Heurtier Sound

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(Heurtier Silent)

The machine I lusted after most as a young nerd was the Heurtier Universal. It had a very distinctive look and lots of interchangeable bits to play with. It wasn't until much later that I got one. It was in the form of a double band machine, best described with a picture. It has a second sound head, belt driven from the projector, and two amplifiers. I regret to say I have never actually used it for all the exciting things it says it can do in the original sales brochure, but any true projector nerd will understand heurtierwhy I had to have it.

It is not, incidentally, a true Universal. It is the Panoralux, which took up to a 1200w lamp and which has a larger lens barrel - it's Debrie/Siemens size. The long thing sticking out the front of the projector is for mounting an anamorphic. In fact, I mostly use it for an in-line reversing prism. The Heurtier needs a twist in 9.5 sound film to bring the track to the correct side. I don't like that, so I thread the film the wrong way and use the prism (and rotate the sound mask in the separate 9.5 sound gate thru 180 degrees).


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This is what the brochure says it should be like; in fact the poor old thing has been much modified, but I also have another stand-alone Panoralux, which is in original condition and uses a very strange exciter lamp. I dunno how the pic will come out, but it's a 25mm dia envelope, 15mm dia base with a single pin, overall length 75mm, vertical filament. A label on the machine says 8v 4a Phillips 115. I have been unable to find any trace of such a lamp anywhere. There is one of the G series of exciter lamps that is the same volts/amps, but the filament is horizontal. If anyone can help, please let me know.

Have acquired new information. By a stroke of serendipity, I found one advertised on French ebay and bought it. This one is a Mazda version and it says on the box "CYL AXIAL 8V 4A BA15S".




Single centre pinheurtier

No side pins on cap

Single solder blob on side as shown

Burns horizontally



This picture of my stand-alone machine gives a better view of the projector itself. It's really a semi-professional machine; there is a very heavy flywheel with a sprung pinch roller that presses on the film. There is also a pair of sprung smoothing rollers (bit like B&H) as well; the net result is it takes a moment or two to settle down on start-up, even with the flywheel given a gentle turn to get it going. I just use longer leaders.

Here are a couple of pix from Don Sykes, whose Heurtier has the curious feature that the 9.5 to 16 sound slit adapter is absent.

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At one stage, the projector on the double-band stack unit began to have difficulty starting and to go slow. In the end, it turned out that two fibre gears inside had stripped some of their teeth. These gears were on a single shaft, parallel to a second shaft on which were two metal gears. A fairly crude pin arrangement moved the fibre gears along their shaft, connecting with the metal gears in a different position pretty much like a car gearbox. This gave sound and silent speeds, with an intermediate neutral position. Getting at them required significant dismantling; I then had to have new (brass) gears cut, through the good offices of Spondon Films, which restored the machine somewhat. For the record, there were a 21 tooth fibre gear (22mm diameter over teeth, 16mm long) and a 14 tooth metal gear at one end of the paired shafts, and an 18 tooth fibre gear (19mm over teeth and 15mm long) with a 17 tooth metal gear, at the other end.

However, the Heurtier motor was a condenser start motor, where the condenser (66MuF as I recall) was only briefly in circuit at start-up. This is in contrast to machines such as the Vox where the condenser is permanently in circuit. The original motor was operated by a three position switch; up = off, centre = run, and down against a spring = start, returning to centre position as soon as the motor is under way. The problem was, with all that slow running and difficulty starting, I maybe held the switch in the down position too long, and either that, or the strain of running against the extra load from the stripped gears, "cooked" the motor rather. There is now a Debrie motor; this too is condenser start, but there is an auto system that disconnects the start condenser centrifugally. Care is needed with old, disused Debrie motors, which can get fried when the centrifugal mech jams and fails to cut out. Open the end up and make sure its working before running.

The question is, why was there such widespread use of fibre gears? They are in the Vox, the Bolex DA/PA, the Pax, the 17.5 Home Talkie, just to name a few I can bring instantly to mind. I have heard that fibre meshed with metal is quieter, but usually internal gear noise is the least of the problems with older projectors' general noise levels, and I am not convinced. It may have been cost, or simply fashion in what was considered good engineering practice at the time. Does anyone know?

Have gotten around to scanning in instructions for the Heurtier Universal/Panoralux. Made pigsear - P3 is at the end.





