Pathe 200B




Reviving a 200B 

 I think the time has arrived to have a page for the 200B, since it is one of the most popular 9.5 machines. I have very little experience of the 200B, so I have a lot to learn. For the moment, I shall just bring together any 200B stuff already on site. 

Here is a piece from ACW; thanks to John Fisher for the scan. Then instructions on how to show 30' cassettes.


pathe-200b   200Bcass


Now this, (acquired 2007), I had never seen before. It is a 200B, with a proprietary sound unit by Southern Film Services of Slough. The unit appears to be incomplete; it is not clear to me just where the photocell might go. Anyone got any info? I have also found instructions on how to do the conversion yourself.


200bsound0001     200bsound0002     200bsound0003     200bsound0004    200bsound0005


Scanrite 9.5mm     Scanrite 9.5mm_Closed     Scanrite 9.5mm_Open     ACW200Bsounda


There were 2 pix from Don Sykes, but they have vanished in the Great Software Disater and I can't find the originals. SDorry. They seem to be a different type of soundhead? Bill Kilgour sent me the others some time ago; they show how the cell has to move out of the way for threading. It came to him on a Pathescope "H" (see last pic). Not sure the amateur one from ACW don't look better. Here is another one, now Mine!


200Bsound2     200Bsound5     200Bsound3     200Bsound1




200BPlusgate2     200BPlusgate1     200BPlusgate3     200BPlusgate4


The first two pix are looking down the lens barrel of a 200B Plus and show the different masking for 9.5 and 16, effected by a lever above the gate. Pic three shows (left) an original of the lever that has broken - that breach in the hole in the shorter arm should not be there. Right is a replacement I have made. Pic 4 shows the lever from the "outside", so to speak. There are one or two points of note. The space for the pivot is very tight, reflected in the way the pivot hole is so close to the edge. Fortunately, I drilled the hole first then filed to shape after. The other thing is that you cannot actually remove the pivot screw without first removing the gate mounting screw. From the look of it, there is framing adjustment only for the top of the 16mm pic. One does wonder exactly what brutal mistreatment could possibly have resulted in this damage in the first place!


The 200B Plus above was brought along by Mikael Barnard. It also has other interesting features that I have been examining. It has a sound attachment, not a type I have seen before and, to go with it, has been fitted with what I think is a very neat little governor attachment, intended no doubt to stabilise the sound speed.


200BSoundCraft6     200BSoundCraft5     200BSoundCraft4     200BSoundCraft2     200BSoundCraft1     200BPlusgov1    200BPlusgov2


The sound head seems to have been modified to use a solar cell rather than the original PEC, and is clearly in need of a little TLC. The design of the lamp housing seems to enable use for both 9.5 and 16. Pic 2 shows it just located in its mounting holes,; Pic 5 shows it pushed in to operating position. The screw next to the sound telescope may be to adjust for sound track position? I think the governor is a splendid concept and very compact. It uses a Meccano(TM) socket coupling as a pulley. The last pic shows it with the lid off. Looks like a prototype, with evidence of bits that didn't quite work out.

Came across an interesting reference, in ACW for Dec 37, I think. It points out that, for a 200B using a blanking plate, a simple way to ensure the lamp is switched off during rewinding is to get a spare blanking plate and remove the centre pin, covering up with insulating tape. I never thought of that. Perhaps one could go further and make a new blanking plate substitute which would have a switch in it to connect or disconnect the lamp circuit........... and, lo and behold, here it is! ( see box RH of pic below). It came with a 200B I acquired and gives separate and interlocked switching of both motor and lamp. It does, however, mean dumping the resistance and finding a separate 110v tranny - not a problem here, of course, as I have them coming out of my ears. I am a little tempted to see if I can come up with a more elegantly-engineered version, but best not weaken again. 




Now to the rest of the pic. As we all know, the 200B is in dire need of extension arms to take 900' reels. I have never been too impressed with the home-made ones I have seen, nor yet with the "official" ones. At the bottom of the pic is an official one. Not too bad, but the arm is a pretty sloppy fit in its little pocket, and the structure is very weak. It's Mazac, the area of the "join" between the 2 halves of the thing is short and too thin. The sides of the pocket can break off, or the screw can break out. More satisfactory in this regard is the next one up, the loose aluminium one. This must be at least semi-official since it is a casting. There is plenty of thickness and length to the join and it is rather better shaped, but the arm is still loose in the pocket. But though more elegantly-shaped, the thing is too thick which spoils the look. Also, there are big flaws in the casting which might weaken it.

