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WHAT'S NEW PART 1

 

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1st March 2014

 

Had a much-overdue projector foto session with help and even more projectors from young Mikael. Here are some of the fruits.

 

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The first two are a Keystone Supreme. The speed control is in the motor casing, the red knob you see on the front. As usual, I gave the machine a good lubricate, but I then found that I could not slow it down enough - the speed control cuts out at the bottom end of its range. Must try film - that would probably help. The machine in pix 3&4 came to me called an Alef, but I can find no mark on it to confirm or deny, nor does it look like any of the machines in the Alef catalogue I have. Pix 5&6 are undeniably an Alef, and look rather like the Bilcin from that catalog (see here), tho' it is much less elaborate than the sprocketed one shown on the same page. Now I look, 3&4 look quite a bit like the pic from Dave Humphrey, also on the Alef page.

 

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The first two are a 9.5 EKA, just a variant of the 35mm one I have previously shown you. Then some actual LaPierres of mine, an RL 52-C and an L60. Bit flimsy and really belong in the Toy category, where you will find other pix. There you will also find pix of the Ray, looking uncannily like this Mynette.

Since writing the above, I have actually run a film thru the LaPierre RL 52-C. What I thought was an ominously-loud clattering from the mech turned out to be the operation of a Maltese cross type intermittent. I had not actually had my hands on one of these before so hadn't realised this. It should mean that at least some of the risks of sprocketless machines are reduced as there is no claw to punch holes or tear film - a sprocket has a much greater wraparound and can keep the picture steady despite the pull of the take-up. For what it is, the film transport mech seems quite good, tho' noisy - the Maltese cross is of course external and not in an oil-bath. I do not know if the lamp is original - it looks like a standard bayonet cap candle bulb - but anyway, the light output is atrocious, tho' the pic as I have suggested is quite steady. I wonder what a 12v 50w dichroic could do ........ You'd probably have to replace the lens as well which, realistically, means a new lens-holder, too.

 

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First three are a 9.5mm Nizo Model D, of which I had not previously heard. All the controls are on the back or at the rear. It has complex ratchet arrangements on both top and bottom spool pulleys. Like so many machines of this era, including the Nizo Model H with the interchangeable mechs, this machine has only 400' spool capacity. 4&5 are a machine labelled Plank Ozophan, but a) looks suspiciously like a Norris and b) has no special arrangements such as one would expect if the machine really was meant to handle the thin, fragile Ozophane film. The last two pix really are a Norris - my own Piccolo, tho' muckier than the one pictured in Toys.

 

28th February

 

I can remember the Cine BR being one of those ephemeral hopes for the future of 9.5 projectors which, in the event, never came to much.

 

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20th February

 

I have borrowed pic 1 from the Curzon website to show the improvement made to the poorly-designed lower sprocket guard on my machine, pic 2.

 

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18th February

 

Being an idiot, I had completely forgotten the Other Dekko.

 

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This was produced in 8, 9.5 and 16mm versions, and is a totally different animal and vastly superior to its earlier eponymous stable-mates. I haven't yet found out a great deal about the Dekko, which has not come much in my way; the machines in the first two pix are not mine and the rest are of a considerably-bodged example I found deep in the vaults of Cinerdistan. For that reason, you get only basic pix, not cleaned up like you are used to. As you can see, the mech is much higher quality, with a proper gear drive, much like latter-day B&H in layout. But beyond that, the design is pretty weird. I don't think that boxy shape can have helped increase sales, for a start. There is no access from underneath as in most projectors, the base contains the motor (a standard Specto look-alike) and fan, then the mech and the control panel are mounted on top. This seems to have involved mounting the motor resistance at a weird angle. The machine has had a new input socket (badly) fitted and a transformer for the 12v halogen lamp. There was no lens, but old-style B&H fit, and despite all, the machine does run, tho' clunkily.

 

I have no idea where this radically different projector design came from, and should be grateful for info, including a copy of the manual. Unusually, Gerald McKee has let me down and only mentions this model in passing. He does say it had a 500w lamp, which would place it up there with the Eumig P28 (I have one of these going begging if anyone is interested) and Bolex M8R, tho' I have to say it would struggle against these Rolls Royce machines.

 

Adding to what I said below re the "toy" Dekko's, the first pic shows a machine which was also advertised under the Coronet name. The history of some of these toys is very confused, with lots of badging and ripping off. I did try running some film thru the sprocketed machine, but the picture was vertically unsteady and it didn't seem worth spending a lot of time on fixing it.

 

I have also just come across a Bolex Model D, something that has not previously crossed my radar screen. It is just a Bolex DA without all the notching bits, a bit like the Model C just for 16mm. Not sure the Bolex would be an obvious first choice for films without notches.

 

14th February

 

Acquisition of a hand-cranked Dekko prompted me to examine what I had a bit more closely. There were at least 3 different models of 9.5mm Dekko, two hand-cranked and one motorised with sprockets. Here are some pix.