Optical-sound-only 9.5/16 Heurtier

heurtierI bought another Heurtier on French ebayheurtier. It's an optical sound only jobbie. It came with no amp and no guarantee as to workingness and, as you can see, looking rather dirty. On arrival I found the motor worked fine in neutral, but simply would not drive the mech. As it's a condenser-start machine, one needs to be careful not to try to start it for more than a few seconds, or you risk overheating of the condenser circuit and goodbye motor. In fact, it was pretty difficult to turn over with the inching knob, and I assumed that some fibre gears in the gearbox had stripped, a problem I've met before.


But as you can see, this was not the case. In a Heurtier, this gearbox is completely filled with grease; what you see here is after much scraping and cleaning and getting grease all over the place. However, it is interesting to note that with the gearbox free of grease and sprayed with silicone/ptfe lubricant, the motor would turn the mech. So I formulated theory No 2, which is that in a projector that is 50 years old, the grease is also 50 years old, and there is equally a 50 year accumulation of dirt, neglect and inappropriate amounts and types of lubricant etc in the entire mechanism. The grease was very heurtierdense and thick, and I had found this problem once before, when loading the gearbox with a very sticky grease had stopped the motor running properly. Incidentally, the gear layout does not seem to be the same here as in the other one I have.

Having formulated this theory, I decided that there was no alternative but to strip the moving parts quite a long way down, supported by the obvious need for cleaning. I knew this would probably invalidate the warranty, but I'm pretty adventurous, you know. In fact, as I proceeded, I found that some of the oil/grease had formed a sort of heurtierfilm on many of the parts, which required metal polish, much elbow grease, a toothbrush and often scraping with a screwdriver to shift. Here are some examples of just how bad it was. The picture right shows one of the triple-sprocket turrets,heurtier with the sprockets and rollers removed. The screw on the left passes thru the roller assembly and carries the loose roller seen next to it. Oddly, for such a sophisticated machine, there is no way to remove the other roller without forcibly bending the sides until they are far enough apart to remove it. Left is a clean one. heurtierAnd here is one I had to bend and take apart, it was so filthy.

The little peg visible on the roller assembly rides in the curved slots in the main assembly, and the roller is pressed onto the sprocket by the little spring, which fits into the curved slot. It's easy to get the springs out, indeed, the trick is to do so without them leaping out and promptly getting lost. (Putting them back in, however, is a bit of a bugger and they can so easily go spoinging off all over the place.) All of this is very fiddly to clean, but undoubtedly the worst bit is the milled edge around the rim of the main assembly. These are cast rather then machined, I think, so are roughish and have many little places to catch dirt. There are over a million of the little grooves, and you have to go over each one several times, finally with a fingernail thru a piece of cloth, to get them anything like clean.


Here is the side view and finally, the moment you've allheurtier been waiting for, the exploded view. It seems to me that it is not too surprising that the motor was having problems. Note the grub screw in the side of the assembly; under here are another small spring which presses on a ball bearing which protrudes slightly into the centre hole. I assume this is part of the detent mech for the rotating turret. I did remove the spiral gear on the rear part of the shaft, so I could clean under the spur gear at the other end and clean the bore itself. This is a bit tricky, as it is held on by a taper pin which passes thru one side of the gear, thru the shaft and into the other side of the gear. It needs to be knocked out with a pin punch and hammer. As it can require quite heavy blows with the hammer, it is vital to place support right under the point where you are hitting, or you willheurtier bend the shaft with, as they say, disastrous consequences.

heurtierThese are shots of the upper assembly after an awful lot of cleaning effort - I still haven't finished the lower one, which was by far the dirtier as it sits under the claw and gearbox and basically gets shat on from above all the time.


Here is a shot of the underbelly which showsheurtier the sort of state it can get into down there. Which brings me to the question of the finish on this machine. Short of soft, absorbent white, it's hard to think of a more unsuitable finish for a projector - Bolex used it as well on some models of their M8. It is almost impossible to clean. It positively attracts dirt, with all those little wrinkles. There heurtierseems to be some sort of lacquer coat as the top layer, so any solvents attack this and change the colour. Right is a picture of the cover to the gearbox; I have been experimenting to see if I can find a way. What you see here is after meths (which did dissolve the top layer and maybe more - used only on part), detergent and water, soaking overnight in petrol and finally metal degreaser, which also attacked the finish. I shall have to re-spray it now, but at least I know there is no point trying anything clever with the rest of the machine.

If you look closely at the pic, you can see round the large hole and elsewhere the remains of really caked-on deposits which build up in corners or, as here, round the rim of a cover. Even all my efforts hadn't completely shifted these.