Next up is the DIY affair which came with this particular machine. The problem with this, apart from being bulky and inelegant, is that it sets the arm in the wrong position, displacing it by the thickness of the material used. If you make a step out, you have to have a corresponding step back in again. My butterfly mind at once flitted to possibilities for re-shaping the DIY extension pieces. The topmost arm is what I ended up with - taking about half the material off to form pockets at each end, one for the arm, one for the bracket on the machine. As the original piece was 6mm/0.25" thick, I think there is still enough strength and I have left a decent length at the join. (NB ignore the surplus holes, which are a by-product of starting with something already made. You might just be able to see a slight protrusion at the RH end of the extension piece where I fitted a screw to assist positive location, slightly too much material having been cut off the original.) I made the pockets as tight as possible, as I hate that sloppiness when arms have excess "travel" around the point they are actually meant to be. The thing is also solid aluminium, stronger than Mazac or a casting while remaining thin enough to look reasonably elegant. Being solid alu, it would in principle be possible to get it anodised black, which would give an excellent finish, more durable than paint and prettier than DIY paint. If there were enough people really interested, it might be possible to commission a batch.........



I decided to refurbish a 200B and was pleasantly surprised to find that, although the machine is dirty, the brightwork has a good thickness of chrome and is cleaning up nicely. I have tried to do a before and after for you with the bits from both sprockets. Not too successful but enuff to ensure a fat lip for anyone who asks which is which.




It does show clearly just how much there is to do with so many bits and pieces to clean, many of them of awkward shape and mostly coated with the accumulation of 50+ years of dirt as, of course, nobody ever cleans a projector. This one also had Bakelite problems - the base was in two pieces and the lamphouse top was a bit cracked and chipped. Rather to my surprise, I was able to get a good strong repair to the base; normally, any glue I try proves weak. This one is a superglue - I think they are all different and this one, by luck, happens to be suited to Bakelite. I filled in a hole where a chip was missing on the LH top with Milliput, then smoothed and painted. Looks quite respectable. If you know the 200B, you will no doubt have come across the problem of getting the (designedly) rough patches of the Bakelite to look anything other than scruffy. I have cheated and applied some much-diluted satin-finish black enamel. It has to be thin and thinly applied or it just looks hand-painted and ugly. Never use gloss!


pathe-200b pathe-200b pathe-200b pathe-200b pathe-200b


I decided to clear the stuff that I assume is asbestos from the lamphouse. Given how widely it was used, I think we make a bit too much fuss about it but I don't spose everyone would agree. I soaked it in diluted varnish to bind it together so it didn't make dust as it came out. I am still considering the lamp issue. I think it's going to have to be 110v somehow, as I want to set this one up with just a single 110v input at the back, using the kind of plug found on some Babies; a squat, 3 connection job with two sockets and one pin. As a separate but related exercise I am seeing if I can re-habilitate a much-broken one of these using superglue, paxolin and filler. I have transferred the two front pins used for the main input to the back, leaving one socket which will take an earth. I really don't like not having an earth, even at 110v. Incidentally, some people seem to find 110v worrying, and are reluctant to use it. It is in fact one of the simpler jobs to set up a 110v tranny that you can use for any machine that needs it, in preference to the evil resistances (death traps, if you ask me). 

