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29th March

My dislike of eBay has just increased dramatically. I have been leafing through a few items and have been appalled at what I have seen. One particular seller, vladimpailer (sic) is offering routine mute 9.5 cartoons for 10 (generously offering free postage!). Anything more like a true silent is 20 and above, amateur home movies are "Social History" and upwards from 20. His crowning offer among those I saw was 9.5 Metropolis for a mere 3000! And I do mean all those 0's! And all these films are on the basis that they have not been viewed through and have various bits of wear., splices etc, not all of which may have been identified by the seller, but the film is sold as is with no returns! I don't think it can be right to sell an unchecked film with no returns or comeback. Film just isn't like that. This sort of thing brings our hobby into disrepute, and yet I don't see how we can protect people from it. 

Another seller had a 35mm copy of The Aristocats. Few details given, just a couple of frame pix. The sort of thing we would all want to know of any colour film is what the colour was like; not given. But what really bugs me is that when I saw it, about 18 minutes from the end of the auction, the price was £69. Out of curiosity, I bid £75, not expecting to succeed but willing to take my stripes if I did. I got a notification literally seconds before the end of the auction that I had been outbid. The final sale price was £165, so in a matter of seconds, bidding had gone from 75 to 165, and not as a result of ebay auto-bidding arrangements, as this would have outbid me instantly. This I believe to be due to people attempting to "game" the ebay system by bidding at the last minute, using automatic computer bid programs. This has always seemed daft to me - you bid what you are prepared to pay and the way ebay auto-bidding works is that if the bidding doesn't reach your limit you get it for less. All this last-second stuff seems irrelevant. What it does do is give people a false expectation of a bargain only to be blown away at the last minute. This to me is almost as bad as over-pricing. 

And yet it now seems that getting a decent price for our (literally) irreplaceable films depends on using ebay, with an inflated price, and hoping to trap an idiot. This "professionalisation" of ebay, with experienced business sellers using various mechanisms that would never occur to the average Joe selling a few items, seems all wrong.

17th March 

Cue for song. I talk to Debries, but dey don't listen to me......................... 

10th March 

I never cease to be amazed at the base ingratitude displayed by projectors. You take them from a situation of degradation and filth, with only the tip in prospect. You clean them up, oil them, provide new valves, lamps and whatever. In short, you treat them with respect and what do they do? They refuse to work properly, devising ever more misleading problems to present and to disguise the real situation. They obstruct everything you try to do, by jamming screws, crossing threads, requiring interminable dismantlings and re-assemblies, sneakily pushing bits off the workbench and onto the floor and generally behaving rather like the Genie in the bottle, who planned untold riches for the one that released him, but changing his mind after the first few millennia to implacable determination to destroy. Like the genie who was conned back into his bottle, some projectors need to be reminded that there is always the tip.

There. I feel better now. 

The villain in this particular case was a Debrie, or rather a series of Debries. First was one with a standard amp. I assembled all the component bits - tranny, projector and amp, speaker - all proper Debrie - and connected them together with proper Debrie cables. The projector actually worked but the sound was spitting angrily and I knew I had to do something. Unfortunately, nothing I could do would please it. Replaced a few valves and generally poked about, and then it wouldn't work at all! Replaced a load of caps, and it grudgingly conceded a small amount of sound. Awaiting more new caps to try again. While I was at it, I also tried a couple that had a pre-amp only amp, but in the standard amp base. Nada. One, a recent acquisition, was found to have no oil in the lube system but quite a lot in the base of the amp, so I suppose it had some excuse. The other is going to be reminded of the existence of tips - it has been on my shelves for too long and has maybe forgotten what things could be like.  

Bin very Debrie-oriented period as I also acquired another Debrie double-band machine, like the one of which I showed you pix some time ago. That one I sold; this one is even bigger as it has a tilting base under the amp, ie in addition to. They seem basically to have been for specialist use; this one came originally from a photographic lab. This one, too, I have sold - there are some things I know to be beyond me.

4th March

I am trying to assemble a complete and working Debrie D16 out of the huge pile of Debrie stuff I have lying around. While at it, I have been oiling the motor centrifugal start mech. I have warned before about the risk of almost instant burn-out of a motor, particularly one that may not have been used for years, if this mech is not working. However, I have found an alternative method of access to the one I described earlier, q.v. I have previously found it impossible to remove the rubber drive roller on the opposite end to the fan, but with 2 motors I have tried it has removed easily. It is important to note that the roller has a lepage-7ft-hand thread. With this removed, one can avoid removing the fan - here is a pic that shows the level of access possible.

I have arrowed the two weights - if you push with a blunt instrument (nothing too sharp!) they should move against a spring. I have used ordinary light oil (very sparingly!) and switch and contact cleaner, which is much less damaging to electrics in large quantities than oil or WD40. Just for your info, I noted that this operation loosened the fan end a bit too, so that it looks like the end of the motor won't screw back on properly. Just make allowance for this and it goes back fine.

