Joinville Eqpt



Page 2  

A Pax Sound Conversion




Pathé finally turned out some near conventional equipment that was in a different class to anything that had gone before. Named after Pathé's Joinville works, this series included the Pax as sold in the UK, but also magnetic or dual-system sound machines, and 16mm versions, too. Terry Vacani contacted me after seeing this site in the very early days, and kindly provided photographs and loaned catalogues. Below is a copy of the Pax instructions (my copy).


pax1     pax2      pax5     pax6     Pax7     pax8     pax9     pax10     pax11     Pax12


Many people in the UK will be familiar with the Pax. It was infuriating, however, that a machine that should have set new standards for 9.5 was marred by a number of faults: a noisy motor, with governor speed control that was tricky to adjust, a badly-designed sound-reading set-up with that silly mirror, (although nowadays photodiodes offer a solution to this particular problem) and the abominable chute.


Joinville     Joinville1954     Marignan      PatheCinericPM 16Mag


Here also are Terry's pix of the real thing, and an improved model with a bigger amplifier. He tells me all his French machines have a steel main pulley, which carries the shutter. Only in the Pax as sold in the UK is there a Mazac pulley (see below). My own experience with the Pax is not very happy. I had a 9-reel feature, of which the three middle reels began to split horizontally from the sprockets towards the edge of the film. I blamed this on the excessive resistance offered by the chute arrangement. My theory runs like this. Most sound projectors rely on the weight and inertia of a flywheel, with the film held against it by rollers. This is a dynamic arrangement; once the system is in motion the actual pull on the sprocket holes is reduced to just what is needed to replace friction losses. In the Pax, the drag of the chute is a constant dead weight. Particularly if a film is slightly oversize, or very new, or splicey, or weak to start with, the constant full-force drag can be such as to damage the film. I do know that a number of people have replaced the chute with a more conventional arrangement. Anyway, by what was, even in the late 60's when this happened, a huge fluke of luck, I managed to acquire a spare copy of just those middle reels. I went back to the Super Vox, a machine which, along with the standard Vox, I have always found to be very kind to films and tolerant of damage.

Terry also has a 9.5 Marignan magnetic-sound-only machine, (pic 3 above) and a 16mm Cinic magnetic machine; all of his machines are ones of which I am deeply envious. Note lack of chutes on magnetic machines. Also separate amplifiers for some. The next series of pix are from some leaflets Terry loaned me - I just love this artwork.


Leaf1     Leaf2     leaf4     leaf6     leaf7     leaf8


ACW reviewed the Pax when it was introduced in the UK. Interestingly, they came down firmly on the side of the "wow" experienced with 9.5 sound prints being printed in rather than caused by the projector.

acwpaxtest1     acwpaxtest2



Tony Saffrey has kindly provided pictures of the conversion work to his Pax some years ago.

ASPax1     ASPax2     ASPax3     ASPax4     ASPax5     ASPax6     ASPax7


The Pax has a belt drive from the motor to a pulley, on which is mounted the shutter. The pulley in UK models is made from Mazak, and has a tendency to distort and ultimately disintegrate, just like the flywheel in a Baby projector. The pulley runs in a narrow slot between lamphouse and projector body, so any distortion causes it to start rubbing. With the awkward brush arrangement for the speed control contacts, it's all terribly difficult and fiddly to get at. I had to do this once, and get a pulley made (courtesy Buckingham Film Services). I made a drawing for making the new one. It all worked out OK; somebody else might find this of use. 


These are pix of a Marignan I pinched from ebay, I think. Originally there was garden where there is now blue.

marignan1     marignan2     marignan3     marignan4     marignan5

Here now are some pix of my own Marignan.