As for switching, I have more or less decided to add one to the sloping front just above the Bakelite base. Rather than make holes (which would be wrong) I have made up a replacement strip to fit the gap. I shall probably use a centre-off switch to give separate motor and lamp capacity, as with the H. And while I was at it, I thought I would do you some pix of a naked 200B as I know you like that sort of thing.


pathe-200b pathe-200b pathe-200b

A few more 200B bits for you. Pic 1 is the familiar plug used with many Baby projectors. Many of these have the rim or shroud bit broken off to a greater or lesser extent; with this one it was greater. This tends to leave the connectors exposed. I spent a quite inordinate amount of time with paxolin, superglue, Milliput and other similar stuff re-instating the shroud, then painting it Humbrol satin black. It will now plug on on the rear side of the machine, to which I have transferred the two pins from the front. The front socket will be blocked off. Part of the reason for doing this appears in pic 2. I found I had several 120v 150w valve-base, internal mirror lamps for which I have no conceivable use; this gives me a simple 110v connection to the machine. Worth experimenting, I thought. It was simple to add the new lamp socket, as the mounting lugs had fixing holes at almost the same diameter as the 200B lampholder. The new lamps are so much shorter I was able to connect wires to the existing contacts inside the original lampholder without making irreversible changes. Pic 3 shows the asbestos-free lamphouse back and side cover after de-greasing with Meths (2011 vintage, an excellent year) and a coat of dilute Humbrol black satin. NEVER use gloss!! Before painting, there were various small knocks and scrapes that had left bare patches, and the whole thing had gone that dreary, tired-looking dull grey. The thin paint does not affect the texture of the finish (apply thinly, mind) and certainly brightens up the look of it. I shall probably now have to do the rest as well.

I didn't like my wiring so I re-did that. The 120v 150w internal mini-reflector lamp I fitted proved no use. It has a double filament, with a tiny reflector immediately behind. Problem is, it does not appear to have suited the 200B optics, as I got very uneven illumination with obvious signs of the two filaments. So I have now tried a Plan B. The 200B Pathé lamp not only has a filament offset towards the front of the envelope, it also has its filament at a different height from the standard pre-focus-base lamps. I have now fitted a pre-focus base salvaged from I know not where, and installed a 120v 250w lamp. This seems to work OK with the optics, despite the lack of filament offset, and gives decent illumination. There seems to be quite a good draught of air from the fan, so I think it would be worth trying 300w with a proper 110v lamp in the hope of even more light. I have also made up a sleeve that enables use of a B&H 1.5" lens, which I am sure will give better results, not least because it is coated, unlike the original.



plusresto1a     plusresto3a     plus resto_011a     plus resto_012a


Here, finally, is the finished article. 

What I set out to do was:-

a) convert the lamp. I wanted to stay with 110v to avoid having multiple power supplies. I have told you about the failure of the 120v 150w valve-type base jobbie with mini internal mirror directly behind the filament and how I then ended up with a traditional pre-focus base lamp in a new holder.

b) get rid of the input at the front, which I do not like, and add a switch. Off-On-On switches seem hard to come by, so I have again used a On-Off-On, with the lamp only fed in one of the On positions. In practice this works fine; I start in the Motor On position, then switch rapidly across the Off position to Motor and Lamp On- the Off bit is barely noticeable. And it does of course mean one can rewind without the lamp. I thought that if I was changing to 110v only I should have a different input arrangement, so I have copied the Lux type, using a much-damaged plug I re-built. Showed you that before, too. In accordance with Standing Orders, it could be restored to original if required (ditto lampholder). Incidentally, I have removed all the asbestos from the lamphouse.

c) to get the machine looking as nearly as possible in the sort of condition it might have been when new, or at least nearly new. This involved in particular cleaning all the shiny bits which, as it extends to loads of fiddly bits like nuts and bolts, was quite a job. It has also had new feet and a very thin coat of satin-finish enamel to overcome the very tired-looking finish most old machines seem to get. I hope the pix give you some idea.

There are a couple of "defects" with the machine as it now stands. The base - as is so often the case - had been broken right across the rear. I have however found a superglue that really works on bakelite and the join has held up thru an awful lot of man-handling as work has proceeded. There was minor damage to the lamphouse top also. The other thing is that it had a still picture capability. Unfortunately, I have mislaid the (manually-operated) heat shutter somewhere along the line, so have rebuilt without it, since I don't really approve of stills devices anyway. However, against the chance that it might still turn up, I have not removed the other part of the mech, ie that extra roller by the motor pulley, even tho' I think it's a pretty dodgy way of doing things.

I hope the pix give you some idea of the finished article. Trouble is, so many old machines need similar treatment and it's very time-consuming. And having finished it, I didn't want to part with it.