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20th December 2014


People have strange predilections - I just got asked for a picture of a




14th December


I am finding more and more of my time taken up with restoration, whether a really deep clean and polish or partial re-painting or a nuts and bolts jobbie. Cine equipment these days seems very mucky and, in all too many cases. dangerous. I have just found yet another source of danger. The hand-cranked Princess had a round can as transformer, with no way to get inside - the wires just emerge. What I found was that not only were the wire ends where they connect to the lamp etc were rotted and melting, they were the same all back to the tranny can. So no choice but to ditch it; just to confirm my suspicions I prised off a sort of paxolin lid at one end of the can, and found as expected that it was encapsulated or potted, ie the tranny was inside a solid lump of insulating stuff, which is presumably added soft if not actually liquid. I don't know enough to know what the advantages of this may be. The motorised one has a conventional-looking tranny, tho still with wires permanently connected. So I shall have to figure out a QI conversion, probably the 12v 20w.


Now for the final missing piece of the Princess puzzle.


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The first two pix include my replacement lamp and its holder, corresponding to the original in the second pair of pix. The rest is original. Note cheapness - a ten-a-penny switch, a very thin alu pressing with mirror and two-part lens all on a sliver of paxolin. Note also that a) the plug socket for the motor is present, as was the wiring and the extra pulley, so an upgrade would nave been simple b) the lamp (12v 20w) I have used happens to have an axial filament, ie vertical in the envelope rather than horizontal. Shouldn't make any difference. Had a quick test and lens seemed good, but shutter was catching on the top of my new lamp mounting so I had to dis-assemble. The old lamp that was in the machine is a genwine Path T jobbie, labelled 22v. I now need to find some 4-core cable as per original, (but less rotted).


11th December


Bin playing with a motorised Princess (had hand-only before). Once I'd replaced a missing pulley and found a lamp it seemed to work OK, tho' who knows what it would do to film in the long term. Two notable points; it wouldn't take a 300' reel, which I had always assumed it would (until I figured out the sprung "smoothing" rollers were mounted wrong!) and second, the lens is dreadful, lacking contrast and definition and with a halo of light around the image on the screen further detracting from the appearance of the image. I tried a B&H Improvar 15-20mm f1.5 and the difference was huge. The picture was bigger and brighter and sharper. Only thing is, I found I was getting sprocket ghosting up from the bottom of the pic. It did not, however, seem to affect titles, which has me a little puzzled. Must have maladjusted the shutter while I was sorting it out - should be easy enuff to sort.


All this made me look at the old hand-cranked Princess and realise what a shocking state it was in. So, naturally, I have dismantled it and, as I know how you love such things, I have taken some gubbins pix for you (I have filed them as "Bare Princess").


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The projector has obviously been kept in the damp, in accordance with the British Standard for projector storage. Take pic 1. The legs have corroded under what I think is a very thin bit of nickel plate and so are pitted. It is therefore very difficult to get the pitting out - it's much deeper and more intransigent than you might think. I have cleaned up the shorter back leg with its (longer) socket, but if you look closely, you can see they are far from perfect. Mite replace the legs at least with new steel rods which will clean up easier. The mounts for the sprung rollers that try to compensate for the lack of sprockets were also quite rusty. You can also see from the type of screw extensively used in the Princess just one of the many cost-saving compromises the machine incorporates. This one also seems much lower quality than the motorised one, which has a better, more chrome-like finish on the legs and proper black feet; these red ones are beginning to go brittle. Also, the spacers on the motor frame are just black on the hand machine, not plated as on the motorised one.


Now the two expensive components, the main body, which seems to be steel, with the sharply-angled, threaded holes for the leg sockets and for the frame at the rear which carries the motor when there is one and the rear bearing. The front bearing can be seen in pix 4 & 5; both bearings are the simple, pointy-screw type. The best part of the machine is the stainless steel front, with the rear channel for the gate moulded into it. For the film guides and the front gate and lens carrier they have followed the Gem/Son (ugh!) pattern (note that the spool arm is also Gem-like). Actually, I have a very early Buckingham 9.5 conversion with the same guides and it works fine, so we will not knock it here. Very difficult to find alternative lenses that will fit, however, because of the narrow lens rube with no real way of enlarging it, but it looks like this one has a better lens than the motorised machine, tho' I have not tested it yet.


