My Film Equipment Repair Adventure

I have an old Super 8/Regular 8 movie projector that hasn’t worked for so long I don’t remember when it stopped working. I decided to see if I could get it to work again.

I transferred some old home movies to video 28 years ago, but I’m not happy with the quality of the video bow. I think I can do better now. I also want to transfer some of the super 8 film I shot for Weekend in Calgary, Who Shot the President, If I Knew . . . and a couple abandoned projects. I think I could reuse them. The CSIF does have a Super transfer system, so I could use that too.

I investigated on-line to see if I could get any information about the projector, a Sankyo Dualux 1000. I was surprised to find out that replacement parts are for sale on the internet. In fact, some people have “new in the box” projectors. I found a copy of the manual that I downloaded. It is in Spanish or French, but it helps a little. Apparently it is still a popular projector because it is good for video transfers. Sanko hasn’t made any for over 30 years.

The problem with the projector is that the drive belt has disintegrated. Replacements are available, but expensive. Some people suggested using an O-ring, which is much cheaper and easier to find. I tried an elastic band, and that didn’t work. I also worry about the bulb going. Fortunately, the bulbs are still available. The bulb seems to be working OK now, but I wonder if I should get a replacement one, just in case.

I looked to O-rings in Rona and Canadian Tire. They both had O-rings, but they were all too small. I asked my brother for advice and he said that an auto parts dealer should have what I’m looking for. He gave me the names of a couple of places in town that he thought would the best to try. I went out searching and visited several places before I found one that I thought would work.

I tried to install the O-ring a few weeks ago. The ring itself seemed to be the right size, but in order to install it I have to get it through some thin gaps, and the O-ring was just too thick. I suppose that if I more completely disassembled the projector that I could make more room, but I didn’t have that much confidence in my ability to put it back together again.

I decided that if I cut the O-ring in half lengthwise that I could get it to fit. It took a long time to cut it in half. I tried to install the cut O-ring last Monday. It worked! It was easy to install and it was just the right length. The projector seemed to operate well enough. Unfortunately, the next day when I tried to use the projector to screen a Super 8 film, the O-ring broke. When I cut it in half I must have weakened it.

I was at a loss as what to try next. I couldn’t see myself getting back out to buy another O-ring again for a long while. Even then, I couldn’t be sure I could get one skinny enough to fit through the thin slots.

Although an elastic band didn’t work when I tried it before, I decide to try again. This time I picked one that was thicker and shorter. I thought that would keep it from stretching too much, which was the problem last time. That seemed to do the trick. I’ve used it a few times, the project has worked well, and the elastic band looks like it is in good shape. We have several more elastic bands of a similar size, so if this one breaks after a while, it will be fairly easy to replace.

One of the joys of filmmaking is the struggle to keep the old equipment alive. On the other hand, the old film equipment does hold up better than newer video and digital equipment.

2 Comments

  1. What sizr O ring did you use? The origional was in too bad a shape to guess how big it was, I’m looking but so far have not found anything.

    • I didn’t have an intact belt either, I worked out the size my measuring the drive wheels and space between them. I came out with an inside diameter of 2 1/4 inches.

      I didn’t have much luck finding one the right size, and settled for one a little bit smaller.

      The problem I ran into was that the o-ring was 1/16 inch wide and was just a little too thick for me to get it through the space available on the large wheel. If I’d gotten one a bit thinner, say 1/32 inch, it would have worked. I might have got it to fit if I disassembled the projector more, but I wasn’t confindent I could put it back together.

      I ended up using a very thick rubber band. It came from the groceries and had been used to hold broccoli together. It seemed to work OK, although I expect it will have to be replaced after a while.

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