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Author Topic: Elmo Projectors Question
Brad Kimball
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1171
From: Highland Mills, NY USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted March 06, 2018 04:48 PM      Profile for Brad Kimball   Email Brad Kimball   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If Elmo’s are supposed to be the Rolls Royce of projectors then why does there seem to be a slew of posts throughout the web about these units always breaking down and constantly in repair shops? All projectors need maintenance and some do need repair every so often, but I come across more Elmo owners stating that this-and/or-that isn’t working on their Elmo.

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Mark Mander
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1236
From: Dunstable ,Bedfordshire.
Registered: Jan 2005


 - posted March 06, 2018 05:15 PM      Profile for Mark Mander   Email Mark Mander   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Brad
I think your refering to the GS1200 Elmo model,It's probably due to being a complex machine with lots of complicated electrics,more motors than other machines too,now most of them are approaching 40 years old then things will start to fail,just more to go wrong on them,Mark

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Elmo GS1200 1.0 lens
Elmo ST1200HD 1.1 lens
Sankyo 800 1.0 lens
Elmo 16CL
Elf NT1

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Chip Gelmini
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1733
From: Brooksville, FL
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted March 06, 2018 05:28 PM      Profile for Chip Gelmini   Email Chip Gelmini   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think the big concern about the GS 1200 is all those dirty electrical contacts which means the board must be removed and all of those electronic connections sprayed down with tuner cleaner. Once completed, better connections are made as the parts are reconnected.

Assuming other parts such as gears and motors do not have to be replaced then the projector should be good for long hours of presentation. You have to make sure a qualified technician will spend the time carefully repairing this machine for it to be done correctly.

Try to think of the projector as an old stereo amplifier for your living from the late 1970’s. Over the years dust has formed to a crust and now the terminals are being shorted out. A trip to the local electronics repair center and you are good to go. Take with you the service manual on DVD which you can download from this forum, along with some test films the technician probably will not have at his shop. Negotiate a reasonable price for a general electronics’ tune up. Also say you have access to other parts. The tech can tell you what is needed and remove/install likewise.

I also believe it is important to do your homework and learn about the GS 1200 because there were several different versions made some newer than the earlier despite the fact they are all getting old now you should know how to spot a version two or version three to make these repairs less of a hassle although if you found the oldest version one it could still be repaired and be very good after the repairs are done properly.

Most of all, you must remain patient as this will not be an overnight success story. If you are going to pay $1100.00 for a machine through Ebay then you need to be ready to shell out another $400.00 to get it up and running.

I have said this before and will again here: The GS 1200 is a remarkable machine. To own one is pure joy. But not until you have learned about the machine, and have taken the time to study every aspect of how it works. From the very basic commands, to the most complex. I’ve used several models of Elmo super 8 sound machines and I must say, I don’t see myself going back to those older models ever again. It’s not just because I like the GS 1200 (and I really do like it) – but because I have spent years running 35mm. And in my opinion, the GS 1200 runs super 8 like a Century or Simplex could run 35.

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Adrian Winchester
Film God

Posts: 2941
From: Croydon, London, UK
Registered: Aug 2004


 - posted March 06, 2018 05:57 PM      Profile for Adrian Winchester   Email Adrian Winchester   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I suspect one factor why you hear about Elmos breaking down relatively frequently is the sheer number in circulation, and the fact that they were selling Super 8 sound projectors right up to the start of the 1990s, which is years beyond the time that many other companies ceased production. I could be wrong but if a survey of members was undertaken here, asking them to state the makers of the S8 projectors they own, I'd guess that the Elmo number would be significantly higher than any other make.

I've mostly used them for S8 projection and I'd say they have good points that perhaps tend to make owners quite forgiving of their faults. That certainly applies to me because I've certainly had my share of ones going wrong - one so seriously that even Bill Parsons felt it was best to write it off, which of course rarely happened!

[ March 07, 2018, 06:28 AM: Message edited by: Adrian Winchester ]

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Adrian Winchester

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Paul Adsett
Film God

Posts: 5003
From: USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted March 06, 2018 07:01 PM      Profile for Paul Adsett     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have to agree with Chip's very balanced comments about the GS1200. I have several Eumig projectors which are great machines, but the GS is the king of the hill in terms of brightness, spool capacity, and build quality, and I believe it will outlive all the other projectors that I have. It is built like a high end 16mm machine. It has a whole bunch of motors, switches, and relays, and as Chip correctly points out, about 90% of GS problems come back to these components, which are relatively easy to fix. When fully functional it is a joy to use, and does a stellar job. And a lot of the GS problems are due to the fact that they are still around, still working, whereas lesser projectors have fallen by the way.
Yes, I have been critical in the past of the GS' complexity, which certainly impacts its reliability, but there is no doubt that it is one of a handful of truly great super 8 sound projectors.