In pic 7 you can see on the opposite end to the claw pins the pivot that passes thru the circular stainless steel plate into the hole between the "legs" of the gate pivot. (I have replaced the knurled knob and washers on the pivot to avoid losing them; normally they would be on the front). The lever then allows a small range of adjustment, which gives true optical framing, tho' I suspect the knurled knob needs to be tightened after adjustment to avoid shaking loose. The shutter itself looks a bit odd with the thick outer ring; I can offer no explanation for the "notch" at the end of the main shutter blade. As usual with machines with such low light output, the other two blades are thinner "flicker" blades.


5th December


Had a bit of an interregnum while I went into hospital to have my prostate reamed out. Operations don't normally worry me - if heart bypass surgery doesn't, what will? - but this one got to me a bit. I thought at first it was worry about whether it would work or not, but in the end I realised it was the 6-week ban on heavy lifting! How can a projector nerd like me manage for so long? I have diverted to other activities, but it ent wot I'm used to!

Bin putting in some time on the seemingly never-ending job of film checking. It can, as I may have mentioned before, be a bit depressing anyway with 9.5, but I had a real downer the other day. A complete copy of Casanova, little or no sprocket damage, but with spotting of mould all the way thru which had destroyed the emulsion wherever it touched. Otherwise the usual litany of pulled sprockets, scratching etc, plus a 2-reel French sound film with long sections where sprockets were ripped from 25 to 75% of the length of the frame. I just about got it thru the machine once, but I doubt it'll go again and it is beyond repair. Only about ballet anyway, so no loss.


Going back in time a bit (see Page 3) to my power pack for a Bolex DA. I left the story where I had had, on advice, fitted a thermistor to make the switched-mode power supply work. Now, in accordance with my usual practice, I had wired things so that the lamp switch turned the mains supply to the power pack on and off, rather than switching the much higher lamp current. However, the thermistor had to go into the circuit between the power pack and the lamp, and (you are probably way ahead of me here) the thermistor did not like it and got very hot and tried to melt stuff. Even 3 in parallel couldn't hack it. I had also somewhat misunderstood what I had been told. It appears the issue is that the power pack needs at least some resistance to its output before it will fire up, but a cold lamp has little or none. The solution was to use a centre-off DPDT switch which in one "on" position had the thermistors in circuit, whilst in the other they were cut out of the circuit. Just a couple of seconds in the first position is enough to fire it up without giving the thermistors time to overheat before they are switched out of circuit. Once the lamp is at all warm, the thermistors are not needed at all and one can go direct to the second, "run" position. This means the momentary "off" is not a problem in switching from "start" to "run".

What one really needs, of course, is a good old-fashioned switch that does Off-On-On like one used to find on some projectors. It seems today no such thing can be found - internet just gives me centre-off, even when it claims it's what I want. If anyone has a source, please let me know.


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



16th November


As you might have guessed, the problem with the sound on my 9.5 Buckingham was my new roller. I shaved just a fraction off one side and that fixed it. Volume does not seem significantly affected and the sound is about as good as I've had from 9.5. The only thing is, the narrower slit makes the sound more sensitive to variations in the position of the sound track, so there has to be a bit more adjusting. This is more a matter of changing from one print to another, eg on a compilation reel - I wouldn't expect much problem within a single film.

Then I tried my standard brown Elf. This, too, had no main drive belt. The amp was dead as a dodo and had to be replaced. The take-up was very slack and jerky; I think the cork rim inside had gotten oily. I roughed it up a bit, then put talc on and (which I am guessing is the most important thing) used a much larger and heavier spool - first time I used a small aluminium reel, which looks not a lot more than 600'; and so was very light, not really giving the take-up a fair chance. As changing the amp meant removing the tranny it was all in all a fair bit of time and effort. It just shows how vital it is to check projectors before planned use such as a film show - they are getting older and need increasing amounts of TLC.


