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Bolex 18-5L Super issue: supply reel turning too fast

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  • Bolex 18-5L Super issue: supply reel turning too fast

    Hey there Team! Question, I have a Bolex 18-5L Super, and when I was testing it out, I saw one of the 3 belts was severed/broke.
    It's probably the issue I'm facing, but wanted to run it by you as there is a nuance:

    Symptom: the supply reel is moving way too fast; the film comes off the reel as it's turning too fast.

    The belt in the middle of the 3 belt pully's was the one that failed, so I moved the right belt over to the middle, so I figured maybe the supply reel would now move at the correct slower speed, but something else would be wrong. Not!

    With the right belt now in the middle pully, the functionality was the same.

    Do you think if I replace the open empty belt slot with a new belt, the speed would be good for the supply reel, and all would be well in the projector-world?

    Or do you think I'm facing some other issue with the speed of the supply reel mechanism?

    Thanks for your thoughts on this! John

  • #2
    I think your problem is elsewhere. The three belts are only connecting the motor to the rest of the drive train. If you need new belts, happy to send them to you for the cost of shipping. I might have a lifetime supply of them that I bought a few years ago...


    • #3
      I just looked looked at one of mine, and I'm guessing the problem is the ratcheting mechanism that allows the supply spindle to either not be spun by the motor, or for it to spin when run in reverse. This may be dirty or broken. Be careful re-assembling everything so that the nylon gears and the metal spring (sort of a bent piece of flat stock) which hold the gears even do not get pushed out of place. clean with 99% rubbing alcohol or mineral spirits.

      With no film or reel in place, turn the machine to forward operation. The supply spindle should not move. if it is turning the problem is likely as I indicated above.

      There is also a friction mechanism adjacent to the spindle mechanism, which looks to me like cork/rubber gasket material. This allows a bit of slip in case something jams, and probably also is involved in regulating the tension on the supply reel. this piece might have gotten oil on it, or worn out? I haven't really studied this aspect of the arm mechanism much.


      • #4
        I can post a picture of the mechanism if it's not clear to you. highly advise photographing everything as you take it apart to help you figure where and how everything goes back together.


        • #5

          I am sure that John is on the right track, in fact I was going to post my experiences with 18-5 front arm problems.
          Over a 2/3 years I have found three 18-5 with front spool arm problems i.e both arms turning when switched to forward [project] mode,
          The cure is simple.
          Remove the front arm cover[2 small screws] to give access to gears.
          At the bottom is a clutch, gets gunged up with the grease.
          Degrease and reassemble with small amount modern grease.

          Cautionary Notes
          As John says take notes/pictures if you have not done this procedure before.
          Dregreasing methods have been well covered on the forum.
          Most important make sure the screwdriver you use fits the screw slot well, sometimes the screws can be tight at first and they ate small, so take care on removing.

          REGARDS TOM


          • #6
            Be careful putting grease on there. It’s probably too sticky for the mechanism to function. Almost all of this is metal in nylon and not under heavy load. Lubrication is almost not needed. I put a tiny bit of super-lube with PTFE (one of the few places I use Teflon greases) on the gears, and a drop or two of oil on the ratcheting mechanism.

            if anyone has a maintenance manual for these machines, I’d be happy to get my hands on a copy!


            • #7
              Heyyy Team! You never let me down : )
              I just read all the responses and this is great! I'll try the above steps one of the next few days and see what I can do. Super helpful, thanks so much!
              Appreciate the detail. Have a great day!


              • #8
                Oh one more quick question: so the unit can run with only 2 of the 3 belts installed, if all serve the same purpose? I ordered more anyway (before I saw the offer for some above!), but wondering and thought I'd ask.

                ps: I'm glad it was mentioned above to use the correct style screwdriver for the screws on the supply arm; oh my gosh, those are soooo narrow, none of my screwdrivers fit into the slot! I have to go buy a super thin headed standard small screwdriver for this to not mess them up.

                Thanks again!
                Last edited by John Pierson; October 13, 2022, 03:23 PM.


                • #9
                  It may run, but will put too much stress on the remaining belts. They are very small and have a lot of work to do!


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Jon Byler View Post
                    It may run, but will put too much stress on the remaining belts. They are very small and have a lot of work to do!
                    This is good advice! The original Bolex 18-5 was in fact released with one single belt. Bolex quickly updated the design, and added the 3 belt pulley system we see on most of these superb machines! I think the single belt design did not function as well as the later design. So yeah there's a reason there's 3 belts....


                    • #11
                      Thanks again Team, and hi Shane! It's been awhile since I was messing around with projector's again. That's one way to retain my novice status heehee; forget everything I learned, and start over again!


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by John Pierson View Post
                        Thanks again Team, and hi Shane! It's been awhile since I was messing around with projector's again. That's one way to retain my novice status heehee; forget everything I learned, and start over again!
                        Hi John, It's nice to hear from you again, it's been a minute... Your just like the rest of us wanting more machines, and working on them is a joy! Well most of the time, sometimes they throw you for a loop until you figure out the issue LOL. How's that Canon T1?


                        • #13
                          Hey Shane! The Canon is awesome. I have a few other projectors I haven't gone thru yet, including this Bolex. I have a few more than I'd like to admit from a buying surge I went thru in 2020, 2021, and now I have to take some time to pay the piper! Hope you're well also and enjoying real life and projected life : )


                          • #14
                            I have a 1961 Bolex 18-5 Standard with the single flat belt. It is starting to lose traction and needs a nudge from the inching knob to get going. It is getting worse. Is there a source for a replacement? I am new to this site (and to 8mm projectors). Is there guidance or advice on whether to lubricate these machines and if so, how? Many thanks!


                            • #15
                              I’ve only seen the pulley that takes 3 square belts, so can’t recommend anything there. A few drops of oil on the brass bushings of the motor (I like tri-flow for this). I also put a few drops of oil on the spindle shafts and a few other places. Basically anywhere that it turns. If you take the arms apart, you can clean and re-grease things in there. Just be careful to note how the little spring clips in there are positioned. I don’t normally like Teflon products, but superlube grease with Teflon is great on those plastic gears in the arms, and I also use it on the main gear.