27th February

Been trying to find a 16mm Specto to loan out and find that pretty much all I have is Analysers. Here are some pix of one I played with.

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Note in pic 1 a single-frame button (arrowed) that you can push, when the speed control is set to zero, for very slow advance. The 2fps setting gives an intermittent motion - a couple of frames at a time. The 16fps speed seems slow, but not only is there no speed control other than the 0-2-16 lever, there is no inching knob either, its place being taken by a handle for backwinding. I don't understand most of the additional bits you can see in pix 2 &3. In pic 4 arrowed is what looks to be a twin-track commutator-like thing with brushes contacting it from the block to the right. In pic 5 you can just see the edge of the heat shutter that comes across for stills. Curiously, this seemed on this machine to make no difference to the light level, which leads me to suspect something is not working right. Anyway, you will be unsurprised to hear this machine, too, has joined the great projector conspiracy. The backwind handle, having been bent at its weakest point, not only broke but also now refuses to come off - it did once but not a second time.

The problem with Analysers as projectors is that the speed seems to be fixed and 16fps, on this machine at least, is just too slow for a modern audience. The light output, naturally, has to be reduced; this one has a 250w lamp. I need to understand them better; I have no idea for instance what the extra socket on the front is for. Has anyone got any instructions I can get a copy of? And does anyone know why there seem to be so many about - I only know of RAF use for analysing films of bombing etc; does anyone know of any other uses? (Paul Mason dropped me a line to note that the Specto Analysers had also ben used for Work Study ,aka Time and Motion studies, by companies trying to improve worker productivity. He notes this was pretty unpopular with the workforce.....


24th February


These 17.5 projectors have joined the mass anti-MAS conspiracy organised by many of my other projectors. Non-cooperation is their principal mode of action. A lot of my time in recent months has been spent on them with, so far, dubious results. Let's take the converted Gebescope Model A first.


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Let me just run thru some of the changes I have made after finding various problems in actual use. The single biggest and most complicated change has been to shift the projector and amplifier controls from a recess on the back, just above where the take-up spool arm enters the body, to a shiny new panel on the front. Pic one shows the spool arm entering the back of the machine; pic 6 shows the inside of the control panel, middle right (forgot to take a pic of the outside of the old control panel before I removed it). This was a tricky and time-consuming operation; the amp naturally refused to work properly afterwards and I discovered some of the wires had come loose; not surprising really, as they took a bit of a battering in the process, and it was a bit of a dog's breakfast to start with, but it does mean extensive dismantling to carry out remedial work. Then there was the question of the spool arms themselves. I have got a copy of Lorna Doone, 10 reels on 17.5. The standard 1000' 17.5 spool holds 2 reels, so there would be 4 breaks. My plan is to use 2000' 16mm split spools, with an extra washer to make them a bit wider, reducing breaks to two. So each spool arm had to be lengthened. Moreover, as you may know, 17.5 leaves from the back of the spool and takes up anti-clockwise, like the original approach for 9.5 silent. Unfortunately, the take-up (which has its own separate motor) had a gear train - see pic 3 - that wound clockwise. Constantly changing the wind seems unlikely to promote the longevity of the films, so I somehow managed to inveigle an additional, idler gear (from the odd-parts-that-may-come-in-useful box) into the gear chain, right next to the motor pinion, to reverse the wind.

As found, the machine had no provision for cooling whatsoever. I felt this was untenable with a 24v 250w lamp, so cut a big hole in the back cover and fitted a 80mm mains-operated computer fan (pic 4). This remains on while the machine is plugged in. Incidentally, I first tried fitting an electronic speed control so I could minimise noise from the fan. This was a bust, as I should perhaps have known - the electronic circuitry interferes heavily with the amp circuit. The reason I should have known is that I've found it once before, with a light dimmer control.


Below the projector gate is the intermittent sprocket, then there is a fairly tight loop to bring the film onto the sound drum - this is best seen in pic 5. There seemed to be nothing guiding this loop, which in practice had a tendency to be very floppy and to ride off the entry to the sound drum towards the rear of the machine. After much head-scratching, and with my usual preference for not changing a machine (tho' goodness knows why in this case as this one has been changed beyond recognition. Actually, I have an untouched Gebescope Model B - the differences were mainly lamp and amp, I think - and remarkably little of useful function has been removed. But I digress.) Whatever, you can see in pic 2 the attachment I made to provide guidance with no risk of snagging, but using existing holes for attachment. The plate behind the rollers bottom right support a chrome-plated vertical rod (bits box again).

Another minor bit of film-guiding is the large guide roller top left; this is to prevent too tight a curve for the film entering the mech from the top right-hand side of the machine, which is where it comes from after passing thru the Film-O-Clean which can be mounted on a bracket fixed to the top of the case. While we are here, note also the sun-shade fitted over the top of the sound reader to reduce hum caused by light spill from above. Also, I fitted a new light-sensitive cell - the original was a 0.75" square monster, wedged into place, which was cracked.