Having finished cleaning and re-assembling the Heurtier, it was still stiff and sometimes needing help to start, tho' it ran fine once going. All I could conclude was that wear on cam and claw meant there is a bit of play and sometimes the position of the bits is such as to create extra resistance. I have met similar on the PathVox. (Still had to sort out sound, as with no amp a photocell is little use - I thought I'd have to fit a diode from an Elf. In the end I found that the amp for my magnetic Heurtier had the necessary input and power supply for a cell so it was just a matter of lashing up a connection.)

I finally overcame the starting problem by fitting a replacement motor-start condenser - it now goes like a bomb. The original was a dual 32mF in parallel, and I had a 60mF from a Heurtier that now runs with a Debrie motor. Only 3 tries and lots of work (none of it wasted, thankfully) to find the problem.

Incidentally, I discovered that there is a removable piece on the sound drum, which has to be reversed to change between 9.5 and 16, together with the pressure roller. Always a bit of a mystery tour when you have no instructions and it ent like the one for which one does have instructions - no such thing on my Universals.

heurtierheurtier These two pictures show the removable part of the sound drum (upper right), the securing nut (upper left), and the pressure roller, (lower right). I don't got any instructions, but I figure you have to reverse the sound drum bit, and possibly the pressure roller, to change from 16mm to 9.5. The left pic is the set up for 16, and it works. Turn both round however, as in right pic, and it don't. Incidentally, the sound is read on the right in these pix.

If you look closely at the pressure roller, you can see it has four thin raised portions, or lips. Let us number these 1-4, starting from the end where three of them cluster close together With the 16mm setting, lips 3 and 4 run on the film, being about 9.5mm in width across the two lips. The raised portion on the sound drum itself runs nicely in the slot between lips 2 and 3, which is deeper than the area between 1 and 2 and 3 and 4. Clear so far?

This is the point to introduce the "O"-ring you also see in the pix. As it arrived, the pressure roller had a rotted rubber infill, standing slightly proud, in the groove formed by lips 1 and 2. I replaced it with the "O"-ring which, in the 16mm set-up, runs nicely on the outer part of the drum and keeps the roller level. Set up as in pic 2, however, you get two lips (1&2) with a total width across them of no more than 3.5mm, and a rubber ring in the groove between them, trying to stabilise the 9.5 film enough to get sound, and I am here to tell you it don't work. Nor does it work with the pressure roller the other way round - then you just get lip 3 riding on the extreme edge of the film. I can make it work by crudely using my finger as a pressure roller, but this does not seem a viable long-term approach.

I can only assume there was a separate pressure roller for 9.5, which I shall now have to make for myself. I envisage a roller with a 9.5mm wide flat to run on the film (this is what my other Universals do), a groove for the raised portion of the drum and maybe a groove for an "O"-ring to run on the outer edge of the drum. This is basically the roller as is, except for "infilling" the area between lips 3 and 4.

If there is any helpful Continental person out there, or other idiot UK person, who knows these machines or has instructions, HELP!


Also spent a disproportionate amount of time on the amplifier from the magnetic sound Heurtier. When tested, there was a lot of noise from the volume control, which is combined with an on/off switch. I completely failed to find a replacement - Maplin are less and less use these days as their component range shrinks - and I had no luck elsewhere. I finally had to settle for a used one with a lower ohm rating. Fitting it was a nightmare, as everything was neatly plumbed in with little slack. Got it done eventually, but could I get the amplifier to work? In the end I abandoned it, came back to it a couple of days ago, re-tested and re-wired slightly and it's fine. What I did wrong, and then did right, I know not, but I suspect it was very simple and stupid and I am well cross with myself for such incompetence.

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The first five are from Argenteuil 2009,one showing an unusual cover for the belt drive. Last two are of one of my own. For more on this machine, see Back from the Bodge.

Here are a couple more random Heurtier pix from my files.

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Pic 1 shows the plastic lamphouse top broken; this can never have been a good idea as it could break

from dropping or wither in the heat from the lamp. This presumably explains the chimney added in

pic 2, tho' I see no mag heads and hav no idea wot the base is all about. Make what you will of pic 3;

looks early to me. Pic 4 shows that the single-gauge models ( whyever should anyone want one? Surely

they were not that much cheaper?) just look out and out strange.



Heurtier Monovox, Duovox etc

Right at the other end of the spectrum from the PS8 (See Heurtier Silent) was a series of high end 8mm machines that

were, I think, the last that Heurtier produced. Here is a leaflet, alas only in French; indeed, I don't

know if they were ever sold here - does anyone know or have an English leaflet?


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I do have one from this range - probably the lowest-end one, which I will photo for you when I can lift once more. I do

however recall trying it and being very impressed with the light output.


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