mymarignan1     mymarignan2     mymarignan3     mymarignan4     mymarignan5

I have slightly modified the machine. If you look at pic one of the row above, you will see it lacks the metal bits at the front edge of the lamp house. The side cover fits here, originally with just two metal pins entering holes in the edge of the wooden rear cover which wraps round to form the side of the lamphouse. This is clearly a disaster waiting to happen, and it had indeed happened to mine, so I added these stainless steel re-inforcing pieces. The amp is a bit tinny and toppy, obviously made down to a price. For the UK market, there was also a very large tranny 240v to 110v tranny, not shown here. Note also that the sound unit appears quite different. The motor is interesting; it appears to be capacitor start. Note the black button in place of the speed change switch found on the Pax. When starting the machine, you turn the motor on, but it just sort of burbles a bit until you press the black button to poke it into life. There is only one speed, which seems nearer to 16fps than 24fps. When you add in the fact that the mag track is on the same side as the optical track....... There were few mag films made for it other than by amateurs; nowadays any 9.5 mag has the track on the other side, so, being without mag films and with a slow fixed speed making it a bit tiresome for silent films, there is not a lot the Marignan is useful for and it has to settle for being cute and decorative. Maybe a slightly bigger pulley to make it run faster?


Pathé Baby 1950's

The pic below, from David Richardson, is obviously a Joinville-type machine. It is labelled Baby and was apparently produced for a single year, 1953. He knows my weakness for chitterling shots so has also sent inside views. I later acquired one, seen in the last two pix. Note it does not have the extra roller before the second sprocket or the cast-in loop guides.


Baby53p1     Baby53p4     Baby53p5     Baby53p6     Baby53p7      Baby53p2     baby 53p3


Dave also sent pix of his even later version of the Baby from 1960. It even has provision for a cover, which the 1953 model does not seem to have - the last two pix are my 53 model.


Baby60p1     Baby60p2


I am very much in two minds about this machine. On the one hand, it is very neat and compact, quite light and cleverly designed. The way the arms fold cleanly away is nice, and there is a stud on the bottom to attach the belt to when the arm is folded. I very much like the colour scheme of the 1960 version. But on the other hand, it takes only 300/400 ft, the early one has a lens like a Son (ugh!) and everything has been pared down to a very basic minimum - pressed steel for the arms, primitive bent metal for the spool dogs, no rewind apart from that silly little thing that pops out of the take-up pulley, very basic arrangements to fit the back cover (little angle brackets that are loose and hard to get the screw into contact with), a tinpot motor and a silly lamp - 125v 200w. I don't think it reached this country in any great numbers, tho' some must have come - Dave's 1953 machine has a big resistance built in to enable it to run on 240v, which is missing from mine. And this cheapskate approach did not stop some trying to make a silk purse......

Baby53p8     Baby53p9     Baby53p10     Baby53p11

There is an interesting comparison between these bottom-of-the-range machines and others available at about the same time. These are much better-quality machines. Some years ago I acquired a couple of what I call Silent Paxes from France and never really did anything with them. As I have been focussed on the Joinville range of late, I decided to have a go. The one shown here is complete and working (tho' it's not yet had a film thru). It basically only needed a good clean and oiling. But as you can see, apart from the amp, sound drum and sound reading bits, it's identical to the Pax as we knew it here in the UK. This includes a sound mask in the back gate and identical speed control for 16 and 24 fps. The second was a different kettle of fish - casing (even more) battered, arms missing and a mazac'd pulley. I did in fact have a steel pulley at a fairly advanced stage of completion that I roughed out years ago, so I finished it. Works OK, but I can't be sure I've got the shutter phasing right until I can test it. At the moment, the motor is playing silly devils and I need at some point to go back to it. This was bought basically as a spares machine, but it mite be fun to experiment with re-motoring and adding sound. Those 2 machines correspond to the earlier Baby shown above; corresponding to the later Baby is this silent PM.

silentpax1     Latesilentpax1     latesilentpax2

While the Baby projectors are obviously made down to a price, these are much more like a silent Pax/silent PM, because that is pretty much what they are. The first is built just the same as a Pax, with 2 speeds and a sound mask in the back gate and the second is almost identical to my PM (see Page 2); in fact I bought it in the hope I could steal the motor for the defunct one in my PM (of which more on Page 2). Tho' I have not yet been able to bring myself to do it, I am sure it would work - all the speed and voltage-change arrangements are the same. I am not sure, however, that either of these machines reached the UK; I got both from France.


