. A particularly useful substance Maplin does have is heat-shrink plastic sleeving. (Recently saw some in one of the big DIY stores, too.) This is ideal for covering solder joints; it can also help strengthen wires by attaching to the component as well as the wire in some cases. I have also used small bits say 1cm long - to stick two wires together for tidiness in place of cable clips or the thin black string you sometimes find. They also recently started doing motor run condensers; 8 or 10 mf will do a Vox. 

There is virtually no-one left in the UK doing much in the way of projector repairs. The problem I guess is that the labour cost of doing anything is so high that customers are horrified by anything approaching a realistic charge and the game is just not worth the aggro it brings. I do occasionally do work for friends as a favour, but its much too time-consuming to do much of it, as I end up neglecting all my own projects. One of the problems is that virtually everything I do is new or prototyping, eg I have never before had to repair plastic lamphouse tops and had to figure out how best to do it, and that's just a small example. I often end up having made false starts or mistakes and having to do it over. Fortunately, I like (almost) nothing better than tinkering with projectors. 

I have a Zeiss Icon machine with the two spools side by side under the mech. One problem is the finish like so many machines, there is a sort of lacquer over the black paint. This has deteriorated with time and is now patchy, dulled and vaguely sticky and impossible to get to look good. That Loffler man (again) suggested methylated spirits; this does seem to remove the lacquer, but also some paint. Whether this is the meths or just paint that has over time drifted away from its partner metal so that this new challenge has broken the remaining bonds, revealing the shallowness of their residual commitment to each other and so leading to divorce (poetic metaphor, eh?) is unclear. Still experimenting. Can anyone contribute experience? Update. Have now finished stripping the lacquer off the Zeiss, using both meths and surgical spirit. On the main casting, paint is not affected; some effect on the parts that are just painted steel, but it does seem limited to areas of poor finish. A note of warning, however; on Bolex machines the top lacquer coat is the colour coat. The meths will remove it, leaving you with a very odd looking beast. As with anything like this, test on a small out-of-sight bit first. (The other thing about the Bolex PA/DA is, even if some twit hasn't over-lamped it at some point, the lamphouse discolours and/or rusts. Does anyone know a colour match for that strange Bolex shade?)

Some pictures now of the Zeiss. I had to take it apart as it would not go, so did a bit of rewiring as well.

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Reading from left to right, we have before and after pix re lacquer. The dull finish is before any polishing; actually not bad in its own right. You can see I worked round a little arrow transfer - the meths would no doubt have removed it. Cotton buds were a blessing in this job. Then motor/lamp/switch wires, using the new heat resist stuff I mentioned. The fault lay in the switch. In the off position, it comes to rest against part of the fibre body of the switch, with some force. Over time, this had worn a slight dent into the fibre, which was stopping the contact from moving when the switch was operated. The switch seemed to work from the outside, but on the inside nothing happened. Then we have the motor itself, the motor resistance, again re-wired, and finally a view of the innards from the back with the motor removed. At back right, in the hole where the motor was, you can just see a little device, which links thru to a button on the outside. It appears to be a commutator cleaner; there is a pad of felt which can be brought into contact with the commutator by pressing on the button outside. You can also see at the bottom of the main shutter a gauze centrifugally-operated heat filter. Not sure I understand why you want a filter to come into operation only when the machine is running, as appears to be the case. Maybe I'm getting something wrong.

Will report further when I've finished. This may be some time, as I am expecting imminent delivery of exciting new (to me) projectors. (See 16mm Silent for a pic of the re-assembled machine).

Packing

I've bought a number of projectors on eBay and had to have them shipped from elsewhere in the UK or even from France. I have come to realise that nobody seems to have the faintest idea of how to pack properly; everything arrives with some form of damage due to poor packing. It is not enough just to wrap a bit of bubble wrap around, or tape the original cardboard box shut. Bear in mind also that a close-fitting box is no use. It takes rather more, although it's actually quite simple.

First, there must be padding between every side (and top and bottom - essential!) of the projector and the box it's going into. However solid the box, if the projector is in direct contact with any part of it, there is a risk of damage. The sharper the corners, the heavier the machine, the more delicate it is, the greater the amount of padding needed.

Second, the padded projector must not be able to move within the box or other container - extra padding should be stuffed into any vacant areas. We are looking for firm but not rigid here.

Third, any particularly delicate bits like glass, protuberant (sticky out) bits like spool arms, or just bits that might drop off given half a chance, should be secured in some way or removed and packed as separate items. They can go into the same box, but they must be padded from both the box and the rest of the machine.

To understand this, try to imagine what will happen if the box is dropped from, say, two feet in the air, onto a hard surface, eg a floor(!). While floors are very useful for stopping things that are dropping, they can deliver quite a jar in so doing. If any part of the projector or other contents is touching the sides of the box, the force of the impact will just pass directly to the projector. However, if there is padding between the box and the projector, that force will be absorbed. If the projector is able to move because it is not padded enough, it can travel on impact and maybe hit the side, or get jarred and so cause damage. There is also the risk that the continual jolting will make the projector move, and scrape against other things and rub paint off, or even damage the packing, opening the way to potentially much more serious problems.

This basically means that your box needs to be rather bigger than the one you first thought of. But it's the only way to be reasonably confident parcels you send will arrive intact.

I do not know why carriers, of all kinds, it matters not who or how much they cost, are totally incapable of handling packages with any measure of gentleness but, believe me, they will ALL sling your package about. It's actually much harder work when handling something heavy to put it down gently rather than just banging it down - you just try it. Your average delivery driver, pushed by managers for time, is not going to go the extra mile for you. Assume the worst and pack accordingly. There has to be a niche market here for a carrier who will actually take care of your stuff.

Power Supplies

You will know that the leads we use to go from mains to an appliance using the Europlug system actually have a 13amp plug at one end and a Euro socket at the other. The bit inside the appliance is the plug. It is possible to get these plugs in a trailing, re-wireable form. I dislike projectors that have long fixed leads that you cannot unplug (Elfs, for instance, or the H), as the wires are a great nuisance and get in the way. I have tried hacking holes in the side of projectors and fitting the usual Europlug receptacle, but it's an awful chore and does alter the machine. What I have now taken to doing, therefore, is to cut the lead from the projector fairly short, and fit a trailing Europlug to it. I can then plug it in using any old 13amp/Euro lead I have around. At cpc, they are cheap enough to do this to any and all machines.

As a variant on this theme, I have a standing problem of needing a 110v supply for many of my projectors. Obviously, it's important to avoid mixing 240 and 110!. I have tried fitting transformers with a chassis-mounting Euro socket for the 110v output and using trailing/re-wireable Europlugs for the 110v projectors, but then there is the risk of mixing the two up. This might all sound confusing - in fact, even I am confused here - but if you look at the relevant bits of kit on the cpc site, all should become clear. I may have to stick with my old method of using 3-pin in-line mains connectors for 110v.

 

 

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