Way back in time, when life was simpler, harder, but not complicated, 1975 to be precise, I bought my first Elmo ST1200 M/O from
Derann. These projectors were in the high end of 8mm, a robust looking piece of kit that had received good write ups, neither were they
cheap, creeping towards the £400.00 mark, though Derek had done a deal, stacked 'em high and selling cheap, well by other dealers yes.
It wasn't long before the dreaded scratches began to appear, so checks were made, parts removed and polished up, the top sprocket shoe had metal rollers then, these seemed free enough, but still marks were appearing, spare parts were ordered from Technical & Opt.
if memory serves, problem sorted, or so it seemed. Eventually it started again, now to be fair, I bought this machine to take some strain from my little Mark S709, so it was getting a lot of use. I noticed in Super 8 Collector that Paul Van Someren had an article on this very
subject, too late, I was already suffering this curse. I wrote a very strong letter to Elmo Nagoya, sent one privately and through Paul
who advised as much. The boffins at Elmo eventually gave in and made improved pieces of a harder wearing material. The picture shows
the original two piece lower guides that became a single piece chute. It turned out that this improved material was not much better,
I was accumulating quite a collection of these pieces that needed changing at regular intervals, much like a babies nappy, they had one
thing in common, they both stank. Eventually, many pieces later, a replaced amplifier and new soundhead during the mid '80s, it eventually gave up the ghost in 1991, I had run it into the ground in 16 years, my little S709 was still going strong, it lasted until only
a few weeks ago while doing the "Psycho" shoot, I was going to do a rerun to catch a few more pics, but it was gone, so 44 years of service, a new soundhead, a couple of services and it lasted three times longer than the Elmo. In 1991, I bought Briam Murphy's Elmo
secondhand, within a few days I was back into the mire, at least two brand new features spoiled, Elmo's don't always scratch, sometimes
it is on subsequent screenings that you suffer, or it is doing the naughty after the gate, only to be seen next time your film is shown. No amount of cleaning will make any difference, parts must be replaced, so Hanimex I think had taken over the franchise for Elmo, so
more parts duly ordered. This time I took the bull by the horns, I modified the replacement parts myself, why this was never done by Elmo themselves eludes me, hence I refer to them as "Jap Crap", too many films spoiled by their "Lucky Bag" parts, their "Flagship"
GS1200 was no better, I had mods to do to that effort too, over rated and over priced. Anyway, I have pics of the parts I altered
The upper sprocket, I removed the shoe and replaced it with rollers. The Head Presser, I show what I did on a previous outing by filing
down and polishing the guide, but improved on that by removing the guide and fitting a roller, The lower sprocket guide I cut away,
fit a small rubber roller and two soft plastic flanges to keep the guide off the metal sprocket. The rear guide I removed, I grew tired of
it springing loose and holding the take up spool, so off it went and I just put a roller in. Other points of wear are the film guides in the gate that get cut into by the film eventually, and the plastic guide around the soundheads are prone to wear over time.
I managed to get a ST1200HD for £50.00, virtually unused by a local chap who was permanently in Saudi making big bucks, so had no
time to use it, no sooner in, than modernised, no chances this time. Summing up, Elmo are basically a workmanlike projector, recording
sound is simplicity itself, sound repro is very good, BUT, I would never trust them without the necessary alterations, which have been
successful, I use them occasionally and so far no more marks.