Typically for someone with a butterfly mind like what I've got, I have flitted away onto the Pax I recently acquired (late 2010). It is showing its age and has turned out to need far more work than at first sight. There are all sorts of problems. It has a little sticker saying 220v on the front panel, but I would expect 110v and, indeed, Terry Vacani, who has loads, tells me he's never seen one this early (JP4 amp, as used in some later Voxes) that's 220v. So either the label lies, or someone has done a very clever conversion, or this is the one that got away. Paul Schimmel is patiently advising me by email in how to fix the amp up and, vitally, how to figure out if it's really 220v, which is not at all obvious. Anyway, here are some pix for you.


paxinnards1     paxinnards2     paxinnards3     paxinnards4     paxinnards5      paxinnards6     paxinnards7     paxinnards8


You can see the state it's in. Fortunately, it's a French model, which means the main drive pulley, which carries the shutter, is steel rather than Mazac. You will note that between pix 1 and 2 I have removed the motor. This is because it was in rubber mountings and the rubber has turned into a horrible mess of semi-liquid gunk (which has obviously flowed out onto the base in part) and nasty, brittle remnants with no flexibility left. Yeeeeuuk. I now have to figure out what it should be like (it's obvious someone has fiddled before) and find a way of duplicating it. 

Pic 6 shows one of the other main detractions of the Pax. I've always found it a noisy machine (it's a brush motor, not induction), and from what I've seen here, most of the noise comes from the speed control brushes. These fit into the three tubes in an insulated strip that you can see at the back of the lamphouse. The brush springs are held in place by pushing the ends of the connecting wires thru small holes in the both sides of each tube and bending the end over. Extremely primitive. The brushes bear on 3 concentric brass rings on the back of the motor fan, and the noise this makes seems to be a significant part of the overall noise level. Memories of my first Pax say there is no adjustment of the springs that control the make and break contacts of the governor, but this one does seem adjustable. 

You can see that, over large areas, the paint finish has faded quite badly. I have found before that the use of white spirit actually makes this even worse, giving the paint an opaque white bloom. However, I have experimented with the bit under the lamphouse by cleaning with white spirit and then giving it a coat of Humbrol Satin 135 varnish. You can see the result in pic 2 on the flat platform. This seems a little encouraging, tho' time will tell. It is also obvious that I need to do extensive touching-up. I did this once by mixing up a reasonably similar colour of Humbrol and giving the entire machine a thin coat, by hand, using a small, stiff paintbrush, so as to make it all one colour. Working a thin coat in thoroughly avoids destroying the textured finish. I have sent an email to Precision Paints, who provide authentic colour paints to (mainly) railway modellers in the hope they can help. But if anyone has found a close colour match, I'd like to hear. You know, of course, that Vauxhall Brazil Brown is a virtually exact match for the paint on a 17.5 Home Talkie (thanks to Ian Green, who put me onto this one).


I have had this brown, unaltered Pax on the bench again, as I had never quite bottomed the problems I'd been having with the exciter lamp. There kept being smoke, melted wires and such. A discussion with Terry Vacani about Pax exciter lamps (the same lamp is available with the ring for use on the Pax and without) gave me ideas and led me to have a rummage; I found 4 or 5 lamps, two without rings. Anyway, to revert to my problem, the switch (there is a separate exciter switch) looked suspect and I decided I didn't like the way one of the connections was thru the projector body - not sure if this is normal or mine has gotten messed up.
So I changed the switch and made an adapter for one of the lamps without a ring, so I could get two isolated connections - see sketch. It's basically just a lump of Paxolin, with threaded holes for screws to secure the lamp AND provide a separate electrical connection. It sits where the ring would sit, with holes in the joinville-eqptunderside to match the locating pins that fit the holes in the ring. It's held in place by the sprung contact for the pin in the centre of the lamp base. It's probably a bit more difficult to change the exciter but we are no longer talking a consumer product - only the likes of us are ever gonna change one anyway, and it won't be very often, so what does it matter? It does also allow more scope for adjustment to get the lamp filament fully aligned with the sound optic. The results have been excellent - loads of volume and good quality sound. Thanks again to Paul Schimmel, who actually got the amp working for me. 


Special1     Special2

It would be wrong to leave the subject of Joinville equipment without reference to what I think was a quite late version, called I believe the Pathé Special, aimed at local cinemas, even tho' it was purely 16mm. It's very obviously a Pax-type mech, but with lots of big lumps tacked on and a truly weird film path - note the chute immediately after the gate! It does, however, show just how versatile a decent design can be.