 

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Dekko obviously had a basic claw and gate that they used in all three machines pictured above (I would be pleased to get details if there are any other models). But like the PathBaby, there were fundamental flaws which strictly limited the scope for development. In contrast, look at the Ampro or old B&H - mechs which easily made the transition to sound, tho' even B&H ultimately faced limits on how much light could be pushed thru a small lens barrel. For Dekko, the flaw is basically the gate; see pic 5 above. The two parts of the gate are fixed together in such a way as to limit their separation at any point to a couple of mm, or about 16th of an inch. Like the PathKid, the film has to be pushed down thru the gate channel to thread, and cannot be removed part-way thru a reel. Rewinding, except at the end, has to be thru the gate. The gate is inaccessible for cleaning - you can't even get a thin brush between the two leaves. You have to remove the pulley, undo 3 nuts and remove the mech cover. Once you have fiddled the gate out, it is still difficult to clean and you can't even see inside to gauge the degree of cleaning you might have achieved.. All the springing of the gate to hold film and to allow it to move back if the claw is out of register with the sprocket holes, is provided by a basic compression spring which fits over the condenser lens. The gate is only secured by the top pivot; the spring does the rest. The other obvious drawback of a small lamphouse and limited lamp power could more readily be overcome, as there is nothing to stop a larger housing being fitted.

 

I have looked mainly at the motorised machine in pix 3-6 above. It is in many ways a surprisingly sturdy and well-made machine, with decent sprockets. But that gate! The lamphouse may hold a slightly more powerful lamp - it is marked 50-25w, presumably being 50v 25w, with a standard small bayonet cap. I can't tell about the hand machines as the lamps are not marked. What makes me think the lamp may be more powerful, tho', is a rather surprising feature of the motorised machine - the cooling from the motor fan is directed not to the lamphouse but down into the base, presumably to cool the substantial resistance needed to drop mains voltage to 50v. (The top of this resistance also seems to serve as the motor speed control.) The wires in the base are either sheathed in heat-proof fabric or - mostly - covered in ceramic beads. Can I once again warn people not to trust the wiring in old projectors; here, the insulation on the mains input wires had hardened and cracked, exposing bare wires both to the mech and to each other - I had to replace most of the wiring. It would be relatively simple to install a halogen lamp, powered by one of those low-voltage lighting transformers which would easily fit in the base, but elsewhere important things are happening.

 

You may have noted that the machine in pic 2 has a pulley behind its crank handle, even tho' the machine appears basically designed only for 30 and 60' cassettes. However, the one I acquired recently had a "Super Arm" to enable 300' reels to be used, presumably driven from the pulley. Maybe there was also a fitment for the top arm. Curiously, the motorised machine has a spring-loaded pulley which pivots on an extra small arm fitted on the bottom arm with a rubber pad at the opposite side of the pivot, that seems the same as the arrangement on the Baby, Lux and other sprocketless machines for braking the spool if the film is pulled tight. Such a thing is NOT, however, present on the hand-cranked machine, where it mite actually be useful. Also note the fixed stud and removable knurled knob on the top of the motorised model, presumably to fit a device for holding cassettes. The drive to the spools for take-up or rewind is also unusual. The pulleys on the spool spindles incorporate the peg/stud that engages with the drive holes in the reel. The pulleys are not fixed and are placed outside the spool, being held in place by push-on sprung doodads, such as I have seen on some other machines. I have left one spool off to help to show how this works. This arrangement, of course, invites the loss of the vital pulley-cum-drive-dog or the retainer, and I have already had to make one pulley.. I have left both belts in position; the relevant one of course would have to be removed before projecting or re-winding.

I think I shall now have to go thru and identify any other Dekko material and maybe bring it all together and give Dekko its own page.

 

29th January

 

Yet another. This one claims to have been manufactured by R F Hunter, but I believe it was actually made in Germany; certainly it is far better made than anything else labelled Hunter I have seen. It is very well engineered, with fine attention to detail. Whether the design matches up is less certain; for instance, the auto-thread seems risky. On the other hand, the shorting plug seen on the back could enable much more powerful, or even completely different voltage, lamps to be used.

 

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The only bit missing seems to be the 16mm spindles, not critical to me and anyway I daresay they could be made up if desired. It says CELFIX in a circle around the focus knob, which itself is so large one cannot read the writing looking from the side. Maybe the knob was changed, tho' it is quite in character.

 

26th January 2014

 

You'd better settle down and make yourselves comfortable as this one is going to take some time. The observant may recall that I have admitted to a flirtation with 17.5 when I was a mere nerdling and too young to know better. I had not the skills, or experience, or money, or knowledge, to make anything of 17.5 which, even in those far-off days, suffered all the disadvantages of projectors that were dangerous in the hands of the unskilled or unwary, and which damaged films. I gave it up shortly after I married, passing all of it I had to John Burgoyne-Johnson.