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The best of all worlds- 8mm, super 8mm, 9.5mm, and HD Digital Projection,
Elmo GS1200 f1.0 2-blade
Eumig S938 Stereo f1.0 Ektar
Panasonic PT-AE4000U digital pj

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Chip Gelmini
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1733
From: Brooksville, FL
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted March 06, 2018 07:34 PM      Profile for Chip Gelmini   Email Chip Gelmini   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks, Paul! :-)

Well folks, there you have it. The GS 1200 is a heavy weight world champion. Oh did we mention it's 45 lbs? lol

To any member visiting Cape Cod in the next few years. Let me know you're going to be here. The cinema is open for you to check a GS 1200 - and everything else I do here, too!

[ March 07, 2018, 10:15 AM: Message edited by: Chip Gelmini ]

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Simon McConway
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1085
From: Doncaster, UK
Registered: Jun 2004


 - posted March 07, 2018 10:26 AM      Profile for Simon McConway   Email Simon McConway   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I suspect it is the quality of the service/repair these machines are receiving. I sent all of mine to Bill Parsons and not once has an Elmo ever let me down. I have met a few people, as I often recount on here, who say they know about servicing but do not know anything! Indeed, they will make a projector worse because of their so-called expertise.

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Tom Photiou
Film God

Posts: 4837
From: Plymouth U.K
Registered: Dec 2003


 - posted March 07, 2018 12:03 PM      Profile for Tom Photiou   Email Tom Photiou   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We have always used the best Elmo workhorse, the ST1200HD's, a great machine, very good light output and sound, every projector has its downside. Did anyone who still subscribes to the film collector magazine bother reading the item i did on Bill Parsons?
If you did you will have also read the line, "all projectors can scratch and all have there ups and downs". The GS is machine i always wanted but the the advice for me years ago from a man who knows was, the GS is a great machine once its been modified, unless your savy with electronics sending them away for repairs can be expensive, assuming you can get the parts, we dont record so dont the complex bollocks they have nor do we own more than 4 or 5 stereo films so the HD1200 via a good old hifi pioneer stereo amp does everything we need, oh, and so far in 40 years, (aside servicing) i have not been let down by one yet.
These are reasonably easy to fix and they also have the same advantage as the GS1200 in that they also take a good 1200ft spool [Wink]
As for all the ones that are meant to keep breaking down i have to ask the question, Do people just use these things and never do a basic service? What models are they that keep going wrong?
Please enlighten me [Big Grin]

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Alan Rik
Film God

Posts: 2211
From: New York City, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted March 07, 2018 12:43 PM      Profile for Alan Rik   Email Alan Rik   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I remember a discussion that a former member here had about projectors. He was saying over and over that really the only machine he felt was worthy of its name as a professional Super 8 machine was the Fumeo.
And by "Professional" he meant that one that was designed as a workhorse to play for hours upon hours with minimal upkeep. And he knew this because he really was/is an avid collector. He would put so many hours on all his projectors that eventually they burnt out.
I think with the exception of the Fumeo many of the projectors we are using have professional "Features" but they are not meant to be work horses in the field to the extent that collector was using his equipment.
So many Elmo's were sold and I have been very fortunate in that all the ones that I have purchased as working 100% really were working 100% for the most part.For the GS1200 I have had to replace 2 cogs, 2 head pressers, one rewind motor board, one speed motor board, one ESS module, and one needed to have a trace repaired to get its Stereo sound back.
For a machine with all the bells and whistles to only have to do that after almost 40 years is truly amazing. I have never had a bad motor, bad relay, bad board, etc.
The Elmo machine is truly well designed. Eventually if the know how for repair goes out the GS will be in a landfill one day-which would leave the ST1200.
I remember the first review I ever read of the Elmo ST1200D by Lenny Lipton. He writes, "The image and sound are better than anything else i have ever seen or heard. With the f 1.4 25-50mm zoom projection lens ($150), the image is brighter and sharper out to the corners than any other off-the shelf super 8 projector. And the sound is superb. There is no flutter and just a trace of hiss. Fidelity for the 12 watt amplifier is very good. The sound is full and rich."
That is the review that made me go into Leo's Stereo in Oakland California in 1983 to see it and there it was! If you don't need the recording and all the bells and whistles the Elmo ST1200 is another really incredible machine. And if you really go basic, I almost never see a dead ST180E. All you do is change the belts and the machine is up and running. That to me is a testament to build quality.

