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Totally dumbfounded by elusive Super 8 playback problem

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  • Totally dumbfounded by elusive Super 8 playback problem

    Thanks for reading. I have a Bell & Howell 456A Dual 8. I've been using it no problem to play a clients films in 8mm. But now I'm at the part of the footage where they switched over to a Super8 camera. My machine loads & starts to play fine, but then it goes into "jumping/clacking" after less than a minute. It appears that it is not steadily advancing the frames properly. It doesn't seem to do it so much playing in reverse.
    -It does this with every Super8 reel I'm trying to play, and the film holes all look fine on all the reels I've tried.
    - I tried going back to to 8mm reels and it still plays them fine (yes I am properly switching back and forth between modes depending on the format)
    - I put a brand new belt on the machine. It plays the same whether its an old belt or a new one.
    - I tried manually rotating the take-up reel, trying to match the velocity and/or providing extra tension to get it to go through. That sorta helps but still not clean enough)

    - the pressure plate that holds the film in place certainly feels like it is providing adequate tension, and the shuttle path that the film slides through appears to be in excellent condition.
    - I tried adjusting the screw that allows you to adjust the left-right positioning of the teeth/claw, pushing it too far left, and too far right, as the machine is operating, hoping to find the "sweet spot". But the "sweetest spot" I could find did not solve the problem.
    -I tried measuring the claw protrusion with a little gauge that I constructed according to the manual's template. Assuming I made it right, it suggests that the claw is not coming out far enough, but when I tried to adjust the claw with a pair of pliers it didn't seem to have any affect (meaning the claw did not change it's position at all: the repair manual says to use a special tool that they sell to adjust the claw, but that was published, what, 50 years ago? and so far I've had better luck finding bigfoot than I have been finding anyone selling that tool online.
    - I put my finger directly on the film shuttle (where the teeth/claws are) and manually rotated the manual knob and I could feel the claws catching and moving the frame properly each time when I did that.

    And here's the kicker:
    - In order to get this job done, I purchased another machine that someone was selling locally: a 471A model, which is extremely similar inside and out. and I'm having practically the SAME PROBLEM with this entirely different machine! It's not exactly the same: in this machine, the reel "freezes" or gets stuck somehow, even though all the gears are still spinning) It plays 8mm clean, but not Super8! I changed its belt, but it performed the same. I used my take-up reel from the first machine because it seemed to "take-up" better (both models have the identical take-up reel

    The only difference is that my take-up reel on the new machine was having problems catching and staying "wound". But when I replaced it with the take-up reel from my old machine, it seemed to take-up no problem.

    I've watched just about every "fixing an 8mm projector" repair video on youtube I could find (there's only about a dozen of them) and NONE of them seem to address having this problem. Any wisdom that anyone could impart would be like water to a weary soul! I'll provide any pics/vids anyone requests.

  • #2
    Not 100% confident, but a short video demonstrate the symptom would be of a great help.


    • #3
      If you are having problems with the film on two different projectors it does seem that the film is faulty in some way.
      You say the perforations all look fine so perhaps the problem is film shrinkage.


      • #4
        Here is a link to the first machine (the 2nd machine's issues are not exactly the same, so I will deal with that another time). For now, here's a 3 minute video showing my main issue and overall performance. (you don't need a dropbox account to watch this, if it asks you to create an account or login, ignore it, its just a promo device).
        I also have the repair manual full of schematics and assembly/dissassembly diagrams and instructions (some of it I understand and other parts I dont) but I can scan and upload any relevant section if anyone wants to give their input/insight.


        • #5
          I couldn't get the link to work.


          • #6
            Trying again...


            • #7
              Thank you Joe. It worked this time.

              1) What a terrible noise it all makes
              2) Certainly seems to be a problem with the claw
              3) Also appears to have poor gate pressure

              It certainly sounds as if the claw is hitting something metallic, perhaps not clearing the slot in the gate and hitting the side of the gate. This would also affect the gate's pressure on the film.

              It all reminds me of a dual gauge projector I bought many years ago. The gauge change was by one lever. This activated many components necessary for the change. But over time the linkages had worn and the final adjustments were incorrect. My engineer was unable to correct the problem as he said the linkages had no method of adjusting. I scrapped the projector.

              Perhaps your problem is similar.
              Last edited by Maurice Leakey; April 19, 2021, 01:43 PM.


              • #8
                I can only second Maurice's comment - some evident (and serious) mechanical issue inside the machine for sure.
                Might be the time to open the back cover and have a good look for anything loose/out of whack inside.


                • #9
                  Here are clips of three different people showing off their 456a machines on youtube. They all sound exactly like my machine to me. (in my video, I intentionally turned the volume track up very loud so any detail could be heard.) So when you say "what a terrible noise" and "serious mechanical issue" are you just referring to the part in my video when the reel starts jumping (at 1 minute 30 seconds) ?
                  I have already been deep inside the back of the machine, but can't find anything out of the ordinary. But I'm hardly an expert and I'm having a difficult time finding 8mm repair services online that has a working website and contact info within a 3 hour radius of where I live, and that includes all of Manhattan. Does anyone have any recommendations of repair shops anywhere in the vicinity of New York city that are currently servicing these machines?


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Joe Donato View Post
                    So when you say "what a terrible noise" and "serious mechanical issue" are you just referring to the part in my video when the reel starts jumping (at 1 minute 30 seconds) ?

                    Some projector would quietly purr, while others might sound pretty horrible although in perfect working order. I had seen this not only on super8, but also 16 and some 35mm projectors. So yes, that might be noisy by its nature.
                    But projector with jumpy image even with films in known good condition is probably faulty, and some works needed to be done. In worst case it may gets worse and start chewing your films.

                    Unfortunately unless if this projector is right in front of me, it would be pretty hard to pinpoint the root cause. Only what I can recommend is to try manually inching the film through by hand, to see what cause the film to slip/dance around like that.