And finally. There seems to be no provision on either Model A or Model B to move the lens other than by pushing it in and out; crude and difficult to get accurate focus, especially given the very limited room for manoeuvre. My first attempt to remedy this is not wholly satisfactory, but I can probably improve on it - once I have sorted out the amp wiring. Actually, not quite finally. The machine has a hinged front cover, which has a tendency to swing closed when you are busy trying to access the focussing or whatever but, as it is screwed on, is a bugger to remove. You can see at the foot of the mech in pic 2 the lift-off hinges I have yet to fit to fix this. Oh, and I forgot the flap, which you can just see in part on top of the projector case - this swings down to stop glare into the face of the operator.

Then we have the Super Rural(s). My original one, mutilated almost unto death by Brian Everett was, I thought, in working order, tho' I had not used it in some while- I so rarely get round to showing film on any gauge as I am too busy fixing up recalcitrant machines or checking the films. So I tried it and found it was not, in fact, working. What it was doing, however, was chewing film, so I now have a Pathetone the first 20' of which has virtually every sprocket hole reinforced with tape. I hate damaging films as I should and do know better. What is happening is that the loop between the second and third sprockets keeps being lost.


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Pic 1 shows how the loop should be (extract from Instructions) and pic 2 shows how the third sprocket is part of a separate assembly together with the spool arms - this is an unchanged original, borrowed from my second SR to see if it worked. It didn't. Pic 3 shows my attempt at repairing the damage done in the past, with an added sprung snubbing roller to help even out the pull from the take-up. The roller, which goes on the brass rod below right of the third sprocket, was not in place as one of the many tests I was making to find the problem was to see what happened without it. I simply cannot figure what is wrong. I have made new, bigger side cheeks for the sprockets to help keep the film in place, I have fitted a new spring to the arm which holds the spring roller seen between the two sprockets that keeps the film on the third sprocket, I have even made a completely new roller as an exact copy of the original from the other machine and NOTHING WORKS! I know it did work, 'cos I can remember seeing my new snubbing roller moving to and fro. So why won't it now?! I am exceeding frustrated by it all. My next ploy will be to see if the problem stems from even further back, at the sound drum. I replaced the original sprung retaining roller - there are pix near the end of the relevant page SR3. My theory is maybe I have reduced the drag imposed by the original roller, thus enabling the film to come off the sound drum too fast and so allow the film to come off the second sprocket and so knock on to the third. This, as I understand it, Watson, is the scientific method - I get an idea and the projectors conspire together to prove me wrong.

At the same time I am working on the amplifier for the second SR - one I acquired separately, not with the machine itself. Replacing caps is OKish except when they are those big square ones, which I cannot find others like them on the internet with connections at the base so now I have to find a way to mount new ones upside down. I sometimes wonder why I am doing all this - it must be much more fun than I sometimes think.


22nd February


Here is some more stuff I have had professionally painted. The rewinds I restored; both are 17.5 and for a suitably large sum I could be persuaded to part with them. The one with the wooden base has what must be the best repair of its kind I have ever seen. This one came from France, where it will have seen heavy duty, which has caused the winding arm to snap off just above the base. The repair is so well made, moulded to the shape of the arm, that the repair is actually stronger than the original and more rigid to boot.


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Most dedicated cineastes will recognise the projectors involved, tho maybe not the Super Rural amp case or the Rural lamphouse backs. The KOK I plan to rebuild, using the rewind attachment (see Accessories) and lamphouse and lens carrier (see KOK) I made quite a while ago. There will be few if any of the pretty markings on the original; they were all gone long before I got the machine.

19th February

Bugger! I have heard it suggested that the Eumig P3 had a notching device, but have never believed it as I have never seen one so equipped. Well, I have now; browsing after viewing a link sent to me by Terry Vacani about 17.5mm, I found this:

I want one!


9th February

My time since parting (gulp!) with my Baby printer has been focussed on 17.5. I have acquired some more films, discovered I have run out of cans, fought a long and bitter battle with the Gebescope Model A, which is not yet over, and tried to re-commission my Super Rural wot I have not used for some time. That, too, fought back, with amplifier hums, loop losses, exciter lamp refusing to light and etc. Volume is still a bit too low, so that, too, is a battle not yet over. On a more positive front, I have managed to get the 17.5 perforator (see end of 17.5 page) to produce some fairly useable leader. I have perforated about 50' of split 35mm; still has 35mm sprocket holes of course, but now also has 17.5 ones. Pity the perforator needs acetate or I could use that 35mm-perf'd 17.5 you sometimes see advertised on ebay. I have some; it can only be used for "fake" leader ie that bit ( front end only, of course) between the last sprocket and the take-up spool that doesn't actually need any sprocket holes. However, at least I can make films fully fit to run now I have a bit of leader to use. It's not perfect, since the 35mm sprocket holes still show on screen and would of course make a noise on the sound if it was on. All I need now is a source of unperforated, black, 35mm acetate. Any offers?