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Bolex 18-5 first gen flat belt replacement

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  • Bolex 18-5 first gen flat belt replacement

    This beautiful Bolex 18-5 was my first film projector find, and started me sliding down the slippery slope. I've since purchased and sometimes sold about a dozen projectors, and currently have three 8mm (this one, Bolex M8 and Leitz Cinovid), two Super8 (Bolex 18-5L with the newer halogen bulb, and Elmo ST-1200HD M for which I've purchased new belts, not yet installed) and two 16mm (Bell & Howell 273 A Statesman and my newest projector, a Bell & Howell 1580 Sound, a truly ugly ducking that lived a hard institutional life, and that I think was made in 1979.)

    When I got this machine about 2 years ago it worked fine, but after sitting patiently in the gear closet the last two years or so the single flat belt has stretched dramatically, and now the motor doesn't engage the rest of the mechanism.

    I've seen other posters suggest avoiding these first-generation 18-5's with the red switches, but I am completely smitten with it, and even prefer the red switches to the later glow-in-the-dark white switches. So, I'm hoping for assistance in two areas:

    1. Where can i find a replacement flat belt? If that's not possible, can I use 3 of the commonly available replacement belts instead?
    2. How on earth do I get the existing belt off the machine? It seems too tight in there to get the belt off the pulley, and around the obstructions. I'll post this mediocre picture here...I hope someone can guide me here!

    Thanks very much,
    Last edited by Brian DiGiorgio; October 28, 2020, 06:06 PM. Reason: Adding detail of the unfortunate aesthetics of the B&H 1580...

  • #2
    I wonder if it's possible to swap out the pulleys from a newer Bolex 18-5 with the 3 belt system, and install it in your machine? This would eliminate the need to hunt down a single belt. I've seen other posts from years back in this group about people having no luck finding a replacement belt. But an upgrade would fix the issue. And now that I think about it, I believe Bolex had an upgrade kit for owner's that had this first generation projector. I have the regular 8 version with the glow in the dark knob, and a 18-5L Super 8 version, and many of the parts are interchangeable. You asked about using the 3 belts. The only problem is they need the pulley grooves in order to work properly.
    Good luck and I hope you find a solution!


    • #3
      It may be a bit of a long shot, but you could contact Bolex in Switzerland who can still supply various spare parts. An enquiry could also probably solve your problem of the belt change.
      I got a part for a 16mm Bolex projector a few years ago. However, they are not cheap!



      • #4
        I wonder if a vacuum cleaner belt would work as a substitute? They certainly look similar.
        Click image for larger version

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        • #5
          Maurice - thank you for the idea; I did send an email to Bolex. Their website mentions a management change in progress, so I'm hopeful that the company continues, and a bit less concerned about it but also hope they get back to me.

          Shane - very good idea. The projector belt DOES look like a vacuum cleaner belt, albeit a very lightweight and thin one. My problem is that i can't figure out how to get the belt off without a knife! Has anyone every accomplished that?