 

Many years later, when I was old enough and wise enough to know better, and had the time, resources and (nearly) enough money to indulge myself, I once more plunged foolishly into the murky depths of 17.5. As with 9.5, tho' maybe even more so, many 17.5 films (at least those that escaped the dreaded sprocket hole enlargement) had lost their leaders. I have described to you elsewhere (BB1 and BB2) the shifts and contrivances I have been put to to create a workable solution, including dyeing defunct film. However, I have in recent years acquired a number of silent films, and my contrivances failed, basically because the twin-perf sprockets and claw of the Rural/Rex do not accept sound film.

 

When I first started back into 17.5, I contacted a number of other collectors, partly to see if I could buy films but also for info, much of which I have passed to Grahame Newnham for his list of known copies of 17.5 films. In particular, I corresponded with and met John Cunningham, a very keen 17.5-er and a highly-skilled engineer. He had converted at least two GBL 516 machines to 17.5, plus a Gebescope Model A, a machine with an intermittent sprocket. This offered the hope of projecting 17.5 films that would not pass thru a conventional claw machine. Alongside this, I was making progress in repair techniques, using a tape splicer I designed and had made and later a couple of 16mm CIR conversions. I see CIR now offer one that costs nearly as much as mine did.

 

Several years later, John sadly passed away, and his 17.5 films and projectors were dispersed among his circle of fellow enthusiasts. Then after another couple of years, I got out of the blue an offer from one such enthusiast who was no longer able to cope with 17.5, for me to purchase everything he had.

He told me that John Cunningham had asked him specifically to offer the stuff to me when he felt it time to let it go. I was flattered and delighted,

and became the proud owner of many 17.5 films but, even more important, of one of the converted GBL 516 projectors AND the converted Gebescope Model A, which I had come to view as the Holy Grail of 17.5 projection.

 

What was also among the collection I purchased was a perforator, designed and built by John. I believe it may have been used to create some Duplex camera stock which Grahame Newnham used to film. I believe also that John and his friends also had in mind to re-perforate 17.5 films that had all their perfs damaged, and the machine as I got it was set up to cope with film 17.25mm wide, to reflect the shrinkage of film over time. I particularly wanted to use it to make opaque leader, from unperforated 35mm stock, of which I acquired a small amount from Tony Scott, for both sound and silent films. This sort of thing is well beyond my engineering capabilities, so I had a new punch made by an engineer, which could be used for either single or double perforations. He also adjusted the machine to accept 17.5 film, rather than 17.25. I believe the machine is capable of adjustment to suit all sorts of gauges, but this goes into mathematical regions far beyond my ken. It is extremely clever; as well as the punch synchronising with the little claw that pulls the film thru (using the newly punched perfs) there is a registration pin which descends to fit in a perf just before the punch itself descends, thus holding the film steady. It will be obvious from the pix following that this is an engineer's machine - parts have been adjusted, re-modelled and re-used with no regard for the appearance of the final result; function is all.

The original motor was from an Ace (see separate pix), giving a nice steady throughput, but with the changes it seemed to lack the strength. I experimented therefore with the motor shown fitted, a 110v jobbie from a defunct Victor machine. I tried using a standard household lighting dimmer control for the speed, but the adjustment doesn't work well - seem to be flat out or stuck. Anyone know of a circuit for controlling such motors?

 

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So far, so good but, given my approach to cine (which the uncharitable would describe as dilettante at best), any particular topic tends to receive only intermittent attention and it has taken a long time to get back to this. The first thing I found out was you do have to have accurately slit film. The only slitter I have ever come across before is the triple 9.5 from 35mm one, when it was being used by Novascope; a ferocious and terrifying beast, all rotating cutters, running at immense speed. Some years ago I tried making one out of Meccano(TM) and rotary cutter blades, but I was way too ambitious, wanting it to do 28mm as well. It took all my strength just to pull film thru this over-complicated labyrinth, and accurate it was not. Then one came with the perforator; essentially just a channel with a pencil sharpener blade for the cutting. Trouble is, it was set up for 17.25mm. I subsequently purchased one, I think via eBay or maybe direct, it was just a small block with a razor blade inset, and a top to hold the film down (the earlier one had a wooden block to insert in the channel for the same job). The trouble with both of these was it seemed almost impossible to pull straight enuff to get a constant width. The channel one in particular delivered the film nice and straight, but the blade was right at the end of the channel and as I pulled, the film inevitably angled and threw the width off. This caused the perforator to jam. So I ended up with the set-up in the thin pix below, which actually seems to work. It just combines the two slitters to provide a follow-through which, like in sport (of which I happily know little), seems to be an essential part of performance.

 

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My problem now is that I can't get the perforator to run correctly for more than a few feet at a time. What happens is that the punch seems to go very slightly out of alignment with the die plate and fails to punch out the perfs correctly, so the film stops and then the claw rips it. This problem I have yet to solve. I will tell you all about it one day.

 

 

 

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