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Is anybody out there any good with motors? I recently acquired this one; it's about 6" long and 4" diameter and seems never to have been used. So far as I can see, despite all the added electronic gubbins, the motor has just two wires. It would be nice to get it working - any ideas? It probably dates from the 70's and says it is a DC servo motor. (I later tried it with a suitably robust DC supply and it ran fine as a motor.) Too big for the average narrow gauge machine tho'


14th November



My 17.5 efforts have rather run into the sand for the moment, so I have been taking a break by pottering with my Buckingham Elf Xenon, which for reasons I cannot now recall I set aside some time ago. I found I'd left it sans both main drive belt and the separate belt from the motor to the cooling fan for the Xenon power pack. The problem with this, as I recall, is that if ever this belt breaks and the power pack overheats, it blows a thermal fuse somewhere in the amp and causes various damage. It is wise, therefore, to keep a regular check on the belt and on the stream of air that should be coming from the front of the machine.

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At the same time, I was setting up my Film-O-Clean, which you may recall seeing reviewed by Dino Everett in Flickers a couple of years back. It only comes in 8 and 16, so I had to make a set of 9.5 rollers before I started. From close reading of the instructions, it appears the idea is a sort of "wet gate" effect, by using a film cleaning fluid that only evaporates slowly and which fills in scratches as well as removing dirt. This pretty much means Film Guard, for its low toxicity, low evaporation AND, above all, the fact that it does not weaken tape splices, or so I am told. For 9.5, this is essential, and probably for 17.5 as well (once I make the rollers). It is expensive stuff, as it comes from the States to Jack Roe (they supply all sorts of front of house and back room stuff to cinemas); 900 mil, which I suppose is around 1.5 pints, is going to cost me over £50 with carriage.

Anyway, I was testing both projector and film cleaner (the latter now screwed to the wall above the projection port) when suddenly the projector mech just ground to a halt. I should have known what it was, but I had forgotten. It was the take-up belt which, as you can see below and contrary to all common sense had done something completely impossible and wrapped itself round the lower pulley. It jams so tight the mech simply cannot turn; I had to cut the belt and drag bits out by brute force. The ignorance bit comes from forgetting I'd had this problem before, with my green Elf, and fitted an extra thingy to stop it ever happening again. I've also given you an inside view of the back of the Xenon, as I know you like this sort of thing. Incidentally, this is an Elf problem, not a problem with the Buckingham conversion, so it could happen to anyone.


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By the time I re-discovered the wheel, I had removed the motor and cam tank; experience is always useful, I suppose, but this is a fault I shall not forget again. Tony Reypert of Buckingham Films very kindly delivered some replacement arm belts (I think he was en route to or from somewhere else, mind).

While I was at it, I took the opportunity to pick up on a couple of other niggles on the sound side. The spring-loaded nylon roller that holds the film onto the sound drum looked a bit off-true to me, so I made a new one. Not tested yet. I was also concerned that the sound slit was just a tad too big and making it difficult to get a "clean" read of the sound track without also getting some of the pic or film edge and so distorting or muddying the sound. I have heard in the past that 35mm projectionists would sometimes restrict the width of the sound slit with worn films to try to get "cleaner" sound, so I thought it worth a try. According to Pathescope, the scanning beam should be 1mm wide, so I drilled a hole a tiny bit bigger in the end of a bit of brass rod, and cut it off v. thin with a razor saw. The brass rod is 3.5mm, designed to fit in the faint recess around the end of the sound optic. This too is untested; it's bound to reduce volume as less light will get thru, but I have always found the Xenon machines have better, slightly more powerful amps, so that shouldn't be a problem. I hope.

LATER. First test shows plenty of volume but very warbly sound, and some quiet passages almost disappear, which is odd. So instead of improving things, I have made them worse. Sometimes one understands why people give up all this hassle and go to DVD......... (just kidding!)