Do any of you ever spend the time worrying and thinking to yourself ... " I have a really large collection of films here but now I cant
show any of them because I can no longer get spares or parts for my film projectors ! "
That occurred to me last year when the worm went on my Bell & Howell, I saw my 16mm films and thought they are just useless without a projector. It cost £200 to have it serviced; buying a different more modern one is no guarantee that the worm won't go in that. I had it done rather than buy another model as I like the 655 as it has treble and bass controls, some models only have a tone control. It also looks more sturdy than the later models like TQ3. I have also built up a supply of projector and exciter lamps.
It's still possible to get the exciter laps at sensible prices, pays to stock up. The later Bell & Howells that became TQ3 do look on the cheap side, originally over £700 when new. I don't like that the sound drum is exposed. There is a lot of talk at present about replacing lamps with LEDs, but what happens when the supply of exciter lamps runs out?. Part of the problem is that there were too many different lamps being used. The 655 uses a G40, the 655Q uses a G29. If manufacturers had been able to build their projectors around one or two different lamps there would be more demand, and maybe some would still be in production.
Thats why you should stock up on belts, lamps now while there still is a supply available. Not all 16mm projectors had worm gear problems, mostly the Bell and Howells. My Mp-30 takes an odd size belts and O rings inside but I was able to find them and bought a dozen of each. The exciter lamp also is an odd one and I found only one replacement but since I rarely use the sound drum since I prefer the digital sound readers, its really not a problem. I also had backup readers,cables and sound processors in case those go out.
When I first started in the hobby a year ago, I worried about these things too. I felt an urgency to find bulbs for my machines quickly as many of these bulbs haven't been manufactured in decades (I am assuming). I have two machines that have spring type belts, so I don't worry about those. Fortunately, my other machines use a belt that could probably be easily replaced with an o-ring. I also have spare spindles for both by standard 8mm and super 8mm Bell & Howell machines. They were taken off of two other projectors that were discarded. Bell & Howell used nylon/plastic screws to fasten these and I've already had one break off inside the spindle, so that one had to be replaced entirely. Even having bought a few dud projectors, I have gotten good bulbs out of them that would have cost more than what I paid for the machine, and luckily I am able to use those in the units that I currently have.
There is a chance of getting spring belts in the UK, but they will last for years. Something else to consider, the old 16mm projectors have valve, or tube amplifiers. Replacements could be very expensive; I wonder if the same is true now for transistors?
Something else to take into consideration is the age of our machines.Every projector I own (sans one) needed maintenance (or lots of work) to get it in good running condition.The plus side of this is that I've learned new skills in the process. The payoff is now I know my projectors so well I can more easily anticipate possible problems down the road.