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Steve Klare
Film Guy

Posts: 7016
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted March 07, 2018 01:20 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have Lenny Lipton's The Super-8 Book and I've read that review too. (-bought it new: that's how old I am!) You get the impression that at least for a while after the ST-1200 came out it was very much the GS of its day.

My own ST-1200HD lit up the screen for the first time since September a few days ago. I had some trouble with the sound board. The fact that it took so long to fix is a lot more my own laziness than how bad the fix was: I have other machines and I just let it stay in pieces until I got around to it! (Step One: Remove Dust!)

-but what a great machine! I've been running Fantasia extracts and other musical tracks through it these last few days and been a little sorry I dldn't just sit down and finish the job!

We've all heard these discussions about how the only real option is to get the absolute premium machines. In the best of all worlds this could be true, yet to me the Elmos and Eumigs and Chinons are what keep this hobby going all these years after they stopped making projectors. There simply aren't enough of the absolute Rolls Royce level machines out there for all of us. What level of support we still have will evaporate when We Few become much fewer.

-the day comes you need a Ferrari to drive, the roads will be pretty empty!

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All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

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Graham Ritchie
Film God

Posts: 4001
From: New Zealand
Registered: Feb 2006


 - posted March 07, 2018 01:50 PM      Profile for Graham Ritchie   Email Graham Ritchie   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Tom

I greatly appreciated your maintenance tips you contributed to the FFTC magazine. The fact you spent considerable time doing this to help folk out with there projectors says a lot [Smile]

In this day and age and to a large extent, folk need to take responsibly to be able to do as much maintenance for themselves as possible... unless they are very rich [Smile] ...which I am not.

Things folk can do, and they are a must on Elmo projectors like the GS1200 as an example, is to either replace worn guides or modify them. To be able to do basic stuff like lube etc, but most importantly to try to understand how things work and what you can do to fix things yourself is a must.

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Tom Photiou
Film God

Posts: 4837
From: Plymouth U.K
Registered: Dec 2003


 - posted March 07, 2018 02:33 PM      Profile for Tom Photiou   Email Tom Photiou   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thank you Graham,
i always wanted to ensure that what i put across was not any expertise at all, in fact, i am always the first to admit i am absolutely not an expert in any such form on these machines, what i enjoyed doing was reading the service manual over and over again so i could learn as much as i could. Then, i would simply pick out sections and share it in my own words through those magazines. My own had the shutter rubber problem and when i spoke to a few people who told me if you take off the rubber the advantage is it wont be there to wear off again but you would need a modified lower pulley to take up speed issue etc etc, i asked a local engineer who then went onto making me 10, (i think) perfect as good as the originals, if not better improved, 24fps clutch wheels and lower pulleys. At this time i had one genuine Elmo one in my stock to copy.
Getting all those sold, keeping a few myself, really gave me quite a buzz especially when Kieth Wilton reviewed one and gave it the big thumbs up. Made it all worth while and i will add i didn't make or lose any money, it was a great time getting it all done.
As for my own, i have dabbled into the basics for servicing but it always came back 100% like new when Bill Parsons worked his magic on it.
My main machine has now had as much done to it as anyone could do, new Genuine square belts, shutter, pulley, 24 fps clutch, modified lamp holder, new sound head pressure pad assembly, rear green guides, new white rollers, an almost new aperture plate, new pressure pad springs, a couple of modifications to the amp as there was a fault, (a whistle only through the speakers), this had a part bridged in order to save a bigger repair, i told Bill i am not interested ever in using the optical sound or recording so all this was by passed, the same fault will now not re-occur. The shutter fitted was one that i bought as an exchange unit, this is where an original is turned on a lathe, the rubber removed and the outer edge lightly shave so the surface is flat rather than slightly rounded. This way the two clutches make a better contact and results in a quieter run.

Back to the point, as mentioned, these machines must all be around 35/40 years old now, for anything mechanical to keep running without any problems or replacement parts fitted is expecting a mirical. I am sure we would all love to own a fumeo or the top end Beaulies etc but unfortunately i for one, aint made of money. I am hoping the three 1200HD's will see us out, but with 16mm in the collection now it does give my Elmo a bit of a rest. BUT, sometimes, when these sort of mechanical items are not used for several months, thats when you can get a problem. You can keep all of these machines up to speed but something totally unexpected can go wrong with them rendering the machine for nothing but a spares box or the scrap pile. Just like an older car. [Wink]

On a footnote, i am always amazed to see how many projectors from the 1940's, 50s and 60s are still in good use. No one builds stuff like our projectors anymore.

[ March 08, 2018, 06:35 AM: Message edited by: Tom Photiou ]

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